I'm A Nutritionist. Here's What I Eat In A Typical Day

Board Certified Functional Nutritionist By Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Board Certified Functional Nutritionist
Dana James is a Columbia University–educated nutritional therapist and founder of Food Coach NYC.

You probably inferred this from the headline, but I'm a nutritionist and cognitive behavioral therapist. I help people learn how to eat to better fuel their bodies. Making smarter food choices is tough, but it gets easier with practice — and I believe anyone can change the way they eat. Here's what a typical day in my diet looks like. My work day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m., so most of my meals are eaten outside of my home.

7:50 AM: Coffee

I start my day with an almond milk espresso macchiato that I pick up on my way to my office on Fifth Avenue. I encourage my clients to replace their lattes with a macchiato to decrease the amount of milk (nut or otherwise) that they are drinking. I gain weight easily (diabetes runs in my family as does hypothyroidism) so I'm very strategic with my food choices. I choose high-fiber and high nutrient density food in portions sizes right for my 5'4 frame.

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10 AM: Breakfast

Today I made a green smoothie for breakfast and transported it to work in mason jar. I normally eat (or drink) breakfast around 10 a.m. because my dinner is usually eaten at 9 p.m., due to my late work schedule. The smoothie was 1/4 avocado, 10 ounces of coconut milk, my Beauti-fuel raw vegan protein powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and one teaspoon of coconut oil. This is my cognition and mood-boosting smoothie. It's rich in fats that are used for neurogenesis (new brain cells) while nutmeg helps to slow the degradation of serotonin so I get more of the "feel-good" neurotransmitters in my body for longer!

1 PM: Lunch

I rarely bring my lunch in from home. I don't enjoy leftovers, nor do I have the time (or the creativity) to make a salad in the morning. On this day, I ordered a raw sprouted salad and an organic chicken chili soup (not shown) from the Butcher's Block, a delivery-only restaurant in mid-town Manhattan. This salad was an organic mix of kale, arugula, mixed greens, avocado, sunflower seeds, snow-pea sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, beets, carrots, cucumber, and tomatoes. I drizzled in a tahini dressing. The salad was huge! I ate about a third of it. I advise all of my clients to take their lunch out of the plastic container and put it on a plate. The containers are deceiving — they look smaller than they are!

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4 PM: Snack

I recommend eating (or drinking) something every three hours to keep your vitality at its peak. Knowing this, I pick up my snack at lunch-time. On this day, I ordered a beet and carrot juice with my lunch. As New York City transitions into fall, I swap my green juice for a more earthy and seasonal juice. I drank half of it and saved the rest to drink at 6 p.m. While some people may perceive this to be a high glycemic-index drink, I prefer to let my energetic requirements guide me — do I need to ground or to feel less stagnant? I wanted the former and root vegetables are ideal for this.

8 PM: Snack

For a pre-dinner snack, I had one pear, sliced. Food should look pretty and slicing a pear feels more elegant than biting straight into the fruit. Dinner was at least an hour away and I wanted something small so I wasn't tempted to over-eat at dinner.

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9 PM: Dinner

I met my cousin for dinner and ordered a green and yellow bean salad with avocado and mint as my appetizer. My main meal was sea bass over roasted vegetables. I ate about two thirds of it. This was accompanied by a glass of Bordeaux wine. My tip for ordering out (and I've been following this for 15 years) is this: Vegetables as the appetizer and seafood or steak as the main, with more vegetables!

While I've given you reasons for why I ate these meals, I'm not actually thinking about the reasons when I order them. Eating this way is second nature for me, not only because of my education, but also because I tap into what feels right for my physical and energetic body on a daily basis. If you don't eat this way, I encourage you to try this for a few days and see how you feel. You might just be surprised just how tuned in you can become and how good you actually feel!

If you want more meal ideas, check out the video series I created with mbg on "How to Ditch Sugar," it has three weeks of meals!

Photos provided by the author

Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Dana James is a Columbia University–educated nutritional therapist and founder of Food Coach NYC....
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Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Dana James is a Columbia University–educated nutritional therapist and...
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