Our resident dietician, Julie Upton, RD, answers questions and shares tips on how to snack wisely and cook healthier for the whole family.

Q: I’m on a 1,600 calorie-a-day diet. Can I have an extra snack on my workout days?
A: Yes. Since your diet is less than 1,800 calories, you have some wiggle room. If you’re hungry after a 30-minute or longer moderate- to high-intensity workout, nosh on a healthy 100-calorie snack. Some good choices: a medium banana, half of a whole-wheat English muffin with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter, or 4 ounces plain nonfat yogurt mixed with 2 teaspoons jam. One caveat: Most of us already eat extra calories after working out, because we’re hungry or unconsciously rewarding ourselves. If adding calories brings your weight loss to a halt, go back to 1,600 calories a day.

Q: I’m watching my weight but am sick of cooking separate meals for my kids. Any solutions?
A: Preparing two or three dinners a night will make you feel like a short-order cook, but there’s an easy way to satisfy everyone. Start with a healthy main ingredient (whole-wheat pasta, baked chicken), then doctor the kids’ version so they’ll eat it. For instance, boil whole-grain pasta—noodles for the adults, spirals for the kids—and add extra veggies to the marinara sauce for mom and dad. Or, bake chicken breasts for the family; during the last 10 minutes of baking, slather mild barbecue sauce on the kids’ portions and serve on whole-wheat buns as barbecue-chicken sandwiches. Enjoy your chicken over a salad. Everyone’s happy!


Julie Upton, MS, RD, is a media resource for the American Dietetic Association.