As you will see on my blog about switching to ‘real food’, I’m not a fan of diets, especially those that require you to eat meal replacements or highly processed ‘diet’ foods. So, as promised, here are the Cooked From Scratch tips for healthy eating.
1. Eat Real Food
Real Food – go back to basics and base your eating (call it a diet if you wish) around what I would define as real food – meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, beans/pulses, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, herbs, spices, grains.
- Not meat or fish in a coating/ sauce or pre-marinated. High quality sausages, bacon, ham are fine, but not every day – the quality of them is paramount.
- The same goes for vegetables, fruit, beans/pulses.
- Eggs eaten as an egg or used as in ingredient in something you’ve made yourself.
- Dairy in it’s simplest form – natural yoghurt (no additives), milk, cheeses, butter (not spreads marketed as butter).
This does involve cooking of course, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming – there are loads of quick and simple dishes for midweek meals, which only involve a bit of chopping before putting in the oven or pan to cook.
Avoid Processed/Convenience Foods – this doesn’t just mean ‘ready meals’ as discussed in my blog ‘Why Do I Hate Supermarket Ready Meals?’
The supermarket aisles are full of processed foods, but we’ve become so accustomed to them we don’t think of them that way anymore. Soups, sauces, cereals, drinks, desserts, cakes, yoghurts, breads, wraps, bakery products, pre-prepped fruit and vegetables, cooked and processed meats, pizzas, pastries, preserves, condiment sauces, ready made home baking products, potato products…. The list goes on! In fact, there are very few (if any) supermarket aisles that don’t contain these foods.
These are all items you can make yourself, or buy from an artisan food producer who will tell you exactly what’s in the food. The ingredients should reflect real food – simply put together to create a dish or product such as bread (not mass produced).
Avoid Diet/Low Fat Foods
These are often highly processed and contain replacement ‘ingredients’ to compensate for them containing little or no fat. This often takes the form of sugar, which is becoming highly recognised as the biggest contributor to obesity and many diet related diseases – http://www.actiononsugar.org/.
Full fat dairy is also now recognised as being more beneficial to us than low-fat products, with more and more research leading to low-fat being nothing but a big con. There are loads of articles available on the subject, including this one from the website healthambition.com. Full fat dairy is also more satisfying – you feel fuller and not deprived, so it can actually aid in weight loss. I eat full fat, natural yoghurt, cheese and butter and drink full fat milk.
Cut Down on the Carbs
If you want to lose a bit of weight, then cutting down on the carbohydrates certainly helps. I don’t believe in completely cutting out food types or food groups as we need carbs, fats, protein, fruit & vegetables in order for our bodies to function properly. If you cut out a food group, you need to make sure you are eating alternative foods to compensate, which can be difficult.
But, if you are eating toast for breakfast (good bread of course), sandwiches for lunch and then having a pasta based meal for dinner, you are probably consuming more carbohydrates than your body needs (unless you are running a marathon or something).
Instead of sandwiches for lunch, have a big bowl of soup or a great big mixed salad. Or, instead of filling your dinner plate with pasta or rice, then topping with a sauce or curry, put the rice or pasta on the side of the plate (as you would potatoes). Why do you need more than a couple of serving spoons – especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day? Similarly, put a few less potatoes on the plate and fill it up with lots of veggies instead.
Cut down on the carbs and you will be surprised how much better you feel and it will certainly help you lose weight.
Eat More Soup
Homemade soup of course! It’s a great way of getting beneficial vegetables into your body and is surprisingly filling. Eat with a spoon – this takes time, therefore allowing your body to recognise that you’re eating something and by the time you’ve finished your body will know you’ve eaten. If you shovel down a burger quickly, you’re not giving your body enough time to recognise you’re eating, so you will still be hungry, encouraging you to overeat.
Eat Healthy Snacks
If you are hungry between meals, snack on fruit or nuts – don’t reach for the biscuit tin. A handful of nuts though – not the whole bag!
Major Benefit of Eating Real Food Instead of Dieting
Many diets mean you are cooking a separate meal for yourself to the rest of the family – especially if it is based around meal replacements. One huge advantage of eating real food is the rest of the family can eat it too. You will be getting them on the right road to a healthy lifestyle, which they will hopefully keep to when they leave home.
It goes without saying, that sitting on your bottom all day just isn’t good for you – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/sitting-and-sedentary-behaviour-are-bad-for-your-health.aspx.
Food is energy – our lifestyles are becoming more sedentary, yet we are eating more (Global and regional food consumption patterns and trends). Our grandparents didn’t need to go to the gym, yet obesity wasn’t a problem. Why? They simply moved more.
If you enjoy going to the gym for your exercise, great – go ahead. Me, no way! The thought of going into an artificially lit room and standing on a machine, walking or running to nowhere, with lycra-clad, sweaty people around me just doesn’t appeal.
If you are the same, then find something that does appeal – find a hobby that incorporates exercise. Latin & ballroom dancing, line dancing (any dancing in fact), hill walking, gardening. If it’s something you enjoy you won’t class it as exercise, so it won’t be a chore.
Going for a brisk walk everyday has huge benefits – you are out in the fresh air exercising and it clears your mind. I find time (however busy I am) to go for a walk everyday. Yes, even in the rain – we all have coats, boots and umbrellas and it’s only water after all. The only weather that stops me is if it’s blowing a gale and absolutely chucking it down – you know the type, where you just step outside and you’re soaked! But, hand on heart, this probably only happens a few times throughout the course of a year.
Rather than sitting at your desk to eat your lunch, go out for a walk. You will feel so much better for it.
It’s also a great way of clearing the mind – if you have something to work out or a problem, chances are you will come back with a plan.
Move As Much As Possible
- Avoid lifts, escalators, travellators and take the stairs (unless you physically can’t).
- Park the car as far away from the supermarket entrance as you can, instead of struggling to find a space as close as possible. Your car will thank you too – not being banged and scratched by others (yes, we are anal car owners in this household).
- Going to a retail park? Again, don’t struggle to park as close as possible, park in a side street up the road!
- Take regular breaks from your desk, take phone calls standing up.
You know that ‘to do’ list you have – the one you never seem to get around to doing? Instead of flopping down in front of the tele, do something from it – clean out that cupboard, sort your clothes. Any activity is better than none at all – and you get to do those things you’ve been putting off.
Every year, since I left home at 19, I’ve lost weight in the run up to Christmas. Why? In addition to all the jobs that need doing for Christmas, my house gets ‘nook and cranny’ cleaned. Under beds, on top of cupboards, inside cupboards, curtains get washed, carpets get cleaned. As a result, I lose weight just from doing stuff.
Make flopping down in front of the tele at the end of the day something your body wants to do.
3. Avoid ‘Diet’ Drinks
They may contain ‘no added sugar’, but they are still not good. Artificial sweeteners are not good news and they do not aid weight loss. Avoid them (Sugar Free Drinks Don’t Aid Weight Loss).
4. Be Hungry
This is a strange one. Why do we think it’s a bad thing to be hungry? Personally, I wait until I’m actually hungry before I eat – you know, that knawing feeling you get? That tells you, you’ve used up the surplus energy in your body and you need to top up.
We go on cruises for our holidays, where food is provided on tap, all day, every day. I eat a full 3 course dinner each evening, but during the day, I wait until I’m hungry before eating.
Think about it, if you have a day when you’re really hungry for some reason, have you eaten your lunch at 10 o’clock in the morning? You’ve done that because your body is telling you you’re hungry. Yet, if you’re not hungry, you will still eat your lunch at 12.30pm. Listen to your body.
Eating healthily, is all about balance, not denial. You will have 3 course meals (nothing wrong with that), but if you have them every day, then you’re going to put on weight. But, don’t beat yourself up because you’ve had a blow out in a gourmet restaurant. Just go back to normal eating. If you feel like you’ve overindulged, just have a ‘good day’ the following day – perhaps fruit for breakfast, soup for lunch and a healthy dinner.
Enjoy good, real food.
Read about why I believe diets don’t work here.