After back to back pregnancies, I had little time for exercise, or so I thought then. My weight was wavering around 68-70 kg. Since I was breastfeeding my daughter, I do get hungry a lot. So I could not just stop eating! I thought I should at least start eating right so that I do not go above this already high weight.
With past experiences, I realized that any kind of weight loss (small or big) will stay only with proper diet. It should be a life style change and not a change that you embrace to lose weight. If the change is to just lose weight, the lost weight will definitely be back when the old ways of eating return. This is one of the main reasons that dieting does not work. The changes that we want to make should be sustainable in the long run.
The following were my strategies to eat right
- Switching to Oats: My morning breakfast has been cereals (corn flakes) for years now. It could be plain or special K or honey flavored. Though I love traditional south Indian breakfasts like idli, dosa, pongal etc, they do not keep me full for a long time. So, I wanted to switch over to oats for a change and bought a pack of muesli. I realized that I was full longer. But I knew that I should switch to plain oat meal to see any sort of result as muesli had lot of sugary stuff, even though it claimed to have zero added sugar. I had tried oatmeal many times, but I could never enjoy it. May be I can eat it like a medicine. But I cannot do that for a long time. After reading through internet, I decided to cook oats in milk. I used to cook it in water before and may be that is why I did not like the taste and felt hungry soon. Oatmeal cooked in milk, topped with a small banana and a teaspoon of sugar kept me full and I REALLY enjoyed this comforting food. I realized that this change is going to stay with me for a long time. I have been having it for almost 6 months now and I really enjoy it. Though I use an apple or pomegranate occasionally, banana has been the most favored topping.
- Cut out sugar: I love sweet and sugary stuff. Even as a child, I loved with my idli, dosai and roti with honey. I loved milk with sugar. But after reading an article in a newspaper recently, I realized that I am eating more sugar than recommended every day. The recommendation is around 6 tsp for ladies including those hidden in your processed food. As a first step, I reduced sugar to 1 tsp to any drink I make. If I had to add flavorings, I made sure that I use less than that. Eventually, I used only 1 tsp of badam (almond) flavor and no sugar. While it is fine to eat more than recommended amount once in a while, we need to be disciplined on a daily basis.
- Get those sweets out of the refrigerator: I loved sweets. But I was not crazy enough to buy it every day and eat. However if they are in the refrigerator, I simply cannot resist it. To implement this strategy, you definitely need help from your family. They should be understanding and supportive of the decision you make. In my case, I had stiff opposition. That was because my mother-in-law found that my husband and son enjoyed sweet once in a while. According to her, we need to stock these sweets in the refrigerator, so that once in a while we can treat ourselves. My husband echoed the same thoughts. My problem here was, they may enjoy the treat once in a while but as it is sitting in the fridge waiting to be eaten, I cannot resist it. Back in Mumbai, I was not able to achieve this, but when at my parents’ place in Chennai, I made sure we did not stock them. If there was an occasion for sweets, we bought/prepared only the required amount and not in excess to be relished later. This strategy worked.
- Say no to juices/soda: We don’t drink soda in our house hold. But we enjoy juices at times. The trouble here was, we buy the 1 litre juice cartons. Till the time the carton is opened, I keep off it. Once it is opened, I am always tempted to take a sip. Sip by sip, I finally end up drinking a glass of it. In 2 days, somehow the carton would be empty. As we know, these contain no nutritive value. Imagine gulping down a glass of juice after a workout. You are actually washing away all the effort in that one glass. When my husband feels like having this junk drink, I have asked him to buy a single serving carton. Even though it is expensive this way, it is for our own good. Finally at the end of the day, health and not money is important.
- Say yes to single serving treats: We loved ice cream (who does not) and we used to buy large family packs. As a result, we always over ate. It is definitely necessary to indulge in your favorite treats once in a while, but we should not make them a part of daily meal. So, we stopped buying large packs of ice cream. Instead, every Saturday, after our children slept, my husband and I went to a local ice cream parlor and had a scoop of ice cream. Added bonus, we got to spend a little time together. Again, we end up spending a bit more, but I was willing to pay the price to keep our waist line under check.
- Limit fast food: My husband loves his samosas (deep fried snack with vegetable filling). He buys these when he is hungry at the end of the day. Even if I was good for the entire day, just a single samosa would jeopardize all the effort. So, I pleaded with him and we finally reached a deal. We will have this once a week.
- Eliminate “Processed food”: Processed food means anything that comes in a package that is ready to eat. After I went on the sugar reducing spree, I realized that even the humble Marie biscuit tasted sweet. It seems 2 cream biscuits overshoot the required daily amount of sugar! Biscuits do come in handy when travelling, but moderation is the key. Same goes with instant noodles, packaged cornflakes, soups. I read that it is better to stay away from the so called low-fat food, because it has a plenty of added sugar. Do you have any idea how much sugar is added to Bread?And let us not discuss jams. Biscuits were my evening snack and I have let it go eventually. I do nibble on them occasionally, but I definitely do not relish it anymore.
- Check your portion size: My portion size increased as my weight increased. So naturally when I tried to control the portion size, I ended up being hungry. So instead of trying to reduce it drastically, I began doing it slowly. I reduced one roti. After I was comfortable with this change, I tried to reduce my rice intake. I did not try to reduce my serving size in all the meals. Rather I reduced the size in one of the meals. After I was used to this change, I tried to reduce it a bit more. The key here is to take it slow. Now after 6 months, I have cut down the portion size by one thirds in all the meals. Recently I read an article where the dietitian said, “Eat the food normally to your hunger. Find the quantity required to maintain your current weight. Then cut down a little bit. This would definitely lead to a slow and steady weight loss”. I think this point made by the dietitian reinforced my belief to cut the portion size slowly.
To be successful in this attempt, it goes without saying that you need your entire family on board. If you have young children, it is pretty easy as they are not yet used to anything. I had to only convince my dear husband. He was and is very understanding and he was on board with all this with a little nudging.
Eating healthy is an important aspect in life. Paying enough attention to the food we eat will eventually lead to healthy food habits. As parents, it is important to introduce children to healthy food habits at an early stage. Of course, we all love to feast on a lot of bad food at times. But that is fine as long as we are not doing it every single day 🙂
Thus, my weight loss journey began. By implementing all these strategies and following a workout routine, I was able to lose nearly 9 kg in 4 months. From 68 kg, I got down to 59 kg!