5 Quick tricks to help you eat less and this week’s meal plan

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quick tricks to help you eat less

5 Quick tricks to help you eat less

Over the summer my food intake has certainly increased.  All those little treats you allow yourself because “you’re on holiday” can soon become an everyday habit.

The problem with small increases in food intake is that they soon add up and you begin putting on weight, especially if you’re not moving more to compensation – me completely!

However, the same is true if you make small decreases here and there in your food intake.  Over time these changes help to reduce any possible weight gain and could even help you reduce weight.

Of course, you could make a radical change i.e. drastic diet and probably see some immediate results.  The problem with this strategy is that we usually can’t sustain it and invariably slip back into our old habits.  This is why drastic diets never work long term.

So, I recommend implementing a few simple tweaks to your eating habits to get you started.  These are changes that are hardly noticeable in your day to day life but they soon become everyday habits that you do without thinking.

1. Change your plate size

Dinner plates have been getting bigger and bigger.  Some plates, particularly in restaurants can measure up to 12″/30cms.  Change your plate size to no bigger than 10″/25cms.  This small change could reduce your food intake over a year by 22% (source: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think – Dr Brian Wansink)

If you want to really reduce your food intake then you could try using a side plate, which usually measure around 8″/20cms.

The reason this small change works is because you are tricking your brain into thinking you are still enjoying a full portion of food.

Small portions of food on a large plate make you feel as if you are depriving yourself.  However, the same portion of food on a small plate looks larger and your brain feels more satisfied that it’s eating a full size meal.

2. Fill half your plate with vegetables first

When you are dishing food out onto your plate, fill half the plate first with salad or vegetables.  The other half of the plate should be a quarter of protein and a quarter of carbohydrates, with a small portion of healthy fats.

If half your plate is already stacked with salad or vegetables you will automatically reduce the amount of foods you place on the other half.  This is a really important trick to use at ‘all you can eat buffets’ or carveries if you are dining out.

3. Change the colour of your plates

Research suggests that when we use white plates, foods such as popular carbohydrates like rice, pasta and potatoes become lost against the white background.  This increases the chances of overloading our plates with these foods as we find it harder to judge our portion size.

If you pick a coloured plate, particularly green or blue, the contrast against the ‘white’ carbohydrates helps you assess your portion size.  Conversely, green vegetables don’t stand out so well on blue and green plates so you pile these portions higher – a healthy result!.

I’m currently using these plates from  Mason Cash:

4. Make healthy foods in the home prominent

I’ve talked about this before in my super size challenge post

 

Make your fruit bowl visible and accessible – either on your kitchen worktop or your dinner table.  Whenever you are feeling peckish or if you are in a rush to go out, you are much more likely to pick up a piece of fruit.

To make this work though you also need to hide away the cookie jar and unhealthy snacks.  The harder it is to see and access them, the less you will choose them.  If you are really struggling with sugar cravings, I would go so far as to say don’t even have them in the house.  Temptation is everywhere outside our homes.  Human beings have limited amounts of willpower.  The best place to control your environment is in your home.  Reduce all the temptations in this zone so that you only need to rely on your willpower once you leave the house.

5. Drink more water

Often we crave food simply because we are dehydrated.  It’s really important to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

When we are dehydrated we feel weak and fatigued and are much more likely to cave into the temptations of unhealthy food.

The NHS recommends we should drink about 6-8 glasses of liquids or 1.2 litres per day.  This can include water, low fat milk and sugar free drinks like tea and coffee.

Invest in a beautiful water bottle to keep with you at all times, particularly on your desk at work.   Work out how much water your bottle holds and then how many refills you need to maintain your recommended 1.2 litres.  Pop a rubber band around your bottle for each refill you require.  Each time you refill your bottle, you can remove a band.  This will help you keep on track with your goal each day.

This week’s meal plan:

  • Balsamic and green bean salad with salmon and sweet potato wedges
  • Roast Pork with a pistachio stuffing, vegetables and roast potatoes
  • Breaded chicken fillets and salad
  • Chilli con carne
  • Spicy stir fried pork with rice (left overs from roast)
  • Indian chicken curry and rice
  • Chicken pie, mashed potatoes and vegies

 

Wishing you all a wonderful week.  Don’t forget to hop on over to my Facebook Page or Instagram page and let me know what changes you are making to your everyday habits.

You can also sign up for my regular New Leaf Newsletter here to receive up date information, recipes and tips.

 

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Everyday healthy habits I try to do

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Do you often feel frazzled and exhausted?

Do you suffer from brain fog?

Are you searching for some ideas for healthy habits to help calm you day?

Why not check out whether these habits help:-

 

everyday healthy habits

** Please note that this post contains affliate links.  I may  earn a commission from qualifying purchases**

Everyday healthy habits I try to do

I think we all know the importance of habits in our everyday lives.  Habits can effect whether we live healthy, happy lives or lives that are plagued with bad choices.  Some habits are so ingrained, often we don’t even realise we are doing them.   I’ve been working recently on establishing the healthy habits I think help me live a more balanced life.  I will then tackle the bad habits that I probably need to change – that’s a post for another day!

So, here are some of my everyday healthy habits:-

1. On waking

When I’m having my cup of tea in bed (see my school morning routine here) I prepare for the day ahead.  I usually mentally work out my to-do list for the day.  I then prioritise around 3 to 4  items that I know really need to be completed  – anything else that gets done is a bonus.

I also consider who I am likely to interact with during the day and decide how I will handle any discussions/meetings I may have with them.

I try to perceive whether there will be any difficulties with my to-do list and think about how best I can deal with them.  However, I try not to get too bogged down in negative thoughts about what could go wrong.  I prefer to focus mainly on positive outcomes.  My mum always says ” if you use positive problem solving to prepare for the worst – then hopefully it won’t happen!”.

2. Exercise habits

I’ll be perfectly honest and own up to the fact that I’m not good at prioritising exercise into my day.

I do try to find time first thing in the morning to walk the dog.  Dogs are great motivators to get us out!

If like me, you struggle with an exercise routine,  perhaps you could walk to work/school or anywhere on your commute?  The other option is to try and get out for a walk at lunch time.  (You can check out the benefits of walking as exercise here)

As much as possible I try to do a home work out of say Hiit or yoga as well.  I have signed up to regularly classes in the past and whilst these have helped, it’s inevitable that something crops up and I miss the class.  I then get frustrated that I have wasted money.  I suspect I will dip back into this form of exercise, as it does help keep me accountable but it’s difficult when you have kids.



3. Tackling the to-do list

Like most mums, I end up spending much of my time trying to multi task.  Research shows that this  is actually not a very effective use of our brains.

If I spend too long multi tasking, I begin to feel frustrated and anxious.  This is probably because I’m not really completing tasks sufficiently to cross them off my to-do list.

I’ve now started setting a timer on my phone and/or breaking my time down into blocks to allocate to certain tasks.  This really helps me to focus my mind on the job and stop procrastinating.  By the end of the task I usually feel more energised as I’ve actually completed something.  Also my brain doesn’t feel so scattered and confused.

Another tip, is to work out what time of the day you feel at your most energised and focused.  For me it is definitely the mornings when I’m fuelled with coffee! I know some people who love getting up super early (my husband) to get stuff done, whilst others prefer to work into the night (my brother).

4. Try to eat healthy and drink lots of water

I think we are all trying to do this habit, some are just better at it than others!.

I go by the 80:20 rule (eating healthy for 80% of the time, lapsing 20%)  and balance.  I try to eat healthy as much as possible.  To me this means eating lots of fruit and vegetables, trying to avoid overly processed foods and watching my portion sizes.  However, I’m not into banning sugar completely from my life, eliminating food groups or never eating fish and chips.   It’s important to find a healthy eating plan that works best for you and your lifestyle.

I’m also trying really hard to drink more water through the day.  I’ve noticed I have less brain fog when I achieve this habit.

Whilst it’s not technically an everyday habit, I do firmly believe in weekly meal planning.  By looking at my meal plan in the morning, I can take out the necessary meat or items from the freezer required for our evening meal.  Then, I don’t need to think about what we are going to eat until I come to prepare it that night.  This removes a huge amount of stress and extra planning from the day.

 

5. Do something kind or helpful for others

As a mother and a wife this kind of comes with the job description!  However, I do try to throw in a few other acts of kindness – maybe helping a relative or friend, or complimenting a complete stranger, opening the door for someone and smiling as much as possible!   Apparently, acts of kindness to others helps to improve our own feelings of self worth.

5. Read something!

I’m a huge reading fan.  I usually read for about half an hour before I go to sleep.  I find this really helps to calm my mind.  I also snatch 10 minutes here and there in the day – having my morning cup of tea, waiting for appointments, waiting at school pick up etc.

There’s so much reading material available in the world, that no matter your interests I’m sure you will find something to read about.  Reading helps to relax the brain, spark creativity, teach new skills, inform and explain our life and world.



6. Enjoy moments of complete quiet

This one is especially important to me.  In a house with 4 boys I find I really need little pockets of pure quiet now and again to just recoup and regroup my mind.   It might just be 10 minutes whilst I put the washing on, but just that little escape from all the noise of life really helps to keep my brain calmer.

7.  I always try to find things in my day to be grateful for

For me this is mostly observing things in my environment that cheer me up –  something in nature that I’ve seen on my morning walk, the kids being funny, or the way the sunlight dances on the wall.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not some overly cheerful person.  When it’s cold and pouring with rain or there’s a problem to sort, I really struggle to find anything to be grateful for.  But it’s at these times that we need to focus on something to be grateful for to stop ourselves sliding into negativity.

A few other things I would like to do regularly but don’t always manage

Strenuous exercise

I really struggle to find time to fit in a good cardio or weight bearing exercise block.  I know I need to and it makes my body feel good when I do it but committing time to it is always a struggle for me.  It’s something I’m continually working on.

Review my day

I know it would be helpful (in the same way that I prepare for the day ahead) to review the end of my day.  Reflecting on what I have achieved, what’s been good about my day, would probably be a useful habit to implement.  However (I suspect like many of you) I just fall into bed exhausted and forget to complete this habit.

Have a regular bedtime

Wow – that sounds so old and boring doesn’t it!

But, I really do need my regular 7-8 hours of sleep, and science is now proving how important sleep is for all aspects of our lives such as weight loss and mental health.

I usually head to bed between 10-11 pm, have a read for half an hour and then hope to sleep through until the alarm goes off.  It doesn’t always work – why is it that we seem to wake at 4am?

Without proper sleep though I can struggle with my mood, feel lethargic and unproductive and stray from my healthy eating habits.

 

So, that’s it.  These are the everyday habits I try to include into my day.  I’d love to hear any suggestions about the habits you do each day that help you live a healthier life.  Comment below or hop over to my facebook page or Instagram page.

 

I hope you have a fabulous weekend and week ahead.

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P.S Don’t forget to sign up for my Newletter for regularly updates, news and views.

 

 

Fibre, a super fibre fruit loaf recipe & this week’s meal plan

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**Please note that this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases**

fibre and fruit loaf recipe

 

Hello Everybody,

I hope you’ve had a great week and relaxing weekend.

This week I want to talk about:-

Fibre

If you’re of a certain age like me, then you might remember the food fad of the 80’s and 90’s was fibre, principally marketed by cereals such as All Bran, which tasted rather like shredded cardboard boxes.

But, the food fad for fibre was an extremely important one which is currently being undermined by the anti-carbs trends of the moment.

Fibre is a necessary component to ensure your digestive system is working correctly.

There are two types of fibre:-

1. Soluble fibre

This fibre is soluble in your gut and makes a gel-like material (think wallpaper paste) that effectively mops up waste in the digestive tract.  It’s particularly good at lowering cholesterol and blood glucose levels in the blood.  Soluble fibre is found mainly in beans (legumes), oats, citrus fruits, apples and barley.

2. Insoluble fibre

This fibre isn’t actually digested or absorbed by the body so passes through the small intestine mainly intact.  When it reaches your large intestine it soaks up water, making a “bulky” mass that helps push through waste food products to be eliminated.  It acts rather like a snow ball – growing as it collects debris, pushing through the intestines and clearing out the gut.

Insoluble fibre is found mainly in whole grains, bran, beans, nuts, fruit and vegetables – especially in the skins (think potato wedges with skins on, apple slices with skin on!).    Eating whole fruits and vegetables are the best way to obtain the benefits of fibre.  This is why I’m not a big fan of smoothies as often the fibre content of the fruit and vegetables has been removed.  Sweet-corn is particularly effective at passing through the body almost intact.

As fibre takes time to move through the gut, it can help to make you feel full for longer.  Plus the body has to use more energy to digest and move the fibre through the gut, which means more calories burned, therefore fibre can help with weight loss as you will eat less and burn more calories.

Animal foods such as meat, diary and fish don’t contain fibre.

How much fibre do you need each day?

Current Government guidelines in the UK recommend 30g per day.  Most of us don’t reach this at all, with the average being about 18g per day.

6 important benefits of fibre:-

  1. It helps maintain regular bowel movements;
  2. It reduces the risk of haemorrhoids and diverticular disease;
  3. It controls blood glucose levels;
  4. It helps lower bad cholesterol levels;
  5. It helps you feel full for longer so you eat less;
  6. It helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut.

One word of caution

If you haven’t been eating much fibre, you need to introduce it slowly so that  your gut can adjust to processing it again.  If you eat too much, too soon, it can make you feel gassy and uncomfortable.  I believe this is why many people think they are intolerant to whole grains when really their gut just needs time to adjust.

You also need to ensure you drink plenty of water – remember how I said insoluble fibre ‘soaks’ up water?  If you are already dehydrated you can make matters worse, so drink, drink, drink!

Here’s a super tasty way to get your fibre, without eating All Bran:-

fruit loaf recipe

A super fibre fruit loaf

I’ve been making this super fibre fruit loaf for years now.  It’s packed full of dates, figs, apricots and raisins and contains no fat.  It even gets a thumbs up from the Hubby.

If you want to make it too, you can find the recipe right here at Taste Magazine

This week’s meal plan:-

  • Caramelised onion and camembert quiche and salad
  • Chicken and mushroom pies with potato wedges (skin on!)
  • Chicken, portobella mushroom, prosciutto stacks with balsamic glaze and salad
  • Creamy salmon pasta
  • Spicy chilli chicken and salads
  • Cajun chicken, sweet potatoes and tomato chilli jam and vegetables.

 

Have a wonderful week.  Don’t forget to sign up for my Newsletter to get regular updates from the blog, recipes and special offers.

 

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The Benefits of cycling for mums & why I love my Whytes Fairfield bike

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benefits of cycling for mums

 

**Disclaimer: The review of the Whyte’s Fairfield Women’s bike is a completely independent review and is my own experience and opinion of the bike.  However, this post does contain some affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn commission from qualifying purchases**

 

Hello everybody,

The Benefits of Cycling for mums:

One of the areas I really struggle with improving in my life is exercise and I expect this is the case for all you mums out there.

Unfortunately, the old quote “you can’t out run a bad diet” may not be completely true.  I  believe that you still need to address diet and exercise as a two pronged approach to living healthy.  There’s  increasing scientific evidence that exercise has a positive impact on gut health – regardless of whether you change your diet or not.    Exercise has also been proven to have a positive effect on mental health and general feelings of wellbeing.

When you have kids, finding ways to motivate yourself and find time to exercise becomes even more complicated.  So, here’s:

5 reasons why cycling is a great exercise for mums:-

  1. As cycling is a form of transport it can be easier to incorporate it into our everyday lives.  Cycling to work, according to a study by the British Medical Journal in 2017, significantly reduces the risk of developing and dying from cancer and heart disease.  Perhaps you can incorporate cycling to school or work as part of your everyday routine?  Or whenever you need something small from the local shop, jump on your bike rather than get into the car.
  2. Cycling can also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke,  reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and help control weight.  It also helps to reduce stress and is a good form of relaxation – essential for us mums!
  3. It’s a great way to bond with our children.  Getting outdoors and experiencing exercise together is really important for family mental health.   Did you know children should be exercising for 60 minutes per day?  I know mine don’t achieve that, so cycling together will improve both mine and the children’s exercise levels.
  4. If your parents are fairly active, you could get them out on their bikes too.  Cycling is a great activity for grandparents as it’s a low impact exercise which is easier on joints.  I certainly find it easier on my arthritis than running.  This increases family bonding with the older generation.
  5. You can start cycling with your  children from 12 months – with them sitting in a bike seat in front or behind you. Even now as a mature grown up, I can remember sitting as a child behind my mum on her bike.  However, have someone on hand to help you when you try this for the first time.  Trying to get onto and start peddling with the extra body weight of a child balanced on your bike takes a bit of getting used to.     You can then move over to a tag-a-long, before starting the process of teaching them to ride their own bike with stabilisers – hard work but fun!

 

Tips for cycling with your kids:

  • Plan your route carefully.  Obviously try to avoid busy roads and preferably use cycle paths, tow paths or country tracks.  Also if they are very young and cycling themselves,  avoid any hills – mind you I don’t like hills either!
  • Make sure you have plenty of  snacks and drinks to keep them hydrated and motivated.  Making a purpose for your cycle ride can also be helpful – maybe cycling to the park or a playground, the shop or a local café.
  • Make sure they have appropriate clothing: in summer, hats and suncream, in winter lots of warm clothing as children chill quickly just sitting on the bike.
  • Ride in a line, with your children in the middle or if you are the only adult, cycle behind your children keeping an eye on them.  It is a bit un-nerving watching them swerve around but they will get better!

Most importantly, don’t forget cycle helmets for everyone!

For more cycling safety tips check out http://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/cycling-health-benefits/

 

Why I love my Whyte’s Fairfield Women’s bike

My lovely husband bought me a new bike for my birthday.  This is a hybrid bike i.e.  it’s designed to provide a good ride both on road and off road.  My previous bike was a rather heavy mountain bike.  As I mainly tend to cycle on lanes around my home (which all involve a steep hill) a mountain bike was always a comfortable ride but it was a really heavy and tiring climb up the hills.

It’s easy to become despondent and demotivated if you know every time you exercise it will be hard and painful!.

So, my new bike makes the whole experience much more enjoyable because it has a lighter alloy frame.  I’m not very technically minded but apparently it also has up to 27 gears provided by a Shimano gearing system which makes the up hills so much easier!

I gave the Whytes Fairfield a trial first as a mountain bike with my youngest son and a friend and her son.

The gearing was easy to master and I bumped along very smoothly.  However my bum did get a bit sore – I think that was mainly due to me being out of shape though!

 

Whyte's Fairfield Womens bike

 

I love the handle bars which are much more ergonomically designed to make it easier for my achy, arthritic hands to hold and operate the brakes.

Whyte's Fairfield handle bars

 

The seat is wide enough for a female bottom.  I love the stitching detail and the Whytes logo of a deer head.

Whyte's Fairfield bike seat

 

So, as you can see, having a bike can be great fun, especially with the kids.  If you do decide to get a bike go to a reputable bike shop, who will make sure the bike is the right size for you and will be able to advise you on all the technical bits!

Remember you can get out cycling anytime you want, in anyway you want.  Cycling provides a great family activity, or you can buddy up with a friend to help motivate you both.  I would especially recommend finding a route with a coffee stop half way round, so you can have a quick pit stop and make it a more sociable way of getting your exercise in.

My last tip:-

Treat yourself to some nice gear – you will feel more motivated when you put stuff on that makes you feel good.  A sloppy old t’shirt and baggy jog pants don’t motivate you in the same way.

 

 

Here’s to sunny days, cycling through the countryside to lovely tea gardens and cafes!!

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6 Healthy eating holiday tips and this week’s meal plan

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6 healthy eating holiday tips

6 Healthy eating holiday tips

I absolutely love holidays.  They’re a great time to relax, enjoy time with loved ones, explore new places and enjoy food!!!

When on holiday though,  the last thing you want to do is restrict what you eat and drink.   However, I believe that by making a few simple little tweaks here and there to your food choices you can still stay on track with your healthy goals.  Here’s my 6 holiday tips:-

1. Enjoy Breakfast

If you are staying in a half board or bed and breakfast hotel then make the most of the breakfast on offer.  You’ve got the whole of the rest of the day to burn this food off, plus you’ve paid for it up front!

If you are self catering, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast to start the day off right – lots of fresh fruit, yogurts, eggs and maybe a croissant or two!

2. Eat a light lunch

If you’ve eaten a big breakfast, then only eat a very light lunch.  A salad, or some fresh fruit should keep you going.  Obviously, children will need more – mine are always starving no matter how big a breakfast they’ve had.

3. Do some exercise

Try to do some exercise.  Get out and explore your holiday destination by walking as much as possible.  Use the pool or sea to set yourself a swimming challenge each day.  Spend time playing with the kids – tag, table tennis, cricket or tennis if available.

4. Keep track of your drinks

It’s easy whilst on holiday to drink more beer, cocktails, wine and even sugary, fizzy drinks.  Whilst, it’s important to enjoy your holiday, these extra calories do add up.  Just try to alternative your drinks with lots of water.  Tea and coffee is also fine but preferably without any added sugar.

5. Listen to your body

When your body says it’s FULL – stop eating!

Yes, I know there are lots of temptations to carrying on eating but you really will feel better for listening to your body.  Filling up on the “all you can eat” buffet before bed will affect your sleep as your body thinks it needs to digest all that food instead of resting.

6. When eating out try some healthy swaps like the ones in this chart:-

 

 

If you want some more ideas about changing and making new habits check out this post HERE

This week’s meal plan:-

  • Cumin and garlic fish with salsa and creamy potato bake
  • Mexican chilli chicken and rice
  • Satay pork and oven baked turmeric rice
  • Quiche and salad
  • Sweet chilli chicken stir fry with noodles
  • Thai turkey burgers and salad

 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and if you are off on holiday soon, have a great time!.  I will be having a little break from the meal plan posts whilst I’m on my holidays.

Don’t forget to sign up for my regular newsletter for updates and recipes from this site.

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