The StealthHealth programme comprises 8 Key Concepts that we will be working through over 4 weeks. In WEEK 1 we are focusing on the first two of these :
Breakfast is Best
Eating with Awareness
With any lifestyle change it can be tricky to know where to start, in fact getting going can often be the hardest part. It sounds obvious but the best place to start is at the beginning, with breakfast. Which brings us nicely to the first StealthHealth Key Concept we are working on this week. Breakfast is Best.
Do any of the following statements sound familiar?
I don’t have time for breakfast.
I just don't feel hungry in the morning.
I'd rather save my calories for later in the day when I'm really hungry.
I've never been one for breakfast, a piece of toast does me fine.
I hear these kinds of things from people all the time, especially those who claim they are trying to be healthier or lose weight. My response would be:
You don’t have time for breakfast? It takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare and eat a really yummy, nutritious breakfast. Surely this is doable even on the busiest morning?
You don't feel hungry in the morning? You’ve most likely trained your body to survive without breakfast. For most of us a nutritious breakfast really is the best way to prime our bodies for the day ahead.
You'd rather save calories for later in the day? This stems from a misguided ‘diet’ mentality. If you have a satisfying, healthy breakfast and you give your body what it needs from the start of the day you will eat less overall.
A piece of buttered toast does you fine? Nothing wrong with toast per se but make sure it’s wholegrain and why not top it with peanut butter and sliced banana? Now you’re getting protein, fibre and slow-release energy.
And just a word for those of you who aren't enthusiastic breakfasters ... if you can't face eating first thing that's fine, just make sure your first meal of the day is a nutritious one. I will be posting again tomorrow with specifics about what makes a great breakfast (or brunch!)
Ok, so once we’ve set ourselves up really well each morning with a satisfying breakfast we need to think about what we eat the rest of the day. This is where the second StealthHealth Key Concept for this week comes in:
Eating with Awareness
In order to increase your awareness this week try asking yourself these questions every time you eat something. The answers may surprise you:
How hungry am I on a scale of 1-10?
Will this food be delicious and worth eating?
How will I feel after I eat it?
Does it taste good enough for me to carry on eating it?
Have I had enough now?
How satisfied do I feel, on a scale of 1-10?
By asking yourself these questions, without judgement, you can start to tune in to what, when, why and how you eat. Here are some tips to help you eat well this week:
Tune in to your hunger. Work on distinguishing between real and perceived hunger. If you are hungry, have a snack, if not have a drink, a break or go for a walk, whatever it is your body needs.
Eat consciously, not mindlessly. Once you’ve decided you are hungry, make a conscious food choice. What does your body need? It’s rarely a doughnut! But …
Don’t judge. Remember no foods are off limits. Eating with awareness is not about constant denial – it’s about making conscious choices in the context of a diet that, overall, is balanced and healthy.
Eat slowly with no distractions. Step away from screens, sit down, eat slowly, focus, pause between mouthfuls, savour the flavours and enjoy the experience.
Stop before you feel full. Don’t overload your plate, take about two thirds of what you think you might eat and see how you go. That may well be enough.
To summarise, Eating with Awareness isn’t about not eating or restriction, it’s about being conscious of what your body needs and eating accordingly. So, rather than the traditional diet mindset of ‘you must not eat X’ you should be thinking ‘my body does not need X, maybe I’ll have Y instead’, Y being a more nutritious food choice. This is a very liberating approach to thinking about your food, not what you can’t eat but what you can eat, to nourish your body and feel satisfied.
So that's what we are going to be doing this week. I will be blogging each day to give you recipes, ideas, encouragement and discussing how we can apply these Key Concepts to our everyday lives so be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don't miss anything!
And one last thing - remember this is not a race - there is no timeframe here, so don't feel under any pressure. All we are trying to do this week is eat a better breakfast and eat more thoughtfully the rest of the day. This is just the start of some long term changes to your eating habits so be excited about the process, don't focus on the endgame.