Let’s get started with, I love having treats and on this blog I do like to share desserts and snacks that aren’t really very healthy. So how do I cut down my calorie intake while still enjoying these foods? Well it’s really quite simple, and it all starts with water.
I am not a health professional, this is an account of how I have found success in changing my relationship to food. Please consult your doctor before making large diet changes.
The first thing I changed to help me keep my calories under control was what I was drinking. I was in the habit of waking up, making myself a coffee and pouring hazelnut creamer into it. I would have a couple of theses during the day and that was quickly increasing how much sugar I was taking in. I was also guilty of enjoying ginger ale in the evening, which has an incredible amount of sugar as well. So I decided to make those beverages into the odd treat. One or two times a week I have a coffee, and sodas are only when we go out to the movies or the odd dinner. I now have my re-usable water bottle with me at all times. This has helped me avoid the calorie trap of “picking up a coffee for the drive” because I already have a beverage with me. I do get bored with just water all day, so I do add Mio when I start craving soda or coffee. This goes further than not having other beverages, I feel better throughout the day being well hydrated. Because I always have my water with me, I drink a lot more of it. I’ve found when I’m well hydrated, I don’t get as hungry, and I am more easily satisfied with a snack rather than a large meal.
The next thing I did to change my relationship with food was giving myself unrestricted access to it. That might seem counter intuitive, but I assure you it isn’t. Not even a year ago I could easily eat a large pizza all to myself, gobble down some chicken wings afterwards and then eat another equally large meal a few hours later. I didn’t feel very good after, but I had been eating this way for so long I don’t think I could recognize when my body was telling me to stop. Earlier this week I tried to eat a small pizza and had to hand off a slice because I simply couldn’t cram more food into my stomach. I should say, I didn’t just eat pizza, I ate a lot of poutine too! All joking aside, I had a very unhealthy relationship with my food, and I would nearly always chose to eat the fattier, saltier and sweeter options when available.
When we establish new routines for our bodies, they adjust, and I chose to gently move away from eating an absurd amount of food twice a day, to having snacks and small meals throughout the day. In the end, I eat considerably less, and because I keep fruit and nuts available all day, the foods I am eating are much less calorie dense and much more nutrient dense.
I keep a bowl of nuts on my desk, protein bars in an open bin on my kitchen counter and baby bell cheese is always available in my fridge. Instead of trying to stay away from food, trying to wait for the next meal, causing myself headaches and fatigue, I started snacking. While I’m at my desk I can snack on nuts and avoid pushing off my hunger until I feel like I’m starving and over eat. When I re-fill my water bottle, I have a little cheese. If I’m hungrier that day, I have a protein bar or make myself a little mango protein gelato. By the time dinner comes around, which is the only “meal” I eat daily, I still only have a small appetite. Nearly every night I can’t finish my dinner because I feel so full. I do think it is important to try to eat dinner though, because that is the meal of the day when I get meat based protein and vegetables.
Essentially, over time my body and I transitioned from grossly over eating to having nutrients and calories being introduced throughout the entire day.
Another big change I implemented in my household is the removal of bread. I found it was to easy for me to have toast with sugary jam for breakfast, grilled cheese dripping with butter for lunch and rolls with dinner. I recognized that my own self-control was weaker than my love for bread products, so I made the hard choice to make them unavailable to myself. This has kept me from reaching for a food I am prone to binge eating. My partner doesn’t avoid bread products, but to help me when he does bring bread products into the house, he only brings as much as he will have with his dinner.
The last big thing I do is accept when I am very hungry, and feed myself enough to satisfy my hunger. During mother natures monthly visit, my hunger spikes, so I reach for chicken and rice soup. It’s warm (internal heat treatment for cramps), low in sugar and sodium, and has less than 300 calories for an entire can prepared. I won’t lie to you and say I don’t crave ice cream and chicken strips during this time, but soup satisfies my cravings.
Now let’s get to those treats I love so much. As we’ve established, I do my best not to over eat and to keep my diet well balanced, so when there is a cookie in front of me I will enjoy that cookie. I may even have two. Treats are not found in my diet every day, but a couple times a week I will enjoy a small treat. That’s the key. A small treat.
This all being said, we are all human and sometimes we slip up. I beg you not to beat yourself up for eating a cupcake or enjoying pizza. Your body is the only one you have and as important as it is to make sure you are giving it good food, you also only have so many years to enjoy your life. One unhealthy meal won’t make you overweight, but consistently eating a harmful diet will. Enjoy in moderation and be kind to yourself.
If you have any tips or tricks you want to share with others on how to regulate their diets, lose weight or just feel healthier and full of energy, please leave them in the comments for everyone to enjoy!