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9 Diet Hacks Nutritionists Use Every Day Print E-mail
Written by Adrian Wozniak   
Monday, 16 January 2017
Think Like a Nutritionist With These Simple Tips
Whenever we have a diet or nutrition question, we call on a dietitian or nutritionist to lead us in the right direction.

Although you may picture them noshing on raw veggies and sipping water all day, they aren’t always perfect — they enjoy dining out, battle the munchies, and love dessert just like the rest of us! The difference is they know the insider tips to shave calories off comfort food favorites, satisfy cravings the healthy way, and pack more nutrition into each meal. Make their tricks second nature and soon you’ll be an expert at keeping the flavor you crave, while slimming down your meals and your waistline.

1/9 Eat Chocolate – Like This

Love chocolate? So does Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, a columnist for Everyday Health. Instead of ripping open a chocolate bar, she combines one tablespoon of dark chocolate chips with a snack-sized bag (about 1.5 ounces) of mixed unsalted nuts and dried fruit. “You'll get a chocolate hit without overdoing portion sizes and you'll have the benefit of the protein and healthy fat in the nuts to keep you feeling stable without crashing,” says Taub-Dix. With all the protein helping to fill you up, you’ll ultimately consume fewer calories while still satisfying your sweet tooth. Just be careful when choosing your nut mix — look for one with raw or dry roasted nuts and avoid those with added sugar or fat.

2/9 Use Greens Instead of Tortillas and Chips

Leafy greens are good for more than just salads — these super foods allow you to indulge in your favorite foods without the calorie overload. Whether it’s a burrito or potato chips, swapping out the starchy carbs for a leafy green can shave hundreds of calories off your meal. “Collard greens can be wrapped, folded, even baked enchilada- or quesadilla-style to save hundreds of calories and still enjoy a savory meal!” says holistic nutritionist Jolene Goring. And when a hankering for potato chips hits, reach for the kale. “I'm a sucker for salty chips," says Rachel Begun, RDN. "When I want that salty, crunchy goodness without all of the fat and calories, I make kale chips. I get all of the health benefits of leafy greens while indulging in something crispy and salty.”

3/9 Say Yes to (This) Cheese

The experts know that whenever a dish calls for a creamy, fatty ingredient, it’s a job for low-fat (1%) cottage cheese. “Dishes rich in full-fat cheeses like ricotta can provide a large amount of calories and salt," says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, a dietitian practicing in New Jersey. "However, swapping full-fat ricotta cheese with low-fat cottage cheese not only reduces the overall fat and calorie content of a dish, but it preserves the flavor as well.” She also recommends using it in dips and other recipes that call for mayo: “Adding low-fat cottage cheese to a food processor and blending until smooth can make an excellent substitute for mayonnaise.” If you’re watching your sodium levels, be sure to choose a low-sodium variety of cottage cheese.

4/9 Texturize Your Salad

While the majority of people look at a salad and immediately think healthy, the experts know better. Caloric add-ons and fatty dressing can quickly turn a seemingly healthy salad into a calorie-bomb. “Eating a big salad every day is a great way to fill up on good nutrition with fewer calories — but not if you add everything but the kitchen sink!” says Begun. “I stick to adding just a few ingredients that provide a variety of taste, texture, and color.” Texturize your salad by adding a serving of nuts for crunch or half an avocado for creaminess. When it comes to dressing, Begun has a trick for keeping calories in check: “I pour just a little bit of a vinaigrette dressing on the leafy greens and use my hands to massage the dressing in. It's amazing how little dressing you need while getting the full flavor you want.


5/9 Love Butter? Try Avocado

Avocado is another ingredient always up a nutritionist’s sleeve. “An easy swap that boosts the health content of a recipe is replacing butter with mashed avocado,” says Palinski-Wade. “For instance, swapping two tablespoons of butter for two tablespoons of mashed avocado in a baked good recipe not only saves 174 calories, but it also reduces saturated fat by 14 grams, making it a good way to slim down a recipe and make it a heart-healthier option as well.” While avocados are high in fat, keep in mind that it’s the very healthy monounsaturated fats — making it a heart healthy swap in any dish. As with everything, just be sure to watch the portion size.

6/9 Know Your Menu Lingo

While we all know to steer clear of items on the menu that have been fried, Taub-Dix warns to proceed with caution around other cooking techniques as well, including items that are sautéed and braised. “These methods of meal preparation can be laden with fat,” says Taub-Dix. “Even though most oils contain healthy fats, at almost 2,000 calories per cup, you need to stay on top of portions if you're watching your weight.” Instead, choose items that have been grilled, baked, or poached.

7/9 Swap Oil for Broth

Veggies are a staple of a healthy diet, but cooking them in oil can quickly add hundreds of calories to your dish — 120 calories for every tablespoon to be exact. “Homemade vegetable broth is my secret ingredient for adding flavor with very few calories,” says Begun. “To add flavor to sautéed vegetables for far fewer calories, I use vegetable broth instead of oil.” She also uses vegetable broth as the base for lower-calorie sauces and cooks grains, like oatmeal and quinoa, in it to increase the flavor for few additional calories.

8/9 Embrace Comfort Food (In a Healthy Way)

Nutritionists love comfort food, too! The difference is they know how to prepare it so that it doubles as a healthy meal. Case in point: Alfredo sauce. Instead of whipping up the standard fat- and calorie-laden recipe, Goring substitutes cauliflower for cream to cut back on calories while adding a dose of vitamins.  Simply substitute 1 cup of cooked, blended cauliflower for each cup of cream that the recipe calls for.

9/9 Truly Enjoy Your Food

One thing all the experts agree on is the importance of making food the focus at mealtime. “In my opinion, the number one way to watch calories is to eat mindfully,” says Begun. Eating at your desk while you work, in front of the TV, or while you’re checking emails distracts you from using all of your senses to experience the meal, which goes a long way towards keeping us satisfied, Begun adds. “I eat every single meal at a table — whether alone or with company — with no TV, computer, or other distractions. This allows me to eat until satisfied and no more.”


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