Naturally, former science teacher (& former xterra endurance racer turned Olympic weight lifter!) Steph Gaudreau would recommend that you turn yourself into a science experiment as you embark on your journey towards better health. The teacher turned whole food advocate/recipe creator is very clear about the fact that she has no idea what is the best personalized path for you to take to improve your health – but she knows who does.
Sure, she has recipes galore to help you get all those healthy foods into your diet. She has gobs of blog posts on the why behind including certain foods & habits in your life. But, in her blunt-because-she-cares way Steph says, “the only way you’re going to figure out what makes you healthier is to experiment…
…eliminate it (a certain food) for 30 days, reintroduce, if you feel like shit when you reintroduce it, is that food worth eating? I don’t know, that’s for you and only you to decide.”
Steph continued, “Life isn’t black & white.” She’s right – if it were, we’d have one answer for everybody and it would work every single time. But that’s not the case. Some basic tenets are *probably* true for pretty much everyone. For instance, you can’t thrive if your calories come only from air & spite (both of those are calorie free, in case you were wondering). Or, you will be impaired if you forgo sleep for too long.
But other things, like which foods make you feel your absolute best, how much sleep you personally need to make all of the gains, or how many calories you need to thrive – those are up to you to figure out.
“Do this by becoming a better investigator. Learn how to suss out good information and how to spot BS in something you see or read. Be willing to discover what can be better.”
That ‘normal’ not-quite-right digestion, those ‘normal’ aches, that ‘normal’ flaky-ness of your skin?…those might actually not be ‘normal’ for you. Just because something has been around for a long time, doesn’t mean it’s actually a part of your true ‘normal’. The only way to know is to experiment with variations in your diet, lifestyle, habits, & workouts.
What Steph has figured out that works for her is plenty of well-sourced protein, ample amounts of healthy fats, and carbs from starchy sources when she’s training hard, as well as non-starchy carb sources as a complement to all meals. And she shares recipes that showcase that on her site, Stupid Easy Paleo, in her e-book, Paleo Athlete, and in her upcoming cookbook, The Performance Paleo Cookbook.
Steph features whole foods, nutrient density, and deliciousness.
If you think ‘healthy eating’ is chicken breasts & broccoli, stop reading this article now & go straight to StupidEasyPaleo.com and get acquainted with how insanely delish ‘healthy’ can be.
Crock pot mocha rubbed pot roast, anyone?
When it comes to eating & hitting your fitness goals, it seems like a good place to get to would be the intersection of ‘delicious foods’ & ‘foods that align with my goals’. Steph definitely leans towards the savory side of delicious, but she’s not opposed to sweet things. Try her chia seed pudding with berries – it delicious, it’s sweet, and it’s not likely to send you off the rails like some paleo-ified desserts can (if you’re anything like me, having cupcakes of any kind, paleo or otherwise, is a recipe for disaster for my fitness goals….but whole-food based desserts? my fitness goals and those seem to do a-ok…again, experiment on YOURSELF.)
What does Steph think of paleo cupcakes anyways?
“You know how reality tv is a form of escapism? Its a distraction, you can just shut your mind off when you watch it. Paleo cupcakes are like that. They’re sensational distractions from whole foods.
One thing Steph is a huge proponent of is getting “the most nutrition for your calorie buck.”
Want to get stronger? “Then you want meat. Protein is king for gaining strength.”
“Animal meat, organ meat, eggs, are all great choices because they bring with them so many other nutritional superpowers like B vitamins, CLA , choline, folate and cholesterol. You want those if you plan on thriving.” Sure, protein powder is fine if you’re in a pinch, but going back to Steph’s “calorie buck” concept, animal meat comes with so many added bonuses that many protein powders can’t touch.
Want to recover better? “Then you want to minimize your intake of high-inflammatory foods. Low quality meats (factory farmed), nuts that aren’t soaked & sprouted, processed foods, these are just a few examples of foods that can increase inflammation in your body.”
“Good tissue quality & joint health is supported by consuming lots of leafy greens for their micro nutrition, cold water fish and/or fish oil to support a better fatty acid profile. Vitamin D is also an important element for tissue health as well as immunity.” And since we convert vitamin D from the sun’s rays, and many of us are silly enough to live somewhere that doesn’t see the sun for at least half the year, supplementing with it could be very beneficial.
Can you hear the drum beat for ‘whole food nutrition’ getting louder? Ok ok, so we need to cook more. But we’re also all really busy. I asked Steph what was the one kitchen technique a person absolutely MUST learn if they are going to be successful in the kitchen. I had a few guesses as to what her answer would be, but she totally snuck past me with her answer, it’s brilliant!
“Batch prepping. It’s the most important cooking technique you can learn.”
Here are Steph’s tips for becoming a batch-prepping expert:
- Prepare a larger amount of food than you’re going to eat for that meal. You might be thinking ‘ugh, leftovers’ but nope!, take them & twist them up by making meals that the leftovers of which would be versatile in translating into eggs at breakfast tomorrow, cold leftovers for lunch, as part of a hash that you can whip up the following night for dinner.
- If chopping veggies for this meal, chop extra for the next days’ meals. You gotta chop them either way, so why not think of today’s cook up as a prep day then you can live off that prep day for a few days. Chopped veggies will store in the fridge for a few days.
- Have 1 day a week that you can do a big cook up…crock pot something, hard boil eggs, grill a few pounds of meat, roast a few trays of veggies. Store what you’ll eat in the next few days in the fridge. Freeze anything that is freezer-friendly. Live off the fruits of your labor for at least half a week, and longer if you take that cook up day seriously.
- Big cook ups might seem hard, strange and very UGH initially, but it will become 2nd nature in no time, but you’ve got to go through the uncomfortable part of the new habit formation to make it get into that easy “just a part of life” habit. So make it fun. Involve friends or family. Put on a podcast while you do the cook up. Make the new habit easier to assimilate into normal life.
Tip #4 was a big a-ha for me. I say that exact same advice to clients when they are implementing new habits, I’d just never thought about it for myself in terms of being a better cook.
I know when I work with my clients in the gym, it’s super common to hear ‘chicken & veggies’ when I ask them what they’re making for dinner. I get it. They want to eat healthy foods. They’re trying to do right by their body & their workouts. But who has time to work their job, do their workout, see their family, etc. AND come up with a bunch of healthy delicious recipes? I know I don’t. Stupid Easy Paleo is a solution to that problem.
If you want to fuel your training and make your taste buds happy, I’d highly recommend you pre-order Steph’s forthcoming cookbook, The Performance Paleo Cookbook. And if you want to get started on healthy performance-enhancing recipes straight away, then pick up Steph’s e-book here.