My way of eating has changed dramatically over the years - I have gone from restrictive eating where I was obsessively controlling everything I was consuming to being a mindful eater in tune with my body and my needs.
I’ve become incredibly flexible with the way I eat and am mindful of my hunger cues, meaning I don’t buy into the idea of having to eat at a certain time or the myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What I eat and when I eat it changes all the time, depending on the season, my exercise and stress load and what’s currently in my fridge.
Still, there is some consistency to what and when I eat in a day and since this has been a much requested blog post, I thought I’d share what an average day on my plate looks like. Like every human, my cravings, preferences and needs change constantly, but the below meals are definitely on high rotation and keep me nourished, full and both physically and emotionally satisfied.
Here’s my typical day on my plate at the moment:
6-7am: I wake up and have a glass of warm water with a fresh squeeze of lemon and apple cider vinegar, followed by another glass of water. It’s all about hydration in the morning, and the lemon and ACV aids with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Lately however, I’ve been replacing this with a glass of aloe vera juice diluted in water, as recommended to me by an Ayurvedic practitioner to help balance my dosha’s.
8am: I train in the morning on most days, so by 8am I have worked up a good appetite. Depending on the type of workout (HIIT, strength, yoga), I can feel my body craving a different type of breakfast and I tune in to this to decide what to eat. In winter I crave oatmeal with lots of nuts and seeds sprinkled in, scrambled egg with avocado and GF-bread or sautéed kale with poached eggs, and during the warmer months I love an overnight bircher muesli, a big green smoothie with protein powder or chia pudding with lots of berries, nuts and coconut yoghurt. What I’ve noticed is that savoury breakfasts generally keep me satiated for longer as it keeps my blood sugar levels more steady, so I’m always on the hunt for new savoury breakfast ideas. While I’m eating breakfast, I have my one-a-day (at the moment decaf) coffee, usually a soy capp.
A note on breakfast: I used to totally prescribe to the idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There really is not a lot of evidence to support this claim, and I think what, how much and when you eat depends on when you wake up, what type of exercise you do, what/when you ate the night before, your stress levels etc. My suggestion: tune into your body! On a scale of 1-10, how hungry are you right now? If you’re not really hungry, don’t feel like you need to eat at the usual ‘breakfast time’. Just don’t skip it all together! So, bottom line, it depends on your personal circumstances and the best thing is to tune in to your body to figure out what is right for you on that specific day.
10.30am: I’ve got university lectures at weird times which often means I don’t get to eat lunch ‘till late. This means I always come prepared with a rice cracker, an apple or one of my favourite go-to snacks like the Shelby’s gluten-free cookies or the ‘dipped & dusted’ almonds that have a fine chocolate coating. My favourite cookie flavours are Chocolate Chip or Double Choc Hazelnut, and my preferred coated almonds are the Espresso and Dark Chocolate ones. I also drink 3-4 l of water a day, so by this point I’m easily already 1 ½ l in. I love adding essential oils to my water; lemon and orange are my preferred choice.
Side note: a lot of people are choosing snacks that they think are healthy, when they’re actually filled with refined sugar and crappy artificial sweeteners. I myself was eating or-so-I-thought healthy protein bars as a snack for years and didn’t realise that my upset stomach and blood sugar spike was caused by that! So make sure to choose a snack (like Shelby’s) that is not only vegan and gluten-free, but is also free of refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and is low GI with good fats.
1pm: Lunch tends to be the biggest meal of the day for me. I usually go for a big salad with a mix of healthy carbs, good-quality fats and some form of protein (tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, salmon or eggs) and a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Now that I work from home a lot, I don’t often plan out a specific recipe, but kind of just whip things together that I prepared during Sunday’s meal prep. On most days, you can find some oven-roasted sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts, sautéed green beans, pan-fried tofu, a homemade salad dressing, hummus and a pot of quinoa, beans or soba noodles in my fridge. Having all of this ready to go makes it easy to toss together a quick, healthy and well-balanced lunch. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that not a day goes by without eating at least one serving of hummus. Hummus is life!
4pm: Not everyone needs a mid-afternoon snack, but I feel like I’m one of those people that definitely does. Even if it’s just half an apple, some berries or one brown rice cake with some peanut butter. I’ve found this to be an effective way to not overeat during dinner. I oftentimes have a herbal tea around this time as well.
7-8pm: I wish I could say that I eat dinner earlier than this, but lately it’s unfortunately not been the case. It really does make a difference to your digestion, sleep quality and hunger levels the next morning, so I’m working on having dinner closer to 6pm again. Dinner is when I’m most likely to have a cooked meal, with grounding grains and warming carbs. I’m definitely not afraid to eat carbs in the evening, that's for sure! Some favourites include vegan curry with brown rice, stir fry, a veggie-based soup or a warm soba noodle salad with a small serving of organic salmon. I also do love myself a gluten-free pasta dish with lots of added veggies, herbs and nutritional yeast. In the winter months, I also love to have a warming miso soup on the side. In summers, I opt for a green gazpacho. Yum!
8:30pm: I do have a sweet treat on most days. Oftentimes, this is a couple of pieces of dark chocolate paired with a chamomile tea before bed. I’m also a sucker for ice cream, either from Messina or a vegan supermarket option. Honestly, I never deprive myself when it comes to this and believe that allowing yourself to indulge in a sweet treat like this has a place in living a healthy and content life.
5 things I have every day:
Leafy greens and sautéed or oven-roasted veggies
A combo of healthy carbs, good-quality fats and some form of protein (vegan and non-vegan options)
Fruit, either with breakfast or as mid-morning/afternoon snack
A small healthy sweet dessert of some sort
Liquids I’m loving:
Water, the more the merrier. Add essential oils or chlorophyll for extra pop
Lemon water with apple cider vinegar or aloe vera juice, in the morning
One-a-day decaf soy capp
Herbal tea before bed
Kombucha, every other day or so
I hope this gives you a good indication and potentially some inspiration of what to incorporate in your daily plate. Bon app!
in friendly collaboration with Shelby’s