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When I’m consistent with the following eating pattern/sequence, I feel awesome, I maintain my “healthy” weight and I am all around proud of myself.  My clients get this breakdown from me and they find it very effective in achieving their nutrition goals.

⦁ Pre-breakfast (i.e. An orange)
⦁ A big breakfast (i.e. A healthy bowl of oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg or two)
⦁ A healthy snack (i.e. An apple & a handful of almonds)
⦁ A big lunch (i.e. Beans/fish and 3/4 cup to 1 cup of brown rice, a lot of steamed veg with a little tamari and/or hot sauce)
⦁ A healthy snack (i.e. Celery and hummus)
⦁ A Light Dinner – 3 to 4 hours before bed (i.e. a lot of veg as the focus – 1.5 cups or more of roasted beets and carrots with your favorite protein – beans/lentils, chicken, steak, turkey, eggs, fish)
⦁ A healthy snack – 1 to 2 hours before bed (i.e. 1 cup of fresh berries)
⦁ WATER THROUHOUT DAY (aim for 8 glasses of water, but some water will come from those plants)

I very much love enjoying my life.  I cringe at super strict dieting.  If I’ve been invited to a girl’s night out, I will be there and I will try whatever is on the table along with some vino, sangria – or a margarita if a friend whips out her shaker.  These are the kind of nights that create memories, make a woman feel included, loved and happy. (I’m not saying the booze is what makes us feel loved or happy, but the socializing).   I will NOT trade these nights in for anything.  Human life has always revolved around meals and before processed food came on the scene, that was the main focus of the family.  Growing food, raising food, cooking food, baking bread and enjoying it – together.  The traditions of meals bring laughter, love and so much life.
These nights of celebration are the BEST, but honestly, they throw me off my game.  Not to worry, the next day, I get back to the lovely pattern (for the most part).  Sometimes it takes me a few days to get back to the game. Truth.

⦁ Pre-breakfast (i.e. A pear)
⦁ A big breakfast (i.e. A toasted sandwich using whole grain bread with hummus, cucumber, tomato and cheese, sometimes I also put some egg in there)
⦁ A healthy snack (i.e. A cup of grapes or more and a handful of cashews)
⦁ A big lunch (i.e. 1.5 cups Pasta Salad (whole wheat or brown rice pasta) with turkey or beans and a lot of veg such as peas, shredded carrots, cucumber, tomatoes – with a little dressing – homemade if possible – or NOT – because life happens)
⦁ A healthy snack (i.e. Cucumber and red pepper sprinkled with Herbamare)
⦁ A Light Dinner – 3 to 4 hours before bed (i.e. a lot of veg as the focus – A large salad – 2 cups leafy greens or more, sunflower seeds or hemp seeds, tomatoes, avocado, chickpeas/beans/chicken/fish, olive oil and balsamic vinegar)
⦁ A healthy snack – 1 to 2 hours before bed (i.e. 1 cup of smoothie: 1 banana, 2 cups almond milk, 1 tbsp. cocoa, 3 dates, 2 tbsp. peanut butter – split amongst family/friends)
⦁ WATER THROUHOUT DAY (aim for 8 glasses of water, but some water will come from those plants)

When I consistently eat using this sequence, my energy is so good, my mind is sharp (give or take a few “baby brain” moments) and I generally feel happy because I’m giving my body the nutrients it needs for optimum health.
From the “mom of three kids” perspective, well – from the perspective of any mom with any number of children or maybe there’s only a cat or a dog or a bowl with a fish, we are all friggin’ busy and life happens. Sometimes we need to stop and get a pre-made muffin (which is like cake) or a burger and fries.  I may stop at Sobeys to buy the meatballs and potato wedges (wider French fries) for the kids and I.  I will also buy the overly cooked green beans so I can feel good about my kids eating something plantish – in case you were worried.  I will eat my portions (at the table) and the leftover kids portions (in the kitchen under the pre-tense of “cleaning”).  And heh, THAT IS LIFE.
I promote EAT MORE VEG mostly to remind MYSELF to EAT MORE VEG.  I can easily fall out of the pattern written above and when it happens, I try not to beat myself up about it.  The weight loss industry is nasty and perpetuates us all feeling bad about our bodies.  The constant bombardment in the media and on social media for thin bodies makes us all feel ashamed that we can’t achieve that, even though we follow a healthy lifestyle.  If you want a shred and “barely any fat” body, then you have to WORK at it.  And I mean WORK.  And be prepared for it to consume your life.  Mentally, physically and emotionally.  I strive for lean and strong, but I won’t lose my mind over it.

This is a great article by Precision Nutrition – The Cost of Being Lean.  It breaks down the different levels of bodies by fat percentage ranges and explains what the sacrifices and benefits are for each level.  The ones that stand out contain “you may struggle in social situations, especially those involving food.”  This is the toughest one for me, because I LOVE my socializing.  And what is socializing without food?  Nope, I can’t think of any situations where I’m socializing without food.  Do workouts count?  Well, maybe, but I’m usually incorporating food within an hour before and within an hour after a workout.

As mentioned above, I cringe at strict dieting and I’ll write about why soon, but I can easily wrap my head around this eating food choreography.  On a workout day, I may also pop a couple dates 30 minutes before the SWEAT begins or maybe half a protein bar an hour before.   It is important to talk to your doctor before starting any new nutrition plan.  Keep in mind that depending on your stage or current goals in life (child, teenager, pregnant, menopausal, man, woman, senior, fitness level/goals), food recommendations change.  This plan relates to me as a woman between 30 and 40 years of age, but it is also a generic plan that most people can start with and increase/decrease portions as needed.  I also follow an active lifestyle (3-4 SWEATs/week).  If you are not active at all, this plan may need adjustments. Although, my first recommendation to someone who isn’t active, but is completely physically able, would be to “get active” or “get your sweat on”.  Here’s one of my posts for a “getting started workout“.

I’ve included another day plan in case you haven’t noticed the pattern yet.  These are just examples and the options are endless.  The day starts with a fruit, which gets your digestion going, heavier meals at the beginning of the day and more plants (vegetables) as you move toward the evening.  Some people do not like eating much in the morning and are fine with just a smoothie (or less).  For these folks, I would recommend ensuring they have a bigger lunch while snacking regularly and sticking to the light dinner (tweaks to be made depending on stage of life).
Another tip: If you know you will be going out for dinner, SWAP the <big lunch and light dinner> to <light lunch and big dinner>.  If you deal with shift work, this pattern would need to be changed according to your awake/sleep schedule and getting guidance from a nutritionist would be helpful.

⦁ Pre-breakfast (i.e. Warm water and juice of a lemon)
⦁ A big breakfast (i.e. 1 cup Brown rice, beans, avocado, tomato, salsa with a ⦁ cilantro – lime vinaigrette)
⦁ A healthy snack (i.e. 1/4 cup of raisins and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds)
⦁ A big lunch (i.e. Whole grain toasted open faced sandwich with lentil/hummus spread, pesto, sprouts, tomato and cheese – optional)
⦁ A healthy snack (i.e. yogurt – dairy or non-dairy)
⦁ A Light Dinner – 3 to 4 hours before bed (i.e. Bean or beef soup/stew/chili filled with VEG – 1.5 cups)
⦁ A healthy snack – 1 to 2 hours before bed (i.e. 1 cup of blueberries)
⦁ WATER THROUHOUT DAY (aim for 8 glasses of water, but some water will come from those plants)

If you are hoping to shift your eating lifestyle to something a little more holistic, this is a great way to start.  Once you understand the pattern of pre-breakfast, a big breakfast, a healthy snack, a big lunch, a healthy snack, a light dinner and a healthy snack if necessary, it becomes easier to maneuver whether you are at home or on the go.  At my day job, I have stashes of nuts and seeds, some produce in the fridge and tortillas in the fridge freezer so I can easily whip up a wrap filled with greens and sometimes falafels, meat or cheese.  Takeout meals consist of soup & salad or sushi or rice bowls (with a lot of veg).

Fruit is nature’s dessert and such a great way to get yourself away from processed sugar.  Yes, 2-3 servings of fruit a day is ideal, but if you are aiming for a chocolate bar or doughnut, go for the fruit instead and don’t sweat the extra serving. If you eat a plant based diet (mostly plants) and aren’t consumed with cravings for processed food, you will get excited about the evening snack.  I love it when I have some fresh grapes in the fridge and it’s 7 or 8 pm.   I honestly get giddy.  I won’t lie though, I also get giddy when I’m getting ready to head out with some friends or life partner for some good eats and wine.   Life is for enjoying, not for obsessing over every morsel of food that does or does not get to grace my tongue.

EAT MORE VEG, SWEAT daily and don’t forget to BREATHE.
Michelle GB

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