I was asked recently in comments to give an idea of my daily eating, a typical day in the life of me. It’s difficult to do as I like to have lots of variance in my diet but as I’ve thought about it there are recurring themes and much of it is just adapting what are my staples. I would hate to preach to anyone as I believe finding the right diet for you is very personal, just as is finding the right exercise for you. But here are some of the concepts I guess which have formulated my eating strategy.
I’ve changed my eating habits over the past six months or so and refined things slightly by cutting out more and more of the less healthy stuff or shifting my stance in what I perceive to be healthy or not. I eat far less meat now and oddly for someone healthy eating I include more dairy and some of that is full fat dairy. It works for me.
I used to feel the need for a carb hit when exercising but I don’t get that anymore so I guess my body is running on the fat reserves which is what I want it to do.
I cut out as much processed and refined stuff as possible. I eat lots of raw foods every day and try to have a rainbow of foods through the week. I switch peppers through green yellow orange and red, I have red and green leaves in salad I have yellow orange green red blue and purple fruits and veg. I flavour up with a wide range of herbs and spices. I eat a variety of beans and pulses.
Carbs come from rice and cous cous as well as potato and peas and pulses and other grains such as oats.
It’s taken me six months of making small changes, reading about foods and nutrients changing habits and routines to get here, it doesn’t happen overnight, small changes, step by step is the way forward. But here are my top tips.
Top Tip Number One – Water
First of all I have to say water. Drink at least two litres of water through the day. Much more if you do lots of sweaty exercise or if it is hot.
I drink water before I get out of bed and last thing at night and all day long.
Not only does it keep you hydrated and prevent you from mistaking thirst for hunger it helps flush toxins, does wonders for your skin, keeps your bodily systems and organs functioning well and is also said to have beneficial effects in terms of heart and brain health.
Tip Two – Made Medicinal Foods part of your Morning Routine
A glass of boiled water with an infusion if you like of the following is my recent adaptation of my morning shots of goodness. I take pint glass, near fill it with boiled filter water, still hot like you would for tea and I squeeze in the juice of a whole lemon, a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of cinammon, a teaspoon of organic honey and steep a white organic tea bag. I mix it all up and drink it down fast saving the last to wash down a chunk of finely chopped root ginger and 4 garlic cloves chopped. After that I have a wheatgrass shot and then I have a glug of kefir or you could use a probiotic drink.
I have a glass of kombucha just before I eat breakfast.
It seems bizarre that I do this every morning but it’s not as crazy as it seems. I’ve done a lot of research into foods which heal and prevent certain conditions which I need to worry about. I see this morning ritual as no different and far more healthy than necking a heap of supplements or a heap of medication every morning. These foods are my drugs. I don’t take any medication for anything ever.
Tip Three – Eat Three Meals a Day and Never Skip Breakfast
This is almost always granola for me with a tablespoon of flax a half tablespoon of ground apricot kernels and filtered milk. I always include in my granola a bunch of dried cranberries, sultanas and cashew nuts as well as almond flakes. To save money I make my own granola and you can make a few ingredients go a long way. It also allows you to be in control of ingredients with no hidden sugars. I try to exclude processed and refined foods as much as I can. To sweeten I use a high grade organic honey or as unrefined sugar as possible.
I wash that down with another pint of cold water.
Tip Four – Plan Snacks Just In Case
Mid morning I will have a berry smoothie, just a couple of hands full of mixed berries I include Goji blueberries raspberries blackberries cherries and just blitz them up with water.
If I don’t have a smoothie prepared and can’t make one I’ll chow on the fruit and drink water.
These do not need to be expensive you can buy frozen packs for convenience you can grow your own and freeze for use out of season you can stock up when supermarkets have offers on. Or you can shop share as I’ve suggested before; so you buddy up with a friend or two and you each buy a variety of berry and share so you have a mixture. I feel that eating a variety of fruits veg berries herbs whatever is important. I would try to ensure I eat each type of berry at least three times a week.
I always carry a snack with me if I’m out and about even if I don’t eat it, it’s there to add to lunch or to save for the next day and stops me snacking on junk.
Tip Five – Everything Stops for Lunch
Lunch is such an important meal and another one I would previously skip. Stopping for lunch now not only gives me chance to refuel and hydrate but also to take a break from work and mentally refresh and unwind. I sit somewhere and have a bit of deep relaxation before or after eating, if only for ten minutes. It makes a world of difference. I also take a walk up and down some stairs at lunch time or out in the fresh air to get some exercise.
For lunch I always start with a big glass of water and a serving of Kombucha. Then I either have a big salad with lots of green leaves. Spinach and kale are cheap, fab wholesome foods and easy to grow too. Lots of cucumber, tons of tomatoes, onions celery and I will either squeeze a citrus dressing on to it, simply a half lemon or orange or both and eat with oily fish. that can be a grilled piece of fish tuna, salmon or inexpensive mackerel or sardines or tinned fish like tuna or mackerel. I have a heap of chopped beetroot on the side.
I used to have chicken but I found that if I make sure lunch is about fish I guarantee myself a serving a day and whilst fish may be more fatty than chicken breast it has lots of good nutrients which are not going to do my ageing body and brain any harm. Think of the medicinal properties of food as well as the taste and the fat factor.
I might switch salad for soup which I make very simply by combining a load of veg in a pan boiling maybe adding some lentils and then blitzing in a blender when cooked. I add herbs coriander is a favourite and rule no veg except potato out.
I’m not a microwave fan so I tend to have soup more when at home or where I can reheat by some other means.
Coasts for lunch can be kept low by using seasonal produce bulking up on cheaper ingredients and looking for offers. I do try to buy organic where possible and grow my own as much as possible too. Salad leaves and spinach are easy to grow.
Sometimes I might switch lunch for a veggie juice of kale, spinach, beetroot, celery, apple, pineapple, lemon and ginger.
If I’m craving carbs I might swap for a bean salad or I might add a ryvita or even a small amount of rice or even a warmed wholemeal Pitta
Tip Six – Dine Early
I have dinner early at around six pm no later than seven and always start with a big glass of water and a helping of Kombucha. This is where I get my beans and pulses and a nice hot meal. I’ll have things like cous cous with a bean tagine, rice and bean stuffed vegetables, grilled meat, always followed by a mixed fruit salad with yoghurt. I always eat at least one banana, one apple, one pear and one orange a day besides other fruits.
Tip Seven – Cravings
If I crave choc I’ll have a low calorie hot choc drink before bed.
If I crave a pudding I’ll have some stewed fruit with cream. Rhubarb and apple are good.
Tip Eight – Hydrate before bed
I always have a pint of water before I go to sleep to keep me hydrated through the night.
Tip Nine – Lower Fat Versions of Favourites
I have picked up some fab recipes from bloggers for lower fat versions of things I really love, like pizza replaced with a pitta bread base and a pastry-less quiche or making curries all about the beans and less about meat.
Tip Ten – Dining Out and Take Away
I have two courses when dining out and go for as healthy options as poss without making myself miserable. If I know dessert is going to be an issue I have a healthy starter instead and drink lots of water throughout the meal and add a glass of wine. I also ask my fellow diners to please consider supporting me by not going for a dessert or at least waiting until I’ve left the table and I have been known to go and sit in the bar while they eat dessert if it’s too tough to resist. Sometimes there is only removal from the temptation that will do.
I also find that if you ask, even if it is not on the menu, many places will knock you up a fruit salad.
When having take out I go for a grilled chicken shish kebab with lots of salad and a little chilli sauce – healthy and not full of fat, still a takeout treat. I avoid all other take out.
If it’s a special occasion or you have been super health eating for weeks then go for it and indulge, it’s what normal people do and they work harder in the gym the next day or tighten up on their food that week to compensate. This has to be sustainable and not make you miserable.
Other General Tips
Preparation is important obsess about food in a good way. Plan ahead, work out menus, buy only ingredients for those menus so you can’t stray, plan for danger times, eg parties, meals out and think about your strategy for coping, or make a decision to not worry about it and deal with it later but make sure you do deal with it later. You will find that once you are in your stride with your routine you won’t even eat as much when you do indulge as you used to. I can’t eat half of what I used to eat and unhealthy food makes its presence known very quickly in a healthy body. It affects energy levels, mood and creates all kinds of gas and toxic waste.
Know that your body can cope with a cake or a scone or a biscuit. It will struggle if you cram in a whole year’s worth. Having one now and then makes you savour it and makes it far more enjoyable than a packet scoffed down mindlessly while watching telly.
If you don’t have much money buy what you can afford. Organic can be expensive but I think of it like this, a cheap kiwi fruit is going to be better for me than a packet of cheap crisps.
Save money by soaking your own beans from dried and add variety by buying mixed cans.
Save time by preparing tomorrow’s lunches while cooking dinner. Prepare granola, harvest wheat grass, tend veg patch, brew kombucha one day a week. Involve the kids to make it easier, quicker and more fun as well as educational and a great example for them.
Don’t have nasties in the house, you don’t need them and neither do your kids and you are less likely to eat them if you have to go and buy them at 11pm rather than dig them out of the kitchen. Throw all of your junk away or drop it in a food bank.
Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad food day, just make sure it is stays at one day, work harder on exercise and healthy eating for a couple of days after to get you back on track.
Last but not least… see food as something essential to nourish your body and to fuel it, something which keeps you strong and healthy, helps you fight off disease and illness, gives you energy and good health, keeps your mind alert and all of your vital organs functioning well. If you can enjoy it too then you are winning, but make other things your hobbies. Growing food can be a hobby, eating it shouldn’t be. Find other ways to socialise, instead of meeting a friend for coffee and cake, meet a friend for a good walk around the park or a hike up the nearest hill, or for a swim followed by a big salad lunch and lots of fresh drinking water.