I've been harping on about this for a while. You want to make some big changes? Start with small ones. Small changes add up quickly and turn into something big. Small, positive changes create an inertia that is powerful.
But, where to start? Aha, that is the question. I get lots of messages for advice on this, and to be honest, for a long time I've avoided the topic because I don't like to tell people what to eat. Honestly, it's so different for everyone. We are NOT all the same. What agrees with one person may not agree with another, or vice versa. There is no prescription or meal plan that will suit everybody. You might be someone who can eat ALL the carbs all day long and you maintain being a Size 8. Good for you, you've got some metabolism genie in your body that is pure magic and I salute you, but that is not the case for me, and especially not when I'm trying to lose weight. For a lot of us, carbs are just not our friends when it comes to losing weight. But, you've all heard the anti carbs rants, I'm not going to repeat it.
What I want to talk about is more broad than just one food group. It's about all of them and this little thing I like to talk about called Balance. Creating a balance that works for you and your body is very different for everyone, and it also hugely depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to regain health and are not at all focused on weight, the decisions you make may be different from someone that is trying to lose (or gain) weight. For me, I'm trying to lose weight. I would love to sit here and tell you that you can have absolutely everything in moderation, because, hashtag balance. But it's not the reality. The reality is, if you're trying to lose weight to get to a place where you CAN have everything in moderation one day, some things simply have to go for a while.
For a while, not forever.
I have dieted before and drawn hard lines in the sand. "I WILL NOT EAT CARBS! NO BREAD EVER!" I shouted from the rooftops. It's not realistic. These days I don't eat bread 90% of the time, but if I'm out and want eggs benny on that fresh, soft ciabatta, I'm going to have it. Because it's enjoyable, because I love it, and because I do not believe you should restrict yourself all the time. I have the same approach to sugar.
Unfortunately sugar is a little different to bread because sugar is the absolute devil incarnate and once you have a taste, you can go down a slippery slope to downing a bar of chocolate in 3.5 seconds (anyone else?). That is the truth, that shit is addictive. When I started my weightloss journey, I cut it. CUT IT OUT. I got rid of the taste of it, and I stayed off it a long time. I still limit it a lot and opt for natural sugars when I want a hit. There is no balance for me when it comes to sugar, it is all or nothing.
Coming back to what changes you can make (I think you're starting to see where this is going). Think about the things in your diet that are doing nothing for you, that don't serve you.It might be pasta 4 nights a week, it might be sugary cereal, it might be cake, hell it might be a bad McDs habit. If you think about it, you'll come up with a little list that you can start tackling pretty quick (back to this in a minute).
My very first change was sugar. I said 'self, sugar is doing nothing for you'. But sugar as a whole was too daunting so to start, so it was just no chocolate or cake for a week. A small, achievable goal (that was actually a big deal to me as I had that stuff ALL the time) that once accomplished I felt like a superstar. High fives all around!
I'm also a firm believer in we don't just need to be taking away and cutting out foods without adding something else in. There is a real misconception that when you change your lifestyle to eat healthier that your missing out. You are not missing out. When I started getting rid of my bad habits I found other things that I really loved.
Superfood Smoothies is a really good example, I replaced my shitty breakfast with smoothies from Craft Smoothie. Raw baking is another great example, god, if only people knew how incredibly delicious these natural foods are!
So where to from here?
- Make a list of 3 things or habits to change in the next 2 weeks
- Keep those 3 things in the front of your mind, be mindfulof the choices you make. If not having cake is on your list, and you make an intentional decision to have cake, that's ok, but I want you to think about how having that cake made you feel. Did it actually make you feel better? And then you have to let go that decision and not beat yourself up. This part is very important!
- Write down what you want to achieve and what success would look like. I don't mean some big lofty goal that doesn't seem achievable, don't scare yourself before you've started.
- Use the internet for inspiration, look for recipes, find people like me that might inspire you and give you motivation and ideas. For recipes, use hashtags like 'wholefoods' and 'cleaneatingrecipe'. There is an ocean of inspiration and ideas out there, use it.
- Be prepared - go to the supermarket an get some good food for your pantry (see below)
- BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
I can sum up the diet changes I made it one sentence really. I stopped eating shitty food and started eating clean. I started doing what I knew made sense - I stopped with all the jam sandwiches, biscuits, cake and carb heavy, sugar laden foods and wouldn't you know it, the weight started falling off me. I started eating clean, whole foods. They are easy to access and truly delicious - and they serve you.
Here are some ideas of things to buy at the supermarket for snacks or meals (I turns snacks into meals!). Being prepared and having nutritious food you enjoy in the house is super important.
- Plain mixed nuts. Maybe stay away from ones with yogurt covered raisins and chocolate. I go for the cranberry nut medley.
- Any fresh fruit you enjoy
- Yummy cheese (fat is not the enemy)
- Low sugar natural yogurt or coconut yogurt. Natural Cathedral Cove Naturals and Raglan Coconut yogurt are both very very low in sugar, but creamy and delicious.
- Frozen blueberries (to pop into your yogurt, yum)
- A good nut butter!!! Fix & Fogg have an amazing chocolate peanut butter that is decadent and delicious
- A paleo, grain free nut cereal mix for crunch on smoothies or your yogurt
Clean Paleo Co or Cathedral Cove Naturals are my faves
- Whole food bars like the ones by Tasti or Tom & Luke
- Bliss balls (buy or make)
- Green smoothie ingredients like spinach, kale, kiwifruit, banana, pear and almond milk so you can make yourself a super smoothie any time!
Just a few ideas! These are things that are always on my grocery list, as well as plenty of veggies and plain old lean meats.