I loved Christian’s natural approach to diet and health and she was kind enough to share her tips for a slim, radiant, all natural lifestyle. Below she shares everything from long gone Cinnabon and Snackwells days to the best way to break a bad habit to her favorite indulgence. If you’re looking for some last minute summer shape up motivation, read on!
1. If you could only recommend one step toward improving one’s health and diet, what would it be?
Stop counting. So many people, when deciding what to eat, look at the numbers- the calories, fat grams, fiber grams, etc. But, there is so much more to food than the numbers! I recommend looking at the ingredients first and if there isn’t a list of ingredients (for example in fresh, whole fruits and vegetables), all the better! Take goji berries compared to jelly beans. Although their numbers are similar, their ingredients are quite different. There is only one ingredient in goji berries, while there is a long list of ingredients in jelly beans- basically corn syrup and a lot chemicals. Our body has to process everything that comes in and what it can’t process it is going to store for later- that can’t be ignored.
2. As swim suit season is now upon us, do you have any tips for shedding a few pounds?
- Load up on fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in water content and nutrients and low in calories. Although it may seem counterintuitive increasing your intake water rich foods (as well as pure water) will help decrease bloat by flushing out your system. Watermelon, celery, and cucumber are all great options.
- Limit liquid calories. When it is hot out you may find yourself increasing your intake of fluids, this is great as long as your liquids aren’t filled with sugar, artificial sugar, and/or chemicals. Water is your best bet- if that is too bland try flavoring with a squeeze of lemon and a few drops of Nunaturals liquid stevia.
- Cut out refined starches and sugars. Not only do refined starches and sugars have little to no nutrition value they also cause belly bloat and water retention. However, don’t eliminate carbohydrates completely, choose high quality grains, starchy vegetables, and whole fruit instead.
- Watch your salt/sodium intake. Your best bet is to avoid processed/packaged foods that are often high in sodium. Also be aware restaurants want their food to taste good, which usually means added salt among other flavor enhancers. A few of the biggest offenders? Table salt, soy sauce, salad dressing, baked goods, pickled foods, cured foods, and cheese. Note, however, we do need some sodium in our diet- if you avoid processed foods and prepare your own food you should feel free to use a little Celtic or Himalayan sea salt for flavor. Making sure you get some sodium in your diet is especially important when exercising for long periods of time in hot weather- you need to replace the sodium you sweat out.
- Watch out for foods that cause bloat- artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages, beans/legumes, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower) can all lead to a bloated stomach. Although I don’t suggest your completely eliminate beans/legumes and cruciferous veggies from your diet, you may want to choose other sources of protein and vegetation the few days leading up to when you will be wearing your bikini.
- Increase your exercise. You can only cut back but so much on what you eat without compromising your health. Instead, up your exercise to help create a calorie deficit (calories in less that calories out= weight loss).
3.) What are tools to use to break unhealthy habits that are longstanding, such as white flour or a serious sweet tooth?
Honestly, go cold turkey. Try completely eliminating refined starches and sugars, or whatever it is you crave, from your diet for a period of time- ideally at least three weeks. It might be hard in the beginning, but before you know it you will forget what you are missing. Foods that contain refined starches and sugars, such as muffins, candy, soft drinks, have addictive qualities, add fat to the equation and they become even more addictive- for many, once they start there is no stopping.
4.) Were you always a healthy eater or has becoming a nutritionist change the way you eat and think about food?
Not always, it has been a long road to get to where I am today. Although I would say my household was pretty healthy growing up, I definitely had my fair share of McDonalds Happy Meals and Cinnabons as a young child. In high school I started to care what I ate and had a desire to be healthy, but to me at the time this meant low fat foods, such as bagels and Snackwell cookies. It was towards the end of college that I started to become aware of what was truly healthy and took a serious interest in nutrition and eventually decided to pursue it as a career. Even since becoming a nutritionist/registered dietitian my understanding of what is truly healthy has evolved to a point where I feel very confident that the way I eat and recommend my clients eat is truly health promoting.
5.) What is your favorite indulgence?
Organic Nectars Cahewtopia vanilla “ice cream”. YUM!!
6.) What are your tips for portion control and listening to your body?
- Eat a vegetable centric diet.
Start your meal with veggies, whether it is a green juice before breakfast, some crudités before lunch, or a salad before dinner, I always recommend veggies first. Veggies are high in water, fiber (unless juiced), and nutrition. Starting your meal this way will help your mind and body get on the same page and will prevent your from overeating the denser fare included in your main meal.
- Load up at least half your plate with veggies. You just can’t go wrong with veggies for the reasons listed above.
- Keep your meals simple.
- When there are too many flavors and textures in a meal it is easy to overeat because you want a little more of everything. A perfect example of this is a buffet or holiday meal situations- so many options that even if you only have a little of everything you are guaranteed to overeat.
- I find by having either starch based or protein based makes overeating less likely- it is like built in portion control. For example, instead of having a breast of chicken and a baked sweet potato have one or the other and load the rest of your plate with veggies and a little healthy fat.
7.) What tips do you have for situations where you have little control over your food options such as, catered office meetings and weddings (there are so many in the summer)?
- Have a snack first. Having a healthy snack before you go is your bulletproof vest. It will help curb your hunger therefore it easier to make good choices.
- Do your best while you are there. Load up on any veggies that are available, choose healthy protein and fats, and feel free to have one or two indulgences.
- What you do before and after is almost more important than while you are there. If you are at an office meeting and you choose to indulge in a cookie (or 2) don’t let this ruin the rest of your day. Instead of throwing in the towel do your best to eat super healthy the rest of the day.
8.) Are you a grazer (with healthy snacks always stashed in your purse) or do you like to wait between meals to experience hunger before a meal?
I do keep emergency, non-perishable food in my purse, especially when travelling or on the go for the day, but I am a firm believer in waiting until hungry for a snack and/or meal. Some days, if I have a light lunch, I will definitely have snack but, it I have a substantial lunch I will usually wait for dinner, or at the most snack on raw veggies.
It is ingrained in our heads that we need to constantly fuel our bodies from the very moment we get up in the morning. I, on the other hand, am of the belief that our bodies need a break! Digestion is taxing on a body that has so many jobs- if we give our bodies a break from digestion it can do it’s other jobs, like detoxifying cells and repairing tissues. Plus, we want to give the body a chance to fully digest and absorb the previous meal before we add more food to the digestive load. True hunger is a sign that the body is ready for more food and should not be ignored, but snacking for any other reason than true hunger I don’t recommend.
9.) Finally, what do your clients find most helpful about having personalized counseling from a nutritionist?
My personalized approach and the handholding I provide. People are unique and I treat them as such. During our first session with clients we discuss their health and diet history, lifestyle, food preferences, goals and challenges- taking this information I devise a personalized and unique plan to help them reach their goals and overcome their challenges. During follow-up sessions we discuss what is working and what is not- readjusting the plan as necessary. Another thing my clients find helpful is the hand holding I provide- my clients are given unlimited email support between sessions, this is important especially in the beginning when they are making changes and have questions.
For more about Christian and Pure Nutrition, visit her website. Pure Nutrition is focused on a natural simple approach and provides nutrition consultation services for every need, from a la carte to packages for the bride-to-be, “hot mama,” busy professional, people looking to get the everyday glow and more. You can also find more of her tips on facebook!
Thanks for sharing Christian!