22 July 2012

My friends, and lessons from crazy dieting

In the last couple of weeks I've had marvelous catch ups with friends I've known since school. Aren't old friends great? Even if it's been months or years since you've seen them, you still get on so well together that it might have been yesterday. And the shared history is irreplaceable.

This year and next, my school friends and I turn 40. We've all had good lives so far.

Some of them want to lose weight, and I think the impending 40 year milestone is an impetus for that. Part of me screams "But you couldn't possibly be better - I like you so much as you are!"

But another part of me totally understands, because once upon a time I existed on the extremely unpleasant yo-yo dieting treadmill. Phew, what a relief it is to leave that well and truly behind, for many reasons. One reason I managed it, I think, was having whatever hole it was inside me filled with a lovely husband and children.

The food lessons I learnt along the way are this:
- eat some protein and a little bit of fat at each meal. It makes you feel fuller for a lot longer. But eat carbohydrate, too.
- eat porridge for breakfast! And an egg, perhaps, for protein. There's nothing better than porridge for filling your belly for ages and giving you lots of nutritional goodies. Cinnamon and fresh and dried fruit improve it, as does cooking with milk (thanks for that tip, Sandra).
- find some delicious, healthy and belly-satisfying meals you can easily make for yourself and your family.
- only let yourself get to being a little bit hungry before meals. If you misjudge and don't eat enough at the previous meal and find yourself feeling ravenous, have a healthy snack (e.g. cheese, healthy-ish crackers, nuts, fruit, raw vegetables).
- a habitual after-dinner hot drink - perhaps hot chocolate - with a couple of gingernuts is a great way to fend off evening cravings for chocolate.
- don't have unhealthy treat foods in the house. Have healthy treats, though. It's good to feel spoilt!

These recommendations keep us satisfied so that it's easier to stick to healthy options. There's no point relying on willpower to keep yourself deprived of food energy (trust me, I tried for years), because if people we feel ravenous, our inbuilt drive to eat will prevail (sorry about the George Bush-ism). And because in nature feeling ravenous goes hand in hand with scanty food supplies, when we do eat, it's usually as much as possible. It's the inner animal thinking "It's been such a rough patch that's it's likely I'm going to be starved for the rest of the week, so I'm going to eat the whole icecream tub now in order to survive the famine." Very destructive, unhealthy and disheartening.

Best wishes to my friends. Remember you are already lovely!

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