Monday, 3 March 2014

Ways To Keep Your Diet Going

And avoid you making excuses!

Sometimes its hard to stick to your diet when life kind of gets in the way. Its all well and good saying cook everything from fresh and count everything all the time, but now and again it just isn't possible. You might have to go out for dinner, eat at a friends, or maybe you might just not feel like it!
Here are some diet saving tips for you to remember when you're finding it tough and they might just save you from falling off the wagon.

Make a meal plan

This is a great tip not just for helping you lose weight but it will also help you save money. Plan to shop only once a week. Pick a night that suits you best and stick to it. Avoid any small shops in between as not only will you spend more money but you will be less tempted to pick up treats.
On the day before or day of your shop, make a plan for the next 7 days of what you're going to eat. You don't have to stick to it rigidly but you should plan out at least 7 main meals, lunches and breakfasts. If for some reason you don't use them all, carry them over to the next week. Start by going through your cupboards, fridge & freezer and seeing what you have in and use that as the basis for your meals.
Then make a list of anything else you might need, and stick to it! Don't shop right before a meal to make sure you're not hungry which will lessen the temptation to buy extras not on your list. If you've forgotten something, unless its essential you will just have to wait until your next shop. If you do have to buy something, buy only that and nothing else.
Sounds obvious, but there were so many times I would pop to the shop just to get out of the house or because we'd ran out of milk, and I would spend an extra £20 plus and would probably have bought loads of little snacks just to treat myself. 

Prepare in advance.

I know its not always possible, but most of us will know the days were most likely to not be bothered to cook. For me, as a part time worker, its the days I'm in work. After working for a full day and fitting in my exercise, I sometimes cannot be bothered chopping and dicing. For those days, I either have my 'save me' items (see below) or I'll have prepared in advance. A slow cooker is a great option for these days - spend 10 - 15 minutes prepping the night before, stick it on and leave it till you're ready to eat the following evening.
Another option is to make meals in bulk  at the start of the week and freeze them. Personally my freezer is full of my sons meals so I don't really have room for my own so this isn't really something I can do. But its still a really great idea and pre-frozen items also double up as a 'save me' item.

Have some quick and easy 'Save Me' items in

As part of my shopping list I plan to have a couple of 'save me' items in. Things that are quick and easy yet low-ish in fat for those times you're either very short of time or you really can't face spending time cooking. These are the times its very easy to veer from your diet so its always an idea to have an easy option to turn to. They might not be the most nutritious items but if they're low in calories they'll probably still be a better option than a pizza.
Some of my back up items are:
  • Maggi So Juicy sachets. Bung some chicken in the oven for 30-35 mins and it comes out tasty and cooked in its own juices, so not too high in calories.
  • Couscous - 60g per person, soaked in stock for 10 minutes. Low in calories and carbs. Especially nice with the Maggi chicken and salad for really quick and easy meal.
  • Tinned soups - avoiding anything labelled 'cream of'. Most soups are around 1% fat and make a great easy lunch as they can be cooked in the microwave.
  • Mug shots. These are basically cuppa soups with pasta in them, simply cover with hot water and let the pasta soften. They're fewer calories than pot noodles but just as easy.
  • Tinned fish fillets. Aldi in particular do really nice mackerel or salmon fillets in a ready made sauce. They're great heated up in the microwave and served with couscous and salad - for a meal that takes no more than 10 minutes.
  • Frozen items - rather than frozen ready meals. Always check the calorie content of these but we've had some fairly low calorie frozen fish cakes that when served with couscous and salad were a reasonable, easy meal. I also have in freshly frozen fish fillets such as haddock, tuna or salmon. These can be wrapped in foil with some herbs and spices and bunged in the oven for 25-30 minutes. We've also had ready prepared, frozen chicken breasts in a sauce that again cook in the oven. I'll say again though, always check the calorie content before you buy!

Know which foods to avoid.

This is a topic covered in most diets and some tips I have heard time and time again. But that is only because they work! It makes life easier if you do some research and learn which foods you really should avoid and which you should go for when eating out.
The obvious ones are to avoid anything fried, creamy or with cheese in - all my personal faves, mores the pity. Go for tomato based sauces or anything grilled. For example, I love an Indian, and I admit even now I still have the occasional take away. If I do, I'll make sure I have eaten well through the day and have plenty of calories left. Then I'll go for either something like a Bhuna (which is an onion based sauce, nothing creamy like a Korma) with plain rice and split a normal take away portion with my husband. Or I'll chose something I recently discovered called a 'Shashlik' which is basically a grilled tandoori chicken kebab served with salad. I'll only have a main, no starters and accompany it with a chappati instead of a naan bread
If you're faced with a buffet, stick to things like the salads, pastas or sandwiches. Avoid things like chicken goujons, cocktail sausages, pork pies or mini pizzas. Sausages in particular are pretty much always high in fat. Don't take over fill your plate, and don't go back for seconds.
Avoid the desserts. Most desserts will be high in everything bad for you and should be skipped. If you have to have something, go for fresh fruit, yoghurt or a very small portion of something such as cake.
If in doubt when eating out, ask your server! Any good waiter/waitress worth their tips should know what to recommend or will be able to find out without too much fuss.

Don't skip your exercise

If you're short on time or particularly lacking in motivation, still try and squeeze something in. It will help burn off any extra calories you might have indulged in and will take time away from thinking about food. If you're not up for jumping around to something aerobic, then do something like yoga or pilates instead. Even going for a walk is better than doing nothing. The endorphins will kick in, boost your mood and hopefully your motivation as well.
Always try and make time to fit something in. Leave your friends a little bit earlier rather than having that last cup of tea - if your friends are anything like mine, they've been there too and should understand. If you can, get up a little earlier and squeeze in half an hour before you get on with your daily routine. Even make plans to make exercise part of your social life and do that with friends rather than going to the pub.
This is probably the hardest tip but the most worthwhile to stick to. It will help undo a part of any damage you do with food and really will make you feel better than if you had done nothing. With a bit of organisation and a little will power, it will be worth it.

If you don't want to eat it, don't buy it.

Another possibly obvious one but if you don't want to eat crisps and chocolate - don't buy it! If you do have a particular weakness, buy a lower calorie version. Personally, my mega weakness is crisps. I've stopped buying them and instead buy the lower calorie baked versions. Some can be quite expensive but these days there are some decent supermarket own versions that are a great compromise.
Another example is things like frozen pizzas or chicken nuggets. Everyone knows they are bad for you, so don't buy them. Oven chips are a better option than fried chips, as long as you stick to the recommended portion size on the back of the packet (usually with the nutritional information).
As I've said before, some of these tips might sound obvious but there is no harm in reminding yourself of them. Keep them in mind and they will help you make better choices and stick to your goals.
We all have weak days where we're close to giving in. Hopefully these tips will help you stay on track and minimize the damage. Most of all, I hope they make it a bit easier and stop you giving up completely!
For those of you who follow my progress in this blog, you will remember from my previous blog post that I felt I had a bad week last week. Well I weighed myself today and I lost another 3lbs! It just goes to show you that if I had given in last week like I wanted to, I wouldn't have had that result.
I've also had some amazing comments from friends and family and actually seem to be inspiring people to start their own weight loss journey! I can't tell you how much this means as I never would have believed I could be in that kind of position.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - if I can do it, anyone can!

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