Dieting part 6…

Lately I have been trying to come up with different ‘healthy’ snacks to eat both for myself and a friend whom I am helping to try and improve her lifestyle and eating habits.

When it comes to snacking, it can be lethal as we can forget or discount these towards our daily eating habits or calorie counting. Admittedly without any forward thinking it can be hard to come across a healthy snack especially at petrol stations or service stations and instead we are surrounded by chocolate, pastries, crisps etc and when we are hungry it can be even harder to forgo picking something like this up on during our day.

People can find it hard to be prepared, I suppose it’s like any new habit, it will take time to become part of your daily routine, but it is possible.

I now generally have a few snacks in the car and try to make sure there are some snacks in the house for when I am feeling nibbly.

Boredom and emotional eating are a big thing for a lot of us and so it can be about noticing any patterns or writing down how we are feeling and seeing if there are any links with when we reach for snacks.

If you notice yourself reaching for food when you aren’t actually hungry this is where it can be a good idea to try and distract yourself. This could be by doing something with your hands or doing some sit ups…whatever works for you.

If you decide you are hungry it can be worth having a glass of water first to see if that eases those hunger pangs. Sometimes I will have a hot drink, cup a soup or a milky drink too.

When it comes to wanting to satisfy that sweet tooth without reaching for that big bar of chocolate it is worth trying other snacks such as having a hot chocolate, a chocolate mousse, a square of dark chocolate or even a chocolate rice cake. By all means allow yourself that chocolate bar from time to time but it might be worth noting how many calories are in your go to chocolate bars as they can vary quite a lot.

I try to make sure I have rice cakes in the house, and these can be eaten as they are or they can be topped with pretty much anything from cream cheese, peanut butter, chocolate spread etc.

You could also try to have some nice fruit in the house…sometimes I like to have banana or apple with peanut butter which feels more like a treat and is more filling.

Having carrots, cucumber or celery in the house enables you to have crudites with hummus, dips or I sometimes have them with marmite.

Other ideas include yogurt, which is more filling with fruit, homemade popcorn, smoothies, boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, breadsticks which can be eaten as they are or dipped in chocolate spread, peanut butter, or savoury dips.

It’s worth experimenting and seeing what might work for you and you might be surprised. Especially if you make sure you have some healthier snacks to hand at home or on the go as it might just stop you reaching for that pastry when you go for a coffee.

I’m not suggesting anyone should cut out treats as that would just make us miserable but even making one small change can make a difference.

It might be that you try the 80/20 rule and eat healthier snacks 5 days a week and then have treats the other 2 days.

Sometimes it’s trial and error and seeing what works for you. Next time you go shopping it might be worth having a look at what’s available that would satisfy that craving you have without overindulging all the time. I’ve found that I appreciate treats more by not having them all the time.

Dieting part 5

So, this is the time of year when a lot of people decide to set a goal to lose weight after the festive period. Sometimes people opt for crash course diets or they set unrealistic goals, both of which are asking for failure as a crash course diet may well help you loose weight quickly but as soon as you started eating normally again the weight will creep back on and by setting unrealistic goals it can be all too easy to feel despondent by what you deem to be lack of progress and so it is easy to give up.

As you know, I am not a fan of diets as such but rather a healthy lifestyle that allows for food that you like and treats otherwise again, not allowing yourself these things will no doubt result in temptation and then giving up.

Of all the diets I have tried the most useful tool I have found is becoming aware of what I am eating which may sound simple, but you would be surprised how much we may not be aware in terms of what ingredients are in ready meals, how big our portion sizes actually are or how many calories we really are consuming. It’s all too easy to guess how many calories we think are in something or how much we’ve really eaten but that is setting yourself a trap.

Aside from Noom getting me to rethink my relationship with food and body confidence it has really helped me know how many calories I am consuming; how many I should be consuming and what types of food I am eating (they use a traffic light system).

To begin with it can be time consuming and tedious to enter everything you’ve eaten and figure out the portion size, but it definitely opens your eyes. It makes you think and often reconsider eating that extra slice of pizza or adding more green foods to your diet or having an extra cup or tea or water before you decide if you’re really hungry.

I never thought I would be saying that I have got used to this way of living but I certainly feel like it is now engrained in me. I feel as though I am much more knowledgeable about food and nutrition which must have contributed to me maintaining my goal weight for nearly a year now.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a health or fitness guru and never will be as I love my food too much and have never loved exercise.

I do however feel healthier and fitter than I ever have been and despite having had 2 children this is the first time in my life that I quite like my figure and feel comfortable in my own skin.  

I still allow myself to have treats and do not rule any food out of my diet. There are days when I know I eat more calories than I should or when I eat more red foods than I should, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I think that I would have an inkling if I thought I was putting on weight again just by how I feel or by how my clothes feel but I still weight myself quite often just so that I don’t start piling the weight back on again. The main reason for this is because I have always found it incredibly easy to put weight on but a lot harder to lose it.

My weight does fluctuate by a couple of pounds and sometimes a little more but that is when I am a little more controlled about what I eat. I don’t want to get back to being a size 18/20 and still to this day can’t believe that I am a size 12, because I have always had curves, I never thought I’d get below a size 14.

I have got into the mindset of generally trying to make healthier choices without depriving myself and this can be down to something as simple as do swaps such as having sweet potato instead of potato or making pizza from scratch rather than buying one from the shops. I try and fill up on salad or fruit or if I want a pizza I’ll try and have ½ pizza with salad instead of eating the whole pizza but then again sometimes I will eat the whole pizza and that’s ok.

I’m also a firm believer that it’s important not to skip meals…I know if I did I would no doubt end up reaching for something to keep me going which is unlikely to be the healthiest choice. It’s hard to grab something healthy on the go as we are surrounded by pastries, cakes, and chocolate at all the convenience shops. This is also a reason that I try to make sure I have a snack with me whenever I go out as I know what I am like. A good tip is to try and keep a couple of things in your car and at work to stop temptation.

Another thing to be aware of is boredom, when we can think we are hungry but we aren’t or if we are fidgety so it can be worth taking a minute to be aware of this before reaching for something. This can be a time when I try to do something instead or make a drink first.

If you do try any diets or a change of lifestyle, allow for hiccups and don’t beat yourself up if you have a wobble. Keep in mind your goal and your reason behind your goal and don’t get too het up about what the scales say as weight does fluctuate which doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t on the right tracks.

Dieting Part IIII

I am quite surprised that I have managed to keep the weight off that I have lost over the last 4 months, especially as I know I am not doing as much exercise as I should be doing. I believe that this is down to how Noom has changed my thought process when it comes to food, and I guess my relationship with food. I will always like my food and never want to feel restricted when it comes to food choices which is why I am not a fan of diets, because I feel they make you crave foods you are told to avoid and eventually give in.

I am still recording everything I eat, which not only tells me how many calories I have consumed, but also how many calories I should be consuming and how many I have left. I don’t worry too much about the traffic light system that it produces based on the food you have entered, however I am conscious to try and aim for more green foods. I still get a little grumpy when I feel I have had a healthy snack and it tells me it’s red such as nuts, seeds, seeded flatbread, natural fruit bars, peanut butter, rice cakes etc but on those occasions I don’t beat myself up if I go over my allocated calories in the red section.

I have tried calorie-controlled diets before and quickly got bored of writing it all down and trying to keep track, so I am not quite sure what is different this time. I chose to keep Noom even after reaching my goal weight as I felt that I needed it for a bit longer in case I had a wobble and to keep me going so that it really does become a lifestyle…which I think it has. No day goes by when I feel that I am missing out on something, and I do allow myself treats but it keeps me on track if I want to eat an entire tub of Ben & Jerrys dairy free ice cream!! (It’s really hard not to!!)

Recently I have found myself in a routine of knowing what I can eat and what works which is good, but I also feel that I am in a bit of a rut when it comes to thinking of different things I can eat and know that I am lacking a bit of variety. I pretty much live off salads, sweet potatoes, chicken, cauliflower rice and porridge. My aim is to try and mix it up a bit and my coach suggested some different meal ideas, but I have realised that I have been avoiding pasta, rice (no surprise there after living off it for a week when I did the ration challenge!), noodles and couscous, possibly because I feel they may make me put on weight again or at least make me look and feel bloated.

Part of my struggle to come up with different meal ideas is because I prioritise planning what my girls will be eating, and I know that I don’t always end up thinking about what I am going to eat, which is possibly why I have got in my comfort zone of what I tend to reach for when it comes to mealtimes. I feel like I need someone to inspire me (or ideally come and cook for me!!).

Now that I am hoping to become pregnant, I am slightly concerned that I will never return to this weight or clothes size again and whilst it isn’t the end of the world, I know that I would like to at least try. When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, I definitely ate for 2 (adults!) and didn’t care, which may explain why I put on so much weight.

This time, obviously I know that I will put weight on, and my figure will change but I am determined to not use pregnancy as an excuse to eat for 2 and pig out. I really want to try and maintain a healthy diet and try and brush up on how many more calories my body actually needs and try and find healthy foods for these extra calories. I still intend to use Noom, not for weight loss but more for helping me feel in control throughout my pregnancy and afterwards when I hope to lose the baby weight.

Being the kind of person who likes to be organised I know that I want to go away and research what the recommendations are when it comes to diet and calorie intake during pregnancy so I can think of ways to avoid putting all the weight back on that I have lost.

Noom has definitely given me a completely different relationship with food and has enabled me to reach my goal weight and maintain it. I never thought I would be this slim and to some degree I still consider myself to be large/curvy but slowly I am trying to embrace my new figure and allow myself to wear clothes that aren’t baggy and instead show off the fact that I do have a figure for the first time in my life.

Dieting Part III…

It has been three months since my last post about dieting and this is when I first signed up to Noom. I was pessimistic about how successful Noom would be and did not expect to lose much (if any) weight by completing their articles about the psychology of weight loss, our relationship with food etc, logging my meals and tracking exercise. I chose to try and lose weight slowly, so it gave me three months to lose 9 pounds. I had been desperate to lose half a stone since the beginning of the year and struggled to get the weight to budge despite watching what I was eating and trying Joe Wicks workouts. I was starting to feel despondent as my weight has fluctuated throughout my life…. however,… drum roll please!!!!

I have achieved my goal of losing half a stone and more!

In fact, I have lost 9 pounds in three months! I am now the slimmest I have ever been, and I am so happy! Yes, I still have a stomach and wobbly bits, but my clothes are falling off me and my confidence has grown in how I look. I no longer think of myself as fat and still like my curves. I know that I need to keep up with everything that Noom has taught me as I know only too well how easy it easy to pile on the weight so this is something that needs to become habitual rather than as a ‘diet’.

I now need to see about getting some new clothes and realise that I am no longer a size 18 or 16 or 14 and that I do not need to wear baggy, shapeless clothes. Part of my frugalness makes it hard for me to buy new clothes and feel that I should wear clothes until they fall apart!

Moving forward, I know that I will need to keep Noom or find an app that will help me keep track of what I eat as well as counting my steps. Otherwise I can see myself not keeping it up, even though I know I could google the calories in what I eat and write it down, it’s just not the same.

I like that Noom tracks your weight, and you can see the graph from the day you start, including the ups and downs, but it is a positive reminder of what you have achieved, even if there have been times when weight has fluctuated or stubbornly remained the same!

Noom also breaks down food into the traffic light categories automatically and shows you what proportion of red, yellow, and green foods you have eaten every day.

For me, the trickiest part of logging calories is when you are eating out, be it at a friends or a restaurant and you don’t know how much something weighs or how many calories are in something, so you end up guessing. I don’t want to kid myself so I always try to overestimate but it can be hard, especially if you are still hungry but daren’t eat anything else in case you go over but in fact you do not know for sure.

What I like best about Noom is that there are no restrictions…. I have managed to lose the weight and still gone out to eat, enjoyed cocktails, pigged out on ice cream, home baking etc. Although obviously not every day! I have tried, when possible, to get into the habit of planning ahead, so if I know that I am going out to eat or fancy that pizza for tea then I try to budget it into my daily calories. I never thought that I would get into the habit and expected to find it tedious but that hasn’t been the case, Noom has made it so easy.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been plain sailing and there have been days when the scales have not been my friend and that can be tough especially if I have felt that I have been really trying to eat healthily and stick to my calories. However, I have learned that my weight does fluctuate for a variety of reasons and so I have tried to almost forget what the scales say and carry on, which has paid off. Not long after I first struggled with the scales, the subject came up on Noom and it recommended that you take a break from weighing yourself every day, which I did.

Noom has really become that annoying parrot on my shoulder but in a positive way so for example I am someone who can find myself reaching for food in an evening regardless of weather I am hungry or not. So, if having a drink or distraction does not work, I find myself automatically turning to Noom to find out if I have any calories left. On most occasions I will have either no calories left or a maximum of 200 calories left, therefore it really makes me think about what I am ‘allowed’ to eat.

I am not too strict with myself otherwise it would not work for me, but I do want to feel good in my own skin so knowing how many calories I have left really makes me think. So now I will choose to eat fruit, have a cup a soup, a boiled egg, or my go to filling ‘treat’ which is sweet potato wedges or my recent discovery… cauliflower nuggets. (Cauliflower florets dipped in low fat mayonnaise and then dipped in a spice mix, breadcrumbs, or both). Who would have thought that I would genuinely enjoy eating these things?! (Particularly before going dairy free my evenings would have consisted of cheese and crackers or chocolate).

I now want to keep the weight off and try to tone up a bit, so this is my next challenge.

I am proud of what I have achieved and hope my new figure will help my confidence to grow.