Sponsored by: Heavens Fitness – 637 11 Avenue SW Calgary
Author: Taryn Hajnrych, General manager
Photo: Taryn Hajnrych at 2016 David Ford ABBA Southerns
We’ve all heard the justifications before. “Healthy is boring,” “I can’t stand the taste of fish,” “this plain food sucks and I can’t keep on track if I have to eat this,” and of course the ever so trendy “treat yo’ self!”.
Let’s take a moment to clarify – plain IS boring, so don’t eat plain! Healthy food can be as flavourful as you make it, you just need to get a bit creative in the kitchen.
As a competitive bodybuilder who spends a good amount of time dieting down and eating what many might consider to be a restrictive diet, I’ve found many creative ways to keep my food choices flavourful and imaginative.
Below are some of my top go-to flavour enhancers to keep my dishes full of life:
- Minced garlic and ginger – this combo packs a punch and gives a little Asian flair to any dish. I love to combine the two with a little soya sauce and sriracha when I marinate tofu. What I love about this? It’s E-A-S-Y. Throw in a spoon or two to your stir-fry, soup or a homemade salad dressing and you get an instant trip to tasty town.
- Huy Fong Sriracha hot chili sauce –I love this hot sauce because of two things; its low carbohydrate content and moderate sodium content. If you compare the nutritional information to many common condiments, you might be shocked to see how many grams of carbohydrates from sugar you find hiding in ketchup and barbeque sauce. When you line up a few hot sauces side by side you’ll notice a lot of the more popular ones have a lot of sodium in them. Though a regular amount of sodium is key in a healthy diet, too much can lead to water retention which will reflect unnecessarily on the scale.
- Mustard – flip over a bottle of French’s Classic yellow mustard and you might be pleasantly surprised to see 0% almost all the way down the nutrition label. Aside from sodium, many mustards contain very little (some contain none!) of the fats and carbs found in other condiments, so go ahead and get your spread on! Another great thing about mustard is the variety. Grainy mustards, horseradish mustards and jalapeno mustards are all great substitutes for the unhealthy options hiding out in your fridge door. My favourite way to use yellow mustard is as a salad dressing. I combine it with a squeeze of sriracha and a few dashes of sesame oil over shredded cabbage and cubed chicken breast for a flavour-packed, Asian inspired healthy meal!
- Silk Road Spice Merchant spices – since discovering the Silk Road stall at the Blackfoot farmers market I have not bought another brand of spices. Their blends are a) free of hidden sugar and high sodium b) DELICIOUS and c) very affordable for such high-quality products. Bonus points, this family run company is locally owned and operated. Their stock is brought in in small batches so freshness is a guarantee and they source top quality ingredients. No more running around from store after store to find those rare chilies, delicious cinnamons or exotic spice blends. They custom blend their own spices and rubs, and as far as I can see they have everything you’d ever need for a brag-worthy spice rack. My can’t-live-without choices are the Vietnamese Saigon cassia cinnamon and the St. Laurent steak spice. Check out their full product list here.
As you start to transform your nutrition, keep in mind that small steps will help you thrive in this time of change. Moderation is key. By eliminating everything you love cold turkey you’re not setting yourself up for success. Start by cutting back on the unhealthy. Add in substitutions from the list above, and start reading labels; learn what is in the products you’re fueling your body with. When we talk about fueling our bodies, keep in mind that that is exactly what your food is. It’s the source of energy to keep you going. Are you putting enough in? In an attempt to drastically drop weight and meet new year’s goals we have a tendency to make radical changes and cut, cut, cut. Not eating enough is counter productive and forces our bodies into survival mode where we start to hoard calories as fat stores.
Kindness is also key. Results do not and will not come overnight. You are not going to drop 20 lbs in January, so be consistent, be patient and go easy on yourself. When you put in the hard work you deserve the things you love, but again, in moderation. Believe it or not, I do not go without eating the things I love even when I’m getting ready for a show. A life without chocolate isn’t one I’m interested in living. But my compromise? Two squares of Lindt 70% dark chocolate instead of an O’Henry. And yes, I have it every damn day!
What your body needs is going to be unique to you, so my last piece of advice is to avoid the cookie cutter diets you find online and consider seeking out the advice of a professional. Many dieticians and nutritionists will issue a receipt for your insurance so you can claim these services. By finding what works for you, you will increase your chances of succeeding and reaching those goals
Make 2017 your year by doing it right!