Health.com
December 18, 2008

My dietitian girlfriend was visiting from New York the other day, and she mentioned how much readers of her blog love to see her document everything she eats and drinks on a daily basis—complete with photos and nutritional breakdown of every gram of fat, milligram of sodium and, of course, the dreaded calories.

I asked: "You do all that for a blog? Don't you feel exposed? Aren't you letting people to close to your real life?" She responded, "Yes, yes, and yes!" She said that while it's a lot of work, readers really like it and can relate better to her because they learn that we (dietitians) are just like everyone else when it comes to overcoming daily food challenges and trying to tame temptations.

I thought I would try this just for a day. If you like it, let me know and maybe I'll be inspired to do it again. Taking all these photos took time, but in the end it was an interesting experiment. And while I'm usually pretty conscious of my calorie intake anyway, this really made me aware of every bite—an interesting diet strategy in itself!

Wake up at 5:30 a.m.
2 cups of tea with about 1/4 cup soy milk (50 calories) and 1 Splenda per cup
A handful of Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal (50 calories)
1 banana on my way out the door (100 calories)
Total: 250 calories

6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Exercise time: I swim about 3,300 yards, take a half-hour break, and then run five miles with a few uphill sprints.

9 a.m.
I'm home from my workout and I'm really hungry!
3 mandarin oranges (120 calories)
1 slice whole-wheat bread (90 calories) smeared with peanut butter (90 calories) and jam (40 calories)
Another cup of tea with soy milk (25 calories) and Splenda
Total: 365 calories


1:15 p.m.
Workers are roofing our house right now, making the noise unbearable for me to work at home. On the way to the quiet library, I thought I'd meet my husband for a nice lunch.
I order a Mediterranean salad with dressing on the side. Unfortunately, the salad comes with dressing on it, as well as on the side, so it's hard to figure out exactly how much oil my salad has on it. I also savor a delicious hot roll from the bread basket. It comes with butter, but I assume with the oil that was drowning out my salad, I can instead just dip the bread into my salad for some extra flavor.

Salad (400 calories)
Bread (170 calories)
Diet Coke
Total: 570 calories

3:30 p.m.
Hmm, I want food, but is it because I'm bored or hungry? Probably more bored, so I don't want to overdo it. I toast a piece of whole-wheat bread and add one slice (about 1 ounce) Havarti cheese and a couple of thin deli slices of peppered turkey breast. Oh, and of course, I add a big dollop of Dijon mustard. This hits the spot, but I really should have put some veggies on this to make it better.

Whole-wheat bread (90 calories)
Slice of cheese (100 calories)
Sliced turkey (130 calories)
Total: 320 calories

4 p.m.
Not sure why I'm not satisfied, but I'm not. I feel a snack attack coming on. I head to the pantry and enjoy an entire snack pack of pistachios (about 40 nuts).
Total: 120 calories

6:15 p.m.
I'm feeling guilty and somewhat satiated from my afternoon snacks, so I am going to make a "kitchen sink salad" for dinner. I go through my refrigerator and pantry and piece together a bunch of random items into a salad. I add a 90-second microwaveable brown-rice packet to put on top of my salad to make it more satisfying.

1/2 cup sautéed asparagus (75 calories)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (25 calories)
½ cup arugula (25 calories)
1 cup of spinach (25 calories)
1 tablespoon Almond Accents slivered almonds (40 calories)
Olive oil and vinegar (50 calories)
2 whole-wheat flat crackers (150 calories)
Hummus (50 calories)
1/2 cup Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (100 calories)
Total: 550 calories

After dinner, my house rule is that I don't eat anything until bedtime. I find that if I get into a habit of a night snack, I crave it every night, regardless of whether or not I'm actually hungry. So, after dinner, I just turn off the light to the kitchen and try my best to not go back into that room until the morning.

I'm assuming I ate around 2,200 calories for the day. (Actual total I added up later: 2,175 calories. Man, I'm good!) That's pretty average for an American woman. The only problem for most women is that they didn't exercise for two hours, burning off about 600 calories or more for those workouts. That's part of the reason why so many adults are gaining weight; they aren't exercising enough to make a dent in their excess daily calorie intake.

What was good about my diet today is the fact that I had fresh fruit three different times, and two of my main meals were based on vegetables. You will also notice that my diet has very little meat in it, and without my afternoon snack of an open-faced turkey and cheese sandwich, I would have had no animal products in this entire day. I have explained that I eat a "flexitarian" diet and this is a great example. The majority of my meals are vegetarian but I do enjoy animal products in moderation.

Of course, not every day is like this, and with the holidays in full swing, my calorie count is bound to fluctuate from day to day—as I'm sure yours is too. Try this experiment for yourself (minus the camera) and see what a typical day is like for you. And if you're interested in seeing more of my daily diet, just let me know.

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