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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Building a healthy relationship with food – Post 1 ‘Guilty Eating’

I’m a firm believer that in order to create healthy eating habits you need to first have a healthy mental relationship with food. In fact it has become somewhat of a little passion of mine. Therefore I’ve decided to write about this issue over a number of posts varying in subject matter with the overall aim that my thoughts and personal discoveries may help someone else.

Guilty Eating

Guilty Eating

After a rather ‘decadent’ weekend of eating and drinking there seems to be no better time to talk about food-guilt! Everyone would know what I mean by food-guilt I’m sure. It’s that horrible nagging at the back of your mind after indulging in a piece of cake (or two), that nauseating and stomach churning feeling you get after eating fast-food or the crippling feeling of worthlessness after a big night out and a stop through Maccas on the way home. Yes a lot of the physical effects are probably due to the fact that you did just consume something unhealthy and lacking any real nutritional value, but so much of it can come down to guilt and the mental beating up you’re giving yourself.

It’s taken me a long time to reach a point where I’m able to indulge without going into a down-ward spiral of emotion and then continued indulgent behaviour. I admit that I’m still not at that point where I’m able to shake the guilty feeling completely, but I am able to move on quickly. At the end of the day, I think moving on really is the key.

If I want to have a piece of my friend’s birthday cake, I will. But I want to enjoy it. There is nothing worse than eating a ‘treat’ but feeling guilty for eating it whilst you are still eating it! I mean, what’s the point of even eating it in the first place if you can’t enjoy it?

It’s this toxic relationship with food that I feel creates health and weight problems more than anything else. My mentality is that if you are going to branch out and treat yourself on the rare occasion then do it, enjoy it and know that after the treat you can go back to eating well and maintaining a balanced lifestyle without any extreme detrimental effects. In essence – move on from it.

For me maintaining a sugar free / fructose free lifestyle is not always practical and is made especially difficult when attending group events or birthday parties. This is why I’m willing to slip up every now and then, all the while knowing that while I am in my home environment I am in control and won’t be putting myself in the road of temptation. I get comfort out of the thought and even look forward to the fact that I can eat so healthily at home.

Just remember that there is no need to let one ‘treat’ lead you into another and another, you have not ruined your diet by having just the one. Having many though will have more lasting effects. YOU are in control of what goes into your mouth, so enjoy that brief moment of naughtiness and then continue on your wholesome and healthy journey.

Sinead xx

Un-intimidating Yoga at home

It took me a long time to work up the courage to attempt yoga. I’ve always struggled with flexibility. Visions of myself struggling in ballet class as an 8 year old tend to haunt me whenever I attempt the sit and reach test or to even try and touch my toes. The thought of attending a yoga class and attempting to turn myself into a human pretzel in front of others was pretty much terrifying. As a result I pretty much ignored flexibility and stretching all together . .  which was obviously a bad choice!

That is until I discovered the YouTube channel ‘Yoga with Adriene’. I’m just going to come right out and say that I have a huge girl crush on Adriene Mishler. She is beautiful, funny, witty and just devine! Her channel has literally every type of Yoga you could ask for. Beginner’s yoga, yoga for weight-loss, yoga for your butt and thighs, yoga for core strength, yoga at your desk and even individual videos devoted to particular poses in case there’s a particular one you just can’t get the hang of. One of my personal favourites is the ‘Yoga for Hangovers’ video, she has literally thought of everything! Not to mention her motto is ‘find what feels good’ which focuses on encouraging you to move and experiment with the poses instead of just cranking into them and trying to hold for minutes at a time.

Since attempting a few beginner’s videos and her 30 Days of Yoga challenge over the past few months I have noticed:

  • Improved flexibility
  • Less back pain
  • Better focus and less stress
  • Better sleeping patterns
  • Reduced cellulite around my butt and thighs
  • Increased strength in my core
  • Better tone in my arms

Of course it’s natural to be sceptical as to how well you can learn and practice yoga at home and without the face to face instruction of a teacher,  however I can assure you Adriene’s videos are extremely informative and clearly articulated. Quite often I am able to simply listen to the video and not worry about straining my neck between my downward dog pose to see what move she is attempting next!

I will, however, be looking to start trying to attend a yoga class every couple of weeks or so now that I am more confident in the basics and to supplement my at-home practice to ensure I’m not doing anything too wrong.

If you’re looking to get into yoga or use it to supplement your existing fitness regime I highly recommend taking the following steps to get started:

  • Buy a good quality yoga mat (I have a mat from Lorna Jane with an inspirational quote on it that I absolute love)
  • Ensure you have a space and time to do your yoga where you will be the least interrupted (I try and do in the morning in the lounge room before my partner and housemate get up)
  • Attempt the videos in the ‘Yoga for Beginners’ playlist a couple of times each
  • Attempt the 30 Days of Yoga challenge
  • Reap the rewards!

To find the above mentioned videos and playlists go to

http://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

Sinead xx

‘That Sugar Film’ . . . brilliant!

If you do just one thing to improve your and your family’s health then watch ‘That Sugar Film’ by Damon Gameau. Full stop. Point emphasised. I promise it will leave a lasting impression on you!

I was lucky enough to be able to see this film at Alice Springs Cinema on Friday night with a friend as part of the Travelling Film Festival and Damon was actually present to be able to answer questions following the screening. By ‘lucky enough’ I mean that two cinemas were booked out for the screening of the film (basically unheard of in Alice Springs). For those who don’t know, Damon Gameau is an Australian actor that you may have seen in Love My WayUnderbelly: A Tale of Two Cities or the Australian film The Tracker.

That Sugar Film

I have to say that I was genuinely surprised at how much of the information in the film I knew already through my journey through the I Quit Sugar 8-week Program and my continuing subscription to the IQS blog, however there was so much fascinating additional information in regards to the effects that sugar has on the brain that I was left re-motivated and enlightened.

Basically Damon is sugar-free before he starts the film. He has a very whole-foods approach to his eating (partly due to trying to impress his new health-nut girlfriend) and as the sugar debate began to reach the news more and more he decided to undertake an experiment on himself. He sets out to eat 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days. Yep, 40 TEASPOONS?! You might be thinking this is a ludicrous amount, but I assure you that he does not even eat junk food or lollies during his experiment. He eats food we have conventionally viewed as ‘healthy’ and has absolutely no problem at all reaching his determined level of sugar. Scary huh? Actually, the really scary part is the effects that his new diet has on his body and yet he is eating the same amount (or sometimes less) of calories as his previous diet.

Low-Fat Yoghurt to Kit Kat

The film is funny, witty and just plain brilliant. It puts all of the complicated information into such a simple and easy to understand format that you won’t be left going “Glucose? Fructose? Lactose? . . . Oh blah blah blah it’s all the same crap. This is way too hard”. I have no doubt at all that this film will change your life. In fact, it’s been picked up by the same people who distributed ‘Supersize Me’, is going to be played through Europe and has proved so popular that it will be given regular screening times in cinemas across the country. Not bad for a low-budget Aussie film hey?

For further information about the film, screenings, campaigns and the associated book go to:

http://www.thatsugarfilm.com

Oh, and go see the film!

Sinead xx

The ultimate smoothie for your skin

I got the recipe for this smoothie off of the I Quit Sugar website (as I seem to do with most things I cook or drink these days). I have to admit I am always doubtful when there are claims that a simple smoothie is going to give you ‘glowing skin’ or it will ‘cleanse your body’ as obviously it won’t do this if everything else in your life is unhealthy. Not to mention I’m not quite in-tune enough with my body yet to sit down and really recognise the effects unless they are reasonably major. The fact that this smoothie is called the ‘Fountain of Youth Smootie’ and the ingredients it incorporates made me even more dubious!

However, I noticed after a couple of weeks of having this for breakfast one or two days a week that the skin on my face really cleared up and was looking great! Not to mention it is genuinely delicious and refreshing. I altered it slightly and used Coco Quench coconut milk instead of Coconut water which I think was perfect for adding some extra creaminess and balancing the herbs and bitterness of the grapefruit.

So here it is, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Ingredients

  • 1x grapefruit (I used ruby grapefruit)
  • 4x strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Small handful of mint
  • Small handful flat-leaf parsley (yep . . . parsley!)
  • 1 cup coconut water (or I used the Coco Quench and it was great)
  • 4x ice cubes

Blend all together, sip it down and think of all the magical things it’s doing to you that you may not notice!

Fountain of Youth Smoothie - image from I Quit Sugar website.

Fountain of Youth Smoothie – image from I Quit Sugar website.

Sinead xx