What nu­tri­tion­ists re­ally eat

Dis­cover the sur­pris­ing ar­ray of foods the ex­perts con­sume.

Health & Fitness - - Contents - WORDS: Eve Boggen­poel

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.’

Work­out se­crets

‘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.’

Su­per supplements

‘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.

FIONA HUNTER Reg­is­tered di­eti­cian

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.

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