The diet industry is huge. If you search the word ‘diet’ in Amazon UK 161,905 odd entries will appear. That’s a lot of information and yet it’s something worldwide we still struggle with. The amount of information in itself is overwhelming and often contradictory.
Mindset is a bit part of losing weight, and I don’t mean willpower. Most people start dieting thinking about lack. They have to cut back, go without and miss out on their favourite foods and drinks. Often while watching other people eating whatever they want and apparently not putting on weight!
The people who are successful dieter’s and who maintain their weight – and I include myself in this category, come from a place of abundance. I believe, not only do I have enough food for myself and my family; I have so much food I could make myself ill with it. Not just from Christmas day style overeating but I have enough resources available to me that I can consistently overeat for years if I wanted to. To be healthy I have to be able to make educated healthy choices. Keeping in mind food is to be enjoyed and treats are part of that enjoyment.
With abundance then comes choice. What do I choose to eat? Most of us are keen to eat as healthily as we can, but we like to have a wee treat as well. Making educated choices, usually picking one thing over another. Awareness of foods you struggle with ‘just having one’. We all have it whether its chocolate, crisps, wine or cheese. Also knowing what is a ‘normal’ portion as unfortunately most restaurants/cafes suffer from portion distortion. I will always be given the same size portion as my hubby, I’m a couple of stone lighter than him so should be eating less!
In a similar way to how you would budget your finances, budget your calories in the same way. You know what your fixed expenses are (breakfast, lunch & dinner) and you would know what disposable income you have each month (snacks & treats!) to maintain your weight. So you would probably focus on disposable income spending as the fixed ones always stay the same.
While I’m not a huge fan of calories counting having a context of what you are eating is often helpful.
The amount of calories you need each day is called Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). It can be calculated by taking your weight in kg and multiplying by 25. Add in for activity 25% for sedentary lifestyle and up to 50% for athletes. Or you can use this calculator here So a 10 stone women (64kg) in an office job will need roughly 2000 calories to maintain her weight.
If you take the foods or drinks that you are consuming, how much fits into healthy eating and how much fits into a treat. The snacks which may look healthy can also be calorific!
What percentage of treats do you think is acceptable? 10%, 20% everyone has their own formula. You may treat less during the week and have a treat meal at the weekend. Perhaps little and often during the week suits you better. “Find out what works for you and keep doing it”!
Half a bottle of wine (13% ABV) will be around 340 calories. For our 10 stone lady that’s 17% of her daily intake which has no nutritionally value. You might think that’s OK or you may think that’s too much and want to cut back. It’s your choice. Find out what keeps you motivated with an abundance mindset.
If you are struggling with hormonal, moans and groans, eating the best foods you can will help you feel better longer term.
To budget calories I make choices based on:
- Energy – if I’m tired eating ‘treats’ will probable feel worse rather than better
- Time of month – Over 40s women are peri-menopausal and become carb sensitive, particularly the week before your period starts – so extra vigilance is required
- Planning – What treats I have had recently or if I know when eating out next
- Hunger – some treats taste fab but will not be sustaining so will need something else in an hour!
- Quality – there are no refunds of calories if it doesn’t taste awesome, so quality counts!
We all have a particular favourite treat or two that may not be nutritionally dense but tastes fabulous. Your treat will probably be different to mine. My hubby and I will always go for coffee and cake at the weekend. Thankfully he is happy to share cake, and because of that we choose whatever we fancy. The cafes are small independents so they don’t have any calories listed on their products. Informal research in the bigger chains all have calories listed and it can make for quite scary reading with some cakes such as carrot cake up to 700 calories! Brownies tend to be around 350, quite a big difference. And no, carrot cake does not count as one of your five a day!
Maintaining a healthy weight is about making healthy food choices with an abundance mind set of there is so much food available I’m not missing out. To maintain a healthy weight I can’t eat all of it so I make educated choices whilst still enjoying food
Samantha Valand is the founder of Wise Women Wellbeing Academy.
A comprehensive hub of resources on hormone balancing, healthy eating and exercising in your menopausal years and beyond.