What nutritionists really eat
Discover the surprising array of foods the experts consume.
My food philosophy ‘Non-faddy! I couldn’t be bothered to count macros, cut out food groups or eat clean (whatever that’s meant to mean!), because I love food too much. I’m a firm believer in only eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. Eating well has got so complicated, but it’s really very simple. Chuck plenty of veggies, some wholegrain carbs and lean proteins on your plate, limit your sugar and booze intake, and try to eat food in its most natural state. One of my must-have ingredients is extra-virgin olive oil. I believe it’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat on a daily basis. My family is from the Mediterranean and they’re all still hopping around at a ripe old age!’ Eating on the go ‘For me, this often means fitting in food when I’m stressed or super-busy. I always have dried fruit, nuts and seeds on hand. I’m also a dab hand at rustling something up out of canned food! Tuna and mixed beans with cucumber, fresh herbs, lemon juice and olive oil takes less than five minutes to chuck in a container. It’s also good to get into the habit of keeping the fridge and cupboard stocked up with a few key essentials, such as something to whip up a healthy smoothie in the morning (oats, fruit and yoghurt). I’m guilty of skipping meals when I’m busy and stressed, so I always have a good supplement on hand, such as Healthspan MultiVitality Gold (£10.95 for 180 tablets; healthspan.co.uk), to help keep up my nutrient intake.’
Rob’s daily diet Breakfast
‘I never feel like eating when I get up, so it’s coffee to start with. Later on, I’ll have something egg-based, teamed with good-quality wholegrain bread or avocado, spring onions and tomatoes.’
‘I work from home, so it’s normally what’s in the fridge. I tend to follow the same equation: veggies, protein, healthy fats and a little wholegrain carbs. It needs to be quick, so it may be lean cooked meats or pulses with sliced veggies, olive oil and wholegrain bread. I also like to make extra the night before so there’s something for lunch. Nothing beats the flavour of a re-heated curry wrapped in a wholemeal chapatti with a big dollop of yoghurt!’
‘Protein and veg – I love fresh fish (salmon, tuna), or I might use something vegetarian such as tofu or Quorn with stir-fried veggies. I’m a huge fan of Asian flavours, so I normally include lime, soy, ginger, garlic and sesame. The flip-side is a husband to consider who doesn’t like this kind of food! The compromise is usually something from M&S that can be chucked in the oven, but I always try to team it with a mound of healthy salad or veggies!’
Drinks and snacks
‘Just water, black coffee and a few glasses of good white wine. I don’t snack on a daily basis but I’m partial to the odd handful of Haribos if they’re on offer! Houmous also goes down a treat.’
My food philosophy
‘I don’t agree with fad diets or trends and, while I like to eat as unprocessed as possible, I do think society has taken this to extreme when describing white pasta and rice as processed foods. My description of a processed food is something that is high in fat and sugar, and provides no nutritional value apart from energy. Although I prefer to prepare my meals from scratch as much as possible, when I’m particularly busy, I refuse to beat myself up if I have to turn to something a little more convenient. I tend to eat little and often rather than large meals. I’m vegetarian, so I try to vary my protein choice throughout the day.
‘I also make sure I eat at least three or four portions of dairy every day to ensure optimal bone health. Although I don’t drink milk, I do eat a lot of yoghurt and include cheese most days.’
‘If I’ve been training, I usually need a snack in the afternoon to keep me going until dinner. This may be a Trek bar – my favourite is Cocoa Chaos (£2.69 for 3 x 55g; waitrose.com) – some oatcakes with nut butter or Greek yoghurt and fruit. I’ll also have a cup of rooibos tea. The combination of carbs and protein helps maintain my energy and concentration. We all feel more sleepy in the afternoon due to our circadian rhythms, and the protein in this snack helps keep me alert.
‘If I get injured, in general, I try to make sure I maintain a good balance of nutrients – perhaps slightly smaller portions – and ensure I get as many colours into my diet as possible to meet macronutrient and micronutrient requirements.’
‘The only supplement I take is vitamin D, and that’s because I have extremely low levels. When they fall to a particular level, I can instantly tell as I become extremely fatigued and suffer form increased muscle fatigue and soreness.’
My food philosophy ‘I think it’s important to cook at much as possible from scratch; that way you have complete control over what you’re eating. I always try to shop locally and eat seasonally, so as much as I love, say, strawberries and asparagus, I wouldn’t buy them out of season. In my fridge today there’s plain Greek yoghurt, Parmesan cheese, a good strong Cheddar, lots of veggies, two water filters (I drink a lot of water), homemade chutney and jam (made by friend Barbara who has an allotment) and butter, which I don’t eat very often but I do like to use for baking.
‘Although vegetables are usually the main ingredient in anything I cook, I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a bad food, only a bad diet. This was one of the first things I was taught at university – of course, some foods are healthier than others – but it’s the sum of what you eat over the course of the day or the week that’s most important. Providing most of what you eat most of the time is healthy, there’s no need to feel guilty about the odd indulgence.’ Weight-loss secrets ‘If I’m trying to lose weight, I go for eggs for breakfast – because the protein helps stave off mid-morning hunger pangs – then a hearty, veg-based soup for lunch, because you can have a generous portion for not very many calories. In the evening, I’d have a stir-fry or a vegetable curry. Things I try to avoid are avocados and nuts, both of which I love, and wine (which I also enjoy). Both nuts and avocado are full of fat and, even though it’s good/healthy fat, all fat is loaded with calories.
‘Fortunately, I don’t have a sweet tooth so I don’t find it hard to resist cakes and biscuits. Crisps and salty snacks are another matter, but I just don’t buy them!’ Can’t live without ‘I have a real weakness for Cornish pasties, but they have to be the real deal. My favourite pasties are from Philps in Hayle (philpspasties.co.uk), but as I don’t go to Cornwall very often, I don’t eat them very regularly. I also love pizza and that’s a regular Friday night treat, but they’re always homemade and topped with lots of veggies.’
Fiona’s daily diet Breakfast
‘On weekdays in the summer, I usually eat muesli with yoghurt. Most shopbought muesli has too much dried fruit so I make my own – I’m sure it tastes better! In the winter, I’ll have porridge, or at the weekends, a cinnamon bagel with peanut butter. I’ll also have four cups of coffee in the morning – I’m a bit of a snob so I buy beans from Coffee Plant on Portobello Road in London.’
‘In summer I’ll have salad or an omelette, and in winter it’s often soup. I love making soup, because it’s quick, easy and so good for you. I rarely follow a recipe, it just depends what’s in the fridge or what looks good at the market. Another standby in winter is baked beans on toast. I like to pimp my beans by adding sliced cherry tomatoes, spring onions and a good pinch of chilli flakes. I also drink a fruit or mint tea after meals.’
‘Although I always advise people to plan ahead if possible, and write a menu for the week ahead, it’s not something I manage to do myself, so evening meals are often a bit of pot luck and depend on what’s in the fridge. I love spicy food so often it’s something such as chicken stir-fry with plenty of veg and noodles or vegetable curry. If time’s short, I still cook from scratch, but it would be something quick and easy – baked salmon with couscous is a favourite.’
ROB HOBSON Nutrition consultant A registered nutritionist with an MSc in public health nutrition, Hobson is head of nutrition at online health and wellbeing specialist Healthspan (healthspan.co.uk). Author of The Detox Kitchen Bible (Bloomsbury, £14.99), his clients include Fitbit and Detox Kitchen, as well as schools, Government agencies and the NHS; robhobson.co.uk.
RENEE MCGREGOR Performance dietician McGregor has a degree in biochemistry and post-graduate degree in dietetics and applied sports nutrition. She works with GB wheelchair fencing, GB wheelchair basketball and professional athletes, and is the author of Training Food and Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Goes Bad (Nourish Books, £10.99 and £8.99, respectively); reneemcgregor.com.
Hunter has a BSc (Hons) in nutrition from Kings College, London. She is an independent nutrition consultant, writer and broadcaster, having worked for clients as diverse as the Department of Health, Food Standards Agency, the NHS, Heathrow Airport, Sainsbury’s and the BBC; fionahunter-nutrition.co.uk.