What’s for dinner? What about breakfast? Lunch? Pre-workout fuel? Midnight snack? Every day, you make hundreds of decisions about what to eat and drink. Yes, really: Recent research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that we typically make more than 200 food-related choices a day—holy hoagie!
And while variety is important when deciding what to put in your mouth (different foods offer different health benefits), keeping a few nutritious staples in the rotation can combat “decision fatigue,” and help you stick to your healthy eating goals. “Decreasing the amount of times you have to actively select the ‘better’ option may assist with weight management,” says Tanya Halliday, Ph.D., R.D. “Over time, consistently choosing that option can run you down and, at the end of the day, diminish your ability to make the healthier choice.” No, you don’t have to eat the same thing every dang day to stay slim, but “having a go-to plan for your meals can help you streamline the healthy eating process, and remove all of those distracting choices,” she says.
So what foods should be regulars in your meal series? Here, seven nutritionists share the one food they eat pretty much every single day:
“I eat oatmeal daily! It’s so easy to customize depending on what’s in season or what I’m in the mood for. I make it with milk and lots of mix-ins. Some of my favorites include peanut butter, fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds, and chocolate chips. My bowls are full of whole grains, healthy fats, and protein to keep me full until lunch. If I’m looking for an extra protein boost, I add an egg!” —Lindsay Livingston, R.D. and author of the blog The Lean Green Bean
“Kefir is great as a quick, high-quality protein and calcium alternative to milk. I can drink it for breakfast while chasing my toddler around, or on my way in to the office. It is a rich source of probiotics, which help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. You can drink it on its own or blend it with frozen fruit and spinach for a simple smoothie.” —Sumner Brooks, R.D.N. and the author of Savvy Girl Eating
“They’re a low-calorie source of high-quality (vegetarian) protein that keeps me full when I’m on the run. I’ll boil a batch of eggs on the weekend and portion them out in twos or threes in small containers so I can have them on hand during the work week for a snack or as part of a balanced breakfast.” —Tanya Halliday, Ph.D., R.D. (Learn how bone broth can help you lose weight with Women’s Health’s Bone Broth Diet.)
“I eat nuts on most days of the week. Walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are a few of the varieties I almost always have in my kitchen,” They’re chalk full of healthy fats and fiber, which are essential for a healthy diet—and for keeping your hanger pangs at bay. I eat nuts as a snack, incorporate them into baked good (like banana bread), and even toss cashews or almonds into stir-fry recipes.” —Kim Melton, R.D.
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“Whether I’m making a parfait for breakfast, blending a smoothie, or searching for a mid-day snack, yogurt is my go-to! I prefer Skyr yogurt for the high protein content, and when it’s the base for my main meal, I bulk it up with fruit, granola, nuts, and seeds to make sure it’ll be balanced and filling. Yogurt is also a fantastic source of bone-promoting calcium and probiotics to promote healthy gut function and immunity.” —Mandy Enright, R.D.N., creator of the couples nutrition blog Nutrition Nuptials
“People do not get enough fiber in their diet, and chia is a great source with five grams per tablespoon! I add it to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and salads, or I make chia pudding for a grab-and-go snack for the week.” —Andrea Hardy, R.D.
“Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, Bibb lettuce…any and all forms of greens are good with me. I love adding them to a breakfast hash or casserole, or having them in a big salad for lunch or dinner. They also work well blended into green smoothies. Greens are nutrient-rich with lots of potassium and vitamins A, C, and K. They’re also a decent source of magnesium, calcium, and iron, and they’re low in calories and high in fiber, providing filling effects without filling you out.” —Kristina LaRue, R.D. and sports dietitian