Taz Bhatia, M.D., is a board-certified physician and professor at Emory University who specializes in integrating mainstream medicine with holistic practices. To learn more, check out her NEW mindbodygreen class, The Doctor's Guide to Hormonal Imbalance.
My food is my fuel — one misstep, one too many indulgences or forgotten meals, and I am not myself. My days are busy, and to stay sharp, focused, and energetic, food really is my medicine and my responsibility. So most of the time, I take it pretty seriously.
My health challenges began with hormonal irregularities and hair loss — and they really ended once I understood that gluten was affecting my thyroid, which in turn was affecting my hormones. Going gluten-free was profound in the effect it had on my health. And so, much of what I eat in a day focuses on staying gluten-free and keeping my blood sugar stable.
Here's what a typical day of eating looks like:
Morning is my favorite time of day. I wake up, enjoy the silence and always start with a cup of tea, usually black. I take the time to steep it, maybe add a 1/2 teaspoon of raw honey and some milk. I look forward to this ritual every day, and miss it when I travel or if I’m thrown off by a late wake-up.
I'll usually go about my morning routine and then have a rice cake or slice of gluten-free toast with some olive or coconut oil. Before I leave for the day, I make my morning protein smoothie.
You may see the pattern here—protein, protein and more protein. I have to do this since I never know what my day will be like.
My protein smoothies are easy to make. It’s typically rice, coconut or almond milk blended with frozen fruit and a few scoops of protein powder. This usually gives me at least 20 grams of protein. Depending on how much time I have, I made add an egg, for a total of 30 grams.
Off I go to work, where the pace picks up. I'm lucky in these hectic hours to get in a few sips of water, a cup of green tea and maybe a 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. snack, which usually consists of a few nuts or bites of a protein bar.
I usually make my lunches over the weekend or the night before. It's typically a salad taking on a host of variations—spinach one day and kale the next, topped with turkey, avocadoes, or nuts. It really depends on what's in the refrigerator or is leftover from the previous night.
I'll often drizzle a little olive oil or a hint of one of my favorite dressings.
If I'm caring for patients, my day may linger into the evening hours. When my mind is occupied, I really do have to remind myself to eat. I usually bring with me a green smoothie, and that's my absolute savior at the 5 to 6 p.m. hour. Again, I shake the refrigerator down, blending anything together that needs to be used by taking frozen fruit and and one cup of greens and blending it all together. It carries me through the evening hours, so I can keep thinking and see the last few patients of the day with a clear mind.
When I finally get home, I eat a light dinner with my husband and children. For me, it’s typically more of a snack. As a family we work hard to have meals prepped most of the time, so dinner is usually our version of many staples. Gluten-free spaghetti, turkey burgers, and grilled salmon with a pairing of our favorite vegetables are just a few examples.
I also catch up on my water intake in the evening and begin the process of winding down. Because my mind is often overactive, I usually need something to calm it down. A cup of warm milk is one of my favorite, and sometimes I can't sleep without it! Chamomile tea works wonders as well.
Of course, my weekends often look very different from weekdays. Breakfast is a production, with all kinds of goodies cooked up in the kitchen from omelets to gluten-free bread pudding, or scrambled eggs with fresh avocado dip. Lunches may be in or out depending on what we're all doing, and dinner, unless it's date night or a night with friends, is at home. My husband, children and I all jump in the kitchen and take some time to enjoy preparing our food together.