It’s taken me a long time to find a balance with food where I can eat functionally and healthily, but also truly enjoy my food at the same time.
All through my younger years, I struggled with wanting to weigh less and eat more, (to sum it up in its simplest sense). I’ve always enjoyed food and loved lots of different tastes, smells, and cooking styles. I also managed to get pretty addicted to sugar, and after my three children were born I kind of ended up just eating all the time. Snacking, making food, picking between meals, that kind of thing.
It’s so easy to get into the habit of popping bits of food into your mouth throughout the day and not really thinking about it. Unfortunately, this often means that you end up eating way more than you need without realising it because you’re just eating the odd bite here and the odd bite there.
I knew I needed to change my mindset and start thinking of food as fuel, as opposed to a treat or even just something to do when I’m bored or tired. But at the same time, I didn’t want to stop enjoying eating!
Happily, I’ve made it to a place where 90% of what I eat is functional but also delicious. But I also treat myself now and then, without any guilt and with full enjoyment. My weight has been stable for a while and doesn’t really fluctuate all that much, and I no longer count calories or even macros.
It’s a place of freedom and balance and health.
Here are my 8 tips to get you there too.
(If you diabetic or have other medical issues, please discuss any plans you have with a doctor before embarking on a new way of eating!)
1. Stop snacking.
If you are someone who snacks throughout the day, make a commitment for 30 days to simply eat three meals a day and no other food in between. I actually drew a chart with 30 days on that I could cross off. I used this period as a kind of re-training of my brain. I knew that when I stopped snacking at first I would probably feel hungry between meals, but as my body and brain got the message that food was only available at meal times, I would naturally adjust the amount I was eating so that I would stay satisfied until my next meal.
2. Stop thinking about food and live your life!
If it isn’t mealtime (or meal prep time), dismiss any thoughts of food from your mind. When I fist committed to doing this I was amazed at how often my mind turned to food! Distract yourself by getting on with something that needs doing or something that’s enjoyable.
3. Follow a keto based diet.
Of course, I would say this! But one of the biggest differences for me, when I started eating keto, was that my hunger diminished a lot. If I do indulge in some carbs, I am much more likely to be hungry sooner. This is why, if I do eat any carbs, I’ll eat them at dinner time as opposed to earlier in the day.
4. Write a list of foods that you absolutely love.
Often, when I was picking at food throughout the day, I wasn’t even eating food that I particularly loved. I was just eating because it was there. But rather than deny yourself any food, actually take the time to write down what your most favourite treats are. Then you can pick one now and then and thoroughly enjoy it. I decided to write down my 10 favourite sweet treats and was surprised to find that a lot of things like biscuits and chocolates and sweets don’t make the cut. Apparently, I’m a big fan of custard puddings. Now, if I eat a piece of chocolate, it’s because I’ve treated myself to some high-quality dark chocolate that I love. Not just because one of the kids has left half of a bit on the table.
5. Take time to prepare meals with love.
The food we eat becomes the fuel for our lives. Even though many of us are very rushed these days, taking a little extra time to make your meal look gorgeous and taste fantastic is an act of self love – which we could all do with doing more. Plan your meals in advance when ever you can, so you are not just throwing any old thing together. Get organised and allow yourself to spend quality time making your food. Of course this won’t always be possible, but just try to allocate more time during the week to do this.
6. Slow down while you eat.
When you have prepared a meal, take your time eating it. Savour the tastes and how they change as you chew your food. Savour the smells and the colours on your plate. Let yourself feel grateful that you have this food to nourish your body. Allow yourself to eat to satisfaction.
7. Clean up after every meal.
I used to be terrible for just leaving my dishes until later. But when you clean up after every meal, you are kind of putting closure on that particular eating time. All the food is put away and cleaned off the plates, it not just hanging around to pick at. And the kitchen is clean and ready for your next mealtime.
8. Get to know yourself
I came to realise that all the times I thought about food when I wasn’t really hungry, I actually was in need of something else. I started to get very aware of my thoughts and feelings around food. I seemed to have got into a habit of using food as the answer to pretty much everything.
Tired? Eat. Bored? Eat. Stressed? Eat. etc.etc.
Now, I know that if I feel like eating when I’m not actually hungry then I need to check in with myself to see what’s actually going on. More often than not, I am thirsty, tired or bored. Those seem to be the main triggers for me. Find out what your triggers are and you will be able to deal with them effectively without heading to the fridge.
So those are my 8 tips! I hope you’ve found them useful. As ever feel free to drop a comment below. 🙂