If you’re a follower of all things foodie on Instagram you would have seen the beautiful work of Jo (a.k.a. @healthyeating_jo). Forever a source of plant-based inspo, we love the vibrance and creativity of her creations – from some seriously good-looking Matcha donuts to super photogenic avocado on toast. We’re obsessed with her mantra of using social media for inspiration – not comparison too! A much needed reminder in our Insta/Snapchat/Facebook-driven world! Read on to find out just what Jo’s Day on a Plate looks like…
- Tell us a little bit about yourself – who you are and what you do.
My name is Jo Ross, and I’m a Food Blogger, self-taught Food Photographer, Food Stylist and Recipe Creator – but I’m better known as Healthy Eating Jo on my Instagram, Website and other social media channels. I’m a mum of two, and step-mum to two more kids, based in Sydney, and I love promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, through eating delicious plant based wholefoods, and moving your body regularly. I recently walked away from my successful 20 year corporate career, to follow my passion for Food Blogging full time, and be more present with my family.
- What was the ‘uh ha’ moment that inspired you to get in to health and wellbeing?
After years of yo-yo dieting, teenage eating disorders, over exercising, low fat, low carbs (you name it!) and just generally being misinformed about my health and wellbeing, I found myself regularly feeling rundown, stressed, and obsessed with everything that went in to my mouth. In 2014 I set up my Instagram account to hold myself accountable for eating well and exercising, but even took that too far. When everyone started warning me I’d lost too much weight, and I saw my bones sticking out when I looked in the mirror, I knew it was time to make a change. A change for myself, and as a role model for my kids. I’d heard for years about ‘just eating real food’ and decided it was time to give up the fads and restrictions, and just nourish my body with as much real and unprocessed foods as possible. I’ve never looked back, and have never felt better.
- Talk us through a typical day in your life…
Around 7am when I wake up, I usually have a black coffee with a splash of almond or soy milk to get my digestion going, whilst I get the kids ready for school. It also gives me a little caffeine booster before I do my workout a little later.
While the kids are getting dressed, I’ll check my Instagram and any emails, and do a morning Instagram post if I have one planned.
At around 8am, I will make a protein shake with water and 1/2 a frozen banana blended to drink in the car while I take the kids to school.
When I return from the school run, I do my workout straight away, before I get distracted doing other things! I usually do the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide resistance workouts with weights. They’re fast paced, and get the job done in 30 minutes, which I then follow with 10 minutes of stretching. Every alternate day, I do a fasted cardio walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes, whilst responding to Instagram comments (One must multi-task!)
Around 9am after my workout, I’ll shower and eat my prepared Overnight Protein Oats (Proats) from the fridge, or I’ll make some quickly. I don’t think I could survive without having protein oats on most days. They’re super easy to meal prep, so that they’re ready to eat when you get up, or take to work in a container, and eat when you get there. Plus there are so many flavour combinations, I never get bored. I add psyllium husk and chia seeds amongst other things for extra fibre and good fats.
Then I get on with planning my recipe of the day, getting any required groceries, completing my photoshoot, editing and getting the photos ready to post. Usually with some quick Snapchats and Instagram Stories along the way. I try not to plan ahead too much with what I’m going to make, otherwise it feels forced and I lose my creativity, or what makes the whole thing fun for me.
For lunch I’ll usually have a Buddha Bowl, basically it’s just an excuse to cram as many colourful salad, veggies, grains and protein items as possible, into a bowl! They’re filling, delicious and always have a good mix of veggies, protein, low GI carbs, and some good fats like avocado or an Olive Oil or Tahini dressing. I also like to add fermented veggies like sauerkraut or vegan kimchi.
When I pick the kids up from school it’s usually time for a snack, so I’ll make a healthy smoothie, some apple and nut butter, veggie sticks and hommus, or have some homemade protein balls. Then it’s time to clean up the inevitable mess I’ve made in the kitchen from the day’s recipe creations, whilst I help with homework and hear about the kids’ day.
For dinner I have to cook two slightly different meals. I’m vegan, and the rest of the family aren’t, so it always helps if I’ve spent some time on the weekend pre-cutting vegetables into portions so they’re ready to throw into various meals during the week for all of us. I also spend time on weekends pre-roasting sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Roasting makes them sweet and caramelly, and delicious to add to various recipes.
Once the kids are in bed, if I’m hungry I’ll have one of my raw treats from the freezer and occasionally a nice glass of red wine with my husband. Otherwise some non-dairy yoghurt with berries, or a couple of squares of 90% dark chocolate, and a cup of peppermint tea. I’ll use that time to respond to Instagram comments whilst watching tv with my husband and chatting.
- Coffee or tea?
I have a huge drawer in my kitchen dedicated to my various herbal teas, plus I’m British-born, so it would be sacrilegious to not say I was a tea girl. But I do love starting my day with a coffee, or having one with friends. So both have their place in my balanced life.
- What is your indulgence of choice?
I’m a huge supporter of balance, so I’m all for ensuring you enjoy a great meal out with loved ones, have dessert if you want it, or a glass of wine as part of your healthy lifestyle. But when I choose to indulge, it’s always savoury! Give me a vegan cheese platter, dips and lots of olives any day.
- Three foods you can’t live without?
Oats are my life and so versatile. Zucchini, great with oats, in smoothies; for moisture in baking, or as a replacement for pasta. There isn’t a meal where zucchini can’t be added. And finally fruit, as it’s the star in most of my meals, but specifically mangoes. I would live on mangoes forever. If I can choose a fourth, it has to be avocado! No explanation needed there.
- What’s your go-to snack for those days on the run?
Snack packs of nuts and a piece of fruit, or pre-cut carrot and celery sticks with little pots of hommus. Meal prep is the key to healthy eating success. So always be prepared, and never leave home without a snack and some water!
- … And any last words of advice or tips for those starting out on their health journey?
Take it easy on yourself. Nothing worth having happens overnight, but you need to start. So make small changes every day, like adding in more veggies, drinking more water, cutting out sugar, bringing home cooked healthy meals to work for lunch… The same applies to moving your body, build up and do more each day.
Going in hard with exercise, or restricting all sorts of foods is a recipe for disaster, and will only leave you miserable and worse off than before you started. So make small changes progressively, and Stick with it. The changes will come, and you’ll feel so much better, you’ll never look back.
The last tip is to use social media for inspiration, but not for comparison, or as another reason to say bad things about yourself. There is a whole world of people on Instagram, and I’ve met and connected with amazing people from all over the world, who inspire and motivate me every day. So find your tribe, and help each other on the journey to a healthier you.
To find out more about Jo, head to http://www.healthyeatingjo.com/ or follow her on Instagram!