My diet and nutrition philosophy

This post is for the friends and clients that have asked me what I have done to change my body over the past few months.

Here you go…it’s a long one!:)

MY DIET:  The way I eat and what I choose to put in my mouth is a lifestyle and personal decision for me based on what makes me feel good inside and out.  I have not read one specific diet philosophy book that I choose to follow, I have read them ALL!  The information I soak up from the books combined with a nutrition certification allow me to take on my diet with a greater understanding of WHY I will choose to eat certain foods, at specific times, and how to create this habit so that my weight and energy are always consistent.  If I had to define my eating style to put a name on it for someone to understand it would simply be called “Clean”.

What is Clean? It is minimal processed, mostly natural, non-sticky, fresh, light and easy!  

So, here are my general eating guidelines and rules that I live by today.

  • I never say never.  What works for me today may be something that I find brings discomfort or digestion problems later and I may experiment with taking it out of my diet.  This is how I have gotten to the place I am now, HAPPY and LIGHT and Comfortable in my skin and with my belly:).
  • I do not cook often, I don’t have time and honestly don’t enjoy it but if I did, I would cook everything from Clean Eating Magazine.
  • I do not buy foods that I can’t trust myself with (big batches of chocolate chip cookies, cereals, bags of chips/crackers/etc)
  • I do not count calories, I am aware of how many calories I eat at each meal but I don’t count them throughout the day.  I do know my parameters, 300 max on a snack or bar and 400-500 on a meal.
  • I don’t eat bread, pasta, and crackers made from wheat (this is a digestion issue for me and I choose to cut sugar out of my diet with these items rather than my sweets and fruit).  If you are trying to change your diet for weight control, do this too…it’s not bad for you either way and it is the easiest and simplest way to cut sugar immediately without limiting yourself too much.  Take out all starchy carbs and potatoes.
  • I don’t eat dairy (personal decision, not a diet..although limiting  your cheese intake is good to do anyway).  for me, no cow’s milk or cheese.  Goat cheese is pretty yummy on a salad and omelet. (also do this if you are trying to lose body fat)
  • I also don’t eat whatever my husband is eating because he has a wooden leg and his giant plate of spaghetti followed by a pint of ice cream goes to this hollow place and I learned my lesson trying to “keep up” with him.

Now, what I DO eat!

  • I eat within an hour of waking up.  Today it was a smoothie made with VEGA Protein Powder, berries, and Almond Milk.  I also had 2 cups of coffee (my love) with a half pack of truvia in it.
7:30-8:00am breakfast, pre-workout for me.
  • I LOVE eggs and bacon.  I make frittatas out of my leftover veggies often.
  • I eat TONS of lean meat, veggies, hummus, and tortilla chips or rice crackers.  Sometimes sweet potatoes and rice/quinua make the plate.
  • I like almonds, walnuts, and dried cranberries and make a mix at home.
  • I love granola but have an allergy to millet and amaranth so I have to be careful to buy a certain brand and I have to control myself as I will eat the entire bag. Avoid granola if you are trying to lose weight, if you put the right serving size in a greek yogurt or have more control than most you can do it but it isn’t something that you need in your diet so just don’t buy it.
  • I love cereal (hence my “stay out of my pantry” list) but for a treat a few mornings a week I will have eggs and a bowl of rice or corn bran cereal (chex mix is making some great stuff now).  It adds nothing to your diet nutritionally but I like the crunch and milk together.
  • I drink Almond milk, not dairy.  I could handle Greek Yogurt but I am trying to avoid dairy so if I can help it I don’t eat that.  If you don’t have an allergy to dairy then it is a fabulous form of protein.
  • I basically eat salads for every lunch and dinner and mostly because I love them.  I love mixing all of my foods together in a bowl and calling it a salad:)  My “salads” would never make a recipe book or make any sense to most of you but I enjoy cold roasted veggies, fresh raw veggies, nuts, strawberries, chicken, turkey, shrimp, egg, and anything else I want to throw in from a previous meal.  I put balsamic vinegar and oil or a gluten free dressing (very lightly) on it and have it no matter what my family is having that night.   Here is one of my salads that I was pretty proud of and had to photograph:
just beautiful!

Where is the good stuff?  Just to end on a good note so you don’t close out of this post dismissing me as a no fun, super healthy freak, I do have some fun and treat myself! I drink a glass (yes, just one glass, don’t’s a big one) of red wine almost every night.  I average about 5 glasses a week I would say, unless we go to dinner with friends, add 2 more.  I always choose red wine but I think a vodka/soda is a good low cal choice also. I also LOVE chocolate and have some dark (70%+) chocolate every night and sometimes after lunch.  I will eat a 1/2 cups of coconut milk ice cream once a week and gluten free chocolate chip cookies if I can ever find a great one.  I am happy with my little indulgences, they do it for me and I go to bed happy.

Here are some tips for sticking to it and not beating yourself up!

  • I know that life is full of ups and downs so if I am good with my choices 90% of the time then the times that I am feeling not so great about myself don’t last as long as they used to.  I just get back into the groove of being smart and working out as soon as I can and it takes no time.
  • Eat within an hour of waking (unless you working out, eat within 30 mins following a workout).
  • Eat every 2-4 hours (NO longer and NO sooner) – grazing is not the way to go and starving yourself (4+ hours without eating) only makes your body store fat.
  • Eat protein!  It’s not fun or tasty sometimes but the shakes and bars are the best choices when you don’t have time and find yourself going too long between meals.
  • GO TO BED!!!  staying up late makes you hungry.  every single time I am up working at 11:00pm hits, I want to eat everything in my pantry.  Turn off the light in the kitchen after dinner and “close it” like you would a restaurant.  I have even thought about putting a lock on the pantry door…they should invent this with a timer on it to lock at 9pm every night and not open again until 6am.  wouldn’t that be great! (or broken when you come up drunk).
  • drink so much more water than you thought you could.

So, is this “lifestyle” something you should do or want to try?  It is not hard to do if you get educated on what the foods are that you are putting in your body.  If you are at a point were you want to make a change and lose some belly fat or trim down, just decide to do this for 2 months and see what happens.  Make it a full 2 months, it isn’t as limiting as the Atkins (no carbs at all) or Juice diets so you can still enjoy social outings and live your life.  Below is the general list of things to eat or avoid to test on your own diet and get it as CLEAN as possible.  Add whatever you want and make it your own but I know that this is what has worked for me and I will always eat this way.

AVOID – Wheat (of all kinds, bread, pastas, muffins, chips, crackers, breading, etc.), Dairy (cows milk mostly, cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, full fat yogurt), cereal and granola.

ENJOY – Rice, Quinoa, beans, chicken, turkey, eggs, 0% greek yogurt occasionally if you aren’t allergic to cows milk, rice cereal and rice/corn based granola (sparingly), dark chocolate (70%+), red wine (choose this over white), fish, salads, nuts, fruit (lots of berries chosen over bananas), almond butter, tortilla chips made from corn, salsa, guac, hummus, carrots, ….and so many things that honestly become foods will you crave and love. Coconut milk ice cream is yummy but if you are trying to lose the pounds then limit it to a small treat once a week max and choose the wine or the ice cream!

HELP – find a protein powder and bar that you like for the times you need to eat in between meals or on the run.  I eat Lara bars because they are wheat and dairy free.  Think thin bars are good if you aren’t avoiding dairy.  Take supplements for vitamins and calcium.

FINALLY….My body has changed over the past few months because I have tweaked my diet to look like this.  Hands down it was 90% diet related.  However, I have also started training differently when I do workout.  I added more weight training and interval cardio versus filling my week with mostly long endurance runs and rides.  The reason why is that the benefits of interval cardio come all day long after you are done with it and additional muscle mass burns calories by just being in existence.  I wrote a post about interval training here.

Thanks for reading this incredibly long post and if you have any questions email me,

See you at Whole Foods, my kitchen….:) Cara!

2 thoughts on “My diet and nutrition philosophy

  1. Hi Cara. Your website is great and very helpful. One question though.. You mentioned that no wheat of any kind.. Does this include whole wheat products? I was under the assumption that whole wheat products were good for weight loss. Please help because I eat whole wheat pasta and whole wheat toast almost daily!

    1. Hey, Sorry I took so long to see this comment and reply! Yes, wheat includes whole wheat because no matter what kind it is it is all sugar and it is spiking your blood sugar up too high. You really don’t need it in your diet in my opinion but if you prefer to eat bread then Whole wheat is the best option because it takes longer digest than white bread. Either way, if you are trying to keep you body lean you should eat very little of it and add more meat & veggies. Read the book Wheat Belly if you are interested in more about what wheat does to your body. Whole wheat is the better choice in the starches world but definitely NOT good for weight loss. The only thing good for weight loss is NO WHEAT and then maintain with controlled portions of it. hope this helps, tell me what you think of the book if you read it:)

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