Just another non-recipe post that’s been bouncing around in my mind for a while. Naturally if you’ve read any of my non-recipe posts you know that this will involve a lot of prefaces. It’s dull, but it’s vital. Firstly you’ll notice the Weight-loss tag, which as always has nothing to do with tell you how to magically lose weight (Or to the horror of many a spelling fans, to loose weight!), it’s more a matter of sharing some of the bare foundations that I myself used, to lose nearly ten stone, steady for over a year now also, and some of the experiences that I’ve had with my journey. I think that these little insights can be as important as the recipes themselves. I started this blog to give back and to help others as I was helped. I don’t want to put out information as gospel and have someone hurt because of it. All I’m typing here is just my own practices, they work for me because I made them for myself alone. You should only use these as a rough template for yourself, not a complete guide on how to eat.
Now in saying that I still feel if read through and ruminated upon there may be some useful advice and tips. I’ve been through a lot and you won’t be a success if you don’t have a solid understanding and practice what you preach, or in my case type up as a post occasionally. I did this all by myself, I researched for so long, I tested and tried everything. There are no short-cuts I can dole out, but there are nuggets of wisdom, that once obtained may seem trivial, but to those still in the dark they can be a real help. I’ve stumbled and blundered my way to where I am, but I looked back on what I’d done to get here and have gained a better understanding of it all. That’s what I want to offer to anyone struggling or looking for a little help. I’m not a huge neon sign in the darkness guiding you to perfection, I’m just a hand reaching out from a little ahead, hoping to help someone reach a better place like I did. Just, just be safe, please. Use your own judgement and make something from this template that fits you perfectly, ignore it all if that suits, but don’t put yourself in danger trying to emulate me exactly. I needed to lose ten stone, get away from the food that was killing me and get to a happier place. I no doubt made a lot of mistakes, I chanced onto a lot of good ideas too. I can’t keep this to myself if it helps anyone, but I like to know it won’t be taken the same way as all the dangerous fads and nonsense out there. It’s hard-work, it’s gruelling and it never ends, but it’s worth it.
Today I found myself once again changing up my planned meals. I do this occasionally as sometimes something I’ve added isn’t working out or I’m just in need of a change. Looking at it it really did take a tremendous amount of work to get a meal plan that could be chopped and changed, but still give me a good balance of tasty and healthy food. What I’ll try and do here is just to give you a few tips on what making a meal plan can entail. I once sat here and wrote out everything, at that stage I was just recently nightshade free and still struggling for recipes, it was scary and it only consisted of about a weeks worth of recipes, if even that. It can be much harder to assemble a meal plan when you have to avoid certain foods repeating too much, or coming too close as well as making sure the recipes are healthy and nutritionally beneficial. These tips are from someone who has come from nothing to a much better understanding of meals, nothing perfect, but I’ve done well for a year or more now. I’ll try to compile these tips from my experience, while keeping them broad enough to be useful to anyone.
Decide What Kind of Meals You Need
You’ll notice I said need, not want. The one essential thing here is you’re setting up a routine, which is a vital step to good habits and eventually better health. I try to include as much variety as possible. I think that’s important for anyone. Secondly I guess it depends on what you’re looking for, is it calorie counting or quick meals to suit your timetable or maybe big meals for all the family. You want meals you can cook consistently without hassle. Like I said this is forming a habit and you’ll need to repeat these meals over and over before you can settle into the routine. For myself I wanted a balance of healthy foods. I started with a few junky dinners in-between and slowly weeded them out. The key here is to pick a number of days, say a week or two, even a half week and fill it in with meals. Slowly you can expand it and change it as needed, but you need to get into the habit of following it to the letter. The more you deviate the less useful it is, if a certain day is causing you trouble replace it and keep trying. It’s the only way, it will take time, a lot of time.
Gather Up Them Recipes
This is where I really struggled at first. I remember it was mostly a packed smoothie, which was causing my distress, which I didn’t realise at the time, some crisp-breads, that I hated and a few basic dinners. This was probably the genesis of my recipe hunting. It read something like: Dinner, Smoothie. Dinner, Smoothie. Same Dinner, Smoothie etc, not a great start, but a start none the less. I’ll share my current two week plan below. It’s just my own, I almost feel shy sharing it, but I’ve worked hard at it and have, and will continue to, tweak it a lot.
Monday: Two Chicken Breasts with Pasta (Buckwheat) and Any Pesto. High Fibre Cereal and Buckwheat Bread.
Tuesday: Butternut Squash Cottage Pie. Lower Fibre Cereal and Chicken and Single Egg Omelette.
Wednesday: Any Non-Nut Curry. High Fibre Cereal and Pancakes.
Thursday: Chicken Breast, Bacon Slice, Butternut Squash Mash, Sweet Potato Mash and Quinoa. Lower Fibre Cereal and 2 Eggs.
Friday: Peanut Butter Pasta (Buckwheat). High Fibre Cereal and Nutty Banana Buckwheat Bread.
Saturday: Lebanese Marinated Chicken and Brown Rice. Lower Fibre Cereal and 2 Eggs.
Sunday: Mexican Spiced Chicken/Beef and Quinoa. High Fibre Cereal and 2 Eggs.
Monday 2: Two Chicken Breasts, Pasta (Buckwheat) and Tahini, Honey and Cumin Salad Dressing. High Fibre Cereal and Buckwheat Bread.
Tuesday 2: Two Chicken Breasts, Quinoa, Gravy and Butternut Squash Mash. Lower Fibre Cereal and 2 Eggs.
Wednesday 2: Peanut Curry with Plain Brown Rice. High Fibre Cereal and 2 Eggs.
Thursday 2: Cumin Chicken, Sweet Potato Mash and Quinoa. Lower Fibre Cereal and 2 Eggs.
Friday 2: Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce (Buckwheat). High Fibre Cereal and Buckwheat Bread.
Saturday 2: Almond Curry with Any Pilaf. Lower Fibre Cereal and 2 Eggs.
Sunday 2: Two Chicken Breasts, Tahini Maple Sauce and Quinoa. High Fibre Cereal and Pancakes.
You notice the colours relating to the side used, as well as many hyperlinks!, you’ll see a lot of similar ingredients too, this is what suits me. It may be a terrible idea for anyone else. You can see there’s a balance between different foods, nuts, squash, eggs cheese etc and a limit on lemon and sweet potato. This has taken a year or so to get the template down, there have been so many alterations it’s not even remotely the same as when it started, but the basic idea remains true. At one point there was a week and a half, days left blank for recipes yet undiscovered. It’ll take time, but it helps keep your mood up when dealing with multiple food intolerances and allergies.
Managing Your Portions
This is a side effect and a vital part. If you don’t measure how much of something you’re eating it can be causing you trouble without you realising it, too much one day can have a knock on effect for the next few days, while too little can cause trouble too. The reason I call it a side effect is that you’ll find yourself noticing how much you’re eating when every meal is planned. Early on it can be a problem with food issues where everything makes you feel ill. With weight-loss attempts the problem is the hunger, your body will need to reset it’s internal requirements, that’s gruelling in so many ways, it can take months, please be careful with that. The positive part of this is that you can have things, that in large quantities, can cause you distress, without much hassle. You can learn how much of something is okay because there is no danger of a knock on effect when you’re managing your meals. I could go into greater detail, right now all you need understand is that it isn’t just the meal, it’s the amount too. Getting enough to fill you can be tricky, but you’ll learn. Don’t be afraid to add or subtract, it’s all about safe experimentation.
It’s Not Just Meals
Do you drink after meals? If so what? I used to drink milk, but found it stalled digestion. After some trial and error I found camomile tea helped after meals. I also found limiting myself to one lemon helped with my histamine intolerance. Which meant I could introduce two coffees a week again (Caffeine can be a histamine liberator, a real jerk too). I also finally managed to teach myself to eat plain yoghurt, with flaxseed, every day. I worked these and other habits into my meal plan and they’ve helped immensely. I just listed the meals, but I have all this, and more, typed up. It’s easy to imagine that keeping out foods you can’t eat is the end, but it’s about working out how certain foods interact with your body. You can even fact in what each day of the week will entail, will it be a busy day? Then go for quick and easy, a slow Sunday? Go big and convoluted. This is complicated, it’s going to depend on your own body and judgement, but if you get your meals into an organised fashion this will all follow and they will all come together for you. Not overnight, it may be months before you get a grasp on it. It’ll be worthwhile, this all is.
Have Fun and be Spontaneous
Doesn’t this contradict what I been saying? Nah. You have to take the hard path at first, careful planning, balanced meals, discipline etc, then eventually you’ll find a bit of wiggle room within the rules you’ve created. You can’t have junk everyday all of a sudden, but you can change up one meal for a similar one, maybe a fancier one, maybe a simpler one, but one that still fits the rules. You won’t be able to binge on bad or troublesome foods, then again you won’t feel the need to,you’ll feel too good and you won’t give that kind of comfort up easily, not for all the bacon wrapped cheese burgers in the world. It’s not limiting when you feel good because of it. This will takes months if not years, so don’t be discouraged.
Probably best to leave it at that for now. So those are just some of the insights I’ve gleamed from my journey through meal planning. I have no idea how useful they’ll be, maybe there’s more I’m not seeing myself, I really don’t know. I think if you read this and file it away in some part of your brain, let it ferment, then maybe it’ll be of some use, maybe not. I know it was one of the best decisions I made, the chaos of unplanned meals caused so much trouble I can’t believe it looking back from where I am now. This will help with keeping weight off and with food allergies, how much depends on your need, really. Thanks for reading this and please consider sharing it around if possible.