I haven’t stepped on the weighing scales for over 2 years, and I can’t tell you how much freedom that has bought me. Gone are the days when I would weigh myself umpteen times a day and then allow the number before my eyes to dictate how the day was going to pan out.
These days, while I can’t tell you my exact weight, I haven’t lost all sense of perspective when it comes to my body. Hell No! Have I put on weight in the last few months? Yup! How much? Enough to make my chinos a little too snug for my liking. Do I know what has led to this? Yes, yes I do, but I might save that for a separate blog post! Am I going to do something about it? Yup, I’m going to drink more water, swap my (too many) refined sugar snacks for some thing else (or maybe just eat less of them) and I’m going to keep cracking on with my new fitness regime. Do I need to get back on the weighing scales? Errrrrrrr, WHY?! What further valuable information would they give me? Would they make me feel better? Would they fill me with hope and positivity? Or would they fuel a little simmering well of self hate and send me “off on one”? I think we all know the answer to that!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still keen on having a concrete way of judging and plotting progress. I am a bonafide list lover, and as such I definitely get pleasure from tracking my goals and ticking shit off! Unfortunately, the way that most of us are encouraged to do this is by keeping a food diary (groan) and being a slave to the weighing scales, and let me tell you, that is 100% NOT where it’s at if you’re aiming to pack a little more positivity into your life!
So in a bid to buck the trend, here are my current go-to tracking tools which help keep me focussed on the good stuff:
Have I eaten a rainbow?
Back last year, I bought one of these lovely rainbow charts from Liz Cook charts in order to encourage my kids to eat a wider range of fruit and veg. But guess what? It worked just as well for me as it did for them! I loved keeping a little mental tally about which colours I’d managed to eat each day. I didn’t nick their stickers – honest!!
And while I was concentrating on getting the good stuff down my neck, there was inevitably less space for those beige foods…… Yup, it’s back to my old favourite, crowding out not cutting out!
How much H2O am I necking?
It’s a great idea to keep track of how much water you’re drinking. The experts suggest that in order to keep our bodies ticking along just as they’re meant to, we should be aiming to drink about 2 litres per day (you’ll need more than this in hot weather or if you are doing a lot of exercise). Now in simple terms, the easiest way to monitor this is to grab yourself a litre bottle and drink two fills of it per day. Simples! However, a quick scroll through the beautiful world of Pinterest will also show you some gorgeous ways of marking your bottles with washi tape so that you can ensure a steady stream of water throughout the day, rather than forgetting all about it and trying to drink it all in the two hours before bed, which really isn’t great for undisturbed sleep!
How do I feel?
Rather than using your weight as the only measurable which dictates how your day goes (we’ve all been there!) why not have a go at really getting in touch with how you feel?
I like to use my Happilicious scale which kinda does what is says on the tin. It’s a simple 1-10 scale (in your head or on paper – your choice) with 10 being “totally Happilicious, on top of the world, I feel so good I want to sing from the rooftops”, and 1 being “I want to wrap myself in a blanket, curl up in a ball and shut out the world.” When you get up in the morning, take a second to think about your score on the scale and feel free to revisit and reappraise as many times throughout the day as you like! Taking the time to really get in touch with what’s going on inside your head is a great practice. It helps you to slow down and take stock of all the little facets of your life rather than getting over whelmed by the big headlines. Which brings me on to…….
A bit of daily journaling
In an ideal world, we’d all set aside 10 minutes as soon as we wake up in the morning and 10 minutes just before we hit the hay, to set some intentions for the day ahead and then reflect on our day at it’s end. However, I know that in the real world of children/packed lunches/teeth cleaning/dog walking, that’s something which is easier said than done; but having said that, it’s definitely something worth aiming for!
Now if you head back to Pinterest and search for bullet journals (or bujos if you’re really down with the lingo) you will all at once be inspired, in awe and terrified of the beautifully constructed works of art that you see before you! But, don’t panic – your journal really doesn’t have to be anything fancy shmancy and there’s no right or wrong way of doing it. Just grab a notebook and pen and do what works best for you. You can literally just write out whatever is going on in your mind in one big splurge, or if you prefer, you can stick to a regular daily pattern, helped along by some prompts to get you started.
In a similar vein, I’ve recently discovered Fran at thehappiEmpire and I love the Playsheets you can buy from her on-line shop. There are three different sheets available, “self care check in”, “Happi Maintenance” and “Clarity” and while I love them ALL, I’d say that in terms of getting to grips with a daily practice, the “self care check in” or the “Happi maintenance” sheets are a great starting point.
Now it’s your turn!
If you decide to give any of these methods a go, I’d love to hear from you. Or if you have any other ways which work for you, please drop me a line or hop into the Facebook group to share them. Let’s work together to come up with some fabulous ways of kicking the weighing scales into touch!
Ok. So you’ve stopped dieting. But you’re still a size 16. How can this possibly be a good thing? Get back on that diet and get yourself down to a size 10, fatty……..
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that in my not so positive moments (which thankfully occur far less frequently these days), this is what I imagine a lot of people think when I tell them that I am a diet-ditching health coach!
So in a bid to silence my (inner?) critics, I thought it was worth putting pen to paper in a bid to explain my current relationship with food.
Eating for nutrition (not weight loss).
Let’s get straight to the nub of it. When it comes to food, my end goal has been transformed. I now realise that it is far more important to eat in a way that nourishes my body, than it is to eat in a way that merely shrinks it. Oh and it’s also really, REALLY important to me that that nourishment happens to come in a really delicious form!
We all know that in order to improve our diet, the best (and most simple) thing we can do is to eat more fresh fruit and veg and to drink more water. I’m obviously not discounting or excluding other food groups here, but in my honest opinion, if you concentrate on adding in extra veg and water, you’re off to a winning start and the rest is all down to how adventurous and creative you are. So there’s no longer any calorie counting or carb dodging involved with my daily meals. In order to satisfy me now, the food I eat just needs to bring me nourishment and joy.
Crowding out not cutting out
When I was dieting, all of my energy and focus used to be trained on restriction and deprivation. Only eating things on the green list; sticking to my daily allowance of X; saving my allowance to enable a weekend “blow out”. How bloody depressing!
Rather than focussing on the things that I’m cutting out, I now search for ways of adding more in, which feels so damn liberating! Just how many different veggies can I cram into my delicious curry? What protein can I add to my breakfast to make sure I stay full until lunch? I know that it’s sometimes an over used word these days, but abundance is definitely where it’s at!!
The strange concept of treating yourself
For most of my life, “treating myself” meant filling up (some might call it bingeing) on as much high fat, high salt, high sugar food as I could cram in to my mouth in one sitting. This ludicrous practice was a kick back to the restriction that I would place on myself while following the latest strict diet and thank God I’m now able to see just how ridiculous and damaging this was.
These days I look to treat my body with food that I know is going to taste amazing and make me feel great both physically and mentally, rather than leaving me feeling sick, bloated and guilt-ridden. A massive salad with spiced roasted chickpeas and a gorgeous homemade dressing? Sounds great. Sourdough toast topped with avocado, tomatoes and chilli? Yes please! An exotic fruit salad with a helping of greek yogurt? Ship it in!! I know full well that if I eat foods like this, not only will I thoroughly enjoy myself while I’m eating them, I’ll also feel satisfied and fantastic once the meal is over. No more food hangovers or beating myself up for days on end over my perceived lack of willpower.
And I’m not saying that I never eat high fat, high salt, high sugar food any more. I do! I still eat takeaways and chocolate bars, I just no longer see them as a treat. And believe me, that mental shift makes a world of difference and means that I don’t crave them half as often; which brings me on to the next point……..
Allowing yourself freedom to “cheat”
I have such vivid memories of me and my best friend spending the best part of a week planning the no-holds-barred food fest that we were going to indulge in following our Slimming World weigh in. I actually used to fantasise about it!! Which takeaway would it be? What selection of chocolate bars would I scoff before and after said takeaway? We called it our cheat meal, even though what I managed to consume in that one sitting would have contained waaaaay more food than would usually be considered just one meal. I would eat until I felt sick. Not because I was hungry, but because I knew that if I wasted this one window of opportunity then I’d have to wait a whole week before I was able to taste such freedom again!
But guess what? If you aren’t following a diet then you have no rules to stick to and therefore no reason to cheat. If you want to eat the chocolate bar, then eat the chocolate bar. Any time you want. But I’ll bet that you’ll find that if you know you’re “allowed” it, you won’t crave it half as much. It’s just like children – as soon as you tell them they can’t have something, they’ll argue that it’s the one thing they want most in the whole wide world – right?! Well adults work in the same way. Tell us not to think about a pink elephant and we’ll immediately start thinking about that pink elephant and nothing else. It’s the same with food! Remove the restrictions and the cravings will ease off……… Crazy huh?!
Listening to hunger cues (not eating for the sake of it)
Ok, so I know that this phrase is bandied about willy nilly but now I really do try hard “listen to my body” when it comes to the food that I put in it!
When we diet, we inadvertently train ourselves to run rough-shod over the cues that our body gives us. Rather than recognising when we are hungry (or full) and acting on it, we force ourselves to wait until it’s the “right time” to eat. And likewise, instead of tuning in and really thinking carefully about which food our body is really craving next, we are trained to stick to the meal plan that we’ve oh-so-carefully mapped out, sometimes days in advance. How can I possibly know what dinner I’m going to want on Wednesday evening if I’m planning it at Saturday breakfast time? It’s bonkers and I want my meal planning to be as flexible as my appetite.
I know this may sound like a meal planning/shopping nightmare, but I find that the best way to manage it is to keep cupboards stocked up with the basics that I come back to time and time again. Then I just need to do a weekly shop for fresh produce and any key ingredients for new recipes (or old favourites) that I’ve got my eye on for some point during that week, but other than that, I try to go with the flow as much as possible.
The upshot is that food no longer controls me the way it used to when I was locked in dieting hell, and the sense of freedom I get from that is truly amazing. But here’s the caveat: none of these practices have just snapped into place at the click of my fingers. I’ve wholeheartedly thrown myself into this way of eating over the last few years, and reaching this point has involved a lot of studying, trial and error and introspection.
Added to which I know that the “journey” isn’t yet over and probably never will be. I don’t have it all perfectly sussed all of the time. I’m not sure anyone does. Life is all about the ebbs and flows and there are still occasions when I feel myself getting lost and reverting to old patterns of thinking and eating. But nowadays, instead of hitting the panic button and searching desperately for the latest quick fix, I take some time to figure out why I might be feeling that way and then focus my attention on fixing the problem, rather than just covering it up with the false promises that the diet industry are so keen to feed me!
If you’d like to find out more about any of the points I’ve covered above, why not contact me? Feel free to join my Facebook group (it’s a closed group so only others within the group can read what you write) or drop me an email so we can arrange a chat – I’d love to find out how I could help you.
Low carb. Low fat. Low sugar. Wheat free. Meat free. Dairy Free. Vegetarian. Vegan. Pescatarian. Intermittent fasting. Paleo. Macrobiotic………..There are numerous diets out there at the moment, with more cropping up on a daily basis. Some are featured in magazines; Some are endorsed by the medical profession; others are endorsed by celebrity slimmers. For us mere mortals, it can all be a little baffling to say the least. With each diet comes a raft of supporters who all claim that this is THE diet. If you follow this one, you will finally shed your excess pounds. You will sprout long, lithe limbs. Your skin will clear up and glow. Your hair and nails will stop breaking and shine like glitter. You will be able to complete a marathon in record time. You will prove that you are committed to saving the world…… you get the picture!
The truth of the matter is that If you’re looking for big sweeping changes that are going to have long lasting, life changing consequences, then I hate to tell you, but there is NO QUICK FIX that is going to work. Complete physical and mental remodelling takes a lot of time, effort, dedication and money. And the most soul destroying part of it is that studies have shown that over 95% of dieters will regain their weight within 1-5 years. That’s a pretty depressing stat eh?! All of that effort for such a short period of basking rights. Believe me, I KNOW first hand how soul destroying the rollercoaster feels.
But, here’s the thing……. There is a quick fix way of making your mind and body feel better. It may not provide you with a slack jawed audience who marvel at your amazing duckling to swan transformation, but it will make you feel all glowy inside and have some amazing long term advantages to your health! Are ready for the secret??? Come a bit closer and I’ll whisper it into your shell-like………………
Drink more water and eat more veg!!! Ta-daaaaaaaah!!!
No wait, come back!!!
I know you’ve heard it all before, but really, it does work. Here’s the thing, if, 3 years ago, you’d have asked me about my veg consumption, I’d have said “yeah, but the thing is, I don’t really like veg!” and it was true. Because in my mind, veg was one of two things: 1) a salad comprised of iceberg lettuce, some tomatoes and a few slices of cucumber OR 2) some soggy carrot battons and a mound of overdone cabbage. Hell, it’s hardly surprising I didn’t like veg right?!!! So what’s changed? Well, I’ve more or less stopped eating meat and and when you do that, you really do have to make peace with veg! Although to be honest with you, with the current trend towards all things “clean eating”, the supermarkets are making it pretty damn easy. Just a super speedy jaunt into any Tesco, Sainsburys or Waitrose and you will find all manner of ready prepared fab veg opportunities. From cauli rice and courgette spaghetti, to steam in the bag combos of the best green selections our fields have to offer, I have truly embraced the ready prepped veg aisle recently. On at least 3 days of the week I will make myself a dinner or lunch that looks something like this:
Not the most photogenic of dishes, admittedly, but we’re not all about the looks round here!
Melt a little coconut oil, stir fry the aforementioned veg (I know lots of them are specifically prepared to be microwave ready, but I don’t have a micro so I have to get a bit creative!), pair it with a roast sweet potato/ some mashed avocado with chilli and lime/ some cooked quinoa/ a carton of black beans cooked with spinach and tomato puree/ ANYTHING ELSE THAT IS QUICK AND EASY AND TAKES YOUR FANCY, and you’re good to go. Super fast, super tasty food that makes your taste buds cheer with delight, your cells zing and your mind burst with pride at how super – humanly healthy and brilliant you’ve been. I’ve also started adding some of pre prepared frozen fruit and veg combos to my morning smoothies. We all know that when you have kids/a job/ any semblance of a normal life, speed and ease is where its at and in my mind all of these new fruit and veg offerings are a brilliantly helpful shortcut for ensuring that we get plenty of the good stuff down our necks. Whoop!
And when it comes to good old H2O, here are my secret weapons of choice:
Yup, a cheap (I think it was £6) BPA free drinking bottle from Sainos and a water filter jug! I know it sounds a little sad, but as well as the added health benefits, filling up from the water filter rather than the tap makes drinking water feel a little more refined and special. I do realise that for most people, it probably seems a little ridiculous but I can honestly say that since buying the filter about 6 months ago, my daily water consumption has shot up. Added to which, I know that my snazzy pink water bottle holds 800ml so if I drink 3 refills per day, I’m onto a winner. I carry it with me wherever I go, sip throughout the day and bob’s your uncle, before you know it I am a well hydrated bunny, a tag which carries with it innumerable health benefits (helps digestion, treats headaches and migraines, flushes out toxins etc).
So there you have it, a couple of really simple tips which can help you to feel ultra healthy and virtuous!
I’ve tried out some new recipes lately and have been throughly enjoying both making and eating them. It can be so easy to get caught in the same old routines and meal plans and sometimes you just need to give yourself a bit of extra encouragement to be more adventurous in the kitchen! Added to which, even though I was a little sceptical at first, I invested in Fearne Cotton’s new book this week (Cook Happy, Cook Healthy) and there are some GORGEOUS recipes in it. Anyway, none of these recipes have actually come from that book……most have been sort of mish mashy ones that I have adapted from various other recipes I’ve picked up along the way.
Here’s my current favourite breakfast! Vanilla and coconut chia pudding topped with Pip and Nut’s coconut almond butter, bee pollen and goji berries. Despite looking like frog spawn, it tastes divine, keeps me full until lunch and I know that I’m getting a gert big hit of goodness first thing in the morning thanks to the chia (a great source of protein, amongst many other things), goji berries (the most nutritionally dense fruit on earth don’t ya know! Chockablock full of amino acids, protein, vitamin C, iron, calcium, zinc……I could go on!! ) and the delicious bee pollen (which is just so full of goodness, I don’t even know where to begin!!! An amazing super food which really boosts my energy first thing in the morning.)
I’m including this primarily because it just looks so pretty!!! We have a new Waitrose in town, complete with a Cornish food store which sells food only produced in Cornwall, and from the fridge I picked up a box of Cornish grown edible flowers. Look at the impact they make! Aren’t they amazing?? How could you not be wowed when presented with a salad topped with those beauties??! Just beautiful!
This dinner was a definite winner! A vegan black bean chilli, gorgeous creamy guacamole and an amazingly zingy mango and sweetcorn salsa. Oh and some homemade tortilla chips on the side. A great Saturday evening dinner!
Talking of Saturday evenings………When Ben gets home on a Friday night, we both like to chill out and ease ourselves in to the weekend with a couple of beers, but rather than accompanying that with shop bought beer snacks, I’ve got quite into making my own. I definitely prefer to know exactly what’s gone into them and they’re so quick and easy to whip up, it really is no hassle at all. So, from the top, we have sea salt and apple cider vinegar almonds; tamari almonds and chilli and lime pumpkin seeds.
My latest favourite sweet treat…….refined sugar free millionaires shortbread, adapted from a Livia’s Kitchen snickers slab recipe. Yes, they contain dates and maple syrup and yes, I realise that that means they contain a lot of fructose, but the way I see it is that they act as a great transition food. Not so long ago, I truly was a total sugar monster. Seriously, I could devour a whole packet of biscuits in one night. Easy peasy! Now I know that the hardcore quit sugar lobby say you should quit cold turkey by cutting even fruit sugars out right from the start but, I tried and failed! For me, it was back to another all or nothing diet, and I have personally found that having home made, refined sugar free treats available in the house suits me far better. Yet again, it’s all about balance. The added bonus is that I am truly satisfied after just one or two small pieces…..something which NEVER used to happen when we had “normal”chocolate or biscuits in the house!
This week I have a whole new list of gorgeous recipes to trial and I’m going to have a go at experimenting with tofu for the first time. Wish me luck!!!!
In case you can’t guess from my jaunty post title (!) I am just back from an uhhhh-maz-ing family holiday in Mallorca! I honestly had no idea what a truly beautiful place it is and after a week spent basking in perfect temperatures, swimming in warm turquoise blue, crystal clear seas and exploring the stunning coastlines and hills, I am definitely ready to start planning a return visit!
We opted to stay in a private villa, mainly for the fabulousness of a private pool (oh-SO-fabulous!), and also because we wanted to be able to cook and prepare our own food. Since starting on this journey, my priorities have definitely altered and whereas the old me would have been looking forward to eating anything as long as I didn’t have to make it (its supposed to be a holiday goddamit!!!!) this time, I was really keen to make the most of the amazing fresh fruit and veg that was available in Mallorca. I also didn’t want to return from holiday feeling bloated, fuzzy headed and as though I would need a monumental effort of get “back on the bloody wagon”.
On our first morning on the island, we headed to the local market in the old town of Pollensa where we were greeted with phenomenal stalls chock full with the most amazing fresh, colourful produce.
Ben getting carried away at the olive stall!
We went slightly OTT and spent a fortune on fruit, veg, olives, local honey and cheese, but it was worth every penny because it all tasted totes amaze and lasted us for the rest of the week. I had also brought a few bits and bobs with us (pre-soaked black beans, quinoa and freekeh, veg stock) and I was able to use those as bases to add to the market haul! Now don’t get me wrong, I did not cook every single meal we ate. In fact, we ate out a lot (mmmmm, paella!) but even then, we always searched for the places which were selling freshly caught fish and amazing veggi dishes rather than the pile them high, sell them cheap joints.
Do you know something……..It’s only when I stop to write this down that I realise i just how much my mindset has shifted over the last 6-12 months. My whole attitude to and relationship with food has changed dramatically and I LOVE IT!
Anyway, getting back to the food that I prepared, I thought that it might be a nice idea to share with you the sort of things I made. Now as I’m still getting used to this blogging malarkey, most of the time I totally forgot to take photos of the food that we ate (mental note to self- stop scoffing, start clicking!) but I did manage a couple and thought you might like to see them along with a list of the basic ingredients I put in each.
- Cooked and cooled quinoa and freekeh mix
- Red pepper
- Medjool dates
- Sundried tomatoes
- Cashew nuts
- Halloumi cheese
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt
- Fresh basil
This salad was a TRIUMPH! I had no idea what I was going to do for lunch and so basically went through the fridge and added whatever took my fancy. The sweetness of the dates and nectarine worked so well against the salty cheese and all of the different textures were wonderful too – crunchy cashews, creamy avocado. Yum, I could do with a hefty bowl of this right now! This is one I will definitely attempt to recreate.
Spot the can of beer – it’s all about balance!
- Tomatoes (as many different varieties as possible!)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Leftover sweet and salty salad from the previous day
Tomato and mozzarella salad is a firm favourite with us, which is odd, because as a rule of thumb, I’m not mad keen on uncooked tomatoes! However there’s something about the combination of sliced toms, good olive oil, basil and creamy mozzarella that makes this irresistible and its one of our regular summer lunches whether at home or on holiday.
One morning I also made a huge breakfast fruit salad which went down a treat with everyone and although I don’t have photographic evidence, I’ll try to remember what I put in it!
- Water melon
- Medjool dates
- Plain natural yoghurt
- Unsalted mixed nuts
- Local honey
I basically chopped the fruit into manageable bite sized pieces and topped with the yogurt, nuts and honey. Simple and so delicious!!!!
None of this food prep was difficult or particularly time consuming. I didn’t follow any recipes and neither did I weigh or measure any of the ingredients. And yet, the food that we ate was so tasty and made us (I think I speak for the rest of the family too!!) feel brilliant.
Although many people will try to convince you that there are complex rules and regulations that you must follow in order to gain the most amazing health benefits from your diet, I believe that the reverse is actually true. The most amazing thing that you can do for yourself (and your family) is just to stop eating processed food! Its that simple!! I think that it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by the cult of clean eating. It can feel a bit like a cult or a club which you can only be a part of if you know how to make perfect pesto or have untold hours available to prepare a complex meal with ingredients which you can only track down on-line! I guess that what I’d like more people to realise is that as long as you buy fresh ingredients that you like the look of, you can’t really go wrong. Experiment. Throw things together. Remember what worked and what didn’t. And eat what lights you up and makes you feel vibrant!!! Its not about right or wrong, good or bad, naughty or saintly. Its not about calories, points or syns. It’s about gorgeous fresh food that you enjoy preparing, eating and sharing.
Oh and talking of freshly prepared food, check out what we found in a tiny roadside cave in the middle of the mountains……..
Without a shadow of a doubt, the sweetest, most beautiful, and certainly the freshest orange juice any of us had ever tasted! Bonkers but totally brilliant!
Anyway, let me know if you’d like me share some of my other concoctions. I always seem to be faffing about with food and I’m more than happy to show you what I’ve been eating. I even promise I’ll try to get better at taking food photos!!
Switch on any TV or radio station, or pick up a paper today and you’ll see that the world of UK nutrition has been brought into sharp focus by the mainstream media. Why? Well, The National Obesity Forum have had the temerity to publish a report which states that, contrary to what we’ve been brainwashed into believing over the last 30 years, eating a diet high in fat, might actually REDUCE your chances of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes. Now this is something that is not actually news to many of us, for there has been a choir of dissent within the world of nutrition which has been preaching this message for quite a number of years now. However, the government and a number of other mainstream public health bodies have yet to “get on board”!
In fact, in response to this morning’s report the chief nutritionist for Public Health England has stated that “Advice to eat more fat is irresponsible and potentially deadly”. Wow, pretty strong words there! However, rather than backing down, The National Obesity forum have come out fighting by allowing one of their senior advisors, Dr Aseem Malhotra to speak on their behalf. He has responded with an equally strong message, stating that “The change in dietary advice to promote low fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history. We must urgently change the message to the public to reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eat fat to get slim, don’t fear fat, fat is your friend.”
Dr Malhotra is someone I have been avidly following for the last few years, because while his straight forward messages about diet and obesity have been in direct opposition to the mainstream dietary advice, they have always struck me as revolutionary with their common sense! He is a cardiologist at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust and consultant clinical associate to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (which has to add a heap of weight to his arguments…right?! oh, and, no pun intended!) and for a long time he has been very outspoken about his belief that it is sugar and not fat which is the culprit of Britain’s “obesity crisis”. While the anti-sugar lobby are now undoubtedly making headway in the public consciousness, the message to eat more fat has not yet been so well received. But maybe the tide is about to start changing?
So, as a trainee health coach, what’s my take on all of this? Well………over the last 30 or so years of following the guidelines from public health (and therefore too, many mainstream slimming clubs) we have been advised to focus on eating low fat food, and calorie counting if we want to lose weight. Lord knows I have tried this approach myself enough times. Has it worked…….ummmmmm, in the short term I guess, yes. But have I succeeded in keeping the weight off? No.
Now, this could be blamed on a lack of willpower at not continuing that way of eating ad infinitum, however I would argue that eating “fake foods” is absolutely not a long term solution to a weight problem. And make no bones about it, that is I what I feel this low fat message encourages….a reliance on and acceptance of “fake foods” or “food like substances” to feed us. Foods which have been processed and altered in order to lower the fat content whilst still maintaining some semblance of chemically enhanced and sugar laden flavour. It brings me back, yet again to my Muller Light habit! This belief that we must eat chemically altered food because it says ‘low’ or ‘no fat’ on the packaging and we have been reliably informed (by people who really should know better) that if we eat these products, we will lose weight. And we all know that losing weight automatically results in gaining better health right? Wrong!! Yes, obesity is damaging to health. Yes, being overweight puts you at a far greater risk of developing a myriad of life limiting issues, but so does poor nutrition. And poor nutrition is almost certainly something which can occur from blindly following a diet which aims for rapid, (but not lasting) weight loss. And for what it’s worth, I realise I might be accused of being a tad cynical here, but if we all suddenly stopped believing in and funding this message, just imagine how many huge multi-national, companies would start losing out……..Maybe this has a little something to do with the reluctance to revisit the Low Fat message and contemplate how maybe we might just have got it wrong?!!
What is the alternative? Well, in the words of another of my favourite nutritional gurus, Sarah Wilson, the only answer must be to “Just Eat Real Food”. Yep, it’s that simple. Real food. Real fruit, vegetables, grains and meat. Real food that you buy in its original form (or as close to as dammit!) and then you take home and transform into a delicious and nutritious meal where you know (and can pronounce!) all of the ingredients that have been added to it. The way our ancestors used to eat. Intuitively. In line with the seasons and focusing primarily on food that is produced locally to us. Simple, unrefined food which does not contain masses of added sugar or added chemicals (I’m guessing now is not the right time to have the organic debate!!)
And so from where I’m standing today, I find all of this unbelievably exciting! It feels as though the underground rebels are rising up, banging on drums and making their voices heard.
The revolution is coming and I know which team I’m on!!!