"FEED YOURSELF WHAT YOU WOULD FEED YOUR BABY"
This is the best nutritional advice I have ever received. And, by following it over the last six months, I've lost two stone (over 12 kg) since Elliott was born...and counting.
And it's particularly relevant today in light of a report just published by the National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration, which calls for a “major overhaul” of current dietary guidelines.
But let's rewind a bit. Last autumn I wrote about my post-birth wobbly bits. There were lots of them. I'd reached the point where I didn't know what changes to make to get me where I wanted to be in terms of my health, fitness and weight. Elliott was over five months old but I looked five months pregnant. I was still wearing maternity clothes, my joints ached and my knees strained, my wedding and engagement rings didn't even reach the halfway point of my ring finger and my weight had well and truly plateaued. I generally didn't feel too good about myself.
A few weeks after writing the post things still hadn't changed, so I took the plunge and approached a local nutritional coach for advice. It was the best £49 I've ever spent.
It would have been easy for me to have titled this blog post "how I lost weight by switching to full fat milk" but a) clickbait headlines annoy the hell out of me and b) this change is obviously just one part of it. But...it's totally true.
|June 2015 | May 2016 (gotta love a stripy dress)|
Kirsty, the coach, explained to me that your body needs fat, but it doesn't need sugar or any other chemicals which are present in processed foods, including those which have had the fat stripped out of them and replaced with rubbish. As long as the fat is coming from good, natural sources - and is balanced with plenty of vegetables and protein - you can pretty much eat as much of it as you want (with the all-important caveat that you should obviously only eat if you're truly hungry). No calorie counting, no fasting, no juices or other short-term weightloss fads which will leave you hungry and with unsustainable results. Just sensible planning, buying, portion control at mealtimes and ensuring you have "good" snacks to hand when the hunger strikes.
And this is completely in line with today's headlines.
Lots of people may recognise this approach as the paleo diet (which is based on the notion that we should only eat the types of foods presumed to have been consumed by early humans) and effectively that's what it is, though I prefer not to use the word "diet". Instead, I see my new way of eating as a sensible relationship with food which follows basic paleo principles, but without being completely obsessive about it.
Using this approach, I've completely cut out pasta (which is a huge deal given this was my go-to staple meal), got rid of most other gluten-based foods (after all, wheat and other grains weren't widely available until the 19th century), stopped eating my beloved (but nutritionless) breakfast cereals (I have porridge or Bircher muesli instead), dramatically reduced my sugar intake and, as previously mentioned, switched from low fat dairy products to their yummy - and more nutritious - full-fat equivalents. Milk chocolate is (mostly) out, but dark chocolate is very much in.
Eating out has taken on a new dimension. Previously I would naturally choose the creamiest, stodgiest option on the menu, ideally encrusted in pastry. But now I look for the gluten-free options and end up trying something completely new and different (and without the subsequent food coma).
Kirsty's advice really resonated with me, but my issue was finding the time, and inclination, for cooking and meal preparation, especially when I had a young child to feed as well. And that's when she uttered those monumental words: "feed yourself what you would feed your baby". Up until that point I'd only heard the opposite mantra - feed your baby from your own plate. But when your own plate is full of crap it quickly shines a light on how terrible your own diet is. So I switched my mindset and haven't looked back.
Over the months, and alongside one spinning class a week and lots of walking, I've lost a pound or two a week - nothing dramatic but a steady and healthy decline. My clothes gradually got looser, my knees stopped aching and, eventually, I could get my wedding ring back on again. But, more importantly than what the scales show, I feel great. I've got loads more energy, I feel strong and I have a new-found respect for my body and its ever-present wobbly bits.
Today's report into dietary guidelines is long overdue. But sadly it's not been warmly received by everyone. Crucially, though, when you look closely at where the dissenting voices originate from, you'll eventually see that that many of them, one way or another, have links with food manufacturers (just one example here), who are producing the very types of food that we should all actually be avoiding. Sadly it will probably take years and years for official guidelines to change. But I, for one, will definitely be proudly sticking to those milk bottles with the blue lids. After all, we don't give our babies semi-skimmed milk, do we?