I am very gradually weaning myself away from the diet culture that only seems to benefit the diet industry by generating a lot of income for them and a lot of spending for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I have medical conditions that *do* have certain dietary requirements, as do other people.
What I’m talking about here is the money-generating industry that encourages people to count calories or cut out certain food groups, or only eat certain food groups. The ones that publish magazines, or who charge for apps and memberships and website access. The ones where followers or members may lose weight quite successfully, but as soon as they start eating “normally” again, they put all the weight back on, again.
If that works for you, then it’s great. But you know who and what I mean.
Two weeks ago (ish) I shared a list of things I planned to do, or not do. It *is* a learning curve, and it *is* trying to break habits that have lasted a lifetime. But here’s how I’m doing so far:
1. Forget about counting calories and being anal about weighing food.
I’ve stopped counting calories. (Yay!) I still weigh breakfast cereal. (Boo!) But I’ve stopped weighing anything else, other than for specific recipes. (Yay!)
2. Eat a more balanced diet.
I’m getting there. Instead of grazing on sweets or cake, I’m preparing a platter of fresh fruit and I’m *trying* to eat that first before succumbing to the sweet stuff. Saying that, I *do* like a piece of cake or a couple of biscuits with a cup of tea or coffee. What I want to stop is the grazing between meals and cups of tea and coffee.
We have two vegetables with every main evening meal now (“tea”). We also have one carb (potatoes, rice or pasta – or bread with a fry-up/mixed grill) and one protein (meat or fish).
3. Swap out refined foods for unrefined foods and foods that are higher in natural fibre.
Yes! We replace white bread and pasta with brown, but we’re not being anal about it. If they don’t have brown available and we need it, then we buy the white. Or we make it at home. (Or the poet makes it – he makes bread and pasta.)
4. Keep half an eye on portion sizes.
Gradually we’re serving a “fist-sized” portion of carbs and another of protein and trying to fill half the plate with vegetables.
5. Eat when I’m hungry.
6. Stop eating when I’m full.
Hmm, these both still need work, but I’m getting there. I’m now wondering, when I fancy a packet of sweets or some chocolate or cake, whether I’m actually hungry or if I just want the sensation of tasting something nice and sweet. Usually it’s the latter, and I’m starting to resist the craving, and sometimes I’m confirming that yes, I am actually hungry. When that happens, I eat.
7. Chuck out all the size 10 clothes. (This will be a wrench.)
Not a chance yet. This is still a wrench.
8. Increase activity levels.
I keep planning extra activity into my day, and I would like us to get back to going for a walk every weekend. This hasn’t really got off the ground yet this year, due to a number of reasons. But this week’s diary does include a few visits to the post office, and I could take the dog instead of the car …
9. Not weigh myself *every* morning.
I’ve stopped doing this. (Yay!) It *is* a habit, though, and I *am* having to remind myself most mornings not to do it. But I’m also forgetting to do it some mornings now, too.
10. Drink water again.
This is something else I’m having to remind myself to do, and one way around it has been having a cup of tea with my midday meal (“dinner”) instead of a glass of pop, because there’s still a lot of water in a cup of tea.
We even have a cold water dispenser in the fridge we had to buy towards the end of last year, and the idea is not to have to constantly change the water because it’s “gone off”, but to drink it every day instead.
So, on the whole, I’m not doing *too* badly. Remember, I’m trying to ignore years and years of conditioning, so when I do have the occasional slip, this is what I tell myself.
There are a few other things we’re doing too.
The first is trying not to eat anything after 9pm. I’ve been having terrible indigestion at night since before Christmas and I’ve been taking Rennies to bed with me to leave on the side for when it wakes me up in the middle of the night.
On the whole, this one is going quite well, but if we’re late back from a gig, we’re usually starving, and other times I do the am-I-hungry-or-do-I-just-want-something-sweet thing. But generally, we’re both checking the clock now before snacking or not snacking at night.
Another thing is something we’ve been doing for a long time, and it certainly works. We have a massive bowl of fresh fruit in our line of sight between us and the telly. For ages, the poet has always chosen an apple or an orange to snack on, and he’s always gone to wherever the fruit bowl has been. But now, with it right where we can see it, he doesn’t even have to think about it.
I’ve never been one for snacking on fruit, but in the past couple of weeks, I *have* leant forward and helped myself to a pear. Because of this, I’ve also started to take that “fruit platter” into the office with me each day.
And it’s starting to work.
I have a packet of giant Yorkie chocolate buttons in the goody tin plus around three small packets of mini marshmallow faces. We have a biscuit barrel with a family variety pack of biscuits inside. And we have cake in the cake tin. Normally, I’d go and help myself to something like that while I’m working, but today the banana was the first to get it.
Because I like to pick at sweeties, the satsumas are great when they’re broken into segments and I can keep on shovelling them into my mouth. I also like grapes, but of course, they contain some of the highest sugar and some of the lowest fibre for fruit. The grapes will be coming back, though, in my bid to ignore all things diet culture. And, anyway, the chickens enjoy grapes too.
We stopped buying aspartame – granulated and tablet – and are turning back to sugar when we want it. Yes, we will still reduce this, but only because of the damage it does to our teeth. For as long as we still eat cake, biscuits, sweets and puddings, we may as well keep the sugar, although I would like to gradually reduce the amount of sugar we add to things for other health reasons.
I’ve stopped writing everything down that I eat. Instead, we prepare a meal plan for the week and we buy the shopping to suit. This is making the shopping much cheaper, and we hardly throw any food away. When we do, the chickens get most of it anyway.
And finally, I’ve stopped looking for the diet or low/no added sugar drinks of pop first too. If the sugar tax has been applied, and if they have something I like, then I will choose the diet pop. But if the price is the same, or lower (which is often the case, surprisingly), then I’m more than happy to just buy the full fat versions.
Today, then (as an example), I’m on my second pint of cold water from the fridge, which is accompanying a dinner of salmon sandwiches and a yoghurt. The bread is brown, but the butter is Lurpak – the one thing the poet will *not* compromise on. Saying that, we do get the lighter version, but if they don’t have it in, or if the full fat version is cheaper, then we buy that instead.
The yoghurt *is* a light and free one. But this is because I really like the taste and it’s one of the only yoghurts the poet will eat too.
Tea tonight is a spaghetti bolognaise, I think. We do have bought pasta in as it’s a school night and the poet doesn’t really have time to make his own pasta. He’ll make two portions, we’ll have one tonight and the other will go in the freezer for a quick “ready meal” another time.
And that’s how I’m doing so far. How about you?