I like to think that I wear the trousers in our household, but when it comes to cooking Simon – the food loving husband – definitely wears the (frilly) apron. He’s a bit of a gourmet.So when I decided to change my eating habits my first job was to convince him to change his cooking habits. There was no way he was going to get on board with this new idea if the meals were going to be boring and bland. He’s fussy at the best of times & refuses to eat the same meal in the same week. Thankfully though he loves a challenge and once I’d laid down the culinary gauntlet he was away like a bloodhound on a good scent and relished the idea of making healthy food taste really delicious.
Its not rocket science knowing what is right and wrong in terms of food choices – but its an entirely different ball game trying to put theory in to practice, especially in a way that is going to be truly sustainable. Let’s face it, the run up to Christmas is one of the hardest times in the year to stick to a healthy eating pattern so here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Step one: Banish the bad stuff until Christmas Eve
I know that Christmas isn’t that far away now, but its important to get yourself into the right mind set. So go on, have one last binge – gorge yourself on those leftover pies, that hunk of chocolate cake and that last packet of Hobnobs. Or bin it, take it to the food bank, whatever, but just make sure the kitchen is free of all the obviously unhealthy processed food and indulgent goodies – that gorgeous ice cream, the sweets and crisps and don’t forget that that luxury variety box of chocolate biscuits left from your granny.
Step two: Eat more protein.
Macros – or macronutrients to give them their grown up name – are in every food we eat. There are three types – protein, carbs and fats. Eating more protein based foods will keep you fuller for longer, meaning that you won’t feel the need to snack and pick throughout the day which means over all you consume less calories. In order to achieve this most of us need to flick a switch in the way we think and prepare our food; protein based foods now need to make up the bulk of every meal rather than carbs which is the norm in this country. You still need to add in a moderate amount of slow releasing carbohydrates like sweet potato or brown rice to each meal because carbs provide you will energy. You also need to consume a little fat in the form of nuts, avocados and virgin olive oil which you need for good health.
Protein should make up 45% of your total food intake for the day, carbs 35% and fats 25%.
So when you next go shopping, make sure you take a shopping list (or create a new online shopping trolley) and stock up on the following foods. Be really disciplined about what you put in your basket. We’ve started to shop at Lidl and love it – they do a great variety of fruit and veg and the meat available is fantastic.
Chicken & turkey, lean beef and pork, fish, prawns, eggs, protein rich yoghurts, cottage cheese, nuts & plenty of Top Herd jerky & skinny salamis!
Fibrous Vegetables of all kinds like broccoli, cabbage and kale. Sweet potatoes, wholegrain bread, brown rice & pasta, tinned beans & pulses (like lentils, chick peas, butter beans) quinoa, porridge oats, whole fruit.
All nuts & seeds, avocado, olives, peanut butter, cooking oils – olive, canola, macadamia & coconut oil, and oily fish like mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon, trout, anchovies are also brilliant.
Step Three – Know what you’re eating
Have you got a selective memory? Do you “choose” to forget the half a bottle of wine you have each evening? Or do you sometimes slip a sneaky Snickers bar into your shopping basket? Go on admit it. We’ve been there too. OK, once in a while it’s fine, but if you are going to do this every day in the run up to Christmas, the calories will begin to add up and knowing the real calorific impact of alcohol, and the odd chocolate bar is really scary.
If you think about it our grandparents ate a lot less than we do now. Our general sense of portion control is…well frankly, out of control. We’re just pigs. We need to get back to eating sensible amounts. This is why tracking (weighing) the food you eat and drink is really helpful as there is no better way to gain a clear picture of how much you are eating. The easiest and by far the most fun way of tracking your food is to use a fitness app. We use MyFitnessPal pal but there are lots of others on the market.
Step 4 – Plan your meals & snacks
We’re not the most organised of families but we found that roughly planning our meals for the week was a great help. It means you buy the right foods, in the right amounts and you waste less.
But if you are struggling, start with one meal at a time – breakfast first. Breakfast should be your first high protein healthy meal of the day. Try things like boiled eggs or scrambled egg with spinach and a slice of brown toast. Once you’ve nailed your breakfast, think about how you improve your lunch and supper. Take it at your own pace.
If you’re great at bunging a few things together last minute, then you’re lucky and eating like this will come quite naturally.
Snacks have always been pretty important in our house. We’re often out and about, so we need to make sure we have plenty of protein to keep us going throughout the day. Nuts, Top Herd jerky & Salami Sticks are all good choices!
Step 5 – Create delicious, tasty but healthy food from scratch
The food loving husband has a ball in the kitchen, creating all sorts of quick and tasty delicious healthy recipes. I’m also getting better at cooking so if I can do it, so can you! We’ve got some recipes on our website, but if you’re feeling all at sea, and need some further inspiration, check out some of these other websites and books. They’re great and will get your creative juices flowing.
Jo Wicks #Leanin15, Hemsley & Hemsley “The Art of Eating Well” , Jamie Oliver, Yotam Ottolenghi (our hero), Ching-He Huang (healthy Chinese cooking), or the BBC Good Food Website are all good places to start.
Step 7 – Exercise won’t make up for a bad diet
Exercise is really important, because it makes you feel great while also burning calories and getting your heart rate pumping. However, if time is an issue with the run up to Christmas, its more important that you spend time preparing healthy meals, than spending a wasted hour on the treadmill only to come home and eat crap! You can still burn calories and keep your metabolism pumped by doing the things you already do like walking the dog, whizzing around the house with a hoover, or clearing up the dead leaves in the garden.
Step 8 – Practice the 80/20 rule
Now remember, life is for living, not dieting, and Christmas is the time of year when its almost impossible not to indulge in a few mince pies and glasses of mulled wine. Here at Top Herd Towers we practice the 80/20 rule, which means that for 80% of the time we are good and stick to the rules above, but for the rest of the time we like to let our hair down and enjoy a piece of cake, a mince pie and a glass of wine or three. The trick is to not to start the festive eating and drinking too early and be aware of what you are eating and how much you are eating i.e.: you don’t need to go mad.
So that’s not too complicated is it? And if we can do it, I’m sure you can too.
If you want to try and buy some of our high protein, Top Herd Jerky and Skinny Salami’s why not head over to our website http://www.topherd.co.uk and check out our products and flavours. We won two Great Taste Awards earlier this year for our Tangy Tomato Beef Jerky and our Honey Mustard Pork Jerky. Our other flavours include Sweet Pickle Beef Jerky, Zesty Lemon Turkey Jerky, Chilli & Lime Turkey Jerky and Smokey BBQ Beef jerky. We also do two flavours of Skinny Salami’s (they are a bit like peperami but with out the fat and additives – kids love them) Tomato & Paprika and Chilli Pepper.
Please feel free to use this 20% discount code: Hannaeats
This new way of eating has done wonders for me but it’s also transformed Simon – he looks better, feels better, has lost a ton of weight, but thankfully is still wearing his apron, albeit a couple of sizes smaller. Mince pie anyone?
Happy Christmas to you all.
Love Philippa x