Get to Know the RD: Cara Ayala

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Ask the Registered Dietitian: What do you Eat?

by Cara Ayala, RD, CPT, CHC

Growing up as a competitive swimmer, I have always been interested in nutrition and exercise. I knew I wanted to go to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for college and when reading the list of majors, nutrition sparked my interest and the rest is history! I love learning about nutrition, specifically the science and metabolic processes involved. I have been a registered dietitian for 5 years now and love working with individuals to help them achieve their goals. I believe that the best diet is the diet you can maintain for the rest of your life. Usually, this involves adapting healthy habits and allowing everything in moderation. Deprivation diets are a big “no no” for me as weight loss with rebound weight gain is more harmful than just maintaining your weight.

When it comes to my own eating habits, I definitely practice what I preach. Most of my food selections are healthy options because I’ve learned that healthy food just makes me feel better. I eat to fuel my workouts and maintain optimal energy levels throughout the day. That being said, I don’t completely restrict myself when treats are around, instead I just try to limit portion sizes. I love to enjoy all types of food and try not to make anything completely off limits.

During a typical week I usually prepare my breakfast the night before since I wake up super early to workout. Usually I rotate between overnight oats, veggie omelets, or egg whites with oatmeal on top. I need adequate carbs and protein in my breakfast to recover from my workouts. Lunch is usually a salad at work that I fill with veggies, beans or brown rice, and chicken. My husband usually cooks dinner which can be anything from fish tacos to shredded salsa chicken in sweet potatoes with a side of veggies. We always have some protein, starch and lots of veggies with dinner. My favorite snacks are plain Greek yogurt with fruit and a banana with almond butter. On the weekends my intake varies but usually includes some sort of indulgence such as burgers, French fries, pizza, and/or ice cream.

I love being a dietitian because I am able to help others achieve their goals while realizing that it’s not all about perfection. Everybody has a puzzle to figure out how they can eat to feel good physically, mentally and socially and I love to help solve that puzzle.