Being healthy is hard at the best of times isn’t it? Throw a baby into the mix and it gets a whole LOT harder!
I put the majority of my weight on during the third trimester as I suffered from Pelvic Girdle Pain and found even walking very short distances a struggle. On top of that, I was so tired during those last few weeks that spending time in the kitchen cooking was just not an option. Ease and convenience became the aim of the game.
This continued after the birth and I think pretty much every new parent can relate to the extreme tiredness and whole life adjustment that takes place when healthy living just takes a nosedive. It is the last thing you worry or even think about. I had made a few healthy meals for the freezer during the week before my due date but definitely not enough to see us through so they were gone within a few days. The rest of our meals were literally anything that was quick and easy!
When we had somewhat adjusted to our new life we started becoming a little more conscious of what we were eating and, as I was breastfeeding, I knew it was important to make sure I was eating the right things to produce the best milk. The other side of that coin was that I could not go on a diet or dramatically reduce my calories as that would also affect my milk supply.
So it was a good 6-7 months after giving birth that I truly began to think about healthy eating again and losing some of the baby (or takeaway!) weight I had put on.
Dieting was just not something I was interested in doing yet again. I have probably tried every diet under the sun over the years and yes, I would lose weight but it always went back on. Always! And I was just miserable on them; always thinking about what I could and couldn’t have, being constantly hungry and giving up after a few weeks. And I didn’t want unhealthy eating habits to rub off on Bernie!
Before I fell pregnant I had already started to change my eating habits and had lost weight and toned up for our wedding just through making small, simple changes, so I knew I needed to get back into those habits.
So in this post I thought I would share some of my healthy eating tips and tricks. Read on if you want to find out more.
- Plan ahead
I always plan my meals for the week ahead and do a shop at the start of the week to make sure I have everything in. I make sure my lunches and dinners are planned but also my snacks as, I don’t know about anyone else, but that is my downfall! I have such a sweet tooth but I have found that if I have snacks in that I have made (a healthy banana bread, energy balls or even some rice cakes topped with hummus and cucumber) I stick to my healthy eating plan a lot better. One top tip to satisfy a sweet tooth is making a healthy hot chocolate – cacao combined with a plant-based milk like almond or hazelnut is delicious. Jazz it up by adding some maple syrup and salt to cacao and hazelnut milk, or some mint extract, almond extract, maca powder or peanut butter to cacao and almond milk. Yum!
- Cook in bulk
I always try and make a big batch of meals like Bolognese, chilli, curries etc so that we have enough for two nights (and even sometimes enough so that a third night’s portion can be frozen). It makes life so much easier knowing that you have a fresh, home-cooked ready-meal waiting for you to simply heat up. A life-saver when you are busy and the temptation to order in is far too easy to give into. I also make sure I have a batch of my homemade granola in so that quick, simple and healthy breakfasts are ready and waiting too. For granola inspiration have a look at the recipes on this blog.
- Cut down on meat and dairy
I have found that making small changes like this (using a plant-based milk like almond or rice milk, coconut yoghurt or making veggie alternatives to meals) automatically helps in cutting down on calories and the bad fats without even realising. Your body can also digest these much easier and you get the most out of your food from a nutritional point of view.
- Cook from scratch
This is key! And whilst it takes some getting used to once you get into the habit of preparing meals from scratch it becomes second nature. The meals are more satisfying both physically and mentally as you know exactly what is in your food. Preparing your own meals automatically reduces the salt and sugar content, and enables you to feel satisfied for longer as they contain more of the nutrition your body needs to function. And it doesn’t have to be elaborate and laborious work. I try and cook dishes that are really quick and easy as time is so precious, especially if you are balancing work and a baby like me! Check out the recipes on this blog for some inspiration!
- Move more
Whether it is a quick HIIT or cardio workout, a Zumba class, some yoga or even good old walking, moving is essential for good health, weight loss and toning up! I admit it is hard sometimes to fit this in, especially if you have had a long day and you are tired but I always find I feel so much better after doing something, no matter how small. Even some yoga I find helps to re-align my thoughts and attitude towards my body so that even if before I was tempted to have that bar of chocolate, after doing some yoga my thought process shifts and I realise I don’t necessarily want to put all that sugar into my body as my body does not need it and I opt for a healthy snack instead! Try combining exercise moves with baby too for a good way to squeeze some exercise in.
- Drink more water
I am so guilty of this – not drinking enough water! I am ashamed to say I can go a whole day without even drinking anything other than tea or coffee! And whilst they contribute towards your water intake, you cannot simply rely on these. After all, our bodies are made up of mainly water so if we are not topping them up regularly throughout the day, they are not going to function properly. Which is why drinking more water can aid weight loss. And I must admit I feel much better and a lot less bloated when I am properly hydrated.
- Load up on fruit and vegetables
It’s obvious and we all know we should be having AT LEAST 5 portions of fruit and veg each day but so many of us (me included!) often don’t reach this target. By adding more fruit and veg to any meal it not only boosts the nutritional content, it also helps fill you up due to the additional good carbs and fibre and make you less likely to reach for the naughty snacks in between meals.
So there you have it, my top tips for healthy living. I will be the first to admit you cannot stick to this 100% of the time and that is ok because life is for living. I am a big fan of the 80:20 rule. Having a healthy attitude towards food is a much better goal and any weight loss will automatically follow!