One of the main New Year resolutions for almost everyone is to either go on a diet and lose the Christmas / New Year bloat or introduce some healthier food into their diet. I know, from my own experience that once I know I am on a diet, I am constantly hungry and can eat anything in my sight!
So this year, I haven’t made any food or fitness related New Year’s resolutions as I knew deep down that I would not keep them. I didn’t want to start another diet. My aim was to change my eating habits and with a bit of luck, make sure that as a family we all eat a little bit better.
It is worth mentioning that those are my Healthy Eating habits and I am not a trained nutritionist or dietician. However, I have noticed a change in the way I am eating and feeling, hence I decided to share this on my blog. I haven’t re-invented the wheel. Everything is fairly simple and it’s almost like going back to basics. I still have some work to do on a pair of little fussy eaters, but it’s work in progress 🙂 Let’s start….
1 – Eating Regularly
This is key. Since going back to work full time with two kids, I basically skipped breakfast or grabbed a pastry with a hot flask of coffee. It was consumed in the car, en route to the office. Between getting to the office and lunch I would have 3 snacks and I would still be starving just before lunch, which meant I mostly overate at lunch as well. Feeling sluggish up until 3pm and then being ready for a nap did not help when I had to be alert for few more hours. No wonder the weight was creeping up and I was feeling more and more exhausted.
There are different theories about how many meals per day you should have but for me 5 every 3-4 hours work best. I make sure my breakfast fuels me for the first part of the day, followed by a small snack, lunch which consists of carbs, fats and proteins, then another snack and a light dinner. This sort of pattern makes my metabolism work (hopefully) and I don’t feel like I need to overeat at meal-times. I eat regularly when I am hungry and not when the time comes.
This brings me to another the next point….
2 – Meal Planning & Food Diary
I told you I won’t be re-inventing the wheel. Meal Planning helps me with not having to go out and buy a dried out sandwich for £4, keeps food waste to the minimum and cost of shopping under control. I don’t have a strict day-by-day food menu but I plan what meals we will eat each week and make a note of that in my notebook along with a shopping list. I don’t have a sophisticated Meal Planner. Instead, it is a chunky notebook with all my other to-do lists, shopping lists, etc as I like keeping everything in one place.
This is an example of one of the pages for my meal planning for the week. I know what meals we are having and depending on time and what we fancy we just cook from the list below. A copy of that list is on the fridge as well, so my husband knows what’s on the menu for the week.
It cancels this boring, everyday question “what do you want for dinner tonight?”, reduces waste, cost of our shopping and we make healthier choices.
The evening meals / lunches shuffle between the days but it means I buy what we actually need and resist the temptation of getting a take – out. There is no excuse if there is food in the fridge/freezer. Also, I do like the view of 2-3 boxes worth of lunches in the fridge for the week ahead.
Food Diary, on the other hand, helps me keeping track of what I eat, especially snacks.
3 – Batch Cooking
I am known for cooking for masses – there is no portion control. This comes handy when you are able to freeze those meals ready to be used later. At the beginning of the month, I really didn’t feel inspired to come up with fancy meals and I could not think of anything worse than standing over the cooker for more than 30 minutes. Luckily, apart from having some quick meal ideas in my repertoire, I also had portions of coconut dal, lentil spaghetti Bolognese sauce and a couple of curries in the freezer. It meant that I didn’t have to worry about slaving in the kitchen, buying ready meals or ordering takeaways and it meant we still had good, nutritious meals.
4 – Eliminate Bad Eating Habits
I stopped saying that “as of Monday I won’t eat chocolate” or “healthy eating starts Monday”. Guess what? Usually, on that Monday I felt like I could eat a horse…made out of chocolate. I would then find a hidden stash of chocolate or invade kids’ “treat box” and the whole “diet” goes out of the window with me feeling very, very guilty.
Small steps worked for me. I have never been the biggest fan of fizzy drinks, so they were eliminated first. Next, fast food chains. I don’t eat there often, I am not a fan so again it wasn’t that difficult to stop eating there altogether.
The hardest for me is to stop the urge for a sweet treat after dinner. I usually have a square of dark chocolate and although it does the trick it is still not Galaxy 😦
I hate feeling deprived and same goes for food. Everything is good in moderation and since I don’t crave sweet stuff as much as I used to I much prefer to bake something at home. This way I know what I put in it and enjoy it thoroughly.
5 – Drink Water
This is so obvious, however even I don’t sometimes remember to drink it. Weekends are probably the worst for my water intake and I love my hot drinks way more. We should aim for 1,5 – 2 litres of water every day and there are days when I find it hard to get it in me. Luckily herbal teas also count (thankfully!), so I top up with some herbal infusions (ginger & lemon, flavoured Green Teas) and in the summer I like to infuse my water bottle with some fruit.
6 – Turn – Up Your Metabolism
I aim to start my day with a cup of warm water with lemon (and honey some days) – this will wake your digestive system up and make it work better throughout the day. Sometimes, when I need a change I swap lemons for apple cider vinegar (it is acquired taste). I also make sure I have my breakfast within an hour of getting up. This was a challenge and usually having overnight oats in the fridge which can be heated in the microwave and topped up with any fruit or nuts does the trick. That way I have breakfast on the go whilst I get ready for work.
7 – Move
This has been the most challenging part and one that I am still trying to be consistent with. These days you don’t need an expensive gym membership and You Tube is full of resources. I aim for 2-3 HIIT ( High Intensity Interval Training) Sessions per week but I’ll be honest I need to fight an internal battle to make myself do it sometimes. It’s winter, the day was long & stressful, kids didn’t cooperate at bedtime – there are countless excuses. However, once it’s done I feel much better.
I also track my steps using a mobile app and that seems to add up, especially if I end up on a brisk lunchtime walk.
So this is it. It helped me to gather everything that I have put into practice since the beginning of the year and hopefully, it will also be useful to you.
Throughout the process, I needed to remind myself what motivated me to make those changes (wanting to go back to pre-pregnancy weight) and then put those changes into practice so they won’t become a temporary fix.
What are your tricks or habits that help you stay on track? Please do share them in the comments below!
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