One of the worst things you can do as an Unemployed Grad is let yourself go. I KNOW, you feel shitty; they don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing, it’s too cold/hot/I’m to tired to exercise, I can’t be fucked and WHATEVER ELSE. But eating shit, being idle and inactive – just not taking care of yourself – will just lead to more kgs, lethargy, and zero fitness level and less motivation. Do you want all of that shit on top of the usual Unemployed Grad daily grind? As well as dealing with job interview nerves, you’re tired and none of your clothes look good? Fuck that!
In high school I didn’t care about healthy eating and fitness, and my body responded by looking like shit. When I was 19 and planning a trip around the US with my sister, I had that moment you hear about, when you just get so fed up and say ENOUGH! This is changing starting NOW! Cue overhauled diet and gym junkie attitude (healthy and necessary, not scary obsessive). I lost a lot of weight, toned up, etc etc. I’ve kept up the good habits for nine years and counting.
A big part of my food plan is what I call the ‘Under 5 and 5’ plan. I always check the nutritional info on the food, and make sure it’s under 5% total fat (5g or less of fat per 100g) and the same for sugar. Sometimes I’ll go to
max 8% fat. Obviously, this rules out a lot of stuff. But I don’t miss anything, and I think if you want to lose weight and get fit, DON’T follow that “don’t deprive yourself or you’ll crave it more” advice – cut it out and after a while, it doesn’t even matter.
If you love & enjoy food, really try and disassociate yourself from it – get enjoyment from other stuff. Often my family gets together for a Sunday family dinner, and wants (generally unhealthy) Thai or Indian or Chinese take-away. I’ll get a wholemeal Roti if it’s Indian, and add my own whatever – dry-fry (ScanPan no oil) chicken, wholemeal rice, steamed veg. Though my Dad in particular laments my ‘non-involvement’, I remind him that the family dinner isn’t about the dinner, it’s about the family — it shouldn’t matter what I eat!
I eat a fair bit of fruit and natural sultanas (no added vegetable oil) – they’re the the only sugary foods I have. If anything needs sweetener, I go for Splenda or Equal. It helps I’m (genuinely) lactose intolerant – when there’s cake or choc on offer, I have to refuse or I’ll get sick. Also helps that I’m a salty-tooth rather than sweet.
I also have a severe allergy to salicylates – they’re a natural chemical found in aspirin and most fruit and veg, as well as a lot of processed food. I used to have No Added Sugar jam (diabetic jam from my local IGA) on wholemeal toast for breakfast, but I broke out in hives after my allergy developed. We had a jar of organic baby food in the pantry (nothing but pureed fruit), and one morning I spread that on my toast — delish! I have that now on my toast. Weird, but it works. I don’t give a shit about what people say about my diet preferences – I’ve had to adapt to cater (get it? haha) for my allergies and health preferences, and want to rock a hot bod. If I get a few strange looks cause I carry sachets of Equal in my handbag or squeeze baby food onto my toast if I’m doing something super early and had to take it with me — honestly, I couldn’t care less.
BUT I’m not strict to the point where it limits my fun when I’m out. I enjoy a few beers or vodka-crans – I just make sure to workout during the day, and the next (if I’m not too hungover).
I invested in great Scan-Pans, so I don’t have to use oil when I’m stove cooking (“Dry Fry”). When I have fish, I bake it (oil free, seasoned with garlic salt & pepper, and fresh lemon) in the oven.
I include “good fats” a few times a week (fat is fat – i.e. only in moderation. I used to have a “no fat if you’re fat” rule, but I don’t need to be AS strict as I was in my early twenties. Still – they’re a treat, and if I need to lose a couple of kgs for an event or whatever, they’re the first thing to go) – avocado (300 calories in a medium-sized one), almonds and hazelnuts. I’ve seen people who look amazing after losing weight on Atkins, but I love carbs. But I compromise – no carbs for dinner/after 7pm. That works.
My diet seems bland to anyone used to elaborate, really flavoursome meals (and probably not ideal if you’re a dietician). I still enjoy my food, but I’m never “excited” about it or look forward to a meal, I rarely eat out etc. – it’s just not a big deal for me. Which I think is a big factor in weight loss and maintenance. For me, there is SO much more to life than food! The benefits of my healthy lifestyle and the choices I make far outweigh (no pun intended!) the 3-second benefit of eating something high-fat or high-sugar.
When I go to friends places/parties etc and have to BYO snacks, I go for the healthier options – Skinny hommus and crudités/low fat crackers, rice crackers (after checking fat content), Pop Corners chips (kind of like Corn Thins – find them in the chips aisle, but only 8% fat), I’ll make my own guacamole or non-dairy Mexican layer dip, etc. Of course, I’ll occasionally eat lollies (Allen’s snakes etc.) but only a couple, and there aren’t many occasions where that kind of stuff is on offer.
A lot of my fav recipes are adapted from not-so-healthy ones: my ultra-low-cal banana bread, healthy pizzas, healthy Mexican. I’ll post those recipes later and tips (eg. Substitute sugar for Splenda)
It’s automatic now for me to not even consider stuff like lollies, ice-blocks, margarine, chips etc. – A) Out of habit, and B) I don’t want to go back to being the 18yo fatty. Fear is a powerful motivator. It comes down to: which is more important? Don’t give up what you want most for what you want at the moment.