Looking to improve the nutritional quality of your diet without following a diet plan?  Now that January is coming to a close, many of us are finding it difficult to stick to complicated prescripted diets in an effort to become healthier.  Diets can be labour-intensive, difficult to follow, and challenging to stick to in the long term.

A permanent change in your eating habits and activity level will keep you healthy. A healthy diet should be moderate in carbohydrates, high in fibre, whole fruits and vegetables, include lean sources of protein, and lower-fat dairy products. The following tips do not involve measuring, weighing, or calorie counting and these simple strategies can improve your nutritional health!

Start your day off right – eat breakfast:

IMG_1168Kick start your metabolism with breakfast. Breakfast eaters tend to consume less calories and more nutrients each day. Studies show that when you eat breakfast, you typically do not overeat throughout the day. Try whipping-up a smoothie with yogurt and frozen berries.  (See the Fail-Proof 3 Step Smoothie Recipe below). Make an omelette with sautéed vegetables. Keep boiled eggs on hand to grab on a rushed morning with a slice of multigrain toast. Try oatmeal with blueberries or other boxed whole-grain cereals with lower-fat milk.


Eat regular meals:FullSizeRender

Skipping meals usually leads to overeating at another meal. Skipping supper, for example, often makes you more prone to late night snacking.  By eating regularly, you’ll be more likely to eat healthy portion sizes and your body will have the energy it needs to power you through the entire day and evening.  If your meals are spaced more than 6 hours apart, aim to include snacks between meals to maintain your energy level throughout the day.

Plan meals:

Planning meals and writing grocery lists are steps in the right direction for improving the nutritional quality of your diet.  Homemade foods are almost always lower in fat, salt, and sugar,FullSizeRender
and higher in fibre. When you prepare an entree or a meal, you know exactly what is in it – no
hidden ingredients and foreign preservatives! Cooking from home is not only more delicious but is also cost-saving.

Reduce intake of processed foods and read food labels:

Processed foods often have little nutritional value, are lower in fibre, and higher in unhealthy saturated fats, sugar, and sodium. Instead, choose whole grains such as bulgar, multigrain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and quinoa.  Have fresh fruit and cut up vegetables for snacks. When purchasing the occasional packaged snack, try the label reading “rule of 3 and 5” tip to help you select healthier choices. Choose foods that contain under five grams of saturated fat and at least three grams of fibre per serving.  This will help you bring healthier options into your home.

Embrace fruits and vegetables – Mother Nature’s perfect snack:

FullSizeRenderMake your plate as colourful as possible by including a variety of fresh or steamed vegetables and/or salads.  Have whole fruit for dessert.  These foods are tasty, high in nutrients, contain fibre, immune-boosting Vitamin C, blood pressure lowering potassium, and a host of other disease fighting compounds.  As a bonus, they are also naturally low in calories.

Use a treat budget:

Put yourself on a treat budget and limit the number of treats you allow yourself to consume each week.  Start by counting your afternoon cookie, after supper scoop of ice cream or evening potato chips as treats.  Allow yourself a limited number of portion controlled treats per week. Say 2-3 per week.  Once you start keeping track of your “treats” you will be able to improve the nutritional quality of your diet.

Keep hydrated:

Drink plenty of water or other sugar-free beverages. Research shows that individuals that are well-hydrated tend to nibble less and consume fewer calories.

Make a 10 minute promise for physical activity:

Make physical activity part of your daily routine year round. The hardest part is getting started.  Start slowly by being active for 10 minutes a day.  Even this amount will benefit you.  Increase gradually to a minimum of 30 minutes each day.

Bottom line; restrictive diets tend to fail over the long haul.  Through excessive dieting we are prone to lose our ability to stay in tune with our own body’s hunger and satiety cues. Take time for cooking at home, avoid high-fat, sodium and sugar-laden foods.  Take charge of your own health through improving your nutritional intake. It is worth the effort!


Fail-Proof 3 Step Smoothie Recipe



1 cup fresh or frozen fruit – berries, apples, bananas, pineapple, pear, cherries. (Frozen fruit will provide a thick consistency to the smoothie)

1 cup of liquid – milk, soy beverage, almond milk, coconut water, water, or 100% fruit juice

1/2 cup of yogurt – Greek yogurt is higher in protein

Add a nutrient booster – for more protein add skim milk powder, whey protein, or ground almond flour. For additional fibre and healthy fats, add ground flax seed or hemp seed.

Step 1

Add fruit to blender container

Step 2

Add yogurt and then liquid

(Adding the ingredients in this order prevents splashing!)

Step 3

Add nutrient booster and blend on high until desired consistency. (May be necessary to add additional liquid).