Curbing your food intake but not your enthusiasm
This is very important. Even if you’re not starving yourself (the quantities I consume certainly don’t amount to starvation!) it’s hard to reduce or change what you eat.
For me this is the hardest part. For example, even reducing my dinner to an acceptable quantity feels like starvation to me.
I just have to remind myself that I have to do it for the ‘Special Op’ – I may have to go days without eating, so this is nothing!
Besides, there are people out there who get a meal only once every two days (and much worse).
So, note to self: just stop stuffing your face. Stop it! JUST STOP DOING IT. That’s all.
Note to you: if I can do it, so can you! In fact, you had better!
Practical tips that work for me:
1. Try and reduce your sugar intake and sweet consumption.
- See if you can manage tea and coffee without sugar to begin with; you may actually find that you can TASTE the tea or coffee for a change, instead of sugar syrup!
- If you feel like you might die a terrible death without sweets, occasionally have something sweet in the morning with breakfast (you burn most of what you eat in the morning, throughout the day) or after a workout when your metabolism is in overdrive, or on days you work out, or as a special treat; total deprivation can lead to bingeing!
2. Wake up a little earlier to indeed HAVE BREAKFAST at all!
- If you feel like you just can’t eat in the morning, here’s why…YOU’VE STUFFED YOUR FACE AT DINNER! If you eat a small dinner early and have a 12 hour gap before breakfast, trust me, you WILL WANT BREAKFAST.
- When you start reducing your dinner, you may get hungry in the night and not be able to sleep very well; BUT this will change very quickly once your body adjusts to the change. PLEASE work through the pain for a few days and it’ll be worth it; a few nights of bad sleep probably wouldn’t kill you. For those of you who are moms or dads, sleepless nights wouldn’t be something new anyways! Also, for the Special Op you may need to go days without sleep and still function at your optimum! And besides, you can look forward to an alert morning and a good breakfast.
- Breakfast will help you not to binge later on in the day.
- Good breakfast options (in moderation!): oatmeal (you can dress this up with raisins etc), brown bread toast, eggs, green gram, chick peas…this sort of breakfast is particularly good if you’re going to work out afterwards. Otherwise, even just fruit and non/low fat yoghurt may suffice. Of course your coffee (or tea)!
- This being said, there are various diet options where one can occasionally skip breakfast in an ‘intermittent fast’ , for example – allowing 16 hours between an early dinner and your next meal – these should be explored with help from a nutritionist or professional.
3. Eat carbohydrates; you need them…but no white carbs (or unnatural simple carbs)as far as possible!
White carbs = simple sugar = fat.
This is all quite complex!
(Read some of the links below to figure it out better!)
- Try to go for complex carbs as much as possible; there’s a long list. Some include – brown bread, brown rice, atta rotti, kurakkan this and that, grains, legumes etc. Also go for whole wheat or whole grain cereals. All this stuff is quite tasty!
- Even potatoes are OK (in moderation) http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/good-carbs-vs-bad-carbs
- There is a difference between ‘whole grain’ and ‘whole wheat’; but as a general rule, either is better than ‘white carbs’. http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-difference-between-whole-grain-and-whole-wheat.html#b
- A useful bit of info – normal wheat pasta cooked al dente -“In cooking, al dente describes pasta and (less commonly) vegetables, rice or beans that are cooked to be firm to the bite. The etymology is Italian ‘to the tooth’” (Wikipedia) has a similar effect to a ‘whole’ food; combine that with the right fat – extra virgin olive oil and some kind of protein, and it’s an extremely healthy meal (might explain why obesity is relatively low in Italy despite the consumption of large amounts of pasta!) https://www.facebook.com/jillianmichaels/posts/10150661661902421
4. Try and get these carbs in during the day
5. Try not to have carbs at dinner
- Lean meats or fish, salads and greens are good, even all together!
- If you hear about watching out for the fat in salad dressings, well, that’s true, they can be fatty, but I have much bigger issues than salad dressing! Like chocolate cake and pork chops. So choose your battles. If a nice dressing will make you eat salad instead of MacDonald’s, I’d say go for it. Just go easy on the mayo…or cut it out altogether
- Non-fat yoghurt can be almost like mayo. Raw extra virgin olive oil is good fat. A half boiled egg in a salad is actually yummy though it sounds gross; other lean meats and fish also are nice in salads and make them fulfilling. Green apple, raisins, or raw onions (if you’re into that) may give it a nice zing. Try torn up raw greens in your salads (spinach, kankun, gotukola), you might be surprised!
6. Try not to be hungry during the day, and go to bed not stuffed (or if you can manage, even a little hungry)
7. Drink teas or infusions every time you crave an unhealthy snack
- Tea WITHOUT SUGAR. Plain (black) tea or ‘milk tea’ (try and have non or low fat milk, but, warning: this doesn’t taste great; you may be happier with just plain tea); green teas. Try not to have caffeine in the night, it’ll make it (even) harder for you to sleep; an infusion may be better
- Just put stuff into hot water for a while. That’s an ‘infusion’. Eg: cinnamon, ginger etc. Can be combined with teas if you like; a bit of bees honey makes it yummy (add it after the infusion has cooled a bit, to preserve some nutrients present in bees honey)
8. Try and eat every 4 hours (that’s 3 meals and 1 snack a day – if you’re counting) http://www.jillianmichaels.com/fit/lose-weight/myth-small-meals
9. Nuts and fruit are healthy snacks.
- Nuts are high in calories, but they will sustain you for longer and give you energy
- You may hear that certain types of fruit have more sugar, or can be fattening; AGAIN, take this with a pinch of salt. If it’s a choice between a banana or mango instead of a pastry, do the math!
10. Try and eat something (preferably healthy) within an hour of working out. This helps condition your muscles, and your metabolism is at its most efficient at that point (and even for hours after you work out, depending on the type of workout you do). The ‘Afterburn Effect.’ http://greatist.com/fitness/afterburn-effect-keep-burning-calories-after-workout
Try and AVOID (or in the least, minimise):
- Fizzy drinks
- Commercially available juices (unless it says ‘no added sugar or preservatives’, if you must)
- Processed foods (as a rule, the more processed of refined a food is, the less nutritious and more fattening it is)
A few notions that may hold you back with regard to curbing your food intake
- Eating more will give you more energy
“Eat more, you need the energy!”
“Eat, eat! You need the extra energy to look after those kids!”
“You look tired, maybe you’re not eating enough”
Particularly in places like Sri Lanka, you will hear this sort of thing often. The fact of the matter is, eating more will NOT give you more energy. Eating WELL and WORKING OUT will give you more energy. Eating more will just make you more tired and lethargic.
- It is accepted (again, particularly in our part of the world) that after having kids, it’s ok to be unhealthy.
Many people believe that they will never be able to go back to their pre-pregnancy weight or appearance. It’s true that health issues could cause complications. However, if you have none of these, there’s no real reason that would make it impossible for you to go back to what you were…your tummy may be a bit stretchier, but you may even be able to get rid of that if you really want to.
It’s true that after childbirth there are many other important things to be done and taken care of, quite apart from allowing your body to recover. Losing the weight you gained during pregnancy can be extremely hard and certainly not a priority. However, it also shouldn’t be an excuse for losing yourself.
After you and your baby have bonded, and you’ve managed to get your head around the initial mind boggling mysteries of child care, you may find yourself wondering whatever happened to YOU, or where you disappeared to in the fracas.
There’s this frazzled person looking at you from behind the mirror, with a mild resemblance to you, but surely, that’s not YOU?
(Of course, you may in fact be very pleased with the person you see in the mirror at this stage – if so, good for you! You don’t need to change yourself or your life in any way, as long as you’re happy and being true to yourself)
I’ve found that the best remedy for regaining myself is taking control of some of the aspects in my life that are actually in my ability to control. Here are two that are relevant to this segment of my blog:
- Not eating us out of house and home
- Finding half an hour in my day to work out
Managing this is one of the biggest favours I’ve done myself! That’s not to say I don’t have an off day or two here and there, but in general, I’m trying very hard to keep to it.
As a result, I feel more in-control, less tired, more energetic; stronger and more able to provide the care my kids need. The change in appearance that (slowly yet surely) comes with these changes also certainly boosts confidence!
A few words of encouragement:
If you have achieved just a day or two of healthy eating, and are on the verge of giving up as you’re ‘clearly not cut out for this’, think twice.
‘A day or two’ is still a long time in my reckoning, and you’ve got this far! You worked hard, do you really want to pack it all in after you’ve already been through this much!?! NO!
Besides, this is the hardest part; if you manage to get through the first days, you’re likely to get through ‘em all.
Also, let’s say you had a very healthy day, but snuck in an unhealthy bit in there; that does NOT make the day null and void and ‘Oh well, there you go, I’m done!’ It’s STILL probably one of the healthiest days you had! Just try not to do it the next day, and then next and the next…