It’s time for an update on how I’m eating in 2020. I have tried a few different ideas over the years, Slimming World, OMAD, general intermittent fasting, all while plant based. I’ve had mixed success with these, some more successful than others, but this year I am taking a simpler approach. A longer post is coming about my recent reading of How Not to Diet, but my eating for this year ties in heavily with the suggestions within this book.
Time Restricted Eating
I’m no longer strictly following intermittent fasting. I found that while I did see benefits from 8/6 hour windows initially, and I felt good not being weighed down with food, eventually it seemed to stop helping with my weight loss. Something in my gut tells me that it’s not great for my metabolism, potentially putting my body in the mode of holding onto weight as it’s not sure when food is coming next. Can I put my slow progress down solely to Intermittent Fasting? I’m not sure, it certainly worked in the beginning, but it seems like time to mix it up a little. I found OMAD a little too restrictive, and felt as if it was a step too far for me. I also have issues with portion control which OMAD did nothing to help. One huge meal a day just wasn’t working, I like eating too much. Now I eat around 9 am when I get to work, and try to finish for around 7:30pm. At the weekend I may not eat till around 12 so there is a bit of a smaller eating window there but generally it will be around 10 and a half hours.
Front Loading Calories and Calorie Counting
This almost ties in with time restricted eating, but as suggested in How Not to Diet I am starting to move the majority of my calories to earlier in the day. This is discussed in depth in the book, that you can eat the same food at different times of the day and it will impact your body differently, you will actually burn more of those calories earlier in the day.
I also heard something similar mentioned in the intermittent fasting podcast with longevity expert Valter Longo as a guest, he suggested if fasting to eat two early meals, breakfast and lunch for example. Now, while I am not fasting, I am attempting to move my calorie balance. Historically, it has always been weighed to a high calorie dinner around 7pm. These calories could be around 700 – 800, and I would eat less during the day to compensate. I am eating a breakfast of around 400 calories, snack of around 100, lunch of around 500, then main meal of also around 500 taking me to around 1500 a day. I am attempting to get to the suggested, Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a prince and Dinner like a pauper, but it takes a lot of unlearning for me and feels counter to what I have ever tried.
For calorie counting I am still using My Fitness Pal. I reached a 1500 day logging in streak just yesterday and don’t intend on stopping using it. I’m aiming for 1500 calories a day. I’ve been down as low as 1200 calories, and while I can do this for short periods of time, long term it makes me miserable. Even eating lots of vegetables, greens, whole grains and legumes, I come in at around 1500 a day and this is what I’m aiming for.
My slimming world post is one of my post popular posts, but I haven’t went to a slimming club in many years. While they work for some, especially in the short term, longer term they seem to have issues. I went to Slimming World on and off for years, along with most of the other people there, and very few reached (then stayed) at their goal. In 2020 I will definitely not be attending a slimming club.
This year I am putting much more time and effort into following a whole foods, plant based diet, avoiding as much processed food as possible. This has multiple positives, when it comes to calories these foods are not calorie dense. You can eat a lot of them (especially green vegetables) for very little calories. Added to that, they are full of vitamins (calcium, iron, and of course fibre), are cheap and they really fill you up. I’m eating a variety of colours too, trying to eat a large mix of different vegetables with every meal.
I’m making a concerted effort this year to cut back on processed sugar. Fruit is no issue, but sources of processed sugar generally are also sources of fat. No more doughnuts at the weekend for me, and generally I am avoiding dessert as this also became a bad habit. Dessert almost fostered the “treat” mindset, oh you’ve been so good today, you can have a little treat. That treat was often sabotaging how good I had been, and ruined it.
For a long time I have meal prepped and taken my lunch into work with me. If I don’t, inevitably the options are too expensive, too processed, too high in calories. I have got myself into a good routine, and make a similar meal every week. I will do a post on this, but it is a mix of vegetables, whole grains and legumes, with spices, some houmous and a little sriracha. It is around 400 calories, very very filling for a fairly large portion and I’m happy to have settled into this. I have also added in a cup of soup (often miso) and I’m even taking in porridge in the mornings now. Organisation is key!
I also meal prepped my main meal for a while when I was going to the gym in the evenings, but currently I am making dinner at night when I get in from work. This is something I may look at again later in the year, as it seems less hassle to make it at the weekend and put it in the fridge. Either that, or batch cooking larger amounts of meals and freezing them could potentially help free up some time in the evenings.
Meal planning is also a key point, I need to know what I’m making ahead of time. I hate last minute trips to the supermarket. I always end up spending more than I wanted and buying things I didn’t really intend to (which usually are processed). I currently meal plan for the week nights, and the whole weekends at some point during the week. Then I get my shopping early on a Saturday morning.
Food Diary Example
Lastly, here is an example of what I eat in a day. If you want to see what I eat every day, and are a user of my fitness pal, please send me a friends request.
Remembering the bigger picture but focusing on the small choices
This may be one of the most important parts for me in 2020, and it’s while remembering the bigger picture, the every day decisions are what will get me over the line. My weight fluctuates throughout the month and that can really get me down, then into the eating mindset. I am focusing on one meal at a time, all throughout the year. It’s those individiual choices that add up to success.