Ask the Health Coach: What Do You Eat?

A reader turns the tables on Maura and asks how she eats every day. You might be surprised at what's on her menu. Wine and beer, anyone?

Dear Maura,

Here’s a question for you: What do YOU eat? And you’ve referenced a few times that you “eat clean,” but what exactly does that mean? Can’t wait to read your answer!

~ Charlotte M.


Hi Charlotte,

Thanks for your question—I’m sure others have wondered, too, and it’s a question I love answering. Contrary to what you might think, I’m not a wheatgrass-drinking, tree-hugging fanatic—well, at least, not all the time. I’m not hating on wheatgrass-drinking tree-huggers (love them!), it’s just my way of saying that I’m a normal girl, with a normal social life and a pretty normal eating routine. And if I can do it, everyone can.

So for starters, I’ll tell you exactly what I had to eat yesterday:

Breakfast: Toasted pita with sliced avocado, fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.

Lunch: Quinoa with broccoli and greens from my garden.

Snack: Blueberry-banana smoothie with chia seeds, spinach and coconut water.

Dinner: Vegetable samosa, palak paneer (Indian-style spinach and fresh cheese) with saffron rice from Whole Foods washed down with an Allagash Tripel.

This is pretty typical. That being said, there are a few guidelines I’ve incorporated over the last couple years.

  1. I drink a boat load of water every day. It’s always the first thing I do when I wake up, and I carry a bottle (reusable, of course) with me at all times. And by boatload, I mean boatload. Did you read what Jay wrote in last week’s column? That you’re supposed to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day? Well, that’s how much I drink. But I do drink other things, too, throughout the course of week: coffee, tea, kombucha, coconut water, fresh-squeezed juice, and, socially, beer or wine.
  2. I eat something dark green at least once a day. Think arugula, spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus.
  3. I load up my plate with more veggies than anything else. You’ve heard half a plate of veggies, a quarter plate whole grain, a quarter  plate protein, right? Well, I really try to stick to it.
  4. I eat less meat and dairy than I’ve eaten in the past. And, if I’m the one preparing them, both of them are always organic. We’ve all seen the movies and read the books detailing what’s in that stuff. I take it to heart, and pretty seriously. It’s just flat out gross, people. And super hard on the body. For real.
  5. I eat whole grains. I’m not talking whole grain bread, but the actual grains themselves: quinoa, millet, brown rice, oats.
  6. I eat as clean as possible. This means eating food as close to its natural state as possible—unprocessed, free of chemicals, artificial ingredients. I’m talking about whole, natural foods that don’t have ingredient labels on them, which means there’s less to worry about.
  7. If I have to choose, I choose local over organic. See my previous post for an explanation.

There are days when I nail it and hit all of these points. And then there are days when that is not so much the case. I’m at the airport right now as I write this; it’s pretty hard to eat really well here. And I still love grabbing a slice of pizza and a beer with friends (though nowadays it’s usually veggie pizza with a side salad).

The way that I look at it, as long as I take care to be conscious of what I’m eating the majority of the time, then there’s room to enjoy other foods and be more relaxed about choices, especially in a social setting. For example, while I France, I fully anticipate eating more cheese and bread than I normally do because, well, I’ll be in France and they know how to do the bread and cheese thing right. Like the saying goes, “when in Rome…” (except of course I won’t be in Rome). Anyway, in those moments, it’s more important to enjoy the company you’re keeping than to stress out about being a wheatgrass-drinking tree-hugger who can’t find any wheat grass anywhere nearby. Know what I mean?

I hope this answered your question. Keep ‘em coming!



P.S. Here’s a quick, easy salad recipe I whipped up the other day. It’s super good for you. Try it and let me know what you think.

Mix together the following ingredients and dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar: spinach, blackberries, golden raisins, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds tossed in olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt and cumin; then, toasted) and avocado. Bon appétit!

>> If you have a question for Maura,  email us, and your question could be answered in a future column. Find more of Maura’s advice here.


Maura Manzo is a yoga teacher and health coach specializing in integrating diet, health and wellness. She supports others in becoming their best possible selves. Maura is available for private instruction and coaching, as well as on-site corporate classes and speaking engagements. She is co-creator of the Beyond Asana 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training and the Art of Letting Go: Maya Tulum Mexican Yoga Vacation. Learn more about her teaching schedule, coaching practice and yoga trainings at