Healthy, sustainable weight loss
Following on from my rant about the diet industry in my last post, I wanted to talk a bit more about healthy weight loss and weight management.
It’s easy for someone who’s comfortable with their weight to tell you to ignore fad diets and just eat healthily. But I remember all too well feeling uncomfortable in my own skin because I had put on weight and all I wanted to do was shift it as fast as possible so I could feel like myself again. In fact the last time I felt like that was the start of my journey towards a plant-based diet.
Saying no to fad diets doesn’t mean saying no to achieving your optimal weight goals, quite the opposite! But in order to lose weight and keep it off you have to think long term from day one. There’s no point in doing the cabbage soup diet for 7 days…what happens on day 8, you eat a steak pie & chips because you’re ravenous and end up disheartened because you inevitably put back on most of the weight you lost!?
Here are some of my top tips for making healthy and sustainable changes to your diet that will help you achieve your weight goals and put a stop to yo-yo dieting.
- Write a food diary – I’m not suggesting you do this long term, however sometimes it’s helpful to write things down to see where you’re going wrong. We can all be guilty of a bit of mindless snacking now and then and truthfully it can probably be difficult to recall exactly what you ate that day sometimes. So, by keeping a food diary you are being honest to yourself about what you are eating and getting serious about setting intensions to make changes.
- Review your habits – once you’ve completed a week of your food diary take a step back and look for patterns or habits – positive and negative. For example, during the week you might be a breakfast health queen, skip lunch and eat a really big high fat dinner because by the time you get home from work you’re starving and end up sticking a pizza in the oven. But at the weekends you tend to have a healthy lunch too because you do the weekly shop on Saturday morning and have a fridge full of healthy tasty salad things...low and behold your dinner then ends up being really healthy too.
- Set achievable goals – don’t set yourself up to fail. If you know you’re never going to have the time or be in the space to have a sit-down meal for lunch, don’t kid yourself. But if you have identified that not having lunch is the root of you gorging yourself at dinner, maybe try prepping some healthy and filling finger food that you could snack on at work so you can better balance your energy levels throughout the day.
- Make enjoyable swaps – you are setting out to make life long changes to your diet here…you need to enjoy them! If you are a crisp fiend and want to find a healthy replacement try out a few different swaps; crispy kale, oven baked vegetable crisps or roasted chickpeas. Try them all, find your go-to that you actually look forward to nearly as much as a pack of crisps. If kale isn’t your thing, don’t force it!
- Don’t restrict yourself too much – nobodies perfect. If you have the odd slice of cake, pizza or glass of wine you are not going to immediately balloon, you haven’t ‘fallen off the wagon’ or ‘ruined everything’, you are just human. So enjoy the slice of cake and make your next meal healthy, delicious and packed full of goodness.
I know, it’s all very easy to say but it does take a certain degree of mental strength to change negative habits. Once you have succeeded in switching out negative habits for positive choices you have the benefit of your improved wellbeing as a constant reminder of why you want to continue on this path.
From breakfast skipper to banana porridge lover!
One of the most fundamental shifts to my diet was breakfast. I used to be a breakfast skipper, I thought it was an extra meal that I could cope without. But basically it meant that I was a mid-morning snacker and I would find myself chomping on muesli bars or some other not so healthy convenience snack. If I’m honest I’m not sure when or why I started eating porridge for breakfast, but I have never looked back…any variation of oats and fruit and I am happy and satisfied until lunch time.
I've experimented with a million different variations of porridge over the years, but this is the recipe I use for my meal plans at the moment and for me is the pinnacle or all porridges!!
50g porridge oats
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp coconut sugar
20 g pecans
20 g chopped dates
1 whole banana
Splash of coconut milk to desired consistency if required / to taste
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl apart from coconut milk & banana
- Heat on full power for 3 mins (watch it doesn’t boil over…no-one wants a porridge explosion in the microwave before 9am)
- If it hasn’t reached a creamy porridge consistency put it back on for another minute
- Remove from the microwave and stir
- Slice the banana over the porridge
- If you want to cool it down, thin it down or just like your porridge with a splash of milk I’d recommend coconut milk over any other milk alternative with this one, but that’s just personal preference.