In a society obsessed with how you look, fads and trends and other insanities, our relationship with food is an ongoing struggle. You eat too much, you eat too little, you eat the wrong thing, everything causes cancer.
The latest trend seems to be that of ‘clean-eating’, avocados and being a vegan. Definitely not a bad thing! It’s healthy, in moderation, as with everything. If you like avocados and can survive without meat then good for you, I however cannot and neither can a lot of people. Trying to eat healthier or lose weight in this extreme clean-eating climate can be super intimidating because it all seems a bit impossible—especially if you can’t cook very well!—but I’m here to try offer a helping hand and tell you it’s not all that, there are simpler ways to live healthier than cooking everything with quinoa and taking up yoga.
I started a bit of a lifestyle change at the beginning of July and since then I’ve lost almost 2 stone. Prior to this I was a pizza monster who had takeaway at least once every 2 weeks (at a minimum) and ate in the Union every day with copious amounts of chocolate and alcohol chucked in for good measure. I also couldn’t cook in the slightest, so if I can do it, so can you.
First things first: I am not on a diet. I’m not trying to quick-fix my weight. Losing weight is one of my goals but my focus is on feeling healthier, better and more positive. Not looking skinny. It’s hard not to focus too much on the number, but that’s just one small way of measuring your progress. The best way is how you actually feel about yourself. Also, I am in no way an expert, I’m just sharing my experience.
So here’s what I did, the most basic of basics.
You don’t even need to change your diet that much, just cut your portion sizes down. Most people dish out WAY too much food for one person. For example, next time you go to have your cereal just go and weight out 35g, the recommended amount. It looks sad, I know. Try weighing out your pasta too, usually around 70g depending on the pasta. It doesn’t look like much but I promise it’s just right! Pay attention to recommended intake values and accommodate to them, eat the right amount of things and at the right times– breakfast, lunch and dinner are there for a reason.
Exercising will really help you too, but I know how hard it is to pick up if you’re just not that kind of person, so start with the food. I still haven’t started exercising yet, oops. I’ve found calorie counting with MyFitnessPal really works for me, but calorie counting isn’t a positive tool for everyone.
Once you’re cooking your own food from scratch, it’s already loads better for you. I could not cook in the slightest, but just have a go! Get some help from people around you, look up recipes until you find one you like the look of (usually the simplest for me) or even combine a few. Throw out your jarred sauces and start making them from scratch and use fresh meat and veg. I usually cook a huge batch of something like lasagne, Bolognese, home-made meatballs, (healthy) mac & cheese and just microwave chunks off for the rest of the week. Instead of buying chocolate, bake your own healthy alternative chocolate pudding—there are LOADS of amazing recipes from Chocolate Covered Katie.
I used to hate cooking, but now I find it enjoyable and relaxing. Practise makes perfect!
Guess what? I still eat bread, pancakes, full fat milk, maple syrup and sugar as ingredients, oil in my pan (coconut oil is not all it’s cracked up to be) and other ‘taboo’ stuff. Totally cutting out these kind of things will just be too much of a culture shock and you’ll end up giving up. Most people’s mistake is getting temporary motivation to suddenly eat nothing but kale and smoothies (or even, kale in smoothies, yuck!) and shortly getting sick of it and scoffing a huge pizza. Make compromises with yourself! You can have chocolate, just bake something yourself. You can have a takeaway once in a while, just eat half of what you usually would. It’s important not to make yourself miserable. Which leads me to…
Above all else, focus on being in a positive mind-set and living positively. Becoming obsessive of your weight is not positive, punishing yourself for slipping up is not positive, making yourself sick or miserable or not enjoying yourself is not positive. It’s about living healthier inside and out, if you’re not feeling positive then whatever path you’re on is not the right one for you. It doesn’t just click into place and work straight away, it’s something to always work on.
I found myself at a point where I was weighing myself two times a day—this was not positive. So I looked for help in the people around me and got the support I needed to stay away from scales until I could use them comfortably. I’m possibly a little bit too obsessed with food, my day revolves around when I eat and what I’m going to eat which I can’t decide is a good thing or not—it provides structure but is perhaps too much. Anyone who is trying to be a better version of themselves is constantly trying to figure it out, the important thing is to do it with a positive mind.
So overall, if you’re looking to be a bit healthier, start with creating a positive process that you can enjoy and celebrate. Start off simple; cut down portions, fats and too much sugar and let the rest come easy.