Well, it is the first day of my new blog based diet! And to help matters, I've had dodgy guts for the past three days. A work colleague has it also, so must be a bug going around, but it is not helped by the fact that I have IBS. I am also on medication that causes weight-gain and has a negative affect on my IBS, often leaving me feel bloated and horrible. So am I going to feel sorry for myself and comfort eat? Nope. Am I going to go the other way and starve myself to prevent my stomach ache? Nope. I'm going to plan. Am I going to succeed? Who knows?!
Step 1 of my diet commandments is to plan ahead. This means not only am I thinking of what to cook for me and my partner for our evening meal the day before so I can get things out of the freezer or prepare things in advance where possible, but also I am planning when I am going to eat throughout the day. For me, this is one of my biggest problems because I also have a "blood sugar inbalance" - whatever that means. All I know is that for me, skipping a meal is a no go as I quickly become very shaky, dizzy and nauseous. I've never got to the stage where I have physically passed out, but I have come pretty darn close. This also hinders me in portion control, as cutting down the amount I am consuming by too dramatic an amount would mean a dip in my blood sugars later on. this is where step 4 also comes in. Not only do I need to think about when to eat and what to eat, I need to understand what foods I should be eating and how my body works. I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to diet without too radical a change to my intake and life style for the last couple of months, so I am now thinking of that period as my trial run. I have a better understanding of what my body needs and how it reacts now, so I can use this going forward.
Another reason that planning my meal times is important but a pain in the neck is my work hours; I leave the house at 4am to start work at 5am, my "lunch break" is around 10am, and I finish at 1:30pm, getting home for 2:30pm (provided I have no errands to run), my partner gets home just after 5pm, and I go to bed at 7:30-8pm weeknights (although I try to stay up as late as I can on Fridays to get my body out of this schedule for the weekend!). This is a pain because:
- I need to eat some kind of breakfast within the first two hours of my day to avoid low blood sugar, but have issues dragging myself out of bed with enough time to get anything at home before I leave for work.
- Even when I have some kind of breakfast when I get to work, I always get hungry by 9am and cannot wait til 10am to start picking at my lunch.
- When I have lunch at 10am, I get am hungry again by about 2pm! This is bad in two ways; if I go straight home I have a habit of snacking (or just plain pigging out), and at least once a week I go to the supermarket for groceries on my way home, meaning I shop when hungry - never a good idea!
- I don't get much time with my partner during the week as he gets home from work just a couple of hours before I have to start thinking about heading to bed, and by the time he has sorted himself out, done a few chores and we sit down together, it is usually just an hour before my bed-time. So for me, it is important that we are at least sitting down to our evening meal together. This is an old-fashioned ideal perhaps, but it was instilled in me at a young age that sitting down to a meal together is an important family activity. Of course, this means I am having tea 6-7 hours after my lunchtime, and just an hour or two before bed, not ideal.
So I have to think carefully about how to plan my meals and snacks in such a way as to minimise bad habits, over-eating, and also low blood sugar. So far, these are my ideas:
- An oat based cereal bar with my morning cup of tea around 5:30-6am. Oats are great for filling you up and releasing energy slowly, while having a cereal bar is just so easy! Many cereal bars are high in sugar content, but, in my opinion, it is common sense that your body is going to be able cope much better at having most of your daily allowance of sugar based calories as early on in the day as possible, that way you have all day to burn off the sugar. I find these cereal bars can keep me from feeling hungry or shaky for up to two hours, so I try to have it as close to 6am as possible, usually making my tea in the small lull I always have in my work just before 6am, and nibbling on my cereal bar as I work. The bars, especially the oaty ones, tend to be quite dry which is why I always try to have a cuppa too. I have also found that breakfast biscuits are yummy and have the same effect.
- There is another lull in my work that often occurs around 8am, when things quiet down a little bit but I can't get on with my next tasks quite yet. This is the perfect time for a little healthy snack, so I am going to try to have a piece of fruit or a low-fat yogurt around this time. (Tip: be careful with low fat yogurt, they often have lots more sugar that full fat yogurts. Natural low fat yogurt is best, but I find it a bit bland for my liking, although it is lovely with some granola or chopped fruit.)
- This should get me through until my lunchbreak at 10am, but I know this isn't always the case but will avoid snacking too much between 8-10am if possible. The best way to make sure that I don't snack would be to not pack another snack, but I know if I do this and get peckish, I'll just start munching on my sarnies! So a bit pack of nuts and raisins in my desk drawer is my solution. This is great because unsalted nuts are great for you, they are fatty but apparently they contain "good" fat. People on diets often try cutting out fat completely, but your body needs fat and sugar in order to burn fat. Fat and sugar are parts of a healthy diet, it is all about avoiding what is bad for you and not going over the top! Nuts also are slow release energy, keeping your filling full for longer and fueling you over a longer period. Also, I hate them. The only nuts I really like are peanuts, and then only covered in salt or chocolate. So having nuts in my desk drawer is great because I only eat them if I really need an energy boost or to fill a rumbling stomach, and not just because they are available, like I would with most snacks.
- Lunchbreak is simple - sandwiches made with wholemeal "sandwich thins" which are yummy, much better for you than bread, and also stop even the most boring sandwich tasting too dry (I'm sure I am not the only one who has tried to eat a plain cheese sandwich without a drink and thought I was going to choke.)
- Then in the early afternoon, I need to snack so will resort to the nuts and raisins I love so much or another piece of fruit. This will give me the energy to get through the last of my work day, keep me from being hungry when I pop to the supermarket, and hopefully, stop me from snacking when I get home.
- Exercise when I get home is a must. I try to do a 10 minute pilates workout followed by 20 mins on the exercise bike.
- Then for our evening meal, I'll be cooking something for both me and my boyfriend, but will keep my portions small and exchange unhealthy foods for a healthy alternative where possible.
So that's the plan...