Abs are made in the kitchen, right?
Updated: Sep 19, 2019
While I’ve never claimed to be a food blogger and am about the FURTHEST thing from a food photographer, I’m diving into the subject of my diet purely due to popular demand! You guys want to know what I eat, even though I KEEP telling you I am far from an expert in this field (but maybe that’s why, right? Regular woman/Mom getting in done?!).
I get it, food is a major pain point for so many women, especially those who want to start taking their health seriously by adopting a work-out routine and adjusting their diet. You’ll often hear facts thrown out there such as “weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise” and while again, I am no expert, I’m more of the belief that every body is different and will react to changes in diet and/or exercise differently too. For me, adopting a consistent work-out routine – namely, BBG - dramatically changed my body, but in doing so I also made adjustments to my diet that I’m sure made an impact too.
So without further ado, here are the top four changes I made to my diet when I started exercising:
Sugar is the Enemy
Refined sugar to be exact. Whereas back in my high schools days I kept a keen eye out for calories and fat on the nutritional labels, I’ve since learned that neither of those are the problem, but refined sugar IS. Since I’m not a nutritionist I won’t go into the nitty gritty of it all, but what I will say is that once you start paying attention to sugar, it’s amazing where you’ll find it. It’s snuck into so many daily food items you would never have considered problematic. And secondly, once you start reducing your sugar intake, its equally amazing how quickly you’ll start to curb your sweet tooth.
As someone who ALWAYS needed a sweet treat after a meal, I was shocked that I no longer craved that cookie, bowl of ice cream, or handful of sour candy after dinner. I mean, sometimes I still had it anyway, because #life, but it was liberating to not desperately crave it any more.
Choose Simple Ingredients
Rather than say I chose to eat “clean”, which is kind of elusive (if you wash your vegetables, do YOU eat clean too?!), I’ll say that I started making meals with very limited ingredients. In so doing, I also used much less packaged goods (canned sauces, spreads and dressings) because I watched the number ingredients in those items too, and anything processed is full of crazy ingredients that are far from natural. I’d say a great rule of thumb here is to check the ingredients list before purchasing, and if you don’t recognize an ingredient, don’t buy it.
The off-shoot of this was making my own healthy sauces, using a lot more veg, and just generally having a great understanding of what I was putting in my body.
Hitting All the Nutritional Groups, Every Meal
Not to be confused with the classic ‘five food groups’ (i.e. dairy, meat, grains, fruits and vegetables), I’m talking about ensuring I was getting a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, fruits & vegetables, fats & sugars, and dairy (though I tend to avoid the latter where possible). I wasn’t perfect at this, but I think if you have this guideline in mind when preparing meals and subsequent snacks, you’re on the right track. Protein became a focus of mine as I was working out a lot more regularly and needed that extra energy + I’m pescatarian so hitting recommended protein requirements can take a little extra effort for me. That being said, carbohydrates also help a lot with energy so I didn’t shy away from those either. For me what it comes down to here is avoiding any diet that tells you to cut out a whole food group. All of them have a place at the table (pun intended) for an important reason, and while maybe you have specific digestive requirements to avoid/limit one of them, I’d encourage you NOT to do so if you don’t have those restrictions. Restrictive dieting is for me, a big no no.
Food is Fuel (but it’s also delicious)
The bottom line is that I started taking the emotion out of food and instead viewed it as a power source to be a healthier, more energetic version of me. It fueled my work outs and replenished my body after a BBG session, and the two - exercise and diet - became inextricably linked in my physical and mental progress toward ‘transforming’ myself. The problem is that people can take the concept of ‘Food is Fuel’ way too far and effectively remove the joy from it eating, which is not my jam.
I love food, and I still get totally emotional about an amazing meal or visit to my local ice cream shop. But by generally considering food as a tool to nourish your body, you also remove the negative feelings people tend to associate with food. Food becomes your friend, rather than the enemy. But sometimes, it’s just downright delicious and that can be ALL that matters too.
The Bottom Line: Motivation Matters
At the end of the day, I started making changes to my diet when I took up BBG because it felt super counter-intuitive to put myself through a grueling work out and then effectively undo all my hard work by putting a bunch of junk in my body immediately afterwards. Food became the inside job, while exercise was the outside job – both contributing to my overall results, energy, and mental health, too. I eventually loosened up the reigns, just as I did with exercise, when I went back to work after a year of maternity leave with my daughter, as it became much more difficult to maintain them when I was juggling a demanding career or top of all my other responsibilities. But I never let go of them completely, and these basic principles still remain true for me.
Is there another top tip you would add? If so, please drop it in the comments section below (and let me know if you found these ones helpful!).
As I said many times throughout this blog, I am not a nutritionist or expert in the field of food. But luckily, I know someone who is. I’ve recently hooked up with Leah Itsines to promote her BARE Guide (Balanced and Realistic Eating), and I didn’t make this decision lightly. I’ve been approached by many different companies selling diet plans, supplements, scary looking teas…you name it…and I’ve turned them all down because they didn’t align with my values when it comes to food. Until I found BARE. Not only does Leah have such a positive and healthy approach to food, but her recipes are simple and delicious, and her guide ensures you are getting proper nutrition throughout the day, without restriction! To say I’m a fan would be a massive understatement. Visit www.leahitsines.com to access the guide, and take 10% off using my code KATIE10. Bon appétit!