Building a healthy relationship with food – Post 2 ‘Calorie Counting’

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.

Food is my bestfriend

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!

Not-all-calories-are-created-equal

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

And lastly,

  • It’s tedious, boring and I hate it!

Here’s hoping I haven’t offended anyone too much,

Sinead xx

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Coconut & Mango Sweet Green Smoothie

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!

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Method:

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.

Coconut & Mango Sweet Green Smoothie

Coconut & Mango Sweet Green Smoothie

Sinead xx

When it tastes better than it looks . . .

I don’t know about you but I definitely have not perfected the art of making pretty food. Good, wholesome, tasty food I can produce easily but I’ve found it very rarely looks as appetising as other people’s concoctions. Maybe I need a better app on my phone, maybe I lack creative flair or maybe I’m just an everyday home-cook like everyone else!

The problem is that so many of the food blogs we are exposed to create unrealistic expectations. Again it’s that thing where we compare ourselves to everyone else, but the introduction of social media means we are comparing ourselves to the ‘highlight reel’ of other people’s lives and not necessarily their reality.

We must keep in mind that a majority of food bloggers probably have a good quality camera (or some whiz-bang phone app that wasn’t in the “Top 25 Free Apps” list), spent a good 10mins cleaning the specks off their plate and presenting their food, sprinkled it with pretty herbs that they had to chop separately just for the purpose of presentation and then would have had to sit down and eat their now cold, but attractive dish. I’ve been there and tried it and let me tell you, it’s just not worth eating the food cold or wilted.

The purpose of this post is to embrace ugly, but tasty, food! Here’s a few of my failed attempts or less attractive dishes that still tasted pretty darn good if I say so myself:

  • That time I tried to make Daniel Churchill’s Ricotta, Beetroot and Zucchini slice and it came out fluorescent pink and sloppy . . . maybe I’ll use a smaller beetroot next time.
Ricotta, Beetroot and Zucchini Slice Sinead Style

Ricotta, Beetroot and Zucchini Slice Sinead Style

  • When I attempted my first smoothie bowl . . .
Berry Coco Oaty Smoothie Bowl Comparison - mine is obviously on the right.

Berry Coco Oaty Smoothie Bowl Comparison – mine is obviously on the right.

  • When I tried to make the ‘I Quit Sugar for Life’ Sustainable Fish and Chips recipe and I ended up with soggy chips and my cheese congealed to make some pretty ugly looking fish fingers. Tasted SO good though . . . .
Sustainable Fish n Chips Sinead Style

Sustainable Fish n Chips Sinead Style

What it’s meant to look like . . . .

Sustainable Fish n Chips I Quit Sugar Style

Sustainable Fish n Chips I Quit Sugar Style

  • When I tried to make the Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake but got a bit excited with the dollop and swirl process and then didn’t have any fresh raspberries for decoration . . .
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Sinead Style

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Sinead Style

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake I Quit Sugar Style

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake I Quit Sugar Style

  • And last, but certainly not least, that time I bought a fresh coconut to drink and feel fancy and exotic but struggled to get it open with the drill and then didn’t have any straws in the house except for a hideous one my boyfriend bought years ago when he was obsessed with the movie ‘Cars’ . . . .
The only straw I could find . . .

The only straw I could find . . .

You’re welcome,

Sinead xx

Two paleo bread recipes that actually taste good and are easy to make!

I don’t know about you but when I see the words ‘paleo’ and ‘bread’ in the same sentence I get pretty sceptical. I mean, what’s with all the bizarre flour substitutes and types you have to put in them? No I am not going to buy a $15 bag of buckwheat or arrowroot flour just to use 2 tablespoons for one particular recipe and then leave it in my pantry for 9 months. Give me easy, simple and tasty any day of the week!

Having tried and tested the following two recipes I can safely say that they are pretty much fool-proof (I am a hopeless baker and both of these turned out perfect!) and delicious just lightly toasted with some full-fat butter at any time of the day.

My only word of warning with these recipes is that they are quite moist due to the high amount of vegetables in them and therefore do not keep for long even in an air-tight container (I was so devastated when I discovered the mould on my sweet-potato paleo bread!). The best way to make these last is to slice up and freeze into two-slice portions with a piece of baking paper in between.

Paleo Inside-Out Bread

This recipe is from the I Quit Sugar for Life book and actually calls for the dreaded Arrowroot flour mentioned above. As I obviously did not have this on hand I just substituted for some good old Woolworths brand Gluten-Free flour from the health food section and it turned out perfect!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 3/4 cups arrowroot (Woolworths gluten-free flour is fine!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup pitted olives, halved
  • 3/4 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/3 cup finely diced ham
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160C and line a loaf tin with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix together the almond meal, arrowroot (or gluten-free flower), salt and bicarbonate of soda. In a separate bowl and using a fork, whisk the eggs lightly with the apple cider vinegar. Add the parsley, olives, zucchini, ham and cheese and whisk well, then add the egg mix to the dry ingredients. Mix well to combine, then pour the dough into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with pepitas.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top starts turning golden and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool for five minutes before slicing. Freeze leftover slices between sheets of baking paper in a ziplock bag.

Paleo Inside Out Bread courtesy of Sarah Wilson, absolute favourite!

Paleo Inside Out Bread courtesy of Sarah Wilson, absolute favourite!

Sweet Potato Paleo Bread

With only 6 ingredients, it doesn’t get much easier than this recipe! I love the fact that the sweet-potato adds a bit of sweetness. Pumpkin would work great with this too, in fact I think I might try it this weekend!

Ingredients:

  • 400 g steamed and pureed sweet potato.
  • 4 free range eggs.
  • pinch of sea salt.
  • 50 g coconut oil or butter.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder.
  • 300 g almond meal.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees. In a food processor, mix the eggs, oil and sweet potato. Spoon this mixture into a bowl and add the ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Pour into a paper lined baking tray and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Leave this to cool for an hour before slicing it with a sharp knife to serve.

Sweet Potato Paleo Bread

Sweet Potato Paleo Bread

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Sinead xx