Why keep a food journal? Tracking your diet is a great tool for weight loss and helps you uncover how certain foods affect you. That’s why I did it for this story.
Check out my week of meals and snacks, and feel free to have what I’m having.
Mornings get busy, so this is a good meal to automate (meaning, find a few energizing breakfasts you like and make them your go-tos). It’s what I do, and it safeguards against bad choices when I’m rushing.
1. Plain 2% Greek Yogurt With Berries
This is my best shovel-it-down breakfast, along with my beloved green juice. The yogurt alone has 20 grams of protein, which is more than enough to fuel me till lunch. And antioxidant-rich berries are one of my favorite morning standbys.
2. Whole-Egg Omelet With Avocado and Cheese
I had a little extra time after my A.M. workout, so I sprang for an easy omelet. When it comes to eggs, I’m a yolk guy; they’re full of nutrients, such as bone-strengthening vitamin D (no wonder they’re so sunny looking). Add in a slice of cheese, creamy avocado, and a side of fruit, and you’re good to go.
3. Oatmeal With Blueberries
I went for this cozy classic on a blah, chilly day. FYI, oats are a great source of a special type of fiber that’s been shown to help lower cholesterol.
4. Quinoa-Chia Seed Cereal With Hemp Milk and Berries
Yes, berries again. They’re the perfect complement to a healthy cereal (the supercharged seeds in this one are a nice perk, but in general, I’m happy with any option that has 3 grams of sugar or less). I top it off with hemp milk, a health food store find with lots of heart-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Paleo-Style Granola With Almond Milk
You don’t have to follow a paleo diet to appreciate a crunchy mix of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. (What this granola leaves out: added sugar and artificial ingredients.) Lisa buys ours on Amazon, but the homemade kind is great too.
When I’m at the studio taping two shows in a day, lunch can be an ongoing project — I’ll eat part of it after we shoot the first show and part after the second, with a snack between meetings. I love when guests walk us through recipes; it means lunch from our food stylist, Ulli Stachl. On hospital days, I’ll brown-bag from home or get a salad at the cafeteria.
1. Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich With Pepper Jack, Tomato, and Vegan Mayo.
One slice of bread is plenty — trust me, you don’t miss the other one when there’s a spicy slice of pepper jack cheese in play. I spotted leftover salad from dinner in the fridge, so I threw some of that on the plate to work in more vegetables.
2. Roasted Chicken Thigh, Brown Rice With Frozen Peas, Side of Broccoli
A chicken breast is always a healthy pick but gets a little same-old, so chicken thighs are my alternative. They have a little more fat, and the extra richness helps me feel more satisfied. Ulli made the brown rice and veggies on a hot plate — her “kitchen” at the show. Proof that you don’t need fancy equipment to cook up a storm.
3. Wild Salmon on a Bed of Cooked Spinach With a Scoop of Quinoa
Raw and cooked spinach both have their nutritional merits, but heating these greens helps release certain antioxidants, making them easier for your body to grab. (Plus, they’re delicious sautéed with olive oil and garlic.) I top the plate off with a generous squeeze of lemon.
4. Tuna Fish Salad With Celery, Scallions, and Vegan Mayo
Lisa’s the cook in the family, not me. But tuna salad I can stir up myself and eat right out of the bowl. (By the way, I like regular mayo, too. This is just what we have in the fridge at home.)
5. Kale Salad With Quinoa and Balsamic Dressing
Double the superfoods, double the benefits. This power duo has plenty of protein, fiber, and a mineral called manganese that helps your body form connective tissue.
Evening is family time, whether that means a date night with Lisa at one of our favorite local spots or sharing a pot of her famous superfood fettucine with the kids. As with breakfast and lunch, I try to stick to a veggie-heavy, protein-powered formula. But if we’re at a restaurant and something not-so-healthy looks really spectacular, I just might splurge a little.
1. Broiled Sea Bass, Sliced Zucchini With Tzatziki, and Chopped Tomato-Cucumber-Onion Salad
The flavors of a Mediterranean-inspired fish dinner remind me of trips to Turkey, where my parents are from. And it’s light and nourishing. You can buy store-made tzatziki or put together your own by mixing cucumber, dill, and garlic into plain yogurt.
2. Greek Salad
Raw veggies and feta? I’m in. And though I certainly wouldn’t turn down a kale Greek salad, I’m also happy with classic romaine — it’s a great source of folate, vitamin K, and magnesium.
3. Fettuccine With Chickpeas, Squash, and Hazelnuts
This vegetarian dish gets protein from chickpeas and nuts. Butternut squash brings vitamin C to the table.
4. Pulled-Pork Sandwich With Broccoli Rabe and Peppers
Everything in moderation, right? That’s how I justified ordering this pulled-pork sandwich at a restaurant; it’s a favorite every-now-and-then treat. And, hey, there’s something green in there too.
If Lisa makes some kind of special dessert, like her amazing vegan carrot cake, I won’t say no. (And if it’s my birthday, I’m definitely going for a slice of her German chocolate cake — a big one.) But mostly, my nightly cup of cinnamon-cardamom tea with 2 percent milk and honey is about as dessert-y as it gets for me. Snacks are another story, though. I’m big on these nibbles.
Morning: The Resquisite Bag of Nuts
Take it from a guy who spends a lot of time on his feet — nuts are fuel, and if you work them into your diet, your body will thank you. I’m rarely without a bagful, whether it’s some dark-chocolate-covered almonds I snagged from the office snack drawer, plain ol’ walnuts from home, or Lisa’s glazed nuts, baked with a little maple syrup, olive oil, and spices.
Anytime: Popcorn With “Nooch”
Fun fact: Popcorn’s technically a whole grain. I top mine with a spoonful of nutritional yeast flakes (a.k.a. nooch) for cheesy flavor and a vitamin B12 boost.
Midday: Seaweed Snacks
Instead of potato chips, I tend to grab these powerful plants when I want a quick salt fix. Dried seaweed sheets are basically the perfect nosh: They’re low in calories and high in minerals. Plus, they have a great savory flavor.
When I’m peckish on a long taping day at the studio, Ulli makes a simple but delicious baked apple in the microwave — she cores the apple, sprinkles on cinnamon, and zaps it until soft, about 5 minutes. (It’s also good with chopped nuts or a squeeze of lemon.)
Where I Went Wrong
I could have had more raw veggies at lunch (especially on my tuna salad day). Next week, I’ll make sure to work those in. And — no offense, berries! — I’d also like to start having a greater variety of fruits at breakfast; that way, I’ll start the day with a wider range of nutrients. Summer brings all kinds of tasty produce — peaches, plums, cherries, watermelon, you name it. I can’t wait.
This story originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.