Me Vs. The Clean Plate Club

If you had have asked me two weeks ago about my ‘intuition’ when it comes to eating, I’d have told you that my intuition was hungry. Hungry or maybe just…broken.

Just like a magician, I could make any food placed in the vicinity disappear in the blink of an eye. A chocolate bar straight after a filling lunch – gone. A packet of biscuits left next to me by a work colleague- going, going, going…gone. The second half of a baguette even though I was full up – gone. What can I say, I was brought up to be part of the clean plate club.

Even now as a fully grown adult I am too scared to leave food on my plate when I visit my parents for dinner. My hyper sensitive mother takes it as a huge insult if you do not finish every single morsel of food on the plate she serves you. Not hungry for dessert? Tough luck, turn it down at your peril! To make matters worse, my mother cuts a cake depending on how many people are in attendance. Ergo, if there are only 4 of you dining you can expect a QUARTER of a cake. No, really.

Of course now you are envisaging my parents to be huge, morbidly obese, unhealthy people who sit around eating all day long (you are, admit it!) Quite the contrary. Both of my parents are very slim and energetic. While they may eat big dinners and huge portions of dessert for special occasions, they generally don’t eat very much the rest of the time.

Back to me…

Despite moving out several years ago, I still have it in my head that I must eat everything that is in front of me. Sometimes, I can almost hear a ‘grown up’ encouraging me to finish. Say I had a delicious dinner of chicken, potatoes and vegetables on my plate at dinner time. I’ve eaten approximately two thirds and am beginning to feel a bit full. A voice chirps up and says, well you can’t waste good meat, so eat that chicken. Then another says, yes and make sure you eat those potatoes too – you need those for energy. Finally, another says, yes yes that’s all true, but you can’t leave the table until you’ve finished your greens…. Good girl, you’ve finished all your dinner. Now you can have dessert.

When you think about it, that doesn’t make any sense at all!! No wonder my intuition is messed up, I’ve taught myself that if I overeat, I get rewarded with yet more food! And not just any food, delicious, sweet, buttery food.

Two weeks ago I decided it was time to teach my intuition some new tricks.

For those of you who haven’t yet come across the concept of Intuitive Eating, here are the 10 principles in brief:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

2. Honor Your Hunger

3. Make Peace with Food

4. Challenge the Food Police

5. Respect Your Fullness

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food

8. Respect Your Body

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference

10 Honor Your Health

Most of the guidelines were fairly easy to follow. I enjoyed deleting the calorie counting app. I embraced eating any thing I fancied without the guilt. I already enjoy exercising for the way it makes me feel, but by not linking it directly to how much I should eat in a given day, rest days felt more…restful!

The problem, of course, was Number 5 – Respect your fullness.

I have to admit that during the first few days I really struggled to quit the clean plate club. This overeating habit is ingrained deep. I even noticed that sometimes when I eat, I enter a sort of trance like state whereby I don’t even notice that I am eating until all the food is gone.

In this case though, practice makes perfect. The more I have consciously made an effort to focus completely on eating, the easier it has become to stop eating once I am full. Whether that means leaving just one mouthful or half a plate full. Respecting my fullness is the key to making this work for me.

So what’s the outcome? Well, I’ve lost 3 of the 5lbs (don’t judge me!!) I gained over Easter. (I said don’t judge me!!!!) Which wouldn’t seem that amazing except for the fact that I have had a lot of social eating occasions to attend. We’re talking wine, pizza, a burger, chips, cake and pancakes, to name a few. I have eaten all of those things, without guilt, without counting a single calorie and without worrying myself sick about ‘burning it off’ in the gym or ‘making up for it’ by cutting back at other meals.

That’s not to say that I haven’t exercised at all. The opposite in fact, the weather has been so lovely that I’ve been running like it’s going out of fashion. But its been for pleasure and fitness, not to ‘buy myself’ extra calories. If I’ve eaten more because I’ve been hungrier following my 9 mile run, then so be it.

That’s also not to say that I haven’t also enjoyed plenty of traditionally ‘healthy’ foods, like salads for lunch, fruit for snacks, and oats for breakfast. I enjoy eating those things and they make me feel good, so they are here to stay.

The difference is that I have stopped convincing myself that I need to eat every single bite of my salad for fear I might offend someone, or worse, get hungry before my next scheduled meal time.  So what if I do happen to get hungry before dinner? I can eat. In fact, I can eat whenever I like. So long as I am physically HUNGRY. (Not bored, lonely, tired, sad, happy, angry, frustrated or any other emotion at all!) And so long as I remember to focus so that I am able to stop eating when I am satisfied.

 

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WIAW #7

Whoops! It’s Thursday! I don’t know where the week has gone… I’ll get straight to the point with yesterdays eats.

Breakfast was yet another variation of oats. This time mixed with yoghurt, grated apple and cinnamon. I still feel like I’m eating apple crumble every time I mix those ingredients.

Oats with yoghurt, apple and cinnamon

Oats with yoghurt, apple and cinnamon

Lunch was made in hurry, you can probably tell by the way this salad is haphazardly thrown together! Lambs lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, mozzarella all drizzled with pesto and served with a chunk of multi-grain baguette. This definitely hit the spot!

Mozzarella, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Pesto

Mozzarella, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Pesto

The Man and I haven’t quite made it to the supermarket this week, but I managed to pull together all the ingredients to make a Chicken & Lentil Balti. The benefits of keeping your store cupboard and freezer full! It might not look very appetising, but I assure you it is goooood. Even better, I have some leftover for lunch today. Not sure the rest of my office will be so pleased about that. Sorry guys!

Chicken and Lentil Balti with wholegrain basmati rice, a wholemeal pitta and mango chutney.

Chicken and Lentil Balti with wholegrain basmati rice, a wholemeal pitta and mango chutney.

With the fruit bowl empty and me pretty full from 3 big meals, there was no snacking yesterday!

WIAW #6

It’s my 6th week of participating in WIAW and I’m coming to realise so many great benefits of this weekly post!

  1. It gives me the motivation to continue eating healthily. No one wants to see pics of McDonald’s now do they?! Not that I really like McDonalds all that much, but you get my point…Healthy (or at least home made) food always looks so much prettier. 
  2. It encourages me to make an effort to vary my diet. It’s so easy to get stuck in a food rut, but now I have an audience (even if its only a very tiny one at the moment!) to think about too. No one is going to be interested in seeing the same 3 meals week after week.
  3. It helps me to keep an eye on portions. Spending one day a week photographing everything I eat helps me to understand how much I am really eating. It’s so easy to get carried away with a nibble here and an extra snack there, but photographing everything helps me to focus on whether I really am hungry, or if I’m just snacking because I’m bored.

And with that, here is what I ate yesterday…

Another shopping trip without a fully formed list resulted in an excess of eggs. For the millionth time. When will I stop picking up a dozen every time I go to the supermarket just in case. Just in case what exactly?!

On the bright side, we had a loaf of rather tasty multiseeded bread in the house leftover from the weekend, so I whipped up some scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast this morning. I must say I enjoyed the change!

Scrambled Eggs on Multigrain Toast

Scrambled Eggs on Multigrain Toast

The weather has warmed up just a smidgen, so I decided to brave a salad. I picked up a pot of Sainsburys Taste the Difference Greek Salad which has a mix of baby salad leaves with piccolo tomatoes, feta cheese, olives and a lemon and dill dressing. I also added the king of salad – avocado.

Greek(ish) Salad

Greek(ish) Salad

In the afternoon I snacked on some fruit. Obviously not the whole bowl…I really only put this picture in to prove that I do in fact have a full fruit bowl like I said in my post last Friday!

Photo 09-04-2013 19 21 42

For dinner we had sirloin steak with sweet potato wedges and fine green beans. I also made a sauce/dip using some low fat creme fraiche that was lurking in the fridge.

Steak, Sweet Potato Wedges & Fine Green Beans

Steak, Sweet Potato Wedges & Fine Green Beans

Creme Fraiche with paprika and lemon.

Creme Fraiche with paprika and lemon.

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WIAW #5

The 4 day Bank Holiday weekend combined with the clocks going forward has left my body clock and I (yes we are two separate entities) totally confused. I really feel like Wednesday has snuck up on me! So this week it really is what I ate [on] Wednesday….

I had to stay at the office until after midnight last night, so I skipped my morning workout (boo!) this morning in favour of an extra hour in bed. I still woke up feeling a bit groggy, so the plan for the day was healthy comfort food. I know from experience that if I don’t satisfy my appetite enough throughout the day when I am  tired then come the evening I can end up head first in the biscuit barrel. So I made a conscious decision to focus on healthy and filling foods that would leave me satisfied, without worrying too much about the calorie count.

My breakfast this morning was inspired by a recipe posted by a fellow porridge lover – Stevie at  Cinnamon Soliloquy. Why oh why have I never thought of chocolate porridge before??? What a super idea!

I enjoyed this breakfast but I don’t think the two flavours combined are my personal favourite. Next time I might try straight chocolate. Or chocolate and raspberry!

Chocolate and Banana Porridge

Chocolate and Banana Porridge

At lunch, I just had time to nip into M&S and pick up something super quick. I noticed this new Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip and just had to try it. On closer inspection I found it also contains quinoa, pomegranate seeds, raisins, chickpeas, coriander, spinach and dried apricot – all good things in my mind! And WOW it really did hit the spot – spicy, tangy, sweet but also creamy because of the carrot dip. Not only delicious and nutritious, it was filling too…but me being the greedy little cretin I am, I also had a wholemeal roll on the side. (I did warn you that I love my carbs!)

M&S Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip

M&S Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip

For my mid afternoon munchies I nibbled on some mixed nuts with dried fruit. A snack which I love, but truly resent for being so high in calories. I like to convince myself that my thighs understand that the nutritional benefits balance out the high calorie count. Please don’t make me sad by telling me otherwise.

The Man cooked dinner tonight – result! A huge chicken breast stuffed with herby soft cheese & sundried tomatoes then wrapped in bacon, with spicy peppers & onions and a man mountain of mash potato.

Chicken stuffed with herby soft cheese, spicy peppers & onions and mash potato. Courtesy of The Man.

Chicken stuffed with herby soft cheese, spicy peppers & onions and mash potato. Courtesy of The Man.

I think it is safe to say that I am satisfied!

Me Vs. Post Workout Hunger

My appetite after running is incredible.

Take this morning for instance.

Before leaving the house, I drank a pint of water and ate one of the homemade Hot Cross Buns I had made the night before (another post to come on those!) I knew as I was eating it that it was a bit of a mistake and that I should only eat half, but I don’t really do the whole ‘save half for later’ thing – I salute those who can manage this, but I am more of a ‘have one now…and then have another one later too’  kind of girl. That my friends is why I will never be a skinny minny.

Anyway, I then ran 6.5 miles as scheduled with Gym Buddy. It was a windy run again (no, still not that sort of wind, even after the hot cross bun) which made it tough, but the sun was shining so we kept our chins up.

On returning from my run, I then had my real breakfast which was a banana, oats, yoghurt and berries (the hot cross bun was more of an accidental breakfast, so doesn’t count alright?) and some more water. Pretty substantial right? A good blend of carbs, protein and fruit – just what my body needs post run.

By 10:00AM, despite 2 cups of coffee, my stomach was rumbling! What is that all about??

Fortunately for my belly, one kind soul at the office had brought in some homemade Tiffin. Which as it happens, tastes suspiciously like Rocky Road. Anyone know the difference?! Either way, it was yummy.

So belly was satisfied for a little longer. But it came at a price. Before 10:30AM I had almost certainly consumed more calories than I burnt running this morning.

There’s still a lot of hours left in the day to eat my way through!

I’m not suggesting for a second that I would have been better off staying in bed this morning and therefore having a slightly smaller appetite. I’d rather gain all the fantastic health benefits of exercise and eat like a horse any day.

I just can’t help but think it’s all a little bit unfair that my appetite seems to totally overestimate my calorific needs! I’ve been exercising regularly now for nearly 12 months, you’d think my body would have realised that I am definitely NOT going to let it starve.

So come on appetite, relax, chill out, I will continue to feed you cake – I promise!

WIAW #3

It dawned on me last week when I was catching up with a variety of WIAW posts, that in actual fact, most people post up pictures of their food from Monday/Tuesday rather than scramble around on Wednesday trying to photograph everything and write the post!

Therefore, here is WIAY (What I Ate Yesterday) or I suppose WIAT (What I Ate Tuesday).

I started the day with an early morning workout  (posted here if you are interested!) then came home for my usual weekday breakfast of raw oats with plain natural yoghurt and frozen blueberries. I’m not much one for green things  at breakfast time (is anyone?!) so it’s pinky/purple instead!

Oats with yoghurt and frozen blueberries.

Oats with yoghurt and frozen blueberries.

We had some clients in for a meeting in the morning, so I managed to snag 2 M&S Extremely Chocolatey Biscuits with my mid morning coffee. They didn’t hang around anywhere near long enough for me to take a picture of them, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say they were scrummy!

At lunch, I made up for my lack of green things with a home made Tuna salad which contained 4 types of green (Rocket, Spinach, Cucumber & Avocado) as well as some cherry tomatoes. I rounded off with an orange. You know what an orange looks like, right?

Tuna Salad.

Tuna Salad.

For dinner I wanted something super quick and easy as The Man was out so I didn’t feel like cooking anything too involved. I went for chicken and noodles with loads of stir fried veg (onion, green peppers, beansprouts, spinach and mushrooms.) It might not look very ‘green’ but there are two green vegetables in there!!

Chicken & Noodles.

Chicken & Noodles.

In the evening, I had a cup of tea with a couple of squares of Green & Blacks dark chocolate whilst working  on my crochet project.