There are many ways to live a healthy life. The Health Diaries is a weekly series about the habits that keep notable people living well.

Home chefs love Alison Roman and her “highly cookable recipes.” The Brooklyn-based author of the hit cookbook Dining In got her start in restaurants, including a stint at the restaurant Quince in San Francisco and as a pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City, before eventually making the transition to developing recipes and writing. Now, she shares her sweet and savory recipes with the masses: Roman’s Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies are not only delicious, but Instagram famous.

Roman, who is a columnist for the New York Times and Bon Appétit, spoke to Medium about her lack of routine, wildly out-of-schedule eating habits, and her goal of achieving more balance on social media.


Every morning I wake up around 7:30 a.m.-ish. But each day can be different, and I don’t really have a morning routine. I wake up, wash my face, moisturize, and brush my teeth. That’s kind of it. I’m not really a breakfast or coffee person — I don’t think I’ve had a coffee yet today.

There isn’t anything typical about what I eat in a day. The nature of my job means I eat at very weird times. Sometimes I eat all day long and won’t have dinner, and sometimes I can’t eat all day and I’ll have five dinners. It’s truly erratic.

For the most part, I cook a lot of my meals and sometimes I eat out. In the summer, if it’s too hot to cook, I may eat out more. In the winter, I often want to stay inside and cook. It also depends if I’m on deadline, and if I have recipes to develop. Basically, I have no routine and no consistency.

I don’t really have a go-to dish I cook all the time. I always have a lot of groceries around, so I try to eat up what I have. I shop for groceries all throughout the week, rather than all on one day.

One thing I want to get better at is looking at my phone less. I don’t want to look at it just to look at it. Being on social media is definitely expected of me for my job, and I am grateful for it as a tool for what I do. But it can also be intense; I feel like I can’t really take a break from it.

I’ve never really been into wellness trends. I’m not really a trendy person. I just do what feels right. I’ve found that if things are really trendy they tend not to stick around, so I’m not really into that. I don’t have special things I do that I swear by.

A healthy thing I’m trying to do more often is get more sleep and drink more water.

I exercise pretty regularly. I do a lot of yoga, both hot and regular. Usually, I try to do it twice a week or so, which probably isn’t really enough, but better than nothing.

My nightly routine is simple. I take off my makeup and wash my face. I use a toner and I moisturize. Then, I usually try to drink a big glass of water before I go to bed. Other than that, I don’t have any night rituals.

I see a therapist once a week which is very important for me.

I almost always write recipes for myself. I want to be able to say, “that’s really delicious and I want to eat it.” If I can’t say that, then I can’t expect anyone else to want to eat it either. It’s always a little surprising when one of my recipes becomes popular. It means someone knows I’m out there. There are some things you know about human nature: People really like salmon, people really like chicken thighs, people really like cookies. But you never really know how it’s going to resonate.

More people should give cooking a try. Some people don’t like cooking and that’s okay. I think we live in society where people feel shame if they don’t enjoy the process of cooking. Also, I think that people who don’t have success are more inclined to dislike it. So, my advice is to cook with someone who is more familiar with it or look for recipes from a different source. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s no reason to give up. But if it’s something you genuinely don’t like, there’s no shame in having people you love cook for you.

My advice for cooking is start small. There’s no need to whip up a four course meal. If you don’t know how to fry an egg, start there. If you don’t know how to boil pasta, start there. Start small. I think most people try to do something too ambitious the first time around.