To follow on from the ‘Building a Healthy Relationship with Food’ series, here’s a fantastic post about Intuitive Eating.
Welcome to my second post on building a healthy relationship with food! Previously I spoke about ‘Guilty Eating’ and how indulging in a large piece of cake or a drunken stop at Maccas drive-through can potentially end up sending you into a vicious downward spiral of emotion that turns into a continuous cycle of bad behaviour and feelings of worthlessness. I also talked about why it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way.
While I’m no mental health expert and certainly do not claim to have any nutrition-related qualifications, I believe my own experiences, research, attempts at dieting (which have been A LOT) and watching those around me endeavour to find what works best for them, have helped me to gather an understanding of the basic principles which do NOT seem to support a healthy mental relationship with food.
Extreme calorie counting, I believe, is one of these. Now I understand that calorie counting works for some people and is the best way they can maintain portion control but my god it is a tedious process! I’m currently in week 3 of the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation which is very focused on counting the calories of the food you consume as you are given a daily allowance (determined by what program you choose).
As part of this program, today I weighed out 40g of baby spinach for a pita pocket sandwich with 125g of chicken breast, 60g of low-fat ricotta cheese and half a grilled zucchini . . . WHO AM I?! By counting all the calories of my snacks, cups of tea, morning coffee and even my treat meals I’ve pretty much taken the joy out of eating! Now don’t get me wrong the 12WBT program is a nice, achievable and well-balanced option for those trying to achieve a particular goal, but can we focus less on how many calories are in the food we are consuming and more on the quality and nutritious value of it?
This brings me to my next point, not all calories are equal. I Quit Sugar gives some brief great examples of this in the following article https://iquitsugar.com/dont-count-calories-2/. Also, Damon Gameau talks about his experience in That Sugar Film where he discovered that the diet he adopted to have 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days actually matched his previous sugar free and whole-foods diet in terms of the amount of calories he consumed per day here http://www.thatsugarfilm.com/my-calorie-results/. Despite the fact he wasn’t eating any more calories than he was previously, the quality of the food he was consuming still resulted in him gaining weight and developing fatty liver disease!
Another factor to consider is that when counting calories it’s far easier to reach for the pre-packaged foods which have the amount of Kilojoules or calories listed on them rather than opting for the fresh produce and weighing it all individually, therefore creating bad choices and habits. We also tend to opt for low-fat dairy options when calorie counting which quite often have sugar added to them in order to make up for the lack of taste from the removed fat, therefore upping our sugar consumption each day.
Now I can preach on and on to you about how adopting a (mostly) sugar-free lifestyle and eating real, wholesome food and plenty of it is the true path to happy eating, but the truth is that it really is the case for me! I’ve never been happier with my diet than when I am enjoying delicious slow-cooked lamb shanks or a home-made chicken soup where I know exactly what has gone in it and the ingredients are measured via rough handfuls as opposed to grams on a set of scales, or when I have a huge salad with avocado, cheese AND nuts in it. Sure, when I eat like this I’m not at my absolute skinniest (which is probably technically underweight) but by participating in regular exercise (even if only going for a walk) I still like to think I’ve got a body good enough to make a few heads turn hehe. The important thing is mentally I’m guilt-free, satisfied, nourished, less stressed and therefore healthy overall . . . and I ENJOY FOOD!
So there you have it, my reasons for why calorie counting is not the pathway to building a healthy relationship with food. In summary:
- It’s takes the fun out of eating and turns food consumption into a chore
- Not all calories are equal
- Opting for lower calorie low-fat dairy options can increase daily sugar consumption
- It can create bad habits in terms of reaching for easily measurable pre-packaged foods as opposed to fresh produce
- It’s tedious, boring and I hate it!
Here’s hoping I haven’t offended anyone too much,
After eating half a packet of snakes (the confectionery type of course) because I felt crappy and guilty for eating KFC yesterday (not sure why I thought it would help), there seems no better time to talk about being in a post-holiday slump.
Its been just over 3 weeks since I returned home from California but I just can’t seem to get back into the swing of things. I only put on 1 kilogram whilst overseas (thankfully in part to my commitment to myself I wrote about here https://sineadwormald.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/staying-healthy-on-holidays/ ) but I’m ashamed to admit I’m once again addicted to sugar and despite starting the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation with my partner for some routine and inspiration, a couple of big weekends has resulted in some naughty eating habits on a Sunday and sometimes into the Monday.
I’m sure I’m speaking to an audience that can sympathise and relate to the vicious downward spiral we sometimes let ourselves be sucked into and I feel that by writing about this and voicing my guilt I’m taking the first step towards acknowledging and moving on!
So what are some other steps that I, and those of you in the midst of gut-wrenching slump, can take to pull ourselves back out into the light?
- Acknowledge your guilt but don’t let it consume you. I’ve spoken about overcoming food guilt in the past and I know it’s easier said than done, however all you really need to know is that your one indulgence has not ruined everything! You are not back at square one, just don’t let your bad meal turn into a bad day, or a bad day turn into a bad three days.
- Try and avoid alcohol for a few weeks. It’s no secret that when we feel under the weather we reach out for the shitty, crappy, salty, oily and nutrition-less food, and when do we feel more under the weather than when we are hungover? I’m planning on committing myself to Dry July this year and also attempting to lock in some exercise sessions on Sundays to make myself accountable.
- Throw out the temptations. I can be a bit of a tight-arse and food wastage is definitely not something I want to condone, however sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done. Throw out the half-empty containers of ice-cream or the packets of lollies and chocolate you’ve hidden in the top cupboard. Just. Get. Rid. Of. It. You should see the sweet sticky mess in my bin at the moment!
- Fill up on the good stuff. If you make yourself full to bursting by bulking out meals with vegetables you’re not even physically going to be able to fit in that after dinner snack. Well, in principal anyway.
- Lastly, be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up and ruining your confidence is just like adding kindling to the fire.
Good luck and I hope your journey out of the slump is successful and fulfilling!
I head to Los Angeles on Monday and this is basically a post to show how I plan to avoid coming back from America the size of a small house . . . which seems a strong possibility.
Whilst I plan on fully embracing the local deep-fried cuisine, enjoying wines with lunch and sampling the buffets in Vegas, I’m hoping to avoid the usual over-indulgence that resulted in me gaining 4kg after a 3 week holiday in New Zealand late last year.
After doing a bit of research on the topic and reading a few blogs and articles with various tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle on holidays, I’ve gathered together a few principles and habits that I’ll aim to maintain for the duration of my trip to ensure I don’t fall off the wagon completely:
Drink plenty of water every single day
By buying a litre bottle of water I’ll aim to drink at least 3 of them each day.
Walk wherever you can
Pretty self explanatory. This is an easy one for me on holidays as I find I walk way more than I usually do in my desk job.
Aim to do one bike/hike/run activity in each city that also incorporates local culture and scenery
This is a great idea to combine being active whilst also being fun. Quite often it’s free to do things like this too, an added bonus! Do some research before you go and find out what activities are available where you’re going. In LA I’ve already researched that I want to do Runyon and the hike up past the Hollywood sign. In San Francisco I’m planning on riding across the Golden Gate Bridge and exploring the park on the other side.
Find a couple of short and easy workouts to do in your hotel room or outside
If they are short and simple you’re more likely to do them! Adriene Mishler has some short, sharp and sweet travel yoga sequences on her YouTube channel for which I’ll only need a towel.
Otherwise I found this little gem on Pinterest which goes for the duration of Kanye West’s ‘Power’ – boom!
Utilise the hotel sauna if they have one
This is the perfect opportunity to detox from the excessive alcohol and rich foods I’ll be consuming. Unwind and sweat it out!
Always start the day with a big and healthy breakfast
I don’t mind being a bit naughty at lunch or dinner, but breakfast is make it or break it time for me. Start the day right and do breakfast properly. It’s also worth doing a bit of investigating and trying to find a place that does good green smoothies nearby. One or two of these for breakfast a week will make a huge difference! Paleo-friendly places are also a great option to look for.
Don’t skip meals and be smart when snacking
Empty calories from snack foods are a sure way to set you up for a nasty shock when you come home and if you skip meals you’re sure to snack.
As we will be spending a bit of time driving on this holiday the urge to snack will be inevitable. To cater for this I plan to visit local markets or green grocers where possible and have some nuts or fruit on hand.
Use a smaller plate when eating at a buffet
Why not trick your brain into thinking you haven’t held back whilst still avoiding that painful stuffed and guilty feeling at the end of a buffet sitting. I’m a sucker for a buffet and always surprise my partner with how much I can physically put away so this trick will be extremely beneficial!
Order a side of vegetables with your meal and always eat them first
This is good if you’re meal comes only with chips. In fact don’t be scared to go vegetarian once a day to ensure you’re getting in your daily dose of vegetables.
And finally . . . listen to your body
Snap out of the ‘I’m on holidays so it’s ok’ way of thinking and instead focus on what you actually feel like eating or doing. I find I often eat things I don’t actually want to on holidays just because I feel like I’ll be missing out or because I haven’t tried it before. This then results in me not actually being satisfied at all and feeling guilty for my over-indulgence. How is that fun?
Listen to your body and what it’s craving. Feeling a bit bloated and clogged up? Avoid the gluten and have some warm water with lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar or a peppermint tea.
Feeling really tired? Avoid the caffeine drinks and drink more water and eat an apple instead. Maybe even avoid the bar and go to bed earlier that night. Don’t be afraid of missing out on something and therefore forsaking your health. After all, what if you got sick and then ruined the rest of your holiday?
Then again, if you’re feeling fine and that big ol’ beef burger and beer combo is looking pretty darn delicious then don’t be afraid to enjoy it! I certainly won’t . . .
I often like to experiment a little in the kitchen and I’d like to think that this soup/broth base is a bit of a signature dish for me. I definitely think it gets better the more I make it and I love trying new combinations or slight variations.
I’ve made it with chicken, beef, tofu, noodles or no noodles and added either fresh carrot and bean sprouts pho-style or cooked mushrooms and bok choy in the broth. You can honestly do whatever tickles your fancy! Just recently I tried it with fish for the first time and I think it’s safe to say this is my favourite combination yet. I’ll definitely be making it again in the coming months as the weather gets cooler!
These measurements are roughly for 1 serve but it’s pretty easy to add extra to stretch this out to serve a few people.
- 500ml Chicken Stock (home-made or organic is best but I only had powdered salt-reduced stock on hand and it tasted just fine)
- 250ml water
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1-2 garlic cloves – finely diced
- 1 tablespoon salt-reduced soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/3 head of broccoli – cut into bite sized florets
- 1 small bunch bok choy – end chopped off and leaves halved
- Half a large carrot – sliced in 0.5 cm thick slices
- 2 mushrooms – sliced
- 1/2 a large barramundi fillet
- Half a small red chilli – de-seeded and finely diced (or to taste)
- Small handful coriander – torn slightly
In a medium saucepan heat the coconut oil and fry the garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock and water and bring to the boil.
Once boiling add the soy sauce and fish sauce and reduce heat to simmer.
Arrange the fish in a steaming basket on some baking paper and place over the broth.
Once fish is almost cooked through (pull apart slightly with a knife to check this – should be just slightly pink in the middle) add the broccoli and carrot to the broth, stir and place the steam basket back over the top. Let simmer for approximately 5 mins.
Next add the bok choy and mushroom to the broth, stir and place the steam basket back over the top. Let simmer for 2 mins.
Turn off the heat and remove the steam basket from the saucepan. Pour the broth and vegetables into a large bowl and the arrange the fish on top. It will break apart a bit but that doesn’t matter.
Garnish with the coriander and chilli and enjoy!
Holy guacamole! There’s been a lot of heated discussion of late regarding the paleo lifestyle and it’s current Australian poster boy, Pete Evans. Poor Paleo Pete has really copped it from the media after his attempted release of a Paleo cookbook designed for very young children that contains a recipe for a DIY formula that experts claimed could kill a baby. Unfortunately all this negative media coverage has resulted in the Paleo lifestyle getting a bad rap, which doesn’t need to be the case if it is researched and understood properly.
I am neither for or against the Paleo approach. This is because I love bread and I love cheese. Actually scratch that, I ADORE cheese! However, I am also very aware of how my body feels after consuming too much of these things. That is I feel clogged up, sluggish and bloated. It’s following these moments, as I’m sipping my warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar to get the digestive system working properly again, that I can understand why people follow and love the Paleo lifestyle.
There are so many different opinions on Paleo and whether or not it’s the right way to go. Personally I’ve made my own opinion on Paleo and it’s potential benefits/obstacles by reading the views of the following people who have the biggest influence on my cooking, eating and general healthy lifestyle:
- Sarah Wilson and the I Quit Sugar team address the key concepts and benefits of Paleo on these pages:
- Rachel Sadler represents Michelle Bridges’ and the 12 Week Body Transformation team’s point of view on Paleo here:
- Pete Evans gives information regarding the principles of The Paleo Way using this PDF:
- And Daniel Churchill discusses his philosophy and reasons for living the Paleo lifestyle on his website:
By sifting through the overwhelming amount of information it’s clear to me that Paleo is often perceived incorrectly as just being all about meat and eating lots of it. This is far from the truth, in fact many of the recipes found within Dan & Pete’s books contain more vegetables than meat and there are plenty of vegetarian friendly options. The key principles are eating wholesome and healthy food that’s un-processed and could have been ‘gathered’ or ‘hunted’ back when we were cave-men. Reducing added sugar, keeping active, avoiding caffeine and restricting alcohol are all recommended traits of the Paleo lifestyle on which I think everyone can agree are sound and healthy principles to live by.
I think it’s ridiculous when people claim that the Paleo lifestyle is dangerous. How can living by the principles mentioned above be detrimental to your health? And when people use the example of ‘the cavemen didn’t live as long as we do now’ as a reason against Paleo, this is easily explained by the huge advances in medicine and technology we have now.
On the other hand I don’t agree with completely cutting out dairy, grains, legumes and all starchy vegetables. This is partly because I enjoy all these things, and also because I believe everything in moderation and at safe levels is ok (although added sugar is something I attempt to avoid altogether). Furthermore by adopting a less restrictive approach to things I find my healthy lifestyle easier to maintain and adhere to in the long run.
One thing we need to remember is everyone is different and no single diet or lifestyle is going to suit everyone. I’m lucky in that my body is able to handle dairy with no problem and that medium levels of gluten are ok but some other others are not so fortunate. Experiment and discover what suits you best and before long you’ll be able to turn that ‘diet’ into a healthy, happy and sustainable lifestyle.
Here’s another combination I tried recently and loved. There is nothing better than using up the contents of one’s fridge and freezer and creating something delicious in the process!
- Flesh of one mango – frozen
- Flesh of one small coconut – frozen (4 frozen coconut cream cubes would work perfectly with this as well)
- 1 cup Pure Harvest Coco Quench (or whatever milk alternative you prefer. Regular Full Cream, Almond, Oat or Coconut & Almond milk would work as well)
- 1 large handful baby spinach
- 1 small handful mint leaves
- Juice of 1 lime
- Chia seeds for topping (optional)
I let the frozen coconut flesh and mango thaw a little bit and then added all ingredients and blended together to create a lovely, thick and almost sorbet-textured smoothie. Top with some chia seeds if you like.