Healthier & Happier Living - Part 2 - Food

January 11, 2014

Hi all,

So here is the second instalment of my 'Healthier & Happier Living' series. This time I am focusing on food.

I am NOT a nutritionist, I am not someone who has lots of money, time and energy to spend on eating perfect foods all day long. The guide below is what I follow, it has worked wonders for me and I am excited to share it with you. Take what you want from it and use it in a way that suits you and your lifestyle. 

I wish I could say that I live off only pure, wholegrain foods, fruits and vegetables but I don't! I have a massive sweet tooth and I need my treats! 

I spent years and years trying to eat less when really the answer was to eat more! But... make sure that it is the right food.

You do NOT have to be hungry to lose/maintain weight. I will repeat that as it is important,you do NOT have to be HUNGRY to lose weight!!

Where to start? 

Eat Regularly:
You should eat 5-6 times a day. my eating schedule currently looks like this:
7.30am Breakfast
10.00am Small Snack
12.30pm Lunch 
4.00pm Big snack
6.00pm Dinner
8.00pm light snack if hungry

Obviously my schedule is based around my little girl hence the early lunch and evening meal but you can use this as a guide, ideally you should eat every 2-3 hours to keep your blood sugar constant. I implemented this 'schedule' after doing some research into why I was getting headaches on a daily basis.

I have found that eating before getting hungry has not only stopped my headaches but it has also helped me lose weight and make better food choices.

I am no nutritionist or psychologist but even I know that the hungrier you get the worse your food choices become! You end up craving fatty, sugary foods as you are SO hungry. If you eat little and often (I believe) your stomach gradually reduces in size and then you feel less hungry in the long term.

What foods to choose?

Generally your snacks and meals should be 'slow release' foods that are as close to their original state as possible i.e. whole foods. You should also think every time before you eat, what good does this do for my body? Does it fuel it well, does it contain lots of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc:

The whole version; The less processed something is, the better. Fresh (raw) fruit and vegetables are the best, dark chocolate, etc. Anything that hasn't been messed about with too much is always going to be a safe bet. You cannot get fat from the foods nature intended us to eat. The weight issues come from us eating things that our ancestors (or even just our great grandparents) wouldn't recognise as 'food'. I love the follwoing phrases: if the food has a TV advert, it is no good for you!

Proteins; the complex structures take longer to digest. I like nuts, pure nut butters (no added salt or sugar), eggs, etc.

Whole grains and complex carbs; Whole grain rice, bread, pasta, etc will keep you feeling fuller for longer and they are closer to the original food source.

Fruits and Vegetables; Obviously eating lots of fruit and vegetable is good for you! I won't insult your intelligence with going on about it, I'll just say: try to eat what is in season and try not to get into a rut, i.e. eating apples all the time or always having peas with your meals. 

Fats; yes, fats! You need lots of healthy fats in your diet, your body needs it to function. I like to cook with coconut oil as it is full of great fats, I also think avocado is great, nuts are full of healthy fats... and so on!

Foods to Avoid:

Anything processed; if you are eating something that has been 'made' by someone else you don't really know what is in it or what has happened to it before it goes into your body, that's quite a scary thought isn't it?! Also the more you change something the further you move away from the original goodness it contained.

Salt; try and keep this little devil to a minimum, we all know the damage it can cause. By cutting down on your processed foods you will cut back significantly on your salt intake. I found that my headaches drastically improved by reducing my salt intake.

Sugar; this is a modern poison that causes so many problems it is unreal. I have read somewhere that the only thing that feeds cancer is sugar. I don't know if that is true but I do know that I feel a million times better since cutting right back on my sugar. 

Breakfast: 

This needs a special mention as I feel this is the most important meal of the day.
Do not be tempted to skip breakfast, ever. If you are not keen on eating early in the morning then start off with something simple like toast, eat it slowly and gradually you will get used to eating at that time of day.
I am VERY busy in the morning, not only do I have to get myself up and ready but I also have to get my daughter up, dressed, fed, etc as well. So, I am short of time but I never let the quality of my breakfast slip - very often, if I have a poor breakfast I have a bad day! I like to feel very full after my breakfast to keep me going until my morning snack at about 10ish. 

Great options for breakfast include; natural yoghurt with fruit and/or muesli, wholemeal toast with a pure nut butter, smoothies (ideally fresh made with almond milk or similar) and if you have a bit more time eggs are a great way to start the day.

Snacks:

People often ask me what to eat for snacks... there are so many options! Here are a list of some of my favourites, I am not saying they are perfect but they are a good place to start if you are lost.

Fresh Fruit or Veg; A lot fruit and veg is ready to eat with no peeling, prepping, etc; grapes, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, bananas, apples, pears, plums, oranges, etc

Healthy snack bars; Many health food stores (and supermarkets) now stock things like 'nakd' or 'eat natural' bars that are very minimally processed and full of goodness. These are great when you really don't have the time or energy for anything else.

Nuts and dried fruits; These should be enjoyed in moderation as dried fruits contain a lot of sugar (albeit natural). I love dates to satisfy my sugar cravings. Almonds, walnut, unsalted pistachios and pecans are all delicious.

Packaged fruit and veg; not ideal as I worry how 'pure' and fresh these are not to mention how expensive they are but lots of supermarkets do ready prepared fruit salads, pineapple fingers, etc. 
You can watch my (quite old) video about 'healthy junk foods' if you like, click here.

Dark Chocolate; I enjoy a square or two of dark chocolate when I am craving milk chocolate. It works :-)

Hot drinks; Green tea, tea without milk and sugar, herbal and fruit teas. Sometimes I will have a cheeky hot chocolate and make it with almond milk with the pretence that it is 'healthy'! I know it's still full of sugar and is not very 'whole' but everyone needs a treat every so often.

Chia Energy Drink; you have to try this! It will change your life!! Watch this (old and embarrassing!) video to find out how simple this is to make! Click here. This will keep you feeling full for ages and give you a great boost of energy. I drank this a lot when I was taking caffeine out of my diet!

This post is getting a bit long so I am going to wrap it up, I will talk more about food for clear skin, shiny hair, etc in my next post! I want to talk about getting into good habits and I'll also be covering exercise soon so stay tuned for that, if you don't want to miss a post you may want to follow me on BlogLovin' just click this link to go to my profile: Follow All Natural Aspirations

Thanks for reading!

Please leave your own tips, snack food ideas and words of encouragement, etc below please! I am always looking out for more ideas :-)


Rach xx

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