It is often said that the smallest changes can make the biggest difference, and for Nutritional Therapist, Chris Peare, this was certainly the case. A self-confessed former ‘sugar addict’, Chris spent years trying different diets, in an attempt to lose weight and feel better, yet nothing worked. It wasn’t until he decided to add a single green juice to his diet every day, that his entire approach to food changed, and he began to feel inspired to improve his health, once and for all.
Chris now helps people to achieve their health goals through his company, Green Lemon Nutrition, which provides individually tailored nutritional guidance, centered around a wholefood, plant-based diet. Read about Chris’ inspiring journey below, and try your hand at making his delicious Fig and Pistachio Truffles, for a tasty and nutritious nibble! Enjoy!
How did you get interested in nutrition?
I didn’t get into nutrition until later in life. When I was growing up, I played football, hockey, soccer, and lots of other sports. I wasn’t the best at any of them but I was generally good enough to make the first team. I was healthy, fit, and really enjoyed it.
At the age of sixteen, I discovered alcohol and fast food. When that happened, my interest in playing sport seemed to disappear overnight. I stopped exercising and my diet went downhill. I had a habit of adding sugar to almost everything; I would dig a hole in the middle of a strawberry and fill it with sugar, or put layers of sugar on my breakfast cereal.
It got worse in college, when I had more access to junk food on lunch breaks and during free periods between lectures. I was probably eating about three or four bars of chocolate a day, on top of all the other junk I ate.
Over the years, I tried everything under the sun to lose weight and regain my health; high-fat diets, low-fat diets, high-protein diets, low-carb diets, and more. I went to health care professionals and weight management clinics but nothing worked. In almost all cases, there was an initial weight loss but maintenance seemed impossible.
Then I discovered that the secret was to give my body nourishing food. Fresh food, packed full of micronutrients. While trying to lose weight, I had been so focused on protein, carbs and fat that I never thought about the micronutrients my body needed to function properly.
I started with a single green juice a day, and gradually increased my fruit and vegetable intake. The improvements I experienced gave me the passion to help people do what I had done through trial and error, so I went back to college to study nutrition. Now, I am helping others to improve their health on a daily basis!
How has changing your diet made a difference to your health?
I have lost a massive amount of weight since I started on this journey and I am really proud of that. At my heaviest, I was 112kg (247lbs) – now 32kg (70lbs) lighter and I feel great! My energy has increased and my confidence is much greater than it ever was before. I had very bad skin on my back and now it has completely cleared up.
Besides food, are there any other changes that you have made in your life that have had a positive impact on your health?
I have been doing weights in the gym for awhile and I really enjoy it. I am working with an online personal trainer at the moment, who has me going to the gym five days a week. I love going to the gym first thing in the morning; I feel like I have accomplished something before the day has even started.
I occasionally do 5k and 10K runs but one of my favourite things is my new activity-tracking watch. I got it about a month ago and I love tracking my steps, my sleep, and my heart rate. My target is a minimum of 12,000 steps a day but I always try to get 20,000 if I can.
Have there ever been times when you slipped back to your old eating habits and how did you get back on track?
It can happen from time to time, however, I don’t worry about it now. I am an all or nothing person so, in the past, if I fell off the wagon, I would feel really guilty and that would make me eat less healthy food. It is really important for me not to judge myself for making small mistakes because they are inevitable. I just have to make sure that the next food choice is a better one. This is the philosophy I practice with my clients too.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to change to a plant-based diet?
Get support and do your research. A wholefood, plant-based diet is a very healthy way to live, if it is done correctly. It is easier than ever before to eat this way but it is also easier to eat a very unhealthy plant-based diet. There are so many processed plant-based foods available now, like donuts and sausages, which are just as unhealthy as the originals. If it’s something that you want to do and you’re not sure how to do it, seek help from someone who knows their stuff.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to make changes to improve their health?
Remember that every one of us is unique; we all have different health issues. Two people may have the same symptoms but from different causes. Nutrition programmes need to be personalised and I use the functional medicine approach to do this with my clients.
I only take on one or two clients at a time, so that I can give them the personalised support they need to be able to achieve their goals. I start with nutritional and lifestyle recommendations and follow with weekly calls. During the weekly calls, we discuss the weeks wins, struggles, triggers, and I answer any questions that a client may have. I also update goals and nutrition and lifestyle plans on a weekly basis, to help clients to keep working towards their goals.
Chris’ Fig and Pistachio Truffles
These are an amazing, healthy treat and they work really well for paired with a cup of coffee or tea. They also make a great gift for friends and family! They are a super-healthy snack, and are high in fibre and a good source of protein. Pistachios are lower in calories than most nuts and contain about 20% protein. They are a great source of antioxidants and micro-nutrients such as potassium, phosphorous, B6, B1, copper, magnesium, and manganese. Figs are high in fibre and B vitamins, and taste amazing whether fresh or dried.
(Makes about 20 balls)
– 200g shelled unsalted pistachios (roughly 350g in shells)
– 150g partially dried figs
– 50g coconut oil
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 150g of dark chocolate (I use 74%)
1. De-shell the pistachios, being careful not to mix any shells in with the nuts.
2. Add the pistachios to a food processor and pulse till you get a flour-like texture. Be sure to keep about 20-25 pistachios aside to decorate your truffles later
3. Add the figs, coconut oil and vanilla extract to a to the food processor and pulse for two minutes, until it has thick and nutty caramel texture. There will be little chunks of nuts, which make for a really nice texture.
4. Take small handfuls and roll them into balls, you choose what size you want your truffles to be. Alternatively, you can pack the mixture into silicone ice trays to get a more consistent size for each truffle. Put your balls into the freezer for ten minutes.
5. While your truffles are setting in the freezer, melt your chocolate over a bowl of hot water. When the chocolate is melted, remove your truffles from the freezer and dip into the chocolate. Place the chocolate coated truffles onto a tray with grease-proof paper and top with a full or a half pistachio (take off the skin to show off the beautiful green colour).
6. Pop the tray of truffles into the fridge or freezer to cool the chocolate. When they are ready take them out of the fridge and enjoy.