As I've recommitted to healthy eating and weight loss I've been thinking a lot about what works for me and makes it easier to eat healthily for weight loss. I jotted down a bunch of tips and thought I'd share them here.
Now, I'm of the opinion that I won't take financial advice from someone who can't look after their money and I won't take parenting advice from someone whose kids are running amok and I won't take weight loss advice from someone who is overweight. You might feel the same. Let me just qualify this advice by mentioning that in the past I lost 15kg (2st5lb / 33lb) and kept the weight off for 3 years. Our whole emigration drama happened then and the weight piled back on because I wasn't following the tips below. They do work.
I'm currently in the middle of losing the weight again and have so far lost around 10kg (1st8lb / 22lb) and will continue until I am back at my goal. Here are some of the things that help - I've broken them down into different subjects and will do a series of posts.
Please let me know if you have any questions that you would like answered, or topics you'd like addressed.
To start with I thought I'd talk about fruit and vegetables. You might be groaning if you don't enjoy vegetables, but hear me out.
Soup and salad
Besides the health benefits, fruit and veg help you feel really full. I follow the Weight Watchers plan and (almost all) fruit and veg have a zero ProPoints / Points+ value, which means that they don't count towards your daily budget of points.
Weight Watchers teaches you healthy habits. If you cook a WW recipe and divide it into the specified portions you will learn what an appropriate portion size is. However, if you're used to larger portions, you might not feel full at first, when eating the new smaller portions.
If you have a big bowl of vegetable-based soup (made without cream, butter, etc) or salad before your meal, by the time you have finished eating your meal you will feel really full and satisfied.
Use fruit or veg to bulk out pretty much anything you eat:
- add stir-fried peppers and onions to your cheese omelet
- pile your burger or sandwich with salad leaves, tomato, cucumber, pickles, onions
- top your oatmeal or cereal with a sliced banana, berries or steamed apple
- grate or finely chop carrots, zucchini, mushrooms or cauliflower to add to minced-beef dishes
- or simply enjoy fruit or vegetables on the side
Make sure you eat some fruit or veg every time you have a meal or snack and you will feel full and satisfied throughout the day.
Frozen and tinned fruit and veg
Don't feel like you need to constantly be going down to the store to pick up fresh fruit and veg if it's not convenient. Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables is convenient and sometimes has even more nutritional value than fresh as it's frozen almost immediately after being harvested. Be sure to choose vegetables that are canned without additional salt or sugar, and fruit that is canned in juice (not syrup) - I also drain and rinse my tinned fruit.
Frozen berries and fruit make wonderful smoothies. You can buy frozen fruit or simply freeze your own. I like to buy about 4 or 5 bunches of bananas at a time - I enjoy them fresh and then as they become super ripe I'll slice and freeze them in 1-and-a-half-banana portions, ready to make my favourite banana milkshakes as a snack or dessert.
You can also freeze any vegetables that you might have excess of, that won't get eaten before they start to rot.
Buying pre-prepared frozen vegetables can be a lifesaver when you're busy. I like to buy packs of frozen stir-fry for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner.
Tame that sweet tooth
If, like me, you have a sweet tooth then you know how difficult sticking to healthy eating can be when the cravings kick in. I do find that as I cut out sugar and limit carbs my cravings disappear, but sometimes the desire for something sweet becomes irresistible.
Rather than reaching for chocolate, try some fruit. A big fruit salad in the fridge that you can dip into any time you want can keep you from the cookie jar. A handful of berries or grapes can satisfy that sweet tooth. A banana milkshake will fill you up and give you the chocolate hit you are looking for.
If you still really want some refined sugar after eating your fruit snack, and it won't be denied, then have a little something - but at least you've snuck in one of your five-a-day first!
Grow your own
If you really don't like vegetables then I urge you to grow your own. Just give it a try. Vegetables fresh from the garden taste infinitely better than those from the supermarket. You might come to like vegetables ... and if you don't, at least you know you've given it a good try!
If growing veg is a bit much for you, try your hand at growing herbs at least. Fresh herbs can dress up any meal - whether used as garnish or for flavour - and most grow without much need for gardening skill.
Stuff your face
On those days when I just want to shove food in my mouth non-stop (*coughhormonescough*) or when I am just super hungry for some reason, I like to peel an entire butternut and slice it into French fries, toss with one teaspoon of oil, lay the "fries" out on a cookie sheet and roast until tender inside and toasted on the outside. Then I trough the lot. And it doesn't even use up any points (I don't count the 1 teaspoon of oil, but then again I don't use my weekly points allowance.)