My Relationship with FOOD!

Fist off a couple of facts that are worth bearing in mind:

-       Our food provides the energy we need to go about our daily lives. Ideally our energy input (what we eat) should equal our energy output (daily activities). If we consume more than our body needs, excess energy will be stored as fat for a later date. If we consume less energy than we need our bodies will break down our fat stores.  

 

-       Our bodies must break down or digest what we eat in order to ‘extract’ the energy for our bodies to use. Some foods are easier to breakdown than others. For example, highly processed, high sugar foods such as cakes, or crisps are broken down quickly. If the energy released is not immediately required it will be stored as fat. This means you will experience an initial burst of energy, followed by a significant drop in energy levels. You will feel hungry much quicker and so the cycle continues and fat stores begin to build up. Alternatively, it takes the body much longer to break down foods such as sweet potato or porridge. This means energy is released more slowly over a longer period of time, keeping you fuller and your body fueled for longer.

 

Disclaimer:

I am not a nutritionist or dietitian nor am I a psychologist so I will not be delving too deeply into the issues associated with food relationships. I merely wish to shed some light on my own personal experiences and musings of my relationship with food and reasons why I tend to over eat.

 

So here goes…

 

1.    Convenience - If I'm hungry or in a rush I tend to grab whatever is quickest and easiest. This usually means crisps, cake, chocolate or a combination of. Not good! As mentioned above this will release energy quickly, most likely increasing my fat stores and won’t keep me full for very long. Planning meals in advance and making sure I have healthier snack options available helps cut impulse eating.

 

2.    Boredom - Probably my biggest reason for over eating. When I don't have much to do or am doing a task I don't particularly enjoy I'll head for the snack drawer. Eating is very good for killing time and procrastination. I now try to use food as a reward for motivation. For example, I am allowed my planned snack item at 11am or when I’ve completed a particular task. In other words, I haven’t tried to cut it out completely I just try and regulate it a little better.

 

3.    Comfort eating – Due to stress, anxiety, sadness etc.. There’s a whole range of feelings and emotions that lead people to comfort eat. I’m sure there are lots of psychological explanations why food is seen a source of comfort. Whether it links back to having a pacifier as a child or looking for a way to regain control or the fact that something that tastes nice brings immediate (however short lived) gratification. For me comfort eating tends to fall on a bit of a spectrum depending on the severity of the situation or intensity of emotion. Initially a certain level of stress or sadness will cause me to over eat. As these feelings becomes more severe I tend to go the other way and not eat (which is just as bad). I once lost 1.5stone in 3 weeks. This is an unhealthy rate of weight loss and prompted me to seek professional help for the stress I was experiencing at the time. I think this issue requires a bit of discernment. If it’s just one day, I’ve felt a bit low so I’ve eaten a bit more than I should, I tend not to get too worried. But if it is something happening regularly over a longer period of time perhaps it’s a sign of a deeper issue that needs professional intervention.

 

4.    Lack of self control – Sometimes I see something in the cupboard and I just want it. I know I’m not hungry and I know I don’t need it but I eat it anyway. Or I’ll be hungry so I’ll eat everything in sight. I think the real test is how you react after these moments. Do you start on a prolonged downward spiral and say ‘well I’ve had all that so I might as well have this as well’? Or do you get back on track with a healthy balanced diet?   

 

5.    Lack of awareness of feeling full - I struggle with knowing when I'm full until I'm so full I cannot physically move. Again this goes with the self control issue but I have been trying to train myself to eat more mindfully and to recognise when I no longer feel hungry rather than when I feel full.

 

6.    Portion sizes – When I cook a meal I generally have no idea how much to put on my plate. Particularly if it’s a large plate, I’ll dish out until the plate looks full. As I mentioned above I struggle to know when I’m full so I will eat everything on the plate. In other words I probably eat far more than the recommended portion size. This is where a bit of education comes in. Knowing the calorie content and suggested portion sizes of different foods will make it easier to construct a healthy plate. Also if you’re trying to lose weight you don’t necessarily have to cut out foods altogether, just decrease the portion size.     

 

7.    Chocolate - Deserves a category all too itself. My weakness, my downfall, whenever there is chocolate I must eat it! Apparently switching out milk chocolate for smaller quantities of dark chocolate helps to combat cravings but….dark chocolate is gross sooo…I have yet to find a solution for this.   

 

In my experiences education is key. Knowing about what’s in food, how your body reacts to different types of food and how much your body actually needs has really helped me keep better track of my eating habits. That’s not to say there aren’t days when I still struggle; every day you have to make a choice. It’s about keeping a healthy and balanced perspective so you can enjoy going out for a meal and have the odd treat without having to worry.

 

Tip:

If you are wanting to make changes towards a healthier lifestyle don’t try to change everything all at once. Just change one or two things at a time and set realistic targets. This will make any changes you make much more achievable and sustainable.

 

Perhaps you can relate to some if not all of the above. Hopefully this may help you understand your own eating habits a little better. Let me know if this has been helpful and I'd love to hear your own experiences. 

Wonderful Water!

We all know how important it is to drink water. Our bodies are 70% water and we can’t survive more than 5 days without it. Shockingly my daily water intake ranged from approximately 0.8 litres on a bad day to 1.5 litres on a good day. The recommended daily water intake is 2.5 litres for men and 2 litres for women (European Food Safety Authority). Turns out my body was in a constant state of dehydration. Drinking water is not something I particularly enjoy but after numerous articles, videos and a doctor reinforcing the benefits I decided to change my ways to consume 2 litres of water per day.

So, here are some of the signs I experienced that I now know where my body trying to tell me I was dehydrated.

  1. Dry skin and throat. I would often get that really annoying dry tickly throat that was impossible to get rid of.  
  2. Headaches
  3. Dark coloured urine
  4. Feeling fatigued or sluggish
  5. Feeling hungry. Apparently when our bodies do not get enough water our signals for thirst and hunger can get mixed-up. Often when we feel hungry it is actually because we are thirsty rather than because we need to eat. Next time you feel hungry try drinking some water first before jumping straight for a snack.

A friend of mine told me that whilst on a conference she started feeling sick, dizzy, headachy and faint. Interestingly the coffee she drank to ‘perk herself up’ actually made her feel worse and more dehydrated, but two glasses of water later she felt completely restored.   

So how did I get on? Here are some tips I’ve accumulated along the way to help make drinking so much water a little easier.

  1. Use a water bottle, the bigger the better. You can take it everywhere and it’s easier to track of how much you’re drinking. I personally use a 750ml bottle; I know I have to drink 3 of these a day to hit my target. Also I don’t count other drinks like tea, coffee or smoothies. I count these in addition to my 2 litres of water, again it’s just easier to track exactly how much water you’ve had and it’s better to drink more rather than less.
  2. Plan when you’re going to drink. With my 750ml bottle I know I need to finish one bottle in the morning (by noon), one in the afternoon (by 5pm) and one in the evening (by 8pm). Setting small targets throughout the day helps to keep me on track.
  3.  Start drinking as soon as you wake up. I like to fill my bottle up the night before so it’s ready at the side of my bed when I wake up. Drinking a pint of water before breakfast helps me wakeup quicker and is a great way to kick start your metabolism for the day.
  4. Flavour your water. This makes it much more interesting and bearable to drink. Avoid squash and synthetic flavourings as this will add unnecessary sugar and calories to your drink (also bad for your teeth). Try chopping some fruit into your water for fresh, natural flavour. My personal favourites are lemons or limes but a slice of cucumber or a few berries wouldn’t go a miss.  
  5. Drink isotonic water during or after exercise. The concentration of isotonic water is similar to that in your body so you will rehydrate quicker. Water will be absorbed more effectively rather than going in one end and straight out the other. Again avoid the ones that are high in unnecessary sugars and additives such as Lucozade or Gatorade. Try adding Diarolite to your water instead as this will just add the essential sugars and salts that you need.  

So what are the benefits???  I have been consistently drinking 2 litres of water a day for around 2 months now and I must say I have observed some quite remarkable benefits.

  1. Healthier clearer skin. My skin feels plumper and more hydrated. I am experiencing fewer more manageable breakouts and I feel like this is still improving the longer and more water I drink. This is a minor miracle considering the amount of time and money I have spent trying to combat my acne over the past 5 or 6 years.  
  2. Improved cardiac function. Before my 2 litre a day challenge I was taking a low dose beta blocker to reduce my heart rate during exercise. My heart rate would increase to over 200bpm sometimes giving me chest pains and cutting my workouts short. My Cardiologist advised both drinking more water and adding Diarolite to hydrate more efficiently. I no longer need to take the beta blocker. As I am more hydrated my heart can work more efficiently and optimally to transport water and nutrients to the parts of my body that need it and it doesn’t have to go crazy to do so.
  3. Reduced fatigue and increased concentration. As I mentioned earlier, drinking water as soon as I wake up helps me to wake up quicker. Sipping water throughout the day helps keep me awake and alert and reduces that dip in energy around 4pm. Along with feeling more alert comes increased concentration and being better able to focus on tasks be it for work, house work, working out or socialising.

Many of the articles I’ve read also highlight increased metabolism, healthier joints and constipation relief as additional benefits of increased water intake. The impact of being properly hydrated is clear for both our physical and mental capacity. These benefits will also have nock on secondary benefits. For example on weight loss; increased metabolic function and getting those thirst/hunger signals back under control will significantly contribute to more effective weight loss. My conclusion therefore is if in doubt drink more water!

Let me know your thoughts and experiences. Are you constantly dehydrated? Do find drinking water as much of a chore as I do? Or do you love drinking water and why? Let me know!

 

 

Smoothie Recipe

I love to have this delicious smoothie either for breakfast to kick start my day or after a work out to give me a much needed energy boost. 

Ingredients:
1 Banana
1 handful Blueberries
1 handful Raspberries
3 teaspoons Maple Syrup
200ml Almond Milk

Blitz in the blender till smooth and creamy
Decorate with chopped bananas and halved blueberries.