One day when I first started taking my medication, I happened to look down and suddenly saw this huge lump of belly flab protruding from where I once could see my belly button. “ I’m sure that wasn’t there before” I thought feeling puzzled.
Not long afterwards, I discovered the daunting fact that my medication was making me put on weight more easily. From then on I realised I had to be more vigilant about what I put into my mouth”. It wasn’t easy at first. Being “vertically challenged” also seemed to make it more crucial for me.
I will attempt to share some things that I tried and learnt along the way. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to healthy eating. Each person’s body responds differently to different foods. However there may be one or two things here which may be helpful to you if you try them.
Some of these tips I picked up from a health and fitness program I attended called “New Moves”. This is a 16 week course on health and fitness especially designed for those who have a mental health condition.
1. Avoid or minimise pastry foods like pies and sausage rolls.
2. Limit fruit to two pieces per day -it contains sugar! The same goes for juice and honey.
3. Try snacking on vegetables which are the healthiest of foods you can ever eat e.g.. a raw carrot or a couple of celery sticks.
4. Some red meat is good for the diet since it helps to build muscle mass. Kangaroo meat is leaner and cheaper!
5. Reading food labels, look at the “Quantity per 100g” column. Choose foods that have : Total Fat – Total < 10g; Saturated < 3g; Sugars < 15g; Sodium – Low < 120 g, High < 500g.
6. Avocado and low fat Philadelphia cheese can be a tasty substitute for butter.
7. Drink plenty of water which is essential for good digestion.
8. Pre-plan your food intake each day. For less active days eat smaller meal portions, than if you are busy or out and about.
9. I have found personally that Tofu is a good variation for protein. It is much cheaper and absorbs the flavours that you add while cooking.
10. Limit sugary foods or drinks, like cakes, biscuits and soft drinks.
11. For chocoholics try having some plain cocoa powder 3 cm of milk, then fill your cup with boiling water.
12. Switch to light or skim milk rather than full cream to reduce fat intake.
13. Try separating your lounge or leisure room from the kitchen (the area of temptation).
14. Instead of ice-cream (which is full of sugar) try wild berry frozen yoghurt instead.
15. If drinking plain water is too bland for you, add the juice of a lemon wedge and pop it into your cup.
16. Try to eat some green leafy vegetables daily. This serves as “roughage” and helps to clear out toxins and waste in your intestines to keep your system “clean”.
17. If you crave something sweet, try snacking on some sultanas instead of chocolate. A piece of raisin bread also has much less sugar than a fully-fledged cake or muffin.
18. When eating out, Japanese or Vietnamese restaurants can be healthy alternatives since they tend to use less oil and fat in many of their dishes.
19. Limit your intake of carbohydrates like bread, rice and pasta if you’re not very active. Overeating on “carbs” can also be a major cause of weight gain.
20. It can be futile cutting out your favourite treats altogether. Just remember to limit the intake of these items or if possible treat them as “sometimes” foods.
21. Normal flavoured yoghurt can be high in sugar. Natural yoghurt is much healthier but can be too sour for some people. Try adding a tablespoon of sweetened yoghurt to a serving of your natural yoghurt. This can be just enough to enable the natural yoghurt to be edible for your taste buds.
22. Avoid fast food which is usually laden with excessive fat, salt and sugar. E.g., Burger buns from McDonalds have enough sugar in them to be considered as “cakes”.
That’s all from me for now. Hope you find something here that works for you. Remember just to do your best and that we are all on a similar journey. Wishing you all Happy and Healthy Eating!