Changing My Eating Habits
Before I begin, this is the story of how I lost weight. Remember that everybody is different and you should educate yourself on what is right for you, not what was right for me. Speak to your doctor or nutritionist/dietitian or others as your mentors/experts/role models who can give advice on what you can eat. Remember, you eat an elephant one mouthful at a time. Make changes gradually and make changes to things you will still enjoy. If you have children, I am not one to give parenting advice! But the question is are you going to make them the excuse to not change, or make them the reason to change?! Again, I recommend you listen to Tony Robbins “Awaken The Giant Within”. The Youtube audio clip is below.
My first decision was to become more AWARE of what I was eating. I had to change my eating to one where I enjoyed what I was eating. I didn’t want to become a ‘calorie counter’ so to speak, where every meal I needed a calculator. But I did need to make decisions on what I would choose to eat. For example, if I went out to lunch, I would choose something like a Caesar Salad over a battered fish and chips. I like Caesar Salad, so I merely made the choice to eat what was healthier. Also, instead of having a coke, I just had a water. When you have as many business meetings at a cafe as I do it feels cheap when your colleague orders a cappuccino and you only drink the water from the complimentary cravat! But that is part of the change. I have a friend who is a former body builder and martial arts competitor. I remember him telling me when he was competing in his early 20’s he would go to clubs and drink water, not alcohol, because he was in training.
Secondly, I had to cut back on the amount of food I ate. As discussed, I would fill my plate with food for dinner and then go back for seconds. Usually for no other reason then I it was there and I could. I chose to eat lighter meals and less. For example, where I could eat 2 or 3 sandwiches for lunch, I had just one but filled it with salad to make it filling. Dinner, I would still have meat with vegetables, but no gravy and only a small piece of meat (I was told the size of your palm was a good indicator) and vegetables I tried to have little in potatoes and stick more to greens and carrots etc. Another rule of thumb I used is I should be able to fit the meal inside the plate indent, not outside of it, except for say a leaf of lettuce and I didn’t heap the food.
Thirdly, as discussed I had to change what I ate. I needed to change to having meals that I enjoyed but were also healthy. I also had to change when I had my meals. I started having breakfast around 7am as I would sometimes skip it. I would have a piece of fruit for morning tea. I had lunch at around 12pm, which by this time I was starting to feel hungry so I had to eat. Sometimes I could hold off if I had meetings but due to my change in eating I had to eat consistently. I would have another piece of fruit and then around 6pm I would have dinner. For my dessert and as my treat, I had two squares of chocolate (or a chocolate biscuit etc) which I nibbled on slowly to savour. Before I could eat two rows of chocolate in a few bites and not feel as pleasured by the treat because I didn’t enjoy the treat by savouring and taking my time.
One of the big changes to what I ate was bread! I could have breakfast with 4 slices of toast, lunch 2-3 sandwiches so another 4-6 slices of bread. Then for dinner a slice or two of bread. That is close to half a loaf of bread! I loved my bread. I didn’t stop eating it, I just cut back and had it for lunch only.
Finally WATER!!!! If there was soft drink in the fridge I would drink it. I rarely drink alcohol and generally only in a social setting so this was not a big thing for me, but is something friends have started to change in their eating habits. I now drink pretty much only water. If I am at dinner or in a social setting I might have a soft drink, but it depends on the occasion. With my exercise in the morning I can drink about a litre of water within the first hour and a half of my day. Considering that we are meant to drink between 2-3 litres per day, this is a great a start to my day!
How and When I Did This
Below is a rough plan of what I would normally eat in my day. It is just a guide. As I said, my goal for eating was to become more AWARE of what and how much I was eating. Ultimately to continue with my eating habit to make it part of my lifestyle, I have to enjoy the food that I eat or it has to make me feel good.
- 6:30 am Sip a glass of room temperature water after a jog.
- 7:00 am Drink two glasses of room temperature water after sit ups; push ups etc. Shower.
- 7:30 am Drink a glass of water; have two weet-bix with half a tablespoon of sugar and milk for breakfast; drink another glass of water.
- 10:00 am Piece of fruit and water.
- 12:00 pm Lunch being a sandwich with a slice of sandwich meat with salad-tomato, cucumber, lettuce, cheese. No margarine (If you want to make a change that you won’t notice, stop putting margarine on your sandwiches!). 2 glasses of water.
- 3:00 pm Piece of fruit and water.
- 6:00 pm Dinner with a piece of steak or chicken the size of the palm of your hand. Salad of tomato, cucumber, lettuce, cheese OR vegetables of beans or peas, carrot, broccoli and half a potato. This should all fit in the base of the plate. If you have big plates, use a sandwich plate! Several glasses of water. Dessert two squares of chocolate or a chocolate biscuit.
Hints and Tips
- The word ‘Diet’ these days is often used to describe a short term fad eating trend, as people have referred to what I have done as a “Water Diet”. Water is important, but only one part of the equation. So I avoid using this word and prefer to use the terms “eating habit”, “improved eating” or ‘lifestyle improvement’. It is the connotation of the word that can mislead you and the people you talk to as to what you are trying to do and achieve. Watch the below TED Talk by Sandra Aamodt: “Why dieting doesn’t usually work”.
- Have two glasses of water before your meal to help fill your stomach so you don’t feel so hungry.
- Eat to the point where there is still a little hunger but you are not hungry ie you can still fit a few more mouthfuls in. A sign of over eating is feeling full or bloated! You will soon find the point where you will feel satisfied in the amount you have eaten. This is what I had to do because I was eating too much and my point of satisfaction was over eating until I was bloated.
- I was raised to have a ‘clean plate’. That is you ate everything that was on your plate because you shouldn’t waste it, there were starving children in countries less fortunate then you! I had to get that out of my head. I also only bought and prepared enough food that I would eat, as salad is easy to do this with. You should see a change in your food bill as a result.
- Drink water throughout the day. Have a water bottle on hand at work. Staying hydrated reduces loss of concentration.
- Swap what you currently eat for things similar or less. I still have bread, but I only have one sandwich and not three. I still have dinners out, but I have the healthier option to the less healthy option, water instead of softdrink.
- Watch this Ted Talk on how sugar affects our mind and eating habits “How sugar affects the brain- Nicole Avena”.