Philadelphia-based dietitian Theresa Shank, RD, LDN, is nothing if not relatable. As Einstein Medical Center’s outpatient dietitian, Shank is a big proponent of the “practice what you preach” philosophy.
“Every piece of advice I share with my clients is something that I do in my own diet,” said Shank. “I’m not going to say you have to drink a green juice every day because I know you can’t bring a Vitamix into the office.”
Shank describes her diet as simple, realistic and tasteful. Staples that can be found in her kitchen include berries, nuts, lean meats, whole grains — and absolutely no added sugar.
“I always tell my female clients that sugar is not their friend; all it’s going to do is sit on their behind,” Shank joked.
Shank recommends limiting your added sugar intake to six teaspoons a day (roughly the equivalent of 24 grams). For a healthier touch of sweetness, she suggests reaching for natural sources of sugar like fruit.
However, it’s consistency that has been Shank’s key to sticking with her healthy eating plan.
“I have been eating the same way for the last four years,” Shank confessed. “The only time I deviate from my routine is if I am trying out a new food trend to see if I want to change around my recommendations to clients.
“I think you have to be a regimented person to eat healthy. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun but you have to know what works best for you and stick to that,” said Shank.
Batch cooking also helps Shank maintain her healthy diet. On Sundays and Wednesdays, Shank preps and cooks a week’s worth of lunches and dinners. The weekends, however, are reserved for eating out.
“I love to try out new restaurants in the city and being mindful of my portion control during the week allows me to eat out without feeling guilty.”
Below, in her own words, Shank shares her typical day of healthy eating:
5:45 a.m.: Banana with peanut butter and water.
“The first thing I do right when I wake up is drink 12 ounces of water. It’s important to start your day off hydrated, especially if you’re first reach is usually for a cup of coffee.
During the week I wake up early to get in my workout. Before I head to the gym, I’ll have a banana with a smear of peanut butter. Depending on the type of workout I am doing, I’ll adjust what I eat prior to working out. If I am weight training or taking a Pure Barre class, I’ll have a half of a Think Thin bar or 8 ounces of water mixed with hemp protein in addition to my banana.”
8:30 a.m.: Siggi’s plain non-fat yogurt with berries and mixed nuts OR oatmeal with berries and a tablespoon of peanut butter.
“Once I am settled in at work, I will have Siggi’s plain non-fat yogurt with berries and mixed nuts. If I did purely cardio in the morning, I’ll swap out the yogurt and have a ½ cup of oatmeal with berries and a tablespoon of peanut butter.”
Mid-morning snack: Half of a Think Thin bar or a hard-boiled egg.
Lunch: Salad with a source of protein.
“Lunch is always a salad with a source of protein. I like to use spring mix with shredded carrots as my base and then I’ll add three ounces of protein, whether it’s chicken, tofu or tuna. I like to have carbs at lunch so I’ll add chickpeas, black beans, couscous or quinoa to my salad as well. The small addition of carbs is what gives me enough energy to get through my afternoon without giving into a mid-afternoon sweet craving.
A lot of my clients say that they would become bored if they ate salads every day for lunch so I make creative options for myself and then motivate my clients to try them. I love trying out new salad dressings, this week I made honey mustard vinaigrette from one of my favorite recipe websites EatingWell.com. Last week I tried making a version of Barbuzzo’s pistachio pesto dressing, which turned out to be delicious. (If anyone is as obsessed with Barbuzzo’s Roasted and Raw Beet Salad as I am, they’ll have to try this dressing recipe. Note: I did not add the cilantro in the version that I made.)”
3:30 p.m.: Apple with peanut butter or mixed nuts.
“I will always have my third (and last) serving of fruit for the day, which is usually an apple and either a tablespoon of peanut butter or a handful of mixed nuts. Some nights I won’t get home from work until 8:30 p.m. and on those nights I will have an additional Siggi’s yogurt at around 5 p.m. I try not to go longer than 3.5 hours without eating or else I am ravenous when I get home.”
Dinner: 4 ounces of protein with vegetables.
“Most dinners are the same, usually consisting of 4 ounces of protein with mostly vegetables. Today, I had tilapia, quinoa and asparagus. I have this great book, ‘Vegetable of the Day’, that I use on a weekly basis to keep my veggie intake varied and tasteful. “
Dessert: Vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.
“I usually don’t snack at night, but if I do, I’ll have my favorite cookie from Whole Foods; a Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip with a small glass of non-fat organic milk. The cookie is huge so I’ll either share it with my boyfriend or make it last for a couple of days.”
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