Fit Food: Take A Peek Into 3 Dubai-based Women's Food Diaries

The gym is only half the story. We asked three fitness enthusiasts to share their food philosophies with us
Gbemi Giwa
ITP Images
Gbemi Giwa
August 30, 2018

Gbemi Giwa

A natural athlete, Gbemi Giwa grew up playing competitive sports, and ran track in high school. Her dedication to the gym began in her final year of university, and today Gbemi is a fan of varying her workouts, incorporating weightlifting, CrossFit and dance into her regime. When the Nigerian native moved to Dubai in 2010 and started her food blog, she became more conscious of what she was eating as well as what she was doing - and her fans took notice. Six months ago, Gbemi quit her job in public relations to set up her own digital agency called Social Juice, but she still delivers a daily dose of food-focused fitspiration to her followers on social media.

What’s your nutrition philosophy?
I eat a lot of whole and plant-based foods, good quality protein, and organic food. I believe in sourcing fresh ingredients so I avoid any packaged or processed products.

What do you eat before you workout?
Because I like to workout in the mornings, I’ll just have a banana. It’s easy for me as it’s a light snack that gives me the energy I need to smash it.

What do you eat post-workout?
I like to drink a really nice protein smoothie with protein powder, more banana, dates, and almonds.

What’s always in your fridge?
Kale. I pick that up from Spinneys on my way home from work; tomatoes because I love them, and some kind of protein like chicken or eggs.

What do you never eat?
I eat everything but I tend to avoid dairy and I also tend to avoid foods that are high in refined sugars, because they aren’t great for you.

What is your favourite treat?
Everything really. I’ll have anything that’s a bit fatty or a little bit sweet.

TOP TIP
“Think of adding more good things to your diet and you’ll find that slowly, the bad things will filter out. Find a workout you enjoy. Fitness should be about learning new skills and having fun.”

GBEMI’S FOOD DIARY

MORNING
6:30am I’ll always have lemon water followed by a banana.
10am After I work out, I have a smoothie with protein powder, dates, almonds, banana, plus almond milk or soy milk.
12pm I’ll eat some smoked salmon and avocado for protein.

AFTERNOON
2pm I’ll have a huge bowl of roasted veggies, like roasted cauliflower with dates, or spinach and tomato with a tahini dressing. I like my lunch to be vegan. I eat a low-sugar, high-fat diet.
4pm I usually have a smoothie with frozen blueberries, lime, spinach, mint and a little bit of honey. 

EVENING
8pm I always have to eat before I sleep. I typically have two boiled eggs with salt and black pepper and a tomato salad on the side. Or, I might just eat fresh fruit.

Follow @dubaifitfoodie on Instagram or visit dubaifitfoodie.com

Nadine du Toit

Nadine du Toit

Nadine du Toit moved to Dubai in 2004 to work for Emirates Airlines as cabin crew. It wasn’t long before her busy schedule took a toll on her fitness regime. In 2006, while she was sitting on the sofa, a talk from a motivational speaker inspired her to get up and start moving. She used hard work and determination to completely alter her lifestyle, losing 20kg in the process. After earning her life-coaching accreditation and personal-training qualifications, she quit her job in 2010 and started a body- and lifestyle-transformation programme for women called GloryGirl Fitness. Nadine helps other women achieve their mental and physical wellbeing goals and is one of the region’s leading figures in health and wellness.

What’s your nutrition philosophy?
Eat for energy. I love fresh fruits, vegetables and free-range meat – so anything that comes from the ground, the trees, the land and the sea.

What do you eat before you work out?
Coffee and a rice cake topped with peanut butter and a banana.

What do you eat post-workout?
This is when I put everything and anything that’s tasty into my body – carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables.

What’s always in your fridge?
Eggs, yoghurt and grapefruit.

What do you never eat?
Canned foods.

What are your favourite treats?
Pizza, milkshakes, ice cream, burgers, truffle fries, melted-cheese sandwiches… everything!

TOP TIP
“I try to consistently eat a bit of everything, and include fat. Good fats really support our hormonal function. My law is that three times a week, you have to have a treat meal.”

NADINE’S FOOD DIARY

MORNING

7am I’ll have a coffee with coconut cream. The fat in the coconut cream really helps sustain my blood sugar levels.
11am When I’m done with my workout, I’ll have breakfast. That will be any style of eggs with avocado on toast.

AFTERNOON

2pm I like to have a handful of almonds and a vegan shake, just to get some greens into my body. Sometimes I’ll add a banana.
6pm I’ll come home and make hamburger patties with a big salad full of good fats like avocados, sundried tomatoes, olives, and a little bit of feta.


EVENING

8pm I’ll eat at whatever event I may be attending, so I may include a little dessert.
10pm If I want something late at night, it might be peanut butter with yoghurt and berries.

Megan Joy Mileham

Megan Joy Mileham

Megan Joy Mileham grew up in Dubai and has been in the emirate for almost 23 years. She swam competitively throughout her childhood, but a severe injury led her to discover the need for functional fitness. As she became more aware of her body, she found a balance between strength training, endurance, yoga and flexibility. About 10 months ago, the fitness coach - who loves to lift - decided to go vegan. Having grown up in a typical South African household where meat was - and still is - a staple, it took some convincing, but Megan looked into the athletic side of veganism and was inspired by an emerging culture of vegan bodybuilders. The resulting improved sleep, clear skin, shiny hair, strong nails and mental clarity are added bonuses.

What is your nutrition philosophy?
It’s about getting back to the root source of plants. Everything that I consume is plant-based food.

What do you eat before you workout?
I love to have a really strong coffee to get my workout started. If I’m feeling a bit hungry, I’ll have a banana.

What do you eat post-workout?
I want to make sure that I’m replacing the carbohydrates and the energy that I’ve just used. So I like to have something that’s potato- or rice-based, as well as loads of vegetables to replace protein.

What’s always in your fridge?
The staples I have for my meals are vegan mayonnaise – because mayo goes well with everything; then there is vegan butter, which I can only find at Spinneys; and the last thing is mushrooms.

What do you never eat?
I never eat any animal products, and the most important thing that I avoid is dairy. I always read labels to make sure there’s no dairy in anything I eat.

What is your favourite treat?
Vegan pizza. We have some of the best here in Dubai. I like to top them with loads of caramelised onion, vegan sausage and vegan cheese.

TOP TIPS
“Don’t deprive yourself. Your body needs fuel. Try and avoid man-made chemicals in your food. The more natural your food is, the better your body will be able to absorb it.”

MEGAN’S FOOD DIARY

MORNING
5.30am I’ll have something called ‘Green Stuff’. It’s a boost of spirulina, a bunch of greens and multi-vitamins in a drink.
8am I’ll have some oats with vegan protein powder, banana and maple syrup.
10am My second breakfast is usually a sweet potato with baked beans topped with stir-fried veg.

AFTERNOON
4pm Typically I’ll have pasta with vegetables. I like to mix mushrooms, onions, and spinach with a tomato- or butternut-based pasta sauce.

EVENING
6pm My sister likes to make Thai curry with stir-fried eggplant, onions, mushrooms and broccoli. We add Thai curry paste and coconut milk and have it with rice.

Follow @meganjoy.m or visit meganjoymileham.com