From wife and mom of 3 kids, to helping D1 athletes fuel their body (and everything in between), Dana Angelo White share some of her philosophies around meal planning, fad diets, and ways to finally add exercise to your weekly routine.
Additionally, Dana works closely with chefs and authors to develop creative and healthy recipes for cookbooks, magazines and menus. She is the nutrition expert for Food Network.com and founding contributor for Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog.
Meet Dana Angelo White | Sports & Nutrition Coach
Dana Angelo White On Lifestyle:
MPOF: How does your day start?
Dana Angelo White (Dana): Everyday is different. I usually spend a few moments on a Sunday or Monday thinking about how my week looks. (High Level) Is this a travel week or am I home? From there, I make a plan of attack which goes to everything from food, to activities, to carpooling, to teaching and I get a feel for how I hope the week will go.
MPOF: What tools do you use to keep track of your schedule?
Dana: I’m very loyal to my phone. When it comes to food/meal prep, I actually have a white board that my family and I plan together, and everything else goes in my phone (calendar). That’s my headquarters for keeping everything straight.
MPOF: What is the first 15 minutes of your day like?
Dana: It’s pretty consistent. I try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. I’ve done some research on sleep and how that affects parts of your body, so I try to keep that consistent every day. But really, my first 15 minutes is really about my cup of coffee.
Dana Angelo White On Exercise:
MPOF: As far as fitness/exercise goes, how do you fit that in to such a busy schedule?
Dana: That (exercise) is something I always prioritize. Exercising is my stress relief so I try to carve out 4-5 days a week to do something, no matter how busy the day is. For example, today is crazy busy, so just before this call, I went for a run.
I do love to run, but as I get older it gets hard (orthopedically), so I also do HIIT (high intensity interval training) at a local studio. I think it’s really important that people find something they like to do. Don’t force yourself to do things you don’t like (even as it relates to food/nutrition) because you “think” you should be doing it. You should be doing things that you like to do, because that’s when you get the longevity out of it.
If you hate going to the gym, don’t go to the gym! Just get out and walk your dog. You have to adopt habits that you can stick to.
MPOF: When people say they don’t have time to workout, what do you say to them?
Dana: I would say that it doesn’t have to be. People tend to make it hard on themselves. If the only time you can make it to the gym is at 4am in the morning, that’s not realistic for most people. If you can truly find something that you like to do, suddenly it’s no so hard anymore.
MPOF: How do you merge exercise and nutrition when you’re coaching/teaching?
Dana: Most of my “clients” are Division 1 athletes, but when I’m writing/blogging, I’m talking to a different audience. With D1 athletes, I have to help them understand that what they eat has a direct impact to their performance.
I ask them, “is your diet working for you or is it working against you?” Even with blogging about nutrition, I always try to emphasize the relationship between diet and exercise. Neither has to be perfect but you need to make a commitment to both to meet your goals and get the results you want.
Everyone has different wellness goals, but I think you need to find strategies for both food and exercise to truly be successful long term.
Dana Angelo White On Food:
MPOF: What principles do you follow for your blog audience?
Dana: One of our foundations, when I’m writing for the Food Network, is that food has to be delicious and it has to be good for you. I don’t recommend eating food that doesn’t taste good just because it’s “good for you.” There are plenty of foods out there that taste good that will have the “magic ingredient” or whatever it is that you’re looking for.
I start with the idea of NOT forcing yourself to eat something you hate. This is also one of the reasons why I’m not a fan of these fad diets… they are so restrictive and they force you to eat in a way that’s not natural for you.
Start by figuring out what foods you really enjoy and stick to that. Then make small changes to that (maybe eating less) so you’re not feeling deprived.
PRO TIP: If any particular way of eating/diet calls for complete elimination a particular food group or food category… you should immediately be skeptical that this way of eating is not beneficial for your health.*
*unless otherwise stated by your doctor
Dana Angelo White On Meal Planning:
MPOF: How do you plan meals when you’re at home?
Dana: I have a pretty stringent plan… we have a system that works for us. Even though it has taken us a while to get to where we are, the current system that I’m using is:
- I have a white board with sections: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, and Dinner
- I start with Dinners and think of themes: Plant-Based, Seafood, Slow Cooker, (family) Favorites, Pizza Fridays
- Then I fill in the gaps by asking myself:
- What haven’t we had in a while?
- What did I get at the store this week?
- What’s left over in my refrigerator?
- I also ask my kids what they want for meals so I can be sure to include those
And, I keep my whiteboard in my kitchen, so my kids can look at it and if anything needs to change, we can see it on the board and adjust as needed.
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MPOF: How much do you spend per week on food?
Dana: I spend about $300 a week on food… but that is Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks for 7 days for a family of 5. BTW… shopping online has really helped me save money because I pay more attention to the prices (price per ounce and things like that).
MPOF: What is the most common piece of advice you give?
Dana: “It’s not that hard.” People say to me all the time, “I really want to do XYZ, but I just don’t have the time.” So, I just remind people to assess where you’re at and if you’re trying to cook at home more, then commit to making small changes. For example, if you’re eating out 7 days a week and want to start cooking at home more, start my cooking 2 meals per week instead of trying to do all 7.
Or if you’re only working out once per week, try to just add one more day into your routine and see how that goes for a while.
MPOF: It’s a process… these are long-term changes that compound overtime and lead to long term results.
Dana Angelo White On Success:
MPOF: When you think about success, who is the first person that comes to mind? Why?
Dana: It’s really funny, because the first person I think of is Ina Garten. I love the fact that her story is all about following your passion when it comes to anything and she has been wildly successful in doing that. I think you have to be passionate about what you do.
MPOF: What would you say is the one thing that Inspires you?
Dana: Totally my kids… my girls. Watching them get excited about food is so exciting to me.
Just because I’m a nutritionist doesn’t mean my kids are perfect eaters! But watching my kids get excited about food and doing photoshoots with me is the best thing ever.
I work so hard for them and motivate them to grow to be adventurous eaters. So my biggest motivation is being able to experience the food world with them. I love it!
MPOF: What else should our audience know about you?
Dana: Definitely check out my website for recipes and nutrition education. Also, for meal preppers, my Instant Pot cookbook is such a tool for meal prepping.