Six weeks ago I set out to take control of my eating and exercise habits. I love food, both the cooking and the consuming sides of that shiny coin, but I was not at all conscious of really how much I should be eating a day, or how much I actually was eating.
So I found myself a calorie-counting app and vowed not to become diet-mad. I set my goal low – to lose half a pound a week. That’s like 250g. Hardly anything. Why so low? Well, I read about healthy weight loss and found that slow and steady is better for you and also more likely to last. Plus, I’m breastfeeding, which, calorie-wise, is one of those hard-to-calculate things. I haven’t tried to guess how many calories worth of milk I give a day… but I’m starting to get a rough idea because I’ve been consistently losing a whole kilo a week.
I have learned/noticed a few things since starting this:
– I enjoy eating more, and feel guilty less, when I know what I’m eating is within my recommended daily calorie intake.
– Veggies are worth next to nothing and can be both filling and delicious (not news, but important nonetheless)
Sweet and Sour Prawn on noodles – not exactly a low-cal meal, but not bad. Half the normal portion of noodles and double the veggies and pineapple (fresh!) – satisfying and full of nutrients.
– Cheese is dangerous.
Each scone is over 200 calories. Ouch. But they do keep you going for ages.
High cal is not all bad…
– Flour is alarmingly calorific. I really shouldn’t bake unless I’m having guests who will help with the eating.
There’s only 1 cup of flour in this recipe, “Spring Onion Pancake,” one of my favourite Chinese side-dishes. 1 cup of flour… a whopping 450 calories. Probably best to make this when there are more than two people eating it.
Spring onion pancake, ready to fry. (And that empty honey jar is my rolling pin – ca marche.)
– My temptation time is in the late afternoon. (Step away from the patisserie.)
– Cucumber can be filling if you eat enough of it.
– Tiredness makes me more likely to snack.
– If I mix high-cal favourites with vegetables then it feels like I get more of the high-cal stuff than I actually do.
I put a whopping fat layer of mushrooms and courgettes underneath the ‘tartiflette’ (potatoes, cheese sauce and bacon… a French calorific nightmare of deliciousness). I then put sliced tomatoes on top.
And parmesan. Oops.
– Being productive and busy (in a good way) keeps me from getting hungry.
This is the kind of productivity I like.
– Fruit salad is fantastic.
– If I chop flavourful high-fat food (feta or blue cheese, salami, bacon…) into tiny pieces then they seem to go further. This works when mixing things together or when eating something on its own. I found this delish chocolate at the market and all the pieces are wafer thin. I can have three squares and feel like I’m indulging, without blowing the calorie-bank.
I’m as impatient as anyone, but I like the idea that a year from now I’ll be trimmer than ever. Despite what the media would have you believe, not everyone needs to lose weight, but I do. I have been overweight since I was a teenager. Except for a brief period just before and after my wedding (not thanks to a diet, but because of can’t-eat-can’t-sleep-in-love-ness) I have carried around about ten or twenty excess kilos, as far as all the healthy-weight diagrams would say.
I know myself. I know that I won’t be able to resist pain au chocolat forever, or for a week in fact. And, hurrah! I don’t have to. I just can’t have loads of cheese on my sandwich on the same day. I live in France, lucky me, and those baguettes are just incredible. I didn’t know what a baguette was supposed to be like before we got here. There’s no turning back. And that’s okay, so long as I don’t put too much butter on it. And if I can avoid eating it just before bed with hunks of blue cheese, so much the better.
My favourite weekday breakfast – 1/3 of a baguette with butter, half with dark choc sprinkles (of the dutch variety – ‘hagelslag’), and coffee. [Sighs happily] Only 328 Calories.
I get 2050 calories a day on my current regime. There’s plenty of room in that for a treat or two, so long as I don’t go overboard. I’ve been taking a ‘day off’ each week, where I don’t count basically. I don’t scoff whole bags of salt and vinegar chips (no matter how sorely tempted) but it saves me from doing maths at restaurants or when visiting friends. If someone serves me up a whole meal of cheese, I’m not going to say no.
I’ve barely mentioned exercise… perhaps that’s telling. I walk lots, in a normal week, and I’m hoping that will only increase. But this week has not been a normal one – Louis has had a horrible cough and cold so I’ve been keeping him inside. The weather’s been ick and unappealing, and on top of that I’ve been getting hardly any sleep (between Elena feeding all over the show and Louis waking up coughing)… but I’m snacking on grapes and apple and managed to keep it to just one blue-cheese-blow-out.
Tonight for dinner: burritos! I’ll pick up the last couple of ingredients before I pick up Louis from nursery. Assuming of course that Elena doesn’t chew my finger off. Then it’ll be take aways.