Tuesday

Top tips for healthy eating – The Lucky 13

Top tips for healthy eating

Today we have guest sharing about her tips on healthy eating. It's Em from FIBROMYSTORY.COM Managing Chronic illness with weight training - yes Em is amazing in many ways and one way is that she does weight training while living with Fibro. This is very impressive to me, so I am interested to see what she says about food - the fuel for her body and exercise program.

Top tips for healthy eating

Hello, welcome to you. I hope you had a good week?

I also hope you’re reading this entry because your thinking about making some dietary and/or life changes. It’s easy to underestimate how the foods and fluids we put into our bodies affect the way we feel and function. That was certainly true for me. Before I started working out, I described myself as ‘skinny fat’ – I was slim but also really unfit. In fact, because of my illness, activity terrified me, so I did no more than I had to. Consequently, I had a very little muscle tone and often felt fragile.

Yet because I was a size 10, I thought I could eat what I wanted and did! Not only that, as I struggled with the effects of lots of medication and fatigue, I would often reach for those ‘quick fix’ energy boosts: namely fat, sugar and caffeine. 

So for today, I decided to stick with my ‘back to basics’ theme offering you some of my….

TOP TIPS ON HEALTHY EATING – 13 ‘Lucky’ tips to healthier eating.

#1 First and foremost: Be clear on your goals. Do you want to lose weight? Gain weight? Increase muscle mass, manage symptoms, or simply feel better. The more clear you can be on your goals, the easier it is to figure out how to reach them. Picture your goals in your mind.


#2 While you’re busy imagining your future self, FEEL the emotions you experience and that time. Do you feel excited and motivated, or are you thinking of previous attempts that left you feeling defeated and fearful? If it’s the former; Great! just don’t race out of the blocks. For those of us living with a chronic illness, it’s better to be the tortoise than the hare! If it’s the latter, consider why you didn’t succeed. We’re you bored? Did you feel deprived? Were you stressed and feeding your emotions? Don’t forget the acronym for FAIL – First Attempt In Learning. Use that experience to inform this one and helps you prepare in advance for the challenges ahead. After all, worthwhile change often comes with challenge. The harder the challenge the sweeter the victory! 


You might be wondering what’s this got to do with diet? The answer is: probably not a lot, but it has a lot to do with change. If you’re planning to make dietary changes, mindset and planning are important ingredients to success. Who you are you are, your aims, needs and lifestyle are all important considerations to achieving successful lifestyle changes. You have to make it work for you, otherwise it won’t work.


#3 Ultimately though, when it comes to change I bluntly ask myself “how badly do you want it?” Be honest with yourself about how ready you are for change. Are you ready for it, or are you doing it because you should? If you’re not ready for change, see if you can figure out what’s holding you back and work from there. 


#4 Don’t change everything all at once. We’ve all been there; downloaded the diet plan, bought the ingredients. Set off with gusto on Monday, struggling by Wednesday, justifying our unhealthy ‘reward’ come Friday and feeling like you failed by Saturday. Don’t put yourself under so much pressure. Every time to choose a healthy meal over an unhealthy one you are one step closer to forming new tastes and habits. The more you do it the easier it becomes. The more you tell yourself you have to do it, the harder it will feel.

#5 Track your current diet and calorie intake for a few days to see how many you typically consume. It’s a good idea to understand where you are. Apps are an easy way to achieve this. I’m not advertising but personally I use My Fitness Pal to track my calories. It has a handy barcode scanner saving you from typing in each food. 

Don’t forget of course, that eating 2000 calories of cake per day is very different from eating 2000 calories of lean meats, vegetables and fruits. The good news is you can eat way more of the good stuff than the bad stuff! Leading me nicely into…..

Top tips for healthy eating

#6 Understand how we fuel our bodies.

Protein: When you exercise, your muscles are broken down and then use protein to rebuild themselves stronger while recovering. Protein should be a part of every meal. Sources of protein include chicken, eggs, beef, pork, fish, nuts, tofu, quinoa, and most dairy products.

Carbohydrates: For those of us living with a chronic illness, energy feels like a prize so eating enough carbs is a must for us. Carbohydrates get converted to glucose (sugar) in your system, which is then used to provide energy. Vegetables and/or fresh fruit, pasta, rice, oats and grains are good sources of carbohydrates. There are certainly bad carbohydrates (processed foods etc) and those are the ones to cut out if possible.

Fat: Not all fat is bad for us. In fact, our bodies need fat in order to function. However, what it needs is good fats. Avocados, almonds, olive oil, walnuts, peanut and almond butter are excellent sources of healthy fat (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) Cream cake = bad fat. Avocado = good fat!

Still with me? Great. So, now we’ve committed to change, learnt how many calories we currently eat and where we get them from and learnt that our bodies need a combination of good carbs, proteins and fats to function and feel well.

#7 Next is figuring out how many calories you need to reach your goals and how much of you’re daily calorie intake should be divided into carbs, proteins and fats, often referred to as macro nutrients or ‘macros’ for short. Knowing how much we eat of which can be confusing so again not advertising but I use an app. The macro nutrient calculator at Bodybuilding.com feels easy to use and straight forward. You type in your height, weight, target weight and activity levels and it does the science bit for you. 

Again don’t put too much pressure on yourself – it’s a guide not an instruction.  

#8 Spice up your life! I still say it chicken and broccoli is boring but it doesn’t have to be. Using trusty Google and a range of fresh and dried herbs and seasoning, I’ve learnt lots of different marinades to add variety to chicken and recipes. We’ve also had plenty of disasters too, mostly with hot spices! I read that certain spices are also recommended to help manage chronic illnesses too. Do your research about what might work for you and add it in. Win, win!

#9 Hit the recipe books. Ensuring that you eat a varied diet  means you won’t get bored, resentful and rebellious! I’m no chef so I use recipes, again mostly online. I have my iPad propped beside while I have a go at something new. Meanwhile, my husband and son look rather nervous! Learning the recipes has promoted my knowledge of healthy foods and in time made it easier to naturally choose and prepare healthy meals.

#10 I also find substitutes for things I like and will miss, namely dessert! Treats like a banana and peanut butter smoothie with skimmed or almond milk hits my sweet tooth and fills me up! Not a daily event though.

#11 Don’t go hungry or you’ll likely get hangry and cheat! I eat little and often, approximately every two hours. Doing this means I maintain my energy levels and also means I won’t get too hungry and get tempted to eat crap “oh I’ll just have a biscuit (or two) to keep me going”. I’ve learnt once I eat junk food, I want more. Yet when I’m full and satisfied I don’t look for it. One tip I have to resist junk food is telling myself “ there is nothing nutritious in there for you”. My body deserves more, it’s been through a lot. That’s not to say I’m perfect, I still have some biscuit days but way less than I used to so that’s ok. 

#12 Check out my previous post on fatigue and meal prep. I work Monday to Friday and with the gym too, preparing meals can be tricky. I’m lucky I have a supportive husband but he has the same routine and gets tired too. So on Sunday’s we meal prep a quantity of mid week meals. Other quick meals are omelette (mostly egg whites), pasta, soups, fish etc. It really doesn’t take long to cook something like chicken and vegetables with sweet potato.

#13 Experiment, try new things and congratulate yourself on your efforts. 

Finally, please don’t think I’m suggesting never have that piece of cake. My birthday is coming soon and I’m not missing out on a slice! It’s OK, I stick to my aims for the most part. 

Good Luck

Em

Top tips for healthy eating

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