Supplements And Whole Foods (not vs)

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Whole foods and supplements are always a hot topic.  In my ideal world, I would have a chef preparing me organic whole food meals fresh from garden to table all day everyday and the meals would have everything my body needed to function at its healthiest and most vibrant self, from proteins to carbohydrates, fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

But my reality is far from that.  I live in Canada, in a subdivision with a small yard, and am a busy mom of 2 adolescent kids that keep me busy.  I’ve been in the health care profession for over 20 years as a Registered Nurse and have been an athlete since a very young age.  I’ve seen the benefits of good nutrition when it comes to athletic performance, healthy weight and disease prevention.

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen the consequence of poor nutrition and lifestyle – in the form of obesity & diabetes (young children and adults), cardiac issues, some cancers, behaviour, you name it.  There are a number of diseases that can be linked to lifestyle choices.  You can check out what Health Canada is currently doing for it’s health promotion in this area

So while I would LOVE nothing less that to be able to afford organic whole foods all day everyday, in perfect balance with all the essential vitamins and minerals, and taste amazing, this is not my life.  For a long time (and I mean a long time) – I believed I could figure out the food thing and keep a healthy weight and a manageable home – but I never quite succeeded at this.  And then about 6 years ago I gave into the notion of supplementation.

What I’ve grown to learn & love about Supplements and why they have been a part of our family’s food budget for the past 6 years is this:

Filling the Nutritional Gap

In both my pregnancies I gained 50+ pounds – tipping the scales at 200 lb– and I had babies that were just over 6 lb so I can tell you it certainly wasn’t the baby.  I’ve yo-yo dieted in my high school and university years, where my weight fluctuated a good 20 lb range.  I’d crave sugar, salt, caffeine – all the typical cravings.  Signs of miss-nourishment, dehydration and my body not getting the nutrients it needed. 

When I introduced quality protein shakes (both vegan and/or whey) and specific vitamin/ mineral tonics and cleanses into my routine, things seemed to stabilize.  The tummy fat came off, the energy improved, the sleep was better, the stress level and mood was more stable.  The cravings subsided.  Why?  Because my body was getting the right balance of nutrients and energy to function the way it was designed too. I was filling my nutritional gaps.  It was removing impurities from my body and allowing my organs to detox optimally.   AND, I was keeping my value of natural products/ingredients (there are a lot of products out there with fillers and artificial ingredients in them but I found a line of products that I love and are based in science with 7 peer reviewed publications).

I can proudly say I’m at my healthiest most functional and energetic weight I have ever been my entire life! While I still eat whole foods for a lot of my day; supplementing with a meal replacement shake (sometimes 2) and/or a bar have been a staple in my daily routine.  I simply can not re-create the nutritional value in a good meal replacement shake all day everyday.  Filling nutritional gaps and consistency is key.

Here is  a link to the the nutritional value chart of the Vegan Chocolate Shake I love

Athletic Performance 

Athletes, of all ages, require superior nutrition, not only to perform in the moment, but to be able to recover quickly, and then to be able to do it all again.  They also need to eat a lot of the right foods to maintain healthy weights and muscle strength & endurance.  They need adequate sleep and to be able to manage the effects of stress (both physical and mental) on the body. 

I’ve competed in 3 fitness competitions since the age of 40 (I’m now 44) and continue to train in the gym and play competitive volleyball (total 4-5 times a week).  To be able to protect my adrenals from fatiguing I need to make sure I’m giving my body the right balance of nutrition and rest.  And for me personally, I have found that balance by adding the protein meal replacements to my post workout recovery routine, in addition to BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) – which aid the body in muscle recovery and growth.  I am not a sports nutrition expert – but I have done a lot of reading and attended educational events to learn about just this.  And I can confidently say my body likes it!


Time Saver

I fought the idea of supplementation/ shakes for a LONG TIME because I believed I should be able to meal prep everything, not only for myself but for my family – all day everyday.  But the truth was I couldn’t.  I’d do well the first half the week, then life would happen or I’d run out of protein or veggies, and personally I didn’t like eating 3-4 day old food from Tupperware containers everyday.  I just didn’t.

Shakes in the morning are the easiest and quickest, and most nutritionally balanced meal I could ask for and that fits my family’s lifestyle.  My son (who is a growing 15 year old boy) has one every morning.  I can’t get enough quality protein in his lunch – especially with allergies in schools – so his shake is a full shake plus berries or banana, plus yogurt, and he’ll usually have toast and avocado on the side.  He loves them, his body is long and lean, and he has the physical and mental energy he needs to get through his day until his lunch period.

Throw them in your drawer at work, your car, your gym bag and you’re saving a ton of time.

Money Saver

There is nothing I hate more than wasting food and money.  In my big meal prep days, I’d have veggies or meat rotting in the fridge or smelling disgusting because I didn’t get to it in time to cook or prep.  So while I had great intentions, I’d be throwing out food every garbage day and that made me feel awful for wasting my hard earned money!

And then there’s the high costs and low nutritional value of drive thru meals.  Starbucks lattes, Subway sandwiches, the list goes on….they might taste good in that crave of a moment, but they make your stomach feel like it’s rotting a few hours later and you’re crashed on the couch.  Don’t get me wrong, our family does go to these places – but more as the exception and not the norm.

Yet, I hear it all the time that quality shakes are expensive.  Really?  They really aren’t – not for the value they give you.  At ~4-5 bucks a shake you’d easily spend that at Starbucks or Subway…..easily.  I’d love to show you the value of a shake – protein, carbs, fats, vitamins & minerals all wrapped up in the amazing flavours or chocolate, strawberry or vanilla…dairy or vegan…my options never bore me.

These are just a few of the reasons I’ve added supplements to our whole food shopping.  Interested in learning more about the specific ones I love most?  Email me at


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