What Should your Grocery Cart & Meal Plan Look Like?

Do you know I used to run marathons and I was larger and had a higher body fat percentage than I do now, when I do much less activity than running miles and miles each week?

That the times when I am the ‘thinnest’ aren’t the times I am the most active, but rather the times I focus most on my diet.

All of this goes to show the importance of daily, consistent, healthy nutrition!

At least 80 % of our meals need to be ‘healthy, clean whole foods’ in order to achieve the body image you are looking for!  For me, I enjoy wine with friends on the weekend, dining out with my boyfriend, and having the occasional extra spoonful of peanut butter.  As a result I actively choose to enjoy these indulgences, and tip the scales to probably eating well somewhere between 70-90 % of the time.  I know for my body if I wanted to look like a lean mean fighting machine I would have to eat clean at least 90 % of the time (I have no genetic predispositions to having a smaller build)….

I want to point this out to you to reiterate the important of DIET!  I don’t mean eating less calories, or eating only healthy foods, but I mean throughout the day getting in all those foods you need to support Optimal Health and Nutrition!

So what should your grocery cart look like?  And how should you Plan your meals?

About a year ago I put out my Optimal Health Coaching guide for my clients.  I have decided today to put here 5 pages from my guide!  It’s a lot of info, but it will really help you get a good glimpse on what I recommend your 80% to look like.  There are lots of good tips in here:

Here it is!!  Optimal Health Coaching General Food Guidelines:

  1. The best fluids for your body are water, and herbal tea. Pop and diet pop should be eliminated, as well as coffee and caffeine (if you can’t eliminate it please reduce to 1 cup per day). Instead have water infused with lemon, limes, and fruit, as well as herbal and green tea are recommended. Lemon water is the best source of hydration, it detoxifies the liver, and helps with digestion!  Stay hydrated throughout the entire day.
  2. Try and eliminate all forms of dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream, and many power bars). Goat’s milk, or raw cheeses are better options. If you choose to have dairy, make sure you get it from the best source!
  3. Get rid of sugars (and therefore most packaged foods). Start to read labels on food, and take a look at the sugar content (under carbohydrates). Try to find packaged foods (if you choose to eat them) with less than 5 grams of sugars, and more than 5 g of fibres. Ideally you should move away from packaged food, there is very little nutritional value in these foods, and they don’t lead to Optimal Health! If you continue to eat packaged foods you will never have the proper level of vitamins and minerals in your diet. As a result you will continue to suffer form lack of energy, and disease states. You will find sugars in cereals, breads, bagels, wraps, pasta, rice, all types of ‘junk’ and baked foods, dips, sauces, juice, all types of sugary drinks.
  4. Drink very modestly if at all.
  5. Volumize your meals. Try and have at least one source of vegetables with each meal. The more the better! These are your foods full of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables should not be accounted for in terms of calories, fill up on them with all meals and snacks, by combining them with your proteins/fats/carbs. Remember that your plate should be half vegetables, ¼ protein, ¼ starch and a source of fat.

6- SLEEP! Without 6-8 hours of sleep a night you will continue to struggle for better health, but won’t make it very far! Sleep is our repair and renew time where various crucial hormonal an chemical proceses take place. Without giving your body that time to relax, and grow stronger your health goals will suffer.

Following this shopping list will help you keep the best foods in the house!

Vegetables:

  • Cauliflower
  • Brocoli
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Turnip
  • Beets
  • Cucumber
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Zuchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Yams/sweet potatoes
  • * These are just a few examples of the great vegetables you should include. The more the merrier!

Fruits:

  • Berries are amazing and highest in antioxidants (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries).
  • Apples/oranges/bananas/pears
  • Grapefruit/pomegrants
  • Limes, lemons
  • Papayas/melons
  • * Don’t overdo the fruit, like you should with the vegetables. They are a great food, but contain much more sugar than vegetables!

Grains/Carbohydrates:

– Oats

– Rice

– quinoa

– Bakery baked sprouted bread or Silver Hills bread

– Sweet potato

Try to stay away from refined/processed foods.

Proteins:

  • organic free range:
  • chicken/turkey
  • fish
  • eggs
  • beef/pork in moderation
  • Beans/peas

Fat sources:

  • nuts/seeds, or nut butters that having nothing else in the ingredients
  • avocado
  • olive oil/coconut oil
  • flax seeds/chia seeds/hemp hearts
  • Coconut milk

* Fats are incredibly important for hormonal balance and overall health. A diet deficient in fats will cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as a variety of other issues!

Sweeteners:

– Unpasteurized honey or maple syrup.

– Stevia

Condiments/others:

-Sea Salt, herbs/spices

– Almond milk/coconut milk

– Cinnamon, paprika, garlic, onions, ginger, and tumeric are some of my favourites to cook with.

My Top 15 Foods to Have in the Kitchen at ALL Times.

In our society of hectic lifestyles it becomes increasingly challenging to choose the right foods for our health, and healthy weight maintenance.  We often get stuck with no good food in the fridge that we can prepare quick, and no good choices at the dining locations close by.  I am noticing more and more lately the importance of cooking and preparing food at home consistently.  We have been cooking twice a week now for about a year, and eating the same kinds of foods for a few days at a time.  This goes well, but takes a lot of preparation.

I firmly believe that without time and dedication spent in the kitchen, we will not live optimally and maintain our best health.  I believe disease prevention starts in the kitchen!

To make this easier for us we:
1.     Tend to batch cook on Sunday and Wednesday night, it’s already in the calendar, and we don’t block other things during this time.
2.     We spend time choosing recipes for foods we are VERY excited to try.
3.     We keep our ’15 basics’ stocked so that we always know what’s around when cooking/baking.
We also spend a lot less money on food!

If you want to get started on cooking more, I suggest that getting the following 15 ingredients into your cupboards/diet regularly, you will find cooking a lot simpler, as you won’t always be rushing off to the grocery store, or debating what to make for dinner!

What are some staples that you should keep in the house that end up being part of any good healthy recipe?
1.   Coconut oil- the best source of oil for cooking at high heats, and tastes delicious.  Buy a big tub 🙂
2.    Avocados- Delicious.  Great in smoothies to make them smoother!  Can be added to literally anything to add flavour, and get a healthy fat source in that meal.
3.     Sweet potatoes- Never get old.  Can cook them in so many ways.
4.     Apples/pears/bananas.  I find when I go to pack fruit for lunch I am less likely to grab an orange or berries, as I know they are more time consuming to eat.   An apple is good for anytime!
5.   Eggs- Like sweet potatoes, never get old, and can be cooked up to taste delicious in so many ways.  Great quick source of protein.
6.    Leafy greens. Can be sautéed, thrown into a salad/soup/stew, can add a handle to any meal to bulk it up.  Kale, chard, and spinach are my favourite.  We tend to lay any meal we cook on a bed of lettuce.
7.   Quinoa- great protein and carb source.  Can make a ton of meal ideas from this one ingredient.
8.   Almond milk. Add to chia seeds/nuts/flax seeds/coconut for a homemade granola.  Great in teas, or with a tablespoon of peanut butter!
9.     Peanut butter/Almond butter.  Tasty!  Perfect craving buster.
10.   Turnips/eggplant/beets/parsnips- A pan of these guys roasted together once a week is delicious, hearty, and full of energy!
11.   Raw honey- my favourite natural sweetener.
12. Flavoured balsamic vinegar, and olive oil-  A teaspoon of each spices up a salad perfectly without using a crappy salad dressing!
13. Hummus! I find when hummus is in the house my veggie consumption sky rockets.  Raw veggies with hummus is a perfect snack or appetizer.  Bonus points if you make your own!
14. Garlic, onion, mushrooms, and ginger. Your perfect trio to add in huge quantities to everything you cook.  Naturally fight of infections, colds, and are a perfect alternative to adding salt loaded bottled spices.
15. Lemons. Great to improve digestion when you have them in water, as well as a perfect topping to any nicely prepared dish.  I don’t know what it does- but it sure makes a lot of things taste better!

I think the best part is if you fill your fridge and cupboards with all these foods, you won’t have room for junk food!  And by filling up on these foods first, 80 % of the time you will most likely feel great, have more energy, and then when treats come around you can feel free to enjoy because you’ve done so well with your diet the rest of the time.
Remember, these are the foods that work for us.  Pay attention to your body and ensure that you feel great, and digest all these foods well, for YOU 🙂

Did you see the youtube video, where I did a tour of our fridge?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaN8qXeN3EQ

How to time your meals:

– Eat breakfast within an hour of getting up, this will get your metabolism up and running for the day! Even something small will do the trick!

– Ensure you never let yourself get TOO hungry, this will simply lead to overeating.

– Before a meal (1-2 hours before) have a small amount of carbs to prepare for your workout.

– 30 minutes to 1 hour after activity replace your lost energy stores with some carbohydrates and some protein. I find some fruit with a few hard boiled eggs, or nuts work great. Protein powder smoothies are easy as well.

I recommend getting to know when you feel hungry and when you feel full.

Hunger should show up as noise in the stomach, lower in energy, feeling cold, and a variety of other symptoms.

Full isn’t when you feel the bloating/uncomfortable feeling, but instead when you are no longer hungry. Eat your meal in a mindful manner and check in to see when you feel like you don’t need to eat more. Eat in a calm, quiet environment, without doing other things. You are guaranteed to eat less and enjoy your food more!

Journaling is a great way to learn about your triggers for eating. I recommend when you feel the desire to eat something to stop, take a moment, breathe, and see if you can journal out the meaning of why you are tempted to eat something!

Sample Meal Planning Ideas:

Easy Breakfasts:

  1. A small bowl of oatmeal with hemp hearts and chia seeds. One hard-boiled egg on the side, or mix some protein powder into your oatmeal.
  2. A green smoothie with some protein powder, a piece of fruit, some almond milk, a scoop of almond butter and flax seeds.
  3. 2-4 frieds eggs mixed with sautéed mushrooms, onions, bell peppers. Served with some baked sweet potato and a scoop of avocado.
  4. Sweet smoothie: one banana, scoop of peanut butter, couple of ice cubes, and almond milk.

Lunches:

  1. A big salad with boiled beets, sauerkraut, carrots, goats cheese, walnuts, sliced onions. (Or whatever other salad concoction you can come up with!).
  2. Homemade soup. Crock pots are great for this. Combine all your favourite veggies, rice, and meat source with some broth and spices, and you have soup for days. Add some rice to it, or have it with a nice fresh baked piece of bread.
  3. Taco salad! Shred up some iceberg lettuce, cut up some tomatoes, red onion, add some chicken or beef, some sliced up avocado, and a homemade dressing.

Dinners:

  1. Salmon, rice and veggies.
  2. Chicken, quinoa and a greek salad.
  3. Turkey stir fry with veggies and brown rice.
  4. Beef stew filled with celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, and other veggies.

Snacks:

  1. A piece of fruit with a few nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds).
  2. Cut up veggies with hummus.
  3. A homemade protein bar, or a protein shake.
  4. A handful of mixed nuts (not from a can).
  5. All natural crackers with a nut butter and some fruit/veggies.

Post Workout:

– Stick to a protein/carbohydrate source.

“Typical Day”

It’s important to determine how many calories you need for your age, gender, activity level, and basal metabolic rate.

I suggest checking out a few resources:

http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced

http://iifym.com/tdee-calculator/

They will both give you different numbers, so take an average of the two.

The important thing to realize is that you need to eat less calories than you are burning to lose weight, or eat more to gain weight. You don’t want to eat too little, or too much or your results will not be sustainable. Many of my clients end up never losing weight because they eat too little! You should never endure feeling hungry!

After you do the calculator, begin to track and monitor your food, notice how many calories you are eating in a day. Notice how many grams of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you are eating. These numbers will be different for everyone. The first step is to record, and over time we will make changes to ensure you are getting the best results for you. As a general guideline people need at least 1-1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight. You then need about 10-20% of your diet from a variety of fat sources, and carbohydrates make up the rest.

 

Tips on Grocery Shopping

  • Know what you are going to shop for (ie. Bring a list). This means have a game plan for what meals you are going to make for the week.
  • Stick with the basics. Get the essentials and get out! The more time you spend in there the more likely you are to buy condiments, dressings, snack foods, packaged foods, the more likely you are to eat those things! If you stick with the basics, when you get home and need a dressing or a snack you will make one (rather than grab one).
  • Do a huge shop once a week and stock up one other time that week.
  • Wash and cut your groceries in one time slot. If you don’t wash, peel, cut, and pack a lot of your fruits, veggies, meats etc. you end up not eating them because it seems like such a hassle on a day-to-day basis!

 

Planning/Organization

  • Batch cooking is my key to success for long term healthy eating and weight maintenance. This is one of the main reasons why diet programs often don’t work. If a quick fix program isn’t teaching you how to cook, prepare and shop for the healthiest foods then you will never tackle this important lesson. Avoid falling into the trap of pills or gimmicks that promise to help you keep weight off. Proper weight loss is slow, steady, and involves lifestyle and habit changes.
  • It’s a habit! It takes effort to plan in your calendar when you will shop/wash/cook and prep for the week. For myself, I plan for Wednesday and Sunday’s. I schedule it into my calendar so that nothing can conflict. I know that healthy eating is the key to long term health! After I buy my groceries I leave it all out on the counter and I prepare everything! I chop it up into salads, cook up all the meat and starch, and sometimes make a few special recipe meals. The rest of the week is incredibly easy as I don’t have to think about cooking or preparing at all!!!

Batch Cooking

Do you know how hard it is to start a brand new habit such as batch cooking?  It’s like quitting smoking!  It’s like telling someone who lives pay cheque to pay cheque to start saving money!  It’s like bringing a couch potato out running every evening!  It’s tough!

And the coolest part is, anything that is that tough to get going sure does pay off in the long run!

Let me give you a few examples:

1)  You forget your lunch multiple days per week and find yourself running somewhere for food.  Perhaps you can find a healthy option, but can you find a well balanced healthy option?  Is that meal going to have protein, fats, carbs, and veggies?  If not you are probably missing out on some good nutrients those days!

2)  Today I was EXTREMELY hungry after my hike yesterday.  And I REALLY needed an extra snack.  So I went hunting.  Nothing within a 500 meter radius had anything healthy or fresh I could buy.  I settled for a banana and PB, which is by far my favourite snack, but isn’t exactly a filling/ ideal choice for me.  If I would have batch cooked my snacks on the weekend with my meals I would have had something tasty and a bit more well rounded in my bag.

3)  Often people look for a simple solution, it’s natural to do so.  We want our meals delivered to us, or buy pre packaged food from the store, or whatever it is!  THIS IS WHERE YO YO DIETING COMES FROM.  Healthy nutritious foods need to be cooked in your kitchen (unless you plan on being filthy rich forever and can have them delivered, then I am just jealous of you, speaking of which, I know some girls who started “Fitness Foods”, google it, they deliver super healthy meals to you door!!”.  So honestly the best thing you can do right this moment for your health, fitness, and weight, is hop in that kitchen and start cooking!

4)  When we don’t have meals/snacks ready, sometimes we are tempted to not eat at all.  This is a recipe for disaster as your energy will plummet, and I am sure your mood will too!!  We have got a lot to accomplish in our day and grumpy/tired feeligns won’t get you too far!  Right?

Thanks for reading!  Pass this on to a friend who could benefit from this information!!

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