Diet diaries

We asked two male House staffers to Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) — press secretary Brad Bauman and legislative counsel Robert Bacon — to spend a week keeping a food diary. Then we had their diets assessed by Janet Zalman, director of the Zalman Nutrition Group in downtown Washington, which has a 20-year practice whose clientele includes several D.C. lobbyists. Please note: Bauman notated his diary by meals, while Bacon noted times because his meals are erratic.


Robert Bacon

 Age: 29
Height: 5’7”-ish
Weight: 135 lbs.
Cholesterol count: “I don’t know. I hope it’s low.”
Last checkup: “It’s been a couple of years. I’m due."

 Brad Bauman

 Age: 29
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 250 lbs.
Cholesterol count: “No idea."
Last checkup: “Jeez, a long time ago. I didn’t have health insurance until last January. I was on the campaign trail.”

Day 1

8:55 a.m.: Half-glass of soymilk.

11:05 a.m.: One cup coffee with cream and sugar.

1:05 p.m.: Cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, pickle. The Cannon carryout burgers are surprisingly good. I am not much of a meat eater and sometimes burgers are gross, especially if they’re from cafeterias. Bar burgers, on the other hand, are usually delicious.
Two caramel candies; one glass of water.

2:30 p.m.: One glass of water.

3:35 p.m.: Large chocolate chip cookie.

3:45 p.m.: Glass of water.

8 p.m.: Two servings of pita and hummus. I love Zorba’s Café. I usually eat copious amounts of Greek delights there.
One bowl chicken/vegetable soup and a roll. One glass of water.

9:15 p.m.: Dirty martini.

10:30 p.m.: Vodka gimlet.

Day 2

12 p.m.: Salad w/ vinaigrette dressing, buttered whole grain bread. I have rationalized the use of large amounts of butter by choosing whole grain bread over refined white.

12:20 p.m.: One glass of water. Sirloin, mashed potatoes, asparagus in cream sauce, bok choy. Raspberry cake and ice cream. Iced tea.

2:20 p.m.: Two sugar cookies.

6 p.m.: One glass of red wine.

8 p.m.: One serving, scrambled Egg Beaters.

9:30 p.m.: Cream of crab soup. So rich and creamy, but probably loaded with cholesterol.

10 p.m.: Crab-topped pretzel w/ cheese. I love pretzels and seafood so this is an ideal combination!
Two vodka tonics.

1:00 a.m.: Two bowls of chocolate ice cream. It’s so chocolaty and delicious! I am not even a huge fan of chocolate ice cream, but this is excellent.

Day 3:

10:15 a.m.: One glass soymilk. One sourdough hard pretzel.
1:30 p.m.: Two sugar cookies. One cup of coffee w/ cream and sugar.

6:30 p.m.: One sourdough pretzel.

7 p.m.: One piece of sautéed salmon, brussels sprouts, two cups green tea, one slice whole wheat bread

2:45 a.m.: One bowl Kashi with skim milk.

3 a.m.: One slice whole wheat bread.

Day 4:

I’ve been eating so much food lately that I’m going to have a slightly lighter day and try to eat less. Moderation is key.

10 a.m.: One serving Egg Beaters, two cups green tea. Rich in antioxidants!!

4:30 p.m.: One and a half glasses soymilk.

7:20 p.m.: Two cups green tea.

7:30 p.m.: Sourdough pretzel. In all its salty glory!

8:30 p.m.: Sausage sandwich on wheat bread. I haven’t eaten sausage in so long. As mentioned, I don’t eat a great deal of such heavy meats. Brussels sprouts, one glass soymilk.

12:45 a.m.: One glass soymilk.

Day 5:

7:55 a.m.: One cup soymilk, Egg Beaters.

1:15 p.m.: Green salad with pine nuts, raisins, egg, feta and balsamic vinaigrette.

3:15 p.m.: One cup hot chocolate.

4 p.m.: One sugar cookie.

4:10 p.m.: Two more cookies. Stop this!!

9 p.m.: Shrimp vindaloo, Naan bread, lamb kebab, mango lassi.

11 p.m.: Two caipirinhas.

1:30 a.m.: One cup soymilk.
Day 6:

9:30 a.m.: One Hershey’s Kiss. A lousy breakfast but I am so busy that I don’t have time to eat until lunch.

1p.m.: Burger with muenster, lettuce, ketchup and mustard. So delicious, especially since I was absolutely ravenous by that time… Chili. Eating this chili is such overkill. My eyes were totally bigger than my stomach. I overate and now my energy level is completely zapped. The chili wasn’t even that good; now my stomach is packed and I am terribly lethargic. I feel like I should eat only salads and fruit for the remainder of the week, but I know I won’t!

2:30 p.m.: One cup of tea with brown sugar. Refined sugar is evil!

3 p.m.: Five pieces of saltwater taffy. Brad brought it in … that bastard. 2 buckeyes. Being from Ohio, it would be improper for me to refuse to partake. My stomach is still super full from lunch though, so I really need not eat anything at all for the next few hours.

It’s now 3:25 and I am still super full. Maybe I’ve been eating too much meat. I don’t think I am used to such heavy foods anymore, as I usually eat much lighter dishes …

5:30 p.m.: Smoked tuna. I love tuna and I could eat it every day. Perhaps I should, as it’s a lean source of protein and essential fatty acids. Crackers and asparagus.

6:15 p.m.: Four tacos. One margarita. Tortilla Coast has wonderful frozen margaritas. I almost had brain freeze but was miraculously able to escape the icy wrath.

10:30 p.m.: Jambalaya. It’s delicious but so laden with butter that I can almost feel my arteries clogging — so rich and heavy that I could only eat half of the serving.
One glass, Blue Moon beer

Day 7

No breakfast; I’m late.

1:30 p.m.: Hershey’s chocolate bar with almonds. Not really a nutritious snack but it will have to do.

2 p.m.: Broiled fish, grape leaves with rice, olives, couscous. One cup Earl Grey tea with unrefined sugar.

7 p.m.: Salmon. I love salmon sautéed in olive oil and garlic. So simple yet so delectable. Brussels sprouts. One cup, black tea.



“He certainly eats more salads, definitely eats more vegetables than person No. 1. Here we have pita, hummus and salad with vinaigrette. I also again here see no fruit. What’s better is he’s eating less fat throughout the day. It’s more varied. He eats significantly few calories. He doesn’t have any breakfast basically, and he doesn’t eat a big dinner either. His meals are good. When he has a meal he does pretty well. He has a healthy eating plan but when he doesn’t eat he’s obviously hungry and goes for the junk. What’s not good is the snacking in between meals. I’d say his meals are not bad here. It’s better for your metabolism if you eat breakfast and then you won’t eat so late at night. If he likes soymilk, have soymilk and a piece of toast and don’t eat it after 10 p.m.”

If he does nothing else: “Don’t skip breakfast.” 


Day 1

Breakfast: Sausage, egg and cheese on a croissant from 8:20-8:26 a.m. Ate meal at desk while working on computer and returning phone calls.

Lunch: Pork and black beans and rice from the Longworth Cafeteria at 12:15-12:40. I actually got to eat this without rushing because I was in a meeting with my counterpart from another Ohio office.

Snack: 3:45. Five quarter-sized cookies from a small gift box brought into the office.

Snack: 5:30. Another two cookies. What? They were good.

Dinner: 8 p.m. Six-oz. salmon marinated in a soy-based marinade, green beans sautéed in garlic and oil, cucumber in balsamic vinegar.

Day 2

Breakfast: Sausage, egg and cheese on a croissant from 8:20-8:27 a.m.

Lunch: Rayburn Cafeteria. Tortellini in a pink vodka sauce with shredded parmesan cheese. 12:30-12:50 p.m.

Snack: Six pieces of saltwater taffy, 2:50-3 p.m. This was awesome because I bought it downstairs, knew I didn’t want to eat the whole thing or report it here, and then placed it conveniently where I knew Robert Bacon would be able to get some.

Snack: 6:30 p.m. Four small appetizer shrimp sandwiches at a Capitol Hill reception; two glasses of red wine.

No dinner

Day 3

Breakfast: Sausage, egg and cheese on a croissant from 8:35-8:46 a.m.

Lunch: 12:30-1:30 p.m. Two slices of pepperoni and sausage pizza from Longworth Cafeteria.

Snack: Vanilla milkshake from downstairs.

Dinner: Pasta leftovers from home, baked ziti with ricotta cheese, one vodka soda.

Day 4

Breakfast: Dulles Airport: An Auntie Anne’s pretzel-dog and a lemonade. Was on way to Miami for a wedding. Ate at the gate while waiting for the plane.

Lunch: Atlanta Airport: Four Krystal-burger sliders while transferring to my next plane. Literally eating them as I walked.

Dinner: Sara’s Pizza in North Miami Beach. This place is a Dairy Kosher restaurant I’ve been going to since I was 5 years old. I had a bite of my father’s falafel, two slices of pizza and a potato knish.

Nighttime: Went out with friends to a bar in South Miami, ate some of my friend’s french fries.

Day 5

Breakfast: Three slices of my mom’s homemade French toast, syrup and a banana. Orange juice.

Lunch: Two buttered rolls; a bowl of chicken tortilla soup; side of pasta with pink vodka sauce.

Dinner: Went to favorite restaurant in Broward County. Two garlic rolls, one cup pasta fazool soup and a plate of calamari marinara, which I couldn’t finish.

Nighttime: Drinks at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

Day 6

Breakfast: Nothing.

Lunch/Dinner: The wedding. I had been picking at food and drink from around 3 p.m. until around 8 p.m. We had heavy appetizers. Dinner consisted of a lovely chicken dish and green beans. Followed up with a Cuban coffee.

Nighttime: Drinks and cigars at the Sonesta resort in Coral Gables, followed by a slice of Jumbo Slice (yes they now have it in Miami).

Day 7

Breakfast: My mother’s matzo brei, which is egg-soaked matzo, which has a custardy, crunchy consistency.

Lunch: Lobster roll and Manhattan clam chowder at an outdoor café in Delray Beach with my sister.

Dinner: Leftover calamari marinara from two nights prior.


“This is clearly a guy’s diet. A woman would never eat this. The first thing I see is he consumes quite a bit of sweets. One day, cookies. The next afternoon, saltwater taffy. It’s always the same time of day if you notice it. Vanilla milkshake. Lemonade. Too many sweets. A lot of fat — look at all his fat, particularly saturated fat — cheese, pink vodka sauce, pizza, double meat pizza. Pizza is like his main food. Does this diet need improvement? Absolutely. Instead of a sausage, egg and cheese croissant, try low-fat sausage, Egg Beaters, low-fat cheese and some toast. Rather than cookies in the afternoon, have crackers without the sugar or 100-calorie nuts. On a favorable note, I don’t sense that he eats big portions.”

If he does nothing else: “Cut down saturated fats and add in fruits and vegetables.”


If you’re a Capitol Hill aide or lobbyist and would like to volunteer to keep a diet diary, please e-mail Betsy Rothstein at or call 202-628-8516.