Food / 04.04.2018

Zanna Van Dijk’s 9 rules for eating strong

By Hattie Parish
No fancy foods or deprivation necessary

Her passion for food that’s nutrition-packed and wholesome is no less impressive than her rock-hard abs and lean limbs. And despite her recent stratospheric rise, Zanna Van Dijk is one of the most down-to-earth, healthy influencers on the block. Here, the no-frills personal trainer shares her top tips for dining well, wherever you are and whatever you love to put on your plate.

1 Prep easy
‘Meal planning and prepping is tedious – there, I’ve said it! Cooking a week’s worth of food every Sunday works for some people, but not everyone; I don’t like to commit to what I eat four or five days ahead of time and I find it sucks the joy out of food. Instead, I prep portions of ingredients that make up
the foundations of a meal – like grilling a chicken breast or cooking lentils in stock – that morning or the night before, then add in what I fancy that day.’

2 Track your food
‘Noting down everything you eat can seem daunting, tedious – and unnecessary. But it can be helpful for a week or so, using an app like My Fitness Pal or Calorie King, to get an idea of what you’re eating, and what foods deliver the optimum amount of nutrients per serving. I tracked my macronutrients for two weeks and that gave me the knowledge to go it alone ever since.’

3 Name favourites
‘Do you ever think about what you actually want to eat, rather than what you should or shouldn’t put on your plate? Food can taste damn good, but a lot of us have forgotten what tastes, textures and combinations we enjoy because we’re too busy following rules and guidelines. I tell my followers that my recipes are a starting point, not set in stone, and to play with variations until they find the tastiest possibility.’

4 Share the love
‘There’s no denying that servings in supermarkets and restaurants have grown larger over the last decade, which can make portion control tricky. If I fancy a dessert, I always persuade someone to share it with me; my boyfriend or a pal. That way, I get all the taste without eating a mountain of sticky toffee pudding for the sake of it.’

5 Eat mindfully
‘Instead of picking at food thoughtlessly or accepting every bite you’re offered (and suddenly realising you’ve eaten half a baked camembert without even tasting it!), build the habit of asking yourself questions before you eat. Do you enjoy that? Are you hungry? Or are you eating to be polite or simply for the sake of eating?’

6 Rewrite rhetoric
‘Certain words we use to describe food do us no favours. Food isn’t good or bad, clean or dirty – all these labels do is create competitive eating between people and invite feelings of guilt when you’re not eating “right”. Take each day in context and eat accordingly; if you overindulge at breakfast, make a lighter choice for lunch or dinner.’

7 Pack protein
‘Eating healthily on the go can be tough when you’re not in control of the options. Sometimes I struggle to get enough protein if I’m out and about, so I carry sachets of protein powder with me – I stir it into some breakfast yoghurt or shake it up with a bottle of water or milk to keep my energy up and hunger satisfied. A homemade trail mix is great on the go, too. Just throw pecans, cashews, raisins and seeds into a bag and grab a handful when you need it.’

8 Learn to let go
‘There’s a reason I eat well as often as I can and make workouts a priority – so when it comes to holidays I can take advantage! That’s not to say they should be seen as an opportunity to binge, but it’s important to chill out, relax and choose food you love. A good principle is eat for what you’re doing; sunbathing doesn’t call for ice cream all day long, but if you’re walking the Alps, you’ve got more leeway for calorie-dense foods.’

9 Stay social
‘It can be soul-destroying to avoid fun occasions in favour of being healthy, so make them work for you. Alcohol is calorie-dense, so pick lighter drinks. My best choice is a G&T, as gin is a clean spirit, tonic water can be low-calorie and I enjoy the taste, though my personal favourite is an espresso martini – life’s too short not to have one!’

Strong: Over 80 Exercises And 40 Recipes For Achieving A Fit, Healthy And Balanced Body is out now.


Zanna Van Dijk’s 9 rules for eating strong
Article Name
Zanna Van Dijk’s 9 rules for eating strong
Want to know how fitness blogger, personal trainer and all-round health-favourite Zanna Van Dijk approaches nutrition? Here, she shares her top tips for dining well, the strong way.
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Healthy Magazine
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