It can be difficult to decipher the health world on your own. It’s simply easier to have someone who is already invested with the knowledge tell you how to do things. With all of that knowledge (and hopefully a passion for the craft) already in their heads, making healthy eating decisions is easier, well-informed, and curated accordingly.
Therefore, instead of making you search for a dietitian or nutritionist and shell out the cash, we’ve done the heavy lifting and compiled a list of healthy eating habits from some very accomplished professionals!
What is a Nutritionist?
First off, let’s clear up the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian.
A Dietitian acquires “certain licensures and certifications” to practice their craft, while a nutritionist simply needs the educational requirements to deem themselves a “nutritionist.” Dietitians require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, generally complete an internship, and must pass a national examination. This combination affords them the “R.D.” — Registered Dietitian — at the end of their title. Once accredited, dietitians can practice in a medical setting — such as a rehabilitation center, hospital, or nursing home — and they are also given leeway to make certain diagnoses.
Alright, so what exactly is a nutritionist?
First off, nutritionists are not as strictly regulated as dietitians — which means you always want to check credentials — and, as there’s no specific required professional training, nutritionists “should not be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of any diseases.” With that said, there are “nutritionist certification boards, which require applicants to have an advanced degree along with practical experience before taking their certification exam.” Once someone passes this exam, they can use the protected title of Certified Nutrition Specialist (C.N.S.). This is a good sign that you’re working with a professional!
What does a nutritionist do?
Nutritionists mostly deal with food behavior. For instance, a nutritionist’s main goal most of the time is to “teach clients about the general nutrition and health properties in food and offer nutrition supervision.” This may be to help a client achieve a healthy weight and maintain that weight, improve athletic performance, tackle a specific vitamin or mineral deficiency, manage an eating disorder, or obtain any other food-related goal.
3 Types of Nutritionists
Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to nutrition!
Yes, there are certain macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that every human body requires to function. With that said, there are vastly different sources to obtain those nutrients. This means when it comes to nutritionists’ specialties and focuses, there are quite a few to choose from. Here are a few of the recognized nutritionist titles to look out for in your search!
1. Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Clinical Nutritionist
A Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Clinical Nutritionist are very similar. The differences lie within the schooling and credentialing processes.
A Certified Nutrition Specialist “must have a master’s degree or a doctorate in nutrition or a doctorate in clinical health care from a regionally accredited university as well as 1,000 hours of supervised experience,” while a Certified Clinical Nutritionist “requires a bachelor’s degree, a 900-hour internship and 56 hours of online, post-graduate study in clinical nutrition or a master’s degree in human nutrition.”
You’ll find both Certified Nutrition Specialists and Certified Clinical Nutritionists working in “clinics, private practice, or community settings.”
2. Certified Nutritionist
A Certified Nutritionist is a few steps down from a nutrition specialist or clinical nutritionist. These individuals must complete a “six-course distance-learning program” and pass a protector exam that is generally offered through the American Health Science University. Certified Nutritionists should not be diagnosing or offering treatment but are available for guidance on food behavior and planning.
3. Holistic Nutritionist
A growing popular approach to nutrition, Holistic Nutritionists deviate from the standard “government food pyramid guidelines” or any others that are “promoted by health associations.” Holistic Nutritionists obtain a “degree from an approved holistic nutrition program,” must have around “500 hours of professional experience in the field” before venturing out on their own, and carry a certification from the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board — a division of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.
Holistic nutritionists focus on healing “patients using natural foods and products instead of conventional medical treatments.” They follow some of the same guidelines as a functional medicine practitioner as they “seek to remedy the entire or ‘whole’ person (mind, body, and soul) as opposed to curing isolated symptoms.”
10 Healthy Eating Habits from Dietitians and Nutritionists
Alright, now that you know the educational background of these professionals, how about getting down to the nitty-gritty of the actual advice!
1. Karyn Forsyth Duggan, “Switch to Whole Grains”
Karyn Forsyth Duggan, a nutritionist and writer for One Medical, makes the case for whole grains — think, “whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.” In Duggan’s words “when it comes to carbohydrates, brown is better.” Talking actual nutrition, whole grains are known to “contain more nutrients and fiber than their processed white cousins — such as white flour pasta and bread. Duggan goes on to explain that “not only are these complex carbohydrates healthier for you (higher fiber intake has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease), but they also help keep you full longer.”
Try a few of these recipes to get more whole grains in your day: Rice with Olives and Basil, Creamy Chocolate Steel Cut Oatmeal, Roasted Beet Sorghum Salad With Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette, or this Rye Sourdough Bread.
2. Jessica Ivey, RDN, “Add more nutrition to each meal”
Jessica Ivey, R.D.N. — registered dietitian and chef — recommends making special nutritional additions to each of your meals. These can be super simple add-ons that accumulate throughout the day so that you’re improving the “nutritional value of your diet without having to make a total overhaul of the foods you typically enjoy.”
How does she do it? Ivey gives a few excellent plant-based examples:
“I stir ground flaxseeds into my oatmeal for the added omega-3 fats, add baby spinach leaves and tomato slices to a quick packed sandwich at lunch, [and] dip whole-grain crackers in heart-healthy guacamole [as] a snack.”
If you’re looking to add quick fats to your diet, try a bit of avocado here and there like this 4-Ingredient Chocolate Pudding or this Matcha Avocado Smoothie. Nut and seed mixes are also a great way to get those extra nutrients into your diet like these Food to Live Organic Pepitas / Pumpkin Seeds for $22.49 or these Manitoba Harvest Organic Raw Shelled Hemp Hearts for $8.41.
3. Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, “Eat Prunes Every Day”
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is the owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition and is a healthy, plant-based recipe developer. She may have some of the most direct and simple advice available, eat prunes every day. Gorin explains that “a third of women and 20 percent of men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis,” but prunes can help avoid this issue! Gorin consumes around “five to six prunes most days” based on “research in Osteoporosis International [that] shows … having a daily prune habit may help prevent bone loss.” She recommends adding them to salads or simply snacking on a few!
Get your daily prune intake with a few of these delightful vegan-friendly prune recipes: Prune Marzipan Tart, Almond and Prune Finger Cake, or this Baked Tofu with Ginger Miso California Prune Sauce.
4. Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, “Make time to meal plan”
You’ve most likely heard it before, but now it’s coming from a certified professional! Meal planning is one of the best ways to incorporate healthy foods and stick to a healthy diet throughout the week or month. Levinson explains that “meal planning saves you time and money, reduces food waste, and helps you eat a more balanced and varied diet.”
What techniques does she use?
Levinson bases her weekly menu on “what’s already in [her] refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, what’s on sale at … local supermarkets, what produce is in season, and any favorites [her] kids may ask for.” Next to the weekly calendar is a grocery list accommodating any items not already in the kitchen.
Meal planning can be made super easy with the right tools — like this 10-pack of Prep Naturals Glass Meal Prep Containers for $43.99 or this Alpacasso Eco-Friendly Beeswax Kit complete with 15 wraps, silicone food storage bags, and silicone stretch lids — and the right recipes — like these Meal Prep Sesame Tofu Bowls, Freezer Friendly Breakfast Burritos, or this Healthy Golden Curried Quinoa.
5. Dr. Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, LDN, FAND, “Frontload your calories”
Alright, so this one is definitely up for debate. Some professionals advise a large, healthy, balanced breakfast, while others are on board with the fasting game. Generally, it depends on your personal preference, your goals, and your tummy.
Dr. Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, LDN, FAND, and author recommends front-loading your calories at the beginning of the day. Blake explains that “there is truth to the old adage to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” based on emerging research which suggests “that consuming the major of your calories later in the day may not be kind to your waist and increase the storage of fat in your body.”
Frontload your calories with these hardy breakfast recipes: Oatmeal with Apple and Cardamom, Apple Almond Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, Quinoa Mango Kheer, Grilled Asparagus and Smoked Tofu Benedict, or this Chickpea Shakshouka with Avocados and Fresh Herbs.
6. Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, “Prioritize veggies”
For some, this advice is a no-brainer.
Yet, for others who are just beginning to learn about healthy eating and nutrition, prioritizing your veggies over … well … everything else may be a new concept.
Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT — a plant-based dietitian and author of Plant-Based Nutrition (Idiot’s guide) and The Vegiterranean Diet — recommends “making sure vegetables of all sorts — especially leafy green and cruciferous varieties — are the center of [the] plate.” There are a few simple ways that Hever makes this easier such as “eating leftovers over a bed of greens, bumping up veggies in any recipe (like pizza, pasta, and burritos), or starting a meal with soup or salad to [ensure she consumes] plenty of phytonutrients and fiber every day.”
Put veggies first with these vegetable-filled recipes: Colorful Roasted Root Veggies, Broccoli and Portobello ‘Beef’, Sesame Roasted Beets and Greens, or this 15-Minute Zucchini, Pea, and Watercress Minestrone.
7. Blaire Newhard, MLA, R.D. “Make food swaps your norm”
This is probably the best advice for anyone seeking a plant-based lifestyle — especially if you’re going all-in on a vegan diet! Food swaps are essential to recreating healthier versions of your favorite staples such as vegan Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese or Peppered Tofu Steaks.
Blaire Newhard, MLA, R.D. — a culinary dietitian in San Diego with a master’s degree in gastronomy and culinary arts — recommends making healthy swaps regularly. Newhard makes this an easier task by recommending to start with one swap — such as vegan “yogurt for sour cream; zucchini for spaghetti; cauliflower for rice — and make it your new go-to.” This will soon turn into a habit that you won’t even have to think about!
Get your swap on with pre-made, easy-swap items like this 365 Everyday Value Organic Riced Cauliflower for $4.99, this Forager Project Organic Dairy-Free Unsweetened Plain Cashewmilk Yogurt Alternative for $4.99, Summer Squash Noodles for $5.49, or this Just Egg Plant-Based Scramble for $4.48.
8. Kristen Smith, MS, RD, LD, “They begin every meal with a fruit or vegetable”
Per Kristen Smith, MS, RD, LD — spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — deciding what you put on your plate is just as important as deciding what to eat first. Smith says that she “always starts her meal with a fruit or vegetable for two reasons … it helps ensure she won’t be too full later for those vitamin- and mineral-rich foods … [and] … fruits and veggies tend to be packed with fiber, so they provide satiety—meaning she winds up eating less overall.”
9. Lauren Blake, R.D., L.D.N., C.H.W.C., “Healthy fat helps keep you full”
The fat debate is a long-standing one rife with politics, money, and a wealth of misinformation. Yes, some fats should probably be limited — such as saturated fat — or eliminated from your diet — such as trans fats. On the other hand, healthy fats — such as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega fatty acids — are all incredibly good for you!
Lauren Blake, R.D., L.D.N, C.H.W.C., — a certified health and wellness coach at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center — recommends increasing your healthy fat intake as it “helps keep you full, makes meals more palatable, and helps stave off cravings for empty calories.”
Healthy fats are plentiful in the plant-based world! Try adding avocado to your daily regimen, — such as this Body Mind and Soul Smoothie — or nuts and seeds — like these Sweet and Savory Spiced Nuts or this Simple Homemade Pumpkin Seed Butter. You can also try to frontload those fats in the morning with healthy fat additives to your coffee or morning tea such as this Nutiva Organic MCT Oil for $20.01.
10. Pam Bede, MS, RD, “Drink a glass of water before every meal”
Any dietitian, nutritionist, or doctor worth their weight in gold will recommend getting enough water every day. Water is an essential part of what keeps our bodies running smoothly, boosts energy, and tailors our satiety accordingly.
Yes, that hunger you feel could be your body’s way of saying I’m Thirsty!
Per Pam Bede, M.S., R.D. — a nutritionist that specializes in sports nutrition, diet trends, marathon training, and meal planning with Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition — recommends “drink a glass of water before every meal — it can’t get much simpler than that! Staying well-hydrated helps your body function properly, and it also helps make sure you don’t overeat.”
Looking to stay hydrated throughout the day? Try incorporating some non-water beverages into your day to keep you guzzling such as this Cran-Pomegranate Kombucha Mocktail, this Fresh Apple Cinnamon Juice, or this Good Morning Beet Juice.
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Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and prostate cancer, and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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