eating well

The science is in — eating well just became a WHOLE lot easier

I’ve gotta admit that I love it when my opinions are backed up by brilliant women and men wearing white lab coats.


It happened again last week when a new study published in JAMA confirmed that calorie-restriction ISN’T the best way to reach and maintain a healthy weight, and what really matters is food quality, not food quantity.


​For years I’ve been saying that WHAT you eat matters more than HOW MUCH you eat. And, when it comes to eating for self-love, we need to prioritize the foods that best nourish our bodies.

Eating well is how I overcame a decade of anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating; providing my body with the nutrients it needed allowed me to regenerate physically, mentally, and emotionally.


Obsessing about portion sizes, eliminating macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbs), or avoiding healthy foods because they’re calorically dense takes up WAY too much mental real estate. Think about all the time and brainpower you can suddenly regain by letting go of such restrictive thinking.


The study, which was carried out on 600 people, found that participants lost a significant amount of weight by replacing added sugar, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods with vegetables, complex grains, and whole foods. Not rocket science, right?

​But here’s the clincher: unlike other studies that set extremely restrictive limitations on specific food groups, participants of this study lost weight regardless of the calories or portion sizes eaten.


It’s not that calories don’t matter, but food quality matters more. Plus, it becomes a lot easier to eat an appropriate number of calories for your weight, age, and physical activity level when you eat real food. (Are you more likely to overeat a farro, roasted vegetable, and feta cheese salad, or a packet of Doritos or bowl of mac & cheese?)

The bottom line is this

Eating well is very easy to do and doesn’t require you to follow every trend that the diet industry throws your way. Focusing on food quality is the cheapest, easiest and most enjoyable way to lose weight and gain better health.


This week I encourage you to let go of food-phobia. Then ask yourself, how you can make the meals you’re already eating a little more nutritious?


Let me know how it goes!



With love,



In my program, Slim Down With Self Love Bootcamp, I teach women exactly how to do this, so that they can let go of food fear, and eat in a way that makes them feel well, look well, and live well. Registration for the program has closed, but you can join the waitlist for our October release HERE.



pistachio pesto

This is how I eat more vegetables…

There’s a social media trend that gets my goat.


It’s when “fit girls” brag about eating crap while showing off their size-two waists.


Example A: Fit-girl takes a crop-top selfie, and writes,“needed to crush it in the gym today after last night’s pizza binge!”

Example B: Fit-girl tags photo of fit-friend, and writes, “What a babe! Can you believe she LOVES donuts?”


I know these types of girls, and the reality is this: they exercise like the dickens and follow STRICT diets. They are not sitting on their bums, binge-watching Grace & Frankie, and sucking on bonbons.


For them, eating donuts is the exception and not the rule, so why highlight it?

Do they think it makes them relatable?




It reminds me of rom-com scripts that have a woman pretend to be a beer-swilling, football-loving hottie, to get the guy. It’s a clichéd, anti-feminist storyline that is SO 1990s.


These days, it’s cool to both be yourself, and take your health seriously (without being a wanker about the way you eat).


You can definitely have some junk from time-to-time…IF the bulk of your food is good for you.


My husband and I balance our Friday night takeout and Sunday croissants with the Brontosaurian amount of veggies that we eat during the week. It’s called the 80/20 rule, and it’s just the way healthy living works.


This is a principle that a lot of people gloss over:


“Too simple.”

“Too boring.”

“Not sexy.”


But it’s also the principle that will keep you healthy, sane, and able to enjoy life.


So, on Sunday, while the cool kids were drinking mimosas and posting about it on Instagram, I was in the kitchen, blending up the recipes below. These three hidden-veggie hacks are a simple way to get more goodness onto your plate (and make the 80% part of the equation as tasty as the 20%).


Perhaps you’d like to give them a go?


Chickpea Carrot Hummus

Blending chickpeas with steamed carrots, ginger, and turmeric adds more nutrition and flavor.

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, chopped, and par-cooked in microwave
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • a decent grind of black pepper and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • splash of water to thin, if needed

Add everything to a high-speed blender or food processor and whiz to combine. Refrigerate for up to five days (or freeze some and defrost in the fridge overnight).

Eat with veggie crudités, seed crackers, or spread on your lunch sandwich.

Beet-Berry Smoothie (serves 1)

This antioxidant-rich smoothie provides a serve each of fat, protein, and veggies at breakfast. I make three at a time and freeze them in glass jars. To defrost: place in the fridge overnight.

  • 1 small beet, peeled, quartered, and steamed in the microwave (about 1.5 minutes)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder OR 1 tablespoon cacao powder (optional)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Add everything to a blender and process until smooth. This smoothie should be thick enough to eat with a spoon; if it’s too thick, add a little water. Feel free to top with fresh berries and nuts, if you like.

Loaded Vegan Pistachio Pesto

This recipe is lighter and more nutrient dense than store-bought pestos, as I’ve reduced the oil, omitted the cheese, and used a bouquet of different herbs. Pistachios provide potassium and magnesium, and they tend to be cheaper than the pine nuts used in traditional pesto recipes.

  • 1 bunch each parsley, basil, cilantro (fresh coriander)
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed with the back of a knife
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a decent grind of black pepper and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt

Add everything to a food processor and whiz until smooth. Add a little more lemon juice or a tiny dash of water if needed.

Transfer half the pesto to a glass jar and drizzle olive oil over the top. Store in the fridge for 4-5 days, and use as a dip, a spread, or to toss through veg and pasta at dinner. Freeze remaining pesto in ice-cube trays to use in soups, pasta, meat dishes, etc.


Remember, healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be boring. It should be simple, sustainable, doable, and desirable, and that’s precisely what I’ll teach you in my new 7-week online program, Slim Down With Self Love Bootcamp. Click here to find out more.

With love,


How To Plan 90 Days Of Dinners In 60 Minutes

I enjoy writing to you in the early hours of the morning. This quiet time is best for thinking about what is working in my life that could also help you feel a little healthier, happier and more content in yours.

Today, my mind wanders back to last Friday in Napa, where I was speaking with my sister-in-law about meal planning. If you remember, I used to be an avid meal planner, before the whole thing became a little time-consuming. Since then I have focused on one meal at a time, rather than a weekly menu. Flying by the seat of our dinner pants did suit our schedule for a surprisingly long time. But recent life changes — namely my pregnancy penchant for eating at 6 pm — have required us to go back to the tried-and-true meal plan concept.

Which is why my little tete-a-tete in Napa was such an eye-opening conversation. My sister-in-law, a spreadsheet whiz, decided to make a monthly meal plan to use on repeat. She created four weekly menus, with many nights following a similar theme, and has been repeating it each month.

Aside from the time she saves thinking about food, the benefits of this routine include:

  • Having a ready-made grocery list
  • Knowing how much food will cost each week
  • And not defaulting to cooking the same meal night-after-night.

I imagine that Steve Jobs would have like this method of menu organization. The billionaire computer genius may have been famous for creating Apple, but he also makes a fascinating case study of daily habits. Jobs’ uniform of blue jeans and black turtleneck wasn’t a fashion statement, but rather a statement of intelligence: limiting the number of (useless) decisions one needs to make every day leaves more brain power for thinking, conversing and deciding on things that honestly matter. The choice to wear a turtleneck or a button-down pales in comparison to figuring out how to create the most revolutionary tech company in history.

Decision fatigue is a real thing, and when it comes to healthy eating, it can be your downfall. Figuring out what to eat every meal of every day is exhausting, but not pre-planning is a recipe for living on takeout, packaged food or grilled cheese sandwiches. 

My sister-in-law’s strategy is excellent for anyone who wants diversity on their dinner plate without reinventing the wheel every single night. On the hour-long flight back from Sacramento to LAX, I actioned her suggestion and came up with 28 dinner recipes to repeat for the next three months.

(I used this same technique to pre-plan my prenatal workouts and can see myself getting addicted to Excel organization charts…Sorry, Nate!)

Interested in making your own batched meal plan? I hope so! Here’s a video that shows you exactly how to do it:



Until next week, stay healthy, happy and content.


With love,

Gluten Free Spinach Feta Muffins

I don’t tend to share many recipes on this blog. The reason being that when it comes to helping women improve their health, I believe that we need to start with how we think and feel, before we can confidently change how we act.

Also, as much as I love food — and I really love food — my weekly meals are very simple and not particularly blog-worthy. There are only so many times that I can share a photo of grilled salmon,  chicken curry, veggie stir-fry, overnight oats or broiled lamb chops until we all get a little sick of it!

Even if I kept a more food-focused blog (as I did hilariously, and with terrible photography, at Blushing Strawberries in 2010/2011), that alone won’t make YOU a healthier eater.

Because here’s the thing: it’s not your access to healthy recipes that’s the problem, it’s your unwillingness to cook them. 

In previous posts I’ve touched on:

>>> The 3 Biggest Myths That Are Keeping You Out Of The Kitchen

>>> And why you need to reduce your consumption of sugary processed foods.

Today I want to tell you how proper nutrition was essential in my recovery from binge-eating.


Full disclosure: I am not a psychologist or dietitian, nor do I have any training in the field of eating disorders. What I do have, however, is my own experience, and my understanding that it was a combination of self love practices and proper nutrition that helped me create a healthy relationship with food.


If you’ve ever binged, or regularly tend to over-eat, you’ll know how physically and emotionally exhausting that process is. My personal experience was that I would restrict calories throughout the day and then binge at night. By the time I went to bed my stomach was so tight that you could have popped it with a pin. After every episode I would cry myself to sleep, and the next morning I would wake with equal parts indigestion and massive guilt. The cycle continued.

To overcome binge eating I tried to place (further) restrictions on myself:

  • Certain foods wouldn’t be allowed in the house
  • I’d eat with smaller bowls
  • Breakfast became my biggest meal and I would attempt to eat a peasant’s dinner (this was awful…dinner is my favorite!)
  • I would avoid eating snacks at parties, only to go home ravenous and polish off three bowls of cereal
  • I asked my husband to “not let me go back for seconds”
  • Every morning I would blame and berate myself…unsurprisingly, not a terribly effective strategy.

I’ve since learnt is that wasn’t the fault of the food, the crockery, the willpower, etc. The simple truth was that I was starving, and you might be too.


If you’re not eating your fill of nutritious foods throughout the day (yes, fats and carbohydrates are included), then your body will always be crying out for more. The problem is that when you’re running on empty, when its dark outside, and you’re wearing your sweatpants… that more tends to be easy-to-access, processed crap, and a lot of it.

Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be your future reality. If you want to find food freedom in your own life, then you have to stop being afraid of eating.

When you eat well — when you eat enough of the good stuff, and mindfully enjoy some of the treat stuff — it becomes easy to enjoy your food and your good health, without willpower, deprivation, or the obsessive need to check your weight at the end of any big meal.

So your goal for this week is to take a keen look at your plate and ask if depriving yourself of proper food is actually your biggest health and nutrition downfall.

And to help make things a little easier, I thought I would post a recipe today! These are my spinach and feta muffins, and they’re wonderful to grab as breakfast-on-the-go, a healthy snack, or as a side to a luscious lunch salad.



Gluten Free Spinach Feta Muffins

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups spelt flour or all purpose gluten free flour 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large handful baby spinach leaves, torn

Wet Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup full-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree*
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 100grams) crumbled feta


1. Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin liners.

2. Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring with a fork to break up any clumps. In a separate bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients EXCEPT for the feta.

3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into the dry. Use a large spoon to fold together until combined.

4. Spoon batter evenly into the muffin liners and crumble feta over the tops of each muffin.

5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then remove and continue cooling on a wire rack.

*Purchase pumpkin puree cans in the supermarket. Check the ingredient label, they should read pumpkin only. This is different from pumpkin pie filling which has sugar and spices added. To make your own puree: peel and chop a medium butternut squash or 2 pounds of sweet potatoes. Place in a pot of boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Drain and then puree in a blender. Measure out about 14oz or 400g for the recipe. Freeze the rest to use next time.


With love,

make meal prep easier jennifer dene wellness

How To Make Meal Prep Easier (Your “Dear Abby” Wellness Qs Answered)

Here’s a potentially embarrassing confession: I’d get a real kick out of writing for the Dear Abby column. I love sharing helpful advice and thoughtful opinions from the comfort of my own living room…just ask my husband!

However, considering that it’s been almost seven years since graduating with my journalism degree, and Jeanne Phillips — the current owner of the “Abby” pen name — hasn’t yet reached out to me on LinkedIn, I feel that the time has come to take matters into my own hands.

So we’ll be trying a little experiment for the next month or so…

Every Wednesday I’ll dedicate a post to one simple solution or strategy that will make it easier for you to squeeze more healthy habits into your every day life.

I’ll get the ball rolling, but I’d love for you to join in the discussion (see details at the end of this post).

My mission is to help women get back in the driver’s seat of their own health and happiness, by making healthy living simple AND enjoyable. This series should help.

Now on to today’s question…

What is one thing that I can do this weekend to make meal prep easier (if I only have one hour to spare)?

Even an hour spent in the kitchen on the weekend will ultimately save you time and money  — and make it easier to stick with your healthy eating habits. It’s a great way to get a head start on your weekday meals.

If there was only ONE thing that I could get done each weekend, it would be to cook and freeze my grains and starches. Preparing foods like rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes during the week is time-consuming, and it doesn’t make sense to do it on a meal-by-meal basis.

Instead, one Sunday a month my husband and I bulk cook these staples, and freeze them in portion sized freezer bags or tupperware containers. Come a random Tuesday evening I’m thrilled to thaw a bag of rice, bake a piece of fish, and cook some veggies with a dollop of butter. While dinner would have taken an hour if we were waiting on the grain, it comes together in 15 minutes (and there’s less washing up).

What can you cook and freeze?

Lots of things actually! We’ve had great success with the following, but I encourage you to experiment (note: these are listed in order of how long they take to cook): 

  • Beans (black, white, kidney, chickpeas…)
  • Lentils
  • Rice (basmati, white, brown and black)
  • Sweet potatoes (cubed and roasted)
  • Mashed potato or sweet potato
  • Butternut squash (cubed and roasted)
  • Quinoa
  • Pasta


TO COOK: Double or triple your regular quantity. Cook as normal. Allow to cool. Freeze in portions that are suitable for you and your family.

TO USE: Defrost in the fridge overnight, or use the microwave; heat in the oven, or use the microwave.

TIP: Start with the ingredient that takes the longest to cook — such as roasting sweet potatoes or boiling rice — and then move on to a quick-cook, like quinoa or pasta. That way everything should be done around the same time…roughly 45 minutes later.

Now I’d Love To Hear From You (Dear Abby…)

What are you struggling with in your health, fitness or self care / self love routine at the moment? What healthy habits do you see other people doing and you wonder — how do they do that? Nothing is too silly or too small!

Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll answer those Qs over the next couple of weeks.

Don’t like the idea of commenting publicly? Email with the subject line: Q&A Post


Thank you for your energy, and making this community one that is positive, kind and purpose-driven.


With love,


5 Tips For Creating Your Own Perfect Diet

So you’ve decided to make healthy eating a priority this year. You want to have more energy, maintain your ideal weight, and feel comfortable and confident in your beautiful body. Trouble is, you have no idea where to start, which begs the question: what’s the best diet for you?

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. For many years I struggled with food and my body. I believed that I couldn’t find the perfect diet, or if I had I must have been doing it wrong. (In the words of my inner critic I lacked motivation,  I wasn’t good enough,  I would start again tomorrow)

Truth is, I hadn’t actually found an ideal diet for my body, so it made sense that I was having a pretty rough trot with the whole eating thing. But once I figured it out, everything fell into place and questions of motivation were wiped off the table. Because you don’t need to be motivated to eat foods that make you feel great.

Today I’m sharing five actionable steps that will help you also discover your best personal diet. Read on my foodie friend.

Diet Versus Dieting

Before we dive in to the meat and potatoes — i.e. figuring out what you need to eat in order to feel healthy, happy and filled with delicious delight — I need to clarify the distinction between YOUR diet and dietING.

The friendly nerds who contribute to Wikipedia (my darling husband included) tell us that: diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism (1). They go on to talk about dietary choices, the ingestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients for energy, health and longevity. Basically your diet is just another way of saying the foods that you eat.

What makes this word tricky, and almost taboo, is when it ends with “ing”, or sits in a sentence with words such as follow, start, stick to, new, strict, struggle, celebrity and fad.

Going on a diet, or the act of dieting, is synonymous with restriction and deprivation. These are also words that make me think of a short-term commitment, something that you’ll (miserably) try for a while before going back to your regular diet, aka what you normally eat.

It’s a tricky distinction to make, but it’s really important that you do so. You should be able to talk about YOUR diet without people thinking that you’re going on A diet.

I’ve even had comments from women visiting who have blasted me for being another so-and-so who is condoning unhealthy body image for women. Hmmmm…guess they didn’t see this post about flaunting your dimples or this one where I helped you get back in touch with being beautiful you.

Honestly I don’t want to always say “the foods that you eat” or “your nutrition choices” just to be politically correct. A healthy diet means that you eat foods that have a high nutritional value and do wonders for your longterm health. It’s a word that has outlived any single dieting trend, and it’s what we’re talking about today.


Should You Stick To One Type Of Diet?

We’ve established the difference between diet and dieting, which is my cue to step off the soapbox!

Now you may be asking but what about things like the Paleo diet or being a vegan? Are they diets or dieting?

Unfortunately it’s in our culture to label everything we do, which leads to many people using these diets to self-identify — I am Paleo or I am vegan. But restricting yourself to the boundaries of a certain label makes it difficult to honor your body’s needs. 

For example, a woman who is trying to get pregnant requires a certain amount of carbohydrates to ensure healthy hormone levels for fertility (2). This becomes a problem if she’s following a strict Paleo or Keto diet that focus on very low carbohydrate intake.

Or what happens when a man who thrived on a vegan diet for years starts experiencing depression, joint pains or fatigue? Will he be open to eating animal foods that will quickly boost his B12 and iron levels, or will he feel unable to make that choice because he has told the world he doesn’t eat meat? (3), (4)

The point is that we shouldn’t have to limit ourselves to stay within the boundaries of a certain label, and we should never, ever be held hostage to the food that we eat. That’s why I see these diets as guidelines…more like a cuisine than a strict set of rules. 

I see enormous benefit in the principles of enjoying a vegan, paleo or mediterranean diet. But what works best for me is not following any of them to the letter, and rather taking a mix-and-match approach that suits my body’s unique needs.

With that in mind, here’s the mindset I want you to have as you start to incorporate the following tips into your lifestyle:

  1. Food is just food, it’s not your enemy and it’s not your gate-keeper
  2. Short of having allergies or chronic diseases that require you to eat a certain way, you do not need to eliminate entire categories of food to be healthy
  3. I give you all the freedom in the world to combine the best bits of each diet to suit your unique needs — like mashing together potatoes, peas and gravy at Sunday lunch!



How to create the best diet for you

Below you’ll find my five top tips for discovering your best diet yet.

Keep it simple and enjoyable

Overcomplicating anything leads to confusion. A statement that is especially true when it comes to improving personal habits.

Planing 7 days of meals in advance may seem smart, but it’s actually very overwhelming…meal prep is absolutely a skill.

And while I used to do the big Sunday cook-up, I no longer do. These days I prefer to spend a little more time in the kitchen each day, to prepare the right meal for my body on that day. This shift has helped me reconnect with my physical needs and conquer old habits of overeating and emotional eating.

So instead of playing Martha Stewart during the working week, you can simply plan to have a few staples on hand — such as cooked quinoa or rice, roasted sweet potatoes, hardboiled eggs and plenty of washed green veggies. These form the base of an easy meal that you can top with other yummy things. 

Get educated (but take other people’s advice with a grain of salt)

Here’s the deal — you can’t succeed at something that you don’t understand. Learning why it’s a really good idea to kick your sugar habit, or that drinking diet-soda is linked to dementia and stroke (5) will make it a heck of a lot easier for you to stick with your new way of eating.

Saying that, it’s also not a good idea to blindly trust every piece of diet advice that you hear. Glossy mags tend to publish the Cliff’s Notes version of any given dietary theory. While this may spark your interest, you really need to understand the why behind the what. I recommend working with a professional who can explain what is the best diet for you, why that’s the case, and how you can follow it.

Keep A Food-Mood Journal

In terms of intelligence, sometimes your body is smarter than your brain. A food diary traditionally tracks calories and quantities. A food-mood journal explores how different types of food make your body feel. I prefer the latter.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Start a new word doc (or grab a notebook), and create four columns
  • Column A: record each meal that you eat, listing as many ingredients as possible
  • Column B: make a note about how you felt physically immediately after eating
  • Column C: note how you feel 2 hours after eating; this is useful to highlight digestive reactions, note fatigue or energy, return of hunger, etc
  • Column D: this is a spot for any notes, thoughts or comments that you might have

Your food-mood journal can help you pinpoint the meals and ingredients that make your body thrive.

Be Consistent & Avoid Squirrel Syndrome

Once you’ve found a way of eating that works for you, you’ll need to stick with it. And yes, that includes ignoring the latest trend in Women’s Health or on Dr. Oz.

Again, feel free to gather information, but don’t jump ship on something that’s working well for you. Put your healthy blinkers on and commit to eating your ideal diet for 3 months before making any big changes.

Your Needs Will Change, So Be Adaptable

Avoid squirrel syndrome but also keep in mind that your dietary needs will change over time. Variable factors include: your age, lifestyle and immediate health needs; the climate in which you live; your menstrual cycle (are you pregnant, peri-menopausal, going through menopause or postmenopausal); holiday season and festive eating; and even life events that cause stress, physically, mentally or emotionally.

Creating YOUR own perfect diet is what serves your beautiful body at every stage of life.

You Don’t Need To Do It Alone

Would you like help in discovering your perfect diet? Are you committed to dropping the weight of deprivation, and slipping back into your ideal body and life? Why not find out more about working with me in my Fit, Feminine & Fabulous coaching program. Click here to learn more.

With love,

home cooking Jennifer Dene Wellness

Empowered women wear aprons: the necessary return of home cooking

Today we’re talking about home cooking and why you need to get on board, for your body, your wallet and the environment . If you commit to only one thing for your health this week, let it be this.

I am so very grateful to my mum for not only setting an incredible example of what it means to be a home cook, but for teaching me how easy and enjoyable it is to put food on the table. I’m also grateful to my Nan, who taught us that we should never serve more than we can eat, and always reuse your leftovers and wash your ziplock bags!

In fact, most of my favorite childhood memories are linked to the family kitchen. Dad’s famous spaghetti bolognese, Nan’s boiled potatoes with dollops of butter, Mum’s spinach and ricotta stuffed pastry, Mandy’s pavlova, Chella’s gratin…So many happy moments have been shared digging into a home cooked meal with people I love.

If it wasn’t for my upbringing I would probably find this whole healthy eating thing to be quite challenging; from an outsiders perspective it can seem rather daunting to know what to eat and how to prepare it. (This is especially true living in Los Angeles where fad-diets reign supreme and the number of ‘superfoods’ in your pantry acts as a status symbol.)

There has never been an easier time to find recipes, watch cooking shows, or learn how to prepare ingredients on YouTube, yet we’re living in an age where people are cooking less than ever before. Part of this may be due to time (we’ll get to that) or not knowing how to cook (we’ll get to that too). However, I can also see that simple home cooking has been elevated to something gourmet, putting pressure on busy women to not only get food on the table, but to make it look like a Martha Stewart centerpiece.

Home cooking shouldn’t be seen as something elitist, expensive or complicated; it should be simple, enjoyable and affordable.

Healthy home cooking also doesn’t mean eating an undressed salad, or a meagre piece of fish with steamed asparagus. Making food from scratch let’s you be in control of the quality and quantity of ingredients that you’re using. This let’s you cut back on sodium, choose the best quality fats and meats, and bulk out the meal with lots of vegetables. It’s more economical, much better for you, and puts things like pizza back on the menu!

A 2015 study from Johns Hopkins University found that people who cook at home (without consciously trying to eat healthier or choose low calorie foods), eat at least 140 fewer calories per day. While that may seem small fry on a single day basis, at the end of the week that’s 980 calories, at the end of the month it’s 3920 calories, and at the end of the year you’d be saving over 47,000 calories — that’s all without ever looking at a calorie-counting app.

(And yes, I did have to use my calculator during the writing of that paragraph. If we want to talk about other traditional habits that are going down the gurgler, my math would be one of them.)

Apart from your waistline, home cooking also saves time, money and food waste. This last point is absolutely huge! Did you know that the biggest source of CO2 emissions on the planet is food waste? And that’s not by the big industry players, but by the everyday person throwing away groceries that they don’t use, or leftover food that they don’t eat. This is really troubling and should make us all feel more responsible for how we treat our food.

So let’s talk about why you’re not cooking more often at home, and I challenge you to give it a go every day for this week.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 1: I Don’t Have Time

I don’t know about that. While I don’t have a scientific study to link to, I know how long it takes Nate and I to order food versus cook a meal at home. The latter wins for speed, hands down.

Going through the rigmarole of deciding where to go and what to eat, then ordering, picking it up or waiting for a delivery, unpacking things at home (discarding the packaging waste), reheating if needed…it’s a long process only to realize that it wasn’t even what we felt like.

On the other hand, the following meal takes about 15 minutes and will leave leftovers for lunch if I cook double:

Fill a big saucepan with cold water and some scrubbed, chopped potatoes. Boil the spuds until they’re soft enough to stick a knife into. Just before they finish cooking throw in a good handful of chopped broccoli and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain the lot, put it back in the saucepan (no heat) and add a good bit of butter, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, grill a piece of salmon or some lamb chops under the broiler, for 8 minutes or until done to your liking. Pop it all on a plate and enjoy.

But perhaps you really do believe that you don’t have time. In that case, I recommend downloading your free copy of my video series Take Back Your Time: Practical Lessons In Creating Time Freedom For A Healthy, Happy Life.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 2: It’s Too Expensive

This is one I hear all the time, but it’s just not true. Yes, making those ridiculous smoothie bowls that you see on Instagram would be expensive, but you also wouldn’t make them. It costs Nate and I about $20 to cook a big chicken curry with rice and greens (and yummy leftovers), but when we get Indian takeout we never walk away with change from a $50 note.

This is true even on the low end of the scale. To feed a family of four at McDonald’s (burgers, nuggets, fries and drinks) would cost you almost $28. For that same amount you could serve a whole roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and green vegetables. You’d probably have leftover chicken for lunch sandwiches, and you can even use the carcass to make homemade soup.

Plus there’s the very valid argument of investing in your health. So while these sweet potato brownies may cost more than opening a box from the supermarket, in the long run eating home cooked meals will save you a fortune in medical costs.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 3: I Don’t Know How To Cook

That’s ok, it can feel overwhelming to learn new habits. However, cooking can be very simple and enjoyable. Start where you are and don’t try to be a gourmet chef — in my opinion some of the yummiest meals are the most simple). Buy a basic cookbook and learn one new dish each week; before long you’ll feel really comfortable in the kitchen. Challenge yourself to sticking to recipes that use 6 ingredients or less and you’ll be golden.

So what do you say, are you willing to cook at least one meal at home each day this week? I’ve thrown the gauntlet and would love to hear that you’ve picked it up, so please do leave a comment below.

Remember: healthy living is simple, eating well is not restrictive, and YOU CAN choose to create a body and a life that you love.



With love,




Healthy Holiday Eating

Healthy Holiday Eating: It’s More Simple Than You Think

The holidays are a difficult time for women who don’t have a healthy relationship with food. From restrictive eating to overeating, this time of year can create some serious food anxiety.

So in today’s post I’m sharing four diet-free, practical tips that will help you feel more confident at the holiday dinner table.

And the reason I can help is because I’ve been there too. For ten years I felt like I had only two choices when it came to holiday eating:

  1. Avoid eating foods that I thought were bad for me.
  2. Accept that overeating is part of the holiday tradition…and deal with the aftermath in January.

Perhaps you can relate.

But you know what? Both of those options stink. Restricting and overeating are signs of self-sabotage, not self-love, and they’re getting in the way of you reaching your ideal weight.

Fortunately, there’s a third choice:

(3) Eat what you want. Stop when you’re full.

Sounds easy, huh? It is, but it takes time. 

This holiday season you need to give yourself permission to eat. Eat what you want, just do it mindfully and slowly. Don’t be afraid to eat, but don’t be afraid to stop eating either.

I know this might be a different approach for you, one that may make you a bit anxious. Here are four techniques that you can test out to get you started:

Decide What To Eat

Have you ever eaten something only to realize that it wasn’t what you wanted? When this happens you feel full but not satisfied, which can lead to overeating and feeling guilty. So instead of rushing in to eat what’s on offer, stop for a moment and consider what you really feel like.

Prepare To Eat

Want to know my secret to enjoying treats without gaining weight? I put them on a plate or in a bowl. This keeps me portion-aware and makes the whole eating thing feel more official. Seeing food before you eat it also triggers the release of the digestive enzymes that are crucial to digestion. Pre-dinner snacks and dessert are best eaten from a small plate, or at least a napkin.

Just Eat

Don’t overthink it – this isn’t rocket science. Eat without distractions, chew your food properly and place your silverware down between mouthfuls. Also, remember to breathe.

Stop and Reflect

In French Women Don’t Get Fat Mireille Guiliano writes that she eats half of her plate then stops for a while to check in with her appetite. If she’s still hungry she eats a bit more. If she’s satisfied she stops. I like this idea and thought you might want to experiment with it too.

Most importantly, try not to make this into a bigger deal than it has to be. Food is just food, there’s always more of it, you can eat what you want, and you can stop when you want.

You really can. And I never thought I’d be the one to say that.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.


JDW Signature

How To Stop Overeating Halloween Candy (And Other Holiday Treats)

Is the thought of a kitchen filled with Halloween candy giving you the heebie-jeebies?

Are you feeling frustrated, and helpless, about your annual binge on fun-sized bars?

Perhaps you’re thinking of boycotting “Trick Or Treat” this year, just to avoid the temptation…

I get it. Those mini chocolate bars have a way of getting themselves eaten, and the guilty feelings that follow are as horrid as a Wes Craven movie. But that’s not going to happen this year. 

In today’s post I’m sharing the tricks that I use to avoid bingeing on treats. Read on for three strategies that you can use this year to stop overeating Halloween candy (and avoid holiday weight gain).

Halloween should be scary for the movies, the costumes, and for your husband’s terrible attempt at pumpkin carving. But, for many of us, the real fear comes from premonitions of uncontrollable candy binges.

Memories from last year — snacking on Snickers and crunching on Kit Kats  — is enough to induce the ghost of a belly-ache. Not to mention a wave of pre-emptive guilt; your assumption is that it’ll happen again.

And it’s not only Halloween night that causes concern; that leftover loot has a way of making eyes at you from across the kitchen counter all week long. 

If you have, or have ever had, a problem with over-eating, emotional-eating, food-addiction, or sugar-addiction, then being faced with an oversized bowl of bite-sized candy is a recipe for disaster.

Since you can’t rely on willpower to get you through Halloween night, let alone the whole holiday season, you’re going to need a strategy. So let me break this thing down, and make it as simple as 1, 2, 3…

How To Stop Overeating Halloween Candy

Tip One: Buy Yourself A Real Treat

Have you ever declined dessert at a restaurant or dinner party, only to go home and raid the cookie cupboard? When it comes to food, willpower can only take you so far, which is why deciding NOT to have any treats isn’t always a smart move.

But that doesn’t mean giving in to the wrong temptation.

The problem with Halloween candy is that it’s just downright crappy. Unless you’re giving out organic, Fair-Trade, single serve dark chocolate bars — thereby killing your “cool status” with the neighborhood kids — the stuff that you’re sharing is low in quality, high in sugar, and often made via third-world child labor (1).

Normal Halloween candy is wreaking havoc on your blood sugar, messing with your metabolism, and generally making you feel pretty bad about yourself. It’s simply not worth the splurge.

(P.S. Have you grabbed your copy of my Boost Your Metabolism Guide? It’s free! You can grab it by clicking here.)

If you’re going to indulge, then I recommend doing it properly! Buy yourself a small, high quality treat, and savor every mouthful. Whether that’s an expensive chocolate bar or a ridiculously beautiful pastry from your local bakery, eating something decadent should feel sensuously satisfying, and be an event to be (fondly) remembered.

Tip Two: Do You Really WANT More Candy?

Food should make you feel good: physically, mentally and emotionally. Overeating food that doesn’t tick all three boxes is a sign of self-punishment, not self-love.

The “Want Test” is something that I share with my clients when it comes to eating treat foods. You can eat anything you WANT, in the amount that you WANT, if you’re eating from a place of self-love, emotional clarity, and epicurean delight.

Feeling guilty about eating often leads to overeating; you may have had the thought of: “I’ve already blown it by having some, so I might as well have the rest…” In doing so, you’re telling your body that (a) it doesn’t deserve a little treat from time to time (it’s not good enough / thin enough / fit enough to warrant anything special); and (b) that your body is basically a trash can, a place where unwanted food gets tossed. 

This is why one donut leads to five, or two chocolates leads to ten; and it’s what holds you hostage to the food that you eat. In the past, that way of thinking has seen me empty a box of cereal or polish off three bowls of ice cream; not exactly actions that speak self-contentment, are they?

The “Want Test” puts you back in a position of power by choosing what, and how much, you eat.

If you find yourself starting to unwrap another piece of candy this Halloween, take a moment and ask yourself:

  • Do I really want this?
  • Why do I want this?
  • Do I want this for my taste buds (will it taste any better than the last)?
  • Do I want this for my body?
  • Do I want this for myself emotionally?

As you answer these questions remember that there is ALWAYS more food, you can always have another treat tomorrow, and your decision making is more powerful than your sweet tooth.

Tip Three: Discard The Leftovers

The morning after Halloween is when reality hits you  — last night’s sugar binge, and overeating food that you didn’t actually want, feels pretty ordinary the following day. The morning brings with it that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, and the negative self-talk that yells: I can’t believe you did this again.*

You’re left with no choice but to get the leftover candy OUT OF THE HOUSE.

Here’s what not to do:

  • Don’t take it to work (you still have access, and your co-workers might not feel so thrilled)
  • Don’t try to hide it for later in the holidays (come on, we all know that doesn’t work)
  • Don’t stand in the kitchen eating it while trying to come up with a solution.

Here’s what you can do:

Throw it out — in the outdoor trash if you have to do. Worried about waste? Don’t be. Worry about your health. My mum taught me that it’s wasted food anyway, if you eat it but you don’t want it.

*Of course, hopefully this year you can wake up to a bright and sunny morning feeling totally at peace. You implemented tips one and two from today’s blog post, and you DIDN’T eat too much candy. Well done you! But don’t be a hero; get that leftover loot outta there.

I hope that these three strategies can help you tackle Halloween, and the entire holiday season, with a sense of calm. Trust in your body and, no matter what happens, remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you continue to tweak your healthy-living routines. 

With love,

JDW Signature