Healthful eating is all about balance for NPL-sponsored fitness professional, Bikini athlete, model and influencer, Monique Lopes.

I avoid restrictive ways of eating and focus on holistic health, wellness and sustainability. I enjoy eating healthily because I feel so good and energetic when I do,” she explains.

Fuelling my body optimally is important to me because I don’t want to compromise my mental performance at work and physical performance in the gym.”

Healthy eating the tasty way!

Monique credits her mom for her sustainable approach to eating which doesn’t compromise on taste and flavour.

I have learnt that healthy meals can still be absolutely delicious, exciting and beautiful, which obviously makes adhering to this way of eating so much easier.”

But Monique still lives life and enjoys a few indulgences but all in moderation and in line with her overall health and fitness goals and expectations.

Enjoy what you eat

During the week, I am mindful and selective with my meal choices but still include more of what I enjoy eating.

“I stick to what I know allows me to feel good, energised and healthy. I still include more of what you enjoy. And I control my portions, even if it’s healthy foods.”

Over the weekends or around special occasions, Monique takes a more relaxed approach by enjoying “yummy” foods that she doesn’t normally eat.

You can have it all – chocolates, sweets, a pizza, some sushi and a glass of red wine – just not all at once.”

Monique finds that choosing what you want more at any given time and not just eating it because it’s available allows her to remain in control of her food, instead of food controlling her.

It’s taken me years to find the right balance but I am grateful for all the time, effort and patience I allowed myself.”

Monique’s diet includes all the major food groups, with colourful vegetables and fruits and a variety of sources.

How Monique shops:

  1. Dry ingredients: Monthly shops at Dis-Chem, Woolworths and Checkers.
  2. Fresh groceries. Woolworths, Food Lovers Market or farm-to-table markets once or twice a week.

Monique’s shopping list:

Weekly staples: Lemons, berries, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, shredded coleslaw, baby marrow, sweet potato and white potato, pumpkin, avocado, peppers, fresh garlic and chilli, red onions and maybe some carrots and sweet corn.

Pantry cupboard staples: Rice cakes, corn cakes, organic peanut butter, NPL protein powders, tuna cans, balsamic vinegar, pop corn kernels, spices and herbs, basmati rice, rolled oats, unsweetened almond milk, stevia drops, organic tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and rooibos tea.

Fridge staples: Fresh garlic and chilli, lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes, avocado, peppers, cucumber, baby marrows, a ton of blueberries and pumpkin, Granny Smith apples, diced onions, diced sweet potatoes and eggs. You will also find a packet of corn cakes in her fridge as this prevents them from going stale!

Freezer staples: Chicken fillets, ostrich and beef mince, salmon, prawns, chicken schnitzels and a box of Chuckles little ice creams.

Monique’s meal prep guidelines

I enjoy freshly prepared meals! Grilled, roasted and air fried meals are my favourites.”

She sticks to meals that are quick and easy to prepare throughout the day such as smoothies or salads for lunch and corn or rice cakes as snacks.

I prep my meals for the next day the night before. I don’t generally cook in bulk unless I have a hectic week ahead because I enjoy variety throughout my week.

“But I will normally double up on my protein at dinner time so that I have lunch for the next day sorted.”

Adding flavour: I flavour my foods with fresh garlic, chilli and lemon 99% of the time and you’ll probably always find red onion as part of the prep, too!”

Monique’s top food prep tip

Plan ahead as much as possible. Heading into the week knowing more or less what meals you’ll cook helps you create an accurate grocery list, which prevents you from buying unnecessary things or food going to waste.

Top diet hack: Have a few go-to quick meals handy for those days when you’re busier than usual.