Following on from my last post, here are strategies that I have used to help change the way that I eat:
You are going to have to learn to accept your body to make real change. Big hips, big boobs, saggy boobs, no boobs, no hips, short legs, long legs, big feet, no waist, long waist, curvy, boyish, apple; whatever your body is like, you need to learn to accept it for what it is. I know that this is not something that can easily be done by a click of the fingers and ‘oh ok then’. It will be a slow process but hopefully you’ll find that as you change the way you eat and move more, you will start to feel better from within, which will lead to acceptance. Look for the parts that you do like; it can be something as small as the colour or shape of your eyes to begin with, find the parts of yourself that you think are beautiful. I actually have lovely ankles and I bloody love my collarbone so, you know it can be ANY PART OF YOU. Give yourself time and be kind. Keep in mind that your goal is being healthy!
Adjusting my portion size has been a big change, I have had to learn to leave food on my plate, being of the generation who were taught to “finish everything on your plate!” No. It is ok to leave food! Now, I tend to just serve myself a small portion and go back for more if i’m REALLY hungry but even then I make myself wait about half an hour to allow my brain and stomach the time to register that i’ve eaten.
However, when I first started this way of eating, I made myself leave food on the plate, I taught myself that it was ok and that (gosh this could divide opinion but stay with me) it’s ok to throw food away. I don’t mean randomly flinging things in the bin that you’ve bought and just let sit there in the fridge slowly mouldering but I mean the leftovers on your plate, it’s ok for them to go in the bin. Please practise this mindset, and it will take practise but you will get there! This also applies to you not hoovering up the kids leftovers. I’ve taken to throwing them in the bin as soon as they’re finished to stop me picking at them which has taken super human strength on my part.
Portion control has been a work in progress for me because i’m incredibly greedy, I love to eat. If I really wanted to, I could probably dislocate my jaw to fit more food in, like one of those snakes. Which leads me nicely on to…
Chew your food more. Probably about 20 times. Yes really. I have to remind myself to slow down and chew. It slows down your eating time allowing your brain to register that you are full! You should begin to notice a “full feeling” in your stomach, for me it was about a week before I noticed but we’re all different so it could be sooner for you, or it could take longer. Stop eating as soon as you notice this feeling!
I know some people will roll their eyes at this but actually getting a fitbit has helped to motivate me to move more. I want to get to that 10,000 steps a day (I probably average about 13,000 but please be aware i’m running around doing housework and chasing after a toddler).
Please do not skip breakfast, just do not. You are not doing yourself any favours. You will end up bingeing. You need a good breakfast to fuel your body. During the week I need something quick as i’m trying to herd my lot through the motions and get them off to school! My weekday breakfast generally consists of either goat or coconut yoghurt, granola with some fruit, or porridge. I will have a look around though and find some other good breakfasts if that doesn’t float your boat. Stay away from the sugary cereals, they will cause you to spike and then crash, leaving you craving and going on a binge! You need slow release foods to keep you going until lunch.
You don’t need to give up alcohol but can you limit it to two days a week? You can pick which two to suit you. Mine are Friday and Saturday, or Sunday if I don’t do Friday but you could have a hump day drink and then a weekend drink? It’s your choice, juggle it to fit you. If you get to the end of the day and think ‘UGH I JUST NEED A DRINK!’ first try sparkling water or tonic water with a squeeze of lime but if you really need a drink, try and have clear alcohol ie vodka or gin. You will actually begin to find that when you cut back on alcohol, you wake up the next day feeling better and have a better control over your appetite.
I’ve said about chewing previously but you really need to focus on what you’re eating and be MINDFUL! I know, it’s one of those buzz words that are the rage at the moment but I basically really want you to pay attention to what you’re eating. Turn off the television, no scrolling through your phone and no eating on the move! I know it’s hard in this day and age when we’re all so busy but you need to make time to eat. If you’re at work, for example, try and get away from your desk and go and eat somewhere not work related. Smell your food, really taste it, chew it, eat slowly.
Please don’t start this way of eating when you have PMT, you will want to murder everybody. Just don’t do it to yourself.
Do NOT cut it out! Unless you’ve been advised by a medical professional due to an intolerance I don’t advise cutting out bread. The same with rice, pasta and potatoes. Again, examine your portion size. I always found that cutting these things out only led to me craving them and then inevitably having a massive binge on them. Remember, everything in moderation! If you’re including these things in your diet, you shouldn’t have that feeling of deprivation! I don’t necessarily eat them at every meal, it really depends on what I feel like eating at the time. Sometimes, I just want some vegetables and pulses or just meat and vegetables.
Look at your water intake, you should be having 6-8 glasses a day. I know a lot of people struggle with plain water so perhaps try sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime until you are more used to it. Hot or warm water with lemon is fantastic for your digestion. Herbal teas are also great, I like turmeric, peppermint or lemon and ginger but there are so many out there so try to find something that you like. I still have coffee because I love it but I have two americanos in the morning and an espresso in the afternoon, try not to drink endless cups of tea and coffee. Also, do you associate having a cup of tea with a biscuit? If so, try to avoid drinking anything that you associate with eating until you have got control over your cravings. I can’t have a cup of Yorkshire Tea without it screaming ‘CAKE!’ at me. I probably ought to stop adding hallucinogens to my tea (that’s a joke). Alcohol also makes you want to eat more as it numbs the “full” receptors in your brain that tell you you’ve had enough
My weight fluctuates because, well i’m human and a woman. When I have PMT, I bloat incredibly. Please don’t be disheartened and jack it all in. Sometimes you just fluctuate no matter what you’re eating so keep going.
Can you try and go to bed earlier? I eat when i’m tired so I try to get to bed about 10pm when i’m getting back on top of eating habits as I find I don’t get as many hunger pangs when i’m not exhausted. If i’ve had 8 hours, I do a lot better.
If you slip up, you have not failed. You cannot fail with this. If you end up eating a slice of cake, I want you to make bloody sure you enjoy that slice of cake. Concentrate on what you’re eating. Enjoy the taste. You’re allowed that cake but then y’know, don’t have cake the next day. We’re looking for balance!
I’ll admit as well, sometimes I relax my eating – holidays, Christmas etc I will drink a little more, have a few more treats and i’ll put on a little weight but then I can generally pull myself back on track and start eating properly again but i’m telling you this because I don’t want you to feel like crap if you relax with it a little now and then! We’re all allowed a holiday! As long as you’re eating healthily overall, a couple of weeks here and there is no big deal.
I tend to get hunger pangs at around 11am and 4pm, so I ask myself ‘Am I bored/tired/thirsty?’, ‘Am I just eating for the sake of it?’. I have learnt now whether I am really hungry and in need of that snack to fuel my body or just thirsty/bored/greedy/tired. Good snacks are; vegetables and either hummus or really good quality mayonnaise to dip them in; a few nuts (I go for about seven and then see how I feel); a couple of slices of salami or parma ham; or a hard boiled egg.
Another thing I did when I was starting this was to go off and do a job when I got a hunger pang, when I came back from making the beds/putting the washing away/hoovering, if I was still hungry, I would have a snack but more often that not, I would come back and the craving would have passed. If you’re in an office, try going off and making a cup of herbal tea or something and then come back to your desk, then the feeling may have passed. If you feel dizzy, or like you’re going to pass out then PLEASE eat something! Remember we’re not depriving ourselves but your body is learning whether it’s actually hungry or not, sometimes you genuinely will need a snack to keep it going.
Preparing meals ahead can really help despite being an utter ballache but could you spend a bit of time at the weekend preparing some food for the week ahead? I roast some vegetables and keep them in tubs in the fridge, then if i’m STARVING, I have ingredients to hand to throw together a salad. I will cover this in more detail in food ideas in another blog but just off the top of my head: roasted butternut squash and peppers, thrown together with some pre cooked cous cous (you can’t keep cous cous all week in the fridge though but it is very quick to prepare!), chickpeas from a tin, feta cheese, served over salad leaves and a nice dressing makes a really good lunch. Or roasted vegetables mixed with eggs and baked in the oven for a frittata which you can cut into wedges. If you have chicken leftover from a roast, this is great in a salad or you can just roast a chicken breast in the oven, then shred it. Just little things that you can do to help you along the way. I will do this in more detail but you get the idea and yes, there are a lot more salads with this way of eating but you still get to eat everything else that you love so fear not. And don’t associate salads with rabbit food, there are so many ways to make a delicious salad – the possibilities are endless! Which leads me on to…
You need to learn to love vegetables (if you don’t already). Vegetarian food is delicious! Vegetarianism has come a long way from mushroom risotto and nut roasts (i’m always disappointed in restaurants when I see the only vegetarian option is mushroom risotto – come on guys, there’s loads of options, you’re not trying hard enough!)
I will put recipes up over the next few weeks but have a look around because there’s some great vegetarian food.
Yes, you’re going to have to exercise because you’re being healthy. Part of that is exercise. I know, I know, Love Island is on and you don’t want to get off the sofa, you’re knackered from a day with the kids or work is really slamming you and you’re just too bloody tired but actually a little exercise will help. It gets those endorphins going and helps keep you on a positive track with your eating, so much of our attitude to food is tied into our mental health. If we’re having a rubbish day, we tend to want to comfort eat or not eat at all, neither of which is healthy so think about trying to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.
I love to run, to put my headphones in and shut out the world, I find it really therapeutic and it massively helps with my anxiety. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy for a run so I like to go for a brisk walk and take in the sights and sounds of nature (I know I sound a bit like a hippy but it’s proven that spending time in nature is really good for your mental health). I also love doing yoga because I love the effect it has on my mind as well as my body.
You may think ‘ugh running’ which is fine so instead, could you go for a walk? But you can’t just dawdle along, you really have to walk, get your arms moving and get the endorphins flowing. Get off the bus a couple of stops earlier on your walk to work or go for a walk around in your lunch hour (I know that this is chuffing impossible in this endless rain we’re currently enduring, well not impossible but you probably don’t want to return to work after lunch damp and bedraggled). I enjoy, when the opportunity arises, walking the boys to and from school to get a bit of extra movement in but the weather has to be dry and the boys in a biddable mood, otherwise I have to bark at them like a Seargent Major to get them out the door and up the hill which doesn’t make for a pleasant start to the day for any of us.
The other thing you can do is dancing. I don’t mean professional ballroom and you’re probably going to read this and think ‘ugh, cringe, no thanks’ but you can dance in your own home. It doesn’t matter if you’re completely crap at dancing, that’s not what it’s about, it’s about getting your body moving and your heart rate up. So I put on some music that makes me happy and I dance! That’s it. You can do it at home and it’s free! The kids look at me to begin with like ‘errrr what are you doing you total embarrassment of a hooman bean’ which i’m sure will only improve as they get older – haha – but then they tend to join in and we have a dance in the kitchen. If you live alone, then you’ve no problem – stick your music on and get going! If you have a partner or flatmates, explain to them that you are changing your lifestyle to be healthier and that includes exercise so you’re going to be doing some ridiculous dancing in the kitchen, would they like to join you to be SUPPORTIVE? If they say no, get new ones, the miserable gits don’t deserve you. Aim for about fifteen minutes of dancing.
This is the thing as well, try and squeeze in exercise when you can, don’t set massively high expectations for yourself and go ‘I AM GOING TO GO FOR A RUN/SWIM/TO THE GYM FOR THREE HOURS’ because you will hate it and it will be miserable. Think ‘I’m going to go for twenty minutes’ and then if you do longer and you enjoy it – bonus! The more you move, the more you’ll enjoy it and the longer you will probably want to go for but start small. I can recommend the Couch to 5k app for running. Give yourself small, achievable goals that will boost your confidence.
I find it hard to factor in the time for yoga because the boys just hog my yoga mat if they’re up and once they’re in bed, I still have so many jobs to do so instead of feeling like I have to do an hour of yoga, which is what I would like to do, I decide to get on my mat for ten minutes and then I generally end up spending longer once I get into it but it’s that initial ‘I don’t have time.’ Just give yourself a ten to twenty minute exercise goal when you’re starting out.
Some final thoughts
As you’re upping your water and changing the way you eat, you may initially find you get a bit spotty as your body is ridding itself of toxins but stay the course as you should find in the long run that the increased water, exercise, more sleep and better eating will improve your skin. You will probably glow too. Though i’m not making promises.
You will probably find also to begin with that you may be a bit, er, windy. The increase in vegetables and pulses can have that effect, it should pass after the first few days. In the beginning of trying to cut back on unnecessary snacking, I ate a lot of carrot, cucumber and pepper sticks in those moments of ‘I have to eat SOMETHING or I will gnaw off my own arm’ but as my appetite changed and I became less hungry and less in need of snacks, this unfortunate side effect subsided.
The first week is always the hardest but I really believe that we can all change the way we eat to become healthier, it is mind over matter; we just need to retrain our brains.
If you have any questions, or need motivation, I am here to take messages so please feel free to get in touch any time, I will be happy to help.
Finally, you are not a worthless piece of crap, you are important, so start treating yourself accordingly. Right, i’m starting to sound like Oprah so i’m off.