Gail Simmons
Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
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December 15, 2016 12:34 PM

When Gail Simmons is judging the delicious (or often not-so-delicious) meals on Top Chef, she has to try anything and everything. But even on her own time, the food writer strives for diversity in her diet.

“I don’t watch my calories or stick to any diet at every meal,” the 5’6″ Simmons, 40, says. “I just generally try to eat a variety of foods throughout every day — heavy on veggies and fruit, whole grains and protein, especially when I’m not traveling or eating for work and can cook at home.”

And whether she’s filming an episode of Top Chef in Charleston and trying out a plate of biscuits, or at home with her 2-year-old daughter, Dahlia, she doesn’t put restrictions on her diet.

“My job is so tied to food and cooking and eating, I never say no to anything,” Simmons says. “More than anything, I try not to eat fast or processed food. Eating real food is my requirement.”

“Life’s too short to spend all your time thinking about what you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy.”

Check out Simmons’ daily food log below, and for more on her diet and workouts, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on stands now.

Hydration

3-4 glasses of water a day

Breakfast

Slice of Ezekiel sprouted grain toast with ¼ of an avocado, mashed with lemon, salt and a pinch of chili flakes

1 hardboiled egg

Cup of coffee with whole milk and 1 tsp. sugar

Lunch

Chopped spinach salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, olives, artichokes and shaved Parmesan, dressed with red-wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil

RELATED VIDEO: Curtis Stone & Gail Simmons: The One Food We Hate

 

Snack

4 olives

2 carrots with 2 tbsp. of hummus

Handful of wasabi sunflower seeds

Dinner

Brown rice with roasted delicata squash, roasted carrots, chickpeas and chives with lemon-tahini dressing

Side of sautéed kale with shallots, lemon and extra-virgin olive oil

Dessert

Small apple

2 pieces of dried mango

2 pieces of soft black licorice

Total Calories:

1,920

The Verdict:

“Gail has an awesome balance of whole grains, quality proteins, colorful produce and healthy fat,” says Chicago-based dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. Her lunch and dinner are filled with vegetables, which has the added benefit of “balancing the sodium in the diet, so you don’t need to worry about cutting out salt,” according to Blatner. Simmons could add even more greens at breakfast, like topping her avocado toast with “antioxidant-rich watercress or microgreens,” says Blatner. Simmons gets high marks for her “wholesome” snacks and “smart” vegetarian meal at dinner. Blatner does suggest, though, that Simmons boost her water intake to around 72 oz. a day, and swapping out the dried mango and licorice at dessert for a small piece of extra dark chocolate. “It would be fewer calories and less sugar,” Blatner says.

NOTE: It is recommended that women eat at least 1,200 calories per day, and men eat at least 1,800 calories per day.

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