- Work out how many calories you burn a day on average and eat this many (to maintain weight) or 20% less (to reduce weight)
- Swap one of your sugary snacks with a healthier replacement (e.g. a piece of fruit) each day. And yes I know fruit has some sugar in it but a banana over a Mars Bar will help you cut calories and provide less of a post sugar slump.
- Stop having cheat meals. Cheat meals create a restriction / binge / food as a reward mindset. Eat whatever you want whenever you want within reason without viewing food as good and bad.
- Eat protein. Aim to eat 1g of protein per kg of body weight. Will help you feel satisfied without overeating.
- Drink at least 0.033 litres water per kg of your body weight each day (so if you weight 60kg drink two litres a day). Fat loss, performance – hydration is so important to your health.
- Don’t exercise at all at the moment? Aim to complete a 30 minute session every week for a month, two 30 minutes sessions a week the next month and three 30 minutes sessions the following month. Boom = Exercise habit created.
- Increase your NEAT. However much you exercise aim to increase your non exercise movement by at least 10% each day (i.e. walk more)
- Get more sleep. Enough sleep every night will help with weight loss, stress, energy levels.
- Learn something new. Want to learn to do a handstand, swim, play netball? Practicing towards mastering a skill will get you moving without exercise being the main goal itself.
- Set yourself a challenge. Run in a race, do a Tough Mudder, compete in a swimathon. Setting a challenge can give you the incentive to get to your training sessions and maintain focus.
One for the Ladies
Solidly aimed at 50% of the population this one. Sorry.
When I’m on my period I literally crave fatty, sugary, salty foods. When you spend a lot of time trying to eat well this is pretty annoying so I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time looking into why and what I can do to try and make myself feel better (because I suffer from horrible cramps most months and bloat enough to feel like I may actually be pregnant with a baby Elephant) without giving into eating 10,000 calories of pure fat and sugar a day.
Just before and during our periods our Serotonin levels lower (less feel good hormones), our stress hormones spike (not helping in the feeling good department) and our bodies use more calories making us feel hungry more often. It’s therefore not hugely surprising we want to comfort eat- but apart from eating too much of the crap stuff affecting your body shape aims (I won’t say weight!) eating too much sugar will also cause a spike followed by a crash and burn which also doesn’t make you feel good in the long run.
I’ve therefore been making an effort to read up on what foods will help make me feel better without having a negative affect on looking after myself in general to try and implement them more into my diet .
Foods To Eat:
- Water – Not really food but hydrating well helps keep skin clear, prevent bloating (the better hydrated you are the les likely you will retain water) and reduce cramps.
- Almonds – also sesame seeds / flax seeds- these have calcium in them and calcium (but not dairy) can help reduce cramps.
- Dark chocolate – A little dark chocolate can help relax muscles and so reduce cramps, it will also help release some happy hormones.
- Celery – Full of water but not full of calories so a good option if you feel the need to constantly graze!
- Hummus- This one may be a bit controversial. I have read that chickpea’s can help you sleep better and also help improve mood. I have also read however that they can be classed as a Legume and cause bloating so perhaps eat in moderation.
- Pineapple – Help relax muscles (less cramps) and reduce bloating
- Bananas – Helps relax muscles (reduce cramping) also contains Vitamin B6 which can help improve your mood. Banana’s are also good at helping to regulate the digestive system, which some women can have problems with during this time.
- Tea – Yes it has caffeine in it, but it’s apparently better for you than coffee (which can increase anxiety levels and cause you to and retain water). Other types of tea can also help: Green tea for instance provides a little caffine still, peppermint tea can help soothe an upset stomach, Chamomile tea is relaxing and can help reduce anxiety.
- Spinach / Kale- These Superfoods have Calcium in them which assists in alleviating cramps. They are also Iron rich (our iron levels can drop whilst we are on our period hence why we crave iron rich foods).
- Salmon – This is full of omega 3 and Vitamin D. If you can eat it the week before you are due on it can have an anti – inflammatory effect.
- Oranges – Provide Calcium which can help relax cramping muscles and Vitamin D (can help regulate your mood).
- Brocolli – Full of Magnesium, potassium, Calcium, Vitamins A, C, B6, E – Good for improving your general mood and fighting fatigue.
Foods To Avoid:
- Fizzy drnks – Can cause bloating, plus sugary.
- Processed foods – Tend to be high sodium – sodium boats. Making food from scratch can reduces salt intake).
- Fried foods – Can elevate estrogen levels.
- Legumes( – I mentioned this before – some things I’ve read say hummus can help, others say avoid Kidney beans, blackbeans et.c due to their bloating effect.
- Refined grains (- refined foods can interfere with blood sugar levels and regular control of appetite, so whole grains are a better option than cookies, white bread etc.
- High fat foods – Can affect hormone activity and contribute to inflammation (and cramps)
- Coffee – Can increase anxiety / stress levels and contribute to water retention.
Really, this list is not too different to the type of foods I’d want to eat more of / avoid at any other time of the month but if you tend to feel a bit rubbish at certain points in your cycle knowing how you can help manage those symptoms (painkillers and hot water bottles aside) thinking about your diet isn’t a bad starting point.
Note- I’m not a trained nutritionists this is simply based on my own research about something that affects me- I would always recommend you see a qualified dietitian should you need advice!
I love fruit. I don’t think there is a single type of fruit I don’t enjoy and it’s one of those foods that makes me feel better when I eat it (I know some fruits can be naturally quite high in sugar but, right or wrong, I work on the basis that unprocessed foods are probably ok for you in moderation).
I try to buy a variety of different types of fruit each week and then have at least two different types each day- so I’m getting variety and a range of different nutrients and tend to have it as a mid morning snack.
This can be expensive!
This blog isn’t about the scandal that is fast / processed food being cheaper than the stuff that’s naturally good for you, or a lecture about how, if you value your health, paying more for food is an investment.
It’s about local markets.
I’m probaby a bit late to the game with this one- you may already buy your fruit from local market stalls. I live in Manchester City Centre (in the UK) and don’t drive and there aren’t lots of lcoal markets so I’ve always relied on supermarket fruit- which tends to have a short shelf life and if you want a nice variety is not cheap.
I recently discovered the fruit and veg stall in Picadully Gardens on a Staurday (I think there is also a fruit stall in the indoors Arndale Market too aong with a fish monger and butchers- all of which I’ve yet to try but I will). I’ve been going weekly for a fews now and last Staurday I got a punnet of strawberries, punnet of blueberries, punnet of blackberries, box of grapes and tub of apricots for a fiver. That’s good value- plus it doesn’t go off really quickly so I can make it last the whole week and the Blackbrries were HUGE and really juicy.
It’s actually also really nice to get served by the same people every week rather than using the self scanner at Asda!
I need to shop locally more often and fully intend to test the value for money of the other market stalls inside the Arndale over the coming weeks. If you don’t already, I can highly recommend finding your local market and giving them a go, because eating well can be expensive – so if helping out local business also helps your own wallet it’s a win all round.
On another fruit related note – it’s been bought to my attention that I may eat Kiwis strangely.
I eat them with the skin on!
Now I’ve been led to believe this provides more fibre and vitamin C than eating the flesh alone but apparently it creeps some people out!
I can’t be the only person to do this?