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The Food Plan- Strategies

Fundamentally I believe that nutrition is the foundation to health. Provided you are at an appropriate weight I believe that managing a healthy food plan alone will maintain a healthy body. Now of course I also believe that exercise is an essential component of a healthy whole, but all the exercise in the world will not help you if your nutrition is consistently poor.

This is personally one of my biggest challenges as a trainer. It frustrates me to my ends when a client refuses to adjust his/her food plan to be congruent with our fitness goals. Our nutrition also has a goal!

When I use the word diet I do not mean a weight loss food plan. I believe that our "diet" is quiet simply what we eat, and our diet has goals attached to it be it weight loss, fitness, muscle building, pregnancy, or morality (as in vegetarianism), to name a few. Whatever the goal of your current diet or food plan, I believe that strategy is the key to success.

I have a mostly vegetarian diet. I am not dogmatic; I eat meat on occasion. I ate red meat after delivering Seth because I lost a lot of blood and I know that iron from meat has a higher absorbtion coefficient than my vegetable sources; I felt I needed an infusion. Similarly, I ate meat after my half marathon, as a protein boost. Regardless, I eat vegetarian +90% of the time, so this is the diet I regularly maintain.

Whatever your food plan, I believe that one of the biggest challenges to eating healthy is time, or rather lack of it. We are chronically rushed in our busy lives, and most often find ourselves suddenly starving with our heads in the fridge. It is all too easy to take something packaged from the freezer, throw it in the oven, multi-task while it cooks, then eat quickly... if we even get that far. Maybe we go the cupboard and scarf a few cookies or granola bars for a quick fill.

My strategy for success is preparation. It all begins during the shopping. I exercise maximum restraint in the supermarket, avoiding sweets and treats that will taunt me 24-7 at home. 5 minutes of willpower in the snack aisle will negate days and days of willpower at home with that bag of potato chips staring at me every time I open the cupboard. Now that's not to say I don't snack, and there are healthier choices like nuts, dried fruit, popcorn that I choose also.

I work hard to make good choices, leaning heavily on fresh produce. I am not a recipe person and I don't meal plan; it's just not my style. My family eats mostly raw and lightly steamed vegetables with beans, grains, tofu products and some meat. It is essential for me to have vegetables prepared as finger foods that my family can access easily- my 6 year old can help herself to carrot sticks or slices of bell peppers after school; I can munch on green beans and hummus with my baby in one arm while tidying the kitchen. If I do want to throw together a quick chana masala the vegetables are pre-washed and sliced so the additional preparation/cook time is very minimal. This is my strategy for success.

Here is an impromptu shot of my fridge after shopping day. I loaded up on produce at the Farmer's Market. Coming home I spent an hour or so washing and slicing vegetables, storing produce in containers with paper towels- very finger friendly. I shot the side door to show that I keep condiments on the low-down, avoiding sauces that are 99% sugar. Of course there is kid friendly whipped cream in a can :),  ketchup and chocolate sauce for milk. You'll see the baby food dominating the top left corner of the fridge- mostly homemade of course! It is so easy!

So my food plan is SIMPLE and effective. It works for me and my family. It takes thought and preparation on the front end, but this approach sets us up for our busy week with healthy choices readily available. What is your strategy for your food plan? Spend some time conceptualizing how you can set yourself up for success, making healthy food choices despite the challenges that face you. This is fitness from the inside out, and our diet must be congruent with the other health and exercise goals in our happy healthy lives!

Remember, every color is a nutrient so strive for a colorful fridge and a colorful plate! Is there a color missing? I need some beets in that fridge, and some dark greens...maybe some kale. Be inspired by your palette!


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