Sunday, February 9, 2014

My New Year: Eating

I know it's February, but it's not too late to to be turning over a new leaf, making lifestyle changes, and building habits that will make you healthier and happier in 2014. Today, I'm going to be sharing my eating plan for this new year, and will also touch on my fitness and exercise regime in an upcoming post.

I began my New Year's "diet" the day after Christmas. Since starting cosmetology school in September I had been careless about what I ate, and was often too busy or too stressed to make wise dietary choices. (And sometimes so tired or depressed that I just wanted to stuff my face with anything.) It was making me feel terrible physically and mentally, and after all the sugar and desserts I'd eaten leading up to the holidays, I finally decided it was enough. I binged on candy on Christmas day, woke up the next day with a sugar hangover, and made the change.

The "diet" I have developed over the past year is not so much a strict set of rules as a balanced, healthy-eating guide that is structured specifically for my body. Ever since I was little, lots of different foods have made me feel sick, and I have to watch carefully what I eat, and how much I eat of it.

This past summer (2013), my mum read The Plan, and together with her and some other family members, I gave their eating plan a shot.

The goal of The Plan is to discover what foods do and don't work for your body, to see how they affect your weight, and to achieve a healthy, balanced diet that is right for you. For example, not all "healthy" foods are healthy for everyone. Some foods can cause inflammation in certain individuals, resulting in higher numbers on the scale; other "healthy" foods can just make some people feel sick. For example, over years of eating and feeling ill, I've discovered that sweet potatoes, beans, and yogurt (all healthy eats) are "trigger" foods that make me sick to the pit of my stomach. Yikes.

And it's different for everyone. While on The Plan, I discovered that chips, crackers, and other bagged snacks made my weight go up significantly, and yet I could eat a bowl of ice cream and not see a difference on the scale. My sister, on the other hand, could eat crackers and chips without seeing as much of a difference. (We both went up whenever we had pizza. Life is tragic.) And then my mum reacted to things that didn't affect me or my sister. It's all about figuring out what works for you. (And just to clarify, according to The Plan, going up on the scale is often a sign of inflammation or improper digestion.)

Over the course of the 3 months that I closely followed The Plan last summer, I came up with eating guidelines that work well for me. So when starting up my New Year "diet," I just transitioned back to eating along those guidelines. I'll outline them here for you, just as an example. Obviously, what your body needs may be very different.

My main diet consists of fruit, vegetables, eggs, and meat. I avoid "trigger foods," and minimize (but don't eliminate completely - it's about a balance) things that affect my weight (aforementioned chips and crackers, junk food, sweets, or too many heavy grains).

My go-to breakfasts are eggs (with goat or cheddar cheese... it's a good "brain food" combo), healthy cereals or granolas with rice or almond milk, goat yogurt and honey (sometimes with fresh fruit), and shakes (frozen fruit, goat yogurt, rice milk, honey, and protein powders or other supplements added in).

I bring lunch to school, so it's usually a salad (piled with all my favorite things: goat cheese, avocado, and dried cranberries), a whole wheat wrap (chicken salad, avocado, tomato, lettuce, goat cheese, yum), or something else simple and healthy.

I try to mainly eat fruit for snacks... an apple or a banana is my favorite (with some honey if I have a sweet tooth). This can be challenging. It's so easy to reach for a box of graham crackers when I'm in a rush!

For supper I usually try and eat whatever my family is eating, unless it's something that I know will adversely affect me. Often we'll have salad, soup, or an organic pasta, and I'm usually fine with eating any of the above, in moderation. Once again, it's all about the balance, and making healthy choices without depriving myself.

We don't have dessert very frequently, and when we do I try to exercise restraint. If there is more than one option, I try to choose the healthier one, or consider what I am taking, instead of mindlessly heaping my dessert plate, while thinking "sugar!" Of course, there's been a lot of discussion over recent years about the health benefits of chocolate. Yay for me.

I've outlined the basics of my plan above not to brag about how well I eat (trust me, every day is a challenge, and I often slip up), but to hopefully provide some ideas or get you thinking about how you fuel your own body. Like I've said multiple times, you need to figure out what works for you, and take the time to turn it into a lifestyle, not just a sporadic diet. It's all about taking baby steps towards a long-term health plan. Anyone can do it.

Although I have not read it in its entirety (my mum is the research queen, and gave me most of the details I needed to know), I heartily recommend the principles laid out in The Plan, as well as the many delicious recipes it includes. While still challenging, I think the book outlines a simpler, easier way than most to get your eating on track and turn it into a daily pattern.

Please, share with me your own eating plan! What diets have you tried, how have they affected you, and what works? I want to hear your struggles and triumphs. It's a journey, and there is so much to learn!

Just a quick clarification... my eating plan is not about losing weight or starving myself. (I'm naturally slim, and for years I've received comments and snark whenever I start talking about watching what I eat.) It's about feeling good and being healthy, so that I have more energy, higher productivity, and a better attitude about myself and my life. :)

P.S. Here's a link to my "Healthy Foodies" board, where I've pinned lots of amazing recipes. I haven't tried them all myself, but they look so good, and hopefully will give you some ideas!

Image 1 - Pinterest, Image 2 - Pinterest


Anonymous said...

I have been trying to be good about making healthier meals. It is so easy to get home from work and just want to order pizza! lol But I have been good about planning out all of my meals. We are eating a lot better now.


BTW, I like your blog! : )

Amanda Flynn said...

Sarah - Pizza. I know. It's so easy and just always tastes so good. ;) Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Thomasmama said...

Great post, Amanda! I really enjoyed all the posts I read tonight. Really wonderful. ❤

Amanda Flynn said...

Thanks, Monica!

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