This is what Michelle Obama really eats in a day

Fewer people are more well-known for their efforts to help people eat healthy and balanced diets than Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States. During her tenure in the White House, she spearheaded the Let's Move! initiative, which was designed to help kids become educated consumers when it comes to the food they eat. She also encouraged kids to be more physically active, and championed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which sought to make school lunches healthier and more widely accessible to kids in need.

So what does the queen of healthy eating like to eat on a daily basis? Does she really practice what she preaches when it comes to eating vegetables and fruits? And how does she manage to stay in such good shape — and have such toned arms — without giving up burgers and pizza? What she's doing clearly works, so here's what Michelle Obama really eats in a day.

First meal for the first lady

There's no more wholesome place to get life lessons than Sesame Street, so it's no surprise that Michelle Obama appeared on an episode to drop some knowledge. In the clip, she's served oatmeal, fresh fruit, yogurt, and a glass of low-fat milk. She's just about ready to dig in when Grover shows up, hilariously disrupting the process.

In real life, what Obama eats for breakfast isn't too different from her Sesame Street meal. Brierly Wright, the nutrition editor for EatingWell magazine, told NBC New York that on the morning that the federal government replaced the food pyramid with the food plate system, Obama dined on scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and fresh grapefruit. That's a pretty healthy selection, although Wright noted the meal could use more fresh fruit and veg. 

Obama doesn't reach for produce and reduced-fat milk 100 percent of the time though. She informed The New York Times that she also enjoys waffles and grits for breakfast on occasion. 

The famous chili endures for lunch

Apparently life does gain a semblance of normalcy after eight years in the White House — at least, somewhat. According to People magazine, Michelle Obama packs her own lunches these days, and one of her favorite, go-to meals is turkey chili. She also dines with her staff for her afternoon meal, and together they watch viral videos. That sounds like lunchtime at any office. 

When it comes to the chili, chances are she's using the same recipe that her husband made famous some years ago. On Community Table, she's quoted as saying, "I borrowed this recipe from my husband — it's now the President's Chili Recipe. When we lived in Chicago, we loved to invite our family and friends over to our house, make a batch of chili, and enjoy the evening together." Not surprisingly, the recipe is healthy and contains plenty of vegetables.

Normalcy for Obama also means she likes to take spin classes at a local gym, which would explain why she's still in such killer shape. 

Fruits and veggies for life

If there's one thing people know about Michelle Obama's food choices, it's that she is a huge fan of fresh fruit and vegetables. That's the one thing you can't skip at her kitchen table, according to an interview she gave the Food Network's Healthy Eats

"As I tell my kids, vegetables are something that has to be a part of your diet so we'll find a few that you like, but there has to be a vegetable, and you have to finish it," she said. "You can skip the pasta, but you've got to eat the vegetables."

Some vegetables are more popular than others at chez Obama. She continued, "Broccoli is a winner in our household. So we do a lot of broccoli. And it works. Malia doesn't like snowpeas [sic], but they will appear because I like them." Frozen peas are another one of her popular produce picks as well.

Obama practices what she preaches, too. According to Politico, she is a "careful eater" who orders vegetables with every meal, even if she has to go off-menu. 

The one veggie she just doesn't like

On top of snow peas, broccoli, and frozen peas, Michelle Obama is a fan of other vegetables as well. In an interview with Healthy Eats, she mentioned that fresh salsa made with fresh tomatoes is delicious, and suggests sweet potatoes as a healthy side dish. She even encourages sneaking some cauliflower puree into your kid's mac and cheese so they can "get the taste of the cauliflower" early on, and make the taste of concentrated cheese less palatable.

But the produce queen, surprisingly, admits there's one vegetable that she honestly just doesn't like. In an interview with Food & Wine, she said, "I know that I'm known for eating my vegetables, and there really isn't much I don't enjoy. But I'm just not a fan of beets." So chances are you won't catch the former first lady digging into a bowl of borscht anytime soon, or adding beets to her salads, despite their health benefits

Even moderation in moderation

According to the The New York Times, Obama admits that she's not above satisfying her fast food hankerings when she gets them. She's taken her staff out to meals at Five Guys in the past, and was also spotted eating a burger and fries at Shake Shack, according to Politico

She also mentioned how bomb the fries made by White House chefs were in an interview with the The New York Times. "They can also make a mean batch of French fries when you want it done," she said. Of course, she only ever eats these foods in moderation.

Obama also has a fondness for the comfort food she dined on growing up. In an interview with Food & Wine, she revealed, "My favorite dish growing up was my mom's mac and cheese. She didn't make it often, so when she did it was special. It was creamy, delicious, warm and cheesy… very, very cheesy." That sounds super tasty.

Dinner faves

According to an interview with Cooking Light, Michelle Obama had a regular, working-class upbringing. In her home, her mother did the cooking, not a private chef like in the White House. On Sundays, dinner was either lemon chicken or roast beef, and leftovers were eaten for lunch the next day. Regular weeknight fare included lasagna, liver (which she did not enjoy), fish Fridays, and the occasional takeout pizza. She also noted that the evening meal was a very important time in her household growing up, and she continues to honor that time with her family today.

So what does she like to eat for dinner these days? According to celebrity chef Mario Batali, "I know she likes her steak," he said in an interview with USA Today. Batali selected beef braciole as the main course for her final state dinner, serving it along with sweet potato ravioli, butternut squash salad, and canapés made from produce and herbs from the White House garden. 

Her green thumb

During the Obama administration, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had a vegetable garden for the first time since the victory gardens of World War II. That garden was the brainchild of Michelle Obama.

In a 2016 speech dedicating the White House garden, she noted that many parents can underestimate the importance of a healthy diet. "Many of us didn't understand the impact that the food we ate was having on our bodies, on our kids' bodies," she noted. She continued that this was likely due to a lack of time or information. Then she mused, "So, I had this crazy idea, that what if we planted a garden on the White House lawn?"

Obama didn't want a garden just so she'd have fresh tomatoes available for herself, either. In an interview with America's Heartland, she said, "So ultimately, this garden is a way to elevate the conversation about our children's health." She also hopes it will help kids "make friends with vegetables," as she has.

Pizza is healthy!

In a speech to government employees, Michelle Obama revealed that of all of the foods out there, pizza is "hands down" her favorite, according to The Hill. "Almost every Friday I'll eat, like, a veggie pizza on wheat," she revealed. She also acknowledged, however, that this style of pie isn't everyone's first choice. She continued, "Now, that may not be something you like, but I like it." 

She went on to extol the virtues of pizza, celebrating its diversity. "You can have dessert pizza. You can do anything with pizza. It's a very versatile, universally loved food," she said. Seeing as it involves bread, cheese, and sauce, that's not surprising.

When it comes to the great pizza battle of New York style pizza vs. Chicago deep dish pizza, Obama doesn't hesitate to say what she prefers. She told People magazine, "Chicago deep dish, are you kidding me? Gino's East, to be precise." That figures, given that she's a Chicago native.

She keeps it simple and is family-minded

When it comes to cooking philosophies, Obama advocates for keeping it simple in your kitchen. She's aware how tough it is to juggle cooking along with everything else. In an interview with the Food Network's Healthy Eats, she revealed that she had discussed this issue with her sister-in-law, a parent to two girls. "She is a teacher and doesn't have much time to cook. I was trying to tell her that you can cook a simple meal," she said. 

But like many novice home cooks, her sister-in-law was trying to do too much. "Well, what she's trying to cook is these complicated Asian dishes that require many pans and chopping," she continued. She noted that that's only feasible if you have a sous chef, which her sister-in-law didn't.

So just how does she keep it simple, then? She shared that one of her go-to family meals is broiled chicken legs with rice or couscous, and steamed broccoli. "I could do that in 15 minutes, and then we'd have leftovers," she revealed. "Now my family is sick of that meal!"

I'll have what she's having

Michelle Obama is a fan of all kinds of restaurants, according to Eater. They compiled a list of where she's eaten in the Washington DC area, and it's pretty epic.

Politico also dove deep into an investigation of what Obama eats when she dines out, and found some distinct patterns in her food selections. She orders salad or vegetables on a consistent basis, for example. When she drinks alcohol, it's either a dirty martini with Stoli vodka, or wine. She orders seafood as a main course more than anything else. She enjoys dessert, but not with every meal. She's also not afraid of ordering a steak or other decadent foods like a rack of lamb once in a while.

When Obama dines out in New York City, her taste is just as impeccable. In 2017, she dined at The Breslin with Sarah Jessica Parker, Gayle King, and Robin Roberts, according to Vanity Fair. Head maître d' Larisa Sterling told the magazine, "They each ate fish and chips from our brunch menu and got dessert as well." Clearly Obama knows how to live.

Travel adventures

Now that Obama is no longer a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, perhaps she'll have more time for travel, which she loves. In an interview with Food & Wine, she shared that travel is important to her. She also encourages everyone to get out of their comfort zone when they're abroad, as long as it's safe to do so.

So where would she want to go first? "Spain has so much incredible food," she said. "I like anything with jamón, cheese, olives, bread and olive oil. I could eat that forever."

Obama might not have to go so far to have those delicious foods, as she became friends with a celebrated Spanish-American chef while they were in the White House. "Barack and I met José Andrés when we first came to Washington and to the White House. We learned about him through his phenomenal restaurants, which are among our very favorites in DC," she said. "I could sometimes sneak out with friends for dinner, and José's restaurants were places of comfort, great food, good drinks and friendship." 

Obama still lives in DC, so perhaps the invite is still open for them.