We start with the best intentions when it comes to eating healthier. We’ve all been there. Smaller portions, less carbs, more protein and veggies. Stay away from refined sugar, processed foods and fast food temptations. Chips are my weakness. Cut out coffee? Heck no! Not because it keeps me awake but I just like the taste and the warmth of a cup to start my day …or end the night. But we often SUCK at sticking with our healthiest eating plans.
I recently caught up with registered dietitian Zoey Li who also created the Canadian brand Yumi Organics and the line of nutritious, convenient, delicious and accessible healthy products.
Li graduated from McGill University (Montreal) and after working in the industry for a few years, she began thinking about how her role in helping consumers make better food decisions could go beyond her day-to-day consultations. She realized her passion for business, creating new projects, and bringing people together paired well with her desire to bring healthier options onto the retail shelf. So her journey to build a brand that consumers can trust and put their best interests at heart began.
I was thrilled to learn that Yumi Organics is Canadian and woman-owned, with a diverse team working behind the scenes. Since all of their products are created by a registered dietitian, there’s comfort in knowing that you’re bringing home healthy food choices.
How did she come up with the name Yumi Organics? Li tells us under the brand’s foremost commitment to “make it easier to eat healthy”, their mission was to create products that are “yummy” while keeping things simple. “To us, simplicity means three things: forming habits that are easy to adopt into any lifestyle, creating products that save on time and effort, and promising clean and functional ingredients,” said Li. “The “i” in Yumi reminds us of our vision for innovation. We will always strive to create products that are new and novel for consumers. We are committed to organic, clean, and healthy ingredients. Healthy, Easy, Yummy.”
Yumi Organics launched their first product line of Overnight Oats in 2019 — the first Canadian company to launch a retail Overnight Oats product. “As a dietitian, I saw that helping my clients start the day with a healthy breakfast pre-prepared really helped build a routine and set a tone for the rest of their day,” said Li. “I set out to build a product line that was not just another product on the shelf, but something that helped build routines and offer true convenience.”
What are Overnight Oats?
Overnight oats are raw oats soaked overnight in the liquid of your choice. Essentially it’s like oatmeal, but with the added health benefits that come from eating raw oats. Soaking raw oats means no cooking is required, which preserves the B-vitamins, antioxidants, and prebiotics found in oats, increases the amount of resistant starches, and lowers the overall Glycemic Index. Plus, by preparing pre-made overnight oats the night before, all you have to do is mix in your favourite toppings and optional sweeteners to enjoy a creamy and delicious breakfast! Raw oats are rich in plant-based iron, zinc, and proteins, and can provide a number of essential nutrients, including the all-important vitamin b12 (especially for vegans). Soaking the oats overnight instead of cooking ensures that you get the largest health benefit from them that you can. Raw oats are also naturally gluten-free and can act as a versatile breakfast.
Yumi Organics also offer unique mason jars make it a no-brainer with pre-established fill lines so the consumer gets the perfect ratio of their milk of choice to oats, every time (I’ve used macadamia nut milk or oat milk so far). With 5 jars, and under 2 minutes with their packages of overnight oat products, you can prepare a healthy breakfast for the entire week for under $10.
So far, I’m pretty impressed with myself! I’ve actually been making the jars for my family for over a week now and it’s sticking. Breakfast is a simple reach in the fridge for a jar and tossing on our favourite toppings (fresh fruit and seeds). While I’ve made overnight oats before, Yumi Organics really simplifies the process and tastes great .
Li also tells us they’ve built programs for 3 weeks to help consumers form a lifelong habit. “Most importantly, because we involve the consumers through adding their milk and toppings to the product, they are able to take ownership of their success in sticking to a healthy routine. Starting each day knowing you made a great decision helps you continue to make good decisions for success in your goals in life, work, and career,” said Li.
I wanted to learn why we sometimes have trouble sticking to routines…
What are the most common excuses you’ve heard from people that makes them break their own promises?
Li: There are a couple of pitfalls that people commonly fall into when it comes to sticking to any “healthy eating plan”:
• Usually caused by a trigger (like an advertisement, a celebrity’s Instagram account, or someone’s before/after pictures), people often experience a surge of motivation that entices them to create goals and plans that are not realistic or achievable in the long term. It is so different from their existing routine that the amount of effort it takes to just stick with it is unsustainable and often causes a burnout. If a new routine exhausts you early on, how do you expect to turn it into a lifelong habit? No wonder we see so many people fall off track.. We have to build healthy eating plans that we can realistically stick to, and start small until it becomes a habit before adding on another step.
• Not properly planning their week in advance often forces people into a situation where they don’t have healthy options to fall back on, and they ‘have no choice’ but to choose the closest fast-food place. With proper meal planning for the week, including breakfast, you are less likely to make unhealthy choices, especially when you’re tired or when you’re dealing with a stressful situation. . Most of us think about what our next meal should be at least 3 times a day. Without proper planning, any decision you make can be easily swayed by external factors, like your environment, your emotional state, your stress tolerance, your cravings, even the time of day!By visualizing and deciding on what to eat ahead of time, and by having all those meals already prepared for the week, you can take better control of your life, instead of letting fate make decisions for you.
• Between holidays, weddings, birthdays, and parties, it seems as if there are events around every corner. This often puts us in a ‘cheat-meal’ mindset and we decide to press pause on our healthy eating goals. But what if we made the conscious decision to include these once-in-a-while events into our schedule? Incorporating healthy eating into our routine, even on the weekends, is all part of finding a well-balanced lifestyle. If you do choose to indulge a bit, never think of it as a ‘failure’. By associating these indulgences with failure, it gives people the permission to give up on their plans, because they think to themselves: “What’s the point of going on?”Instead of falling into that rabbithole of negative mindset, remember that enjoying yourself is just another part of a healthy well-balanced lifestyle. Enjoy your Friday and Saturday nights! When Sunday comes around, simply get back to your meal-prepping routine (or whatever healthy habit works for you) for your work-week.
What steps should we be taking to try and stay focused on our goals?
Li: It is important to set up healthy and clear routines to streamline our day-to-day responsibilities, so that we have the mental capacity to focus on our goals. Of course, starting the day off right with good intentions and a healthy breakfast is a great way to put us in the right mindset.
It is also helpful to review your goals monthly, quarterly, and annually, and adjust them to fit your current needs.
We often think short term wins rather than long term success…thoughts?
Li: Both are equally important. I was brought up with the mindset that in order to succeed in the long run, you needed to put your head down and hustle until it happened.
I’ve come to understand that the reality is much different. If we don’t take a moment to enjoy the short-term wins, we are priming ourselves for a burn out.
As they say, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint”!
What foods should we be eliminating or avoiding if we want to be healthier?
Li: Avoid foods high in sugar, low nutrient-to-calorie foods, and processed foods.
Many of us are concerned about weight gain (especially from pandemic eating), how can we get back on track now?
Li: Be kind to yourself, and recognize that we all went through the stress of a global pandemic. Figure out what getting back on track means to you, and identify attainable goals and how you’ll get there. Once you have a plan, start small and appreciate the successes along the way. By building these new decisions into a routine, and turning that into a habit, you’ll soon see it become a part of your lifestyle. I suggest the support of a dietitian to help guide you through your journey.
What else can we currently find in the Yumi Organics line?
Li: We just launched our second product line with Yumi Probiotique Trail Mixes and Super Seeds in 2022. With +1 billion probiotics per serving. We are the first Canadian company to launch a line of trail mixes with shelf stable probiotics added. We chose a specific strain of probiotics that are only activated once ingested.
This product was created in light of the pandemic, by recognizing how mental health throughout the population as a whole has been affected. The strong research showing correlation between gut health and mental health is what triggered our team to include probiotics that support gut health in our new line. Also, it serves as the perfect topping addition to our overnight oats!
What’s coming up ?
Li: We are excited to be constantly in product development to challenge ourselves and the industry for what is next in the world of health food. Although we cannot say what is down the line, we can assure you that all of our current and future products will always offer consumers a healthy ‘no-brainer’ option on the shelves.
So, my family’s thoughts?
The current Yumi Organics Overnight Oats line includes Blueberry Vanilla, Maple Cranberry, Dark Choco, and Apple Cinnamon. All really delicious and we top with whatever fresh fruit we have handy. Both my husband and I, along with our teens have all been enjoying them.
Portions have been ideal for us. One for breakfast has kept me feeling full and helped prevent my snacking habits before lunch time.
Each box of Overnight Oats comes with 6 individual servings (dry packs) that are great for travellers, students, and upcoming cottage season. Simple add the content to a clean mason jar and fill with preferred “milk” to the measurement line. Then screw on the lid and place it in the fridge overnight (If you’re in a hurry, they are also ready to eat after 4 hours of fridge time). Great also if you’re in a rush to get to the office (you back already?) just toss a jar into your handbag and feel good about making your choices healthy on the go! Once prepared with the milk of choice, the overnight oats can last in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Each serving is made of 100% Canadian Oats and has only 210 calories with less than 6 g of sugar. They are considered a good source of protein, fibre and antioxidants. They are also naturally organic, gluten free, vegan, dairy-free (when choosing a plant-based milk) Highly recommend ordering their mason jars with easy measurements lines to follow.
More information on Yumi Organics can be found on their site: www.yumi-organics.ca