Ok, so my last post was about how busy we all are and how to fit in your regular exercise. This time, we need to look at food and how it can sabotage even the best and most dedicated gym-bunny. I expect some of you have heard the phrase “You can’t out- exercise a bad diet” and that is so true… Even if you are doing regular exercise, it is very difficult to reap the benefits if your daily diet consists of unhealthy food choices and/or too large portion sizes.
Now I totally understand that it is HARD to eat healthily when you are a busy mum – you are so focused on your baby/children that you never put yourselves first and often end up skipping meal times which results in reaching for a chocolate bar or overeating later on. You don’t need me to tell you this isn’t ideal. So I just wanted to share with you how I – (mum of 2 and busy fitting in work around the children’s school and pre school hours – no superwoman, just what millions of us are doing!) try and manage my own eating and meal times to ensure I am fuelling my body the best nutrient rich food it needs to run on.
Here are some of my tips for easy healthy eating:
- Always, always, always eat breakfast. I still can’t believe there are people out there who don’t. I won’t bore you with the stats but there is loads of research out there that proves people who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later on and more likely to maintain a healthy body weight -click here for 5 reasons to eat breakfast! I always make time for it, no matter what. To make things easier, I stick with the same breakfast most days. That way it’s a no brainer and I can go on auto pilot when half asleep and navigating the kitchen in the mornings. I have porridge with unsweetened almond milk, with a teaspoon of almond butter/peanut butter (for protein and I love the stuff) and have some seasonal fruits chopped up – so in the summer it was strawberries or blueberries or raspberries. Going into autumn/winter it maybe blackberries or some stewed pear or chopped 1/2 banana. Sometimes I sprinkle some chia seeds on top too. Oats are a great choice for breakfast, filling and full of fibre, with no added sugar. Practically ALL breakfast cereals are packed with sugar, even the seemingly healthy versions – in fact especially the “healthy ones”. Oats are your best bet, or shredded wheat/weetabix not too bad either. I’m proud to say my eldest daughters eats porridge with me, however the youngest refuses point blank so makes do with weetabix! Or the occasional boiled egg. Poached or scrambled or boiled eggs are great, served with wholemeal/rye toast, spinach/mushrooms/tomatoes and/or smoked salmon. Eggs are great protein and will also keep you feeling full. If you really are on the go and can’t sit down for breakfast – DO NOT reach for the belvita breakfast biscuits as one client told me she did!! SO MUCH SUGAR. Some oat cakes with peanut butter and banana or boiled egg is a good option and portable.
- Preparation is key. Plan your meals a week in advance and shop online so you are not tempted to buy unnecessary – ie unhealthy items. It reduces waste too. I stock up on lots of time-saving cheats, like ready-cooked packets of brown rice, puy lentils, quinoa, so you just need to add it to a stirfry/salad and you are good to go. I also buy the “cheats” garlic, ginger, chilli, etc as great to keep in fridge. I know these “cheats” may be frowned upon and also are a little more expensive but I make savings elsewhere as anything that makes life easier is worth it for me! I roast LOADS of veggies in one go, like sweet potato, butternut squash, red onion, peppers, whatever I have in the fridge and then use them to add to my lunches or to accompany evening meals throughout the week. I try and shop locally for fruit and veg as we have brilliant greengrocers that are much cheaper than the supermarkets.
- One way we save time is we make more than we need for our evening meal and then we have leftovers to eat for lunch the next day. Perfect for busy people!
- Similar to breakfast, I tend to have the same things every week for lunch as it really does make things simpler and easy to have “go-to” meals. When you are busy, you can’t think straight and just go on auto pilot with food -so good to know it’s a healthy choice. Leftovers are great but I will also have a few other quick “lunch” ideas – usually eggs, spinach and avocado, a homemade soup (I tend to make big batches of soup too) Baked sweet potato with salad/veg etc. I try and have a balance of protein, veg and healthy carbs (sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa). I try and avoid bread during the week as I find it quite bloating.
- DRINK LOADS OF WATER! You must have all heard this one and it’s true – we often mistake thirst for hunger – so make sure you are drinking enough – start the day with a glass of hot water and lemon and drink a big glass of water about 30 minutes before every meal as a minimum. Herbal teas are good as count towards your minimum of 2 litres per day and I know it’s the Daily Mail but this article has got many friends drinking more water… lose weight and look 10 years younger? Yes please!
- AVOID drinking unnecessary calories – so stick with water and herbal teas… Fruit juice has loads of sugar and therefore calories. Don’t even get me started on any type of fizzy drink unless its sparkling water – all packed with sugar or if sugar free packed with other “nasties”. As we are talking drinks, it should be noted that alcohol is a big no-no if you are trying to lose weight or just be a bit healthier as it is packed with calories and has no nutritional benefit. Of course I do drink – but definitely in moderation and generally stick to 1-2 glasses of red at the weekend. When analysing food diaries many clients are shocked to see what their weekly drinking adds up to in calories…. so remember even if your diet is generally good, watch those sneaky glasses of wine – they add up!
- I have snacks lined up if I’m on the go -usually fruit and a few nuts (I have to be careful with nuts as I can eat A LOT – and they are high in cals) oatcakes with nut butter and banana a personal favourite of mine and Total Greek yoghurt. I find I can get through the morning usually without a snack if I’m on the go, but will usually need one late afternoon – and try and make it a protein rich one.
- Finally – watch your portion sizes!! I am very guilty of this one…. Try not to over-eat… you should NOT feel totally full after you have finished eating, that means you have over-eaten! You should feel like you could perhaps eat a bit more… but don’t (especially if you want to lose weight or very least maintain your weight) Remember, if you are eating healthily, this does not mean healthy food is void of calories!If your body needs 1500 calories to maintain your weight and you consistently eat 1600 calories in SALAD you are still going to put on weight!! Quite often people reward themselves when eating healthier by eating MORE… like a friend who ate a massive bag of dried fruit and nuts instead of a packet of crisps – but realised she’d scoffed over 1000 calories!
To finish – I am no saint and if the above seems to good to be true I am only human and like I’ve mentioned, try and eat well 80% of the time. So during the last week I committed the following: I skipped a meal (not breakfast!!) due to rubbish planning, I ate a guilt free (it was worth it) pain au chocolat with a cappuccino over a lovely catch up with a good friend, and I had 2 slices of chocolate cake (not guilt free, I should have stuck to 1 slice) with my sisters yesterday… 🙂 However, that’s ok, it’s Sunday, I’ve done my weekly shop and I am ready to be on track in the week ahead!