Firstly, I would like to apologise to the lovely lady I promised to write this blog for. It’s late, I am sorry. But I hope it helps somebody else out there too. So let’s get to it. How do you start eating healthily? My method or way is to start looking at food completely differently and to accept that you will have to change the way you eat for life, especially if you are a woman who has had children, and over 35. What you eat shouldn’t just be titillating to your taste buds, but nourishing to your body – at least 80% of the time. I don’t believe you can make permanent and lasting changes without embracing new foods, or new ways of thinking about food, which includes seeing food as fuel, as nourishing and preventative for many modern diseases .
Nothing beats a balanced diet.
The honest truth is simple. A balanced diet is what works. But the problem is most of us don’t know what balance means anymore thanks in part to the food industry and their are just too many people trying to make money off ‘diets’ and ‘food’. Also, portions are out of control and we need to re-learn what moderate means. If you are prepared to re-learn, you will enjoy all food groups; carbs, protein and fats! The honest truth is I enjoy everything, including the crazy modern Nigerian cuisine. I call it crazy and modern because the way the younger generation cook dishes like Efo and Ayamase etc is simply not the way my grandmother cooked or ate it. And she lived past 115 on African food only. But what she ate, and how she prepared it, was a lot simpler than the modern version of loading everything into our delicacies and cooking stew swimming in oil! . The principle I advocate for is – simple foods, prepared simply.
Age plays a role
I keep talking about women over 30 and mums in particular, because I am a mum of two and 40 this year!! (bloody depressing!! where did the time go). I know how the body changes, I’ve seen those changes. And what they call ‘middle age’ spread is real. Food choices like refined carbs and sugar will stick to the middle more in middle age, your tummy especially, and especially after 35. I am not one of those 40 year olds that say “40 is the new 20” babanla oro ode (#foolishtalk). 40 is 40. I have eyes. I see 20 year olds. I see their skin, their hair, their waist and their flat tummies! It’s futile to long to look like a 20 year old, it’s unhealthy even, but if you want to look good at 40 or at 50 you are going to have to be mindful of your food choices, because the by-product of a good diet is that at 40 you will have clear or clearer skin, strong and healthy hair, and a healthy body – if you eat well. Now someone is bound to say “but some people can have all those things, good hair, good skin, and a healthy body without ever watching their diet’ my answer is simple “are you one of those people”? exactly!, keep reading.
Cut the Fad Diets and Stick with whole foods
I don’t believe in cutting carbs or fat because they are not sustainable in my opinion. Instead, I have trained my taste buds to appreciate whole or clean foods cooked without too many additions – boiled yam with no sugar! remember our grandparents ate roasted yams or boiled yams with palm oil and a little salt; not fried eggs, sausages, corn beef stew and I’ve even seen people add fried plantain – errmmm If you eat corned beef repent now!!! I cook basmati rice with no salt! I season my meat with natural spices (not too much) sometimes nothing – because the bottom line is the more flavor, the harder it is for your brain to register you are full and satisfied. learn to enjoy the natural flavor of foods too. If you need to start a plan even with seasoning start with whole food. And by that I mean things that grew from the ground, on a tree, came out of the sea, ran on the land, or flew through the air. Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds are all great examples of real food
Reduce or avoid crap food. Crap food is that which comes from a drive-thru window, a vending machine, box, bag, or wrapper. If it has a long ingredient list it’s probably not good for you. If it started out as real food and then went through ten steps to get to the point where you’re about to eat it, it’s probably not good for you.
And you know what? I cook most of my meals myself. Eating out is a treat. I don’t even buy sandwiches at work. I make everything and take it into work. If you can learn to do this too, you are 70% of the way there. Do not trust food vendors or eateries. They don’t care about you. they care about repeat business and profit margins, and trust me those profit margins are achieved mostly through cheap flavour enhancers – sugar and salt – cheap products. And no, it wouldn’t even taste sugary or salty but trust me it’s loaded full of it.
Exercise wouldn’t help if you don’t change your diet!
If you don’t change what or how you eat exercise wouldn’t help if your aim is to lose weight! That’s the worst part! You can’t eat crap food and compensate with an excellent exercise programme –Never– hence the saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. But you can certainly lose fat or weight without ever exercising. After I had my two children my body changed so much. It was sooo soft and flabby, even though I was slim. I trained like crazy, no change. I complained to my trainer, and he said “Lola you train like these girls, pointing to magazines with fitness models but you don’t eat like them, and until you do, nothing will change”. I adjusted my diet which was already healthy, and I got my results. Now if you are reading this you may not want my results. Maybe your goal is just to lose a bit of weight, but the principle is the same, until the foundation is right (and the foundation is your diet) you wouldn’t ever see results. 80% of your success or failure will come from how well you eat.
Being fit or healthy comes in different shapes and sizes too!
Please understand one thing. I do not believe we should all be a size 8 or 10 or 12. Fitness and healthy come in different shapes and sizes and the truth is I am against any ‘ideal’ or ‘look’ promoted as optimal. That’s a lie. But in your heart, if you are overweight, or perhaps obese and if you want to do something about it, if you are ready, when you are ready, there is guide below – it is only a guide and it is not easy because it requires you to eat different things and prepare your meals in different ways. This guide will help any average height female around 5:5 tall, trying to lose weight. This is a guide and insight into how I eat – I do eat more, calorie wise, as I am not trying to lose fat – but please treat it as a guide and always consult your doctor before embarking on a new diet.
Meal Plan 101
the meal below aren’t cooked with oils, expect a smidgen of coconut, olive, or any other healthy oil, a smidgen is less than half a tea spoon – okay maybe half a teaspoon!. Season food to taste but try and switch to lower salt seasonings e.g. Mrs Dash. Once a week eat whatever you want, one meal once a week, not the whole Saturday!! . Once a week have a fizzy drink if you enjoy them, but only with your cheat meal. Reduce alcohol to once or twice a week – a glass or two maximum.
1/2 cup oatmeal/ or 5 ounze of yam/sweet potatoes
3 egg whites, 1 egg
Snack (20 grams of 90% dark chocolate)
6 ounces grilled chicken/turkey/cod/lean protein
Large salad or any vegetable/s
2 tablespoons light dressing
½ cup of cooked basmati rice
Snack or little meal
Fat free Greek Yogurt (the brand Fage is king and best) OR more lean protein with vegetables or salad if you wish. 2 rice cakes with a tablespoon of peanut butter and fruit
Fish or steak (salmon, seabass, any really, or grilled steak and vegetable)
Dessert – sugar free Hartley jelly
Water, tea, coffee, no sugar, yes to milk, yes to sweetner.