The last post of this series, with some general tips and thoughts and things that work for me.
Eat little and often
I eat five times a day, every 3-4 hours, kind of like a newborn :) I find that if I don't then I get too hungry by my next meal and then eat too much. If I go too long between meals my blood sugar gets out of whack and doesn't really recover for a couple of days.
Obviously not everyone is the same as I am, but the general idea is not to get too starving between meals. A small snack can tide you over and ensure you don't overeat. If you don't want to use your points on snacks between meals then feel free to munch on fruit or vegetables.
I know I've just recommended fruit and veg but I also want to highlight protein. Protein keeps your blood sugar stable and helps you feel full for longer, so it's worth adding it to your meals and snacks. You can do this by eating a little cheese, eggs, nuts, beans, low fat dairy or lean meats. A big salad will make you feel full initially, but a big salad with a little grilled chicken will keep you feeling full for longer.
Limit starchy carbs
I'm not talking about the carbs you get from fruit, I'm talking about carbs like refined sugar, bread, pasta, cereal and rice. I find that if I cut back on these types of carbs (and almost eliminate sugar!) then my cravings in general go away - even cravings for non-carby or sweet foods. My blood sugar also remains more stable and I don't get sleepy in the afternoon.
I still eat these types of carbs, but I try to moderate them and I try to stick to brown rather than white flour and rice.
Enjoy high fat foods as condiments
If you simply adore cheese, bacon, pesto, nuts, potato chips and other high-fat foods, try using them as condiments rather than a main ingredient of the dish. By this I mean a sprinkling on top, or a finely grated small portion, rather than big slices or chunks.
- A good quality, flavoursome pesto can add wonderful savour to a sandwich and all you need is a light skim of it.
- Buy strongly flavoured, smoked bacon and cook one rasher until crispy, then chop finely and sprinkle over a salad or sandwich or into pasta - you don't need rashers of it for the taste to come through.
- Strong cheeses go further than mild ones - you only need a little for that cheesy flavour.
Having awareness of your triggers, your temptations and your preferences will make it easier to plan healthy eating that suits you.
What do I mean by this? Well, I used a photo of freshly-baked cinnamon rolls above as an example. I know that if I eat these, more than any other food they will make me become a total pig and trough everything in sight. I don't know what it is about them. But knowing that this is the effect they have on me, I only make them once a year - at Christmas time. And I only make one batch and usually when we have guests so there are no leftovers.
Other ways that knowing myself helps me eat healthily:
- I know that I prefer to eat apples when they are peeled and sliced and will make the effort to do so. Sure, there are nutrients and fiber in the skin but I feel like I get enough of that from the rest of my diet. If peeling and slicing it means I'll eat an apple rather than skip it altogether, I'll go ahead and peel and slice.
- I know that if I eat sugar / sweets then my eating behaviour (and behaviour in general, actually) tends to deteriorate steadily as the day goes on. So if I am going to have a treat I try to make it in the evening when there are no more food choices to make that day.
- I know (and so do you since I've mentioned it enough times) that I need to eat often, so I always make sure to take a snack with me when going out anywhere. I usually pack things like a banana, nut bar or some almonds. If I'm out and about and get too hungry and don't have a snack ready you can be sure I will make bad food choices and end up spending money on them too.
- I know that a buffet type spread, or food on the table, is my downfall. By food on the table I mean that if, for example, we have friends round for a barbecue and all of the salads, meat, bread, whatever, are sitting right there on the table in front of us so anyone can help themselves, then I will continue to pick and eat the whole time I am sitting there. Ditto buffet type setups - I'll keep going back for more and hovering near the table. Theoretically, knowing this means I will avoid these situations by dishing up one plate of food and moving well away from the buffet table, or placing serving dishes on the kitchen counter away from the table where we will be eating. I said "theoretically" because unfortunately this is one bad habit that I still haven't overcome (or done much about). But hey, at least the awareness is there, right?! (Just keeping it real!)
One of the ways to know yourself is to work out if you are an Abstainer or a Moderator. Please click on over to Gretchen Rubin's blog post about this as I think it's a very relevant topic to weight loss.
Having an awareness of which you are can help you make healthy food choices. And if you need a little help now around Christmas time, she has written an accompanying blog post about resisting temptation during the holidays - click here to read it.
Which do you think you are? Does knowing this help you at all?