Getting back to healthy habits
My eating habits and activities needed to become healthier after an unexpected journey this year. Life became a yo-yo of eating better and then rewarding myself with too many junk foods. The right lifestyle should involve enjoying things that are good for us.
Here is how my year kept swinging one way and the other. I tried juggling everything at the start of the year – work, postgrad, social, marriage – and I got through it all with convenience foods. Then I broke my leg. Being on one leg for 6 weeks, there was plenty of inactivity. During early recovery, I craved a balanced mix of foods every hour or two. Then I was ‘better’ after months of exercises. I didn’t feel the need to nurture my body as much since it was recovered. Life suddenly became stressful again. My social life and in-office work had been cut back during the injury. My schedule stayed more empty despite my regained ability to walk. The quietness led to feelings of confusion. One thing was certain – there were pizzas in the freezer and chocolate cookies in the cupboard. And that’s how I found myself gaining yet another kilo. Suddenly I couldn’t fasten trousers as comfortably as I used to. They might be just clothes, but it reflected a broader problem. I want to be a balanced better version of myself. The same shape, same tastes, but stronger and more in control.
Now it’s time to be healthy out of choice, instead of necessity. And I should start moving around more. There is no excuse to avoid going for a walk. Many of us have circumstances that force us to eat better and exercise more. It could be injury, sickness, a number on a scale or a feeling. Then we get better. And it’s easy to adopt the mentality that, ‘I’m better now so I can do anything.’ Um, no. Don’t celebrate successes by deviating to old habits.
The solution was simple. I visited the local supermarket and picked up a variety of veggies. Detailed recipes looked complicated, as delicious as they might taste. I’m keeping it simple. Just cook it at night or eat it raw if that’s better during the day.
Veggie sticks and rice crackers can be snacked on between meals. Dip them in hummus or peanut butter. Stores now have pre-prepared carrot sticks. I still prefer to just peel and chop some veggies the night before. But embrace convenient portions of wholesome foods to fit a schedule more easily.
Today’s lunch had a side of boiled cabbage. It tastes better than one might imagine. A few drops of soy sauce can go a long way in this watery food. My favourite mains at lunch time are veggie burgers. Sydian has burger patties that I’m a bit addicted to (in moderation). I’m now keen to try their falafel. These are great to cook in 10-20 minutes on a day at home.
Stir fries are fine, but keep an eye on the sauces. Have a look at the sugar content in the jar. I sometimes prefer a sweet flavour anyway, but with a twist. Just put a smaller quantity of sauce in and maybe add a bit of water.
Pasta is still allowed. I have to start controlling my portions, as I can gobble those carbs and never feel full. Now is the time to try brown pastas or even spiralysed veggies. I’m ready to buy a spiralyser machine for the kitchen. We previously were happy with pre-made spiral zucchini at the supermarket. Although you’re paying for the convenience and it’s best eaten before the expiry. There are more ways to eat pasta style dishes now.
As for the pasta sauces, I mainly go for locally made products with natural ingredients. Some mediterranean stores and fruit shops stock local brands of tomato sauces and purees. Creamy pastas are definitely a sometimes food. If going creamy, make it yourself so you know what’s in it. That brings me to one more product that should be in every kitchen.
Tins of diced tomato are the single easiest ingredient to keep on the shelf. It’s a great substitute for pasta sauce. But this mushy tomato is great for more meals. Mix it with chicken or turkey mince and seasoning powder for a simple Mexican meal. Stir it with chilli sauce for instant salsa with chips. Diced tomatoes really will save any meal.
These are just some ways in which I’m getting healthy. It’s all about portion control and substituting ingredients. Ok. Now I need to get out for a long walk…