A day on my plate with fitness expert Bailey Brown
Having an unhealthy relationship with food can be dibilitating. It can impact how we socialise, hurt our relationships and even damage our self worth.
Making changes and taking steps towards a healthier relationship with food can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you have no idea where to start.
Bailey Brown is a fitness and health expert who gets it – she’s a certified Pilates and Barre trainer, a wellness YouTuber and the creator of BBFit online studio (so if she can make healthy choices around that schedule, anyone can). Her mission is to help educate women about the falsities of diet and exercise culture and help empower women to live healthy, balanced lives free of guilt. We sat down with Bailey to talk about her own struggles with diet culture, how she healed her toxic mentality surrounding food, and what you can do to start taking action towards a healthier, happier life both inside and out.
RELATED: Have you got a hormonal imbalance?
What’s a day on your plate look like?
A BIG green smoothie bowl with frozen cauliflower rice (I promise you don’t taste it - it just makes it super thick and creamy), frozen banana, almond butter, chia seeds, vanilla protein, almond milk, spinach and spirulina topped with GF granola and or cacao nibs. I usually have 1-2 long blacks with almond or coconut milk before noon as well.
I almost always have a second breakfast. I like to do 2 scrambled eggs with Parmesan or feta cheese, 2 pieces of gluten free bread (I love Protein Bread Co. because it's high in fibre) 1/3 avocado and sautéed veggies on the side.
If I’m teaching evening classes sometimes I just want something light like a bar - I like Sun Warrior brand protein bars or Raw Rev protein bars. Otherwise veggies and hummus, tamari almonds or a Greek yogurt with berries. Some days I don’t snack, it depends on how much exercise I’m doing that day/ my hunger levels. I always listen to my body when it comes to needing snacks.
I switch this one up a lot and am so guilty of ordering takeout because I’m not an amazing cook! I love salmon poke bowl or a stir-fry with grilled salmon. I also love this chickpea pasta with pesto, green veggies and tempeh or tofu. I switch it up but always lots of veggies, a protein and some healthy fats.
I always need to have something sweet after dinner. Always. I’ll usually have greek yogurt with frozen berries and almond butter or some dark chocolate and peanut butter.
Do you stick to any diets?
I am pescatarian and celiac so don’t eat gluten. I don’t follow any diets but I do focus on a couple guidelines with what I eat. I try to stick to whole foods as much as possible and try to have a protein, a healthy fat, veggies and a high fiber carb at every meal. This way of eating helps keep me energised all day, plus keeps my blood sugar balanced so that I don’t have cravings or have hangry (AKA hungry angry) mood swings. I also really believe in intuitive eating. I never really plan what I'm going to eat but just ask myself, what do I want to eat? What will make me feel the best right now?
What’s your philosophy when it comes to food?
Focus on feeling good. Ever since I started focusing on eating what will make me feel the best in that moment (sometimes it’s a kale salad, sometimes it’s a veggie burger and fries) and started focusing less on having abs or "being skinny," I became so much happier and healthier overall. I used to be an extreme dieter and had tried every diet in the book! I was really restrictive with what I would eat and if I did eat something “off-limits,” I would force myself to spend hours in the gym to work it off. It's taken me a long time to heal my relationship with disordered eating and my body. Focusing on feeling good and nourishing my body has made a massive difference.
Do you have cheat days?
I like to treat myself daily! I don't believe in cheat days because for me personally, I think it leads to a restrict-binge mentality and you end up putting foods on a "good" or "bad" list. Personally I'd rather eat food I enjoy eating ALL the time. You don't have to live on boring plain salad and grilled chicken to be healthy! You can honestly make any "cheat" meal healthier with a few simple swaps and enjoy your food every day instead of just one day a week. I like to have mindful indulgences often. I think it leaves a lot more room for flexibility and fun in your healthy lifestyle. If a girlfriend wants to meet mid-week for tacos and margaritas, I'm going to do it! I'm a fan of treating myself when it comes up instead.
How important is a healthy diet to you?
It's really important for me! I know when I'm not eating well, I'm not my best. I need to be fueling my body properly so I can teach amazing workout classes and for long days of filming workouts for BBFIT, my online studio, and for YouTube. I always want to feel my best, be energised and know I'm giving my body the love and nutrition it deserves.
How can someone start eating healthier?
Baby steps! There is SO much diet and fitness advice out there that it can be really overwhelming. Start adding in more whole foods and less processed ones. Drink enough water so you know if you're actually hungry or just thirsty. Start adding things in instead of taking them out. Add in more veggies, more lean protein, more good fats, more steps in your day. Start listening to your body, what foods make you feel really good and energised after you eat them? Eat more of those. What foods make you feel worse? Avoid those! Start checking out some healthy recipe blogs for inspo or for ways to make your favourite recipes healthier. It's so important to find what works for YOU as an individual.
What advice do you have for someone struggling with his or her mentality around food?
I have so much to say about this from my history of disordered eating and overexercising. I would recommend watching this video for my tips in detail if you have time! It breaks my heart how common this is and it's my goal in life to help other women learn to love their bodies and avoid putting themselves through what I did.
Personally I had to make a vow to myself to commit to healing my relationship with food and my body. I stopped dieting and let myself eat whatever I wanted. I only worked out when I felt like it. Initially I gained weight but then I didn't feel well so I focused on eating foods that made me FEEL good and moving my body in a way I enjoyed. I started working on mindset: You don't need to workout to earn food. No foods are good or bad. Eating unhealthy for a few days makes no difference in your diet or your body.
I also started to focus on what I was grateful for about my body - my health, that I enjoy eating healthy foods, that I love to exercise - all the things I was grateful my body allows me to do other than appearance based things. Focus on feeling good; find exercise you enjoy, eat foods you enjoy and allow yourself to indulge and not be strict. This really helps you get more intuitive about your eating choices and helps to nourish your body and heal your relationship with food.
If you are struggling and want to chat to someone feel free to send me a DM on Instagram! I'm happy to share more tips directly too!
Have you struggled with body image and your relationship with food? What are some tips you have for others dealing with this struggle?