Undoubtedly the hardest part of any fitness regime is controlling what you put into your mouth. It’s tough, especially for those of us who have spent majority of our lives eating anything and everything. I’m that girl who’ll go for the most unhealthy or biggest meal on the menu in a restaurant and who takes it as a personal challenge to finish everything on my plate, yes ma’am I love food! I don’t just like eating it, I love tasting it, exploring flavors and different methods of cooking and so on. Hence the reason A Hungry African was born (my food blog). But that’s all about to change, it’s time to reevaluate my eating habits.
Now that I’m working my butt off every morning for 20 minutes with Jillian (30 day shred), I just don’t want all that sweating and crying out for mercy to go to waste. At the same time, I don’t want my eating habits to become a science project. I don’t wanna have to count calories and eat low fat everything and deny myself of certain food pleasures. I just want to develop fairly healthy eating habits so that it becomes part of my lifestyle and not a passing phase. That way it’ll be easier to maintain.
To do this I’m taking baby steps and so far so good! I’ve even managed to brain wash myself into not wanting oily food, I actually cringe at the idea of buying a burger! Most of it is driven by fear. The fear of going up a dress size or as I mentioned above, doing all that huffing and puffing for nothing. I decided to start small, no diets or strict eating plans, just a few small changes to get me started. In the future when healthy eating becomes second nature I’ll up the stakes but till then, here’s how I’ll approach it:
- Remember that I know better
This is what the little voice in my head says every time I am buying or cooking food. It’s really not rocket science, most of us know better. We know what’s unhealthy or healthy, we know when we should be eating and when we shouldn’t and we also know how much we can eat. So if you know you know better, don’t do it!
- Don’t be so greedy
Sometimes I buy/cook a particular dish that is heaven to my taste buds and I just want to keep eating it! Of course my body tells me when I’m full to stop shoveling it down my throat but I usually ignore it. Well, I have simply stopped ignoring it. Greed and gluttony is what keeps us eating. It’s ok to stop, pack the food and finish it at another meal time.
- Watch your portions
Lack of portion control is also a product of greed. You do not have to cover every cm of space on your plate with food, chances are you’ll end up eating too much. If your find it hard to reduce the quantity, use a smaller plate. In addition to this, veggies and meat should cover more space than the carbs. It is quite “unAfrican” to eat this way since we love our carbs but it can be done!
- Eat more fruits & veggies
Again, not a big secret is it? I try to add fruit to every meal I have or to just have it as dessert. I have some with my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I do slack but for the most part I keep it up. Currently in love with oranges and grapefruit. I switch up the types of fruits often because I get bored easily. I’m experimenting with different veggie dishes to make them more fun for my taste buds, more on that later…
- Snack on healthy foods
I used to pick up a bar of chocolate or sweets to snack on, now I opt for dried fruit, greek yogurt/flavored low fat yogurt, fresh fruit or nuts. I’m a huge fan of macadamia nuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, dried apricots and dried peaches. I also love yogurt health bars from Woolworths (I refuse to eat any other brand).
- Up your fibre intake
Again, you already know this. I choose to have my fibre first thing in the morning. I love bran flakes! I’m not an oatmeal girl but I’ll work my way to it. Other good sources of fibre that I include in my diet are wholegrain breads or wraps, red rice (similar to brown rice), nuts and fruit. Here’s a list of various foods and their fibre content. Fibre cleanses your digestive system and keeps you full for longer reducing your need to eat everything in sight.
- Grill, bake or steam instead of frying
- Replace refined carbs with complex carbs
I’m never gonna cut out carbs so this method is more realistic for me. Switch the white sugar for brown, ditch the white baking flour for wholewheat or brown, replace the white bread with wholewheat or brown, swap the white rice for brown rice/red rice etc. Straight forward. And brown doesn’t necessarily taste bad, Woolworths Foods has proved that brown anything can be just as good as white to your tastebuds.
And there it is! Simple small changes that have gotten me started. Despite all these changes I do allow myself the odd burger or pizza. But as per my new rules I make sure I don’t overeat and I also don’t make it a habit to get the fatty stuff from restaurants. Sometimes I’ll go for the grilled chicken salad or grilled fish with veggies instead of fries.
How are you switching up your eating habits?