I think food diaries are a brilliant idea. Firstly, if you keep one, and I mean honestly keep one and don’t leave out that chocolate biscuit you had with your tea because it “doesn’t really count”, they can be a big wake up call. Usually people find that they actually eat a lot more food than they thought they did or they realise that they don’t eat nearly as much fruit and vegetables as they think they do. When you sit down at the end of the day and see it written down, or in a picture collage as I like to do (my blog actually started as a food diary on Instagram), you might get the wake up call you need to change your diet and lifestlye.
Another good thing about food diaries is that when you know you’re going to start one you automatically start to eat healthier anyway to make it look better. So with that in mind, this week I decided to do a food diary for a blog post. Immediately I went out and stocked up on a few healthy kitchen staples, went about prepping some meals and actually tried to make a big effort for the full week. Even though I generally eat pretty healthy most of the time, there are weeks where I lack motivation and I need a bit of a kickstart so a food diary is a great idea.
I love breakfast, whether it’s porridge, overnight oats, eggs or yoghurt. This week I had some overnight oats with chia seeds, some Greek yoghurt with fruit and flaxseed, smoked salmon and scrambled egg on rye bread and a new overnight oats flavour I’m experimenting with – matcha.
11 o’clock break:
Sometimes I’ll be hungry at 11 and have a snack, other times I just won’t be so would just have a tea or coffee. It depends on how I’m feeling but one of my favourite mid-morning snacks is Greek yoghurt mixed with some nuts and seeds (like the Wyldsson ProMix – I have the dark chocolate and cherry flavour here) and some fruit such as a peach.
I’m usually on the road at lunch time so I often pick up a salad in town (if you live in Galway City I love McCambridges salad bar, its become a constant feature on my snapstory! The salads are lovely and fresh and you can get your lunch for €3-€4 – think fruity quinoa salads, cous cous and mixed veg, rocket and beetroot, hardboiled eggs, tuna, chickpeas etc.). This week I decided to head home at lunch time to make my own. I cooked some sweet potato and a few chicken breasts with some onion, red pepper and orange segments on Monday night so had them ready in the fridge for some salads during the week.
One day I was in a rush so had a scrambled egg and some tinned mackerel on toasted rye bread (which I get in O’Hehirs Bakery). Makerel (and other oily fish) are a great source of Vitamin D – which is really important for bone health. In Ireland, due to our nothern latitude and miserable weather, many of us are deficient in Vitamin D as the main source is the sun. Currently recommended intakes are being revised to account for this so make sure you eat some oily fish during the week to keep your levels topped up, especially during Winter. It’s also a very good source of Omega 3 fatty acids (the good kind of fat) which plays a huge role in cardiovascular health.
On days I go to the gym I usually like to have something small to eat. I get home from work around 5.30pm and train at 7pm (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s) so I like to have something light that won’t make me feel sick but will still give me an energy boost (and doesn’t come in a radioactive looking powdered form with garish advertising, loaded with caffeine and marketed as a “pre-workout aid” – something about them just doesn’t seem right).
On Monday I made a smoothie in my nutribullet by blending a banana, a small teaspoon of almond butter (becuase when it comes to nut butters a heaped teaspoon could realistically be half the jar), a scoop of bran flakes (becuase extra fibre is always a good thing) and some almond milk.
On Wednesday I got stuck in town and didn’t have time to get home so picked up a banana and a brown scone in Dunnes for €1. A banana is 20c so if you ever need an “energy boost” don’t even think of using the excuse that a bar of chocolate or can of coke is the cheapest option!
Bananas are low in fat, a good source of fibre, provide a natural sugar boost and are a great source of potassium which is needed for muscle function – so perfect before a workout.
If you follow me on snapchat you’ll know that two of my favourite dinners are omelettes and stir-fries as they’re just so easy to make and you can pack in as many vegetables as you want. This week I made my Chorizo, Butterbean and Chickpea Stew (which I had again for lunch one of the days). I also made a really simple dinner of baked chicken breast with mashed sweet potato, broccoli and vegetables.
Another night I took out my spiralizer and made some courgette and carrot noodles. I added them to half a gel chicken stock cube dissolved in water with some sliced onion, ramiro pepper, frozen peas and corn and some pre-cooked chicken breast to make chicken zoodle soup which was delicious and a great way to get use out of your sprializer during Winter (I made enough for two).
I also had some bean and lentil stew in the freezer so heated that up. Freezing meals is a fantastic idea if you don’t like cooking every night or find yourself stuck for time in the evenings.
I find that some weeks I can happily avoid temptation and constant snacking while other weeks it’s a constant struggle and I’m just always hungry! A lot of it comes down to willpower (provided you’re getting enough energy and nutrients from your actual meals). On Sunday I made these dark chocolate matcha truffles and have hidden them away in the freezer so whenever I feel like I want something sweet I can just take one of these. Matcha powder (I got mine from Solaris Botanicals, a local company) is high in anti-oxidants, contains high levels of beta-carotene and provides a natural energy boost.
This may also have happened…my boyfriend and I love going to the cinema (and I’ll admit I’m usually pretty good and don’t get cinema food much – not because I don’t like it but purely because with the amount that we go I’d be verging on 90% of my blood being popcorn). We finally went to the luxury screen in the Eye Cinema (it’s basically just smaller with leather couch seats and more expensive) but we always said that when we went we’d enjoy it so we did! I think that once you eat healthily and are strict with your diet 80% of the time then other 20% of the time you can be a bit more relaxed and can afford to treat yourself. I also think it means more and you actually value your treats rather than them becoming a meaningless daily occurrence.
Life would be pretty boring if we never had any treats or cheats but then again Irish people are on track to becoming the fattest in Europe so I don’t think most of us have a problem treating ourselves! The harsh reality is that being healthy does take a bit of effort and willpower but it doesn’t have to be broccoli and plain chicken three times a day. The more varied and colourful your diet is the better. So head into the kitchen, figure out what you like and just experiment with food and flavours or, if that terrifies you then Google some recipes that you think sound nice and batch cook it. As you can see from my food diary I tend to experiment and try different things, mainly because I enjoy doing it.
For anyone who wants to try and change their diet and eat healthier then I’d definitely recommend keeping a food diary for a week or two – and be brutally honest! You don’t have to show it to anybody but even if you think that biscuit or few sweets or packet of crisps or can of coke “doesn’t really count” write it down because it all adds up and when you actually see it all written down in front of you at the end of the day you may surprise yourself to see how much processed foods and how little fresh, whole foods you actually do eat. If you’re not sure what you should be eating take a look at this guide from the Food Safety Authority Ireland website. With so much conflicting advice and information on the internet it’s hard to know what to believe or follow so this is a good guide!
I hope that some of you found this useful! Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram (@the_superfit_foodie), tweet me (@aisling_harris) or snapchat me (superfitfoodie) if you try out some of my recipes, I love seeing them!
Also if you want to join the closed Facebook Group I set up then just search for “Girls Gone Healthy” on Facebook and I’ll add you. It’s basically a place for people to share recipes, ideas, ask questions etc. and feel part of a community with a focus on being healthy and not just “getting skinny”.