Rule #1: Don’t make your food a big deal—or it will be
“I’ve always enjoyed eating healthy, and how it makes me look and feel,” says Tiffany Gaston, our cover model and a top NPC figure competitor. “I don’t do anything extreme, because fortunately, I don’t need to.” But Gaston has more than just good genes on her side. “I’m quite consistent in my diet and training. When you gain weight only to have to drop it again, it takes a toll on your body.”
Gaston has been active since childhood, taking part in gymnastics and track and field before competing on a national level as a figure athlete. Three years ago, she began following a Paleo diet. “The results spoke for themselves,” she says. Gaston now frequently blogs about her diet on muscleandfitnesshers.com and has an upcoming ebook (Painlessly Paleo).
“I gather inspiration from meals I’ve enjoyed in restaurants or images that look appealing, but I try to clean up some of these dishes so I can enjoy them guilt free. It allows for my creative side to come out when I attempt to tweak a recipe for a healthier version!” She’ll sub in mashed cauliflower for potatoes, and uses shredded zucchini in place of noodles. (“I call them zoodles!,” she says.)
Consistency is key, adds Gaston, who tries to follow a similar diet year round with the exception of a weekly treat meal or two that has no restrictions. “I have wine when I want,” she says. “I keep my food on point and it allows me to train hard, stay focused, and live life!”
Keeping a well-stocked pantry is also important, including having a variety of healthy proteins, fruits, and vegetables on hand. Infused oils and spices offer up some variety. “Always having the right food available gives me a no-excuses approach to diet,” she maintains. “When you eat healthy day in and day out it’s not difficult to stay on track.”
Tip: Many people salt their food before even tasting it. Using spices such as turmeric, curry, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and onion can give incredible life and flavor to your foods without adding extra sodium.