A bit about balance + moderation
Overheard at the gym last week, "I'm doubling my workout because I ate cheesecake today". I’ve noticed a lot of people adopting exercise strategies in an attempt to offset eating and sipping from social situations. Let me tell you now, just because you devoured a cheese wheel the size of your head and washed it down with a bottle of pinot (guilty) doesn’t mean you now have to punish yourself with hill climbs and burpees.
You don't need a spreadsheet of foods you “can’t” and “can” eat. I genuinely believe in finding balance and moderation. Deprivation backfires. So it’s important to learn to make good, nourishing choices as much as possible and trust your body. Avoid creating rigid rules with your food, be flexible and allow yourself to indulge mindfully.
You’re probably thinking “yeah, I know which foods I’m supposed to eat”. Day to day, a healthy and balanced diet should include a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (avoid the refined and “white” stuff) like whole-grains, pastas, crispbreads; lean sources of protein like eggs, tofu, cheeses, legumes, meats; healthy unprocessed fats such as olive oil, flax seeds, chia and avocado and make water your drink of choice. If we fill up on the good stuff we’re less likely to binge on the discretionary ones.
Whether you literally eat like a “kid at a birthday party” at a party, your anxiety has you trapped at the food table, it's cake day at work every day, your social calendar is made up strictly dinner dates or January 1 (new year, new me *) has you wanting to nourish your bod. Here are some of the ways that help me nourish my body in a balanced way.
I fill up on veggies and always include a source of protein and good fats with every meal. I don’t skip meals even if I know I’m eating a lot later or because I'll be eating "discretionary foods". I enjoy food as I usually would and I always include a source of protein (sorry to mention protein again but it’s the key to satiety). Similarly, I don’t rock up to a party/dinner hungry (starving). I have a protein-rich snack before I go, usually some nuts but other good options would be hummus and carrot sticks, boiled eggs, cheese and crackers or yoghurt. If I’m out of my mind hungry I wolf down my food without even chewing because I’m so bloody excited and don’t even enjoy it.
I recommend sitting down with minimal distractions (yas, put the smart phone away), pay attention to your food- chew it (!!), notice the tastes and textures, stop when you feel “full”. Allow yourself to enjoy treats in moderation and maybe you’ll realize you feel satisfied with just a few bites rather than half a pavlova. Stay hydrated! especially if you’re going to be drinking alcohol- aim for for 1 for 1 with glasses of water. If you’re dehydrated you're likely to skull your first wine/gin and soda.
If it’s a bbq or buffet style don’t just pick awkwardly. Fill up your plate (half with veggies) and sit down and enjoy your meal. Actually enjoy your food. If you keep going back for 1/8 serves instead of filling your plate to begin with you’ll probably end up over indulging. If you’re craving something cheeky then give yourself permission to enjoy it. No guilt! Your body can handle this.
Have nourishing foods on hand and ready to go. Leftovers are key and cooking in batches saves you time and money. Veggie sticks, cooked quinoa, pre-washed greens and curries/chilis are some of my favourites to have ready. If you're hosting or bringing a plate to share get some real food out there for everyone to enjoy.