Real-Life Food Choices

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Eat nine servings of veggies a day, drink quarts of water, load up on fiber — we all know what the doctors and nutritionists recommend. But in real life, of course, people don’t always make the best fitness and food choices.

So just how does an “average” American’s diet shape up from a nutritional standpoint?

WebMD asked four healthy people — all college-educated, none following a specific health or weight-loss diet — to keep a food diary for one day. Then, Molly Kimball, RD, a sports nutritionist at the Ochsner Clinic’s Elmwood Center in New Orleans, gave them the verdict on what they’re doing right — and what they might want to re-think.

Our four volunteers, who asked that we refer to them by first name only, vowed to be completely honest about their food choices, whether good, bad, or ugly. Here’s how their diets fared.

1. RACHELE

Bio: 36, magazine editor in Atlanta, husband, no kids

Body type: Think Olive Oyl

metabolism stoked and keeps green tea with milk

  • 1 apple
  • 5:30 p.m.

    • 2 glasses nonalcoholic white Zinfandel
    • 1 square metabolism.
    • Getting enough fresh fruit.
    • Limiting portions. Her choice of half a sandwich in the restaurant was a good one. And she did well to have just a bite of chocolate cake! Maybe she was holding out for the Twinkie?

    And here are some areas where there’s room for improvement. Kimball suggests that she:

    • Supplement her diet with a multivitamin plus 1,000 mg of calcium daily.
    • Add protein. Linda is well below the recommended minimum of 50 grams. She could add a scoop of soy protein powder to her shake, and increase her portion of lean meat at night to 3 ounces.
    • Add vegetables by having a salad with lunch and some cooked veggies at dinner.

    So we see that in the real world, lots of people eat on the run and choose whatever is quickest or whatever they feel like. As Jeff put it, “Eating what we want is about our last freedom.”

    But that doesn’t necessarily mean dietary disaster. The trick, as Kimball has shown, is to make a few, relatively painless changes that will help you approach perfection. And even if you have a fried Twinkie kind of day, you can always start over the next.