We are living in unprecedented times. We are all struggling and striving in our own ways, and whilst sharing this I want to emphasise that if you're eating more, gaining a bit of weight, but generally feeling happy about that then that's all good! No judgement here! Do whatever makes you feel happy and gives you a sense of balance/relief/joy. However, if you're feeling your diet is getting you down and you'd like to make some positive changes then here are some ideas for you.
1. Start the day well – If you cave in to sugary cereal or lashings of jam on a croissant from the off you’re more likely to slip into bad habits for the rest of the day. Firstly, because psychologically you’ve set the ‘tone’ and secondly because physiologically you’ve precipitated a blood sugar spike which will be followed by a crash, resulting in further sugar cravings.
2. Get on top of snacks – this is probably the downfall of most of us. Good strategies to combat this are:
a. Create a ‘lunchbox snack box’ such as the one featured below. A selection of cruditees, maybe a bit of fruit, maybe a small, pre-portioned handful of nuts, perhaps a hard-boiled egg… Having this pre-made at the start of the day (or the night before) means you’ve got something to dive into whenever you’re peckish, as opposed to carte blanche to take chunks out of a block of cheddar at whim…
b. You could also operate this strategy for your kids if you need to exert a little control over the plethora of snacks that are being consumed! When it’s gone it’s gone! 😊
c. Make hot drinks – sometimes it’s just the distraction we need. Invest in a range of herbal teas and when you go to the fridge think about having a glass of water or a herbal tea instead
d. Consider writing down everything you’re eating in a day. This is quite a good way to highlight quite how much you’re getting through in snacks!
3. Shop smarter – Just don’t buy ‘all the treats’ if you are eating them all and then feeling bad. Don’t kid yourself they’re for the kids! Be a bit more mindful about what goes into your trolley – if it’s not there you can’t eat it! And a quick nip to the corner shop to satisfy your cravings has never been less appealing…
4. Clean your teeth after dinning if you’re grazing on the sofa throughout the evening, to signal the end of eating.
5. Plan your meals for the week. Meals may have become the highlight of your day during lockdown, which is great in many ways! Enjoy trying out some new recipes. Dust off the slow cooker. If you write out your meals for the week you can then ensure you’re getting loads of nutritious items in there, as well as the odd ‘treat’ meal. Write the menu somewhere prominent and do the prep early doors so there’s less to do later when you’re tired and willpower is weak…
6. Be ‘treatwise’. One of the things I love about summer is that ice lollies are super low calorie so hit those pleasure centres but without the calorie count of a sticky toffee pud and custard [insert winter treats of choice]. You can get a range of ice lollies under 100 kcals such as mini milks (c35 kcals), strawberry split, FAB, twister, calipo etc etc (there are TONS!) Or you could make your own ice lollies/smoothies with the kids – get reusable lolly makers and blend up some fresh fruit with ice or milk/nut milk for some tasty and additive-free lollies. If you’re a choc-monster Freddos are also under 100kcals and might hit the spot.
7. Consider revamping some family favourites in healthier ways – e.g. spag bol but with 30-40% mince, 60-70% veggies; homemade pizza with cauliflower base and tons of veggies etc….
8. Get fruit/veg boxes delivered. This will inspire you to eat a broader range of veggies and ensure meals are colourful. It also supports local businesses. Rather than thinking about restriction think about adding in so much good stuff that the bad stuff gets crowded out. If you make one change, let it be aiming to eat 10 a day, ideally 7-8 veggies and 2-3 fruit portions – this will add satiety, fibre and tons of nutrients. Think more about what you CAN have than what you’re excluding. A ‘can have’ mentality is more powerful than one that focuses on the restrictions, making you more likely to succeed.
9. Whilst I have written a number of suggestions, focus on one at a time, as bedding down one small change a week might feel more manageable. I have many, many more ideas and suggestions so if you’re struggling please do get in touch and I can review and overhaul the way you approach your eating and give you further, personalised strategies.
10. Be positive about food. It doesn’t need to be something you regret every day. If you’re a parent, think of the care you took when you weaned your baby – fresh, natural, unprocessed foods, with a rich variety of fruits and vegetables. Give your body the same respect, and be proud of yourself for doing so. Don’t berate yourself for your mistakes – move on and try again. Strive for progress not perfection. This is a crazy time, and you need to give yourself grace. But aim to eat a little better week on week and you will likely feel healthier, more energised and better able to cope. Set yourself some mini goals for how you will do this, and revise them each week.
I am currently offering nutrition consultation packages for the reduced price of £150 (down from £180). If you feel you need a bit of extra help in this area get in touch – www.sarahoneill.co.uk/nutrition. The 30 day Kickstarter plan also includes a full meal plan (all meals and snacks) – currently on offer for £80 as opposed to £99 www.sarahoneill.co.uk/kickstart.