Diet Going Well Then?

For the past week I have had a terrible bout of either food poisoning or gastroenteritis, and I’ve found myself eating (or mostly not eating) for survival rather than for any other reason. And I won’t lie, it really got me thinking…. (VERY dangerous I know).

Just over a year ago I was introduced to intuitive eating (or what I like to call… ‘eating’) and quite frankly it was life changing. Not because I’ve become a fabulous intuitive eater in that time but because it truly highlighted the flaws of the diet industry. And try as I may, I can’t help but look at all the diets available without a great deal of scepticism. But yet, up until now I’ve still kept going back.

And then I discovered this…

So in answer to your question? The diet’s going GREAT thanks (insert sarcastic emoji).

As I lay on the sofa clutching my stomach and trying to force feed myself starchy carbs, I had the epiphany that for the past year I have been eating what I think I ought eat, rather than what I have wanted to eat.

Which is why I’ve found myself eating 2 icecream sandwiches and a chocolate bar after dinner every single night for the past couple of weeks. Counterintuitive I know.

Scientifically speaking, diets DO work because they *should* put you in to some sort of calorie deficit which will result in some form of weight loss – however this weight loss could include water loss, muscle loss or fat loss.

But where it really goes wrong is our adherence to sticking to ‘the plan’. Personally speaking I think the maximum I’ve managed to ‘stick’ to a diet in the past 3 years is 4 days.

Despite educating myself on everything possible about nutrition, the subliminal messages coming through the internet has one again left me doubting what I know and I sit here having achieved absolutely nothing.

One day 1200 calories is too many, the next day it’s not enough. Another day you should maximise protein and the next you should maximise ‘healthy fats’. The following week you should cut carbs and the next you should up your carbs to 50% of your macros. Don’t forget to count your macros, but then that’s going to cause disordered eating so convert your calories/macros to points instead. You should really eat whole foods but they have too many calories so switch to chemical based 0 calorie foods. These won’t have points but then you shouldn’t count points anyway so just eat between 12-2 everyday and you’ll be grand. Oh but wait, that’s an eating disorder. But so is not eating at all. So eat what you want because obesity can be healthy too. But then obesity isn’t healthy so you should move more. Oh but you don’t need to move when you can lift weights even though weight lifting burns less calories. Oh but the extra muscle will burn more calories so it’s fine. But what about cardiovascular health? Oh that doesn’t matter.

And this is why I don’t belong in the health and fitness industry. When you truly delve into what it’s all about, it’s fundamentally the opposite to what it’s promoting. It’s more ‘unhealthy and unfit’.

Abs do not equal health.

The amount of weight you can lift/squat does not equal health.

Clean eating does not equal health.

Do we even know what we are trying to define when we refer to ‘health’. It doesn’t appear that way anymore.

In reality I will never be eternally ‘healthy’. Not only because I live with a chronic health condition but because we all have to die from something right? None of us will be ‘healthy’ forever.

The healthiest person I know is my husband who ate Yum Yums and icecream yesterday and weighs 153lb. He’s not needed to go to a doctor or a dentist in the 6.5 years we’ve been together.

We can of course make improvements to our lifestyles and optimise our health, but the fundamental problem is that a truly balanced lifestyle isn’t entertaining to watch and learn about. We are prioritising extremism (and subsequently entertainment) over our true health and well-being.

I Naturally Intermittent Fast and Didn’t Even Realise It

To some extent, the majority of us all fast…. unless you’re extra fancy and can sleep and eat at the same time (in which case you need to get yourself on some kind of talent show!) we typically all ditch eating when dreaming about (insert famous celebrity).

I don’t want to undersell intermittent fasting in anyway as it has done WONDERS for the amount of antacids I consume (and as a byproduct my purse strings) AND my weight loss, but we do all do it to some extent.

Now I’m not a huge fan of extreme fasting such as water fasts or 24/72 hour fasts (unless you need to for some kind of medical procedure). From my understanding women tend to do better with shorter fasts such as 14-16 hours, but I strongly encourage you to do your own research (and no, this doesn’t mean copy your favourite influencer on Instagram).

I prefer to keep it simple so 14-16 hours is something I’m down for. Even 5:2 isn’t the worst idea in the world (5 days eat to maintenance calories, 2 days to consume 500-800 calories).

When I actually listen to my body, it would prefer to go about 14 – 15 hours without eating. Of course, I have the luxury to honour that at the moment because of working from home, which isn’t always possible. However, now I’ve had the time to stop and listen, I’m going to try and incorporate that more once I have to return to the office.

Truly not public sector life

So when do I actually eat?

I’m a breakfast gal… it’s by FAR my favourite meal of the day (if I could get away with having breakfast for every meal, I totally would… and on reflection I’m not far off!)

Therefore I tend to ‘break my fast’ at between 7.30-10.30AM (time and day dependent). I’m not that hungry at 7.30am but that’s prime breakfast time when commuting. I then come in from work at about 4.30, and I much prefer an early dinner (pre COVID-19).

In a parallel universe where I am a billionaire and don’t need to work (and therefore have the time to be slightly more intuitive) I’d probably eat from 10-6/7PM.

I don’t like eating late because I’m 100% guaranteed indigestion. My digestive system clocks off at 8PM and I have to rely heavily on antacids and sleeping upright to get me through the night… which quite frankly I’m not that fond of.

I also find that the more I drag out eating (and the more I eat), I feel increasingly sluggish. I can relate to a 1L car… faster when running on half a tank of gasoline than a full tank. Anyone else identify with a car? No… just me? Anyhoo, moving on.

Do I live on salads when I eat?

I wish I loved salads… I really do. And I could perhaps get on board with a salad from Subway, but my own salads are rubbish. So in short, no.

Now I do restrict some foods as I’m yeast intolerant, and as much as I don’t want to be up all night with heartburn, I also don’t want to spend all day on the toilet either.

In the manufacturing world, I understand yeast is not only used as a raising agent but also a salt substitute and MSG substitute so it’s in a LOT of processed foods. I dare you to go look. Fortunately, they are yet to tamper with cake and chocolate and so I refuse to cut out that. They’re my only vices.

When you remove 90% of the processed food it leaves you with a surprisingly balanced, whole food diet, so I do allow myself treats on the daily. For example, homemade banana bread is on the cards for today.

As far as I know I’m not diabetic or insulin resistant, so I’m not too fussed about carbs. And if we’re to get all intuitive again, I’m not that keen on a stodgy carb (technical term). I like to reserve those carbs for days like my birthday (yesterday) where I ate yeast free doughballs/pizza/banana bread and lay in a comatose state for the rest of the evening whilst watching Jack Bauer save the world in 24.

On the flip side to that however, I do think it’s definitely worth encouraging yourself to make conscious healthy choices throughout the day. This doesn’t mean go in full force with all the fruit and veg on the first day, but gradually introduce more nutritious foods as the days go on.

I now try to make sure there’s some kind of one of my five a day at every meal. I tend to have 3 meals and 1 snack a day, so by doing this I’m guaranteed at least 3-4 servings of nutritious food in a day. It’s also essential to try and get some protein in too (even if it’s a case of using protein powder). They often say healthy fats are satiating but I find protein is much more useful for this.

So Chantelle… what does this actually look like in a day? Well, let me tell you:

7.30AM – 10.30AM – Protein Snickers Oats & Decaf White Coffee

12.30PM – Granola, Berries, Honey and Greek Yoghurt (see, I wasn’t lying about my love for breakfast).

3.30PM – Decaf Coffee and Fruit

5.30PM – Wholewheat BBQ Chicken Tortilla Pizza and Garlic and Herb Sauce

Dessert: Homemade Banana Bread (straight after dinner)

By doing this, my digestive system is happier, my waistline is happier and I’m happier.

Now I do have a couple of disclaimers.

Firstly, as weightloss is my intention at the moment I am monitoring my portion sizes. However, when I’m size sexy (lolz), this will relax somewhat and I’ll just keep to listening to my body.

Secondly, I’m not RELIGIOUS about sticking to these time frames. I have spent years learning to listen to my body and I trust it implicitly. Therefore, if I find myself genuinely hungry (rumbling of the stomach), I won’t wait until my allocated time slot to eat.

Finally, I increase my calories in the lead up to the naturally unnatural ‘time of the month’ (sorry gents). It has been found that women tend to burn more calories when Aunt Flow arrives so I’m going to make ‘allowances’ for this but only if that insatiable hunger rears it’s head.

Intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be some complex magical algorithm. I know to overcomplicate things is a great ‘sell’ on the business front and I’m probably doing myself a disservice, but as long as you seek advice from a medical professional before embarking upon it, I really don’t see why you shouldn’t give intermittent fasting a bash… especially if you’ve been sitting on the fence about it. I know it’s completely changed my relationship with food for the better.

I now know I can enjoy food without the repercussions of heartburn/vomiting, sleepless nights and feeling sluggish. I know they’ve found another zillion reasons why IF (that’s what the cool kids call it by the way) is beneficial for the human body, and of course you’ll come across this as you go away and read reliable validated studies *winking emoji*, but I really can’t see me going back to my old ways.

Merry Christmas Me!

A year ago tomorrow I said to myself that I would be at my goal weight for next Christmas and I’ll tell ya… I ‘failed’ miserably.

However, I have lost 7lbs which is a step in the right direction but to the detriment of a positive relationship with food.

I was going through old photos the other day and I found a before and after of me doing 30 days on The Body Coach. At the time, I thought there was a HUGE difference in my physique but looking at these photos showed barely any difference. However, I paraded the shores of Aruba on my honeymoon like I owned the gaff.

The difference? I’d taken a healthy approach and I was doing everything in my power to feel good about myself. I was working out, eating good foods (with the odd treat) and being kind to myself.

Aesthetic goals just don’t do it for me anymore. Sure it would be nice to look a certain way but as a motivator it’s about 1/10 to even get me started.

However FEELING good about myself appears to be a different ball game. At the moment my muscles hurt from being so weak. My poor posture gets me down and hurts my back even more. My glutes are a mess. My belly is bloated and my jeans dig in. And I’m spotty (which isn’t usual for me).

Don’t worry this article isn’t all doom and gloom. As a Christmas present to myself I have signed up for group coaching. As I’ve said before I know everything I could possibly know about weight loss – it’s just me standing in my way.

I plan to continue to stick with my behavioural changes but I’m hoping group coaching will just give me that extra bit of support that I’m clearly lacking. I’m fed up of the pressure of diets,.. I want a lifestyle that facilitates me feeling good about myself.

So I’m that note… Merry Christmas Me!

I hope you all have a fabulous festive period however you celebrate!

I Should Be Grateful to Have A Relationship with Food

One of my greatest bug bears of this year has been the response (good and bad) to diet culture.

I may not be ending 2019 where I intended to be (a different country to start with!) but I have been on a significant journey of self discovery.

I always intended to have a steady relationship with food and a balanced approach to nutrition, but not for one second did I think I’d end up in a such a funky mindset with food.

It is my fault to a certain extent by being persuaded by some uneducated plonkers on the internet, but I also blame the lack of gratitude the western world has for food.

It is so easy to forget that in some parts of the world they do not have access to food and clean water. Meanwhile we are too busy worrying about having too small a bum and not a flat enough stomach and taking this out on our relationship with the contents of our shopping trolley.

Now I’m not talking about people with eating disorders… that’s a whole different kettle of fish. But I’m talking about the influencers telling us to ditch one type of food and instead spend our money on something else that is fashionable at that very moment in time. Especially when it is driven by their financial gain. Cue #cyonidegate

Yesterday I complied fully with my no snacking/sit at the table rules and for something so simple it was so empowering. I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted but it must fall within breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I was too full I could have whatever I’d wanted at the next meal.

It felt like such a grounded day with food. I did not overeat, I felt in control and I felt grateful that I had a fridge full of food to choose from.

I appreciate its only one day but the experience was so much more rewarding that seeing a number drop on the scales. My mind has become so consumed with the thought of foods (and my bank balance has become so empty signing up to every dieting plan there is) that it was nice to have a break.

Today I took the plunge and didn’t weigh out my breakfast. Scary stuff!

I appreciate it might sound a bit whacky to be ‘grateful’, but being introduced to daily gratitude was a life changing thing for me. At the time I was unemployed, looking at returning to live with my parents and it was putting a huge strain on my relationships. Being able to focus on the good in my life at the point stopped me from going under and 12 months later we are back on track.

I won’t let diet culture and social media influence me anymore. I am not against weight loss – I’m on a mission to shave a few inches off myself. But nor will I succumb to the games of diet culture and/or anti diet culture.

So there we have it! I’ll get off my soap box now!