The 8 Complaints Nutritionists Hear Most
They're the new therapists: Here, they troubleshoot your biggest issues.
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Healthy eating is all in the details: Nutritionists may map out a big-picture healthy eating strategy, but according to the pros, even the minutiae can have an impact on how likely you are to stick with a program.
“A fix can be as simple as switching from sugary gum to sugar-free gum. Sometimes clients will complain that they’re eating healthy and making smart choices but feel bloated and frustrated. A common culprit is the sugar alcohol in gum,” says Ryan Andrews, R.D., a fitness and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition. “Sorbitol, maltitol, and xylitol are incompletely absorbed in the small intestine, then they move to the large intestine and create that distended feeling. It’s an easy fix—a piece a day may be ok, just not 6.”
For everyone who doesn’t have a nutritionist to proffer shrewd eat-right hacks, below, the pros offer remedies for everything from digestion woes to eating on the run:
Complaint: I'm over almonds. What's another packable snack?
Hack: Buy some frozen peaches or mango slices and transfer portions to serving-size baggies so you can toss one or two in your bag. They stay cold as they gradually thaw so they’re a refreshing snack. I like to add a dash of cayenne—it gives your metabolism a boost and helps your body process the fruit’s sugars. — Haylie Pomroy, celebrity nutritionist, author of The Fast Metabolism Diet
Hack: I’m a fan of jerky. There are so many new grass-fed types and it’s the perfect low-fat protein snack. Clients can take it with them and keep some in their desk drawer at work. — Keri Glassman, MS, RDN, founder of the Nutritious Life
Complaint: I don’t have time for breakfast.
Hack: Clients always say this, but of course there’s time. Toss a piece of Ezekiel bread in the toaster while you brush your teeth and then throw a little coconut butter on it. Or do overnight oats—just 1/3 cup rolled oats soaked in 1/3 cup yogurt or kefir. Then you can add your choice of cinnamon, vanilla, chia seeds, flax seeds or fruit in the morning. You can also make single-serve quiches in mini ramekins in advance so they’re ready to toss in the microwave. — Keri Glassman
Complaint: It’s too hard to eat fresh, whole foods all the time.
Hack: Some minimal processing is ok. Frozen vegetables for example can sometimes have more nutrients because they’re flash frozen at peak harvest. So many clients are going to extremes, feeling like they need to soak their own beans or sprout almonds to make almond milk. It’s fine if you want to try that but you’re more likely to stick with healthy eating if you make your life easier. Just choose beans in a BPA-free can. — Ryan Andrews
Complaint: I have a night-time sweet-tooth.
Hack: People often want something sweet after dinner. First I tell them to look at their diet because it may mean that they’re not getting enough protein during the day. Then I try to get them in the habit of satisfying the craving with a sweet herbal tea. Brands like Yogi have options like caramel that taste great and have no chemicals or calories—and sipping it is relaxing.— Keri Glassman
Complaint: I love protein shakes and smoothies but they’re hard to digest.
Hack: Read your protein powder label to see if it contains inulin. It’s a naturally-occurring source of fiber found in small amounts in foods like asparagus, jicama, and onion. The problem is that it’s often added to protein powders, bars and gluten-free packaged foods in high amounts that are difficult to digest. It’s also called chicory root so I advise clients to read labels and try to steer clear of both if they’re having this issue.— Ryan Andrews
Hack: Powders are easy and quick but if you’re having a problem, do a homemade protein smoothie. My go-to recipe is just 1 cup almond milk, 1 banana, 1/4 avocado, roughly 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and you can add cinnamon and ice. — Keri Glassman
Complaint: I don’t have time to make a healthy dinner every night.
Hack: Make the freezer your friend. I’ll prepare some of the week’s meals in advance on a Sunday and freeze them and I tell clients to do the same. You can make soups or whole meals with a protein, veggie, and grain and freeze each dinner portion in Tupperware. Then you don’t feel like you’re always cooking. — Haylie Pomroy
Complaint: I get bored with healthy, low-fat meals.
Hack: First, I’m not a fan of cutting all the fat because it adds flavor, it’s satisfying, and you need it to burn fat. Plus fats like flax, olive oil, and coconut oil have additional health benefits. But herbs and spice are my answer for worries about blandness. They add flavor, nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and no sodium. Play with tarragon, basil, cumin, oregano, or try unusual varieties from a spice store like sumac or zatar.— Keri Glassman
Complaint: It’s hard to know if I get enough protein.
Hack: This one is pretty basic but I hear it frequently. It’s quite variable depending on your size/physical activity but for an average person it’s about 1 palm of protein-dense food per meal. This is a rough but easy guideline for if you’re eating 3-4 meals per day. That’s about 1 egg, a ½ can of tuna, a ½ can of beans, a small chicken breast or fish fillet per meal. If you’re larger in size, up it to 2 palms. But don't go overboard on the animal protein, try to make at least one meal 100% plants. — Ryan Andrews