The Andy Files – Improve your Food

Andy and Iain Dubai 2

I recently shared my blog with my brother and he set me the challenge of how I can to help him with simple fitness and eating habits with the aim of losing one stone. In this post, I am going to talk about improving your diet.

If you have missed the previous two posts of The Andy Files you can find them here and here.

One of the quotes I keep coming back to is –

“You can’t out train a bad diet”

I am sure you can have a good go, and make some fitness gains, but it would be like cycling uphill with the brakes on. Or to put it another way – you wouldn’t put regular unleaded in a Ferrari.

Another valuable quote to bear in mind is –

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” – The Omnivore’s Dilemma

For about 9 months, I’ve been eating a vegetarian diet of whole foods during the week. It’s really made a difference. I’ve felt much better. I just don’t feel as full and can move after finishing dinner and don’t just slump on the sofa and feel sleepy. Meat has become less important. A couple of years ago I never thought this would be the case.

I still like “bad” food and still have those cravings. I love pizza night, but don’t love the consequences of pizza night! What I love is getting up early on Saturday and gunning for my parkrun PB.

I know that Andy loves meat and he is very unlikely to go full vegetarian. But he could eat 2 vegetarian meals a week!

Here are some ideas on how you can improve your diet –

Eat more Vegetables
Eat your greens!
Eat your greens!

If you are looking to improve your diet, this really is the way to go. Try and take a 2 or 3 or 4 or even a 5 day challenge to make and eat vegetarian meals in a week. Reduce the amount of meat at mealtimes and lunch times. Try a vegetarian version of your favourite dish.

Make your meals from scratch

This is the best way you can really control what goes into your diet. It does take more time, but it is worth it. You get very conditioned to eating the same thing week after week. You do have to try and think. Search the BBC Food website, read a couple of those dozens of cookbooks that you have sitting on the shelf. The more you do it the easier it gets. Just start with the first 5 days. Think about recipes where you will have leftovers that you can use for lunch the next day.

Make a food plan for the week

This goes together with the idea above. Do this before you go shopping and only buy the ingredients you need to make those meals and lunches. Stick to the plan, don’t go into the supermarket and change the plan.

Try internet food shopping

This could save you time if you’re indecisive (that is where the meal plan comes in). It also stops you from impulse buying processed food purchases as you walk up and down the aisles. If you’ve not tried it, there are plenty of supermarkets offering money off your first orders.

Get rid of the junk food/processed food at home

If you are really serious, this shouldn’t really be difficult. If you’re bothered about throwing it way, give it to a food bank.

Eat breakfast

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It really is important. It stops you snacking and stops you getting really hungry and then sneaking out to McDonalds at lunch. If you don’t have time to eat it at home in the morning, make it the night before. Take it with you to work. Eat it on the train. Try the Muesli/oats etc recipe. If you really are stuck, take a green smoothie to work with you.

Snacking

If you do feel like you need a snack, eats a handful of nuts. Not, the dry roasted variety! Whole nuts. They have been linked to lowering cholesterol, better heart health, weight control, and even a lower cancer risk. The high protein content keeps you fuller and helps curb hunger. Try and ditch the chocolate and eat a piece of fruit.

Take your own lunch to work

Have you read the back of a pre-packed sandwich recently? There are a lot of ingredients in them. Would you prefer to know whats  gone into what you are eating? Take leftovers from the previous evening. Make homemade soup. Include lunch in your food plan. You do need to be a little inventive, but once you have done it for a while it will become second nature.

Plant a herb garden

It’s really useful to have different herbs sitting outside your back door. This is especially useful with vegetarian food that tends to use a lot of herbs. You can even use a window box or a window sill.

Kids Disclaimer – I am guessing that all this is going to be hard with kids. They’ll not want to eat all the vegetables. I don’t have kids, so I don’t really have the answer to this. Is there a way you can get then involved / interested in your goal? Explain why you are doing what you are doing. Can you involve them in making food? Can you explain and educate them about vegetables?

Drink

I have previously written a post about the benefits of drinking more water.

There are conflicting studies (as with anything found on the internet) about the benefits of drinking more water and weight loss but the consensus seems to be positive. So drink more water!

It’s calorie free and is essential to maintain all normal body functions. Even if it doesn’t help weight loss, you’ll generally feel a lot better. So drink more water!

Reduce alcohol intake

Drinking alcohol is empty calories. Drinking alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy.

Alcoholic drinks are highly calorific. You can easily undo the good work of eating an improved diet.

  • A 175mm glass of wine = 160 calories (the equivalent of a slice of Madeira cake)
  • A 250mm glass of wine = 228 calories (the equivalent of a ice cream)
  • A pint of 4 % lager = 197 calories (the equivalent of a slice of pizza)
  • A bottle of 13% wine between 2 people is 340 calories each (the equivalent of a chocolate croissant each)

It makes you lethargic, it makes you tired and you’re prone to crave carbs and bad food in general, leading to further calorie intake.

For more information on calories in alcohol and how to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink visit the Drinkaware website.

So try improving your diet. Give it a try. Just a few days. See how it goes. Try and get a streak going!

Let me know how it goes!

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