The hardest nutrition advice to follow

Five nutrition pros, one question: What advice do you preach, but struggle to practice?

If teaching others the importance of healthy eating was your day job—and you had all of the right tools at your disposal—putting nutrition first, choosing the right food, keeping your portions in check, and making time for hearty meals would be much easier, right?

Well, as it turns out, the principles of ideal eating pose challenges for professionals, too. Here, five renowned nutrition experts dish on the diet advice they struggle to take to heart.

eat mindfully, even when you're busy

“One area that I find hard to follow is mindful eating. As a working mom, I find myself eating on the go, while I’m standing up, in the car, on the phone, and in front of the computer screen. For my clients looking to lose or maintain their weight, I not only teach them what to eat, but how to eat. Mindless eating leaves one vulnerable to consuming extra calories and not feeling satisfied. It’s so important to be present and enjoy your food.”

—Ilyse Schapiro, M.S., C.D.N., and R.D. in private practice in the New York City area

get your 7-per-day

“I would have to say that getting enough vegetables would be my weakest link. I like to shoot for 6 to 9 cups, but I usually fall around the 5-cup range when life gets busy—and unfortunately that can happen often. It’s something I try to keep at the forefront of my mind because more vegetables assist in my water and my fiber intake, too. So on the days I do not eat enough vegetables, it can be a downward spiral in other areas as well.”

—Maria Pagano, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S. and Tier 4 coach

slow it down

“The research is crystal clear: When we eat fast, we eat more. When we eat slowly, we eat less. We feel more satisfied, calmer, happier, and digest better too. We stress less and enjoy our food more. That's why this is what I call an ‘anchor’ practice. Whenever people—myself included—make less-than-optimal choices, eating slowly always grounds them and helps turn things around.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Raising three young children, running an international nutrition company, and making time for physical activity sometimes rushes me along making it hard to eat slowly. Yet, as they say: The moment you don't have time for it is the moment you need it the most. When I feel myself speeding up, I remind myself to pay attention—to put my fork down between bites, have a sip of water, and attend to the process of feeding and caring for my body.”

—John Berardi, Ph.D., and co-founder of Precision Nutrition

forget the clean plate club

“While I tend to focus the dietary guidance I give to clients on the issue of raising overall diet quality, I do also caution against the common problem of automatically eating all of the food that's in front of you, even when it means going past the point of satiety.

While I'm pretty good about serving myself appropriate portions at home, at restaurants I am an incorrigible plate cleaner and as a consequence, I routinely overeat when I eat out. The best weapon against the plate-clearing instinct is intent. If you consciously plan to stop when you feel satisfied, you'll be much less likely to overeat.”

—Matt Fitzgerald, an internationally recognized sports nutritionist and author of Diet Cults

prep your breakfast before bed

“Trainers and nutrition experts alike all urge their clients to start the day with a healthy breakfast to wake up the metabolism from the overnight fast, and for great energy and cognitive focus. This is the hardest piece of my own advice to follow!

My alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. some days. I'm constantly rushing to get the dog out, get ready for work, pack a lunch, and hit the road before traffic. Not only am I not hungry that early in the morning, but breakfast gets prioritized less than taking the dog out and showering. To fight this bad habit, I try to prep the night before. When I don't have to plan that early in the morning, a healthy breakfast is much more likely to happen. My go-to's: Noosa yogurt or a peanut butter and banana English muffin with tea in a travel mug.”

—Cassie Kipper, R.D., fitness manager and Tier 4 Coach