First off I want to explain what I mean by the word ‘diet’. I used to hear the word ‘diet’ and wince. For me it meant cutting out foods I enjoyed, writing down everything I ate and worst of all, being hungry! That, to me, is a ‘fad diet’. Something that is short term, sometimes effective, but can be strayed from… and let’s face it, down right boring! Nowadays the word ‘diet’ to me comprises of all the food I eat and I try my best to maintain a well balanced one.
So, when I talk about choosing a diet that’s right for you I am talking in terms of the correct foods to eat according to your health needs… not just cutting back to lose weight. For example, I am deficient in Iron so I had to adjust my diet to include lots of leafy greens and other sources of Iron (Guinness included!). I would suggest going to your doctor and requesting a blood test to see if you are deficient in any areas. This would be a good start to help mould your diet to provide the maximum benefit. Also, have a good think about any foods that you eat and if they have a negative effect on your body. For example, sometimes (and I say sometimes because it’s not every time) when I eat a large portion of cheese I find the following day I can quite often become rather acquainted with my toilet. Just beautiful isn’t it?! I have become quite wary of dairy in general and try my best to avoid consuming large full fat amounts of it (cream is just the worst!). There are alternatives, so find one that you like and trial it for a couple of weeks. Before I got married my doctor diagnosed me with stress induced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and anything I came to eat would have me crippled in pain, especially at night, so I had to make a lot of changes to suit that phase, but now that has passed and I can eat a lot of those foods again without any problems.
Next, have a look at foods you currently eat where you can make healthier choices. For example, if you love pasta then make the switch from white to wholegrain. White pasta is processed and a lot of the nutrients get lost because of this. What’s the point in eating food if you’re not going to get the full benefit from it? Make the switch, and I’ll tell you, wholegrain pasta is MUCH tastier than white. That goes for rice too. Brown rice has a much nuttier flavour, and again, doesn’t suffer the consequences of processing like white rice. Basically, any grains you eat look out for the wholegrain version and already you have made one easy step to making your diet better for your health.
Be very wary of low fat options as they’re not always the healthier choice to make. A lot of them I find contain more salt to provide a better flavour and a lot more unnatural substances too. Always read your labels and compare to get the best choice. This also goes for drinks… coke being a big contender in the diet option category. Although diet coke contains less calories, the artificial sweetener that is added has many downsides and in some people it can trigger insulin and send your body into fat storage mode (which is already a BIG problem for us girls with PCOS, so don’t make it worse for yourself). Personally I don’t tend to drink fizzy drinks (apart from the odd local cider! Yes, I’m a West Country girl!) as it makes me bloated and I feel dehydrated quickly. The best form of liquid you can drink is water… water water and more water! What I have done also is widen my variety of hot drinks that I drink. I used to be a coffee and tea kind of girl, but to keep balance in my diet I introduced different types of tea and try my best to only drink one cup of each kind of hot drink a day.
Now, fruits and veggies. It’s really not that hard to make sure you eat your 5 a day… there are so many options, many of which are very versatile, so you shouldn’t get bored easily. HOT TIP: When making anything with onions, thinly slice some celery and add them in. They really pack out a good meal and have great nutritional benefits. I’m currently looking into getting on the smoothie bandwagon. In order to keep my Iron levels up (with an Iron packed smoothie) and to ensure I eat little but often (due to Insulin Resistance) I think that smoothies would be a great thing to introduce into my diet.
I wouldn’t recommend going ‘cold turkey’ with anything, unless your health needs require it, as in my experience this will only cause you to crave it. Look at this as a lifestyle change and your aim is to have a balanced diet. I believe it’s good for the mind to treat yourself every now and then, but if I deny myself something completely then I’m more likely to get to the point where I crack and binge on it. Using pizza as example… not the healthiest form of food, but instead of ordering in a big expensive pizza I now use my bread maker to whip up a wholewheat dough, then I can control what I put on top of it (especially the amount of cheese) and enjoy a freshly cooked slice of heaven rather than a semi-warm scrap of crap that has arrived on the back of a moped!
Ah ha! I know what you’re going to say… “but I don’t have time to make a pizza”. Now, I’m not very good at being critical, but YES you do. MAKE time for it. I plan… I plan my meals and I plan my day. It’s really not that hard to do. If I need to make a soup for dinner but I’m on a long shift for work, I’ll wake up 10 mins early to prepare the veggies in the morning. That way, when I get home I can just turn the hob on, blitz and serve. If I want to make a pizza then I’ll pop all the ingredients in the bread maker and set the timer so it’s done when I get home from work. A good investment is a slow cooker if you haven’t got one already… I love mine and Hubs makes some delicious healthy meals for us.
So, recapping then, the main points for choosing a diet that’s right for you (in my opinion) is to:
- Check if there are any areas you are deficient in and need a boost
- Test to see if there are any foods that react negatively to your body and remove
- Make healthier choices with the foods you currently eat, but be wary of low fat options
- Don’t go cold turkey, introduce changes slowly and treat yourself in moderation
- Plan ahead
Try to remain focused on your diet and don’t worry if you have a bad day… just pick yourself up and get back on it. DON’T wait until Monday, or the beginning of a new month, otherwise you’re falling into the trap of a fad diet and this is not what we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can do this! You are in control of what goes into your body… take time to build a healthy relationship with food and you’ll soon reap the benefits! It isn’t easy making a change, it took me a little while to adjust, but now I do it without thinking and it’s become natural part of my life to eat healthily.
Best of luck with the changes you’re making, and if you need to, call on friends and family for support.
Stay healthy, happy and focused…
xx Gem xx