Pantry Raid: Taken to task in May, a publicist gives up fast food and now makes most of her own meals

In May, we raided the nutritionally bankrupt pantry of Stephanie Jacobson, a Toluca Lake publicist whose meals were based on processed and frozen foods — or fast food. She was so hard-core she had Chipotle and Pizza Hut apps on her phone.

She did have an occasional stalk of broccoli or glass of milk, but registered dietitian Ruth Frechman obviously had her work cut out for her.

Undaunted, the Burbank nutrition expert suggested that Jacobson, for starters, do more cooking at home and told her how to add more fruits and vegetables, lean protein, dairy foods and whole grains to her diet. She also recommended that Jacobson take lunch to work instead of eating out and that she cut back on sodium.

She then went a step further, taking Jacobson on a guided tour of a grocery store, pointing out healthful alternatives to overly processed foods.

Since then, Jacobson has turned her diet around.

She now cooks almost every dinner at home and has given up fast food (she says she doesn't miss it). She has also started running, finding that it boosts her energy, makes her feel better and, in turn, gives her incentive to stick with the program.

"For dinner, I'll make chicken with vegetables or eggs or spaghetti — nothing fancy," she says, "but it all goes on a plate and doesn't come out of plastic from the microwave. My roommates and I actually sit at the dinner table and eat."

Jacobson, on the cusp of 30, will still, on occasion, eat copious amounts of Triscuits at one sitting — and she indulges in an oatmeal cookie or two — but Frechman says that's nothing to worry about.

"At least the cookies and crackers have whole grains," says Frechman. "And she doesn't have a weight problem, so she may need the extra calories."

Being motivated to make nutritional changes is important, Frechman adds, but not everyone has to do a 180 on their diets to be successful: "When you make small changes, it creates an upward spiral. Make one positive change at a time and it will pay off in the end."