Think being dubbed a "nutrition expert" means subsisting on nothing but wheatgrass juice and slivers of sashimi? Wrong! These nutritionists manage to love their food while still staying true to their aims — to keep us healthier and living longer. Here they answer our nosy questions about what they put in their mouths and why.
Ellie Krieger, MS, RD, age 41, New York City
As the host of the Food Network’s Healthy Appetite, Krieger shows how to make healthy versions of foods we crave (think steak tacos and carrot cake).
Q. We’ve heard that sugar, salt, and saturated fats are the nutritional axis of evil. Is there a healthful way to have them in your diet?
A. I figure out how little I can use to get the most flavor impact. For example, if I’m craving bacon, I might make a spinach salad with a warm bacon dressing that uses just two slices. What’s important to me is eating real food that has an obvious point of origin, so I skip anything with an ingredient list full of stuff that came from a factory instead of a farm.
Q. What’s the smartest diet change you’ve made after 40?
A. I take it easy on sugar and white flour. Reducing them leaves room for more antioxidant-packed foods, like fruits and vegetables, which help with aging. Plus, the extra calories from refined carbs stick with me and make me gain weight a little more as I age.
Q. Any junk food you can’t resist?
A. I am 100 percent crazy about french fries. They’re not totally lacking in nutrition — potatoes are full of vitamin C — so I feed my addiction by making a healthy version: slice potatoes, drizzle with a healthy oil, and bake.
Q. You’re as busy as the rest of us. How do you get meals on the table?
A. People think that making healthful food means being in the kitchen all day, but if that were true, I’d never cook. I’ll sprinkle fish with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and grill it — there’s nothing more delicious. I also mix chili pepper, garlic, dried coriander and oregano, rub it onto meat or cut-up vegetables and grill.
Q. What do you order for takeout when you don’t feel like cooking?
A. I order pizza loaded with veggies: spinach, mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, you name it. Then I vow to eat just one slice and have a salad on the side.
Q. Which anti-aging strategy do you think is bogus?
A. Taking a lot of pills and potions. You’ll stay young looking if you eat an antioxidant-rich diet full of colorful produce (red peppers, oranges, dark leafy greens) and healthy fats like omega-3s, which are in salmon.
Q. How crucial is diet to aging well?
A. I believe that outer beauty is a sign of inner vitality. Eating well is the key to keeping that inner vitality as we age so we can do everything we want to do — and look good doing it.
Rovenia Brock, PhD, age 51, Bethesda, Maryland
Q. People must constantly ask, "What’s your secret?" because you look the way you do. So, spill.
A. After 50, modesty is a waste of my time. I look good because I live a consistently healthy lifestyle. I work at it, approaching it from the inside out.
Q. What’s the biggest anti-aging mistake women make?
A. The perpetual dieting thing, where you’re always on some weight-reduction plan instead of just living the right way. I believe your body ages prematurely when you’re always losing and gaining. But it’s never too late to be the best you can be by changing your diet and exercise habits for the better.
Q. What’s your exercise regimen?
A. I work out four to five days a week, always taking Sunday and Monday off. I’ll do a half hour of brisk walking and then 30 minutes of strength training with my trainer. That’s so important, because we start losing bone and muscle mass as we age. Plus I looked great in the backless dress I wore for my wedding almost five years ago.
Q. How do you avoid weight gain?