So, before we get into this one – I am speaking from my experience and what I’ve learnt the last few months of trying to lead a healthier life. I’d love to hear from you what you think about this topic and the types of things you follow to make every day a good day!
Eating healthier foods or staying within a controlled calorie/Kilojoule limit has always been an interesting topic within my family. Growing up, being healthy wasn’t a thing and being told to eat everything on your plate (even when you were absolutely stuffed) was.
An unhealthy relationship with food was developed early on, and then being considered as ‘outside of normal weight limits’, I was introduced to dieticians and diets at a very young age (what I now consider to be quite irresponsible of the doctors of the time). This further compiled an already dangerous and emotional relationship with food.
Fast forward to now, and with the added pressures of work, marriage and family, it was important to get a healthier view on eating in my life – I know that for many people, something like a day’s eating has very little impact or meaning to them as they have a normal or healthy relationship with food. However, I do know of a lot of people who struggle with very similar (or negative) relationships with food and eating – perhaps not fully aware of it but it still exists.
In January, I made the decision to once again focus in on food, diet, cooking and everything related. Generally, we eat a pretty average range of food, with nothing overly fried or salted, so eating healthier really just meant no takeouts, sugar or heavily processed ingredients – easy, right?
The second thing I looked at was the amount or quantity of food a day that we should be eating (at this time, I was doing it for myself, my husband and my mom). And this is where things got tricky. Not because it was particularly difficult, but purely as there is such a fine line when looking and calculating your calorie intake (and being within a range for healthy weightloss).
And this (calorie counting) got stressful – I found an app that helped (myfitnesspal) but still couldn’t quite figure things out. And often felt overwhelmed by the process of counting calories.
I decided to check things out – why was I becoming overwhelmed, was this normal, was I right in the number of calories being calculated daily (at this point, I was losing weight but not nearly as much as I was expecting or wanting).
A quick search into this and you will find so many forums, articles, opinions and posts on this exact topic (phew, wasn’t just me!! Sigh of relief).
A lot of opinion mentioning that in fact, you are probably way off when trying to count your calorie intake. And the newer you are to it, the worse your estimation would be. Ok, great, this was me. Solution? Weigh everything, keep a food journal, eat only until satisfied and add 10% to your daily calculations – check.
The other striking thing that I was reading, was that calorie counting actually made people hungrier. Not good if you are trying to cut down your food intake! Solution – eat until satisfied and introduce lower calorie snacks.
You may be eating too little or going for a low-everything approach. When you don’t eat enough nutritious food, your body will actually go into a starvation type mode. This is especially bad if you then throw hours of gym sessions into the mix. The idea of calorie counting often puts people into a mode of cutting EVERYTHING down as low as possible. Solution? Eat a balanced nutritiously dense food selection. For me this meant selecting fruits and vegetables that I was drawn to, that included a range of colour but also that included more healthy carbs. I switched to added more sweet potatoes (after cutting out carbs nearly completely!).
And for me, it took nearly 7 months of calorie counting to realise that I was actually doing more damage than good. I had lost nearly no weight and was frustrated. Today, I feel a lot better, healthier and more balanced. Having lost around 20 kilo’s so far (and going strong), my tips go as follows
- Don’t do a diet, do a lifestyle change. I hate the word diet, diet implies you are restricting everything. People judge you when you say you can’t eat xyz because of a diet. I am cutting out fast food because I believe it isn’t good for my body – simple.
- Eat until you are satisfied, and then stop. Listen to your body and feed it that much. This can take a few weeks to learn if you have been ignoring this.
- Try different foods but listen to what agrees with you and what doesn’t. Everyone is different and the food that works for me, may not work for you. For instance, my husband can eat potatoes, bread and white rice, and feel energised from it. I eat it and I feel like I am going to collapse, my stomach in pain and bloated. Go with what works for you – and this may take time to tweak.
- Get a good breakfast in. It’s a good way to start a good day.
- Don’t give up on yourself if you have a bad eating day. Tomorrow will be better.
These have been a few things that I have learnt this year, and as I said, I’m still really new to finding a healthy relationship with food and eating habits. But what I have learnt is that calorie counting didn’t work for me – what are some of the good habits, tips and tricks that you have picked up? Let me know your thoughts..