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An Interview with Holley Grainger, R.D.

Posted Jun 19 2009 9:23pm
I recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of a real live Registered Dietician! Holley Grainger is one of the food editors at She generously took the time to address a few of my most burning questions, so I just had to share the answers with you!

1. Everyone's curious to know what a Registered Dietician eats. What's on a typical day's menu for you?

Wow, it totally depends on the day but let me give you what I ate yesterday…I am hungry as soon as I pop out of bed so before a morning workout, I will usually have ½ of a whole wheat English muffin with a little bit of peanut butter. After my workout (did an hour long bootcamp class), I ate 1 egg and 2 egg whites over the other half of my English muffin with strawberries and some fat-free milk. For lunch, I ate out with friends and had a salad with grilled salmon on the top. For an afternoon snack, I had 2% cottage cheese with more strawberries. My husband worked late last night so I threw together a quick salad with leftovers from the refrigerator—spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese, chicken, cucumber, Vidalia onion, and balsamic vinaigrette. For dessert I had a jello pudding cup.

2. The raw food movement has been a hot topic in the blogosphere lately. What's your take on this kind of diet and its value (or lack thereof) from a nutritional standpoint?

Let me first admit that in no way do I claim to know enough about the raw food movement to have a strong opinion-pro or con. However, I think there are definitely health benefits to eating “lean, clean, and green.” I think it is important for someone following this lifestyle to stay well-informed on ways to attain the daily requirements for certain nutrients, especially protein, calcium, Vitamin b12, and zinc. It is definitely interesting to hear testimonials from people following this eating plan and how it has impacted their overall health and well being.

3. Many of my readers (myself included, actually) follow largely vegetarian/vegan diets. Do you think it's necessary to supplement your protein intake if you choose not to eat meat? If so, what are the best sources?

Protein is an essential part of the diet because it helps maintain healthy muscles, organs, bones, and skin. For those who choose not to eat meat, it is important to find other protein sources. Some great ones are soy products, meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, and seeds. If you are a vegetarian that eats dairy and eggs, those are two more good sources.

4. In general, do you encourage your clients to take a daily multivitamin or other specific supplements? In what cases do you think it is necessary to supplement your diet with pills?

The key to a healthy diet is to enjoy a variety of foods. If there are certain foods that you choose to eliminate through the diet, a multivitamin is a good source to help achieve those daily needs. One supplement that may be necessary for people who restrict certain foods is vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 helps to prevent anemia and produce red blood cells. It is found mainly from animal sources so vegans should try to get this vitamin from enriched cereals, fortified soy products, or a supplement. One other note…non animal sources of iron like dark leafy greens, lentils, and enriched cereals are best absorbed when they are paired with foods rich in vitamin C like berries, tomatoes, broccoli, and citrus.

5. As a female who wants to make sure her bones stay strong into old age, I want to make sure I'm getting enough calcium and that it's well absorbed. It seems like this is a tricky subject, though. What foods do you consider the best sources of calcium and in what combinations? What if dairy isn't an option due to veganism or lactose intolerance? Do calcium pills/chocolates/chews do us any good?

Dairy products have many essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and D. Calcium can be found from other sources like dark green vegetables, such as spinach, turnip and collard greens, kale, and broccoli, tofu enriched with calcium and fortified soy milk and fruit juices. Here is a link for Secret Sources of Calcium,28747,1845869,00.html as well as a gallery of high potassium recipes,28548,1876684,00.html.

In regards to calcium supplements, whether or not to take it with food depends on what the supplement contains. If the supplement has calcium carbonate, take it with meals as stomach acid enhances its absorption. If the supplement is calcium citrate then you can either take it with meals or on an empty stomach. Calcium is most efficiently absorbed when it is taken in doses of 500 milligrams or less. Also be careful when taking a calcium supplement because it may impair the absorption of certain medications like antibiotics and blood pressure drugs. Just make sure to ask your doctor before taking.

Thank you, Holley! Sounds like we could all stand to brush up on our chemistry. is a fabulous resource, by the way. After just a quick browse of their articles, I found myself on their page, reading about staying in shape while vacationing - definitely something that's top of mind during the summer months! Check it out, for sure. I, for one, can't wait to curl up with the recipe archive!

Have a great weekend, y'all. :)
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