Sofia C. Pereira

Candid Tuesdays with Sofia - It’s more than okay to ask for what you need (including money!)


I adore what I do, and although I am convinced that I provide an extremely valuable service, I still struggle to talk to my clients about payment and money. And I am not alone, as the frustration that comes from feeling that personal needs are not being met comes up again and again in my client meets. Even if, as happens most of the time, these have not been clearly communicated.


Our needs are many. We all need space, time, understanding, forgiveness, love, and unfortunately and very importantly, money. For most of us, clearly and comfortably asking for what you need often takes serious inner mental work as well as persistent practice. And, I would dare to say that being able to verbalize our basic needs is as essential for our health as is rest, food, and exercise. Thus, the decision to write this piece – to help you feel good about asking for what you need from those in your life as well as saying no without feeling bad.


Our society has a cultural neurosis with money, and depending on your culture or family upbringing, there is usually some discomfort associated with talking about money. The truth is that a lot of the fear associated with asking for money has nothing to do with money but rather is due to fear of asking for anything at all. Therefore, although this post will focus on our need for money and therefore our right to ask for it, the lessons are applicable to other needs as well.


Here are some tips to help you own your needs and set limits around them:


    1.   Recognize that you have needs, know your worth, and live it. Time wasted in unhappy moments takes away from productive time. When it comes to money, freebies take away from pay time – so make sure how much you are worth is clear for all parties involved.


    2.   Set expectations with those around you. Regarding money, have a clear view on pricing, time, and objectives. If you do offer a service or have clients, clearly state how much time you will be available for the job and how much it is worth. I find it very helpful to send potential clients a written document with all the information before talking about fees.


    3.   Change your mindset. Do not let your dislike of asking for money be an obstacle to your own development. If your needs are not met, you will not be able to continue to do what you do. Nor will you be able to invest in your own growth and learning. Remember that getting paid fairly is what allows others to gain from your services. Moreover, when you ask people to invest in your work you are asking them to invest in their own work.


    4.   Believe in yourself – don’t set up yourself for failure by not believing in your worth and your needs for money/time/etc.


    5.   Practice, practice, practice - It won’t be easy, and it will take time, but you will get there. Start shifting your relationship with meeting your needs now.


Just to end things off, I would like to bring forth the idea of how feeling comfortable saying no to someone is very much a part of asking for what we need. I think these two are inter-related, as they are about learning how to manage a giving personality, learning how to set and maintain personal limits, and getting your needs met so that you can give and still be your best. So the next time you feel like you are stuck and unable to bring up your needs (including saying no), remember these tips and just do it – for your health!

Sofia C. Pereira

Sofia’s candid Tuesday column


Since the beginning of my practice as a health coach a few years ago, I have written many blogs, released a seasonal newsletter enjoyed by hundreds of readers, published a book with raving reviews (now in its second edition), had many articles published in Thrive Global, hosted nutrition workshops, and coached many clients. However, looking back critically, the timing regularity of my health coach related writing has completely lacked in consistency.


This year I intend to start a weekly blog dealing with issues that I think are important for health and wellbeing – candid Tuesday talks. Since health is multi-factorial, these will approach various topics including food, love, sleep, exercise, creativity, ageing, and of course, they will always take into account the latest science on health and wellness. Keep in touch for next Tuesday’s post – Developing the skills to ask for what you need.

Sofia C. Pereira

Tips to sleep tight at night

There is no doubt that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best, regardless of age. It is during this nightly sleep that our brains best clean up the  junk accumulated from daily processing, our muscles best recuperate and grow, and our minds have time to assimilate and integrate what they have learnt throughout the day.

However, as wonderful as a good night's sleep sounds, it is not always easy to get a good night's sleep. Whether because of anxiety, stress, or simply because you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep, there is nothing more frustrating than tossing and turning for hours without being able to fall asleep. 

From my readings in the scientific literature, hormones play a big part in our sleep patterns/disturbances. This is obvious by the frequent night sweats in women in menopause, or the sleep disturbances in the elderly, who produce less melatonin, a hormone that plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle. 

One thing is sure - sleep is important! Thank goodness that there are a various small practical tips that can help get a good night sleep. Two key actions are daily aerobic activity (more than three hours before bedtime) and daily exposure to sunlight

When and if you do wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep, try to stay calm and meditate so as to empty your mind. If that doesn't work, getting frustrated and angry is not the right way to go, as it will just wake you up more. Some experts suggest getting up and sitting in the dark for a little while, others suggest doing mindfulness exercises. Try different approaches to see what works for you.


There are many tips of practical steps for a restful night, such as the ones outlined in WebMD:

stick to a regular bedtime. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Your body will get used to the routine.Take a warm bath. When you get out of the tub, the drop in body temperature may help you feel tired. It can also help you relax and slow down, so you’re more ready to go to bed.

Take time to calm down before you turn out the lights. Turn off your electronic devices and TV an hour before bed. You can read a book, listen to music -- whatever helps you unwind.

Make the bedroom a sleep zone. If you're still awake 20 minutes after you hit the sack, get up. Get back in bed only when you feel tired enough. Train yourself to think of the bed as a place for sleeping only.

Avoid afternoon naps. If you sleep during the day, you're more likely to stay awake at night.

Don't drink alcohol close to bedtime. Even small amounts can make it harder to stay asleep. It can make you wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of the booze have worn off.

Drink less fluids at night. Trips to the bathroom break up your sleep.

Wear yourself out. Exercise at regular times each day, but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.

Get some sun. Make an effort to get outside in the sunlight each day. It'll let your body know when it’s time to be awake, and when it’s not. Fifteen to twenty minutes of sun a day without sunscreen is okay, but more don't forget to use protection for longer exposure times.


If you do have sleep issues, try these tips and see what works for you. Be patient and consistent in your actions - do not expect results overnight (no pun intended). In the end, it is what we do most of the time that counts. And so, I wish you all many nights of a great night's sleep!


Sofia C. Pereira

Meeting an athlete’s calorie needs – 20 wholesome calorie rich foods and examples on how to use them


While many of us struggle to cut down on calories to lose or maintain our weight, top athletes often have a hard time meeting their daily caloric needs, especially when building muscle in off-season and while carb loading just prior and during intensive multi-competition events. Plus, keeping away from high calorie refined and processed foods is even more difficult if cooking is not your thing or if there is a need to eat on a budget.

The good news is that there are good wholesome calorie packed food options, which you can buy in almost any grocery store and are easy to prepare. Take a look at the list below and at the practical tips on how to mix and match them for healthy high calorie meals that taste great any time of day. 


High calorie fat rich foods

At 9 calories/gram, fats are the highest calorie dense macronutrient. These are some high-fat and calorie dense ingredients to include in your diet.

·       Plant oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil (40/tbsp)

·       Butter (100/tbsp)

·       Coconut milk (550 calories/cup)

·       Nut butters (150 calories/2 tbsps)

·       Avocado (300 calories/avocado)

·       Full fat Greek Yogurt (300 calories/cup)

·       Seeds (pumpkin, 700 calories/cup)


High calorie protein rich foods

Most high calorie protein rich foods also pack a significant amount of fat and/or carbs. Some protein rich foods that are calorie dense include:

·       Medium baked chicken leg with skin (100 calories)

·       Salmon (200 calories/100g)

·       Chickpeas (boiled, 268 calories/cup)

·       Baked beans (392 calories/cup)

·       Ground meat (300 calories/100 grams)

·       Mixed nuts (800 calories/cup)

·       Cheese (cheddar, 500 calories/cup)


High calorie carbohydrate rich foods

High carb foods are important for athletic performance, especially just prior and during caloric demanding competitive events. Some great choices carb choices include:

·       Boiled rice (250 calories/cup)

·       Banana (100 calories/medium banana)

·       Dried fruit (400 calories/cup)

·       Cooked quinoa (220 calories/cup)

·       Cooked pasta (200 calories/cup)

·       Granola (400 calories/cup)


There are some great ways to mix these calorie dense foods and make wholesome meals. Also, you can play with ingredients to meet demands of training specifics regarding whether you need more protein or carbs. Some examples are:

Smoothies – mix yogurt and/or coconut milk, banana, nuts, and you can add some dried fruit or a tbsp of coconut oil or protein powder for more calories and/or protein 

Curries – cooked chickpeas, with coconut milk and spiced with curry powder. Serve with chicken leg (or salmon or ground beef) and cooked rice

Sandwiches – nut butter banana (or apple) sandwiches

Frittatas or omelets – Although I did not include eggs in the above list, eggs are an awesome way to bind ingredients together and/or to use up leftovers. Almost anything works mixed with eggs (top with cheese for extra taste and nutrients).


I hope this helps, and remember, you can always add nuts or seeds to your meals for an extra dose of protein and some added calories. Also, always cook extra to keep and re-invent throughout the next few days. Most importantly, enjoy exploring your food self and bom apetite!


Sofia C. Pereira

for my blog post

Blog post for the Ultimate Athlete Project - What you eat before tournaments or multi-event sports days can make a difference! Read more...

Sofia C. Pereira

The food anthropologist is at it again – this time exploring breakfast options / Lá estou eu a fazer experiências alimentares – desta vez a explorar pequenos almoços

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my health coach and the topic of breakfasts came up. We were walking by the sea very early on a sunny Portuguese winter morning, and even though the temperature was moderately high, we both had been craving warm winter breakfasts, like oatmeal, porridge, and warm whole grain breads. Thinking about this, and the fact that I was eating very similar breakfasts every day for the past few weeks, I decided to do an experiment with exploring breakfast options. After a few days, I thought it was going to be tough to come up with different meals for two weeks. In the end, it has been loads of fun! Also, I can think of many more options… and have therefore decided to extend the experiment two more weeks!

Here is a list of my 15 breakfasts:

1-      Warm red/black fruit soup with granola and yogurt

2-      Oatmeal with homemade pumpkin jam

3-      On the go meat pastry

4-      Vegetable omelet with red peppers

5-      Yogurt with nuts, seeds and apple sauce

6-      Banana and egg pancakes with strawberries

7-      Vegetable and cheese frittata with tomatoes and radishes

8-      Whole wheat cheese crepe

9-      Granola with strawberries

10-   Mom in law’s 81st birthday cake

11-   Seed muesli with yogurt and blueberries

12-   Seed croissant with old Portuguese cheese and jam

13-   Soft boiled eggs

14-   Quark with strawberries and seeds

15-   Spinach muffin with Dutch cumin cheese


I decidedly LOVE breakfast! Don't hesitate to contact me for recipes or suggestions and stay in touch for more options, coming soon!


Lá estou eu a fazer experiências alimentares – desta vez a explorar pequenos almoços


Algumas semanas atrás, na conversa com a minha health coach, surgio o tema dos pequenos almoçosca. Estávamos as duas a caminhar à beira mar, cedo numa manhã de inverno portuguesa, e mesmo apesar da temperatura moderada, as duas sentíamos vontade de um pequeno almoço típico de inverno, como papas de aveia, ou uma torrada de pão cereais integrais. Fiquei a pensar na nossa conversa e no facto de estar a comer pequenos-almoços muito parecidos durante as últimas semanas, e decidi fazer uma experiência a explorar opções de pequeno almoço. Depois de pucos dias, pensei que seria difícil encontrar refeições diferentes por duas semanas. Afinal, não foi nada difícil, e foi muito divertido! Além disso, sinto que ainda faltam muitas opções ... e, portanto, decidi prolongar a experiência mais duas semanas!

Eis a lista dos meus 15 pequenos-almoços:

1-      Sopa de frutas vermelhas/pretas com granola e iogurte

2-      Aveia com geleia caseira de abóbora

3-      Bola de carne para levar

4-      Omelete com vegetais com pimentões vermelhos

5-      Iogurte com nozes, sementes e maçã assada

6-      Panquecas de banana e ovo com morangos

7-      Frittata de legumes e queijos com tomates e rabanetes

8-      Crepe de queijo de trigo integral

9-      Granola com morangos

10-   Bolo de aniversário da sogra no seu 81º aniversário

11-   Muesli de sementes com iogurte e mirtilos

12-   Croissant de sementes com queijo

13-   Ovos pouco cozidos (à la coque)

14-   Quark com morangos e sementes

15-   Bolinho de espinafre com queijo de cominho holandês


Adoro pequenos almoços! Não hesite em contatar-me para receitas ou sugestões e espere por mais opções, a vir em breve!

Sofia C. Pereira

blog post pic

Blog post for the Ultimate Athlete Project. Read about lessons learnt from a 12 month food journey through food challenges.

Sofia C. Pereira

Spirit of the game – 5 Ultimate guidelines to live by

Have you ever heard of a team sport called Ultimate frisbee? What about spirit of the game?

On December 3rd 2017, I am honored to celebrate international spirit of the game day by sharing the five principles of spirit of the game (SOTG) with you. I hope you enjoy… and more than that, I hope international spirit of the game day inspires you to bring SOTG into your day to day actions and interactions. Read on to see how SOTG translates into lessons for life and why our planet would be a better place if we all consistently lived by the principles of spirit.

First things first. What is Ultimate frisbee? And what is spirit of the game? Without going into much detail, Ultimate is a highly dynamic team sport played by men and women (and often mixed) in over 75 countries. Games are played on a rectangular grass, sand or indoor field with specific regions at both extremities where goals are scored (end-zones). During each point, a plastic disc is passed between teammates for a score involving a catch in the offensive’s team end-zone. Meanwhile, the defense tries to to gain possession by intercepting the disc and then to score in their own respective end-zone. Ultimate has components from many sports, including rugby, soccer, American football and basketball. However, unlike many other sports, Ultimate has the particularity of being completely self-refereed, even at world championships.

When you read that there are no external referees in Ultimate, you may think, “Hmmm, this is not a real sport, just people throwing discs around and having fun”. Well, have a look here and see how highly physically demanding Ultimate can be. In fact, it has plenty of serious athletes, who spend a lot of time and effort to peak for important regional, national and international competitions. And the only way that such high-level play is possible without external refereeing is when everyone involved plays by the first rule of Ultimate, the spirit of the game.

Playing with spirit is what allows for there to be healthy competition while maintaining a positive overall feel. Winning or losing, SOTG states that each person has the responsibility to play with maximum respect for their opponents as well as for their teammates. As you will see, the five guiding principles of SOTG can (and should) always be present with us in our day-to-day lives.

Know the rules

Out of respect for all involved, a clear knowledge of the rules is essential in any game, and especially where there is no external “policing” to ensure that rules are being adhered to. Knowing and playing by the rules builds trust and allows for quick conflict resolution in situations where altercations do arise. To transpose this into real-life day-to-day situations, it is very frustrating to not have complete clarity of what is expected or needed of us to reach a desired goal (alone or in a group). As is the sense of unfairness and despair that comes from feeling that the rules are changing as we go along. Being clear about the rules is essential for efficiency, security and best performance. If everyone was clear on setting, communicating, and living by the rules, we would be living in a much safer, more economically sustainable, and cleaner world.

Avoid physical contact

Since Ultimate is a no contact sport, everyone in the game should actively avoid physical contact. In day-to-day life, this can basically be translated into “avoid hurting others”. However, unintentional and sometimes unavoidable situations do occur in which there is contact during play. In this case, a foul is immediately called by the person fouled. If the person that caused the contact agrees that contact interfered with play, the fouled person is compensated with possession of the disc and the game continues. However, if the person that caused the foul doesn’t agree, they have a chance to explain their point of view and the foul call can be retracted by the one who called it. If no consensus is reached, the foul call is contested and the game rewinds one step before proceeding. All this must occur quickly, so the game can proceed with minimal delay.

Back to how this is related to everyday life, there is no doubt that we should all actively avoid hurting others. But sometimes we do accidentally cause damage to someone’s feelings or belongings. In those cases,  the ability to recognize and communicate that you have been hurt is important, as is the acknowledgment and request for forgiveness by the perpetrator.  On the other hand, if the accused does not agree that damage was caused, acknowledgment and acceptance of “agreeing to disagree” is also valid and important for closure. In either case, actively avoiding hurting others is essential. As is conflict resolution, which allows both parties to learn from the situation and to move on. 

Have a positive attitude

In Ultimate, pure enjoyment of play is an integral part of SOTG. In life, this translates into having a positive attitude and finding joy. The definition of positive attitude may differ from person to person, but includes practices such as avoiding negative thoughts, not taking things personally, looking at the positive side, enjoying the small things, and being solution oriented… these are all important for a better life alone and in society.

Be fair-minded

As you can imagine, being fair and objective is essential in a competitive sport that relies on the players themselves to officiate their own game. So, and without much need for explanation, is the case in life. Considering that we have a strong emotional side, which tends to take over our perception in especially difficult situations, being fair can be much tougher than it sounds and often requires a significant degree of emotional maturity, the capacity for a beginner’s mind, and developed empathy for others. No one is perfect, and this is a tough one… but we are all a work in progress and fair mindedness is worth investing in personally, at the community as well as global levels.

Communicate respectfully

The merits of communicating openly and respectfully need no explanation. We must not forget that communication is about listening as well as talking. Sometimes taking a deep breath is not a bad idea when you feel your nerves on fringe due to the frustration of an injustice or the feeling that you are not being heard. In Ultimate, the saying BE CALM is often used to teach communication skills, translating into Breathe deeply, Explain, Communicate, Ask (someone who witnessed the situation at hand), Listen, and Make the call (act). 

Communication comes much easier when integrated into the other four parts of SOTG, where all involved are playing by the rules, avoiding hurting others, being fair and keeping a positive mindset. There is no doubt that we humans have fantastic communicative powers on individual, group, and network levels… when we stay objective and don’t spin stories, our communication skills can do much more good than harm.

Taken together, the five guiding principles of SOTG in Ultimate frisbee allow for healthy competition as well as timely conflict resolution between opponents. To continue my attempt to transpose these guidelines to our daily lives, I would like to conclude by bringing up the importance of consistency. As always, it is what we do as part of our routines that counts. In sports, this is easy to explain – maintaining a cool head and a positive attitude in a game that you are winning by a lot is much easier than doing so in a close game that you really want to win. It’s the same in life, where principles can be difficult to stick to in murky or stressful situations. No, we are not perfect, but thankfully we do have the capacity of self-analysis and retrospect… and to learn from our mistakes. And SOTG provides five great guidelines to focus on in our journey!

Now to celebrate international spirit of the game day, cheers to rules knowledge, avoiding hurting others, being positive, being fair, and communicating respectfully. I love the motto, "Play with intensity and always in such a way that you can look in your opponent's eyes and cheer afterwards." Think about this and how to incorporate it into your life... and five cheers to spirit of the game!

May the spirit of the game always be with you!

Note: This piece was originally published on Thrive Global (


Sofia C. Pereira

What you also get from team sports: It's about more than fitness!

Having been born in Portugal in the mid-sixties, sports, and specially team sports, were not considered an important part of a little girl’s education. I was a tomboy as a kid, as well as slightly overweight, very lazy, and physically awkward and uncoordinated. Partially because of my family’s upbringing and partially to help off-set my lack of femininity, my mom signed me up for ballet in grade school. I just hated it! So much so that I constantly made sure to have snot running down my nose so that the French ballet teacher would send me to the bathroom to tidy myself up... which I took as long as possible to do. By the time I was a teenager living in Canada, and given some choice on what sports to do, I naturally chose individual activities, such as Judo, swimming, and Tai Chi. This means that although I just loved (and love) to watch football, soccer and hockey, playing team sports were not within my scope of reality.

Thank goodness, things changed in my mid-twenties, when I started dating an Ultimate frisbee player and coach that is currently my husband of twenty something years. After falling in love with the sport while watching his team play at the highest level in the World Club Championship in Toronto, I joined the team he started at the University where we were both graduate students. Twenty-six years later, and I am still playing. Of course, things have changed since we played Toronto league in the early nineties … I now play on the beach (sand is softer on the bones) in Portugal, and I am probably slower. But when I think of retiring from the sport, I immediately start to think of possible substitution team sports. As much as I enjoy individual physical activity, I have come to realize that not only am I addicted to pushing myself physically, but that I also crave the lessons I learn and the feeling I get from playing a team sport.

Fantastic life lessons that come from belonging to a sports team include:

Learning to work as a group for a common goal while managing different personalities, expectations, and needs. On a team with many players, managing emotions can especially challenging in a competitive situation. Examples of this Include over-celebrating wins, accepting losses, and congratulating the opposite team after an exceptionally difficult match.

Team sports can therefore greatly help in developing emotional maturity. There is a huge amount of growth that comes from dealing with personal failure and letting down your team as well as learning to let go of past mistakes. In sports, as in life, quick recuperation from screw ups is key, as mistakes themselves inevitably happen.

Team sports also bring great lessons in responsibility, fair play, and communication. Taking responsibility for knowing and playing by the rules, keeping a clear and objective mind during matches and being able to talk and listen are all part of what makes a great team player.

Another advantage of a team is the feeling of belonging to a group. This is wonderful from a social as well as psychological point of view. With game practices and competitions at least twice a week, the social aspect of playing a sport can be an important part of life.

Abstracting from daily life is also an important benefit of a team sport. Even when we are preoccupied with something, often when we start to practice of play, we stop thinking about whatever work or personal issue was bothering us. This distance gained often results on greater mental clarity later.


These are just some of the advantages of team sports, which taken together with the physical fitness aspect, make our bodies and brains function better… therefore allowing for us to live a richer life. The sport I play is especially attractive for me as it is self-refereed, which I believe to be highly enriching from a personal growth point of view. However, any team sport is a great way to do physical activity and socialize. The other day I heard someone say, ”Physical activity helps your brain function”. No doubt it does, in fact, we need physical activity for our brains to function at their best. With a team, not only is fitness more fun, there are a bunch of extra aspects that can help us be better people! The choices of sports are endless, and for all shapes, sizes and/or ages. What sports teams are available in your community that you could join?

This post was originally published on Thrive Global

Sofia C. Pereira

How the book The Food Anthropologist touched me_ a review (Uma opinião sobre o livro The Food Anthropologist)

I don’t want to give a synopsis of the contents of the book “The food anthropologist” by Sofia de Campos Pereira. I would like to express what the book did to me, what I learned from it, what I took from it and what fascinated me.

In 12 chapters Sofia describes the various diets she followed, each diet for a month. No matter how restrictive the diet, she consistently followed the rules and she describes the negative and positive effects on her on a physical as well as social and emotional level. I was surprised to see how many diets exist (she choses a mostly random order) and understand some of the sense or nonsense of a certain diet and why people follow it.

It is a personal story, warm and sensitive, with a scientific flavor. She describes the science behind the causes as well as backgrounds which makes it for a fascinating read. You get to know her family and friends a bit and that gives a nice atmosphere which is pleasant to read.

What fascinated me most were the last chapters, her ‘Afterthoughts’. I’ve never been very interested in food, recipes, variation, although I try to make sure I eat ‘healthy’. I never fully realized the connection between food and all the other aspects of life. Sofia enabled me to see that everything has to do with everything. That there is a connection between all living organisms. It is not only what we eat and knowing what food is good for our health, she also makes the link between the importance of self-discipline and how our focus on goals stops us from enjoying the process. She even addresses how our food actions influence our environment and planet.

It’s about small steps that we can take to make progress and that progress is never linear. We would like to see immediate results when we start a diet or choose another type of food or any goal. Sofia showed me that that self-discipline, even when circumstances are not favorable, is not easy but it is needed to take steps towards a (small) goal that we have in mind. I recognize then Sofia who has been my health coach for a long time and from whom I have learned a lot.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, including those who are not interested in food. It is very pleasant to read and very educational!

September 22, 2017, Holland