As a sports loving person, it’s vital that you know how to feed your body right and with the mass of urban food myths that seem to have accumulated in the recent decades of dieting, we caught up with food specialist Claire Thomas, who runs a whole blog full of healthy (and yummy!) recipes.
Interview by Anna Langer
Healthy eating is all about balance. Food is my panacea, good or bad, so my way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle hinges on moderation and knowing myself.
Are there any ground rules for healthy eating?
For me, healthy eating is all about balance. I can’t crash diet, and I have terrible self control with food. For me, delicious food is an emotional experience, and I am totally the person who will “treat myself” with a snack or dessert when I’m feeling good, and then “comfort” myself with chips and ice cream when I’m not feeling good. Anyway, food is my panacea, good or bad, so my way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle hinges on moderation and knowing myself.
For instance, I know I’m a snacker. I’ll eat when I’m bored, or just walking through the house or office. A handful of something here, a few extra “taste tests” there…so I keep my kitchen loaded up with healthy or low calorie snacks that keep me on track. I love juices and smoothies as snacks, as they’re quick, low maintenance, and a good way to get some greens in. Air popped popcorn with a little sea salt and olive oil or roasted seaweed are a good option over potato chips.
I’m not a gym bunny, and dragging my but into lululemons and onto a treadmill is challenging for me, so I try to keep in shape by being mindful about my body. For instance, I walk everywhere. I’m on my feet all day in the kitchen. I always opt for stairs instead of the elevator. I need to be more active, but in the short term, these little adjustments make a big impact.
What are some easy tips for when you don’t have time to cook yourself?
When I’m out, I share everything. I usually split an appetizer and then do another appetizer as my main. Eating out is always going to be a little more indulgent, and if it’s a chain restaurant, I’ll look up their nutritional information on their menu online so I can make good decisions when I’m there. Usually I’ll order whatever I wanted anyway, but maybe have less of it, or know that I need to work out or be a little bit better the next day. Knowledge is the key to making good decisions for your body.
Knowledge is the key to making good decisions for your body.
It seems like a lot of people nowadays have forgotten what their body really needs. Can you give us some pointers?
Every person is different, so what my body needs will not be what your body needs. I’m a moderately active, young woman, so my daily calorie allotment, vitamin/mineral needs, etc. will look completely different from say, a 45 year-old cross fit guy, or a 50 year-old accountant. I’ve found that apps like My Fitness Pal are super helpful when it comes to tracking what I’m eating and how I’m moving. I have friends who are obsessed with pedometer apps, and others who stick to old fashioned food journalling. Start with just being aware of what you put in your body and what physical activity you do during the week; that awareness will lead to making the changes you need to maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
How does a healthy diet for a sporty person vary from one for a more passive person?
I’m definitely in the passive person camp, so I can speak from that perspective. When I met with a nutritionist, I was REALLY surprised to find out how few calories I’m supposed to hit every day. I always thought 2000 a day was everyone’s base line, but in fact; it’s completely different for each person. A friend of mine is training for a marathon and needs close to three times the amount of calories I need to support her body’s energy needs. This isn’t even accounting for protein, vitamins/minerals, sodium levels, etc. Essentially, whether you are a very active or sedentary person, you need to either meet with a nutritionist, your doctor, or do some research yourself to figure out what’s best for you. Making a big change in your diet or exercise routine can really damage your body, so having a plan is key.
Making a big change in your diet or exercise routine can really damage your body, so having a plan is key.
How did you get into nutrition and cooking yourself?
I was looking for a creative project to work on in my spare time as a hobby, and my mom suggested I start a food blog. I had recently gotten into baking and food history, so I thought, why not? Soon after I was able to work as a food stylist, food photographer, and personal chef full time. I used what I learned from these jobs to help improve my blog, and before long I started directing and producing recipe web videos. The web videos became very popular, and led to the opportunity to host Food for Thought and to my career as a commercial director.
What’s your favourite dish of all times?
That’s like asking a musician what their favorite song is! It totally depends on my mood, the season, what else I’ve been making…so many factors go into it. But at the moment, I’ve really been enjoying my grill and grilling fun, less often used, ingredients. Grilled avocados stuffed with salsa makes a delicious app; grilled yams are addictive; and grilled peaches with a scoop of ice cream make a fantastic dessert in just a few minutes.
Try to keep your dishes as colorful, textural, and seasonal as possible, and always throw in fresh fruits and vegetables for a little variety.
Anything you’d like to wipe off all meal plans altogether?
Lack of variety. I’m a big believer in moderation and balance, so the idea of cutting something out all together doesn’t strike me as realistic for most people (myself included). But eating the same group of ingredients, day in and day out, it’s not only detrimental to your body but also so boooooorrrrrring. Try to keep your dishes as colorful, textural, and seasonal as possible, and always throw in fresh fruits and vegetables for a little variety. I’m not going to ever give up french fries or ice cream cold turkey, but by having a varied and exciting diet, I find those cravings are kept at bay.