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The ‘sad step’ – does The Body Coach have a point?

Last week I boasted about my 4.5lb weight loss. After that post (and in the days that followed) I overindulged and didn’t listen to any of my own advice when it comes to losing weight healthily and eating well. It’s an old habit of mine to have a ‘good’ week, followed by a ‘bad’ week. I seem to get complacent after I lose any weight and think that I don’t have to put in the same amount of effort I had done in the first place to lose it. Plus, my daughter has not been sleeping well at all which means I haven’t been either, and when I’m tired I don’t tend to make the best decisions. Although I was surrounded by healthy foods, I still managed to seek out items that were ultimately going to lead to a gain. With all of that in mind it’s no surprise that I put on most of what I lost last week (3lbs to be exact). I’m so annoyed with myself and embarrassed as to why I didn’t continue to eat well (especially as I’m now confessing what happened).

Strangely, in the week that I put on the most I have done in a while, it’s the same week that I’ve received the most compliments for looking slimmer.

My lovely husband bought me a little present the other day – Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 The Shape Plan book. I have his first book and love his recipes (and his HIIT workouts on YouTube), so I was chuffed that he had picked me up a copy which I’ve been meaning to buy for ages. I love reading about nutrition and Joe gives a little overview at the start of the book, on things like eating good fats, fuelling your body correctly and lots more. I  often feel conflicted on a lot of the points mentioned as it makes complete sense on paper, but anytime I’ve gone ‘full fat’ with yogurts, or milk for example, I’ve never lost weight or dropped a dress size. Yet, so many people have had huge excess following The Body Coach’s philosophy (not that it’s just about yogurts!).

Interestingly, he refers to bathroom scales as the ‘sad step’ and instead encourages people to take photos of themselves as they change their eating habits and exercise regimes. This week I’m definitely guilty of letting that number on the ‘sad step’ get me down about my weight loss, even though I know I’ve already shifted a lot of my excess fat and I’m getting closer to my various weight loss goals (despite minor setbacks).

It’s all got me thinking… Do I need to change my way of thinking towards healthy foods and how I measure success? Should I incorporate more of Joe’s philosophy into my everyday eating and the way in which I follow the Weight Watchers plan – which I do love, especially as I’ve always felt that it’s the portion sizes that I need guidance with and that’s what SmartPoints does for me (plus it’s the only thing so far that has ever worked).

What do you think? Are there any benefits to eating 0% fat yogurt and drinking skimmed milk? Are bathroom scales a ‘sad step’ or a ‘step of success’? Are lots of us stuck in an old way of thinking when it comes to healthy eating and weight loss?

On that note, I’m off to buy an avocado to up my intake of good fats.

3 ways I beat my weight loss plateau

Once a week I record my weight. For me, this is concrete evidence that I’m eating well and moving around enough to shift the weight I put on during pregnancy. Although dropping a dress size and feeling more confident are incredible weight loss success measures too, I do feel a little frustrated if the number on the scales doesn’t budge after a week’s worth of healthy eating and exercise.

A few weeks ago I realised I had stayed the same weight for 4 weeks in a row. “What a waste of time” I thought. In an attempt to start new and healthy habits, I refrained from self-wallowing in chocolate and decided to look at what I had been eating and how much exercise I had actually done. In hindsight, I had overindulged on chocolate and prosecco. Also, I hadn’t managed to think about my day or week ahead and plan what kind of foods I could eat and when. I’ve always found that having a loose plan of a menu for the day and making sure I’m surrounded by healthy foods always keeps me on track.  From that exercise, here’s what I did and the good news is, after a week of following my refreshed approach to weight loss I shifted 4.5lbs – and that included several meals out too!

Tips to get your weight loss back on track:

1. Own up to facts
I had to really question how healthy I thought I had been over the last few weeks. Having looked at the foods I was eating, it was quite obvious that old habits had crept in and I was overindulging at every meal. I really do believe you can enjoy everything you like when wanting to lose weight, but large portion sizes, alcohol and sweet treats have always been my downfall and it’s something I need to keep an eye on. So, I faced the facts and stopped being in denial about how healthy I had convinced myself I had been.

2. Advanced tracking
So, I use the Weight Watchers app every single day. I record what I eat and when. Usually, I record it as I’m eating it or on a few occasions (and which I wouldn’t recommend) after I’ve finished! This has sometimes backfired as I thought foods were lower SmartPoints than they were! Having spoken to my leader about my weight staying the same, she suggested I track my foods in advance. This means adding everything you’re going to eat for the day or the next day in advance. It sounds simple but it’s made such a difference. I used to roughly guess how many SmartPoints I’d eat, but it was never as accurate as actually tracking the foods in advance. This way, I know for sure that I can stay within my allowance and – this may be a huge sign of still having a baby brain – I’ve actually forgotten on several occasions treats I’ve scheduled into my day. This is especially exciting at the end of the day when I thought I’ve been out of SmartPoints but I’ve already allocated a little Weight Watchers chocolate to enjoy! Yum! I should also add that I had soup whenever I felt that I needed more than just a piece of fruit or veg to keep hunger at bay. Check out my lazy veg soup recipe here.

3. Keep exercising
Exercise makes me feel tons better and I’m sure that if I hadn’t kept up my running, spinning, Joe Wicks videos and walking, I would have gained weight instead of staying the same. So, I vowed to myself to keep up the exercise and I booked in sessions in my diary so that I was more likely to stick to it.

I hope these tips can help anyone who has stumbled across this page. Leave any tips you have in the comments below!

Snacking on soup & a lazy veg soup recipe

I’ve found a way to sneak another meal into my day and that meal is soup! I’ve never been so excited by soup before, but stay with me while I explain.

I’ve been trying to think of new snacks I can enjoy late afternoon that are filling but not too heavy, as dinner is just around the corner – and no, I can’t wait till dinner! My Weight Watchers allowance is very precious and every point counts, so I’m keen to ‘spend’ only 2 or so SmartPoints on a snack at this time. With the weather being a little cooler I suddenly felt the urge for something warm and cosy, and then I remembered people make soup – and I could make soup with all the 0 SmartPoints veg I have. So that’s what I did.

Before I continue, you should know that I’m a lazy cook and a huge fan of recipes that are super quick, or can be left in an oven with very little attention required (so that I can do other things) .

I have found a very speedy (lazy) way to make a delicious soup out of any veg – ok, maybe not any veg but the ones I’ve tried have turned out to be pretty tasty. You simply need to cook your chosen veg and blend it untill smooth (or nearly smooth) with a can of tinned tomatoes, then add it to a cooked onion, spices, and vegetable stock. Cooking the veg is the most time consuming part of this recipe and the rest of this method is quick – if it’s easier you could always cook the veg on a separate day or time to when you intend on having or making the soup…

Lazy Veggie Soup
Requires a blender…

Ingredients

  • Any veg you have! I’ve made soup with carrots, courgettes and frozen chunks of butternut squash (you can buy packs of these – butternut squash is so hard to cut!)
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs (optional and you can use any you like – I’ve made soup with sage, mixed herbs and oregano of separate occasions)
  • Spices (also optional – a little curry powder or cayenne pepper gives this soup a nice kick)
  • Onion
  • Vegetable stock (I use a low salt vegetable stock cube with water)

Method

  • Roast, boil or steam your veg – however you like, just cook it and leave it to cool a little before blending.
    – If you roast your veg add in a chopped onion at the same time.
    – If you cook your veg in another way, you’ll need to fry up some diced onion.
  • While you’re veg is cooking make say 400-600ml of vegetable stock (this depends on how thick you like your soup and how much you want to make).
  • In a blender, mixed together your tinned tomatoes and veg (and roasted onion if you went down that route)
  • If you don’t roast an onion, fry a diced onion in a large pan then…
  • Add the blended mixture to your large big pan with your vegetable stock, spices, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then simmer for a few minutes… Or you can mix it altogether and heat in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy your soup (I did warn you I was lazy).

This makes a decent amount of soup if you wish to share it with everyone in your household or keep some in the fridge or freezer to enjoy on other days – speaking of which – I was recently given a tip that you can use those 1/2 pint milk cartons as soup containers in the freezer too! Just don’t pop it in the microwave – if you pull it out in the morning, it should be defrosted by late afternoon/evening. I really hope this recipe is easy for you to follow and you enjoy making this lazy soup!

As always, apologies to proper cooks out there!

Diet Dad: Life with a dieter

It’s proven that dieters with family support are more likely to succeed. But what if your other half isn’t on a diet? Below are some tips from my husband, aka Diet Dad, on how to stay supportive of your partner while not getting hangry about the lack of food!

To start with – I could probably do with losing a few pounds. So supporting my wife with her weight loss certainly benefits me. But I’ve never pointed (if you’re a Weight Watcher) anything in my life and believe a bit more in the motto that provided I do an hour or two of exercise per week and don’t binge eat chocolate and take-aways then I’m doing ok. So I’m very much a part time dieter. I generally only eat one meal a day at home – I leave for work at the crack of dawn and often return just in time for bath and bedtime of our daughter. So there’s an entire day where I can go wrong (or right) in my food choices.

I’ve come to expect that my evening meal will be a healthy and probably a low calorie one – and plan my day accordingly. I suggest that anyone that is supporting their partner does the same. I normally start my daily food fix somewhere near Paddington station with a large white Americano: I switched from Lattes in January and did notice a difference. After visiting coffee shops with my wife I know the real dieter would order a skinny white Americano, but it’s too much for me to do – it’s like going up to the bar and asking for tap water! So whole milk is fine. If I have been to the gym I buy porridge from Pret – but my wife’s food influence has led me to buy their Five Grain porridge (review to follow). What I really want to buy though is a pastry or croquet. But I don’t.

Lunch is key for a non-dieting eater that knows come the evening dinner will not be a pig out. Either with clients or colleagues I might have lunch out a couple of times each week. I’m happy to get a starter/sides then too: it’s my big meal of the day. If not eating out I’ll regularly buy a sandwich and maybe something like a protein pot, nuts or fairly often two sandwiches. I don’t feel guilty about this. I’m generally so busy at work that I don’t snack in the day. Food is fuel then I’m back to it.

In the evening after a big lunch I’m happy with the evening meal. If I do feel hungry still I often supplement with a few slices of bread (I have been known to make a weight watchers macaroni cheese sandwich! Double carbs). I also often eat Soreen loaf, nuts, yoghurt and fruit.

I resist buying chocolates and treats to share at home: mainly to support Diet Mum who has a sweeter tooth than me.

Weekends are more problematic – and as we go out less at the weekend these days now we have a baby I am partial to having a big evening meal on a Saturday and Sunday night. And making more of an event of these meals. We generally plan this in advance – so while I tend to be happy to graze all day over a weekend – Diet Mum can plan accordingly. What it means in practice is that often I have eaten the same as my wife all day, which means I can pig out more come dinner time.

And the good news: combined with doing more exercise at the gym I’ve lost close to a stone in weight. So it pays to be supportive.

Teething tired

Everything seems worse at night doesn’t it… and for my little girl her emerging teeth are a serious pain when the lights go out – for her, me and my husband.

She seems to have four coming through at the same time and whilst she’s a playful angel during the day, at night she’s a screaming mess and pulls at her gums, ears and hair. Drool soaks everything around her and she doesn’t seem to like lying down. Calpol, Nurofen, Dentinox, Bongela, teething sachets – I’m using them all!

I feel so awful for her being in pain and so awful that I can’t seem to help her feel comfortable. Plus, with the lack of sleep I’m starting to feel – and I know this will sound dramatic – emotional, depressed, unsure of myself, hopeless and a bad mother. Then I feel even worse because I start thinking how am I going to work and function on this little sleep, or have the energy to entertain her? Then I feel even worse because I start thinking about my weight loss and how I want keep up the exercise and have the energy to go for a run or to cook a healthy meal.

Anyone else talk like this to themselves and feel guilty for thinking about 101 other things whilst trying to comfort your baby?

My husband returned home from work the other day with a gorgeous bunch of flowers as a thank you for looking after our little one and handling the lack of sleep so well – his words, not mine. I was so shocked and touched that he thought to get me something – and having the tiredness acknowledged made feel tons better. I needed those flowers but I owe him a huge bunch too as he’s been up through the night as well, and heading off to work super early on top of no sleep. I also showed him this post before sharing it and completely left out that fact – I’m sorry, you do so much too!

That’s all…

A weight loss friendly peanut butter curry recipe – this is delicious!

I wanted to share a curry I’ve been making for a while that is absolutely delicious, full of healthy stuff and best of all does keep you feeling full! Warning: this recipe contains nuts (the clue is in the title, after-all).

Peanut Butter Curry
This little number is a popular West African curry and it was made a lot by my family when I was growing up – whether at my house, my auntie and uncles, or around family friends’ houses. Traditional West African or Caribbean curry recipes of this kind can include a few more spices, butters and oils than my version – which do taste great – but this version is super quick to make and (if you’re following Weight Watchers like myself) is lower in SmartPoints values than some versions of this curry.

Before I start – I apologise in advance to great cooks out there who may see this recipe and think “ahhh you’ve destroyed a beautiful dish you evil woman!” Recipe writing is also much harder than I’ve ever appreciated (shout out to all those I’ve worked with previously who have been responsible for writing top notch recipes). I’m a little nervous I’ve forgotten some key ingredients, as I’m so used to just chucking this curry together quickly after a long day.

I’ve included a rough guide of the quantities I use, but you can easily add more or less of everything and it will still work. For those on Weight Watchers, this recipe comes to around 8 SmartPoints values and is totally worth every single point – calculate the exact value of your version and track it too for weight loss success.

Be warned, this is moreish!

Peanut butter curry
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Pack of diced chicken
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Chopped onion
  • Crushed onion glove or 2
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (I use smooth)
  • Tablespoon of curry powder
  • Teaspoon or two of coriander
  • Teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional if you don’t like spice)
  • Coconut oil (or your usual cooking oil/oil sprayer)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Teaspoon of agave syrup, honey or brown sugar (I tend to use agave but this is also optional)

*If you want to add veg to this recipe, you could include peas, beans or sweet potato to this curry. Diced pepper or spinach just about works, but I like it plain or with beans and peas best.

* Serve with rice (I tend to have wholegrain in the cupboard, but it works great with whatever you usually eat or jollof rice).

Method

  • Fry the onions and garlic in your chosen oil
  • After a few minutes add the curry powder and coriander
  • Add the chicken and cook for 5 mins or so; or until you’ve browned all of the pieces – stir frequently
  • Add tinned tomatoes, peanut butter and cayenne pepper
  • Stir thoroughly, bring to boil then simmer for 15/20 mins or until the chicken is fully cooked
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Plate up with some rice and voila!

Enjoy and do post a comment below if you try this recipe and like it.

You can eat out and lose weight!

I love eating out and it always make me feel sad when people think you can’t eat out and follow a weight loss plan – you can! Below are a few tips I’ve found helpful when choosing what to eat, when eating out – and a lesson I’ve learnt the hard way!

Tips for eating out and losing weight

Go for lean meat or fish
These options will keep you feeling full and are generally lower in calories and SmartPoints (if you’re following Weight Watchers like me).

Say yes to veggies
Opting for a dish full of veggies will also help you to feel full, contribute to your 5-a-day and will lead you to feeling a little smug that you’ve ordered something healthy out!

Look at the menu before you go
You’re more likely to stick to a healthy choice if you make the decision in advance. That goes for how many courses you may like as well. I’ll often order a starter because other people are, but I’m never that fussed by starters and end up thinking why did I bother eating that? I’d much rather have a pudding!

Ask for sauce on the side
Sauces can be laden with a high number of calories or SmartPoints – ask for it on the side so that you can be in control of how little or much you smother your food in.

Go for a sorbet or share a pud
I love a pudding but out of all the choices on a menu, these are often the most troublesome for someone wanting to make healthy choices and lose weight. That said, most places will offer a lighter fruity option or sorbet. Or, simply share the pudding you want the most with a friend!

For Weight Watchers members
Check to see if the Weight Watchers app or Eat out book has the SmartPoints value of the dishes available at your chosen restaurant. Then track it! On too many occasions I’ve picked a meal, eaten it and then checked it’s SmartPoints values after. More often than not I’m shocked by what the meal has cost me and wished I had done my research before eating. On special occasions a high SmartsPoints meal doesn’t bother me too much, but sometimes I might be eating out 3 times in week and then I’ve already used up all weekly allowance on the first outing!

Black mum, white baby – I’m not the nanny

I was sitting in a cafe with my daughter when two ladies started talking to me. They were very friendly and explained how they were nannies and how many children they both looked after. It was a pleasant chit chat until I realised that they thought I was a nanny too and asked if I only looked after one child. I was mortified.

My dad is from Ghana and my mum is British – I am mixed race. My husband is white from Wales. We both have dark hair and a parent on each side with blonde hair and blue eyes (my mum and his dad). Our little girl has very blonde hair, very blue eyes and white skin.

I like to think I have a sense of humour, and I have giggled more than a few times about her blondness and bright blue eyes. Her colourings couldn’t be any more different from mine – aren’t genetics incredible? Of course, none of this matters to me. She is my gorgeous girl and I’m proud of my heritage.

However, when I’m mistaken for the nanny it deeply hurts. This is my little girl, no one else’s. I’ve brought her up and I’m so proud of her – I want people to know I’m responsible for this little cutie. Plus, I went through quite some pain to bring her into the world – so I want credit for it!

What’s even more astonishing to me is that people close to me say how my daughter looks exactly like me, just with fair features. So how someone else can’t see that we’re related still shocks me.

I’m not alone, since having my little one I’ve met so many mixed raced mums with white other halves whose babies are fair. It’s lovely to bump into these families and feel I’m not alone. I only hope that more people start to understand how it is possible for a black woman to have a white baby – and vice versa.

7 ways to stop stealing food from your baby

On far too many occasions I’ve found myself devouring food I’ve prepared especially for my daughter. If she’s too slow to gobble up a spoonful of food, it goes in my mouth. If she pauses for more than 10 seconds, it goes in my mouth; and if she turns her head just once, i’ll take that as a go ahead to eat everything left on her plate.

With that in mind I’ve pulled together a few tips for fellow baby-food-eating-parents like me who may also be on a weight loss journey and want to sort it out! These tips were compiled during a 15 minute window of feeling strong and in the persona of a mother who would never steal food from her baby’s mouth. Things later declined quite rapidly as you’ll find out but stay with me…

How to stop eating your baby’s food – 7 top tips!
(Aka a piggy’s guide on how to leave your baby’s food alone and let them eat!)

1. Prepare actual baby size portions
Don’t kid yourself by loading their plate up high and really thinking they will eat it all. You know that extra dollop has your name on it.

2. Eat your meals with your baby
If you feel as though you may be overeating at times, give yourself a separate plate and eat meals with your baby. That way you will be enjoying mealtimes together instead of feeling guilty about having the extra food you’ve consumed and literally stolen from your child’s mouth!

3. Add plenty of fruit and veg to your little ones dishes
That way it’ll never be that bad if you do finish their leftovers.

4. Save leftovers for another meal
Make life easy for yourself and keep those leftovers for another meal, like lunch the next day. Freeze it, don’t eat it!

5. Keep baby foods in a different cupboard
If you have specific items just for your baby, like Rusks (why are they so moreish), keep them in a separate cupboard from the ‘adult’ food, or in obvious baby Tupperware (I’ve got a few boxes with kittens on them!). For some reason this has helped me leave baby items alone for the majority of the day.

6. Opt for individually wrapped items
If you’re a cookie monster like me, it can also help to buy foods that are individually wrapped. You may have guessed that I find it very difficult to have Rusks in the house (poor child will never enjoy a full Rusk biscuit), however Ella’s Kitchen for example sell ‘grab me’ baby biscuits in a box and these are individually wrapped. I find it a lot less tempting to pick at these if I have to open a new packet to do so – although I have done this on a few occasions, but on those few occasions it tends to just be one biscuit instead of munching away the whole box!

Ironically when I got to number 5 in this list I found myself finishing off my daughter’s squished smoothie fruits pouch. After writing number 6 in the list I had one of the biggest binge eating episodes ever – what the hell! I’m sorry people, I promise that these tips do work but I guess number 7 in the list would be…

7. If all else fails, move on and don’t beat yourself up
You probably haven’t eaten that much – draw a line under it and start again. Eat healthy, enjoy meals with your baby, be a little more active and not only will you feel great, but if you do want to lose weight – this will happen as part of a healthy lifestyle.

I’m also delighted to share that after writing this post I attended my Weight Watchers meeting and I had lost 3lbs in a week! So, take that as my evidence that these tips can help!

New baby favs: 3 items I’d recommend to parents

I was asked the other day what products I would recommend to new mums and dads. A few items sprung to mind and so I’d like to share them with you now – and as a reminder to my future self if I ever have a second child!

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine
This is a bit of an expensive one to start my list with (and only applies if you choose not to or are unable to breastfeed), however I absolutely loved this gadget. This machine will help you make bottles of formula milk quickly. It heats water to a hot enough temperature to sterilise powdered formula baby milk and then tops it up with cool water so that you’re left with a bottle of milk that is the perfect temperature for your little one. Yes It’s essentially a kettle, but when you’re super tired, unsure what you’re doing and you have a crying baby in your ear, this bad boy is a godsend! I know lots of other parents who have purchased this and have all agreed it’s amazing.

A baby sleeping bag  
I wasn’t sold on these to start with but it’s an easy way to ensure your baby is warm and snug at night. I still use baby blankets and a large muslin from time to time, but a sleeping bag takes away the worry if you ever think you might not be tucking the blankets in well enough, or if your baby has a habit of kicking their covers off. You can buy them in all sorts of thicknesses to suit the season or your nursery temperature.  

A dummy 
Eek! This is a risky one to put in here, and I have read lots of literature on the cons of a dummy, however this really helped my little one to settle. I was in a bad place when I first used it, my little girl wouldn’t stop crying, I hadn’t slept in what felt like days (probably was days) and really didn’t know what else to do. I’m sure there are more experience mums, dads, nannies and so on out there who would of had another trick up their sleeve, but in the heat of the moment i’m so pleased I had a dummy in the house to try. All was calm once I whipped it out!

I’ll revisit this topic in the future, as I’m sure there are other items that have been life savers. If anyone would like more details on the items mentioned, please feel free to leave a comment below or add your own suggestions to the list!

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