Is there such a thing as a healthy fat?    02/09/21

Fat is an important macronutrient, and including it in your diet can support the body to function at its best!  But it is important to understand where the fat is coming from.  Better choices, or "healthier fats" come from minimally processed, whole foods and plant based sources.  
Precision Nutrition, an industry leader in nutrition, sums it up for us.  "Get a mix of fat types from whole, unprocessed, high-quality foods. These include nuts, seeds (hemp, flax, and chia are especially nutritious), fish, seaweed, pasture-raised/grass-fed animals/eggs, olives, avocado, coconut, and cacao nibs.  Avoid industrially processed, artificially created, and factory farmed foods, which contain unhealthy fats."  

Here are 5 suggestions to add healthy fats to your diet: 

Try a snack with nut butter!  1 tablespoon of almond butter on apple slices or cashew butter on crisp celery are great choices for the whole family.  
Make it a point to eat fish that is high in Omega-3's including salmon, tuna and sardines.  
 Add chia seeds or ground flaxseed to your morning shake. 
Add a tablespoon of walnuts on your greek yogurt.  
Try a healthy swap when cooking and baking:  extra virgin, cold pressed coconut and olive oils are less processed than popular corn and safflower oils.  
One of the easiest ways to improve your nutrition is to do the majority of your shopping on the perimeter of the Richmond Shops IGA Grocery store.  That's where you'll find whole foods including fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy!   And spend less time shopping the inner aisles where you'll find processed foods that contain more additives, preservatives and less healthy fats.  

Read your labels, and start to get curious about what is in your food.  Food choices and quality matter. 
In health, 

Get enough vitamins and minerals by eating more vegetables and fruit  01/20/21

Another great option for those looking to eat more nutritiously is to increase the amount of vegetables they consume.  

There are never ending debates about what diet is best, and sometimes they appear to be contradicting one another.  But guess what they all consistently recommend.... eating more VEGETABLES!   

They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.  
They contain water which will keep you hydrated. 
And they are low in calories.  So you can eat a lot of them, feel full, and can help control the amount of food you are eating.  This helps when you are trying to stay in a calorie deficit to lose weight.  
Here are 4 tips to increase your vegetable intake without eating 3 salads a day!
1.  Sneak them in!  I add a handful of spinach to our smoothies.  My kids don't even know it's there.  (Yay, Mom!)  
2.  When you are portioning out your plate, fill half of the plate with vegetables.  And you can try this strategy:  when you eat the vegetables at the end of the meal, you might not be as hungry and may even pass on the large portion of vegetables.  So eat them first!
3.  Prepare vegetable snack bags for the week.  The easier it is, the more likely you are to eat the vegetables during the day.  Everything from carrots to snap peas make a great mid day snack.  Eat them alone, or with a little hummus or a tablespoon of ranch dressing.  
4.  Keep it simple with a frozen bag of your favorite vegetable!   Stock your freezer so you'll always have something on hand to eat with your meal.  
5.  Find a go-to recipe that you love.   For me, this Buffalo Cauliflower recipe from my partners at Healthy Steps Nutrition has the salty spice that I love in a vegetable dish!  Click here for the recipe.   
If you are interested in the Renaissance Nutrition program and one-on-one coaching, please email  I have lots of tips and tricks to make living a healthy lifestyle and healthy, delicious food as easy as possible! 

In Health, 
Nutrition Coach, Renaissance Nutrition

How to increase the amount of protein in your diet.​ 1/12/21

Last week  I outlined 4 common nutritional deficiencies to evaluate when you want to eat more nutritious foods.  They included protein, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and water.  
Let's take a look at some ideas to increase the amount of protein in your diet.  
1.  Increase the portion of protein on your plate.  If you typically have 1/2 a palm size portion of protein at a meal, increase it to 1 palm size portion (3-4 oz).  
2.  Start your day off with protein in your breakfast.  Eggs are the obvious choice, but don't be afraid to think outside of the box.  Leftovers from dinner with an egg on top will deliver a protein punch, too!  For vegetarians, tofu scrambles are a great source of protein.  
3.  Choose a snack that includes protein.  Some of my favorites are Greek yogurt, turkey and cheese roll ups, Chicken strips dipped in honey mustard, vegan protein shake.  
When I am working with a new nutrition client who wants to improve their health, and lose weight, we choose one action step to focus on for 3-4 weeks.   Check back next week for my tricks and tips for eating more vegetables!

If you are interested in the Renaissance Nutrition program and one-on-one coaching, please reach out to me.  I am currently taking new clients who are motivated to live a healthier lifestyle!

In Health, 
Nutrition Coach, Renaissance Nutrition

Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle, but you're not sure where to start?  01/07/21

For nutrition beginners, a great place to start is to evaluate where you are with 4 common nutritional deficiencies.  You'll be relieved to know that they don't require a complete diet overhaul.  But you will need to take a closer look at your habits, and pay attention to the foods you eat each day.  
Here are 4 strategies to help fill in the gaps in your current nutrition:  
1.  Try to eat a little more protein.  
2.  Get enough vitamins and minerals by eating more vegetables and fruit.   
3.  Eat healthy fats. 
4.  Drink more water.  
Don't worry - you don't have to do it all at ONCE.  Focusing on one new action step for 3-4 weeks is shown to lead to lasting habit changes.  Evaluate which of the 4 nutritional deficiencies you think is your biggest opportunity, and start there.  
Next week I'll go over some tips for getting a little bit more protein each day.  
In Health, 
Nutrition Coach, Renaissance Nutrition

​​Let’s Look at Lunch and Dinner   6/21/20

So far we have discussed the basics of the Plate Method. (½ plate full of non-starchy vegetables, ¼ plate carbohydrates, ¼ plate protein) The Plate Method is one of the easiest and most effective methods for improving your diet by eating a balanced meal of high quality foods. You can utilize this method to incorporate your favorite foods and recipes into your diet.

Here are my 5 tips for eating a more balanced lunch and dinner!

1. Go for lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, pork loin fish and shrimp. (Vegan or vegetarian, no problem! Do you research to understand the amount of protein you are getting from your plant based sources!)

2. It’s super easy to over do it with the carbohydrates. Be adventurous and try some vegetable alternatives! Spaghetti squash, zucchini spirals or carrot noodles are great in place of traditional pasta! IGA has these both fresh in the produce section and in convenient frozen options in the freezer cases close to the check out!

3. Rice is a staple food for many of us. Give cauliflower rice a try to add more non-starchy vegetables. I mix in my cauliflower rice with my regular rice - and my family hasn’t even noticed!

4. Avocado is a great healthy fat that can be added to many meals!

5. Beware of sauces, dressings and gravies that may contain excessive fat, sugar or sodium. Make your own instead!

And remember, you don’t have to do an overhaul of everything right away. In fact,you will be a lot more successful in the long run if you do one thing at a time and really build healthy habits!

Start with being mindful of the choices you make. Am I eating mostly whole foods, or do most of my food choices come in a package? Can I eat an extra portion of vegetables each day? Am I willing to have ice cream 3 nights a week instead of 7? It all adds up.

Stay healthy,


Nutrition Coach, CrossFit Renaissance

P.S. Did you say to yourself, “What is a non-starchy vegetable?” or “What is a carbohydrate?” Click here to receive our guide to healthy food. The Renaissance Nutrition Food Options Guide. Pin it on the fridge, and use it to help you make healthy choices!


Balancing Breakfast    05/28/20

Last week I introduced the Plate Method as a strategy you can use to rebalance your meals.  It sounds easy enough, but then you wake up in the morning and stare at your refrigerator.  Where do I start? 

Luckily, you have a nutrition coach (me!). Here to help you how to take some of these strategies and then apply them to your own lifestyle. 

So let’s quickly review some key points for improving your nutrition that I have shared with you in the past few weeks. 

1. Eat whole foods as much as possible.  Do this by doing the majority of your grocery shopping in the perimeter of the grocery store. 

2.  Eat a balanced diet that is mostly made up of  vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. 

 This week I’ll focus on some tips to help you balance the first meal of the day - Breakfast!

  • Get your veggies at breakfast!  While we don’t always associate breakfast with vegetables, it is pretty easy to sneak them in.  A veggie omelet with non starchy vegetables will do the trick.  I love these easy and convenient egg muffins!  Switch up the vegetables based on what you have on hand.  Sweet Potato Hash Egg Muffin
  • Toss in a handful of spinach into your morning super smoothie! 
  • Swap out bacon and sausage for leaner protein options like Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, or chicken sausages. 
  • Mix whole eggs and egg whites together for a higher protein and lower fat option. 

This is a great time to start to really look at our nutrition. Changing what we eat can have a big impact on our health. Learning how to reshape your plate will take time, but eventually it will be second nature. For now, take a fresh approach to this meal and try one of these tips to help eat to support your body!  

Plate Method Intro.     05/21/20

Improving your nutrition doesn’t often require a complete overhaul.  While you might be tempted to change EVERYTHING at once, I suggest tackling one action at a time.  Take at least two weeks focusing on that habit before changing something else.  As the saying goes, small changes over time lead to big results! 
One of the easiest ways to eat healthier is to re-balance the food on your plate.  I use The Plate Method to help my clients visualize how to portion out their food.  It is extremely effective because you can incorporate your favorite foods!  

Here is The Plate Method in 4 easy to follow steps: 
1. Make ½ of your plate non-starchy vegetables. 
2. Make ¼ of your plate lean protein. 
3. Make ¼ of your plate complex carbohydrates. 
4. Add in a healthy plant based source of fat.  
If you were most surprised to read step #3, you are not alone!  Changing the portion of our complex carbohydrates is the biggest change for most people when they follow this strategy for balancing their meals.    
Try the Plate Method for a few weeks and reflect on how you feel! 
If you are looking for help evaluating your food choices, and mapping out a plan to success, send me an email.  I would love to help you lead a healthy lifestyle! 

Committed to your success, 
Jessica Thomas
Nutrition Coach, CrossFit Renaissance

Reduce Stress and Move Toward Health     04/23/20

Believe it or not, April is actually Stress Awareness Month.  And as we all navigate the changes in our lives and the weight of uncertainty, many of us are experiencing the effects of stress more than ever right now. 

On a list, “10 Step Stress Solution”, the first action step is “Prioritize your Health”.  We can’t control a lot right now, but a great way to reduce stress is to work on what IS in our control - our own actions. 

In my first blog post, Getting Started with Healthy Living, I outlined these 6 Key Factors to living a healthier lifestyle. 

Eat Whole Foods
Balance Your Plate
Stay Hydrated
Get Moving
Build Strength
Get Some Rest

The next step is to pick ONE and work on implementing it into your life.  You don’t have to do an overhaul right now; that would add more stress to your life!  Pick one to focus on and then keep doing it.  Day after day.  Be mindful of the process.  When is it hard?  How do you feel?  What helped you keep up with it?  Writing this stuff down helps you keep track of it and evaluate what works and what doesn’t. 

Make yourself accountable to that action step!  Tell a friend, or family member.  Better yet, encourage them to do it with you!  

Taking control of our health is just one way to start reducing our stress.  Not only will the step itself move you closer to health, but you will gain the knowledge that you are capable of doing it!  And that’s a great feeling! 

You can make the changes necessary to improve your health - so start with one action step today!. 

If you want help putting together an individual plan, or you have a question, please reach out to me!  I am here to help you reduce stress and move toward health! 

Committed to your success,


​​Getting Started With Healthy Living        03/26/20

​With so many elements of our lives changing right now, let’s focus on what we can control: staying as consistent as possible with nutrition, activity level, sleep and stress management. 

Figuring out where to start can be one of the biggest challenges people face when they decide to live a healthier lifestyle. There is endless information at our fingertips, and it can easily cause us to do nothing at all!

Our goal is to make healthy living as easy to understand as possible, so you can get started making better choices today!  Here are 6 Keys to getting started with Healthy Living! 

 1) EAT WHOLE FOODS - I get asked countless times a week what foods are the healthiest.  I recommend doing as much of your food shopping as possible from the perimeter of the grocery store.  Why?  Think about what you pass as you walk around the outside aisle of our IGA.  Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, the meat department, the fish and seafood counter, and finally dairy aisle with milk, yogurts, cheese and eggs.   These foods typically contain less added sugars, less additives.  Eating more of those foods, and less foods that are packaged and processed is a great step toward heath.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts on how to stock your freezer, fridge and pantry!  

 2) BALANCE YOUR PLATE - Getting a combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats is important to get your body working at its best!  A really simple way to do this is to use The Plate Method.  Fill half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter of your plate with protein, and a quarter of your plate with a starch.  By choosing to eat these components in a balanced way, our experience is that people can make this a sustainable change! 

 3)STAY HYDRATED - Avoid drinks with calories and shoot for 80 ounces of water per day.  

 4) GET MOVING!  Break a sweat at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes.  Track your steps, find a video on YouTube, or join a class.  CrossFit Renaissance, located right off of Castor Avenue in Port Richmond, is more than just a CrossFit gym.  Check out one of our awesome programs - Personal Training, Bootcamp, Youth and of course CrossFit!  We train all ability levels and customize workouts to meet individual abilities and goals. We also specialize in online/virtual training so you can train at your own home or even on the road if you travel frequently!   Click here to get more information on how we are training clients from home!  You can do the intro at our physical location or virtually through an app called zoom! Either way just reach out and we will help you from there!

 5) BUILD YOUR STRENGTH - Lift Weights or perform bodyweight movements such as push-ups, squats, and burpees!  It is always a good idea to train with a professional who can make sure you are doing the movements correctly, efficiently and, most importantly, SAFELY.  Contact us if you need help getting started with your Strength routine. 

 6) GET SOME REST -  Sleep is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. “Scientists have gone to great lengths to fully understand sleep's benefits. In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.”[1]   Beyond the role sleep plays in how we function physically, it can also help us stay positive and committed to making changes in our lives. 

In order to better support our community as our lives change due to the CoronaVirus, we have launched the Facebook group: Stay Healthy Philadelphia.  There you will find more information about nutrition, fitness, and motivation to get started living a healthy life!  Join us today by searching for the group on Facebook! 

Committed to your success,

Jessica Thomas

Nutrition Coach, Renaissance Nutrition

Footnote:  “Benefits of Sleep.” Benefits of Sleep | Healthy Sleep,

Opening      03/06/20

Hi! I’m Jessica Thomas, a nutrition coach for Renaissance Nutrition at CrossFit Renaissance. I am thrilled to be joining forces with The Richmond Shops IGA to lead our community to better health!

Have you ever tried to change your nutrition or start a fitness routine, and then fall off after a few weeks because it was too much work? Or maybe you don’t even know how to start because there seems to be so much conflicting information out there?

At Renaissance Nutrition, we believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t be complicated. Through this partnership, our goal is provide easy-to-understand information, practical tips, recipes and more to help make living a healthy and active lifestyle a little easier!

Look for me in store at the Richmond Shops IGA. I will be there Sunday March 8th from 11-3. I look forward to meeting you and talking to you more about nutrition

Committed to your success,

Jessica Thomas

Blog: Healthy Living with Philly's Own CrossFit Renaissance and IGA by Jessica Thomas, Nutrition Coach