Home / Health & Fitness / The Online Cooking Course That Changed My Relationship With Food


Hi there! My name is Laura Jackson. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a journalist, fitness competitor and a healthy lifestyle coach. I’ve also added “Culinary Nutrition Expert” to my list of credentials, as recent graduate of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition Program.

My Story  

For many years, I struggled with yo-yo dieting. And once I entered the world of fitness competitions, this escalated into what is commonly referred to as “the post-show rebound”. After months of strict dieting, the body becomes very sensitive to food. So it’s important to slowly increase calories once the competition is over. This is much easier said than done. When you follow a strict diet plan for months, you simply want to eat all of the foods you were deprived of for so long. This is not healthy! In fact, it is an unbalanced way of living that often leads disordered eating, food intolerances and food aversions.

The Vicious Cycle 

Although you may not be a fitness competitor, you’ve likely faced this scenario at some point in your life:You drop some weight for a wedding or a vacation. You feel incredible in your body and buy new clothes. But after a while, you get tired of depriving yourself so you end up going back to your old eating patterns. When you realize you’ve gained all the weight back, you enter the yo-yo diet cycle again.

Unfortunately there is a major downside to this. Dieting causes our metabolisms to slow down, which eventually leads to further weight gain. So you end up back to where you started; not to mention the undeniable cravings from depriving your body of nutrients. This is the definition of yo-yo dieting. And for some, it may last a lifetime.

As a figure competitor, I can attribute some of my disordered eating patterns to intense dieting. And if I’m going to be totally honest here, I will be the first to tell you that fitness competitions are not a healthy way to lose weight.

I finally realized this when it started to affect how I viewed food. On one hand, my experience as a figure competitor has given me a lot of knowledge and insight on the impact of sugar, high-glycemic carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, dairy and wheat. But on the other hand, I believe it has also created a lot of fear and anxiety around eating. Don’t get me wrong. I love competing. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve gone through. But it has to be done in the most healthful way possible with a balanced off-season and a reverse dieting plan.

Desperate to put an end to yo-yo dieting or “the post-competition rebound”, I decided to sign up for an online culinary nutrition program to learn how to cook delicious, healthy, nutrient-dense meals. I thought that if I learned the “how-to” when it comes to creating healthy food, I would finally put an end to dieting and the dreaded rebound. Well… it definitely worked!

Perfect Timing 

You know how they say “timing is everything?” This is so true! It’s funny how certain things come into your life at just the right moment. Last summer I was going through my Facebook Newsfeed when an ad for The Academy of Culinary Nutrition popped up. Registration was open and they were taking applicants for fall admission.

Although it is an online program, I learned that the founder (Meghan Telpner) and her staff are located right here in Toronto. So I instantly felt connected and called to take action. Looking back, I had no idea how much I needed to do this or that it would improve my life in such a profound way.

Although I have some experience with cooking, I definitely would not consider myself someone who experiments in the kitchen. Years of competition dieting somehow took the joy out of food preparation.

How This Cooking Course Changed My Life

Since becoming a Culinary Nutrition Expert, my opinions of both food and cooking have changed entirely. I no longer count calories or obsess about what I’m eating. In fact, for the first time ever, I didn’t gain excessive amounts of weight after a fitness competition.

Reason being: I’ve learned how to provide my body with the nutrients it needs so that I don’t have cravings for unhealthy foods that sabotage my health goals. Plus, I’m no longer bored with food. Instead, I look forward to meal times and cooking. In fact, I love trying out new recipes and creating my own from scratch. When you take a few extra minutes to make a meal with fresh ingredients, it makes all the difference — trust me!

This experience has also given me a lot of confidence in the kitchen. I no longer freak out about what I’m going to make for dinner. Instead, I wake up excited about all of the amazing dishes I could create — seriously! I’ve learned the value of meal planning, pantry/fridge organization and a shopping list.

I’ve also noticed that my personal relationships have improved. Since I try to eat healthy most of the time, I tend to allow myself to indulge with friends and family more often. The person who has benefitted the most from this experience is my spouse, Tim. Instead of eating boring chicken, plain rice and steamed broccoli for dinner, we change it up every night. He absolutely loves it! As it turns out, he loves to cook too. In fact, we’ve grown to love our own cooking so much more.

Most importantly, we both feel better. Many of our health issues have disappeared. The best gift of all was when my husband (who suffers from chronic gastrointestinal issues), told me that his symptoms were significantly less as a result of our new way of eating. After witnessing his struggle over the years, this was all I needed to hear to know that this course was worthwhile.

What You Will Learn:

How To Make Sense of Food Labels/Ingredients
How To Store Food Properly
How to Select Produce (organic vs. conventional)
Meal Preparation and Pantry Organization
Choosing Healthy Fats and Oils
Foods That Contain Essential Vitamins/Minerals
Plant-based Foods, Juices, Smoothies and Raw Food
How To Manage Blood Sugar Through Diet
How to Create A Recipe From Scratch
Healing Diets and Therapeutic Foods

Each week you will be introduced to a new module that focuses on a specific topic. Within each section, you are also given new recipes to make. We learned how to make a variety of health building foods from scratch, including: sauces, spices, dressings, condiments, herbal teas, desserts, meals/entrees, appetizers, salads, soups and homemade beauty products.

Is This Course For You?  

Honestly, I think everyone should take this course. If you “eat food” you will definitely benefit! With that said, I realize that cooking may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Below is a list of people who would likely benefit the most:

Fitness Competitors
Yo-Yo Dieters
Personal Trainers/Coaches
Health Professionals
Food Writers/Bloggers
Chefs, Cooks and Restaurant owners
School Teachers/Influencers

This course is also suitable for anyone who:

  • Wants to improve their health through food
  • Is interested in cooking
  • Wants to embark on a new career path

What you need to know before signing up:

  • This course will take up most of your free time (but in a good way)
  • Yes, it is expensive. But worth every penny. Can you really put a dollar amount on health?
  • You may become a bit annoying with all of your new knowledge about food and cooking
  • People will likely ask you for advice
  • You will become very popular as a result of your amazing cooking skills
  • You will be happier, healthier and finally stop the cycle of yo-yo dieting, unhealthy eating and post-competition rebound
  • You will have a new set of skills that will allow you to empower others to take control of their health
  • You will become addicted to posting beautiful photos of your meals on Instagram

What You Can Do With This Certification:

Cook healthy meals for yourself, family and friends
Consult with restaurants on healthy menu planning
Create/sell a recipe book
Create meal plans for clients based on their health profile
Offer cooking classes/workshops (online or in person)
Create your own course
Start a food blog
Become a recipe developer
Open your own restaurant

If I’ve piqued your interest (even just a bit), be sure to RSVP to the next program info session taking on Tuesday, June 12th at 12 p.m. e.s.t.


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