Whether it’s wanting to lose weight, or simply improve your health and wellness, we can all find improvements to make in the kitchen.
I always think that when you start out, the thought of making changes can seem really overwhelming.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a lot of time over the years trying various diets, sticking to the same types of foods, not really venturing outside of your comfort zone because hey, you’ve got this far eating the way you have, why on earth would you change it?
But you can change it and you can change it for the better without having to making any dramatic changes.
I’m not a chef. A few years ago the only thing that I could make from scratch were fairy cakes…seriously, even now it’s one of the only recipes that I can remember by heart: 4oz caster sugar, 4oz butter, cream together and then add 2 eggs and fold in 4oz self-raising flour. 12-15mins in the oven and they’re done!
But in all seriousness, when I was heavier my eating habits were dire. Microwave meals were a regular feature in our house until I started cooking some chicken and adding a sauce and a packet of rice/pasta! Breakfast was a packet of Belvita biscuits and lunch a shop-bought sandwich, usually ham and cheese!
Vegetables? Well I’d have those if they happened to come with a meal, but I wouldn’t buy them intentionally.
I’ve never liked salad, cold tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, gross!
The only fruit I have ever eaten are apples. I’ve tried a few others once, but the texture has always freaked me out and it continues to freak me out, to the point I feel nauseous even thinking about it. I don’t eat fruit at all, ever and I never will!
I was able to change though. I didn’t expect to, but after a few months of exercising and the feeling you get when you start to feel better because of the exercise, you start to think that it would be a really good idea to start giving your body better food. If you want it to perform for you, it performs better when you give it better fuel.
My biggest weakness was and still remains crap sugar. Haribos, Percy Pigs and Colin Caterpillars (damn you M&S), Chocolate (any), I can be totally in control of it for a while, but then something happens (usually hormones) and I just cave in and devour way more than is necessary to the point that I then start to crave it more and then I start to hate myself for giving in to what is just some bloody food!
I know better! I’ve done all of the nutrition training to qualify as a personal trainer, I know full well what it is I should be consuming, what I shouldn’t be, but I’m human, I’ve been fat, I know what it’s like to have that bar of chocolate that you just sink into and it just makes you feel better. I know what it’s like after a long day at work to hate the thought of having to stand and cook a meal when I just want to sit so I stop and get a takeaway.
However, I am also able to acknowledge when I am not in control and to know that if I want to get results, if I want to feel better, then changes must be made. I’m very fortunate to know that it’s not too long to wait until my body starts to feel the full benefits of doing just that!
So…I’m not going to tell you to cut out all of the crap forevermore and that will get you to a perfect size 10 (or whatever your goal is to be) because I don’t think anyone would be able to do that. A couple of weeks as a novelty maybe, but forever? Come off it!
The 3 best things you can introduce into your eating habits are completely doable. They are sustainable, they’re something everyone in the house can do.
Up your Fruit & Vegetable Intake – if you look at the food that contains vitamins and minerals you will see that it’s all FULL OF COLOUR! Add colour to your plate with a really good combination of fruit and vegetables and you’re automatically getting an increase in vitamins and minerals into your system. Don’t be afraid to try things again if you’ve spent years thinking you don’t like them. I don’t like fruit, but I do like Nakd Bars, which are basically molten down dates and raisins and count as 1 of my 5 a day. Spinach and Mushrooms are a regular on my breakfast plate, they only take 5 mins in the morning and that’s another 2 of my 5 a day out of the way. At dinner try and get half of your plate full of colour and not the beige of breaded chicken and chips!
Have Better Snacks Available – do you snack? Do you find yourself hungry and reach for the biscuit tin? Do you find yourself bored and reach for the sweets/chocolates/biscuits? If you know what your habits are and you want to change them then you have to have an alternative available, otherwise the brain will keep on craving what you’ve always given it. For a while I was the Queen of Switching, I’d switch Chocolate Hobnobs for Chocolate Malted Milk biscuits, I’d only take 1 biscuit from the packet instead of 2. If you can get away from the rubbish sugar that’s all the better, so if you like fruit, then have it to hand or mix it in with a little Greek Yoghurt, have some nuts (not too many), apple with a little peanut butter dip. Give yourself a good selection to choose from and you’ll look forward to those just as much you did your Hobnob!
Keep Track of What you Eat – there are so many ways that you can do this and to start with it’s pretty shocking when you realise just how much you’re eating and how much of what you’re eating. But it’s only by educating ourselves that we can make improvements and changes for the better. Keeping track of what you’re eating isn’t to shame yourself into changing, it’s allowing you to see where you’re at and to be able to sit down and work out how to improve. You can keep a simple food diary, you can download apps on your phone, it’s a really straightforward process if you allow it to be. I’ve used MyFitnessPal for years – I track my breakfast, lunch and dinner even now, 5st and 5yrs on; my phone scans in barcodes of whatever I’m eating, if it’s not scannable it’s got a really good search engine and it enables me to see just how much I’m having. It’s also really useful to take control of your portions – it was only when I started using the app that I realised just how much excess pasta was going in my stomach! Over time you see for yourself where you can make changes; mine was changing the bulk of my calories from snacks to go into my meals and then believe it or not I found my desire to snack was lessened because my meals were more nutritious and filling!
Of course there are plenty of other changes that you could come up with, but when I look back on where I was at 6 years ago, a few months away from taking control and sorting myself out, these are the 3 things that became a constant in my life and are the 3 things that I continue to do, so that’s why I thought I’d share them with you.
Don’t be scared to make changes. If you change something and you don’t like it, then go back, there isn’t anything stopping you. But if you want to see changes, then you’ve got to do something a little different and starting small is the best place to start because it’ll soon become second nature and then you can move onto bigger and better things. x