It is really hard to know what to eat for the best isn’t it? I have certainly learnt a lot in the last 3 months, good and bad, so I thought it might be time to share. I met Jenny from Find Your Healthy when I travelled to Kenya in February, she is a healthy living coach, but also works for Comic Relief, she really helped me to get back onto a super healthy veggie diet again.
Over the last few months I have learnt loads of great tricks to keep my eating healthy, I’ve shared some at the bottom of this post. I am wary of using particular ways to describe the way I have been eating, as I have gradually learnt that it is about working out what your body needs, not being a slave to that diet everyone is suddenly talking about.
At the moment smoothies are my favourite easy breakfast, oatcakes and nuts great snacks. I have a collection of tasty salads and omelettes to fling together for lunch. I have chillis, stews and curries for dinner with brown rice, which I can have for lunch the next day. The first few food orders took a lot of thinking through, but ordering it all online meant it was all there ready and waiting. And now I can just repeat the order in 5 minutes.
After a magic few weeks of completely pure eating (mainly veggies, berries, brown rice, nuts, eggs) I felt amazing, my will power was incredible, but I’ve since noticed how easy it is to fall off the wagon once I allowed even the smallest amount of white bread or sugar back in (last night at the school summer fair for example).
But the bones of a really healthy way of eating are there, and I feel like I know exactly how and when to reign any indulgence back in and it is much harder to indulge. I also feel pretty pants when I eat anything really processed or sugary which helps me keep on track. It was a big commitment and at first I was very grumpy that I was giving up so many things, but once I saw the positives – balance, energy, weight loss, great tasting food I realised I wasn’t actually missing out at all.
I’m also running 2-3 times a week to train for a half marathon, which helps, but I am realising food has the biggest impact on weight loss.
Going back to basics really helped me work out what foods agree with me. I’ve added back in a little bit of cheese: sheep’s cheese (feta and Halloumi) seems to suit me more than cows milk cheeses, the thought of cows milk makes me a bit sick now, strange but true. I don’t feel like I am missing out any more, when I do have a treat it is a healthy one or a smaller one. I have a cheat meal a week, if I feel like it, and feel pretty physically rubbish afterwards, so it feels less and less like a treat.
I gave up caffeine which was a headache for a few days, but now I don’t miss tea at all, the thought makes me feel a bit sick which I didn’t expect. Hot water and lemon with a pinch of cayenne pepper has more of a kick.
My family are getting used to my way of eating and we are adapting recipes to suit everyone. Mr A loves the Thai curry we have been making. My daughter loves the chilli. We’re spending lots on fruit, but I am happily reminded that my son will willingly watch television munching a box of blueberries.
After losing over a stone eating healthy stuff in its natural state, a few people suggested I try out some Deliciously Ella’s recipes. I saw Ella speak at Britmums last month, I think it is brilliant how she has healed herself from severe illness using natural foods. I love many of the ideas in her book and her zest for fresh and nurturing ingredients jumps off the page and helps you dive in.
Before I go any further, it isn’t all plain sailing, I have to share my raw cacao experience. I have real reservations about raw cacao which is used in a lot of healthy eating recipes at the moment. After a week of snacking on these Almond and Cacao bites from Deliciously Ella I was feeling far from myself – shaky, anxious, tearful and physically exhausted – I had to turn back from my normal three times a week morning run, it was like someone had completely drained my batteries.
I woke in the night feeling strange and unable to sleep, a spot of googling revealed lots of anecdotes describing some disturbing side effects from raw cacao, exactly like the ones I experienced. I found a video where the person who was largely responsible for first promoting it as a health food had backtracked and questioned it’s properties.
In its native communities the seed is not eaten, just the fruit, animals won’t touch it, it can kill them. As a dog owner, I already knew that chocolate can kill dogs, but is loved by humans, so I was sceptical about the animal comparison, but then I read that the natives only use it as an ingredient in a psychedelic brew, or in medical emergencies. I think there is so much to be said for trusting the locals here.
The more I read the less it seemed like a health food. It could be toxic, and many of the symptoms suggest it is a powerful, potentially mind altering stimulant, and is very addictive. It was interesting to talk about this on facebook, people were divided, some people had experienced dizziness or palpitations after consuming it, others no symptoms. I know I won’t be touching it again and I don’t think it should be presented as a health food in cook books, people need to be better informed about this ‘superfood’.
There are a lot of books around that present whole new way of eating, written by ordinary people who have no nutritional qualifications. I am not saying this is a bad thing, because their methods clearly work for lots of people. But if I have learnt anything from my health food journey it is that you have to listen to your own body, and how different things make you feel, you need to trust yourself, rather than follow one path completely. I’ve gathered some brilliant recipes from lots of different places, which I will start to share here too, as people have been asking me.
So back to the best bits of Deliciously Ella, I really enjoyed this superfood bread, slathered in hummus, although unless you are gluten intolerant, or seriously looking to pack a nutritional punch with every meal, sourcing all the ingredients might be a little off putting. Once you have them though, you can keep on making this really healthy and satisfying loaf.
Having excluded lots of foods from my diet a few months ago, and reintroduced them slowly, including gluten, I am pretty sure I don’t have a problem with gluten. However, I have learnt a lot about bread production from my Dad who devised gluten free products as a food scientist, so I eat less bread and when I do I try to choose high quality wholemeal bread or make my own, rather than sliced bread or white bread. My body loved this loaf.
What I absolutely loved from Deliciously Ella was a banana, date and spinach smoothie, and a couple of people have already let me know they love it too. It is a banana, two dates, almond milk ( I am sure milk or water would be fine here too), a bit of almond butter (which sounds weird but is just like peanut butter made with almonds, for the uninitiated) and spinach. I decided to use three cubes of frozen spinach which was very refreshing and much less spinachy. Also great if, like me, you end up with a half eaten decomposing bag of good intentions when you buy fresh spinach. Today I made it with pear instead of banana and it was just as yummy. Alison, from Not Another Mummy Blog told me to add oats too, that’s breakfast sorted.
After getting loads of use out of the blender, I treated myself to a spiralizer. I know I am late to the party, but I don’t think I am the only one, judging from the comments on the A Residence facebook page when I shared this picture. I love courgette spaghetti, it makes amazingly satisfying spirals which taste great and hold their shape just like pasta. This wasn’t my best attempt, but still, you get the idea. It is a really quick and easy substitute when everyone else has pasta. I even managed to sneak a few spirals in everyone else’s bowl.
So that’s an update on my journey so far, I will share some more recipes very soon, to be honest the best thing is lots of what I eat is about putting things together, rather than cooking lots from scratch, concoctions, rather than recipes.
Foods I wouldn’t be without on this journey:
Lemon and cayenne pepper in hot water for brekkie instead of tea. Medjool Dates for sweetness, Avocado for fatty creaminess, Eggs for versatility, feta and grilled halloumi for saltiness, herbs for flavour, frozen berries and spinach for easy smoothies, frozen chopped onions and spinach for super fast omelettes (for when all that stands between you and starting dinner is chopping an onion), oatcakes for handy snacks and bread substitute, almond butter and almond milk to add to smoothies, bananas for pancakes (with egg and vanilla), sweet potato for roasting and mashing or putting with feta on salad, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes for brightening up salads.
What are you enjoying healthy food wise at the moment? Any sites, books or recipes you recommend?