A couple things to keep in mind before we start:
- Think about your nutrition plan as a long-term lifestyle choice.
- There is no perfect nutrition plan, every decision has trade-offs.
- Measure what you eat to discern what works best for you.
- Keep experimenting.
Step #1 Reduce the obvious junk
Chips, chocolate, pop and candy are not great for you. If health is your goal, they can not be a part of your daily routine.
Q: Can I still have some?
A: Yes, on occasion. There is a balance that needs to be made and you need to decide where to draw the line. Being in control of your diet means deciding what trade-offs you’re happy with.
Q: I am craving the foods I gave up, what should I do?
A: Write down what foods you are longing to have. Then schedule the next day you will allow yourself to have some of the food you are craving. The key to this process is you are not eating on impulse. Having a day a week scheduled for eating some of your favourite foods is a great way to fend off cravings in the moment.
Step #2 Add better foods
Add more whole foods to your diet. Whole foods are foods that do not have ingredients listed on them, for example: apples, spinach, black beans, rice, potatoes, eggs. A variety of whole foods is going to lead to the healthiest diet.
Q: I’m having trouble finding meals I like that are made up of whole foods, what would you recommend?
A: Here are some personal favourites:
Breakfast: Coffee with coconut oil (my go-to breakfast), smoothies, egg frittatas, homemade protein bars, oatmeal or
Lunch: Burrito, chilli, salad, picnic lunches, wraps or soups
Dinner: A protein with a salad, lentil tacos, spaghetti squash, stew, enchiladas, entrée salad, Stir frys, Indian curry or pad thai
I also would recommend cookbooks like Thug Kitchen (if you can get past the language they are great), Oh She Glows, Love and Lemons and America’s Test Kitchen, which keeps coming up in conversation. If you’re looking to incorporate “superfoods” and stay really clean check out Thrive. Many of those cookbooks started as blogs which are still regularly updated. I am a vegetarian, but of course, there are plenty of other omnivore resources to check out. A few favourites include Jamie Oliver, Epicurious and The 4 Hour Chef. Also, feel free to borrow any cookbooks that being kept in the gym!
Q: I can’t really cook?
A: I recommend The 4 Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss. I love Tim Ferriss as an author and this book might open you up to cooking like it did for me.
Q: I struggle with finding the time to cook, what would you recommend?
A: Keep it simple: Choose a protein (fish, chicken, pork, beef, eggs, tofu), add some spices and eat it with some cooked veggies. Also, stir frys, salads, rice bowls, chilli and soups are quick to make.
A slow cooker (or crock pot) can be a great time saver! It sounds counter intuitive to get something called a slow cooker if you are running low on time, but a slow cooker meal takes little effort and you can easily cook enough to leave leftovers. I love using it for chilli, oatmeal, curries and stews. Put your ingredients in the slow cooker before you go to bed, wake up and you can have lunch made for the week. Do it again the next day with a different dish and you will have enough meals for a couple of days. For more slow cooker recipe inspiration check out: Eating Well
Important note: Having no time makes planning a priority. To save time follow these 4 steps:
- Make or choose a meal plan at the start of the week. Plan to make and eat leftovers in your meal plan.
- Add up the ingredients for the grocery list
- Schedule when to buy your groceries in one or two stops over the week.
- Schedule a time to do some bulk cooking or when to use a slow cooker
Step #3 Understand your diet
To have complete control of your diet you need to understand how many calories you are eating in a day and what the breakdown of those calories are. The next step is to start tracking what you are eating.
Q: I eat whole foods all the time but I am still struggling with losing body fat, what should I do?
A: If you have tackled the first challenge of moving to a diet of predominantly whole foods, the next step is measurement. How much you eat matters. Unfortunately, you can gain weight eating foods that are healthy.
Q: What is the easiest way to record what you eat?
A: A service like myfitnesspal will help you track your calories as well as the composition of those calories. The service is free and some of its features such as a bar code scanner and auto reminders make it worth trying. I personally would never track a thing without this app.
By measuring what you eat you will find out two important things. First, how many calories you are consuming on average and second what is the composition (fat, carbohydrate and protein) of those calories. You might be surprised to find out that some of the foods you are eating regularly are higher in calories than you originally thought. Do not forget to track condiments. Condiments add a lot of flavour, but also add calories, so keep that in mind. Hummus keeps finding its way into my nutrition journal! Tracking what you are eating will help you to decide if you need to make further changes to your meal plan.
It can feel like a daunting task to change what you are eating. Take it slow. Make changes you want to keep. This is an experiment and ultimately you’re testing to find out what foods make you feel best.
If you have any recipes or blogs you would like to share please leave a comment we would love to hear from you!