Hello and welcome to week four of my series called the “Get Healthy and Happy Project”. The aim behind the series is to demonstrate that there are many and varied approaches to “healthy” eating and lifestyle. There’s no one-size fits all way to live – food choices included! The most important thing is just to do something to move towards finding a healthier and happier you.
If you missed my first post, each week I will be interviewing people I follow (and love!) in the “health & wellness” field. As you will see, each has a different take on diet but all are healthy and happy!
Who are you featuring this week?
This week in the series we have the gorgeous Jenine from Foodness for Goodness Sake. On her site Jenine covers a whole host of things such as toxins in beauty products (and some brands to try), quitting sugar and of course shares amazing, healthy recipes. She also runs the “Real Food Reboot” program to help you kickstart a healthier lifestyle. She happens to be super nice and I’m very grateful for her to have taken the time to answer my questions – so enjoy reading!
For those reading who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a wife (second time round), mum with a teenage daughter (now there’s a whole new set of rules no one told me about) a step-mum to 2 boys the youngest being 11 (do boys come with instruction manuals?) I am a certified Nutritional Food Coach passionate about helping people make the change to a whole foods lifestyle, I share healthy recipes through my blog and my recently published program “Real Food Reboot” as well as through wellness seminars. I also work full-time as a singing teacher and I am a professional singer when time permits these days – it’s fair to say I am a busy woman so time management is essential to my personal wellbeing.
What was it that made you decide you needed to change your diet?
As I was approaching my 40’s I was facing a lot of niggling health issues including anxiety attacks and high blood pressure. My hormones were having a party of their own, I was irritable, moody and tired all the time. My GP wanted to medicate me for my blood pressure and anxiety. I was on a waiting list to see a gynaecologist to explore various procedures to settle my out of control cycle. I had lost my mother at the age of 64 to breast cancer and I didn’t want to become another victim.
I was constantly battling with the scales, I was obsessed with the number on the scales having always been petite I didn’t like that the numbers kept slowly going up plus I didn’t like that I was struggling to fit into last years’ jeans – each year they were getting tighter and tighter. I constantly felt bloated despite eating a low fat diet, always watching what I ate, often feeling hungry and deprived. I exercised regularly, followed the recommended healthy living guide and everything I ate was Heart Foundation approved. I was frustrated and confused. Was this it? Did I have to accept that this would be life in my 40’s and beyond?
I began researching healthy diets, looking for the ultimate diet to help me maintain my ideal weight. The more I researched, the more confused I became at first. However what I did start to see was a lot information about minimising processed foods and increasing whole foods. At first it seemed impossible, what would I actually eat? I already felt like I ate enough salad, anymore and I may wake up as a rabbit one morning. I began to research more about a real food approach to eating and it really resonated with me. I began with eliminating sugar, despite the fact that I didn’t think I ate much sugar – I was shocked to learn where sugar was hidden, basically in everything. As I started to see and feel the benefits I gradually eliminated more processed foods from my life and it snowballed (which continues to roll) beyond diet to minimising toxins around my home and in personal care products. In 2013 I decided to become more educated and undertook a range of short courses about real food eating and then went on to study Food Coaching with The Food Coach Institute of Australia.
How would you summarise your view on food now?
I choose food as close to nature as possible. The less human interference the better. Choosing organic foods for me has also had a profound effect on my health. This doesn’t mean only eating salads (thankfully) I eat a lot of healthy fats in the form of avocados, organic butter, coconut products, olive oil, macadamia oil, nuts and seeds, organic free range eggs, fish and more. I never feel hungry or deprived. I am more in tune with my body knowing what foods will nourish and satisfy me. For example rather than having a store bought muesli bar for morning tea (once thinking that was healthy being high in grains and Heart Foundation approved) I will now have a few nuts, seeds and a boiled egg, this will keep me feeling much fuller for longer, I do not suffer sugar highs and lows leading to feeling irritable hanging out for 12.30pm at work so I can eat again. I do include grains in my diet (minimal) meaning I am not a hard and fast Paleo advocate but I choose my grains carefully again with minimal processing. I am not a vegetarian although I do eat a mostly raw plant based diet, I don’t eat a lot of red meat but when I do I choose good quality organic grass fed (not grain fed) meat, I will eat organic chicken and wild caught fish. If I were to be labelled with a certain diet I would be classed as a Flexitarian – choosing to foods as my body requires, listening to my body. I believe that everyone can make a whole foods lifestyle work for them whether it be paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian or raw foods. The 80/20 rule works really well for me.
How do you feel now you have made your diet and lifestyle changes?
I feel alive, energised, happy, calmer and of course healthier. I feel empowered knowing I am more in charge my own health and my family’s health, it felt really good taking myself of the waiting list at the hospital. I know that anything is possible with a healthy mind and body, my outlook on life is so much more positive. I have more self-worth, love and acceptance. I also no longer worry about fitting into last year’s jeans as my weight remains constantly stable and healthy.
What do you do now that makes you feel really “happy”? Did you always know this made you happy? If not, how did you work that out?
Getting back to nature! Feeling the earth under my feet, feeling the sun on my face, smelling fresh herbs, picking fresh produce from our garden – ok let me clarify it’s not technically our garden (I am the world’s worst gardener and can kill a cactus) we lease a garden space at the beautiful Currumbin Valley Harvest and we spend our Sunday mornings at “the farm” harvesting crops from our garden. Driving out to the Valley is instant stress relief, I love driving with the windows down, sun roof open and breathing in the fresh clean air. On hot days we stop at the rock pools, have a picnic, swim, lie on the grass, read a book and completely relax. Spending days like this with my family is true happiness. Sunday afternoons for me are spent in the kitchen preparing food for the week, making biscuits and healthy foods for our lunches for the week. I never thought I would say being in the kitchen makes me happy but knowing I am cooking with love for my family and providing them with nourishing foods really makes me feel warm and fuzzy – sometimes a little frustrated if I make something new that the kids don’t rate too highly but all the more for me to eat, see there’s an upside to everything :-). I hope to make the tree-change and move to the Valley one day but for now being 30 minutes away works for our family perfectly.
For someone who is looking to change their diet, how do you recommend they start?
Everyone is different, some people get the best results with an “all or nothing” approach but for most people making small changes every week to their diet is the best approach. It may be something as simple as introducing one new food such as quinoa. Quinoa is such a versatile seed (some call a grain) and so many simple healthy recipes can be made with quinoa. For people who are big meat eaters I would recommend having more meat free meals during the week. Keep it simple by adding a bigger variety of vegetables with lots of colour, you don’t have to do anything fancy with vegetables simply steaming or lightly sautéing most vegetables works well. Enhance the flavours of your food with fresh herbs and spices rather than store bought sauces. Chopped herbs with fresh lemon or lime juice and olive oil can make a seemingly bland salad really come to life. Choose seasonal fruit rather than tinned fruit and add them to salads, we love apples, pears, strawberries, grapes and watermelon in our salads, not all at the same time but adding one fruit to a vegetable salad really adds a fresh twist. Try shopping at farmers markets on the weekends for the freshest seasonal produce and take in how happy, friendly and relaxed most people are at the markets. It’s a very addictive lifestyle.
For people with a family who may not all be on-board, what are your tips?
Ok well this is one I personally battle with. My daughter fluctuates between wanting to be healthy and following a clean eating diet to driving to McDonalds with her friends at 11pm on Saturday night. I will find empty Zarraffa’s cups or Subway wrappers in my husband’s car, when I do the washing I will find empty lolly wrappers in my step-sons pockets.…..there have been times when I have even gone on strike refusing to bake healthy food for the week. I recently threw out a frozen packet of chips I found in the freezer that my husband bought for convenience to make “homemade” fish and chips. So I speak from experience when I say it is not always easy, it would have been a lot easier if I had have started this lifestyle when my daughter was younger, met my husband when I was younger, when his boys were younger – but it is not a perfect world. It is what it is and all I can do is lead by example, talk to my children about making healthy food choices, get them in the kitchen with me (the youngest really loves this), praise my husband when he goes to the effort to make a delicious B.O.E salad (that’s Bit of Everything salad) and say nothing when he asks what happened to the chips in the freezer. I try to pick my battles and this means silently screaming sometimes when I see white bread rolls in the cupboard for homemade hamburgers. What makes it more challenging is the kids live between 2 homes and their lifestyles are different at both homes so I know it is very difficult for them. I believe as they get older they will be more grateful for the love and effort I put into their food and health. I know my husband appreciates all that I do, he really tries hard and coming from a man who used to make Deb instant potato mash put it on top of a pie with the top removed, sprinkle it with cheese and say he’d made Shepherd’s Pie, he’s really doing great. His real homemade Shepherd’s Pie these days is a family favourite. Don’t sweat the small stuff, I am still learning this myself.
Thank you for having my as a guest on Lou Lou Zoo, Kristy. I hope I have given some of your readers an insight into how they can make positive changes towards a healthier real foods lifestyle.
Thank you Jenine!
I hope everyone has enjoyed reading Jenine’s answers as much as I have, I love her approach and advice (as you all know I can relate to the getting the family on board dilemma!). I’ll sum up this post with a quote from above (as I have noticed this myself!!):
‘Try shopping at farmers markets on the weekends for the freshest seasonal produce and take in how happy, friendly and relaxed most people are at the markets. It’s a very addictive lifestyle’
If you would like to make one of Jenine’s recipes, I have previously published her yummy Banana Cake!
Next week we will have Sarah from The Raw Food Mum! And if your’e on Instagram don’t forget to to add #healthierhappier to your pictures that show how you live “healthy and happy”!