menopause diet blog

Time for a Change

Day 90: Your Target Weight – the beginning or the end?

My goal was to reach my target weight in 100 days. This meant losing a stone (14 lbs) and trying to control my menopausal symptoms (hot sweats and migraines) through diet.

I am now half a pound off my target and now that the summer is coming to an end and I have other priorities looming, this will be my last post on a regular basis. My menopausal hot sweats and migraines have vastly improved to a manageable level. So, all in all, a huge personal success for me… and my initial reaction was “Yay, its the end of my diet… now I can eat what I like… freedom at last!”

But the statistics on the number of people who put all their lost weight back on (and sometimes more) when their diet ends do not make happy reading. I quickly realised that reaching my target weight is far from the end, but is actually a new beginning, if I am to keep it that way.

I cannot go back to my old ways of eating and whilst I can indulge occasionally in a treat – a dessert, chocolate bar, some chips and dips, a few glasses of wine, a slice of chocolate cake or a plate of fries, these things will have to remain just that – treats! To maintain my weight, manage my menopausal symptoms and keep my energy levels and self esteem up, I will need to carry on eating in pretty much the same way that I have been doing for the last 90 days. Always!

I must admit that it does feel a little scary. I am a little worried that without the discipline of writing this blog that I will slip back into old habits. Time will tell.  I hope I have learnt enough for this not to happen.

So do I feel deprived? Am I destined to be ‘on a diet’ forever?

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Well no… it doesn’t feel that way. I would not want to go back to the bloating, migraines, hot sweats, too tight clothes, tired all the time  lifestyle that I had 90 days ago. I no longer think of living by my ‘diet rules’ as a penance, or as depriving myself, but as a positive, new, healthy way of life. The joy is that I don’t have to be so strict as the last 90 days but in the main, I will still stick to the principles that I have learned.

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Thank you to all my followers… you will probably never know how much your support has meant to me and how instrumental it has been in helping me lose weight. Keep in touch and let me know if you start your own blogs!

Food Dairy Day 90:

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: M&S quinoa and nut salad

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Dinner: Smoky marinated prawns and stir fried mixed vegetable

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Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, 6 squares dark choc, apple, carrot & hummus

PS I finally got some coconut oil – see my earlier post on the hormonal benefits of this – delicious to use for stir frying vegetables

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Day 89: My secret for losing weight? Write a blog!

Many diets advocate keeping a food diary to keep track of what you are eating. They are a great way to monitor your diet and track progress. They are also a useful tool to identify why your diet is/is not working. For example you might find that you are tempted by sugary snacks every day at 4 o’clock… a food diary helps to highlight such issues so that you can then do something about them. I have tried keeping a paper food diary before but it never seemed to last more than a couple of weeks.

This is the first time I have kept a food diary on a blog and it is a much more powerful tool than a paper diary. Without a shadow of a doubt it has been a major contributor to the success of this diet. Why?

  1. Other people are reading it and I therefore felt accountable to these unknown supporters of mine. It was comforting to know that other people were following my story and that they were going through the same ups and down as I was. I felt that I owed them my time & an honest account of my dieting day and I hope I was helping in some way on their dieting journey. Finding something interesting to write everyday, other than simply an account of my food diary, meant that I stayed very focused on the task at hand. At the end of each day, when I wrote the blog, I was forced to think in detail about my food choices, dieting experience and how I could maintain/improve it.
  2. The blog recipe pages are a great pictorial record of the meal ideas that have worked and it was often helpful to revisit these pages when I was in need of inspiration.

It was a real commitment and some days I had to summon up the enthusiasm to write. But once I did I never regretted it as I nearly always leant something that would help me and it really helped to keep healthy food  choices top of my mind. The thought that it was only for a finite amount of time helped to keep me going.

So I would really recommend keeping a blog about your dieting experience. Its a effort but its one that will help you reach your target weight and therefore the effort more than repays itself in reward!

Food Diary Day 89

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: felafel, salad leaves, beetroot, cucumber

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Dinner: Yo Sushi (blue plate day – those aren’t all mine!)

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Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, 5 squares dark chocolate, slice of cheese and parma ham

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Day 88: 4 Surprising Things that Increase Insulin Levels

Keeping insulin levels low is one of the main premises of this diet. It is why this diet (and many others) restricts carbs – put simply… because carbohydrates are digested into sugars whose presence in the bloodstream cause levels of insulin to rise… and insulin makes our fat burn/fat store gauge switch to ‘store’. – which we do not want!

Stress: This is not always an easy one to control but be aware that  when a person is stressed their adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol. This tells the liver to release sugar into the blood stream in preparation for fighting or fleeing, which in turn results in the pancreas releasing insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down. When this happens on a constant basis, the elevated insulin stores fat from the food you take in.

Artificial Sweeteners and Zero Calorie Fizzy Drinks: People think that by replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners they will prevent an insulin spike, however many studies have found the hormonal response to both sugar and artificial sweeteners to be the same. Notwithstanding the fact that most products containing artificial sweeteners are usually also chock full of other nasty fake chemical ingredients.

Chewing Gum: In addition to the artificial sweeteners present in most brands of chewing gum, the constant chewing may cause insulin levels to rise because the body is expecting to receive food and nutrients, so it releases insulin in anticipation of the digestive work it must perform. Even though no food enters the stomach, insulin levels stay up.

Caffeine: Caffeine results in an insulin spike, even black or unsweetened.   Try to completely avoid coffee, tea, fizzy drinks to keep insulin levels in check. Drink only herbal tea and water until weight loss is achieved.

Food Diary Day 88:

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: Smoked salmon and steamed broccoli – this is a version of one of my favourite Yo Sushi dishes. Simple and quick to make. Dress with soy sauce and mirin.

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Dinner: Felafels and ready made edamame bean salad, stewed apple and blackberries with a spoonful of vanilla yogurt

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Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, 3 mini pittas and hummus, slice of cheese and parma ham, 5 squares dark chocolate

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Day 87: The Diet that Works for YOU

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Once you start reading about healthy eating and dieting it is very easy to get confused by all the different theories, diets and weigh loss programs. Much of the advice is conflicting, yet most are backed up with scientific research and proven trials…  so which one do you believe?

Are carbs good or evil? Should you eat regularly or incorporate fasting into your weekly plan? Should you avoid fats? What about red meat? Should you try the meal replacement shakes?

The answer is that they may all be right! How come? Because we are not all the same and therefore different approaches work for different people, different lifestyles, different tastes and different goals and at different times in your life. So just go with the one that you think will work for you now!

I had been sneaking weight on for a while and did keep trying various weight loss plans that never seemed to work until I found this one. It isn’t necessarily any better, or worse, than the others I tried but it worked for me. I liked the kinds of food that formed the basis of the diet, I could incorporate into my lifestyle without too much difficulty and the rules just kind of made sense to me.

So here I am now… just a couple of pounds away from my target weight and if you are reading this and wondering if it will work for you then if it feels right, just go for it.

Day 87 Food Diary

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch Skinny Glorious Soup, carrot and hummus

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Dinner: left over poached salmon, salad leaves, beetroot, alfalfa sprouts, pine nuts, avocado and green beans

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Snacks and Drinks: herbal tea, 4 chocolate toffees, 4 squares dark chocolate

 

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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!

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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?

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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…

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… 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.

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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

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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

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

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