How Meal Prep Changed My Health
Once upon a time, I worked as a natural foods personal chef in a big city. After studying Nutrition and Exercise Science at the University of Rhode Island, I followed my Canadian then-boyfriend north, where we started our lives in Toronto. I attended culinary school and he started his first real post-collegiate job, and we were enamored by all the city had to offer- the sights, the events, and, of course- the food. So much food! We spent Saturdays at the St. Lawrence Market, fresh produce brimming from the Famers Market bins, fresh butchered meat hanging from the ceiling, and every type of fish, cheese, bread, nut or spice you could ask for. We explored all parts of the city to discover new foods we had never experienced- Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian and authentic Italian brick oven pizza. We brunched on Sundays and got takeout on Fridays. It was a foodie's dream.
In culinary school, I learned classical French cuisine- with all the butter, organ meats and pastries you imagine in European cooking. I took some of it home for my husband's lunches, but I tried to maintain balance in cooking nourishing meals at home and saving the treats for outside the home. We soon got married and I completed my degree, first working as a kitchen manager at a local nutrition school, receiving a certification in holistic nutrition in the process, and then moving into starting my own personal chef business. With my background in nutrition, I focused mostly on cooking for clients with special diets- chronic health conditions, celiac disease, food allergies, working my culinary skills to provide them with nourishing, but delicious meals to bring their bodies to a better state of health.
All the while, working long hours- and commuting upwards of 2 hours to clients' homes each day, and back- my own health was suffering. I wasn't allowing myself time to wind down, exercise or take care of myself, and despite knowing what I knew about nutrition and health, I allowed my own health to take the back seat in favor of my clients'. I was battling debilitating digestive issues that had started in culinary school, as well as an ongoing hormonal imbalance that meant my health should have been my first priority. We ate nourishing foods when I cooked-- but most of the time, I allowed my exhaustion to take over and we relied far too much on convenience foods. Take out, 2, 3, even 4 times a week; grabbing quick dinners from Whole Foods (because hey, it's Whole Foods right?!). I gained weight and struggled to lose it living the lifestyle I was living. When I became pregnant with my daughter, I was run down and 20 pounds overweight.
You know where this is going, right? Despite desiring a healthy, natural pregnancy and birth, my pregnancy was rife with complications. They seemed to come one after another, and as much as as I attempted to correct years of bad habits I had developed, much of the damage was done. A complicated pregnancy turned into a complicated labor, and by the grace of God, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl in November of 2013.
I looked at her sweet face and vowed that things would change.
The first few months were rough, adjusting to life as new parents. We relied on convenience foods still, and I realized quickly that life as a mom meant I just wasn't going to have the time I had before. So what could I do to make my own convenience- to make healthy living work for me, with little effort? I thought back to my time as a personal chef. We surely weren't in the financial position to hire one of our own- but I could ask my husband to watch the baby for a couple hours on a Sunday while I got meals ready for the week. I started cooking big batches of soup and stews and packaging them in mason jars in the fridge. I would make homemade granola instead of store bought, toss together salads with homemade dressing and pre-cook chicken for lunches. It didn't take much time at all- but our fridge started to become full of healthy, nourishing foods, for myself and my family.
For the first time in four years, I had no signs of digestive troubles. The baby weight started to come off.
And I felt more relaxed about food than I had in years.
It was like magic- meal prep magic. And that's where my first ever cooking class was born.
And now, four years later I am excited to share that starting on May 22, Healthy Mama Meal Prep will be available, around the world.
In this self-paced online course, I show you the basics and beyond of how to meal plan and meal prep your way to a healthier life- no matter what your lifestyle. With four different meal prep styles to choose from, 5 video modules with over 20 video lessons as well as 14 bonus cooking demos, 50 pages of resources including a sample 7-day meal plan, shopping list and meal prep plan and over 50 recipes to get you started on your meal prep journey, this course is guaranteed to change the way you and your family look at food. There is no quick fix to healthy living- but you can create your own convenience.