As bloggers, our minds and bodies are our most valuable and vital assets in our business. So it's important to keep them in good shape with some blogger self-care. Being surrounded by food and staring at devices all day can make that a challenge! In our Healthy Blogger series, Sondi Bruner shares information and practical strategies to keep you in top form. This month Sondi addresses the challenge of eating healthfully when you spend your days cooking and testing food.
Eating healthfully can be a challenge for anyone, but for bloggers who are constantly cooking, recipe testing and sampling, the temptations are difficult to resist. Why have just one cookie when you can inhale four? I'll bet I'm not the only one who's encountered this predicament.
With the following tips in mind, you can stay healthy as a food blogger and stick to your eating goals.
What Are Your Health Goals?
Before designing a plan to help you eat healthfully, you need to consider what your health goals actually are and define what eating healthfully means to you. The term "healthy eating" is thrown around a lot — by me included — yet this term can be arbitrary since our concept of what's best to eat varies from blogger to blogger.
As a first step, think about what kinds of foods and ingredients help to fuel you, offer you energy and make you feel great — and which ones don't. Make a list if you need to. Hopefully, the foods that make you feel good are also the ones you enjoy eating, rather than feeling like those foods are a bummer or sources of deprivation.
Then, consider what your ultimate health goals are. Do you want to:
- Eat mindfully?
- Address the symptoms of a disease?
- Prevent future illness?
- Lose weight, gain weight or maintain a healthy weight?
- Explore a wider variety of foods?
- Train for a specific type of exercise?
- Sleep better?
- Something else?
Consider How Your Health Goals Mesh with What You're Cooking for Your Blog
For many of you, the recipes you create and post are a reflection of what you are eating at home, either on your own or with your families. They're also typically cooked from scratch using whole ingredients, and encompass a range of types of foods. In this case, overall, your blog creations can easily adapt to your evolving goals and support your health.
However, for food bloggers who write about a niche (baked goods, cocktails, chocolate, etc.), it can be much more difficult to eat healthfully when what you're constantly creating is heavily weighted to a specific type of food (or indulgence) that people don't eat every day.
Regardless of what type of blog you have, is the food you create in line with your health goals? And if it's not, can you begin to incorporate new kinds of recipes into the rotation, or create a new special series of posts? Does your niche need to change, or can you manage to eat healthfully outside of your blog work?
One thing to keep in mind is that it depends on how much food you're creating. If you blog full-time or several times a week, or work with regular clients for recipe development, or writing a cookbook, it's harder to escape (or control) what you're eating. On the other hand, if your blog is more of a side hustle or part-time gig it may not affect your eating patterns significantly.
But how do we get into the nitty gritty of dealing with all that food?
Sample Only What You Need To
Some recipes need to be taste tested and tweaked as you go, while others are sampled as a finished product. Either way, sample what you need in order to determine whether the recipe is a success, needs extra seasoning, or requires a complete re-do.
It's challenging to gauge how much food we've consumed when we're eating baked beans straight from the pot or plucking cookies from a container while watching Netflix. Mindful eating is an important practice that can help you slow down, pay attention to what you're eating and avoid stuffing your face only to feel sick and regretful later.
Some key tips to mindful eating:
- Sit down while you eat
- Chew your food — it's a step many of us miss!
- Spoon your portion onto a plate, or into a bowl or glass (this allows you to have a visual of what you're eating as you eat it)
- Notice aromas, texture, mouthfeel, etc. as you eat (you can even use a notebook as you taste test for your blog post)
- Put your fork or spoon down between bites to slow down and ensure proper chewing before taking the next bite
- Say a few words of gratitude before eating (this can be to yourself in your head)
Incorporate Blog Recipes into Your Menu Planning
Some people are menu planners and preppers, and some just aren't. When changing up the way you eat, I find it incredibly helpful to make a menu plan for the week.
Rather than cooking your meals and then creating a whole bunch of extra things for your blog, can you begin to map out each week with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas that you can eat and also feature on your blog? It can take some tweaking to make the menu plan puzzle work for you, and account for any recipe flops that may happen or leftovers that need to be eaten, but it's worth making the effort to know you've got your food for the week scheduled so you don't have to worry about it.
Freeze Leftovers or Incorporate Them into the Rest of Your Week
If you know you're not going to be able to resist those brownies or need to make an extra pan of lasagna for a photo shoot, have a taste and then freeze the rest for later. If you don't have a ton of servings or a particular recipe doesn't freeze well, incorporate it into your menu plan for the week.
This could spark ideas for blog posts about your personal menu planning, how to re-purpose leftovers, make-ahead meals, et cetera. As bloggers, I think we all want our readers to be able to cook our recipes easily and be able to incorporate them into their lives without fuss. How can we help others make cooking at home a reality?
Share Your Food With Others
No one is going to turn down delicious food, unless it's another food blogger who already has a full fridge and freezer. Remember that your non-foodie friends would probably climb over hot coals for your leftovers.
If you have leftovers or excess food that you can't freeze, repurpose or eat, consider giving away the bounty to family members, friends, co-workers or neighbours. They will undoubtedly appreciate it, and this will also cut down on food waste.
Adjust What You Eat Outside of Blogging + Recipe Creation
As part of your planning process, consider what you might need to adjust during the rest of the day or week during recipe testing. If you're going to be testing a dessert this afternoon, load up on fruits, veggies and quality protein at breakfast and lunch (feeling satisfied may also help you resist overindulging). Or, if you're creating a dense pasta recipe, perhaps you only need to have a light meal or snack beforehand to compensate.
Can You Incorporate Healthy (or Healthier) Recipes into Your Blog?
I prefer to focus on the quality of ingredients I use to develop a recipe. You can see many examples of this in my Allergen-Friendly Remix Series, where I recreated a number of recipes like cookies, ice cream and burgers into healthier versions. I think it's completely possible to create a nutritious cookie and a junk food salad.
As you work on your blog, consider how you can begin to include healthful recipes as part of your content slate. It doesn't have to be all the time, but if eating healthfully is important to you it's inevitable that you'll begin to create delicious things that you want to share with your audience. As you grow, your audience can evolve with you. If they don't … well, then you'll attract a new one.
Add Little Nutritional Boosts to Your Day
Think about how you can "power up" your day with extra nutrition. Some ideas:
- Add a tablespoon of hemp or chia to your smoothie, oatmeal, toast, nut milk or nut/seed butter
- Have a cup of tea with a spoonful of coconut oil
- Eat a small handful of nuts, seeds and dried fruit
- Swap white sugar for a natural sweetener
- Cut a slice of pre-cooked tempeh or smoked tofu
- Eat a hard-boiled egg
- Make a kick-ass salad
- Sip on a glass of homemade nut milk
- Eat a spoonful of coconut oil or coconut butter straight up
- Add superfoods like cacao, turmeric, maca, matcha, hemp, chia or flax to your smoothies, mocktails or desserts
- Spread some dip on crackers or crudités
Give Yourself a Break
Some days we feel like adulting superstars and other days are a mess. Try to do the best you can and be gentle with yourself when you aren't able to eat the way you'd ideally like to. Remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day and you can start afresh!
- The Healthy Blogger: Creating Time For Yourself
- Blogger Health: Exercise and Staying Active
- How to Stay Healthy as a Food Blogger
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer, food blogger and author of Simple Superfood Smoothies, The Anti-Inflammatory Diet in 21, The Candida Free Cookbook and Action Plan, co-author of The Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Action Plans. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. She is also the head program coach for the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com.