I’ve been thinking lately of good habits I’ve picked up from years of dieting. I have had successes with weight loss, many of them but the down fall has always been maintenance (and settling at a size where I’m happier but not at target but that’s another story).
Although I’ve regained the lost weight and more (I’m definitely one of those who wishes I was as ‘fat’ now as I thought I was when I went on my first diet), I have taken with me at least one good habit from each diet which I’ve managed to sustain and incorporate into my usual eating.
The earliest of these must have been my first diet as a kid where I was placed introduced to yoghurt. That stuff was only for women on diets back in the day and I developed a liking for it which has endured.
Another early one was a reduction of sugar intake. I used to put sugar on cereal, didn’t know what a low sugar drink was and added two spoons full to hot drinks. All of that was knocked on the head in a very early diet and to this day I don’t like sugary drinks and definitely don’t add sugar to anything. Even when I bake I reduce the sugar content in cakes and never notice a difference and I use more ‘healthy’ sugars and sweeteners. It pains me to put 8 tablespoons of sugar into a Kambucha brew but I’ve taken to brewing for longer to reduce the eventual sugar content and take Kambucha sparingly more as medication than a drink I enjoy (although I do enjoy it).
Another later habit was to use skimmed or semi skimmed milk and to check fat contents on soft cheeses, spreads, yoghurts and such and to go for the less calorific ones. Also to only use extra virgin olive oil in cooking. Something I still do even when I’m not thinking about weightloss.
Drinking lemon water and swallowing raw garlic was something I started doing on a diet in 2006 and continue to do to this day.
In the early 1990’s I developed a love of rye breads, crisp breads, pittas and all other manner of alternative break/cracker type bases for sandwiches or sandwich type meals and snacks and my love of beetroot emerged at the same time. I use these healthier ‘bread’ options still as a staple even when not losing weight and eat beetroot like it’s about to become extinct.
In the mid 2000’s I started to look more closely at seeds and nuts and dried fruits and tried to incorporate more into my diet and developed a love of Cranberry Juice which endures today. I also started to consume turmeric milk. It’s no surprising that this was the time my brother died and so there was a huge influence from popularly considered cancer ‘protectors and curers’ at the time.
Mid 1990’s I knocked alcohol on the head, coincidentally or not around the time my dad passed away from liver disease and I also developed a love of Cottage Cheese as a snack food instead of a big doorstep cheese and onion sandwich smothered in salad cream I started to enjoy zero fat cottage cheese on a crisp bread and still prefer that option to date.
Juicing and smoothie making as well as soup making became really big parts of everyday eating in the mid 2000’s too and even when not dieting I still throw these veg/fruit rich blends as much as possible.
Later attempts (not so successful) in the 2010’s have taught me to not cut out too much dairy, eggs are OK and I can throw some full fat cheese into things in moderation.
I just wanted to think about the positive things I have taken on with me from attempts to lose weight and be healthy and not see it all as having been a waste of time and a negative process which brought me to where I am now in terms of size.
There are some good legacies and those combined with my new found love of fermenting and my home made granola addiction are all coming together now to create a really, really, really healthy me.
This time it’s different, I have the ingredients, I don’t need to learn new habits in terms of what I eat and balancing out my intake of vitamins and minerals, I kind of feel I’m there in terms of what works for me, what’s good for me, what needs maximising and what needs leaving out. This time, it’s not about an eating habit which needs to change forever it’s about the mental attitude to food which needs to change forever.
All of these years have taught me some good lessons and I’m grateful for them but now it really is about what goes on in my head. It’s about making sure that the mental attitude is one which I take on into the future, my relationship with food is the big one, the last obstacle to overcome to prevent me sliding back again and I really feel that I’m winning.
Like they say, there is no better expert on healthy eating than a lifelong obesity warrior. We know our stuff when it comes to food and nutrition but the head is where this battle is won and I wish I’d realised that sooner. I realise it now and this will be the thing that I take forward with me this time, a strong mental attitude which commits me to a much improved relationship with food. It’s never too late though… I’m still here, I can make the final change which will make all of the difference.