Monday, 30 August 2010

Important Steps Towards Healthier Eating

You’ve made the decision to change up your diet and start eating healthily. As a child of the noughties, you’ve done your research online and absolutely everyone has a suggestion: Shakes for breakfast and lunch and a cooked dinner, The Maple Syrup Diet, The South Beach diet, The Atkins diet...aaargghh! What is the best way to navigate through the nutritional maze??

Why not start with these small but very important changes?

1. Always Eat Breakfast

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and I am speaking from experience. I recently made changes to my breakfast and was pleasantly surprised by the changes I noticed within 2-3 weeks.

The simplest way to explain why you need breakfast is: Say you don’t feed your body all
morning. Come lunchtime, you feel hungry, your mind and your body tell you that you need to eat a lot to make up for not eating breakfast. Of course you deserve a bigger than usual portion of food. Seconds? Why not? I’ve noticed that I eat much more than I need to when I’m very hungry, so I aim to never get to the point where I am “starving” (which I doubt I’ve ever really been).

TIP: A bowl of wholegrain cereal (e.g. quaker oats, weetabix or shredded wheat) with milk. And a piece of fruit.

2. Drastically Reduce Fried Food
The first thing that comes to mind is ‘dodo’ – fried plantain. You will not find a bigger supporter of how good it tastes than me but (and it’s a big BUT) it is deep fried. When I do fry plantain, it goes straight from the frying pan to a bed of kitchen towels – to soak up the oil and even then, I am still amazed by how much oil it absorbs.

Cast your mind back to the last time you ate dodo and jollof rice with fried meat at a party. How much oil was left on your plate when you were finished? If there is that much oil left on the plate, try and imagine how much oil you’ve just ingested? Oil is 100% fat. Do the maths.

TIP: Instead of frying plantain, why not boil, even better grill or roast it – everybody loves ‘boli’.

3. Surely not that much Oil!

Yes - more on Oil. It does not make food taste better – when you have time, please taste warm oil (not that I have). Does it taste nice? Definitely not. So why are we so insistent on generously pouring oil into the pot when cooking stew?

I recall my friends making fun of me and my “Weight Watchers Stew” while I was at Uni and faithful to Weight Watchers (I had 40 pounds to lose). And for no other reason other than it didn’t have the usual inch of oil floating on top. Did it taste good? Yes it did because I seasoned it properly and I can cook ;-)

Remember - chicken and meat have animal fats/oils in them which I believe provides more than enough oil without the need to add unnecessary amounts of vegetable, sunflower, etc oil.

TIP: Swap Fried Chicken for Baked/Roasted Chicken.

4. Control your portions
I love rice – jollof rice, fried rice, white rice, you name it. I love yam – fried yam (yummy!), asaro (love it but why all that palm oil? Yes I can’t stop thinking about oil, lol), pounded yam... Bottom line – I love food.

I’m not saying cut out everything you’re used to. Just modify (less oil), eat these processed carbohydrates less often and eat them in less generous portions. No one wants to eat 4 mouthfuls of food and call it a meal. Bulk up your meals with vegetables and no I don’t mean efo and egusi (yes you guessed it – palm oil).

TIP: Rice (fist sized serving), a couple of pieces of chicken (not fried) and steamed mixed vegetables (chopped carrots, peas, sweet corn, etc)

5. Snack Often

No I don’t mean a pack of plantain chips or chin-chin. Neither do I mean a meat pie or sausage roll. Sorry ;-)

I remember when I joined Weight Watchers in 2002, I expected to be told to eat only 3 meals a day, I was surprised when we were advised to eat breakfast, snack an hour or two after, eat lunch, snack again, eat dinner and maybe snack if I’m up later than usual. By doing this, I noticed I hardly ever felt very hungry. I didn’t feel tired and it was easier than I expected to start eating healthier.

TIP: Fruit or a handful of nuts.

Try these and you’ll be amazed by the changes you see within a month. Of course exercise is important but I am a strong believer in taking things one step at a time… So why not start with your diet?

Good Luck!

Photo Credit: Google & 'So you think you can cook' on Facebook.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

My Story

While I will always encourage people to add exercise to their routine, I’m more of an advocate for forming healthy eating habits.

A brief history about myself:
I moved to the UK at the age of 17. McDonalds, KFC and Burger King were all a stone’s throw away. The result? I rapidly got bigger in size.

By 2002, I was the heaviest I had ever been and wondered how all the weight had all piled on (I chose to ignore all the burgers, milkshakes, biscuits and chocolates that had become an everyday habit over the years). I had known I was overweight for a long while but never did anything about it. I might have had a day or two of feeling sorry for myself but I would quickly get over it and go back to eating whatever I liked.

In May 2002, it all changed...

I saw pictures from my friend’s birthday barbeque and one photograph stood out to me. I couldn’t believe I had gotten that big (same size I’d been for over a year but failed to do anything about).

This was my turning point...

A quick message to anyone who is not happy with a situation in their life and can’t seem to do anything to change it – You will wake up one day, and it will all make sense. You will see everything in a whole new light, the way you should always have seen it, you will realise you are in control and you can do whatever you set your mind to.

The same day I saw this picture of myself, I made the decision to lose all the excess weight I had gotten so used to carrying around to the point that I’d accepted that it was how I was always meant to look. I joined Weight Watchers online and I successfully lost 40 pounds in less than 4 months - this was 100% from changing my diet. I didn’t exercise because I was at Uni studying for my exams and just didn’t have the time to go to the gym.

I’m pointing this out because I lost weight without doing any exercise... if I’d done the opposite i.e. eaten everything I wanted and exercised every day, I would not have lost 40 pounds in the same amount of time or in a year!

How am I certain about that? I found myself in this situation last year.

Training to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer, very passionate about health and fitness – I was on the right path. I was a regular at the gym 5-6 sessions a week – doing the right combination of strength, endurance and cardio training. I felt good, I noticed I was looking trimmer and toned, did I love myself or what? ;-) With all this hard work at the gym, of course I deserved to eat whatever I wanted, right? WRONG! Again I didn’t notice I was getting bigger, granted it was nowhere near where I was 7 years before, but I definitely piled on a few pounds of fat.

Lesson Learned: I was exercising BUT eating way more than I should have.

I wasn’t eating burgers or drinking milkshakes but I sure was treating myself very often – an extra slice of cake, a bigger portion of porridge in the morning after a “hardcore” workout (which of course meant I needed to reward myself), biscuits when I could have snacked on something healthier

The list goes on...

Never will I be as cocky as I was last year – I forgot I was once overweight and if I fall back into my bad eating habits, I will be back where I was in 2002. I am constantly a work in progress, the more I learn, the more I want to share with and encourage people.

I have come to realise that healthy eating habits take you a long way. Those extra pounds of fat you just can’t get rid of no matter how hard you work at the gym – check your diet. Not being able to lose enough inches each week/month even though you’re eating a little better and starting a workout regimen – check your diet.

And if you just can’t seem to make the head or tail of it, that’s where I’d like to help.

Please contact me for more information on my mobile and on-line personal training services.