menopause diet blog

Time for a Change

Day 86: Takeaway treat

After a couple of pretty strict reduced calorie days this week, today was treat day and chinese takeaway for dinner! Even when ordering take out it is still possible not to deviate too far from the rules of the diet and still have a delicious treat of a meal. I ordered Kung Po chicken, in which the chicken is usually deep fried but I asked them to use regular chicken breast instead. It’s in a delicious sweet chilli sauce with onions, water chestnuts and cashews. On the side I ordered stir fried broccoli and plain steamed rice. ..So plenty of vegetables still.

Food Diary Day 86:

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: left over poached salmon, green salad leaves, beetroot, cottage cheese, cucumber sticks, hummus, alfalfa sprouts

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Dinner: Kung Po chicken, stir fried broccoli, steamed rice

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Snacks and drinks: herbal tea, 8 squares dark choc, handful of Minstrels

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Day 84 & 85: Skinny Soups

Just thought I’d let you know about the wonderful range of Skinny Soups from Glorious. Wonderful flavours and all less than 2% fat. Great now the cooler weather is coming. I’m sure they would be easy to make at home but its lovely having them made for you!

glorious skinny soups

 

Food Diary Day 84:

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: Glorious Skinny Soup

Dinner: Cucumber sticks & hummus, pear

Snacks and Drinks: herbal tea

A bit of a starvation day today although various things happened, on a personal level, that meant I barely gave food a second thought! My tummy was growling by bedtime though!

Food Diary Day 85:

Breakfast: Menopause muesli

Lunch: Smoked mackerel, cottage cheese, spinach leaves, beetroot, avocado and tomato

Dinner: poached salmon and stir fried mixed vegetables

Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, 4 squares dark choc, olives and slice of cheese

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Day 83: How to speed up weight loss

It is interesting that since I got back off holiday and got back on track with the diet I have dropped about 3 pounds in a few days and am now a pound under my pre-holiday weight. So what is going on?

Well I have been reading a lot about how continuous dieting forces your body into ‘starvation mode’ and a resulting weight loss plateau. This is thought to be because of ancient genes that protected our bodies in times of famine. In addition the theory behind having a ‘treat’ day each week (in which calorie intake is significantly above diet days) results in a kickstart to your metabolism, effectively jolting it out of starvation mode and therefore resuming weight loss.

Its true that prior to my holiday I was struggling to lose the last few pounds, despite an ever stricter regime. Perhaps the holiday has kickstarted my metabolism again and now that I have gone back the my diet it has also kickstarted the weight loss too.

I also came across an article about a new book which advocates a very low calorie intake (about 650) for 2 days each week and then a healthy mediterranean based diet (on 1500 calories per day) for the rest of the week. Apparently women who followed the plan lost almost twice as much as those who restricted calories every day. The plan also claims to fight diabetes and is therefore called ‘The 2 day diabetes diet“.

 

This theory certainly ties in with my experience and the concept of varying calorific intake to keep your metabolism ‘guessing’ and thereby avoiding starvation mode weight loss plateaus.

For the last few weeks of my diet therefore I am going to try alternating a couple of extra low calorie days with a couple of higher calorie days. It is important though that you still continue to choose healthy foods – ie the higher calorie days don’t mean back to the old sugary snacks!

Food Diary Day 83:

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipes

Lunch: Peppered mackerel, spinach leaves, beetroot, hummus, cucumber sticks, pine nuts

Dinner: Tuna steak stir-fried in oil with splash of soy sauce and japanese mirin with sesame seeds on a bed of stir-fried courgettes and leeks plus steamed green beans!

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Drinks and Snacks: herbal tea, olives and slice of cheese, 2 pears, 6 squares dark chocolate

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Day 82: Why not skip meals?

skip meals

Ok we’ve all heard this one many times but I still thought I could get away with it today. I went for a pre breakfast run and as I didn’t get up that early it meant that I didn’t have my usual muesli until 11 am. So I wasn’t hungry at lunch and I thought ‘this is great I’ll just have 2 meals today and I’ll lose weight even faster”.

By 5 o clock I was ready to kill for food. I gobbled down 2 shortbread biscuits and 10 Maltesers before my brain got into gear and stopped me from demolishing the whole pack.

I decided now was the time for dinner (quinoa nut salad). But even after that I was still ravenous and ate half a nut/oat energy bar,  a banana and a cup of miso soup. If you add up the calories in the biscuits, Maltesers and energy bar I may as well have had a nutritious late lunch instead. Not a great way to diet as it leaves you too vulnerable to the craving cycle…

diet craving cycle

… not to mention that its 9pm and I’m still starving!

There is good reason that we are told to eat small regular meals and snacks. It keeps our blood sugar stable, reduces the cravings for high sugar snacks and keeps our metabolism ticking over, burning fat, instead of switching into starvation mode, in which our bodies cling onto our fat reserves with grim determination! Lesson learned!

Food Diary Day 82

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: none

Dinner: quinoa nut salad, banana, miso soup

snacks and drinks: herbal tea, 2 biscuits, 10 Maltesers, half nut/oat energy bar

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Day 81: Keeping up dieting enthusiasm

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There’s no denying its hard to keep up your motivation and enthusiasm day after day when dieting. Changing deeply ingrained eating habits for the long term takes real focus and perseverance. Keeping a blog like this one really helps to maintain focus and keep your goals top of mind. Its particularly hard when food manufacturers seem to keep developing ever more unhealthy choices that are heavily advertised and promoted both in-store and out. Shopping online for your groceries definitely helps being sidetracked by unhealthy temptations.

I was gobsmacked to read this week about a new cereal that supermarket giant, Tesco, is stocking. US import, Lucky Charms is a breakfast cereal aimed at children. It is made with genetically modified corn and describes its mix of corn, soya, sugar and marshmallows as ‘magically delicious’ by the manufacturer, General Mills.

lucky charms cereal

The cereal actually has a health warning printed (in very small type) on the box! It reads:

“May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children. Produced from genetically modified maize”

I find this truly shocking. I hope that parents will boycott this rubbish. How can it be legal to sell this chemical concoction of  genetically modified ingredients – to children of all people?

It goes without saying that for optimal health keep your food as natural as possible. If what you read on the ingredients list is not an ingredient that you could have in your kitchen, then dont eat it.

For example, in my opinion, it is better to eat a small amount of a  good quality ice cream made with sugar, eggs, cream, fruit and milk than a soft scoop version made with “Reconstituted Skimmed Milk, Water, Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Fat, Glucose Fructose Syrup, Sugar, Whey Solids, Emulsifier (E471), Stabilisers (Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Carrageenan), Flavouring & Natural Colours (Curcumin, Annatto)” Hmmm… I don’t have many of those ingredients in my kitchen cupboards!

Anyway… here’s my Food Diary for Day 81:

Brekafast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Left over marinated chicken (cut into thin slices with scissors) and cold green beans made into a salad

left over chicken salad

 

Dinner: Peppered Mackerel salad – just use any salad-y things you have to hand

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Snacks and Drinks: herbal tea, 3 squares dark chocolate, Nak’d bar (92 calories), strawberries

 

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Day 80: Rethink your treats

Well almost back on track… a rather tempting rogue pack of jaffa cakes but ok apart from that…

I read a lovely article recently about the celebrity chef Mary Berry. She said something that resonated with me as I had been thinking about how I was going to get back on track with my diet after the treats I had been eating on holiday. I decided that I had to rethink what a ‘treat’ was for me. Here’s what she said:

“You can have an interesting and varied diet, but you don’t need a huge portion and you certainly don’t need a second helping, especially as you get older. Rather than deny myself anything, I prefer to have tiny portions of beautiful food…”

Food Diary Day 80:

Breakfast: Menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: poached salmon, tomatoes, ready made edamame bean salad, radishes, olives

Dinner: Mixed bean salad, wholegrain rice, half a tin of sardines, tomatoes

sardine bean salad

Snacks and Drinks: half a glass of wine, 8 jaffa cakes, cherries

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Day 65 to 79: Holiday Diet Lowdown

Apologies for the lack of posts these last 2 weeks but I have been on holiday!

My goal for my 2 weeks of holiday in France was to keep my weight stable so I could get on with losing my final few pounds of weight when I got back.

All I can say is EASIER SAID THAN DONE!

The reality is that I put 2 and a half pounds back on…. not too bad really! This was mainly due to the temptations of daily fresh french baguettes, local french cheese and delicious home made ice cream. The break in routine, new grocery stores and the difficulty of getting my usual ingredients made it pretty hard to keep to my diet rules… plus eating out at least once per day and the ‘what the hell, I’m on  holiday’ voice in my head was not very conducive to being disciplined!

Still the pounds I had lost pre-holiday did make wearing shorts more pleasurable and some new clothes were happily purchased too!

I did manage to eat my ‘menopause muesli’ each day as I could get oats, soya milk, flaked almonds and berries locally… I took a large packet of mixed seeds with me luckily which I was grateful for.

So back to reality now and 21 days left to my target weight means a target of losing 5 pounds in 21 days – should be possible but I have to admit after the holiday I am not feeling particularly disciplined, so here’s a sobering thought…

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Watch this space!

 

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Day 64: Diets Don’t Work

Last night on TV I watched an interesting documentary called The Men Who Made Us Thin. It was about the diet industry, how and why it started and why diets don’t work (for the majority of us in the long term). It made fascinating viewing.

starvation diet

The diet industry was essentially created in the US in the 1940’s as a result of the actions of one man: the chief statistician of the world’s biggest insurance company, MetLife. He looked at the age of death and the weight of MetLife’s 4 million policy holders and noticed that overweight people died earlier. He then went on to create charts of ideal body weight which were even embraced by the medical profession. Overnight, these charts deemed that about half the American population were overweight and so, a nation’s obsession with dieting was born.

The programme went on to analyse statistics of how many dieters managed to lose weight and crucially how many of those had kept the weight off 5 years later. The success rate, measured on these terms is pitifully small (around 15%) and that is what keeps the diet industry merry-go-round turning. It is one of the few industries, in whose interest it is, that the product effectively fails!

fad diet

So what is the answer? Well, crash diets and faddy diets are definitely not the way forward. Even if weight is lost by these methods, it will almost certainly be put back on once ‘normal’ eating patterns return and many people actually end up weighing more than they did before they started!

healthy eating

The problem with most diets is that they involve a short term change in habits (which may or may not be successful in losing weight) and then most people go back to their old eating habits (which made them put on weight in the first place) and wonder why the weight piles back on. And so the cycle repeats itself.

The consensus is that the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your eating habits permanently. Instead of focussing on weight, focus on eating natural healthy food and becoming fitter and weight loss will follow. It’s not rocket science, but eating moderate helpings of healthy food is not always easy in today’s fast paced world of instant ready meals, sugar and fat laden snacks and processed food. Not only are these things readily available but they are constantly promoted and advertised and they can be as addictive as cocaine (see Day 59 post on Sugar).

Each of us needs to develop a new arsenal of healthy and easy meals and recipes that fit into our lifestyle. Ones that rely on fresh vegetables, lean protein and ‘good’ poly & mono unsaturated fats… that are simple to prepare… with readily available ingredients. Without this essential ‘food toolkit’ we cannot hope to stay off the diet bandwagon.

Once I reach my target weight I hope I will continue to eat the same food that I have been eating over the last 64 days. I will be able to relax the rules a little, introduce some carbs again perhaps and treat myself to the occasional dessert but in order to keep the weight off I must say goodbye to my old eating habits.

Day 64: Food Diary

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Smoked salmon salad with ready made 3 bean salad, feta cheese, pine nuts and green leaves

Dinner: Pork & Apple sausage with spring cabbage

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, 5 squares dark chocolate, menopause cake with tahini – see snack recipe page

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Day 63: Eat Raw

While the summer is here its easier to eat as much of your food as possible raw…

raw food diet pyramid

Here’s why you should do it…

  1. Raw foods have more nutrients – vitamins, minerals and enzymes that aren’t destroyed by cooking
  2. Eat as much as you want – see pyramid above – its pretty hard to overdose on raw food
  3. No bloating
  4. Quick and easy to prepare
  5. Less cleaning up!
  6. Healthy regular bowels

Take advantage of the summer season to boost  your raw food intake and save the wonderful stews, soups, bakes and casseroles for the cooler weather.

Food Diary Day 63

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Smoked salmon salad with green leaves, edamame beans, pine nuts, tomatoes, beetroot and snow peas.

smoked salmon salad

 

Dinner: Feta salad with green leaves, three bean salad, beetroot, tomatoes and coleslaw

feta salad

 

Drinks and Snacks: 4 bourbon biscuits, strawberries and raspberries, 2 squares dark chocolate

I had run out of dark chocolate the last few days and I’m sure that has contributed to me raiding the biscuit tin. I do like a sweet finish after a meal and a couple of small squares of plain chocolate, savoured slowly, really do the trick. The one I buy has 5 squares in a row and the whole row is about 100 calories… well worth it for me.

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Day 62: Waste not, Eat too much

Like many others of my generation I was bought up on the phrase ‘waste not, want not’. I think this is generally a good concept, except when on a diet! This evening I was really hungry as we had been out and were late getting home for the evening meal. As a result, to coin another phrase, ‘my eyes were bigger than my stomach’.  Not to mention the two chocolate caramel biscuits that I gulped down as soon as we got through the door. They really need to go in the bin as they have caught me out the last three days now!

eyes bigger than stomach

Anyway, for dinner,  I fried up the remainder of last night’s chinese stir fried vegetables and baked a slice of salmon in the oven. I thought this wouldn’t be enough so I added half a pouch of Merchant Gourmet’s cooked lentils. By the time it was on my plate I knew there was too much (lesson: should have removed some immediately and put in fridge for tomorrow), but I ate it because I didn’t want to waste it, even though a) I wasn’t particularly enjoying it and b) I was full up half way through. At least it was healthy food but still feel rather bloated.

So, just for a few weeks don’t feel bad about putting the biscuits in the bin to get them out of temptations way and don’t feel compelled to finish your plate just because it’s there (even better, don’t put so much on there in the first place!)

Food Diary Day 62

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: Rye bread, smoked salmon, beetroot, tomato

Dinner: Salmon, lentils, stir fried vegetables

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Snacks & Drinks: herbal tea, menopause cake – see snack recipe page, 2 chocolate caramel biscuits

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