Travelling all the time and having a kind of hectic way of life, I have always chosen easy over healthy. I love eating out, I enjoy take-aways and my fridge has been weekly stocked up with ready meals. And how not to fall into temptation when at most supermarkets you can get 3 microwavable ready meals for £6-£8?
No wonder that I started to feel ill… I’ve put weight on, I felt very tired all the time, I couldn’t sleep an entire 8 hours without waking up several times during the night, my stomach started to play up more often (after the ulcer I had when I was 18 I was left with a very sensitive stomach). However, I never thought that the way I was feeling could be caused by the food I was eating.
Something had to change!
In the past I have had a failed attempt to try the elimination diet, which is supposed to make you realise which groups of food make your body react badly. It’s a long process that can take months. The diet pretty much goes back to basics and forces your stomach to adapt again to food. It’s drastic but it’s supposed to work. I gave up after 3 weeks because of my lifestyle. I travel too much and when I stay in hotels I don’t have a kitchen in which I can cook and control the ingredients in my meals.
This summer however, I gave it another go. I didn’t go to the extreme, as last time though. I did eliminate from my diet all the grains, dairy, sugars, all processed foods, cans, jars, and alcohol. So I’ve been left with meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables. That’s all!
How do I feel?
Was it hard? Let’s just say that eliminating sugar from your diet feels like a drug withdrawal. For about two weeks I was anxious, I felt like everything was irritating me, I crave it, but I didn’t give up. Every time I felt a sugar craving I ate a cherry tomato. And let me tell you, there were a lot of cherry tomatoes involved!
I am not a doctor and I can’t do any recommendations on how to get healthier, I am talking only from what I noticed about myself. For years I have been suffering from tiredness. It might not sound like a serious illness, but feeling like going to bed by midday and drinking strong coffee just to keep awake is not normal. I would spend weekends in bed, watching Netflix and taking naps. And I still didn’t feel like I had enough rest. After starting to eat healthy, I felt my energy coming back. I still do feel tired but a 20 minutes nap at around 3PM gives me enough energy to continue a normal life.
I am sleeping so much better, I go to bed at around 11PM and don’t wake up until 7AM. No more being awake and staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, counting sheep and trying to fall asleep. My skin is much softer.
I didn’t yet feel like I’ve lost any weight, but that involves physical activities and not just a healthy diet. I am planning to restart my dance lessons this autumn. Whilst I do like going to the gym, I prefer group classes over trying to figure out how the machines work. I do hope that soon I will find a gym nearby that has a pool and continue my morning swimming. I moved recently, and I am yet to find a suitable gym. Plenty of cross-fit ones in my new neighbourhood, but that’s not my thing. ?
Overall, I feel much better inside my skin!
What do I eat?
I don’t want to look at my choice as it’s a diet, I want to look at it as a lifestyle change. I want to be able to still enjoy all foods, but with moderation. This is why I am determined to continue with this extreme for a couple of more months. You know what they say, it takes 21 days to change a habit!
Eliminating most of the food groups out of my diet has been a challenge, especially regarding what I can and can’t eat. Eating healthy is not easy but I did manage to find and adapt recipes so that I can still get all the protein and vitamins my body needs in order to function properly.
I do love to cook and I am a fan of flavours, so I have been making quite a lot of recipes from Dhruv Baker’s cookbook, Spice. I like how simple but healthy the recipes are, and how he combines spices to create layers of flavour. The Malabar prawn curry has been my favorite, and whilst it does uses canned coconut milk, which is not 100% natural, I have learned to make my own. Do you know how easy it to make your own coconut milk? All you need is shredded coconut and hot water. Also, I make my own tomato sauce, which is as simple as blending them inside a mixer.
I am eating only two times a day, breakfast and dinner, so in between I am either replacing lunch with the XLS Nutrition protein powder (available at all big supermarkets and drugstores) or eat whatever fruit is in season (currently watermelon). The XLS Nutrition is an aid of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients that gives my body the energy I need. I like that it’s gluten free and non-gmo, without any nasty ingredients. Usually you would make the shake with milk, but as I am lactose intolerant, I prefer to make it with almond milk, which gives it a nutty taste.
For breakfast I usually have one or two eggs with different vegetables. Some of my favourite combinations include poached eggs and avocado, or soft-boiled eggs and asparagus. I rarely fry the eggs.
For dinner, I make curry quite often. Because I don’t eat grains, instead of making rice as a side I prefer adding more vegetables in it. I also love roasted cauliflower. I found an amazing recipe here that simply transforms this underrated vegetable. Among other dishes I often eat I can mention baked fish on a bed of vegetables, Italian caponata, mushroom and zucchini bake, lots of fresh salads, grilled pork, beef steak or chicken curry.
Where am I heading to?
This is actually a very good question! I don’t want to live all my life restricting myself, but I do want a lifestyle change. I want to be and feel healthier! And if that means sacrificing a few months to get to that point, where my body is in perfect shape again, then be it. One of the things I miss most eating is cheese. But looking forward, I know that I will be able to eat it again, but in moderation. I want to be able to enjoy going to a restaurant for a quality dinner and not feel guilty for having an ice cream on a hot summer day. My point is that when you have a healthy lifestyle, as long as you introduce moderation in your diet and life, you will be able to enjoy it better! Thinking back, those years of eating unhealthy ready meals have taken away precious moments that I will never get back! As life is meant to be lived, not slept!
What do you think?
Disclaimer: I have written this post in collaboration with XLS Nutrition.
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