A personalised nutrition plan is key!

When do you get up and when do you go to bed? 

The answer to these questions can help you figure out the best meal timing and frequency for yourself. People who have a long day—those who get up fairly early and stay up quite late—are probably going to have (and might also need) more “eating events” during their waking hours. In this case, I might suggest that calories be divided over three meals and three snacks: one mid-morning, one mid-afternoon and a light one in the evening. On the other hand, someone who is a late riser probably won’t need a mid-morning snack. And if they turn in relatively early, their dinner meal should probably be the last eating event of the day.

What time of day do you exercise, and how hard do you work out? 

The answer to this question helps determine what needs to be done in terms of fuelling up before exercise, and refuelling afterwards. Those who do low to moderate intensity exercise of relatively short duration (say, a brisk 45 minute walk) probably don’t need to fuel up before they go—even if it’s first thing in the morning. But if exercise is more strenuous, and/or longer in duration, it’s a different story.

If you work out hard first thing in the morning, you’ll need to set aside some calories to spend on some carbohydrates to “top off your tank” ahead of time. Something light and easy to digest is best: a banana, a carton of yogurt, a small protein shake would all work. You’d then refuel at breakfast. If your workout takes place before lunch, you’d need to set aside some calories for a mid-morning snack. If you wait until after work, you’d need a snack mid-afternoon. In both cases, the meal you eat after your workout would serve to refuel you. If you usually work out after dinner, then you’d want to spend more of your calories on your mid-afternoon snack and keep dinner on the light side—and then have a small snack to help you refuel afterwards.

Who does the cooking?

If you prepare most of your own meals, you have a lot of control over what goes on your plate. That means that you’re the one who decides what you’ll eat, how much, and how the food is prepared. All of this can really work to your advantage. Even so, it can be time-consuming to prepare meals. So, it helps to make sure your refrigerator, freezer and pantry are stocked with healthy staples. Put together a set of quick, easy and healthy recipes that you can turn to on busy weeknights. And take time on the weekends to plan your meals, and do some prep work to make weeknight cooking a little easier. If someone else cooks for you at home, ask for  their support in helping you eat healthier meals that work with your plan. A healthy, balanced diet is something everyone in the household can enjoy.

How often do you eat out? 

If you eat most of your meals out, it can be more challenging to keep your calories in check. This is primarily because you don’t have the same amount of control over portion sizes or how food is prepared. If you eat out frequently, a good tactic is to start your day at home with a protein shake. It’s quick and simple to make, and you can start your day with a healthy, calorie-controlled meal. Then, move towards protein and vegetables at lunch and dinner, and pay attention to how foods are prepared. Many restaurants post the calorie counts of their menu items online. Check out the information before you go, and use it to plan your meals. If you know portions are likely to be large, ask that half be set aside before it’s served to you and you can have it for lunch the next day.

Are portion sizes a problem for you?

If you struggle with large portion sizes, you may find that eating more frequently can actually help. Many people eat huge portions because they think it will keep them from snacking, or keep them from eating too much at the next meal. What’s more likely to happen, however, is that you’re simply training yourself to feel satisfied only after you’ve eaten a huge meal. Instead, learn to eat just enough so that you’re not hungry any more. But not so much that you can’t eat another bite. If you know you’ll be eating every few hours, you can teach yourself to be content with less food at each meal and snack.

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Eating Better – Make it Personal

When you break it down, the basic components of a healthy diet are really pretty simple – lean protein, plenty of vegetables and fruits, some starches in the form of whole grains or beans, a bit of “good” fats for flavour, and fluids to keep you hydrated.  Then, you put all of that into a meal pattern you can live with, and you’re good to go.

The key in all of this is to find foods that you truly enjoy eating that are also good for you. They’re out there – trust me.  With literally thousands of foods to choose from, you should be able to find – with a little experimentation – plenty of things to eat that fill the bill.

Just because everyone is eating kale (and you simply can’t get it past your lips) doesn’t mean you need to eat it.  There are plenty of other leafy greens you can try that offer up a similar nutrition profile.  Choking down something that you hate – just because it’s good for you – is hardly a habit in the making.

Six Tips for a Better Diet

Make Healthy Protein Choices

One problem in choosing which proteins to eat is that – if you’re not careful – you can end up eating a lot of fat, too.  If fatty cuts of meat, sausages and ground beef are your go-to proteins, start thinking about what you would be willing to eat instead.  An easy first step is to ditch the ground beef and replace it with ground poultry breast – in most recipes, the difference isn’t that noticeable.  When you’re ready to try adding more fish to your diet, you might try starting with something familiar – maybe for you that means shrimp or canned tuna.  Look at your everyday recipes and see where you might substitute these for fattier meats – maybe in a pasta sauce, a wrap, or in tacos.  Canned beans are convenient, mild in flavour and very low in fat – you can make a vegetarian stew, add them to soups, or whirl them in the blender with a little olive oil and garlic for a healthy dip for raw veggies.  Tofu is worth a try, too – it’s got a very mild flavour that works well in soups and stir-fried dishes, or you can try roasting it.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Those who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables often say it’s not because they don’t like them – it’s just that they don’t always have them on hand, or that these foods simply spoil before they get around to eating or cooking them.  The easiest work-around here is to stock your freezer with loose pack fruits and veggies – frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh – and you don’t have to worry about spoilage.  Then, it’s easy to add fruits to your morning protein shake or your yogurt, or to add veggies to soups, omelettes, pasta dishes, and stir-fries.  Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter, and cut up veggies in the refrigerator –having them visible and ready-to-eat will encourage you to eat more.  Make a goal to have a fruit or veggie with every meal or snack.  When you go out to eat, order double veggies and skip the starch, or start your meal with a colourful salad or veggie soup.  And get in the habit of having fruit for dessert.  If taste is what’s stopping you from eating enough vegetables,  find some new ways to season them.

Swap in Whole Grains for Refined Grains

This is probably one of the easiest ways to improve your diet.  When you switch from refined grains (like white bread, white rice, refined pasta, flour tortillas) to whole grains, you get a big boost in nutrition and fibre, too.  You can find whole grain counterparts for all your usual refined grains, so start experimenting with whole wheat pasta, brown rice, corn tortillas and 100% whole grain bread.   For side dishes, you might want to experiment with other grains, like quinoa or wild rice.

Eat Healthy Fats in Small Amounts

Fats – even the “good” ones – pack quite a few calories.  That’s why you should focus on reducing your overall fat intake – by steering clear of high fat snack foods, desserts and fried foods – and allowing yourself small amounts of healthy fats to supply necessary fatty acids.  Nuts, avocado, olive and canola oils are considered healthier than other fats, so find ways to incorporate these foods into your diet.  Avocado makes a good replacement for mayonnaise or butter, and nuts – in small amounts – can contribute healthy fats to salads, vegetable dishes, hot cereal or yogurt.  Rather than grain-based oils, switch to olive or canola oils when you cook.

Drink More Water and Tea

Good nutrition and plenty of fluids go hand-in-hand. Water serves many functions in your body, not the least of which is that it helps you digest your food and it helps transport nutrients to your cells.  If you don’t drink as much liquid as you should, try to foster the habit by keeping a water bottle nearby during the day.  If you don’t care for plain water, have tea instead, or make your own spa water by adding some fresh fruit or cucumber slices or herbs to flavour your water.

Eat Healthier Snacks

Snacking is not a bad thing if you do it right.  A well-chosen snack can help keep you from getting overly hungry between meals (which can lead to overeating when you finally do sit down), and having a snack means an opportunity during the day to sneak in some extra protein, vegetables, fruit or even some calcium-rich dairy. Ideally, you’ll want a combination of protein and carbohydrate to get the most staying power from your snack.  You can get really creative or you can rely on quick and easy fresh fruit, raw vegetables with hummus, nuts, edamame beans, protein bars and cartons of yogurt.

Snacking is not a bad thing if you do it right..

Protein Bars. They are a delicious high protein healthy snack. With approximately 140 calories, each the average Protein Bar contains almost 10g of high quality dairy protein, which can help build lean body mass.

Why is hydration good for you?

Fluid can be fulfilled from a combination of not only water but also food, contributing to our daily water consumption, yet, the amount varies widely.

Milk, fresh fruits and vegetables are among the foods with a very high concentration of water. This provides us with a wide variety of beverages, where better hydration can be accomplished.

Water is essential for life and it is very important to get the right amount of fluid to be healthy. However there are lots of mixed messages about how much, and what to drink and this can be confusing. Do I really need to drink 6-8 glasses of water on top of all my other drinks? Is it true that tea and coffee do not count towards my fluid intake? The answer to both these questions is no! The BNF ‘healthy hydration guide’ can help you choose a healthy balance of drinks.

This page also looks at why fluid is important, the effects of different drinks on health, and the needs of particular groups of people in the population. The information here is generally for healthy adults.

Why do you need water?
Your body is nearly two-thirds water and so it is really important that you consume enough fluid to stay hydrated and healthy. If you don’t get enough fluid you may feel tired, get headaches and not perform at your best. ‘Fluid’ includes not only water from the tap or in a bottle, but also other drinks that give you water such as tea, coffee, milk, fruit juices and soft drinks. You also get water from the food you eat – on average food provides about 20% of your total fluid intake.

How much do you need?
The amount of fluid you need depends on many things including the weather, how much physical activity you do and your age, but the Eatwell Guide suggest 6-8 glasses of fluid per day. This is on top of the water provided by food you eat. You can get water from nearly all fluid that you drink, apart from stronger alcoholic drinks such as wine and spirits. 

Can you drink too much?
Yes – drinking excessive amounts of fluid is not helpful and, in rare cases can be dangerous. If you are passing urine frequently and your urine is very pale, you may be drinking more than you need.

Does it matter which drinks you choose?
When you choose your drinks it is important to be aware that although they all provide water and some also contain essential vitamins and minerals, they may also provide energy (calories). These calories contribute to your daily calorie intake in the same way as those from the foods you eat. It is also important to look after your teeth, and consuming sugar-containing drinks too often can potentially harm your teeth, especially if you don’t brush teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste. It is also important to be aware that some drinks are acidic (e.g. fruit juice and carbonated drinks) and that this may cause dental erosion (damage to tooth enamel) if they are consumed frequently. For children, the use of a straw lessens the contact with teeth.

Even though teas and coffees contain caffeine which promotes water loss from urine, if consumed in a controlled way it contributes to our daily water intake. Herbal teas are preferred over regular teas or coffee as they tend to have lower caffeine content.

Relax and unwind with an instant Beverage.

A low calorie refreshing drink infused with green and black tea. When leading a busy or active lifestyle. Instant a refreshing drink enjoyed hot or cold, and a great way to help you reach your required fluid intake each day