What is your best piece of advice for people new to focusing on their nutrition? 

Caillin (Customer Success Manager | Nutritionist)

Keep It Simple, Stupid. Whilst not usually used in relation to nutrition, can be a great place to start. In short. Keep it SIMPLE. Try not to be led astray by all this misinformation about nutrition and what fad diets you need to try, new trends or superfoods you MUST have. Keeping it simple will always prevail. 

    1. Start with the Basics of Nutrition: Focus on your foundational elements, such as building a balanced place. Start with lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats and vegetables. 
    2. Avoid Overcomplication: Just as I mentioned before, don’t overcomplicate things and be led astray by fancy fad diets, cutting whole food groups and conflicting advice. Stick to a majority whole food-based diet. 
    3. Plan Ahead: Planned ahead, by having food in the fridge to work with for dinner, or meal prepping for the week or having a meal plan to follow. Simple pre-planning can prevent impulsive, unhealthy choices when things don’t go to plan. 
    4. Listen to Your Body: Find out what your body likes and dislikes, what gives you energy, what time you enjoy eating, and what meals make you feel full. Understand what works best for you. 
    5. Be Mindful: This will take time, but be present and intentional with your eating habits. Whether that be portion size (are you eating out of habit or true hunger?), which leads to my next point of listening to hunger/fullness cues, and also, allowing yourself a sweet treat to curb cravings. You don’t have to restrict yourself, you can enjoy it in moderation. 
    6. Make Gradual Changes: Don’t try to do everything all at once, it’s a recipe for disaster. Start slow, with manageable changes that you can sustain long-term.


      My last piece of advice is you’re making gradual changes to a healthier you, so be sure to celebrate the small wins. It can be choosing a healthier snack or cooking a nutritious meal at home, increasing your vegetable intake or trying a new vegetable (it’s still a win if you didn’t enjoy it), cutting down your dining out a little, drinking more water, cutting back on sweet treats (not completely cut because I’m all for sweet treats!!!), improving your portions, being consistent with your meal prepping or planning, stopping when full by listening to fullness cues instead of just finishing the plate of food etc. ALL these are steps to a healthier you in regard to your nutrition, so step back and recognise these achievements you’ve made. 

Greer (Recipe Developer | Nutritionist) 

When first starting on a health journey, it can be overwhelming. Rather than focusing on excluding things from your diet, look at what you can add to improve your nutrition and help you reach your goals. There is no need to remove your favourite foods like pasta, pizza and ice cream, look how you can manage your day around enjoying what you love ensuring you balance this out with more vegetables, fruits and whole grains to stop you from bingeing on more calorie-dense and less nutritious foods. Some easy adds to boost nutrients in your day:

  • Swap white rice for brown rice to increase fibre
  • Add vegetables to your meals where possible e.g a handful of spinach in a smoothie, grated vegetables in your bolognese
  • Aim for 2 serves of fruit per day e.g. berries on your morning oats and an apple with your afternoon snack

Zoe (Nutrition Coach) 

I would suggest starting with small but achievable goals. Recognise that you are working on building sustainable habits towards your health and nutrition and that this doesn’t come overnight. Forego the mindset that it needs to be an all-or-nothing approach, and DO NOT focus on restriction. Taking things away, especially the things you usually enjoy/love is not going to lead to success. Instead, focus on adding value where you can. 

When it comes to building a meal, focus on balance first and foremost. Have you got lots of colour with a diverse variety of veggies? Do you have a good source of protein? Balance protein and fibre with healthy fat sources (e.g. avocado, olive oil, cheese) and whole grain carbohydrates for extra fuel and energy. 

Lastly, don’t forget to stay mindful of how you’re feeling. After a day of quality nutrition and nourishment, focus on your energy levels and mood. When you notice the positive impacts your hard work is having on how you feel, you’re more likely to do it all over again the next day. 

Marianne (Nutrition Coach)

When starting out, it is much easier and enjoyable to work on your healthy habits and goals by starting small and being realistic. Think of small dietary changes you can make each week that you are confident you can stick to, then see how you feel as a result eg. opting for 1 piece of fruit per day, aiming for protein in each main meal, or preparing more home-cooked meals. 

The changes you want to make won’t happen overnight, so as you set yourself small, achievable goals, hopefully, you will enjoy the changes you are making along the way and appreciate the journey. Preparing foods you ENJOY is so important to keep you motivated and excited along the way, too, so don’t feel pressured to include any foods you don’t enjoy in your diet because others say so. 

If you encounter hurdles along the way, know this is VERY normal to experience on a health journey, and it is not necessarily a bad thing! Take these hurdles or challenges as a learning experience, pick yourself back up, and know that you can get right back on track with what you are working towards. 

Olivia (Digital Content Creator | Nutritionist) 

Starting your nutrition journey can come with many challenges. It’s important to remember that everyone starts somewhere. Set tiny goals, and focus on the BASICS. More WHOLE foods, hitting your WATER intake goals, MOVING your body in a way that feels good for you. A great start would be to increase the diversity and COLOUR in your dishes! It’s a super simple way to ensure you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals through a range of different fruits and vegetables! You could also focus on incorporating protein at each meal along with whole grains/good quality fibre, and you have already started to set yourself up for success! 

 

What is your favourite meal to meal prep? 

Caillin

Gosh, hard choice. I go through stages, but I always go back to Thai Red Chicken Curry – it’s so delicious, you can load it up with vegetables and it’s really freezer-friendly so I can make a large amount, leave out 2–3 days worth and then chuck the rest in the freezer for when I’m low on time or running out the door without lunch. 

Greer

Do I have to choose just one? 😉

Curries are probably one of my favourites. There are so many varieties, you can boost them with lots of veggies, can cook them in large batches and they are freezer-friendly. I usually bulk cook rice and place it on the base of a container, topped with curry and freeze for an easy ready-to-go meal. Serve with a side of naan bread or poppadoms.

Zoe 

My favourite meal to bulk prep is pasta! It can be easily bulk prepped for yourself or the entire family in one go, and reheats to be just as delicious (if not more) for the next few days. It’s also a versatile meal to change up protein sources, and adding veggies to sauces is a great way to ramp up your fibre intake and hide extra value, especially for any fussy eaters.

Marianne

I am a sucker for Mexican cuisine, especially tacos and burrito bowls. They provide so much flavour and variety in both ingredients and nutritional quality! I love mixing up my proteins as well, sometimes going for a vegetarian meal with tofu or beans. Adding rice or tortillas with my protein source, some easy veggies (tomato, capsicum, tinned corn), then loaded this up with shredded cheese, sour cream or guac (or both!), jalapenos and coriander make for a perfect prepped meal! 

Olivia 

I honestly love anything chicken whether it’s a burrito bowl or a curry, I do love diversity though switching it up halfway through the week I find works best for me. 

For example, think lite coconut cream, laksa curry paste and rice noodles topped with fried tofu. Yes, please!! I also love having the components themself prepped in the fridge so I can save time when I get home. Like chopped veg, potatoes, fruit. This helps me stay on track!

What are some common mistakes people make when trying to “eat healthy,” and how can they be avoided?

Caillin 

The all-or-nothing approach to eating healthy I see so many people do. This is a mindset where people believe they must strictly adhere to a perfect diet that only consists of ‘Healthy Foods’ in order to be healthy, often with very little room for flexibility. Usually, these have very rigid rules about what is considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’, which creates a really negative relationship with food. 

How can you spot an all-or-nothing approach? 

    1. Restriction of entire food groups: Complete elimination based on the belief this is the ‘healthy’ way, or these food groups are perceived as ‘unhealthy’ e.g. Carbohydrates. 
    2. Strict Adherence to rules: Adopting the approach of foods they can or cannot eat. E.g. cannot have chocolate or white rice – only brown rice. 
    3. Impact on Social Life: Impact on social events that surround food, feeling the need to exclude oneself or having stress/anxiety around these events. 
    4. Perfection and Guilt: This perfectionist mindset where any deviation from what you believe is healthy is seen as a failure, whereby guilt and shame are feelings that come up from this deviation.

      Last but not least, the all-or-nothing mindset or approach to healthy eating is usually very unsustainable long-term. Burnout comes from a feeling of deprivation which usually leads to giving up on this approach and falling back into bad habits. 

How can they be avoided? 

Don’t categorise food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – instead, flip the switch and look at food as items that should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet but in moderation. Don’t restrict food groups, know that it’s ok to dine out, eat socially, enjoy yourself, and not be perfect – it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle you can maintain. 

Greer

Getting health advice from untrained individuals on social media. Avoiding certain foods as someone on TikTok told them it’s bad instead of listening to qualified health professionals with advice based on science can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.

Zoe 

Taking things away or restriction. It’s easy to approach “healthier eating” by thinking that you can’t have certain foods like sugary treats, high-fat foods or carbohydrates. However, this isn’t going to lead to building sustainable habits. However, healthy eating is all about practising balance. If you love eating chocolate or enjoy a bowl of pasta, taking this away and approaching certain foods as “bad” isn’t going to lead to a healthy mindset around food. Instead, learning to enjoy all foods in moderation and understanding how to add value to your daily intake is a much more approachable and sustainable way to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. 

Approach your day like a checklist. Prioritise what should come first, such as protein and fibre. Then, you can continue to follow the 80/20 rule that we always preach at Equalution. If you have a craving throughout the day, don’t shy away from this. For example, add some chocolate to a yoghurt bowl, or enjoy a chocolate-flavoured protein bar. You’re still satisfying your sweet tooth, but are adding some extra nutrients to keep you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer. 

Marianne

Cutting out foods they enjoy because they are perceived as ‘naughty’ or ‘unhealthy’. Rather than removing these enjoyable foods from your diet to help you achieve your health goals, it’s much better and sustainable to learn how to balance them into your diet within moderation and gain food freedom overall. Having the confidence to manage your portion sizes, say no to foods when you are not hungry anymore, and enjoy everything in a balanced diet is so empowering and important for long-term health! While this is the harder route to take, it is much more rewarding. This is exactly what we want to teach our clients at EQ, that they can achieve and sustain this balance. 

Olivia

That eating healthy means eating clean. This leads to restriction and binge eating behaviours as a result! It’s crucial to ensure a balance even when your goals are directed at weight loss. Which is exactly what Equalution advocates for! Meal planning works wonders for this, to incorporate all the things you love, whilst ensuring you are in line with your goals and adding value in your diet to nourish your body!

What are your top tips to making meal prep easier and more efficient?

Caillin

Meal prepping doesn’t have to be hard. Find what works for you and stick to it. 

  1. Some people like to plan ahead, shop and prep all their meals as best as they can for the week ahead. 
  2. You can prep all ingredients in advance so they’re chopped, portioned out and ready to be made into your dish easily. 
  3. Freeze meals. Prepare a few freezer-friendly meals in advance, ready to heat and eat when you’re short on time or prep in advance for a quick grab and go for work. 
  4. Batch cook items e.g. Roast vegetables for the week, cook protein or pre-cook your vegetables. This allows you to use these in different meals throughout the week.

Finding what works best for you will make meal prep and making healthy meals more manageable and less time-consuming.

Greer

Keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate it. My top tips:

  • Batch cook your meals. When making dinner, make multiple batches that can be used for lunch or dinner the following days.
  • Cook large trays of veggies, that can be used to bulk up salads or added to different proteins.
  • Boil eggs and have them peeled in the fridge to make an easy breakfast. Simply add avocado, sliced egg and feta to toast and you have a complete meal.
  • Utilise your freezer. Cooking large batches of freezer-friendly meals means you always have nutritious, tasty meals at the ready. Short on space in your freezer? Use ziplock bags to freeze portions as they take up much less space than containers. They also defrost much quicker.

Zoe 

My first tip would be to plan ahead. Take some time at the beginning of the week, or when it best suits you to plan your meals. Choose recipes and meals that you enjoy and that are manageable and achievable for you to cook and prepare for the week. Planning also allows you to create a list of ingredients, first looking at what you already have in the fridge/pantry and what else you need to get at the shops. 

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to batch-cook all of your meals in one go if this isn’t enjoyable or achievable. Cook one meal at a time, for example, cook the protein for lunch and then cut up all of your veggies for the week so they’re pre-portioned and ready to throw into containers or cook. The meals don’t have to be made all in one go, and if everything is prepped, you can just throw everything together and assemble the meal each day. This way, you can also change things up throughout the week. For example, if you’re having tacos for dinner, you can use the same protein and veggies to create a burrito bowl for lunch the next day. It also allows you to be more flexible. If you find that you have leftover ingredients at the end of the week, incorporate them into a new recipe or freeze them for later use. 

Marianne 

Definitely plan ahead of time and gather some ideas on what you want to prep for the week ahead – this can either be specific meals or make it easier with staple ingredients so you can mix and match these over the week. You can start with a basis of 2 proteins, 2 types of grains, and 3-5 vegetables. For example, cooking some chicken and quinoa, having tinned tuna on hand, and prepping vegetables and different dressings allow you to create a variety of salad bowls during the week, keeping your meals interesting. You can grab all of these ingredients out of their containers and prep a balanced meal in a few minutes, and add in extra flavours if you like (seeds, roasted nuts, feta cheese), rather than prepping the same meal to have every day. You are also more likely to use up all the ingredients you’ve prepped, knowing you can enjoy a different meal each day and tweak it to your liking. 

Olivia 

My greatest meal-prepping advice would be to prep the ingredients you know you will need throughout the week and store them in containers in the fridge. This can include chopped veg for dinners, carbohydrate bases such as rice or quinoa, and a couple of protein options, and I always love to have fresh fruit or veggie sticks to have with hummus as a snack. You don’t have to create big fancy meals. Just have the components and some low-calorie sauce options at the ready!

What advice have you taken when it comes to nutrition or weight loss you wish you never took? 

Caillin 

I wouldn’t say it was advice given to me directly, but I definitely came across or was led to believe somewhere along the line, which has obviously come from misinformation, the idea that you need to be hungry to see weight loss results – I feel it’s a very common misconception with fat loss. The idea that hunger is a sign that you’re doing something right and that you’re burning fat and losing weight. 

Knowing what I know now, I know that being hungry can be a sign of not providing your body with enough nutrition to fuel your day – being in too much of an extreme calorie deficit, rather than an optimal one. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies, loss of muscle mass, take a toll on you mentally and overall can cause a large chance of rebounding the weight etc. You CAN enjoy being in a calorie deficit, you can feel full by eating high-volume food, loading up on protein, and fibre such as vegetables and choosing lean or light options which gives more bang for your buck in terms of calories. 

Greer

That carbs are the enemy. This is single-handedly the worst piece of advice I was fed by multiple people in the fitness industry. It led to fatigue, injury and feeling moody all the time. Once I undertook my degree and understood the role that carbohydrates play in so many processes in your body including muscle building, recovery, mental clarity and nervous system support I began to feel the benefits of having a diet rich in carbohydrates leading to improved overall health.

Zoe 

Less food and calories equals better weight loss/progress. While yes, a more aggressive deficit can lead to faster weight loss, it does not at all mean you are going to be more successful. I’ve learnt that the beauty in slow and steady means that you are more likely to create LONG-LASTING and more sustainable progress and habits. The quicker something comes, it can go just as quickly, and you find yourself stuck on a constant cycle. It’s also a lot less fun to feel hungry, miserable and fatigued when you aren’t nourishing your body with enough fuel.

Marianne 

I found myself quite influenced that fasting was a good choice for weight loss when I was around 18 years old. While it does have its benefits and place in managing weight, I engaged in this quite heavily and would keep my calorie intake very low during the day, living off a muesli bar and a coffee, saving my appetite for a larger dinner. This left me feeling very drained, fatigued and quite anxious during the day as I was running on a low supply of energy, yet I was making fat losses rapidly. I outweighed the progress I was making with how I was feeling physically and mentally, and would not try that out ever again. 

Ironically, I was in my first year of university studying nutrition when I was in this fasting period. Learning more about the role of macronutrients in the body and also figuring out what worked best for me led to an eventual change in my diet and habits, with me now prioritising 3 balanced main meals every day.

Olivia

OVER TRAINING! I had a big run-in with over-training in my teenage years in the hopes of faster weight loss. Not only did my weight actually plateau and not come off because I was in such an intense deficit, but my cortisol levels were through the roof from the stress I was putting on my body – I lost a lot of hair and my menstrual cycle for months! I then ditched the training and opted for low impact while learning to eat more intuitively and focus on fueling my body rather than restricting and having plain protein shakes. 

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