Following my health update, a few of you have asked me about the plan in more detail so I thought I'd share some more info here about the food I've been eating since I started in September. Here's a gallery of some of the food photos from my phone since then...
I'm a massive foodie so it was important for me to find a plan that wouldn't leave me hungry or feeling restricted. I love that I still get to eat everything when it comes to macros, no avoiding carbs. It's worked really well for me and I'm enjoying it, hence the success and high chance that this will remain my new way of eating in the future, even when I increase my calories again.
Low Calorie Eating
So my daily calorie allowance is 1600. I rarely go over this but I don't stress if I do. In fact Nicolle recommends enjoying something I've been missing or can't have on plan every time I hit a milestone of losing 5kg, without having to count it. I've chosen things like a 3 course meal in the pub or a pizza express (my whole day's calories in one go if I have pizza and their epic Honeycomb Cream Slice)!
In general, if I know I'm going to have a meal out or I want to eat something that is higher in calories, I try to plan around it. For example I will have one of my lowest calorie but filling lunches (e.g. "Chicken Noodle Thing" - a protein packed meal which also gives fakeaway vibes! Yummy, satisfying and only 410 calories!!) and a lighter breakfast (e.g. a 2 egg omelette instead of 3, maybe with low cal mushrooms & spinach to bulk it out for minimal extra calories). Mushrooms are a great one - so low in calories so I get to pile them high at breakfast or in my Mushroom Stroganoff (recipe coming soon)! Mmmmm.
Now that I'm 5 months in, I'm pretty organised when it comes to food. I have plenty of meals stashed in the freezer for days when I'm knackered or have nothing planned. In the beginning it was a lot, trying cook on Sundays for the week, think of snacks and what I could/would eat. It didn't take long to get into the swing of it though and I always love to cook in batches so if we have a family meal on the weekend, I have some left over for my workday lunches or for my freezer.
I actually quite enjoy the challenge of sometimes trying to see just how much food I can eat within my calorie allowance. At hormonal times I just feel so hungry and don't want to succumb to high calorie snacks so I try to think of the most filling meals where I get to feast!
One of my favourite recipes is my turkey bolognaise, made with turkey mince but otherwise much the same as my old recipe, it means I get to eat a bigger portion as it's so lean. If I'm really trying to control my calories, e.g. if I'm going out for a meal or had some cake at work, I will have it over vegetables instead of spaghetti. I've used white cabbage as a pasta substitute as I love it but also don't mind spooning my bol over a pile of broccoli or other green veg. Sometimes I really fancy some of my favourite olive bread with it instead of pasta.
It helps that my kids eat the same things as us. They love sushi, fajitas, spag bol, curry, noodles, stir fries, and especially my chilli recipes, they even asked for that on their birthday! Whenever I make a batch of something, they're pretty good at eating it which means I don't have to worry about cooking separate meals. I do sometimes though, as they eat earlier than us anyway since Nik gets home too late during the week.
There are some changes I made because I prioritise food over anything else. I don't like being hungry and it's not good for anyone around me either (hangry is an understatement!) so I like to make sure I have plenty of calories left for snacks if I need them or want to indulge in some of my favourites like bacon Wheat Crunchies (99 calories).
When I started the plan I worked out that my morning coffee contains 116 calories because it's basically a huge mug of milk with added shots of coffee. I'd much rather have a snack and I have to drink so much water now anyway that I switched to water instead with my breakfast. I really don't miss the coffee as I never really felt the "effects" of caffeine anyway, I just like the taste so I have one occasionally on a weekend if I fancy it.
I also gave up drinking for the same reasons. I'd much rather eat my calories and wasn't a big drinker anyway. I now only drink a little wine/champagne at Christmas and had a glass of champers on my birthday (also in December). If I fancy something special instead of my water then I like a can of Fever Tree Ginger Ale (17 cals), a glass of Big Tom juice (45 cals) or an non-alcoholic cocktail like a Faux-jito. I made a yummy concoction on my birthday of ginger ale, sour cherry cordial and a squeeze of lime over ice. Again, I don't miss the booze so it wasn't a big deal for me.
Eating Out & Treats
As you can see from the collage above, there are plenty of tasty treats amongst it all, including some meals out at pubs (we love a Sunday Roast!) and various restaurants, including a 5-day business retreat in Spain. I don't deny myself anything if I really want it, I just don't do it too often and I don't go mad. There's pizza, banoffee pie, steak, curry, sushi... This way it really does feel like a lifestyle change and not a "diet". I don't let it stop me enjoying food or going out and I don't feel hungry.
Last week for example, there were profiteroles at work! (For those of you who aren't dentists, you should know that our staff rooms are the worst for treats! Lol. Cakes, chocolate, whether they're gifts from our bosses, each other or patients, there's almost always something tempting on offer!!) Anyway, I LOVE a fresh cream cake and they're not that big so I checked the calories and decided to have one. There were two options, one was 50 cals (Tesco), the other 70 (M&S). I went for M&S, if I'm going to have a treat, I'm going to choose the one I will enjoy most, I don't "waste" my calories willy nilly! It was delish!
Low calorie yummy foods
It does take some planning to eat on plan but I got used to it quite quickly, using MyFitnessPal every day keeps me on track. I tend to cook at least one big batch meal a week.
Here are some of my favourite things I eat on plan...
Kimchi - helps with water too (it's spicy so I drink more!!), super low calorie (4 cals) and super good for your gut! I buy it in M&S where it's always on 3 for £8 offer.
Fruit (20-60 cals)
Bacon Wheat Crunchies (99 cals)
Broccoli Soup (67 cals)
Protein puddings, hazelnut latte flavour is my fave (around 120 cals but I usually have half at a time)
Omelette with mushrooms (2 eggs if I want a slice of toast or 3 eggs if it's just the omelette)
BLT sandwich (I use bacon medallions to keep the calories low)
Toast with Bovril, scrambled egg, bacon or ham and mushrooms
Egg & ham bagel
Avocado on sourdough with eggs & bacon
My favourite fakeaway recipe is my Chicken Saag - so delish and FULL of nutrients and only 261 calories (452 including rice).
Mushroom Stroganoff (I sometimes add chicken too)
Chili Con Carne (recipe to follow)
Chicken Fajita Bowl
Chicken, Ginger & Spinach Stew
Thai Green Curry
Favourite Puddings/Sweet Treats:
I often fancy something sweet after a meal and have a few options that work on plan.
Summer Berry Low Cal Dessert - I've eaten this almost every day since I first made it, SO tasty and full of vitamins and protein!
Montezuma's Black Forest Dark Chocolate
Arla Protein Puddings/Yoghurts
Skinny Crunch bars
One of the things that's helped massively is continuing with Hello Fresh, we've had meals delivered for just over a year now, we love it! It's saved us time, money, lots of waste and is so easy. I just choose more carefully now, checking the calories of each recipe before choosing our meals for the week. We usually get 3-4 but sometimes 5 or 6 if there are lots that I love which are on plan. They have plenty under 650 calories and some of my favourites are only around 500 calories.
You can find lots of my own low cal recipes here, do let me know if you try any!