Anyone that reads the blog may have heard me mention that I’ve lost a life changing amount of weight in the past 12 months, almost 4.5 stone. This has involved getting fit, being more active, and balancing the amount of food that goes in according to the amount of energy I burn. This sounds blatantly obvious, but it’s hard to put into practice isn’t it?!
The getting fit and more active has been, I won’t say the “easy” part, but the easiest to alter my mind to. It’s proactive, I’ve very quickly felt results that have spurred me on throughout the year and reinforced why I should do it, and it’s nestled itself into my daily routine.
But the food? Can I live restricting myself? I run a food business, I live to eat! Will I be miserable? Will it affect my work? Will it affect my happiness? This was quite a cause of anxiety when making this life change. I decided I couldn’t live being miserable and feeling deprived, it just wouldn’t work. So I had to change my tack, make my relationship with food healthy and positive and throw myself into cooking new and exciting foods.
So here are the rules I have set myself to change my relationship with food, not feel like I’m watching the clock until the next meal, and keep food exciting.
1. Cook it yourself.
This is really the cornerstone of eating balanced, healthily and in a way that’s tailored to your specific tastes. You can control everything about your meal if you’ve made it at home; how much salt is in it, how spicy it is, how big the portion of veg is, how much protein is in it, how much oil is in it, how much it costs, and how much you value what you feed your body! Not to mention pride in your work! Cooking, for me, is the holy grail of well being. The downside…washing up. BUT think of those calories it burns.
2. Make it colourful. Especially Green.
Colour is so important to make a meal exciting, and healthy. Pile as many different types of veg as you can into a meal, especially the greenery! It will fill you up, has loads of fibre and will make you feel satisfied.
3. Variety is the spice of life.
I love having something different all the time, I don’t like to feel stuck in a rut or bored with what I’m eating. So I try to create new things all the time. And if I had chicken a few days ago, and I’m having chicken again today, try a different cut of chicken, try it cooked differently, try it with different accompaniments. There’s loads of ways the same ingredients can be arranged different to make a new completely new meal! Get creative.
4. Try new things.
I try to buy one new ingredient that I’ve never used before every week, and then challenge myself to see what I can make with it. It sounds a hard task but once you think about it, it’s not. So it could be a different type of veg, the other week I make a curry with okra, which I’d never used before. Or it could be a new herb, maybe a different sauce, or a different type of fish, or cut of meat. It could be a different type of bean, or pasta, or variety of potato. It doesn’t need to be a huge change, just little new things to keep in interesting.
5. Follow healthy food sites on your social media.
I follow healthy food sites on Facebook, I also have a lot of friends and a good supportive group around me that share recipes and tips and inspiration. Our Radmore farm shop Facebook recipe exchange group is really good too. I think it’s really helpful to have positive images of healthy, and home cooked food popping up to keep your creative juices flowing.
6. Watch the “hiddens”.
Cooking a lot more at home has really opened my eyes to portion control with the high calorie hiddens, like oil and cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I love these things, but I like to be aware that I’m having them so I can appreciate them! When they are hidden in a sauce or dressing, they add loads of calories and I don’t even get the benefit of knowing I’m having them!
7. Prepare yourself.
Be prepared to eat healthily. This doesn’t necessarily mean prepare every meal. Apart from my overnight oats for breakfast which I have prepared in advance, I don’t prepare much ahead of time, but I’m lucky enough to be at home to cook a lot. So if you can prepare your meals, especially for taking with you when you’re out of the house, that’s great. But more importantly than than, prepare YOURSELF. Do this by always making sure you have the tools you need. Vegetables in the house, lean protein, a good non stick pan, recipes you can go to (especially quick ones). I ALWAYS have loads of veg in the house, and I ALWAYS have eggs (obviously) and I ALWAYS have beans. Then if I’ve short on time and don’t have a meal planned- veggie bean omelette! You need to be prepared with these quick “go to” options to avoid the takeaway or the packed of biscuits being “gone to”!
8. Don’t think about “what can I eat?”, think about “what did I eat?”
This is a great tip I have picked up from a weekend away that I went on with the company that I work out with (Team Body Project). Alex, the lady that owns the business, was talking about food and saying that if you feel hungry, think back to the meal you had and think what it might have been missing that’s left a hole. It might have been too low in protein, it might have needed more carbs. Then next time you have this meal you can rectify it. This was a massive eureka moment. Because my whole life when I’ve felt hungry, I have considered what I could eat to solve the hunger. And that solves a short term problem. Thinking about making the meal more satisfying in future solves the long term problem!
9. Eat things you enjoy!
Just that. Don’t eat kale because it’s healthy if you hate it! That’s making food miserable again. Eat what you enjoy! Chose the veg you like! It doesn’t matter if you never eat kale again! Don’t force yourself to like things, appreciate the things you do like!
10. Make sure you eat those treats and enjoy them!
This is key! Factor in small and regular treats. Learn the self control to have a little of something you love, enjoy it to the max, and then put it away! I know, seemed impossible to me too…but this discipline has been the key to my personal success, both to help me feel mentally strong and in control and so I didn’t feel deprived, because I still have my treats! Also make sure you enjoy special occasions without guilt, these events will not ruin your long term plan at all!
And most importantly, share you recipes with others to help inspire them!