Editor’s Note: Jennifer Aniston’s diet recently caused quite a stir (across the Internet and right here on our site) after the actress revealed what she eats every week in an interview with Elle. After reporting on it, we received some feedback from readers who pointed out the legitimate nutrition factor in Jen’s healthy-but-admittedly-chocolate-cake-free meal plan. One thoughtful reader wrote in to say: The irony of all of this is that Jennifer Aniston’s diet should be the MODEL diet — eating as many vegetables as possible, getting enough protein and limiting “indulgences” such as highly processed, sugar-packed junk with no nutritive value. We hear you, Brit + Co readers, and we wanted to revisit the topic.
We talked to celebrity dietician and nutritionist Lisa DeFazio to get the scoop on Jen Aniston’s diet. The star has always been health-conscious, but should you go ahead and jump on the “Jen’s meal plan” bandwagon? We grilled DeFazio on healthy eating and the details of the actress’s diet to find out if it was attainable for mere mortals like us. We broke down what works, what doesn’t and what you can do to make your own diet even better.
Jen typically starts her day with warm lemon water (DeFazio says this works as a coffee substitution to stimulate digestion), a shake or avocado and eggs with coconut oil. “A breakfast smoothie is quick and easy, especially if you’re not that hungry,” DeFazio says. She recommends a hearty, healthy smoothie made up of almond milk, almond butter and a protein powder like whey.
As for the avocado and eggs? While DeFazio says this meal gives Jen good healthy fat and protein, you could definitely add carbohydrates to keep mid-morning munchies away. “If you’re just having avocado and eggs without any carbs, you’ll be hungrier mid-morning than if you had [something like oatmeal],” she explains. To remedy that, DeFazio suggests simply adding in a slice of whole grain toast or oatmeal, a Jen favorite, to make the magic three: carbs, protein + a healthy fat.
Jen’s alternate brekkie is “a puffed millet cereal with a banana or oatmeal with an egg white whipped in at the end.”
According to DeFazio, a cereal like puffed millet is a good fiber source, but oatmeal is still her rec. “It will hold you over but it’s not overly bloating, like a bagel.”
Bonus: Keep things from getting stale by trying our savory oatmeal recipes or adding berries or even a little brown sugar to your bowl of oats. Gals on the go can always opt for instant options. “Take it to the office or keep it at your desk and just add hot water while you’re checking your email.”
Jen hasn’t changed up her lunch routine much since her Friends days of yore (where the actresses ate the same salad for lunch EVERY day), citing veggies or a salad with protein as her go-to. DeFazio says that it’s not uncommon for celebs to “stick with what works. They do eat the same thing every day, but for the average person, you’re gonna get burnt out.”
What makes our tastebuds and theirs so different, you might wonder. Not only is the look sometimes part of the gig for stars like Jen, but there is also the ease with which celebrities can adhere to a healthy lifestyle. “A lot of times they don’t do their own grocery shopping or cook their own meals,” DeFazio points out. “They can afford chefs or meal delivery services. We have to do all the work ourselves.”
So what can we do to avoid the dreaded burnout on our budgets?
DeFazio says to stick to that magic three (carbs, protein and healthy fats!), your best bet when choosing any meal. Jen definitely has the right idea with salads, but it’s really what you put into them that makes all the difference. “Again, I recommend adding some carbs — maybe a diced red potato or quinoa,” she says. “This will keep you fuller longer.” DeFazio also recommends keeping things interesting with whole food ingredients like chicken, diced apples or walnuts and topping with balsamic vinaigrette. Hold the bleu cheese, but allow yourself that slice of pita bread or a small baguette on the side.
If salad doesn’t excite you, don’t despair: DeFazio says you can also try more alternate routes like teriyaki bowls (rice, veggies and salmon), sushi or even turkey sandwiches.
When it comes to a mid-day snack, DeFazio says Jen hits a home run with her top choice of apple and almond butter — the apple provides carbs and fiber while the almond butter takes care of the healthy fat and protein — a win-win!
While you don’t necessarily have to repeat what you just ate for lunch, DeFazio says a good rule of thumb is 4-6 ounces of protein, salmon, chicken breast, a filet of lean steak or even tofu; a sweet potato (“great for fiber”) or brown rice for your carb; and all the vegetables you can handle. “Don’t worry about the sugar in vegetables,” she says. “People are not [gaining weight] from carrots.”
Noticeably absent from Jen’s diet dishings? Dessert. Lucky for us, DeFazio says those of us with a sweet tooth aren’t completely S.O.L. She says to keep sorbet on hand for just such occasions, or popcorn on nights you’re craving something more salty. Another great way to get your sugar fix that doesn’t involve busting out the Oreos? A lightly sweetened cereal (Rice Chex or Coco Puffs) with almond milk or animal crackers.
Even superhumans like Jen admit to indulging once in a while — for Ms. Aniston, that usually means Mexican food or her newly rediscovered love of pasta. “My motto or recommendation is 80% of the time, eat clean and healthy, 20% of the time, enjoy yourself,” DeFazio says.
She expresses that while a couple weekend splurges are healthy, that doesn’t mean you should make it an all-day thing. For example, “Saturday night, indulge, but Saturday morning have an egg white omelet and a salad at lunch.” She also advises to save your splurges for when you’re really craving them — you don’t have to split your friends’ plate of fries just because they’re there. “If you’re not really in the mood for it, just say no.” Instead, maybe save it for a mimosa at brunch the next day. Cheers to that!
Are you surprised by Lisa’s insight? Let us know over at @britandco!
(Photos via Brit + Co and Frederick M. Brown/Getty)