Are you constantly starting diets on a Monday morning only to find yourself rustling around in the bottom of a family sized bag of Doritos at 10pm the same night? I understand. I know how you feel. I have gone through phases in my life where I just can’t seem to stick to any sort of healthy eating plan for longer than a few hours, and find myself going round in circles of feeling fat, comfort eating, feeling fat, and so the cycle continues and I continue to eat unhealthily.
In the past year I have tried Weight Watchers, Whole 30, paleo and fasting diets and have come to one conclusion. I feel good when I eat just healthily everyday. First of all let’s define healthy. Your definition of ‘healthy’ might be completely different to mine, and that’s kind of why the dieting world is so confusing for people; including me! At the moment my image of ‘healthy’ eating means;
Minimal processed foods, sugar and grains
Minimal dairy (for me, basically none)
Good helpings of lean protein and fish
Some helpings of red meat
A variety of vegetables
If you like to eat yoghurt, bread and cakes everyday then you are more than welcome to. Some people can eat what they want, stay the same weight and feel energetic for a full day with no issues. I am not one of those people and so I need to try and eat well most of the time. Like everyone, I go out to dinner, I eat pizza and I bake cookies now and again. I am by no means perfect, but I try to eat healthily 90% of the time. Now onto the so-called secrets…..
Soup is cheap, filling and full of vegetables which will give you invaluable nutrients. By default, most soups are also low in fat. However, I am talking about homemade soup here. The kind that comes in tins is nasty. I eat soup for lunch at least 3 times a week and I find it keeps me full until dinner.
Going sugar free is one of the most important things you can do to feel healthy. And I don’t mean laying off the sugar in your tea, I mean really giving up sugar. Do you ever look at the ingredients list on the ready-made food available like sandwiches, pasta sauce, cereal bars, breads and ready meals? It’s in everything. Once you start looking it’s hard to stop. Giving up sugar is a daily struggle for me, but I give it a good go because when I get real sugar cravings it is hard to ignore them. I find that eliminating sugar from my diet has allowed me to make food choices with my head instead of my belly.
Exercise is one of my favourite hobbies and when I am doing it, I’m not eating. It may sound silly but sometimes when I think I’m hungry I just need a distraction. In the time it takes me to get on a bus, do a fitness class and come home I could have easily consumed 500 calories, but instead I burned them off. I also feel like I have done something good, meaning I don’t always want to ruin that with an unhealthy meal.
Snacks are important but not 100% necessary. Some people believe in three meals a day without any snacks in between, some studies suggest 5-6 small meals a day is better for weight loss. I personally don’t stick rigidly to either of those ideals, but like to have snack options available for when I am genuinely hungry and can’t sit down to eat a meal. For me, unsalted nuts are the perfect snack. They are satisfying but not so tasty that I want to eat a whole bag. Even places like Starbucks have these available at the counter so there really is no excuse for eating chocolate bars because you don’t have time to eat lunch. I also really like NAKD bars, which are raw fruit and nut bars available in a lot of high street stores and Holland and Barrett.
Store cupboard ingredients are what make my healthy meals convenient to make. I have a cupboard full of tinned tomatoes, oil, coconut milk, spices, herbs, stock cubes and garlic. I also have a freezer full of vegetables. So when I need dinner in a hurry all I need to do is pick up some chicken, fish or red meat and I have a healthy meal just waiting to be eaten. It makes me so angry when people think picking up a microwave meal is the only way to eat conveniently. Steaming a piece of salmon in the microwave takes about 5 minutes, and you don’t need to pierce any packets with a fork!
Knowing what real hunger is has taught me the difference between that and boredom. I am bored a lot, even at work. I work in a bakery where I am surrounded with sugar coated buns, cream cakes and crusty bread all day. I tell you, after a while boredom starts to feel a lot like hunger. My favourite test for this comes from the Fast Diet book (if I remember correctly) and it says, when you feel hungry ask yourself this question; “Am I hungry enough that I could sit down and eat a large piece of steamed fish, with a nice helping of vegetables?” If the answer is no, then you aren’t really hungry. You’re probably just craving the taste of something. If the answer is yes, then you are craving nutrients so go and eat a healthy meal!
Well there you have it, a few of my ‘secrets’ that you were probably already aware of. Sometimes we just need someone else to state what we are already thinking.
Do you have a secret to eating healthily everyday?