Weightloss topic seems to be raising a lot of mixed feelings. For years we have been forced to believe that only looks that matter. Yes, it is important but to be honest, if people were trying to lose weight only for looks, most of them would never got it back. Somehow, however, after many attempts, the weight comes back for a lot of us. Why is that? Why we give up and go back to what we had and even more? There are numerous articles written on weight loss and people are very quick to point out what is scientifically proven and what not -eg. counting calories. However, I do not want to address losing weight as such but what happens during the process and after we lose it. This is definitely not an attempt to generalise but acknowledge a massive variety of approaches with one common denomination.
This is based on a true story and amalgamation of different experiences from my clients and patients. The name is fictional.
Let’s assume we meet Anna. She is 45 and for years she has been putting and losing weight at the same time. Currently, she weighs 227 lbs (so around 103kg). She has a lot of books on nutrition and probably can write a PhD on the number of diets she had in the past. She feels lonely and lost as she meets people who are quite quick to judge – how on earth it is possible that you can neglect yourself like that and allow putting on weight. But Anna does not know that she is doing it to herself. She is confused about nutrition and what is right for her. She has been focusing on quick fixes or following current trends but none of them has been in alignment with her lifestyle. She is surrounded by the pictures of ideal bodies and she throws herself into brutal exercise with the hope to lose weight quickly. She follows keto for a moment but the restrictive nature of the diet is not for her nor is plant-based or vegan. She thinks: there must be a simpler way to do it, if I only do it long enough I succeed. Over the course of a few months, she loses quite a bit. She is proud but cannot sustain regular exercise and preparing all the food is also taking the toll especially that her family does not understand her and eats totally something different. She feels tired and demanding a job does not allow her to take her health as a priority most of the time. She says to herself – when I lose these final pounds I will be the happiest person on earth.
2 Months In
After 2 months her weight plateaus. She still exercises (maybe less) eats predominantly well so she does not understand why she cannot lose more. She begins to doubt herself. She goes to parties and social events and slowly allows herself more and more food she has been keeping off for the last few months. She thinks that her body craves chocolate and sweet treats, she feels tired with hormonal issues. Long hours at work and stress force her to comfort eat when she does not have time to prepare food. I will never lose weight, this is impossible– she says.
3 Months in
In the third month, she turns into a support group. They ask her to weigh herself and count calories. She has never been very good at it but if it helps she does it. At work when she does not have time she reaches for a pack of crisps and sees 250 kcl. She says: this is too much I can’t have it, but I want it, oh well I will start counting tomorrow. The next day she feels bad about herself, the scale shows the number she does not want to see. Today I will be good, no breakfast, some soup for lunch with no bread, and exercise in the evening, and light supper only. Her family sees her giving in so tells her, we told you, you will never make it, so let’s have some pizza. Anna is not sure but she thinks that this one time it will be ok. Again, The next day Anna feels bad about herself, she had pizza and she is on a diet. Her calories are out of the window so is a belief in herself. She says: I knew that I would not make it.
For the first time, she tunes in with her feelings. The overwhelming feeling of disappointment is with her but also hope. Something she has never felt before. I have so much plan for myself -she thinks. I want to achieve a lot in my life but why I cannot manage my weight consistently? I feel tired and lethargic. I feel confused and lost, I am not sure what I can do next. I know so much about this, all my friends did it (although Joan put it back recently) so I am sure I can do this too.
Does Anna’s story resonate with you? The next part will be released shortly. What do you think Anna will do next? Or maybe you have ideas? Let me know on Instagram @wellbeingseekers hashtag #whatannadoesnext.
Do you think there is another way to lose weight not really focusing on it? I believe there is.
Few years ago , I did not really think what I put in my body. Well I ate consciously but I also drunk diet coke, ate chips and fries, loads of carbs. I thought that my body can take anything and miraculously I will not put on any weight and I will be always fit and healthy. Well that was not true at all and just before turning 40 I knew that something had to change. I was not comfortable in my body and I was not comfortable how I was thinking about my health in the long term.
I can see this in many of my clients and patients who come to me to help them to lose weight. Emotions and looking into food for comfort now more than ever is quite often problametic for many people . There is a lot of suffering from lack of self-acceptance, self-love, however this is not always on people’s mind as it is sometimes difficult to have that self-awarness. What you see is your reflection in the mirror which you quite often hate and do not have kind words for.
Why am I writing this in this blog post? What does it have to do with meal planning? Well good question!! I am writing this as I often hear so many excuses why we do not pay attention to what we put into our bodies, purely due to lack of time for prep and plan but also due to other committments and quite often family and children who may be fussy eaters. Don’t get me wrong I do not always get it perfect and although I am a Naturopathic Chef I do not cook gourmet meals every day and defintely I did not cook them two years ago. There is also some kind of notion that it does not matter what I eat , ill health will not happen to me. I only eat ‘those ‘ foods in moderation or when I am at social events. The truth is that it all adds up. I know that being diabetic for over 25 years. Diabetes taught me routine, I do not skip meals and look out for the carbs in my meals. I stay active and take supplements and generally follow 80/20 rule. (80% good with 20% off track sometimes). I want to enjoy happy and good quality life with minimum medical intervention. Examples in here are all diabetic friendly.
1. Balance Your Macronutrients
The first thing I learnt is how to balance macronutrients in my meal. The easiest way to do that at the beginning I found to be in smoothies and I often recommended them to my clients to start with. Make sure they have protein as well so I do suggest protein powders but you can add nuts and seeds especially hemp seeds as well. Than I use a simple rule of 50% of vegetables (with some low sugar fruits such as berries), 25% protein and 20% complex carbohydrates (carbs) – brown rice, brown pasta, slice of sourdough and 5% of healthy fats – nuts , seeds, a bit of avocado, 1 tsp of olive oil. You can count your portions differently and low carbs diet is less than 130g of carbs (Diabetes UK) a day which is not a lot (some keto diets suggest only 20g – be careful what you look at). A piece of bread may have 15 – 20g carbs , the same as apple but jacket potatoe can have as much as 90g.
I generally recommend to have some complex carbs to avoid cravings. Your body wants some carbs for easy energy conversion and for variety as well as well as for essential vitamins and minerals. We basically have too much and of a wrong kind that is why they have a bad press. Also use the carbs wisely. Use most of them for breakfast and lunch and not for dinner. People tend to have bananas with porridge for breakfast. Bananas are very high in sugars so unless you are active after breakfast I would not recommend them as such and a preferred portion for a smoothie is only half of banana.
An example of balanced plates (100% plant-based)
1.Veggie burger, with salad, chickpeas and cashew non-mayo; 2.Shepardless lentils pie with sweet potatoe and salad;3. Scrambled tofu with carrot ‘bacon’;4. Avocado on sourdough with fried mushrooms and cherry tomatoes
Options for breakfasts
I came up with few breakfast options which I can have – coconut plain yoghurt with sugar free granola, goji berries, fresh berries, or sometimes I use plant-based mylk instead of yoghurt. I also love Alpro mango or cherry reduced sugar yoghurt both delicious. During weekend I would have some avocado on sourdough bread which I bake myself (weekend treat) or scrambled tofu. I sometimes make a smoothie or recently my hubby got into the habit for our 10 o’clock smoothie time! – Benefits from working from home together 🙂 I use blue spirulina for fun and lovely blue colour and health benefits.
Options for Lunch and Dinner
Meal planning for weekdays got much easier with my Thermomix. If you have not heard about this machine than let me introduce to it. It is an investment piece which not only blends, chops , but also kneads dough, fries, cooks etc. You have access to a recipe platform and you can plan all meals for the whole week including shopping list which you now can integrate with your supermakets online shopping. How cool is that? This is the machine you keep on your worktop and use every time you need anything even making a smoothie. You can ground nuts , and grains for flours, you can ferment as well. My clients who have Thermomix get a bespoke plan which recipes to include in their meal plans based on their individual circumstances. Thermomix has also low GI recipes as well. All built in!! You just buy ingredients and follow instructions – easy peasy lemon squeezy.
My favourite options are: sweet potatoe curry with cauliflower rice, Tuscan bean soup, homemade pizza, bean burgers, tomatoes soups and sauces, vegan brownie etc.
For lunch I usually have something from a salad bar. So I create this salad bar in my fridge with washed and cut up veggies, cooked chickpeas, beans, cucumbers, cherry tomtoes, hummous, cut up tofu pieces. I also prepare two salad dressings. I sometimes have a soup ready for two days. I rarely eat any sandwiches for lunch. They do not fill me up.
If you do not have Thermomix, planning for some theme nights is a good option. On Mondays you can have any left overs from Sunday, Tuesday you can have a stir fry day, Wednesday some bean burgers (or other plant-based burgers) with a big salad, Thursday you may have a curry or homamde pizza. Friday is fish time, I may have a miso soup. The truth is since going plant-based most of my portions got smaller. And it makes sense as I am sitting behind the desk a lot of the time, I do not need to have big portions and I never feel sleepy after lunch and my energy is stable. Hydration also pays an important role. Drink loads of water for balancing sugar levels . You can also try meal planning apps and I found this one to be good Mealime.
I am a massive supporter of three main meals and keeping min 4 hours between the meals and 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. I also like eating them slowly so my body has time to register the taste and my hormones have time to catch up with the fullness. I try to finish meals at 80% full. However, I love some healthy snacks and I make few during weekend such as tamari and maple syrup roasted mixed nuts, dark chocolates with crushed nuts and some dried fruits, hummous and cut up veggies, cherry tomatoes.
Bespoke Meal planning service (soon availabe in my shop)
I offer bespoke meal planning service. From £47 you can have a meal plan which you love based on your preferences , equipment, time, lifestyle. I am particular interested to give you a plan to transfer to more whole foods and plant-based diet. I have recently done an alkaline mealplan. I totally understand that you may want to give a new way of life a go yourself first but you need to have a starting point.
EBOOK (coming soon) – Intuitive Cooking With plants
I totally believe in intuitive eating, chosing food you know serve your body and mind well. It is not about perfection but getting a bit creative in the kitchen and cooking with love for yourself and others. In my ebook I am covering simple naturopathic principles of food and cooking. Like with all changes if you take them slowly one by one you will enjoy them more. At first you may meal plan for one or two days and gradually get better and quicker and actually enjoy the process. If you want to start and reset your eating habits you will also have access to my 21 days Cleanse program – do it yourself with Facebook group support at the preferable price, once you download the ebook.
I hope you enjoyed this article. It is only a begining and the You Tube video will follow soon.
I love chickpeas and I often recommend them to include in the salads. I recently started slow cooking them and they are far better than from the tins. They are a very good soure of fibre, folic acid and manganese. In addition, they are a good source of protein, as well as minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and zinc.
They are good fibre source, chickpeas can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels, making them a great food for diabetics and insulin-resistant individuals. Served with high quality grains, chickpeas are an extremely-low-fat, complete protein food. Once cooked, chickpeas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days if placed in an airtight container.
Great for curries, tomatoe sauces salad and hummous . You can also add to wholegrain penne, mix with olive oil, vegan feta cheese and fresh oregano. I also add them to soups.
Chickpeas can cause a severe allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. They also contain oderate amounts of purines. since purines can be borken down to form uric acid, an excesss of uric acid may contribute to health problems such as gout and kidney stones. (ref: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods).
Roasted Chickpeas and Sundried Tomatoe Salad
This salad encompasses chickpeas that are a good source of fibre and protein as well as being well tolerated by most people. The sundried tomatoes add flavour andadditional anti-oxidants along with the parsley and olives. Anti inflammatory turmericadds a further bonus and this is all brought together in a healthy citrusy and herby dressing.
1 tin400gchickpeas, drained and rinsed (or dry, soaked and slow cooked)
2 tbspcoconut oil melted
1 tspground cumin
1tspsweet 'dulce' paprika
30gflat leaf parsley, finely chopped
40gsundried tomatoes (in oil) thinly sliced
4spring onions, trimmed & sliced
50gpitted black olives, halved
Himalaya salt & black pepper to season
4 tbspCitrus infused olive oil (or olive oil and few drops of Doterra lemon essential oil)
1tbspmint vinegar (or apple cider vinegar )
1/2lime , juice only
1small garlic, chopped
4sprigs fresh mint, leaves only
Set the oven to 180oc / Gas mark 4.Put the chickpeas into a mixing bowl with the coconut oil and spices.Mix thoroughly and set aside for ten minutes if time. Spread onto a linedbaking tray and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Switch off the oven butleave the chickpeas in there whilst you make the dressing. Then removeand leave to cool.To make the dressing: Place all the dressing ingredients into a bullet orblender and blitz. Pour into a jar and seal until ready to serve.When the chickpeas are fairly cool construct the salad:Combine the parsley, tomatoes, spring onions and olives in a mediumsalad bowl and stir to mix. Fold in the chickpeas and season.Drizzle the dressing over the salad and finally scatter the toasted seedsover the salad and then serve.Source: Sarah Lumley
You can skip coconut oil for roasting chickpeas and just roast them as they are. They may not be that crispy but should be ok. Reduced roasting time to 30 min.
I work with men and women who are fed up with constant dieting and are ready to crack the code of consistency. I help them to build healthy habits for life so that they do not have to diet ever again. I am passionate about plant-based nutrition and I incorporate a lot of whole plant-based food groups into my coaching and recipes.