Monday, 18 March 2013


I'm not a doctor. I don't have any qualifications in nutrition whatsoever. However, I am very interested in health and well-being based on my own experiences, and as a result, I'm often approached by friends and family to offer advice on such topics.

Most recently, a girlfriend of mine - who we'll refer to as D - approached me about toning up and getting into shape. She asked if I could recommend some exercises and/or workout routines, but most importantly, a nutrition plan. Well-knowing that she keeps a very busy work schedule, I took it upon myself to list some general rules and suggestions for a healthier lifestyle through diet and fitness.

D has always been an active individual, growing up and playing sports all her life, including varsity sports throughout university and now in her everyday life. Strength, activity, and athleticism are not challenges for D, but rather, her weaknesses lie in maintaining a healthy diet. That said, it's not necessarily what she eats that is her biggest challenge, but when and how much. Generally, D claims to eat too little throughout the day (and after talking to her about what a typical day of eating might entail, I would agree that this is the case).

So, instead of provide D with a structured nutrition plan, I wanted to offer her a list of guidelines and suggestions for what she might introduce (if she hasn't already) to achieving her health and fitness goals. Here's exactly what I sent her:

(with suggestions for a gluten-free diet)


Here are some guidelines to consider for optimal weight loss.


Enjoy 5-6 small meals per day*

Strive for nutrient-dense foods that are rich in fibre, protein, and vitamins

Include protein with every meal, even with snacks (ie. an apple with raw nut butter or carrots with hummus or a hard boiled egg)

Include healthy fats in your diet that will contribute to satiety, helping you feel full for longer

Eliminate sugary beverages and instead, choose unsweetened beverages, such as herbal teas and water; if you need to sweeten your tea or coffee, do so minimally

Eliminate all wheat, gluten, and highly allergenic foods from your diet, or at the very least, avoid them as much as possible: wheat, white flour products (baked goods, cookies, pastries), barley, rye, kamut, teff, spelt, soy, pasteurized cow’s milk products, couscous

Eat more raw foods, including vegetables, fruit, and nuts

Eat more vegetables, in general

Limit sugar and fructose; when I do consume sugar, I prefer lower-glycemic “natural” sweeteners, such as raw honey, coconut sugar, stevia, and pure maple syrup

Avoid artificial sweeteners

*this doesn’t work for everyone, because (1) some people find they’re too busy to constantly be eating (while I might see this as an excuse, I’m realistic and understand that in a busy work world, this is often the truth), and (2) they actually don’t need to eat that much. If you find you’re not hungry enough to constantly be eating (remember, these meals are small), then find what works for you. It will also depend on what you’re eating and how active you are. Personally, I find that when I consume a higher protein and higher fat diet, I’m less likely to require snacks in between meals. When I (used to) consume a low fat-low carbohydrate diet, I felt I was constantly hungry. There’s also different variations to “low fat” and “low carb,” so again, find what works for you – this may take some experimenting.

Whole Grains*

*assuming you follow a gluten-free diet, your “high fibre” complex carbohydrates (required for energy) will include brown rice and potatoes, preferably sweet potatoes. Even though white rice (as well as rice pastas/noodles) and regular potatoes are gluten-free, their nutritional value is close to nothing. I still enjoy these foods on occasion, but if you want to maximize healthy eating, try to avoid these foods.

Here is a blog post a friend of mine wrote about white rice versus brown rice. His information and comments can be applied to a lot of different foods, but he just talks about rice – take what you want from his notes, it’s not for everyone.

Lean Meat
Raw Nuts

*if you’re avoiding dairy, ignore all mention of yoghurt and cheese

Olive Oil
Coconut Oil

Here are some meal ideas:

Note that these are not necessarily complete meal ideas; you can include fruit with your omelet or a hard boiled egg with oatmeal. It's entirely up to you and your nutritional needs.

Veggie Omelet
Eggs (scrambled, boiled, poached)
Oatmeal with Almond Milk (or milk of your choice), Berries or Banana, Raw Nuts, and sweetened with Raw Honey
Apple Cashew Oatmeal
Sweet Potato Hash with Peppers

Salad with Lean Protein, such as Chicken Breast, Fish, or Steak
Soup or Stew
Lean Protein with Brown Rice or Sweet Potato and Vegetables or Side Salad
Last Night’s Leftovers
Crustless Quiche with Spinach & Sausage

*you can obviously have sandwiches and wraps every day, even on a gluten-free diet. However, with my experience, (1) gluten-free bread isn’t that great, and (2) many store-bought gluten-free breads are full of other ingredients that you don’t need. To compensate for the lack of gluten, a lot of these breads include added sugars or starches. Read your labels!

Hardboiled Egg
Rice Crackers (gluten-free)

Lean Protein like Chicken Breast, Fish, Steak, Pork Tenderloin, Shrimp
Sweet Potato, Brown Rice
Meat and Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice
Brown Rice Pasta (Salad or with Tomato/Pesto Sauce)
Rice Noodles**
Asian Lettuce Wraps with Chicken

*if your meal isn't a large salad with lean protein in itself, try starting dinner with either a small bowl of soup or a side salad - not only will you help fill your belly before your main course, but you'll consume some extra nutrients in the meantime!

Healthy Chili with Lean Ground Beef and Veggies, can serve with Brown Rice (or my recipe for Vegetarian Chili)
Chicken or Beef Danube with Sweet Potatoes
Soups with Lean Meat, Vegetables and Brown Rice or Brown Rice Pasta (ie. homemade chicken noodle)


In addition to cardio sessions (remember to start slow), aim to incorporate weight training or other strength and conditioning exercises 3 times per week.

Bodyrock / The DailyHiit is a website/company that has really evolved in the past couple of years; and if the workouts are still the same, they’re super intense and all under 20 minutes long.

Tone It Up also has fantastic mini workouts that you can take on the road for travel with work.


     As you can see, a lot of the advice and information I've written about you've already heard. But sometimes, in order to reassess our efforts for a healthy lifestyle, we have to remind ourselves of these basic guidelines - guidelines that we've heard over and over again, and that may or may not work for you. 

     What I've shared with you here are guidelines that have worked for me. These guidelines have enough structure to get you started, but plenty of flexibility to be moulded and transformed to fit your specific needs. Like anything, take what you can from my recommendations and make them your own.

     Happy Monday!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

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