What does “nutritious” and “healthy” mean to you, and how has it changed over the years?
When I was in high school, “healthy” meant skinny- at all costs. And “nutritious” meant anything that was low-fat and bland. It meant food restriction and calorie counting and tasteless, boring meals and snacks. But if it led to being “healthy”- ie. skinny- then that was all that mattered.
As an adult they both meant the same- until my first son, at a very young age, verbalized my unspoken definitions and started applying it to the world around him, first on me and then toward himself.
I haven’t blogged in a while, but my life continues to revolve around food. Now with 2 older kids- 10 and 16- and a business into it’s 6th year, I feel myself pulled closer to nutritious and healthy as a lifestyle description rather than a means to a specific weight or body type. Skinny doesn’t matter. The number on the scale doesn’t matter. What matters is that I feel good about the skin I’m in. I’m confident enough to wear what I want to wear. And I’m capable enough to do what I want to do.
Nutritious and healthy food is food that is colourful. It’s food that I want to eat. It’s a meal that I want to sit down and savour and enjoy every bite, and it’s food that challenges my taste buds and delights my eyes and tickles my nose. Nutritious and healthy food is food that supports my body- in its entirety- it makes me feel energetic and strong. It gives me momentum or brings me quietness. It’s crunchy, smooth, grainy, cold, hot, bright, tempting, spicy, salty, sweet, sour, vibrant, and delicious.
Nutritious and healthy food is food that knows no bounds. It can be prepared or enjoyed in any way I desire. It can be served with whatever side dishes I choose. It can be eaten as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. It works for me and supports me- it doesn’t dictate how I live, what I do, or where I do it. But it gives me freedom for all those things in my life.
This is the definition of food freedom for me. I’m not stuck in an endless loop of angst and worry, of anxiety and stress. I eat what I want to eat because I want to eat it. I eat what I want to eat because I enjoy it. And I eat what I want to eat because it makes me feel good.
I’ll never be “skinny”- I never have been- but my body is just fine in its own curvy way. I love that it sheltered and grew 2 amazing children. I love that it has helped me travel the world and explore my country. I love that I can get up in the morning and enjoy every single thing I eat over the course of the day. I love that I’m aging gracefully and celebrate that I feel really good while I’m doing it.
And most of all I love that food is my whole life. I love that I can help my kids internalize this stronger definition of what “healthy” and “nutritious” mean, and that I can share that lifestyle description with everyone around me- my clients at the non-profit I work with, my business clients, my friends, my family.
And you. Thanks for reading to the end, for sticking around with me over the years. I would love to hear what you think of “nutritious” and “healthy”. Feel free to find me on Facebook- “like” me if you haven’t already- message me in messenger or send me an email or join my mailing list- whatever works for you- I’m here to read your thoughts and reply to them as well.
Enjoy your day, friends! May it be delicious…
Over the years, you've watched me stock up my freezer. I've written about why to stock it up, what a different it makes, and preached endlessly on the virtues of a stocked fridge and freezer.
And here's the perfect reason why. On our first night of family vacation, my husband got very sick. He ended up being airlifted back to Edmonton.
Between back and forth from home to hospital, I found myself at first stressing out about what to feed the kids, and how. I didn't want us to live on fast food for the week but I didn't have a lot of time to cook either. However, I remembered I had stocked my freezer for fall before we went on vacation. This made all the difference in the world for us. A need is a need, whether it's a busy autumn or an unexpected illness. We were able to eat healthy food under pressure and as a result weathered the unknowns with grace and wellness.
Over the years I've found that the first thing to get dropped under unexpected curveballs is our meal planning. We eat whatever we can find whenever and wherever we can find it. This has been true for everyone I've asked. Unfortunately, eating like this adds further stress to our complications- less healthy food equals less healthy outcomes. When we are under stress and fighting to bring our lives back to normal, we need that nutritional backbone to support us. If you haven't started stocking your freezer, let me encourage you that now is the time. Make it your intentional priority as you cook. Plan for meals that are easily doubled or broken down into starters- slice meat for sandwiches, soups, and stir frys. Double up on chili or meat sauce. Make an extra meatloaf, and put away your leftover small bits for breakfasts or lunches that can serve you when you need it.
Having eggs and oatmeal ready to eat made my daily dashes out the door so much easier. Having lasagna, chili, and meatloaf to reheat for the kids made dinners doable. When I knew I had an hour at home I hardboiled eggs and roasted sheet pans full of vegetables. You know what you like to eat, so it's ok if my suggestions don't land for you. The important thing is to pick what works for you and make it happen.
All the best, friends,
Back when I first started blogging and developing a meal planning business, it was a desperate last-ditch effort to get my kid(s) to eat properly, so naturally I shared my successes and struggles. It's so funny how so much can change in just a matter of years. Now I meal plan to manage our lives - it helps keep us healthy and full of energy to take on whatever we happen to be doing. Somedays I feel like the Energizer Bunny- do you know what I mean?
My greatest passion has evolved from helping picky kids eat to helping busy women eat. They might be mothers, and/or wives, or they might not. But all of them default to take care of everyone and everything else before themselves and I know this is true because it's my natural default too, and I've talked to hundreds of women who admit the same. It's somehow hardwired, or perhaps society encourages this "super woman" mindset? Regardless, most of us are really good at it and not likely to stop any time soon.
I'm a meal planning coach. It's helped define who I am, what I stand for, where I'm going, and who I want to serve. I'll always have a heart for those picky kids- because I'm still living it. But for the caretakers of others, your nutritional backbone matters too. You need real food, not the quick gulp down of energy bars or fast food, or the food leftover on your kids plate. That's why I do what I do. I've found time, energy, and money- I want you to find the same.
If you're in Canada, celebrate our amazing country this weekend, but celebrate yourself too and eat something that makes you feel good. Take some time to yourself to savour real food, because nutrition is what keeps us "going and going". Start weaning yourself off of the quick-fix food lifestyle, and discover how planning can help you find time, energy, money, and happiness.
One of my favourite movies from the 90's was Blast from the Past. I'm not a prepper like Calvin was, but if I had the time, space, and capital I can see myself leaning towards those tendencies- I am, after all, a planner. Having that amazing stocked storeroom would be high on my list of priorities. In everyday life, knowing the meals I'm making and knowing I have the ingredients I need frees up my brain to relax and gives me the mental space necessary to be able to take some downtime if I can, or if I'm busy it gives me the mental space required to be that much more organized.
I have friends who feel the opposite, however. Meal planning feels like a prison to escape from. The idea of being constrained is enough to keep them free-flowing at dinner time, throwing meals together if they have the ingredients they need, or fitting in a shopping trip if they don't. The very idea of that makes me anxious! But that's because we're obviously very different in personality.
There are many stops along the way between these 2 extremes- do you fit somewhere in between? What kind of meal planner are you?
We all have that sort of day where cooking is hard, and that day for me was yesterday.
As a meal planning coach I preach the art of cooking and planning ahead, and so it happened to work out in our favour last night, and I wanted to share a couple of tips to help make sure it works out most of the time for you too. Because it's unrealistic to assume that we will always feel like cooking. Am I right?
Convenience will always win over intention. We can have the best intentions ever but still find it hard to make them happen when we're *that* exhausted. Here are a couple of food rules I live by:
Consider what you can do to make life easier for yourself tomorrow, and start doing it. One baby step at a time will completely change your life.
Have a great day, friends!
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Freezer Meals- Getting Started
In our fast-paced lifestyle, eating a traditional meal of "real food" seems to have been left behind. We're simply too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed, too overextended to get it done. We are shown ads constantly (just watch for it the next time you're watching live TV- you'll be amazed) about how wonderful it is to be eating out instead of cooking at home. There are ads for junk food, diet food, weight loss programs that include the food, and fast food. The themes continue in sitcoms and books. Cooking at home is a dying art.
Our recent Canada Food Guide, unveiled in January, places a high importance on eating with others, enjoying whole foods, limiting processed foods, and so on. But there's not a lot of awareness put into the "how" of home cooking. In fact, it's laughable, and it's exactly the kind of information I found when I was a new mom and trying to sort out meal planning for my life with a squalling infant, no sleep, no energy, and healing a post-partum body. It didn't translate then, and it doesn't translate now.
How do you implement it when you are literally away from home more hours than you sleep? When you've got a household to run and a million things on your "to do" list?
The thing is, it's complicated and different for everyone. No two people share the exact same meal planning complications. But here are a few ideas to start you thinking, and I'm just a phone call away if you want to get serious about cooking at home.
For more information on meal planning that suits your life, let's talk.
All the best, friends! Stay warm!
If this is what I do for a living, I'm never going to "fail", right?
I'm human, with a chaotic family and life. Sometimes I fall off the wagon, too. I know you know what I mean- all of us have done this proverbial "falling of the wagon", in relation to any number of things.
It's human to stumble, and it's ok- forgive yourself and move on. Get up and keep going.
Meal planning on its own is easy. It's a list of foods you want to eat, and that's usually a pretty easy list to make for most people. It isn't a cure-all, fix-all, one-size-fits-all sort of deal. What makes meal planning magical is the execution of it. It's a process of life-changing proportions, constantly changing and evolving with you as your life shifts and evolves. It's a constant leaning in, figuring out what trips you up and what works; what you can keep in your toolbox and what needs to be replaced. The biggest shift I've had to do to make meal planning work for me consistently is to change how convenient I make it for myself.
Let me encourage you today to take a look at your meal planning skills and find one thing you can shift to make it easier for yourself. What works for one situation may not be what works for another, and it may take some trial and error to figure it out, but when you do I can promise you that your life will change.
Have a great week, friends!
I remember a few years ago having a text conversation with someone while I was cooking dinner. I was having a rough day, mentally and emotionally speaking, and was trying to explain to my friend why cooking dinner was helping. "It's my therapy," I finally wrote. "I find it helps to settle my mind, the repetition of chopping and measuring, stirring and mixing calms me down and makes me feel better. It puts my head in a more settled state. I can make clearer decisions".
This statement probably won't resonate if you're not a cook, if putting dinner on the table is a chore right up there with scrubbing toilets or mirrors, and that's ok. But for those of you out there who "get" me, those of you who find a simmering pot of something savoury a comforting and peaceful thing to enjoy making, know that we are not alone in this.
There have been studies done to confirm why this is so, apparently. And it boils down to something called "behavioral activation", according to this article.
The next time you're having a rough day and find yourself cooking something to settle your mind, know that you're not alone. I'm probably doing the same thing, too.
Until next time, friends!
Fall in central Alberta means crunchy leaves and crisp evenings. It's not quite winter but you can feel it in the air. The geese rise up suddenly from the river, honking their way overhead as they travel to warmer climates, and you realize suddenly that as quickly as it came, it's on its way out.
Fall in Alberta means apples and cinnamon, pumpkin spice, roasting turkey, and cheerful cups of steaming hot chocolate while warming up from an evening stroll. It's heart-to-heart quiet conversations with friends and shared meals. It's getting ready to settle down for the cold embrace of winter.
Last weekend I spent some time walking as the sun was setting. It was beautiful, and I was grateful to see it before the snowfall over Sunday night. While the eastern half of Canada still sits in summer weather, we're back to winter already. This morning, for example, windchill makes it feel like -12!
Over Thanksgiving weekend I cooked a chunky applesauce in my slow cooker alongside the turkey dinner, and now I get to enjoy applesauce for a few days. It smelled delicious cooking and cooked down beautifully. If someone gave you apples from a backyard tree, this is the perfect way to use them up. If not, use whatever apples you've got and see how it goes!
Enjoy your week, friends.
For most of my life I've been constrained by food rules. Do you know what I mean? Some foods are good, some are bad, don't eat after dinner, skip breakfast, avoid the carbs, eat the carbs, low fat, no fat, full fat, sugar alternatives, calorie restricted, etc. This is why our food-obsessed culture still struggles with body image, weight related, lifestyle diseases. We put so much emphasis on rules but not enough on individual needs. The majority of our healthcare system treats symptoms but not the root causes, so we end up in this spiral of temporary fixes. I love nothing more than hearing about doctors and naturopaths who work with their clients to treat the causes of these physical symptoms. My hope is that more and more medical professionals will incorporate this sort of holistic treatment going forward.
Over the last few years, and especially in the last few months, I've been taking back control. It's my body- and my needs. No one else can really tell you what you should and should not do with your relationship with food. This intuitive self-awareness is a skill that takes practice. I'm asking myself what I actually want to eat rather than eating just because it's time to eat- does that make sense? The beauty in this is that our bodies are always changing- our needs shift from day to day, and forcing ourselves to follow rules that don't serve our needs may end up doing more harm than good. Here's a wonderful article that communicates exactly what I mean.
Right now it's practiced daily with my lunch salads- what do I want to eat, and how do I want to top it? I'm giving myself free reign to eat what I feel like I need, and it's a refreshing place to be. By stocking my fridge with nutritious choices I know that no matter what I choose my body will be served, nourished, and satisfied. There are no "right" and "wrong" choices here, and that is so freeing and amazing.
Some of my clients are working with their doctors and naturopaths to help sort out and find what food needs they have, with the training to set you on the path you need to go, and I am a partner with them to help you along that journey.
No matter where you are in your journey with food and nutrition, you need to know that you can have that freedom too. If you're ready to eat for yourself, for your health, and to learn to trust yourself one baby step at a time, I'm here to have that conversation with you. With a variety of packages and services to choose from, we can talk about what foods to buy and how to use them, how to build meals based on nutrition and time/budget constraints, and how to make yourself feel amazing. We can cook together, develop recipes specifically for you, or clean out your pantry by doing a kitchen audit. There is no overnight quick fix in the world that actually works, but steady and consistent nutrition will change your life.
Enjoy your day, friends! I look forward to meeting you,