In a recent blog I wrote about the exercise I did to lose weight. It has actually been my change in eating habits that have been the biggest contributor to losing weight. I don’t like to call it to a diet because a diet seems to imply it has a beginning and an end. So many times I have heard people say ‘I can’t eat that because I’m on a diet’ and if they break their diet then they say ‘I will start my diet tomorrow’. I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve heard my Mum say those things. For me I like to call them general eating habits and a lifestyle. With diets I’ve found I tend to be strict but that strictness is hard to maintain your whole life. They can be restrictive and then when I do something that breaks the diet, then it’s like a damn has been breeched. The flood gates of self criticism open which then leads to breaking the diet even more.
The two most important things I have found with healthy eating is 1. Generally eat a balanced healthy diet 2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you eat something unhealthy, then don’t criticise yourself. The occasional treat is ok. Just say to yourself ‘that’s ok, once won’t hurt me. It’s my overall eating habits that are most important.’ I think self encouragement and positive mind frame are essential for being successful with your eating habits.
- Healthy balanced diet: It is important to eat a healthy balanced diet to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs. You need to make sure you are eating enough. When you do not eat enough, you not only deprive your body of important nutrients but the body begins to store fat as reserves. I believe fresh food in it’s natural state is healthiest. For example unpackaged, unrefined and with out additives. Being a busy Mum of four, it can be a hard thing to do. Clean eating would be the type of diet that is most similar to how I aim to eat. Although I do not always achieve it. My pre-kids self would be mortified at some of my food choices these days. It is very hard when you are time poor and the kids are so fussy. The supermarket is so full of unhealthy packaged foods. If you are interested in finding more out about clean eating then I recommend reading this blog article http://www.jenniebayliss.com/clean-eating-food-pyramid/
- Increased vegetable intake: I have greatly increased my vegetable intake. I usually have a bowl of vegetables for lunch and try to include at least three types of vegetables with dinner. Sometimes I also have baby spinach with breakfast.
- Smaller portion size: Portion size is important. I no longer completely fill or over fill my plate. My meal is size would be in between a dinner plate and a bread and butter plate. Half of my meal is usually vegetables, followed by a palm size serving of meat, chicken or fish. The smallest portion is carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potato etc.) If I do have carbs in a meal I make sure I have no more than 1/3 of a cup.
- Healthy Snacking: I have cut out the unnecessary snacking through out the day and only have morning tea and afternoon tea. Although I don’t always have afternoon tea. I now eat healthy food for snacks and no longer have foods like biscuits, chocolate, chips etc in the house. If I do have any of these foods, it is a treat and only a small amount for example only 1-2 biscuits and that would be once a week or less. I have mentioned before after a big day I would be exhausted and flop in front of the TV with a cup of tea and eat chocolate and/or biscuits. I found having these foods in the house was too tempting, so I found it better not to buy them at all.
- Low carb and whole grains: Carbohydrates convert to sugar which gives the body energy. I have found when I exclude carbohydrates all together, then I tend to get hungry all the time, more tired and also have more trouble losing weight. When the body is hungry all the time, it converts the food to fat to store as reserves for later. This is why I include some carbs in my diet. They are an important part of healthy eating. However I am more careful of what type of carbs I eat. I try to chose whole-grains opposed to products with refined white flour. The wheat in white flour does not have much nutrients in it all because the wheat has been so heavily refined that the nutrients have been stripped out of it. This is part of the reason why there are so many people having issues with wheat and gluten. White flour and also white rice are bleached. Read the label before buying rice and make sure it says ‘unbleached’. I also try to eat a range of whole grains. Wheat is only one of many grains. It is the most well known and popular grain in our society. Over eating of wheat, not only in portion size but also being the only type of grain is another reason why so many people are having trouble with wheat. I eat majority gluten free because I am one of those people that has digestive issues with wheat. I am not celiac but I do get bloating, cramping and constipated if I eat too much wheat. Stress also affects my digestive system. Oats, rice, barley, sorghum, rye and millet are examples of grains other than wheat.
At the end of the day there is no magical solution. It all comes down to the choices you make and choosing eating habits that you are able to live with. I made changes over many years. Cutting down on the sugary, refined foods is difficult at first but it is worth it when you get beyond the sugar cravings and needs the sugar hits to get through the day. At first it can be hard to form new habits and can take up to two months or a lot more for a habit to become automatic. Begin by changing one thing at a time and build on it. If you try to change everything all at once, it can become overwhelming. This is personally what has worked for me combined with exercise. I think most is general good advice but also find what works for you. Good luck, there is no magical solution you can achieve what ever you put your mind to.