Before we begin, let’s just get something out in the open: I adore food. Not only do I adore food, but I adore food in very large quantities.
See, I’m not much of a snacker, but I do love to eat meals roughly 3x the size of my head, and I rarely get full. I’m that one who’s busy eyeing up everyone else’s plates before they finish eating, waiting for those magic words, ‘I’ve had enough… Bon, do you want this?’
This is the way I have always eaten, and because I have always eaten like this, I didn’t plan on changing. But of course, when I decided to get fit around four years ago, I realised that if I was going to eat like a pig, I’d have to be smart about it. How on earth do you get fit when all you want to do is eat, sleep, eat, repeat?
MEET SPECIMEN 1: BON
Eating habits include: eating less regularly, but eating a lot.
Problem: how to eat a lot of volume without eating way too many calories.
Solution: SUPERSIZE ON THE VEGETABLES.
I thought, ‘okay, big portions are important to me, and I’m not going to change how much I eat because I love to eat a lot, so why not change WHAT I am eating?’
I realised you can make a meal 3-5x bigger with very few added calories just by using vegetables. Wish your bowl of porridge was bigger but don’t want to add more oats? Add grated courgette, carrot or apple. Still feeling hungry after your small plate of dinner? Chuck 3-4 handfuls of spinach or kale into your meals and you’ll find yourself full in no time.
THIS is how I eat because it works for me. It allows me to eat the quantities I want, it allows me to enjoy my favourite foods, and it also gives me a tonne of fantastic healthy vitamins and micronutrients because I’m eating a vast amount of vegetables every day. So my ‘diet’ has never felt like a diet, it’s just the way I eat.
But this is what works for me, and this is no use to you if you have different eating habits or preferences. So what can you do?
FIND THE DIET FOR YOU
A lot of people start a ‘diet’ and immediately cut out everything that they would normally do or eat. They restrict their meal size or meal frequency, and also cut out the majority of their favourite foods, because our favourite foods tend to be those that come in wrappers and contain your weekly recommended allowance of sugar. This seems like a great plan at first, and they probably keep it up for a week or so, but after a few days the hunger hits, the cravings hit and they find themselves back to their old ways by the weekend. At this point, most people give up and fall into the trap of ‘this is too hard, I’ll never be able to change!’
Nonsense. There is a diet that works for you, you just need to find it. You need to figure out what and how you like to eat, and how you can make this fit your goals.
Let’s take an example.
MEET SPECIMEN 2: SUSIE
Susie is looking to lose weight.
In order to achieve this, Susie needs to be in a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than her maintenance level).
Susie likes to eat lighter meals, but gets hungry quickly so likes to eat regularly.
So, what would work for Susie?
A good approach for Susie would be to eat 5-6 times a day. A high-protein breakfast, a nutritious snack with her coffee, a high fibre lunch with lots of vegetables, maybe a piece of fruit and some nut butter towards the end of the afternoon, a decent sized dinner, and a little snack before bed. Perfect. Smaller appetite + frequent lower calorie meals and snacks = happy Susie.
But let’s say Susie loves her big portions like me, but also wants to lose weight.
What would work for Susie?
We know she still needs to be in a calorie deficit, but likes to eat bigger, less frequent meals. So, Susie could eat three big meals, with one or two light snacks throughout the day. Remember, she’s still looking to reduce her calorie intake, so she needs to get smart about what she eats in quantity. She might start the day with a bowl of carrot cake oats, have a cup of coffee late morning, a huge vegetable salad at lunch, a piece of fruit and nut butter towards the end of the afternoon, and a big dinner with loads of spinach and kale and broccoli either cooked into the meal or on the side. Bigger appetite + less frequent, high-volume meals stuffed with low calorie foods = happy Susie.
In both cases, Susie is eating the exact same amount of calories, just in different portion sizes and at different times of the day. Neither choice of meal timing or frequency will have any effect on her weight, other than one diet approach will most likely be more successful because it will suit her existing eating habits. Although she will technically be ‘dieting’ and eating less than normal, she won’t feel restricted because she’s eating in a way that feels comfortable to her and which she enjoys.
And it’s literally as simple as that.
I eat a very good diet without any problem and have done so for the past four years because I eat how I want to. Figure out what you like: big meals, small meals, loads of snacks, no snacks at all. Get it clear how you like to eat, and make your diet work around that. Quick-fix diets might seem like the answer, but we are looking for sustainability and a healthy lifestyle here. This has worked for me for four years, it will work for you. Just listen to your body.
Happy eating my loves,
I hope you enjoyed today’s post. If you want to see more food talk, check out the nutrition section on my blog Reaching The Peak. You can also have a look through my fitness and lifestyle posts, and I would really appreciate if you would check out my Instagram and give me a follow over there. Thank you so much for your continued support.