“Stop thinking that good fat makes you fat! It's the carbs that make us fat.”
Tessa is a stunning mom and health coach from The Netherlands; supporting others to live a healthier lifestyle for the past 11 years via her own practice Your Health Coach.
We invited Tessa to share a little bit of how she started her practice, what she eats in a day, the advice she gives her clients who want to follow a LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) lifestyle, and also to moms who want to add more healthy fats to the kids' meals at home, without resistance.
Hi Tessa, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how did you become a health coach?
My name is Tessa van der Steen and I am an alternative medicine practitioner. Since the start of my practice in 2007, I called myself a health coach. Because this is a title much easier to understand than a practitioner of alternative medicine. My company's name is Your Health Coach. Together with my team, I coach people towards a healthier lifestyle. We work with people who have health issues, athletes, pregnant women, and children. We are happy to work with anyone who wants to get rid of health issues, wants to improve their performance or simply wants to upgrade their life.
When I was in high school I was very active with aerobic and street dance, I became a sports instructor when I was 15. I was working out 5-7 days a week. I noticed that my diet played a big role in my performance. So I decided I wanted to know more about nutrition. I moved to Groningen and studied Food and Marketing, so I have a bachelor degree in Nutrition and Science. After I finished my studies, I have been working with athletes (mostly fitness professionals and bodybuilders) for 5 years before I started my own practice, Your Health Coach.
Just out of curiosity... you've been studying and working with nutrition for many years. When did you find out that fat was not the devil as we've always been told?
Great question! I also believed that all fat was bad when I was in high school. But since I became a big fan of avocado's and dark chocolate, I noticed that I had fewer cravings and increased energy. So I have been adding healthy fats to my diet since I was 20 years old. (and I am turning 40 next week!).
Was this the moment when you switched to a high-fat low carb diet? How is your diet like nowadays?
I have been on a low carb diet for almost 20 years now. I started with high protein, a moderate amount of fat and low carb. I understand now that we don't need that much protein as the fitness and certainly, the bodybuilding community wants us to believe. So I cut down on my proteins for 5 years now and eat a high fat, low carb, moderate amount of protein diet. The proteins I eat are mostly coming from seeds and nuts, and a smaller amount from fish and eggs.
You have two beautiful kids! How is it for them? Do they also love healthy fats?
Thanks! My kids are Sacha (5) and Solange (2). They love fat! This was one of the first things I introduced in their diet. So I make veggies tasty by covering them in olive oil or smashed avocado and a pinch of sea salt. They ask me always for more olive oil! When I eat out with them in a restaurant I always order extra olive oil to pour over their food, they will eat anything with olive oil and sea salt...!
That's awesome, haha. Healthy fats are a very important part of anyone's diet, including children. Introducing a healthy lifestyle filled with healthy fats and whole foods at an early age makes a whole difference in the future.
What would you recommend for parents who want to shift from a standard diet to an high-fat, healthier diet at home? How to deal with potential resistance from the kids (get them to like more veggies and fats than sugars and starchy carbs)?
Do you know that breastmilk is high fat too? So all kids love fat. They just know it is good for them, instinctively. If you want to make a change in your kids' nutrition, start by adding fat to their favorite foods first. So if they like bread or crackers, you start using coconut oil, tahini or nut butters instead of the sugary bread toppings. Let them dip their bread in olive oil. Remove all the junk food like Nutella, jam and other sugary bread toppings from the house. If it's not there, there won't be a temptation.
Later, you give them raw veggies to dip in tahini or nut butter. I give my kids high-quality fat with every meal. Because they're growing and playing I don't think they should go low carb. When they eat buckwheat pancakes or sourdough bread, I make sure they eat it with a lot of healthy fat. This makes them eat just 1 pancake instead of 3. And gives them long-lasting energy.
Awesome tips! And what do you usually eat in a day? (We love to ask this question since so many people don't realize how much great foods you can eat on a LCHF diet!)
I start the day with water and apple cider vinegar. With this glass of water, I take 4-gram Chlorella and 4-gram Spirulina. Because I take a coffee in the morning with 2 tablespoons of C-8 MCT oil, I won't eat until I get hungry. Sometimes this is a snack at 10:30 am, mostly I start eating around lunch time. I prefer to eat a big salad with kale, roasted vegetables, avocado, seeds or nuts and lots of olive oil extra virgin.
I usually don't eat animal protein at lunch. Sometimes lunch is a smoothie with plant protein and lots of fat coming from either avocado or nut butter. Seeds and shredded coconut on top. When I feel I need some energy in the afternoon I take a piece of dark chocolate or a Keto Cacao bar. This will keep me going for at least 2,5 hours.
For dinner, I eat loads of veggies with olive oil extra virgin and sea salt. Animal protein if I feel like it. Extra avocado and olives on the side.I like to eat black bean cashew burgers twice a week, these days I am not fully Keto. I also love sweet potato, chickpeas and lentils, so I alternate those twice a week as well.
That all sounds so delicious! Which high-fat goods do you always have in your pantry? Those you cannot live without...
Avocado's, olives, olive oil extra virgin, coconut oil, coconut chips, coconut yogurt, nut butters, tahini, seeds, wild sockeye salmon, eggs (pasture raised), and C-8 MCT oil.
We see that you use a lot of vegan fats in your diet, and vegan diets are a big thing, especially in Europe. Would you recommend a Vegan Keto diet for example? Do you think it is sustainable in the long-term?
Yes, that's right. Vegan is a big thing and it's better for the environment. But I also see clients that are vegan and struggle with hair loss, low energy levels, low libido and sometimes have skin issues as well. There is not one diet that fits everyone. So I would say listen to your body. Do you crave animal products on a vegan diet? Do you have health issues or bad skin? Then it's probably wise to add a small amount of animal protein to your diet. See what works for you. We at Your Health Coach love to help you with this.
I feel great on a vegan diet. Most of the days, I don't feel like eating a good quality piece of Salmon or an omelet. There are people, I call them the protein types, who need more animal protein than others. If you start dreaming about steak, you are definitely low on iron and most likely a protein type.
What is the biggest advice you give to your clients who want to start a LCHF lifestyle?
1. Stop thinking that good fat makes you fat! It's the carbs that make us fat.
2. Good healthy fat doesn't raise cholesterol. Stress, sugars, and inflammation do raise cholesterol so this should be your focus!
3. Do you want more brainpower and increased energy, do you want to become a fat burner? Start using fat for fuel!
Oh yeah, couldn't agree more! "Don't blame the butter for what the bread did", right?
Now, to wrap it up... What do you think of our Keto Cacao bars? Do you have a favorite flavor?
I love the Keto Cacao bars! They really work. I don't have a favorite, I like all three of them. I let my clients try them because you have to FEEL what they do for you.
They stop cravings, they increase my focus, I am addicted!