I don’t put a label on the way I eat, because it’s not categorised, it’s very personal to how my body feels, and changes every day. With my personal food journey, one that will forever continue, I have found that dairy, poultry and free sugars aren’t foods that I want to include in my diet. I learnt this over time and slowly realised which specific foods affect my energy levels and digestion. I found that a plant based diet, as in meals that are centred around the vegetables (and may include fish or eggs) made me feel the most wholly nourished. I found this through going Vegan for a period, Vegetarian for another and finding my perfect balance eating Eggs and Seafood. I’m not saying this is how I’ll eat forever, but right now, I know I’ve nailed it.
My philosophy with food is that the balance for everyone is completely different, we are unique humans and need to treat our bodies as such. However, I do believe mostly anyone can benefit from adding a few healthy habits to their routine, here are some of the habits I have made to eat to fuel, sculpt and nourish my body.
Long gone is the “Meat and Two Veg” philosophy, we need more! Vegetables along with Fruit (in lesser volume) should make up over one third of our daily food intake. I’m not saying get rid of the meat, I’m just saying don’t prioritise it. Vegetables can be just as flavourful, far more colourful and if you’re a street wise shopper, contain a wonderful amount of protein too.
Before and After a Workout
There is method to this, and the fuel I give myself before and after is never on the fly, it is carefully considered. Before exercising I’ll leave three to four hours after munching a main meal. If I need a quick snack before I’ll have something easily digestible about an hour beforehand. This snack is never a fat based snack or highly fibrous E.G a big portion of nuts, avocado, olives, raw veggies, for example. I’ll have something simple and mainly carbohydrate based such as spelt crackers with a little nut butter, a glass of oat milk or some fruit. After a workout I’ll try and eat something with a source of protein and carbohydrate within a 30 minute window, and replenish my fluids. For most workouts water is all you need to rehydrate and isotonic drinks aren’t necessary.
I do believe that sufficient protein intake in conjunction with intense training is extremely important, there are many views on this, but from where I’m standing it’s an element of recovery that shouldn’t be forgotten. I have a protein shake once daily depending on my activity level. Protein shakes are by no means necessary, as you can also choose to add additional high-protein foods to your meals, however this is a very easy option on the go. The quality of supplement powders is extremely important, there are just a few on the market I use: Form Nutrition, Sunwarrior, Vega and Pulsin.
With low carb diets littering the fitness industry, it’s easy to have a fibre deficiency. The simple answer to this is to not follow a low carb diet and instead follow a balanced approach to nutrition, incorporating all food groups. Grains are an incredible source of fibre and absolutely have a place in my diet, and I believe should have theirs in yours too.
When it comes to sculpting your body, fat loss and general health, Sugar is the one thing I do believe should be restricted (but not forgotten). This is where I am strict, as tempting as sugary treats are they are also addictive with the general pattern being the more you eat the more you want. Free sugars are sugars added to food, or found naturally in syrups, honey etc. Refined or unrefined, it’s all sugar! The effects on my energy levels consuming these foods are reason enough not to have them on a daily basis. I love baking, and a good treat on a Sunday never goes amiss, but I believe it should be exactly that a treat…. and a delicious one!
Don’t Rely On Nuts
There was a real trend of Cashew Nut everything, which I completely admit to being a part of. I still adore these beauties as an ingredient is a silky smooth raw cheesecake, but eaten at every other meal, or as your only dairy replacement I wouldn’t recommend. This goes for all nuts, not just my favourite (next to the beloved tub of almond butter, that disappears as quickly as I buy it). Nuts are a wonderful source of healthy fats and proteins in small servings, but not eaten in bulk, which is easy to do when blended or processed into a butter – like this they can be quite heavy on your digestive system, and cause bloating, stomach ache and gas…very sexy. As with most things, everything in moderation. Quoting the NHS “Nuts are high in fibre and a good alternative to snacks high in saturated fat, but they do still contain high levels of fat, so eat them in moderation”. Amen to that.
There’s lots of talk of Sunday Prep, and this is something I attempt to do for myself every weekend. Filling my fridge with lots of goodies to take on the go with me for the week ahead. If this sounds intriguing to you I’ve broken it down in my Naturally Sassy Cookbook. However, realistically, this isn’t always possible. My greatest suggestion if you can’t do a big prep is to plan two days ahead instead. Cooking in bigger batches and giving yourself enough for a meal the next day. Jotting it down like a food diary I find really useful. There is a difference between writing it down for rigidity, and for ease. It doesn’t mean you can’t have dinner out on the fly, it just means you’re prepared for a healthy meal after a long commute home.
The Key To Adherence
Adhering to a new habit, reducing your sugar intake or any change to your regular pattern can be hard. The most important tip for staying present with a plan or goal is to continue to make things interesting, changing up the meals you cook and foods you buy. Tasty, satisfying flavourful food doesn’t feel like a chore, and it isn’t.
I hope these tips may help you implement some healthy habits into your daily life, and support your body with the nourishment it craves.
Advice in line with NHS Guidelines.