Here’s part 3 of the healthy eating series (read up on part 1 – research and part 2- breakfast).
As a reminder, this was my resolution:
- drastically reduce sugar intake and sweets
- eat less empty carbohydrates (white flour products like bread rolls, pasta, etc.), switch to whole grain products where possible and find alternatives to wheat
- eat a more plant based diet, fruit and vegetables first, everything else second
- continue to buy local fresh produce
- grow my own salads and vegetables again on my balcony with a better plan on what I want to grow and actually need
- build up a collection of tried and trusted healthy recipes that we can return to again and again
- use less dairy products
What did I change?
I am eating lunch at the office where there is a variety of hot lunches to be had as well as salads, desserts and rolls. I’ve never been much of a meat eater so I usually stuck to pasta, potatoes, anything baked with cheese or fries. I also almost always got a dessert, most often pudding.
Since doing my research I felt I could now make some informed choices and plans for lunch. I especially liked the 5 a day campaign by the WHO (in the US it’s called fruits & veggies – more matters). It basically tells you to eat 5 hand fulls of fruits and veggies a day, ideally 3 helpings of veggies and 2 of fruits. One fruit portion can be substituted by a hand full of nuts.
True to my resolution I am now trying to stay away from the carbs and especially the fries and the foods drowned in cheese (saturated fats). Instead I pick whatever veggies are offered and fill my plate with them. Since I have no say on the menu this is easier on some days than others. I still eat pasta or potatoes when they come with a veggie side or sauce. I try to stay away from fatty sauces and I eat fish whenever it’s on the menu. Often I have a little bowl of salad with my hot meal.
With the salad I choose organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing instead of heavier premade dressings. Instead of dessert I get a glass of freshly pressed orange juice with my lunch, which serves as one portion of fruit for my 5 a day plan.
I realize these choices are highly dependent on the environment and may not be possible for everyone but I think we all need to work with what’s there and make the best food choices available to us.
I also always take a 20-30 minute walk after lunch. I need to get out to breathe a bit of fresh air and stretch my legs before sitting down at the desk again. It’s refreshing and especially in spring gives your body a chance to soak up some sunshine and much needed vitamin D.
How did it work?
Man, staying away from fries and cheesy gratins was hard! When you get there hungry those hot, fatty foods look mouthwatering. The veggies and salads look much less appealing and filling.
But I promise once the withdrawal period is over it gets so much easier! It took about two or three weeks for me not to crave fatty foods any more and I now easily and happily choose the veggies. It helps to tell yourself how much better you’ll feel when you make the right choice and how proud you will be of yourself!
Sure I still have days when I crave a certain thing on the menu and sometimes I get weak and give in (it’s ok, we need to love ourselves).
When you switch from fatty foods and lots of carbs to a veggie based diet at first you feel like those still leave you hungry, like they are not as filling. I found that too subsides after a few weeks as your body adjusts to it. Instead I now feel pleasantly full after a meal whereas when I eat fries or heavy foods now they make me feel tired and bloated.
I used to have an afternoon low after lunch when I would get very tired and sleepy and concentration was impossible. Changing my eating habits has made this afternoon slump disappear almost completely!
Overall I feel much better with this diet and that’s enough encouragement to stick to it.
Honestly I think lunch is fine for me like it is now. I could say I planned to do more home cooking to take to work but I know myself and it ain’t happening any time soon 😉
I’ve found what works for me and the challenge will be sticking with it. It’s a choice to make every single day and while it gets easier and easier with time the temptations are still there. I’m looking at you, chocolate pudding dessert with cherry compote.
Stay tuned for the next part which will be afternoon snacks!