What a Teacher Eats in the Summer: Food Diaries

This diarist was using her summer break from teaching to get back on track with the right food and exercise

It’s okay to treat yourself once in awhile, but this food diarist should cut back on the amount of sweets and desserts in her current diet.


Gender: Female
Age: 33
Height: Five-foot-three
Weight: 177
Location: Silver Spring
Profession: Teacher
Self-described activity level: “I picked up tennis again two years ago when I began teaching in DC, playing once a week in the county’s recreation program. I can’t always play outside of class due to my schedule (did you know that commutes can kill dreams?), which I think is hindering my progress a bit. I joined a gym in July and have been going three times a week. I do about an hour of treadmill work. I’m on summer break now, but as that is ending, I am hoping to create (and stick to) a schedule that lets me balance my workouts, my job, and, most important, my family. I just want to look and feel better; I’m not committed to a particular number or size goal.”


8:50 AM: Breakfast is some tropical fruit salad (with pineapple, cantaloupe, kiwi, banana and chopped walnuts) over a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt and some orange juice. I found the recipe for the fruit salad in a cookbook, and I had to use the cantaloupe as a substitute for mango—the one I just bought was way too soft and mushy. I think I’m going to go to the gym since I didn’t get to go yesterday, and I don’t want to go four days without working out . . . I think I might try the Zumba class today!
12:10 to 1:20 PM:
I made it to the gym to drop off the boys in the babysitting room and I go to my first Zumba class. What kind of madness is this? I ask myself as I am moving frenetically. Fastest. Class. Ever. But I stuck with it (it’s a good thing I have some rhythm). I finished the class and drank every bit of my 20-ounce bottle of water.
2:15 PM: Made it home, and made lunch for the boys. I had my summer lunch staple: apple salad (Granny Smith and Braeburn) over mixed greens with a dressing of honey, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper with a few bacon and Gorgonzola crumbles for texture and kick. I found this recipe in a Cooking Light cookbook a few years ago, and I love it! I also had a glass of Pellegrino with a splash of cranberry juice. It’s my way of getting in water and a bit of fruit juice. My husband refers to this drink as my “usual.” But I struggled to drink the whole glass; my arms really hurt from that Zumba class.
4:40 PM: Two slices—I swear, they were small—of Carvel Ice Cream cake. You simply can’t leave me alone with this stuff! Well, dinner tonight will be healthy, I’ll have some tea for dessert, and I’m going to the gym tomorrow, so this will be okay. So there.
8:20 PM: After a long and futile attempt at getting the boys to settle down and have some quiet time before dinner, my husband and I just didn’t have the energy to cook the meal we planned (not to mention that my migraine plus frozen meat equals no planned meal). So we went with breakfast for dinner. I had two homemade waffles with a little light syrup, one piece of bacon (I really love bacon), one half of a scrambled egg, and some cranberry juice.
9:50 PM: My husband offers me a piece of ice cream cake for dessert. Who am I to refuse? We both eat a piece and watch Design Star on demand.


10:20 PM: I’m eating rather late this morning because I slept so badly last night. My husband let me sleep in and he got the boys up and out of the house. I love him. For breakfast, I have three-fourths of a cup of cereal (Cascadian Farm Vanilla Granola Crunch) with three-fourths of a cup of 2-percent milk, half of a banana, and some cranberry juice. It felt good and balanced—sometimes if I just have cereal or just have fruit, I still feel hungry and then I eat something I have no business looking at (like those Big Texas cinnamon rolls out of the vending machines at school).
2:00 PM: After some e-mails and housework, I eat my mixed apple salad with three-fourths of a bottle of Pellegrino. So good! But I have a hankering for something sweet . . . I’m going to wait this out . . .
3:30 PM: So I’m done waiting this out, and I decide to satisfy my sweet tooth with a Tahoe White Chocolate Macadamia cookie. Two bites in, I know this was a bad choice; I hate the way this cookie tastes. So I have four Golden Oreos (sorry, loving daughter of ours who is away this week!) and a teacup of 2-percent milk. That hit the spot.
5:50 PM: I need a real snack now—that means my almond and craisin mix with a glass of ice water. I discovered this combination on a fruit and cheese tray at Starbucks last year. So good!
8:30 PM: Dinner in a word: spectacular. We tried a new recipe I found in Real Simple and changed it up a bit. It was a grilled chicken and corn salad with avocado and Parmesan, but we substituted some Mexican blend cheese for the Parmesan and added some Nana Cocina’s tortilla chips. To quote my husband, “This is cheaper and better than Sweetgreen.” And of course, I had my “usual.”
9:30 PM: Dessert tonight is two small scoops of Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Raspberry Swirl. Sorbet and frozen yogurt—can you actually go wrong?


10:50 AM: I’m eating so late today because I didn’t want to be late getting the boys to swim class. Breakfast is one piece of whole-wheat toast, one cup of cranberry juice and only a half cup of the tropical fruit salad over a half cup of yogurt since I was having toast.
2:40 PM: Apple salad with half a glass of root beer. Now I like my apple salad, and I like root beer, but they just don’t taste right together.
4:30 PM: Snacktime equals almond and craisin mix!
7:50 PM: Worked out at the gym tonight (and ran into a dear, dear friend of mine!). I did an hour on the treadmill with a nice amount of sweat and drank my 20 ounces of water. Tonight, it hit me: In all my attempts to get into shape before (exercise tapes, community classes, etcetera), I never really broke into a sweat. I don’t think I was really pushing myself. That is surely changing now!
9:30 PM: Home from the gym. My husband and I eat dinner together. Another new recipe I found: basmati rice with peas and chicken (marinated in coconut milk and red curry paste). And, of course, a tall ice cold glass of my usual.


Today is our oldest son’s birthday, so we’re all about celebrating!

9:30 AM: Birthday breakfast! I have two pieces of French toast soufflé (a Cooking Light recipe) and a bowl of mixed berries with a glass of Cran-Grape juice.

See Also:

What a Busy City Girl Eats: Food Diaries

Lunch Break: What Are Healthiest Options at Five Guys?

11:00 AM: I am feeling a bit dehydrated and don’t quite know why, so I have two glasses of ice water.
1:40 PM: Leftovers for lunch today. I had the killer salad with the avocado and Mexican cheese. My husband and I thought it would be a good idea to eat a little something before heading off to the amusement park to continue the birthday celebration.
3:00 to 8:00 PM: Amusement Park! The boys loved it, especially the water park, which is where we spent most of our time. I drank two bottles of water and had five bites of the Cookies and Cream Dippin’ Dots I was splitting with my husband. A word to the wise: Don’t waste your money on Dippin’ Dots. They just taste wrong. Thankfully, our son wants “real” pizza for dinner, so we left the park without having any chicken fingers, burgers, or funnel cakes!
8:30 PM: We go to Uno’s for dinner. I haven’t been here in about two years. They’ve included some small-plate versions of their classics, to my surprise. I have a glass of club soda with a splash of cranberry juice, a small plate serving of Rattlesnake Pasta (it was good!) and for dessert, I split a mini macadamia white chocolate chunk cookie sundae with my husband. I can’t believe our little boy is growing up!


9:30 AM: I decide to have a small bite to eat before going to the gym, so I have some tropical fruit with a glass of water. I don’t want my stomach to go into full rebellion against me, but I’m hungry. Fingers crossed.
11:30 AM: Zumba was so much more fun today! I like this class better than the one earlier this week; I think I’ll start going to this one. I was ravenous when I got home, so I have two slices of French toast soufflé with the last of the tropical fruit salad and a glass of orange juice.
2:30 PM: We’re on our way to our family reunion, and my husband is thirsty. So we stop at a convenience store, and I ask him to grab me a small bottle of Gatorade. The flavor I like (grape) only comes in 32-ounce bottles, so I think I’ll just sip on it the entire way there. I was wrong. I downed it in a few minutes.
4:30 to 8:30 PM: We make it to our family reunion. It’s really hot, and I’m really hungry. We brought some boneless chicken tenders marinated in a smoked chipotle/olive oil concoction my husband made because we didn’t want to eat fried chicken (we stopped eating fried chicken a few years ago, thinking it was an easy way to avoid extra cholesterol). On my plate, I have the following: two hot dogs with mustard and ketchup, a spoonful of baked beans, three pieces of our chicken with garden salad (I didn’t like the dressing selections, so I ate it undressed with the chicken). I also drink two bottles of water and one Mike’s Hard Cranberry Lemonade.
We continue our son’s birthday celebration with a cake from one of our favorite bakeries. Our youngest son doesn’t finish his piece of cake, so I eat his leftovers.
Between the meal and the birthday cake, I spend an hour at the pool, swimming and playing with our boys and some cousins.
10:45 PM: Finally home. We have some apple chamomile tea and drift off to sleep.

From Our Expert:

Susan Berkow, an adjunct professor at George Mason University, provides nutrition counseling at her offices near Old Town Alexandria (1211 Tatum Drive) and in Silver Spring (1107 3A Spring Street). Call 703-660-6556 to make an appointment.

She says, “You’ve done a great job with you record keeping, especially including your exercise routine and your feelings about food. It can be incredibly useful to examine why you are eating, be it stomach hunger or real physiological hunger or mouth hunger, just wanting something that tastes good on the spot.”

“My first recommendation would be to look at what you are drinking. The Pellegrino and water are terrific! You may want to cut back on some of the juices (cranberry, orange) that can add a lot of sugar and calories. In addition I suggest cutting back on the Gatorade, a useful drink when you have exercised exhaustively, but otherwise a sugar-free sports drink may be able to quench your thirst without adding extra calories. Fruits are a great source of nutrients and you seem to include plenty in your diet. The recommended serving of both juices and fruits for someone your size and age is about two or three servings per day. A serving is a six-ounce glass of juice or a small to medium-size fruit. Try to keep that in mind when you are planning your meals.”

“I suggest changing your milk to skim milk. It provides the same amount of nutrients as 2 percent, but less fat and fewer calories. If the change is too abrupt, what I suggest is pouring a glass with half skim and half 2-percent milk. Eventually, graduate to all skim and you won’t know the difference!”

“Treats are important and are part of many family celebrations. However, ice cream, cookies, and cake are loaded with sugar, fat, and calories. Why not allow yourself two or three servings (one-half cup of ice cream, a one- to two-inch piece of cake, a two-inch cookie) a week? This way you can plan for birthdays, reunions or other festive events in your life.”

“Snacking on almonds and craisins could be a good choice, but it depends on the serving size. Almonds are an excellent source of many nutrients as well as fiber, but they are high in calories. Craisins are also a good source of many nutrients, but they are high in sugar. If you can manage to keep it to a small handful during snacking time, you’re on the right track.”

Are you brave enough to keep a food diary? We dare you. Send an e-mail to with your contact information and why you think you’d make a good diarist

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