Aug 05

10 Things No One Told You About Food Prep, Straight From a Dietitian

By Georgie Fear | Uncategorised

Millions of busy adults suffer from food prep problems, also known as FPP. Are you one of them? Symptoms of FPP include:

  • Possessing 3 or more items in your refrigerator which are furrier than your dog
  • Not having the right things on hand to assemble a meal, so your order Pizza or Chinese
  • Throwing out food on a weekly basis (that once would have been fine to eat)
  • Overeating because you skipped a meal earlier (may cause paradoxical weight gain brought on by grocery shortage)
  • Skipping meals during the workday because you’re too busy to go out and don’t have anything with you to eat
  • Two items in your crisper have achieved sentience, and are battling for dominion over the lower refrigerator
  • Your past google searches include “How many weeks past the ‘sell by’ date can I eat deli meat?”
  • Paleontologists have requested access to items in your freezer

Maybe these are all familiar to you (sounds like you’re afflicted)! Or maybe you’re not quite that bad off but you toss out more food than you’d like to, and get caught a time or two per month in a pinch, and don’t eat as well as you could on those instances. Either way, here are some tips to help you do a little bit better at the logistics of food prep, which can help you manage your weight more easily, save some cash, avoid those long overly hungry stretches (which aren’t fun, to say the least) and last but not least, avoid missing out on fun things because you got food poisoning from decrepit lasagna.

1. You’re not a bad person for throwing out food.

If you buy lots of fresh, whole foods and fall short of eating it all, of course you have to throw some out. It’s still worth being proud of yourself for surrounding yourself with the good stuff. Tossing food is a much better alternative than swearing off the produce section or eating food that is unsafe “to avoid wasting it”. With some more practice, you’ll get better at matching your purchasing habits to your consumption patterns, but all of us end up throwing things out sometimes. It’s okay, we’re all going to make it.

2. You’re also not a bad person for not knowing this already.

Some parents teach their kids kitchen skills, some… don’t. Some people pick up useful strategies from Home Ec class or some foodie roommate. A few lucky souls pair up with a food provider extraordinaire and marry their way into a steady supply of home cooking and lunches packed with love. But if you didn’t get culinarily inclined parents, your roomies lived on ramen and you and Martha Stewart just didn’t hit it off… no one taught you. Don’t fault yourself for being busy learning other things. No one springs from the womb, Saran wrap in hand, ready to make next week’s lunches this Sunday. We all start out not knowing, and we have to be taught or figure out the rest.

3. You don’t have to sacrifice your entire weekend.

If you feel good spending several hours shopping, washing, slicing and baking on a weekend day, rock on. But if you would rather do an extra 15 minutes every other night, that’s plenty! Using your time and appliances wisely is key here, not investing hours.

For example: Putting a pot of rice on to boil takes 2 minutes, IF you’re slow to measure out the rice and water. Then you can set a timer, walk away and do other stuff. About the same time would be needed to wrap some sweet potatoes in foil and pop them into the oven. Putting something in the slow cooker similarly can be a quick affair, and then you don’t have to hang in the kitchen. You can even go to bed and wake up to stick it it in the fridge. That’s right, you can literally cook dinner with your eyes closed.

4. You don’t need an extensive tupperware set, 60 dollar lunch box, portable cooler, or anything weird.

Just like investing lots of free time isn’t the key, neither are pricey doodads. Some tin foil and parchment make for easy cleanup, other than that you just need food and basic kitchen appliances like a stove and oven.

5. Some stuff preps well in advance, some stuff doesn’t.

Soup, stews, meats, grains and starches all work great to cook in advance. You can also prep veggies by rinsing or cutting them up ahead of time. However, there are a few things to steer clear of trying to do in advance:

  • Putting dressing on a lettuce or spinach salad ahead of time can make it soggy. Ditto for sandwiches, so you might want to wait until mealtime to add condiments. (Raw kale or cabbage salads however, can hold up better, so are possible exceptions.)
  • Any crispy breaded or roasted items (like chicken fingers or crispy home fries) won’t be crispy after storage. Sometimes they can be re-crisped using the oven or stovetop, but not always.
  • Do you like crunchy cereal or flaked almonds atop your yogurt? Me too. But don’t add them ahead of time, because they will get soft and lose their crunch.
  • I wouldn’t consider this a “deal breaker”, because it’s relatively minor and just cosmetic, but remember that cut apples, guacamole, and fresh basil or pesto tend to get brownish during storage.
  • Reheat fish at your own risk. The texture can be unforgiving.

6. Some foods freeze well, some don’t.

Did you know that if you mistakenly bought too much milk you could just freeze it? You can! Pasta dishes, cooked grains, sauces, soups and stews also tend to be great freezer candidates. But not everything can go in the icebox and come back to life with good results. Beware of freezing dairy based sauces or soups, because they often separate. Fruit and veggies can be frozen, but will be much softer when you pull them out. Think of them as good for smoothies or omelets, but not for salads.

7. Never cook a single piece of chicken, or one potato.

If you’re going to the trouble of heating up the pan, the grill or the oven, put several pieces on there so you have extra portions for coming days!

8. You can repeat meals if you want to, but it’s not necessary.

By the third time I’m eating a dish, the enjoyment has dropped precipitously. I’ve done the huge-ass pot of chili you eat all week. I’ve done massive egg bakes or frittatas. Oversized vegetable soups. Vats of stuffed cabbage. And if you enjoy one pot meals (and don’t mind reheating cooked eggs) these are perfectly fine meals for you to use. Personally, I find things a lot more enjoyable if I can make different meals from the components I cooked in advance.

9. If you cook up basics ahead of time, you can always season or flavor them differently at meal time.

A big pot of brown rice. A half dozen chicken breasts. Four baked potatoes. Two pounds of browned ground beef. These sort of staples on hand can go into a variety of different meals. The rice can be served plain or with soy sauce as a bed for stir fry, be mixed with the ground beef filling for stuffed peppers, or be flavored with garlic and butter for a side dish. Chicken can be sliced atop a salad, put into a sandwich, cubed and tossed with pasta and sauce, or used to fill a quesadilla. Baked potatoes can be topped with salsa and black beans, chopped into a green salad, Sauteed up for a side dish with eggs, or smothered in broccoli and cheese. Cooked ground beef can become stir fry, bolognese tomato sauce, stuffed peppers, salad, burritos. In general, starchy foods and proteins are best for prepping ahead of time.

10. Condiments, seasonings, canned goods and jars are your friend.

They’re smart, not inferior or lazy. When you have your pre-cooked proteins and starches on hand, putting a meal together comes down to doing something with some veggies, and making it all tasty. Veggies can be cut up and eaten raw as a salad, or you can steam or saute them in about 5 minutes. That leaves us with flavoring.

Having some sauces, salad dressings, and mixed seasonings on hand means you’re set. Sure you can make your own, but again, you don’t have to. I enjoy lots of bottled salad dressings and rarely make my own. Jarred pasta sauce, hot sauce, soy sauce, miso, ketchup, mustard, sesame oil, olive oil, lemon juice and vinegars can all help flavor your meal. Steak rub, Cajun, Italian, and Greek seasoning blends, lemon pepper, or Mrs. Dash can be added to already cooked meats to flavor them, or used on vegetables to give them some zing.

Lastly, despite their limited talent for pep talk, canned beans are a fantastic teammate to have in your corner. If you run short on starches or don’t feel like taking the time to boil pasta water or cook potatoes, open a can and you have a high fiber, vitamin rich side dish. Some of the easiest ways to jazz up canned beans include stirring cumin and or chili powder into black beans (add some cilantro if you have it), or mixing chana masala (an Indian spice blend), or tomato paste and curry powder with chickpeas. Frank’s Red Hot and a squeeze of lime juice work with lentils, kidney beans or black beans. Rosemary and olive oil are a perfect pairing for white beans, such as Great Northern Beans or Cannellini. And all the flavors I mentioned above are shelf stable things you can keep in your pantry for months or years. So buy them when you stock up on canned beans, and as long as you don’t lose the can opener, your Plan B side dish is always ready.

Bonus Tip #11. Stay safe.

If you’re cooking food to eat in the future, get it cooled down as soon as you can. Leftovers are safe for 3 or 4 days, but after that your risk of food poisoning increases. If you think you won’t use something within four days, freeze it right away. When I am hesitating on a particular food’s safety, making a judgement call on whether to taste something or toss it, I compare my dissatisfaction with throwing it out to my feelings on throwing it up, and that usually settles it decisively.

You know people who need these tips. They might be your kids, coworkers or friends, so please share it with them. Help us cure FPP. 

Jul 06

Why We Don’t Do Supplements

By Georgie Fear | Uncategorised

1. Generally, they don’t work.

The claims made by dietary supplement manufacturers are some of the biggest lies you can find in any industry’s advertising. Tricky wording is part of the deception: The bottle won’t say that it lowers blood pressure, it will say that it supports healthy blood pressure. Likewise, you can find pills to support everything from heart health, mood, energy, focus, bone health and of course, your sex life.

So why does this "support" word pop up everywhere? Because the flimsy laws regarding labels only specifically bar dietary supplements from a few words: diagnose, treat, cure and prevent are all verboten. So instead of saying that a supplement treats high blood sugar or prevents diabetes, they’ll say it helps to “maintain healthy blood sugar levels already within a normal range.” (source) That sounds reassuring, but when you read it carefully, it doesn’t actually mean anything. So if you have healthy blood sugar, this pill claims to help you stay the same.

It’s important to mention that some supplements are effective in specific uses, such as taking a specific nutrient for which someone has a diagnosed deficiency. Yet, sadly, these are the minority of cases in which people actually buy and use supplements. Most people aren’t treating a diagnosed deficiency, they are looking for a health boost or noticeable result which never happens.

2. Even if they do work, which is a very very small percentage of all sold, the effect is often miniscule, yet blown out of proportion in the media and in advertising.

A meta-analysis that reports that a particular probiotic “had a positive effect in weight loss in humans” (like this one, in which that quote appears will generate headlines and spikes sales of that supplement like wildfire. And you bet the supplement companies will plaster it all over their bottles and posters, positioning their probiotic next to bikini clad fitness models. But if you actually read the paper and look at the data you see that the effect amounted to just fractions of a pound over 6 months. You’d find the same thing in these two reports, when researchers have found a statistically significant effect of probiotics on weight loss, it is a pound at most and over several months.

And what they won’t show you are all of the studies or meta analyses that showed no significant effect like these:


Or studies that concluded that probiotics can cause weight and fat GAIN, like these:

For Americans, the National Institutes of Health sums it up beautifully: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not determine whether dietary supplements are effective before they are marketed.”

3. They have risks

Side effects are common from taking dietary supplements, even when taken as directed by the label. Most frequently, they aren’t dangerous and are merely uncomfortable, things like stomachaches or cramps, dizziness, constipation, headaches, unpleasant breath (like fish burps), tingling, flushing or lightheadedness. If you take more than is recommended, the risk of these discomforts increases. It’s also worth remembering that the food you eat may also provide some of the same compounds in the supplement, and total may be higher than the safe limit even if the supplement wasn’t. For example, your diet plus your supplement can lead to an excess of Vitamin A, giving you chronic headaches and weakening your bones. Eating iron rich food plus taking a multivitamin with iron could overload you on this mineral, causing nausea and vomiting, plus harm to your liver.

The risks of dietary supplements also include that they can deactivate or interact with a medication you’re taking in numerous ways. Birth control pills, cancer chemotherapy, blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants can all be rendered less effective by pairing with the wrong supplements.

As scary as it sounds, there’s also a fair chance that your dietary supplement doesn’t contain what it says it does, or that it contains substances that aren’t declared on the label. I’ve read many reports of supplements which were labeled as containing only all-natural herbs actually being found to contain prescription medicines such as statins or Viagra. Muscle building supplements, sexual performance enhancers and so-called testosterone boosters are notorious for having undeclared steroids in them.

4. When it’s weight loss or fat loss, FOOD is what stands between you and your goal.

Any measure of energy that goes into purchasing or forming the habit of taking a supplement is energy that would be better spent on your eating behaviors. One of our roles as professional nutrition coaches is to focus every client’s mental and physical effort into avenues which will give them the biggest payoff. When a trainer, nutritionist or other coach tells you to put your effort and dollars into supplementation before they have examined and optimized your eating patterns - take it as a signal that they do not mind frittering away your money and time or that they don’t have enough expertise to know what gives the best results over the long run.

If it’s lasting changes to your body that you are after, your behaviors are the currency necessary to get them. What and how much you eat are the things that determine your body weight, and workouts are what make you stronger, faster and more muscular. You can take all the supplements in the world, but without proper nutrition and exercise, it won’t make a difference.

Think about what you do here, not at the supplement counter.

If you’ve tried traditional diet and exercise programs only to have them fail, it makes to want to do something different, but don’t let that steer you down the row of pills in the drugstore. You can do better. We’re dedicated to empowering people with what actually works in the real world, forever. It’s not following a limited diet or taking supplements, it’s new skills. So think about the skills you’d like to pick up, rather than a bottle of empty promises.

​Fat Loss Comes From Skills Not Pills. (Sorry, I couldn't resist).

Want to know what skills WILL make a difference in your body, permanently? Here they are. Most people are already good at some of them, but have plenty which they KNOW they need some improvement on to see results. And getting better at those skills is like anything else you want to get better at, you break it down to a level that fits where you are at NOW, and practice. If you need a hand, coaching offers the added direction and accountability to get you maximum results for your effort.

Jun 13

How To Handle A Loved One Going Low Carb

By Georgie Fear | Uncategorised

Dear Georgie,
My husband is starting the Atkins diet! On the bright side, I think this will make some things easier for me because he will be watching what he is eating and having less temptations around. But I'd love some reading on this, either for my knowledge or anything I should have him read. I'm concerned about his health. - Joan

Dear Joan, I agree that it will be helpful to you and your goals that your husband is choosing to do watch his intake, even if his approach isn't the same as yours. Your home will likely have fewer temptations, (especially alcohol and sweets) and hopefully it will help him with the results he wants to see. Maybe he'll start cooking more!

There are a lot of ways to do a low carb diet. A lot carb lunch might be a salmon filet and green salad with pecans.... or it might be bacon wrapped steak with butter-blue cheese sauce on it. If a person includes a lot of vegetables, and chooses healthier fats and proteins, it's not that bad health-wise.

The elements which can (but don't have to) make a low carb diet detrimental to health include:

  • Low intake of fiber (constipation is common)
  • Low intake of fruits and vegetables (especially during the first phase when carbohydrate intake is very limited, you can't even have all the vegetables you want. Vegetable intake is correlated with longer, healthier lives, less cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • ​High fat intake. Diets which are higher than about 40% calories from fat are causally linked to the development of insulin resistance, leptin resistance, obesity, increased appetite and decreased satiety, increased inflammation, and unhealthy changes in gut flora which increase risk for further weight gain and abdominal pains/digestive pain when fibers or carbohydrates are reintroduced. (a-j).
  • Decreases in mental well-being (some but not all studies have found that low carbohydrate intake is related to worse moods). (k, l)
  • Impaired athletic ability (particularly speed/power) (m, n)

The first 3 you can do something about by making specific choices within the Atkins Diet parameters, but the last 2 are directly due to low carbohydrate intake, and you can't raise carbohydrate intake and be on the Atkins diet.

To maximize fiber: get as many vegetables as the phase will allow. Use avocado for some of your fats, since it also provides a good amount of fiber. Chia and flax seeds can also help provide fiber without many digestible carbohydrates. Don't use carbohydrate allowances for sugars or white bread. Use them for plants!

To minimize the health risks of a high fat diet, don't go sky high in fat (you don't have to put butter in your coffee), include seafood twice a week, choose more olive oil, nuts and avocado and less fatty red meat (bacon, hamburger, steak), and use cheese and butter less often. A Mediterranean diet pattern including 1-3 tablespoons (15-45 mL) of olive oil every day has been shown to improve triglycerides and markers of inflammation, so think in spoonfuls, not glugs straight from the bottle (o).

Also, if the individual is in a calorie deficit (calorie deficit = weight decreasing) then the risks to cholesterol levels and blood lipids are reduced. Even an "artery-clogging diet" doesn't have so many damaging effects to a person if they are losing weight, the weight loss benefits to blood lipids are very significant.

Lastly, while it's not a physical health issue, dietary monotony and restriction can be unfavorable for mental health and a person's relationship with food. Being unable to eat bread, beans, rice, desserts, etc isn't something most people are willing to do forever, so they do the low carb thing for a while and within 6 to 12 months, most people are back to eating carbs. So to "bring out the best" of this phase, I'd try to emphasize some helpful diet skills that your husband can practice and maintain, even after the diet is over. Even if he doesn't stay on a low carb diet forever (most people don't) he can practice cooking and enjoying vegetables in place of starches with dinner, looking for high fiber foods, reading food labels, appreciating whole foods, and get in a habit of choosing olive oil, avocado and seafood frequently.

Best of luck to you both! Feel free to pass on the links below or send a link to this article.

References ​
















Jun 02

How To Fix Emotional Eating With Self Care

By Josh Hillis | Uncategorised

There’s something we’ve noticed a lot of the time when people have trouble with emotional eating or stress eating — eating is the only thing they do to treat themselves.

Problems, Stress, or Emotion

When people try to work with emotional eating, they assume that the treats they eat are the problem. They remove treats, and then tro to white knuckle not eating them when they have stressful or emotional days. Eventually, something happens, and they can’t hold on any longer — they break down and have even more treats. Then they feel terrible.

Or, sometimes they assume that their emotions are the problem. It’s easy to think “If I didn’t have these emotions, I wouldn’t have an issue!” Like, the assumption that what you need is a life without problems or stress. The only problem there is that most of the clients we see actually have really stressful lives. They have important jobs or families or even charities they sit on boards for, they have all of these big priorities in their lives, and they have to work with those things. And all of these important things in their lives have normal cycles of ups and downs. Sometimes they’re really stressful. Sometimes it’s really emotional.

Two things we need to look at:

1.) You’re human. You’re going to have emotions. You’re going to have stress. We need to accept that that’s a normal and recurring part of life.

2.) We need to look at what is really effective self-care.

It’s About Choices

The goal isn’t to never have treats again. We aren’t even saying that you can never soothe yourself with food again. The goal, simply, is flexibility. We want you to have more than one option.

If the only thing you have to soothe yourself with is food, you’re going to gain weight.

So, what we really need to do is build a personal library of “real life treats.” We need to look at what actually makes us happy. It could be as simply as petting your dog or cat, listening to music, getting outside and going for a walk, reading, going to a movie. These are all things that make us feel better, that don’t involve food.

The goal is to have more than one option. If you have a rough day and you’re used to going straight for food, you’re still going to have that habit. We just want to loosen that up. Maybe try going for a walk first, and then if you still want the food treat, then try that.

Hug a pet

It’s About Self Care

If you’re really feeling down, cookies probably sound awesome. But after you eat the cookies, you don’t actually feel any better. Likely you feel worse.

Food treats often do a really poor job for self-care.

Instead, you want to take a look at what is actually effective self care for you. When you feel bad, what if you called a friend? What if you had some really good alone time? What if you meditated? What if you get a massage? Or watched your favorite funny movie?

There are things that you can do to take care of yourself that are going to do a much better job of taking care of you than food. You want to start putting together your personal list. You want to have options of things that are good for you.

Relax and listen to music

It’s About Your Values

Lastly, it’s about what’s important to you in life. Make a list of things that matter to you, people who matter to you, and who you want to be about food and health.

If you want to be someone who has a reasonable, balanced, healthy relationship with food, what does that mean to you when you have a bad day? It might mean that sometimes you have food treats and other times you have real life treats. That sounds balanced and reasonable.

Color a grown-up coloring book

Ultimately, the goal is flexibility.

If your only answer is to eat food treats, that probably doesn’t fit your values and goals. We want you to have lots of options.

Most of the time, have treats when you want to have treats because it’s a special occasion. Have treats when you’re hanging out with your best friend. Or have treats just because, and have your favorite treat in the world. But have those treats intentionally, and enjoy them and feel good about them.

And when you have a stressful or emotional day, take a look at what self-care is going to be best for you.

Deep breathing and/or meditation

Jun 01

Meal Planning as Simple As 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

By Josh Hillis | Uncategorised

Meal planning is much simpler than most people have been led to believe. Diets deliberately complicate things for marketing purposes. As long as there is a “magic food” or “secret macro ratio” that makes it work, you’ll always need to buy another diet.

There is no secret, it’s just basics of feeling full, repeated over and over again. Let’s take a look:

The four elements of fullness:

  1. Protein
  2. Vegetables
  3. Carbohydrates
  4. Fat

The master element of consistency and success: Taste

  1. Flavor profile

News and diets live on crying wolf about the evil magic of carbohydrates, or protein, or fat, or whatever. In truth, people are going to feel the most full with some of all of the above in each meal.

People get freaked out about carbohydrates, like “I gain weight any time I even see carbs!!!!” This is false. Most people eat five servings of carbohydrates at a meal. Have you ever tried one serving?

Why it can work to cut out carbohydrates: Because most people have 4-5 servings of carbohydrates at every meal. Obviously this is too much.

What works best for fullness and weight loss: One serving of carbohydrates at every meal. A totally reasonable and healthy amount.

Same thing with fat. Fat was demonized for years because it’s so calorically dense. It is calorically dense. Don’t go crazy with it. One serving is usually fairly small.

Why it can work to cut out fat: Fat is pretty dense, and it’s easy to go way overboard with it.

What works best for fullness and weight loss: One serving of fat at every meal. A totally reasonable and healthy amount.

Protein is super popular right now, so we won’t go too deep into it. Just know that most people feel full when they have a serving of protein in their meals. If you’re noticing a trend in this plan so far, it’s this — one serving of everything, at every meal.

Lastly, vegetables are magic for feeling full after meals. We often tell people to shoot for 2 servings of vegetables. This isn’t rocket science, add some veggies.

How Big is A Serving?

Well, it’ll be a little different for everyone. Here’s the simplest way to look at it:

If you are gaining weight:
Your servings are too big for weight loss.

If your weight is staying the same:
Your serving sizes put you at maintenance.

If you are losing 0.5 pounds per week:
Your serving sizes are just right for weight loss

If this seems to simple, it’s because it is. There’s no magic to this. But there is a simple system that you can use to experiment and guide yourself. Your plan won’t be the same as everyone else’s, it’ll be custom tailored for you.

Do I Need All Four At Every Meal?


The more you have at one meal the better. If people have just one, like carbohydrates, they’ll be likely to feel starving in an hour or two. If they add a second one, like carbohydrates and protein, they’ll be more likely to be full. If they add three, they’re really doing well. And, of course, with all four, you have the best shot at feeling full and satisfied between meals, while still losing weight.

Just one macro: Probably going to be hungry

Two of the three macros: Little bit better shot at feeling full, but might still be hungry

Three macros or two macros + vegetables: Pretty good shot at feeling full and satisfied

Three macros + vegetables: Best shot at being full and satisfied and losing weight

Lets Add Some Flavor

The last thing we want to look at is adding flavor. For some reason, when people first start eating healthy, they assume that it has to be flavorless and tasteless, which is a super sad way to go.

Go to a local spice shop and get a spice mix for your protein and a spice mix for your vegetables. Add sauces. Add salsa or green chile. Add garlic. Add onions. Put salt and pepper on everything. Get Mexican seasoning and cumin and cilantro. Get Italian seasoning and oregano and basil. Maybe even grow your own basil!

Don’t be afraid to add flavor.

People make a silly mistake with health food — they buy diet books! You can throw away all of your diet books. Replace them with cookbooks! Cookbooks are these amazing books that are filled with delicious meals you can eat. They literally teach you how to cook stuff, and make it taste good. You may find that sometimes you want to adjust the ratios of protein, carbohydrates, and fat in a recipe. Or you may find that some recipes are predominantly carbohydrates, and you need to add a protein. Feel free to adjust the meals to suit your needs. And then, definitely use the chefs’ flavor knowledges to make your meal taste good!

Here are a few cookbooks to get you started:

It’s Really Is As Simple As 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

There’s no magic to it. Just combine the 4 elements of fullness, to create meals that are healthy and satisfying. Then make sure to add flavor!

The four elements of fullness:

  1. Protein

  2. Vegetables

  3. Carbohydrates

  4. Fat

The master element of consistency and success: Taste

  1. Flavor profile

Lastly, you know that if your scale weight is trending up, your portions are too big. If the scale weight is trending down, your portion sizes are just right for weight loss.

Don’t let any gimmicky infomercials or hypey magazine articles try to convince you that it’s any more complicated than that. Keep it simple, stay consistent, and you’ll hit all of your goals.

Josh Hillis