Thursday, 10 June 2010

So what do you eat?

I get this question a lot, I mean at least once a day. It doesn't take long to work out that my eating habits aren't the norm. My work colleagues, bless them, know and understand why I have a "second lunch" at 3pm.

Since November last year I was determined to get healthy and feel better about myself, especially with the impending nuptials in a few months time. So, I started going to the gym. This soon led to analysing and completely redesigning my diet. I stopped having sugar in my tea and coffee, eventually I'd cut coffee out almost completely and only have one or two cups of black tea a day. I started eating 5 - 6 meals a day to give my metabolism a boost and keep my blood sugars regular. I eat more raw fruit, veg and wholegrains than I ever did (for me this was one of the bigger achievements, since I never touched fruit as a kid and salad? FORGET IT!).

To support my body, since the gym sessions turned into 3, then 4 and before I knew it I was going 5 - 6 days a week, I do take supplements and protein in the form of either shakes or bars (but strictly only after workouts) to help repair and maintain the muscle. My calorie intake is quite low compared to average (but quite normal and safe for someone of my height), so I have to be very, very careful with food choices.

So here's the breakdown of an average day:

Meal One: Usually porridge made with water, with fresh fruit, some nuts and a little honey. Though I have experimented and made rice porridges, semolina and polenta for breakfast. If I do have toast, it'll be a seeded wholegrain bread topped with things like ricotta and peaches.


Meal Two: A protein bar or protein shake, and I'll eat some fruit with a cup of tea when I get to the office.

Meal Three: Lunch will always have a complex carb added to it to keep me going the rest of the day, for example, yesterdays lunch was sushi and rice, today it's wholemeal pitta, ham, tomatoes and goats cheese, tomorrow is bulgar wheat with ricotta, chicken and broadbeans.

Meal Four: Usually steamed veg or a salad with some chicken, or I'll have fruit and a raw chocolate bar (such as the Nakd bars) as a treat, though I usually have yoghurt and some carrot sticks with low fat hummus. Depends my mood.

Meal Five: Something snacky like a handful of blueberries, a few nuts or some crudites.

Meal Six: I avoid complex carbs in the evening since my body does not need the energy before I go to bed, so to wind down I'll have a herbal tea (fresh mint or chamomile) and dinner will consist of veg and meat in some form (more often lately I omit the meat, but The Tallest will grump about it). E.g. an vegetable and fish curry (made with a little oil and tomato based), or a clear broth with loads of veg and free range chicken, or the summer favourite, griddled lamb steaks with harissa rub, courgettes, peppers and aubergine.

I've found eating this way had helped a lot, I don't have sugar crashes any more, I wake up feeling much better without any bloating from cutting out complex carbs in the evening, my complexion has improved. I'm slowly moving towards cooking methods that are as quick as possible, especially when it comes to vegetables to make sure as little of the nutrients as possible are damaged.

Mind you, I still will make a roast from time to time, and stews are fantastic, as they're usually packed full of veg (great way for sneaking in vegetables for kids to eat since they won't see them as easily). Though I've laid off the cakes and biscuits almost entirely but will very occasionally make low-far bran muffins (fantastic for breakfast too, with a bit of ham and soft white cheese, yum).

And with that, I'm off to the gym.

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