If you want to improve your diet and overall health, look to Atlanta's dietitians for inspiration. When asked about the habits they have in common, they responded via e-mail with the following helpful – and achievable – tips from their own experiences:
Have an occasional treat
The perception of a dietitian is often that of a person who always eats the healthiest possible foods. However, all registered dietitians believe in balance, not deprivation, said Rahaf Al Bochi, registered dietitian and owner of Olive Tree Nutrition LLC.
"It's important to balance healthy eating with enjoyment of all foods, and this includes foods that might not be so healthy, such as brownies, cakes and chips," she said. "The key word is balance. There is no need to deprive or eliminate foods entirely from our diet but rather learn to eat foods that are nourishing and balancing it with those foods that we enjoy."
"We all believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and you should NOT skip it," said Juliana Nagy, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Nourishing Life LLC in Sandy Springs.
"After a night of fasting, this is the best way to wake up your metabolism and get it going."
Eat healthy fats
Fat isn't the enemy, Nagy said, but it's healthy fats she's talking about, not bacon or fried food. She recommends the types of fats you'll find in avocados, olive oil, coconut oil and nuts.
"Hydration is also another very common point between dietitians. We know how vital water is to our body and its functions. I am 95 percent sure that you will always see a dietitian carrying some water with her/him," Nagy said.
Schwenke also stressed the importance of choosing water over soft drinks or flavored sugary drinks.
Exercise every day
"Find a way to be active and stick with it, daily!" Schwenke said.
"Exercise is a must!" Nagy said. Dietitians – and everyone else – should aim for 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, she advised.
Focus on overall health, not just weight
Many people tend to focus only on the number on the scale and how their clothes are fitting.
Dietitians, however, tend to focus on overall health, said Jenny Askew, registered dietitian and owner of Balance Fitness and Nutrition, LLC in Alpharetta.
Shun fad diets
"We have learned and research shows that the rigid extremes of fad diets, low-calorie diets, one-food diets or very restrictive diets, like Paleo for example ... just don't work," said Page Love, registered dietitian and founder of Nutrifit Sport Therapy Inc.
Most of these diets are low in crucial nutrients, she pointed out.
For example, Paleo lacks complex carbohydrate energy and calcium, and the grapefruit/cabbage soup diets lack essential amino acids, B vitamins and iron. They can also turn normal eaters into emotional bingers.
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