Diet & Nutrition

Nadia Lim talks calorie counting, carbs and her new book Fresh Start, Feel Good

This is the advice we needed to hear heading into the indulgent festive season.

By Nicky Dewe

She's got a brand new book out and a brand new baby, so it seemed like a good time to catch up with busy mum/cook Nadia Lim.

She tells us about what she's eating right now, the thinking behind Fresh Start, Feel Good!, and how to cope with the silly season.

On cooking with a baby in the house

Right now the types of meals we're having need to be convenient!

I don't have a lot of time to prep stuff obviously so I'm loving one-handed meals. Grainy toast with nutritious toppings like avocado, tomatoes, smoked salmon and lots of greens from the garden. It's a good one for breastfeeding mums. There's a whole section of the book about avocado on toast ideas.

Eating well is a priority for new mums because you want to avoid the snowball effect where you don't eat well, so you don't have energy, then you're more tired, less able to cope and even less likely to eat well.

Make it easy on yourself. One great option is to ask your partner or a friend who pops over to chop up some veges and roast them.

They keep in the fridge for four or five days. You can use them as a basis for a salad, tossed with some green leaves, or some leftover meat from the night before or some smoked fish.

The key is to have some nutritious bases that you can build on.

On calorie counting

The book is a collaboration between Fresh Start from My Food Bag and myself, and all the meals in it are under 450 calories.

It's designed for people who want to lose a bit of weight or maintain it and want to eat healthily with lots of veges included.

I don't necessarily endorse calorie counting, but if you're eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks from the book, then you know that you're going to be in that 1200-1500 calorie range. That's going to help with weight loss and it means you don't have to count it yourself.

The main principle behind Fresh Start is learning to count your nutrients and that's where your focus should be. By doing that and shifting your attention to nutritional value rather than the numbers that are on the scales, the weight loss will happen as a natural by-product.

On white carbs

I think we could all benefit from cutting back on white carbs, whether you're trying to lose weight or not.

I don't think you have to cut them out completely – we made fresh pasta in the weekend and it was delicious!

But looking at it from a nutrition perspective, those highly processed carbs are pretty devoid of nutritional benefits. Potatoes have had a really bad rap and it's true that some potatoes are high GI, but there are lots of different varieties – like purple Māori potatoes, which are great for you and full of fibre.

On the festive season

Don't deny yourself! You've still got to enjoy it.

You don't want to ostracise yourself from social occasions or you'll feel bad and then you won't be able to stick to the healthy eating plan. It's an opportunity to learn how to incorporate these social situations into your life because you're in this for the long term.

This is a new way of eating for the rest of your life, so it's just a matter of portion sizes.

If you do have a piece of cake or pavlova then don't just wolf it down, really enjoy it and know that you can balance it out with what you have later.

A little bit of what you fancy isn't going to do you any harm.

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