Tag Archives: diet

Can you eat your way to happiness?

7 Mar

"Oh no, it's raining apples!"

Reclining on the couch and munching a piece of chocolate (or five) is one of my secret pleasures. But research reckons that we are happiest when we eat a wholesome and nutritious diet. Junk food, on the other hand, can increase our chances of suffering from anxiety and depression.

It seems the age-old adage that you are what you eat is now truer than ever.

On some days, that would make me a giant Tim Tam!

When I was 20, I fell ill with glandular fever and ended up with post-viral fatigue. I was then diagnosed with clinical depression. The world was bleak and I hated every inch of myself, inside and out. Every morning was a struggle and I have many people to thank for helping me shift my thinking and heal myself.

During that time, I found comfort in crap food. I could easily scoff an entire Domino’s pizza and follow it up with Cadbury’s chocolate and a few glasses of Coke. I was desperately, exhaustingly unhappy. Food was my crutch. I didn’t reach for nourishing foods. Instead, I fed my mind and soul with junk. As a result, my mind was junk and of course my body reflected that.

So even without the studies, I know that what I feed myself has a tremendous impact on my self-esteem and self-worth. Thankfully, I no longer have depression and I fuel my body with filling foods (well, most of the time!) It is sometimes still a struggle to detach my emotions from the foods I seek.

Celebrity trainer Michelle Bridges has just published an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on the topic. She cites a 2000 study, in which 1000 women were interviewed about their diet and mental health symptoms. The study found that the women who ate a lot of fatty, processed food were more likely to experience depression and anxiety, than those who ate a variety of nutritious foods.

Another recent study found a link between teenagers’ diet and their mental health. The author of the study, Dr Felice Jacka, has even proposed that the right diet may actually help prevent depression in young people.

I wish I had known as a 20 year old that my diet may have been keeping me on that frightening mental rollercoaster. However, I don’t regret a moment of my battle with depression, because it has allowed me to really understand it and those who suffer from it.

It made me appreciate my body and take steps to nourish my mind and spirit with the right thoughts, food and friends.

So can you eat your way to happiness? In my experience, absolutely! What do you think?

An attempt to make life light & easy

3 Jan

Disclaimer: This is not a photo of my torso. I would never put broccoli on my stomach. Pumpkin, maybe...

I’ve joined Lite & Easy. For three reasons.

  1. I’m lazy and like the idea of food being delivered to my door.
  2. I’m a crap cook.
  3. I’m going to Thailand with The Lad in April and am terrified that the Thais will run down the beach screaming, ‘It’s a whale! Ahhh! A beached whale!’ That whale being me. Stuffed into a bikini. Moaning ‘oorrrgggh’ and massaging my big, bloated belly.

I know I’m not overly overweight. But since I stopped rowing (the season finished, the team dissolved, we had that hideous trip to Melbourne) and started eating Christmas goodies, I need to get things back under control. Step one is to pick up my running routine and yoga and Pilates practice. Step two is getting back into a healthy eating routine.

Thankfully, one of my colleagues has just started L&E and has been showing me all her neatly-packaged lunches (I’m a perfectionist Virgo – anything organised into a perfect package gets me excited). Inspired, I jumped online and started salivating over the summer menu. Though I did think it odd that their fare for the warmer months includes roast dinners and curries. I’d prefer fresh fish or grilled chicken and veggies.

My first delivery comes next Friday. I’ll arrive home after work to find seven days’ worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner tucked inside a cool esky. I’ll let you know how I go with the first week and whether I think the meals are worth it. The full seven day menu (which also includes a morning and arvo snack each day) costs $131. My weekly shopping bill is usually $90 (including an $11 Woolworths delivery fee – see point #1 above). And that’s before weekend take-aways and dinner with The Lad. So it does work out to be a lot cheaper than shopping, cooking or ordering my own stuff.

All going well, I’ll be in great non-whale-like shape come April!

Have you ever done Lite & Easy? Or had experience with another program like Weight Watchers? How did it go for you?

The dreaded weekend binge

9 Nov

I’ve been doing the ‘no sugar thing’ on-and-off for weeks now. The longest sugar-free stint I’ve survived is three weeks. It often ends with my face in a bowl of Reese’s Miniatures.

Monday to Friday, nine to five, I can easily survive on a healthy diet of veggies, porridge, nuts, seeds, protein and sugarless carbs. I strut around the office and dismiss offers of chocolate, smirking as I say, ‘No thanks, I’m off sugar’. My skin is clear, my ‘poonch’ (the affectionate name for the lovely fat roll that smothers my hips) has disappeared and I couldn’t care less about food.

The weekends, however, are my undoing. All I can think about is food! The inner west of Sydney is my little hub of gluttony – the endless restaurant signs scream at me, ‘Thai! Italian! Greek! Indian! Pizza! Sugar! Sugar! Sugar!’ The supermarket becomes my enemy. I no longer see the rich Greek yoghurt, rich red tomatoes and ripened avocados. Instead, I become fixated on Doritors, donuts and those bloody Reese’s Miniatures!

To combat my weekend write-offs, I’ll attempt to read a chapter from David Guillespie’s Sweet Poison Quit Plan. I’ll flick through Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar e-book. I’ll cook a big batch of scrummy vegetable ‘something-a-rother’. But nothing works.

It doesn’t help that Saturday and Sunday mornings I work up a massive appetite doing rowing training or racing. It also doesn’t help that I’m an all-or-nothing girl. You know the drill – the packet of Tim Tams is sitting on the coffee table. You tell yourself you’ll just have one, a little treat, and put the packet back in the fridge. Oh, but today was meant to be your ‘good’ day! Now you have 10 Tim Tams and no one to share them with. You can’t keep crap like that in the house when you’re meant to be eating healthily! It’s OK, you’ll scoff the lot now so that they’re all gone and you can start eating healthily again tomorrow.

Why is it that during the working week, I am a health nut, yet on weekends I go on a bingeing rampage?

It’s not just me!

Before going (sorry, attempting to go) sugar-free, I subscribed to the ’80-20’ rule. That is, eat and exercise well 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time. I like this rule – it allows me to justify being restrained most of the time, and becoming a crazed sugar-scoffing madwoman the rest. It means I can enjoy (guilt-free) all those fun food-centered activities – dinner with friends, dessert with the man, Malteasers at the movies, glass of wine at girly catch-ups…Then I realised I was justifying eating crap at virtually any occasion:

  • Stressed from work? Chocolate.
  • Boring night in? Ice cream and chocolate. Or chocolate ice cream.
  • Strolling around sunny Darling Harbour? Gelato. Usually chocolate.
  • Night before boot camp? Anything I can get my hands on. Hey, I’m exercising tomorrow, I’ll work it off!

To find out why I pig out from 5pm Friday til 9am Monday, I went a-Google-ing. Turns out, there’s a fair bit of research being carried out on people who chow down at the end of the working week.

One study found that people ate 400 calories more on weekends than weekdays, equating to around 20 per cent more.  Sounds about right to me!

According to dietician and exercise physiologist Kim Gorman, this is because “many dieters [are] creating a calorie deficit Monday through Friday but filling it — and more — during the weekend.”

She says the problem lies in unstructured weekends and a change in routine. That’s definitely the case for me – I have set eating times at work. But when I sleep in until 10am on Saturday, my whole weekend is out of whack.

How to eat like it’s Wednesday

An article by Megan Othersen for Rodale Inc, offers some practical tips for treating a weekend day like a Wednesday.

I’m going to try a few this weekend and let you know how I go.

1.    No sleep-ins

I relish my sleep-ins, especially as I’m up at 4.30am most mornings for rowing. However, Megan reckons it’s easier to stick to a healthy eating regime if your eating schedule is constant. So this weekend, I’ll be breaking the fast at 7am (gaa!).

2.    Log it

I use a great free app called My Fitness Pal to track my eating and exercise, though it gathers virtual cobwebs on weekends. This weekend I’ll record all my eating and see if it prevents a blow-out.

3.    Eat the same breakfast

This isn’t in Megan’s list, but I reckon if I eat my weekday brekkie of porridge with rice milk, nuts and chia seeds, I’ll be less likely to scoff sweets later in the day.

4.    Exercise

With the Head of the Parramatta rowing regatta testing my fitness levels this Saturday morning, I can easily stick to this rule. The challenge, however, will be not using the race to justify a later pig-out!

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