When I asked if anyone wanted an extended version of my first health post, What’s the Secret, I didn’t expect circa 5000 of you to say YES!
Having heard the stories so many of you kindly shared over the past few weeks, I noticed a clear trend: you just want to look and feel healthy. You are busy with kids, caring for friends/family, trying to juggle work, struggling with modern day stresses and you always put yourself last. You don’t want ‘looking after yourself’ to mean an extreme diet or smashing the gym five days a week.
Even more extraordinary than the initial response is that so many of you have written to share that having immediately adopted my approach, you are already feeling better. I can’t begin to tell you how much that means.
As I’ve always said, please note that what works for me might not work for you. I must emphasise that what I am encouraging is exactly that – for you to experiment and find what works for you.
1. Focus on reducing stress
I shared that I had experienced an inordinate amount of stress and the results were physical. My hair fell out, I put on a huge amount of weight and my skin broke out. Easier said than done, I know, but the primary focus here for you should be looking at what is causing you the greatest stress (if anything) and then ‘do what you know you should be doing’.
The obvious: Try to get more sleep, drink less alcohol, watch the sun rise or set at least once a week, meet friends for walks rather than drinks, plan something you can look forward to.
2. Shift your attitude
Focus on fuelling your body. Remove any anxiety around food. By enjoying food and being more relaxed about eating, you will find yourself feeling satisfied and no longer craving ‘bad foods’ because you are no longer depriving yourself.
One reader wrote about how she went to Italian, ordered the pasta she craved with a glass of wine, savoured every mouthful and felt satisfied. She didn’t order the ‘healthier’ option and then have desert or chocolate when she got home, as she might usually have done. She was satisfied and happy.
3. Think like a Guy
Men (mostly!) don’t overanalyse what they are eating. They eat until they’re satisfied and move on with their day. They don’t have any guilt or anxiety around what they are eating. I now eat burgers and pizza’s with that attitude. I don’t feel bad about it at all. Also, because I can have the whole thing, I usually don’t. Strange psychology but if I can have it, I usually don’t want it!
4. Portion Control
Less is (obviously) more. By eating what you want, eating it slowly, enjoying it and really chewing your food, you’ll probably find that you’ll now often leave food on your plate. If I’m feeling moorish, I’ll make a really healthy meal like chicken and vegetable soup.
I cut out sugar. For me, it was a natural move and once I’d stopped, if I reintroduced anything sugary, it would have adverse affects. If I’d overthought ‘cutting out sugar’, it might have been a harder move to make.
To answer your questions:
I am not 100% sugar-free. Most days are entirely sugar free.
Yes, you will see on my instagram I very occasionally have gelato.
Dark chocolate is a really good option. For cravings, I turn to the 70-80% varieties.
No, I don’t eat fruit.
Yes, I know alcohol has sugar in it. More on alcohol, next.
Yes, I know some breads have sugar in them. The bread varieties I chose are sugar free.
The primary change when it came to drinking was that I stopped having big nights. I now enjoy alcohol when I feel like it, but I don’t drink a lot. Surprisingly, I also shifted from drinking spirits to wine. Funnily enough this helped. I find when drinking wine, your body naturally tells you to stop after 2 or 3 glasses, you can’t keep drinking all night like you might be able to with vodka!
Yes, I have a small coffee every morning with soy milk. If I’m being really healthy, I’ll have a long black or a piccolo.
I don’t have any dairy.
One of the biggest changes I made was upping my water intake. I drink a lot of water. It’s a very conscious part of my day. I drink 2-4 litres per day and when I don’t, I immediately start to feel sluggish.
So many of you have asked about exercise. I have to admit I haven’t yet incorporated exercise into my London life like I should have. I am working on it! When I’m travelling, I walk all day without even realising. In London, and working all day in the office, it is harder to make the time. I would like to incorporate pilates and perhaps running?! If any of you have any advice about how I might be able to slowly reintroduce exercise, please let me know.
A DAY TO DAY OUTLINE / EATING PLAN
Upon waking, hot water with lemon and ginger
Freshly squeezed green juice | Spinach, Celery, Cucumber, Lemon, Ginger
Toast | Dark Rye Sourdough / Sourdough
Eggs | Boiled or poached
Protein | Chipolatas, Bacon
With Coffee | Small soy latte
Bibimbap | Korean dish with rice, chicken, mixed vegetables + Miso soup
Sushi | Seared salmon nigiri + Edamame + Miso soup
Sandwich | Sourdough with Ham / Chicken + Tomato + Rocket
Soup | Chicken / Vegetable (Recipe coming soon) * I’ll make this once a week and have it for dinner and lunch again the next day as a mini cleanse.
Pasta | Buckwheat / Dark variety pasta with bacon or pancetta + Garlic + Chilli – mixed with fresh rocket
Roast | Chicken or Lamb with potatoes, vegetables
With – Wine | Glass (or two!) of red or white
I do hope this helps. If you have any further question’s, please don’t hesitate to email me firstname.lastname@example.org, I love hearing from you and getting your advice, too! xHermione.