Friday, April 29, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter weekend

At Home In Japan exhibition at the Geffrye Museum with Mr Planet and Little Planet on Easter Saturday / Followed by a Vietnamese lunch at Song Que in Dalston - which Little Planet loved (especially the spring rolls, prawn toasts and chicken satay) / Church for Little Planet and I while Mr Planet went running, then huevos rancheros breakfast on Easter Sunday / Planting herbs in the garden / Easter Egg hunt, hiding Little Planet's eggs in amongst her toys / Roast shoulder of lamb for dinner / With broad beans and asparagus in an orange and lemon dressing plus chickpea mash / After all that chocolate, we were craving oranges, papaya and pomegranate seeds for Easter dessert.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Eating and losing mindfully, part 2

Following on from my previous post on mindful eating, I wanted to add a few personal notes relating to my new eating principles.

1. When You Are Hungry, Eat
In the beginning, it was hard for me to identify my hunger cues because I've always tended to eat when I want to or when it's "time for lunch". Greed has been my signal to eat for as long as I can remember as I come from a family of foodies and I married a foodie too. Food forms the heart of how I spend my leisure time and how I socialise.

So now I've had to re-connect to what it means to be physically hungry. I try my very best now not to eat until my stomach is growling or my stomach feels "hollow". In this way, I've found that the snacking has stopped and I am eating at regular intervals of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

2. Eat What You Want, Not What You Think You Should
If I want to eat chocolate then I'll eat it; if I prefer an orange then I'll have that; if I want a creamy, full-fat yoghurt then that's what I have; if I want mayo with my steak then hurrah! Seriously, no low- and non-fat foods have passed my lips since I started eating more mindfully because...

3. Eat Consciously And Enjoy Every Mouthful
... have you tried eating non-fat yoghurt really, really slowly? It tastes vile. Who wants to eat that? Full-fat tastes delicious and you realise that when you eat slowly. Moreover, eating slowly enables your brain to catch up with your stomach: it takes around 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is physically full so eating slowly and stopping to "check in" with your stomach while eating enables you to recognise when you are full.

Life is busy, though, so if I have to eat on the run then I simply make it something small but filling, for example half a pre-packaged sandwich (not the full two slices and preferably with protein) or a small cereal bar (again, preferably with a high protein percentage) - I can always eat later if/when hunger kicks in.

4. When You Think You Are Full, Stop Eating
In fact, it's better not to stop eating when you are full. I stop when my stomach feels satisfied. One piece of 70% dark chocolate satisfies me so much more than an entire Snickers bar when I eat it slowly and savour it. In the middle of a meal I sit back and if my stomach feels satisfied then it's time to stop eating. If I'm (physically) hungry later I can always eat more - I mean, food is not a scarce commodity here - it's always available.

Paul McKenna and other mindful eating proponents say it's okay to leave food on your plate. I rarely do this now because I know the quantity of food that satiates me and surprisingly that quantity is the size of my fist (which is also the size of the stomach). If anything is left on the plate or saucepan then it goes into the next day's lunch or is frozen for another day.

I serve myself less now too, knowing that I can get up and serve myself more if I need to. Mr Planet has also been trained to put less on my plate. If we're at a restaurant then I actually push half of my meal to one side of the dish and only tuck into that half if I'm still hungry or else I share a plate with Mr Planet or Little Planet (or I simply waste it - it's not the end of the world!). I have much more self-discipline around food than I previously gave myself credit for.

A typical day's eating for me could be this:
Breakfast @8.30am: Always protein-based as protein fills you up, so a slice of wholemeal toast with slice of ham and cheese plus half a banana or an apple. On the weekend it's always bacon and eggs or eggs on toast plus fruit

@1-2pm: Usually leftovers from previous night's dinner and portion-controlled to the size of my fist, so yesterday I ate risotto with borlotti beans and pancetta with Parmesan shavings followed by a full-fat yoghurt

@5pm: If I'm physically hungry then I'll have some fruit or oatcakes, but sometimes it's crisps that I crave so I'll have crisps but I won't eat them out the packet. Instead I'll put a few on a plate, say five, and eat them slowly and only if I physically need more will I eat more (but I have to go into the kitchen for them)

@8.30-9pm (as Mr Planet works long hours): Usually it's a curry and rice or stew and loads of vegetables or salad. Last night we had homemade tonkatsu with Bulldog sauce, shredded cabbage and brown Japanese rice. My portion of pork was less than the size of my fist and my rice was half a cup cooked. Mr Planet popped my leftover tonkatsu into a sandwich for his lunch today :-)

Dessert: Bowl of berries with small scoop full-fat Cookies & Cream ice cream.

This morning, I've not yet had breakfast as I'm not hungry.

Many people eat not as a response to physical hunger but to emotional hunger. Boredom is my emotional trigger so I am careful to recognise this. If I'm reaching for food but am not actually hungry for it then I take a moment to step back and acknowledge the feeling that's actually feeding the need for food. In my case, I have to feed boredom not with food but with activity. I also tend to snack whilst reading a book or the newspaper or whilst surfing the Internet. Now I make that snack a handful of grapes, a mug of hot chocolate or a mug of coffee. Or, nothing at all. It takes a few weeks to train yourself in this way, but it works.

This is not a faddy diet. This is the normal, natural way of eating. My toddler eats like this and I'm no longer forcing encouraging her to finish up her meals.

Eating and losing mindfully

6 weeks ago the sun began to shine and I began thinking about Summer, frocks and bare flesh.

I began to think that perhaps I should lose a few pounds. I wanted to lose weight but I didn't want to go on a diet as I love food too much. I simply couldn't bear the thought of cutting out particular food items. Moreover, I didn't want to make time to increase the amount of exercise I already do.

So I Googled around and started reading about the concept of intuitive eating. And Britain's very own Paul McKenna kept cropping up. I loathe this man for no real reason other than his presenting style, but he espouses some incredibly commonsense eating principles. And I am following them to the letter:
  1. When You Are Hungry, Eat
  2. Eat What You Want, Not What You Think You Should
  3. Eat Consciously And Enjoy Every Mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, Stop Eating
So far I've lost 17lbs and am still losing. Incredible really, considering I'm eating full fat everything and have excluded nothing from my "diet", not even ice cream (which I eat most nights) and chocolate and certainly not carbs.

At the end of the day, "eating when hungry, eating slowly, and stopping when full" means I'm probably eating a third or more less than I used to. And that, it seems, makes all the difference.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Little Planet presented me with two cards - one courtesy of Mr Planet, the other made by her very own hands (with a little help from her childminders).

It's funny, even last year I would look over at Little Planet, surprised to see this little figure playing on the floor and amazed that I was actually a mother. Now motherhood is completely natural, so much so that I cannot imagine life without her in it.

Friday, April 01, 2011

More fool you

My favourite April Fools news items so far today:

Now you can control Gmail with your body. Gmail Motion uses your computer's built-in webcam and Google's patented spatial tracking technology to detect your movements and translate them into meaningful characters and commands.

The air we breathe is set to be taxed as part of a revolutionary ­Government plan to raise more money.

Prince William and Kate Middleton are due to be married at Westminster Abbey in four weeks time. In something of an about turn, the Guardian today pledges its "full throated support" for the monarchy. Follow here for live coverage of all the latest royal wedding news, build up and reaction.

We’ve teamed up with the lovely people at Vaseline Lip Therapy and are incredibly excited to announce a special limited edition Marmite flavour which comes in a unique collectable tin.