As parents of 3 young girls 6 and under I can tell you it is not easy to stay on the ball with their nutrition. We are lucky in that apart from their fussiness at dinner time, our girls are actually quite good with their ‘during the day’ food. They are used to eating good quality seeded bread for their sandwiches and toast and they love their fruit, yogurt and cheese. They mainly drink water or milk and apple juice is had only as an occasional treat.
What frustrates me however is the amount of marketing of junk food targeting tired and busy parents (via their children) and I had a moment a few months ago, where I realised that despite all that I have learned about health and nutrition, I had actually fallen victim to this marketing!
We received an email from Miss 4’s preschool teacher listing items of food that were not allowed at school. Apart from the obvious no no’s (i.e chocolate bars, lollies, coco pops (!) chips and cake) she specifically mentioned Tiny Teddy biscuits which I am ashamed to admit had been finding their way into her morning tea bag at least once a week (along with a piece of fruit). I don’t know if I was more shocked that I had classed Tiny Teddies as an appropriate everyday snack (i.e. not even a treat) or simply that I had been won over by the cute little teddies believing that they were acceptable rather than reading the list of ingredients on the packet which tell a different story! And its not just the Tiny Teddies. An audit of our pantry has found a whole range of ‘kid friendly’ snacks (that are not actually kid friendly at all) at my fingertips to make filling lunchboxes quicker and more convenient at the cost of my kids’ health!!!
I don’t want to be the queen of no fun, but when I see how obsessed my kids are with sugary junk food it frightens me! The last thing I want to do as a parent is be responsible for my children suffering the same health issues as their father and it’s really quite alarming at how easily our society’s attitude to junk food can let this happen.
Kids these days are exposed to so many treats – whether it be at birthday parties (not only at the party but in the customary lolly bags that accompany them home), rewards from teachers at school, rewards from teachers at extra curriculum activities, treats from us on the weekends if we take them out somewhere, treats when they visit their grandparents and it goes on and on! So I have made a decision to tighten the reins when it comes to school lunches and snacks and I am determined to do my best to ensure that the junky quick fix snack packs that were finding their way into my kids lunchboxes are now a thing of the past!
Here are some suggestions for healthy lunch box ideas – hopefully there are some ideas that your kids might take to. I guess the key is to keep it simple …
- Fruit – whole or chopped up into little tubs
- Cheese and biscuits – the pre-packaged ones are so convenient, but cheaper option is to make up your own packs
- Cheese sticks/ cheese cubes (make sure they are 100% cheese and not that horrible plastic cheese)
- Sultanas or other dried fruit- my daughter loves little bags of dried apricots.
- 100% real fruit ‘leather’ strips. Just watch out for fruit snacks labelled as healthy alternatives to fruit that are full of harmful nasties – for example those dried apricot cubes contain so much sugar and fructose corn syrup – terrible!
- Yoghurt – such a variety on the market, again a point of contention with me is the more they are marketed at children, the more sugar will be in them. Check out the ingredients before buying the little tubs, or get a good quality organic yogurt and divvy it up yourself.
- Rice cakes – with Vegemite, cream cheese, avocado …
- Look in your health food shop for healthy snack ideas – you can portion them off into snack bags
- Home made muffins or cupcakes – a great opportunity to sneak veggies into them, use healthy ingredients and cut down the sugar you put in them. My daughter (who is gluten and dairy intolerant loves these sugar free cupcakes – recipe here)
- Small tin of baked beans with ring pull to open (don’t forget the spoon!) or if your school does not like tins you can spoon into small containers.
- Homemade pikelets (the store bought ones are full of nasties)
- Plain popcorn
- Hard boiled egg – peeled and in a container for easy access
- Carrot sticks with hummus
- Cucumber sticks with tzatiki or yoghurt
At the end of the day, as parents we can only do our best, but if we are so obsessed with our own nutrition, we owe it to our children to be as obsessed with theirs.
I have written another article about how I get my children to eat better. I call it The Mummy Win! Here is the link to the article. I hope that it helps you with your own children’s food challenges!
A good friend of mine suggested I write about those times where despite your best intentions, you have a bad day and feel like you have fallen off the wagon. It is so important when you feel like this to remember that this is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle and it’s a choice that you have made for life! So rather than beating yourself up about a slip up here and there and feeling like all your hard work was for nothing, it’s a much healthier attitude to recognise it for what it is, let go of the negative feelings and move forward. It is certainly not the end of your resolve to live a healthier life.
I’ve already talked about how Andrew and I handle holidays, we always try to get straight back on track as soon as we get home. But what about the times when you aren’t on holidays, when you are in your own environment with full control of what you are putting in your mouth and doing with your body yet you find that you have lost the motivation to make the right choices for your new lifestyle. These are the times that can really get you down and mess with your self esteem, but it’s how you handle your mindset during these moments of self doubt and possibly even self loathing that can make all the difference between success and failure.
It has been 7 and half years since Andrew and I made the choice to change our lifestyle and during that time although he has lost 60 kilos, there were times when he gained weight back too. These times can be so demoralising, but we never let it get out of control and that is the key. I want to share some of the strategies that we employ so that we stay in control – hopefully they help some of you get back on track and focus on the big picture.
- Firstly, make yourself accountable and weigh yourself regularly. Although it can be confronting (I know I personally hate the scales) it is important to know what your body is doing. Your body will fluctuate 1-2 kilos naturally depending on your fluid, hormones etc but more than a couple of kilos should be taken as a sign that it is time to tighten the reigns a little and reassess your nutrition. Don’t get emotional about the scales, they are just a tool to keep you on track – let them keep you honest.
- Keep a food diary. Andrew kept a food diary for years. It will help you see where you might need to improve your nutrition and it might just be what you need to stop yourself eating what you know you shouldn’t be!
- Drink lots of water. Water detoxifies the body, flushing out your system and reducing cravings. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger so increase your water intake and you won’t be as tempted to snack at the wrong times of the day. We should be drinking about 2-3 litres of water a day..
- If you feel that your nutrition has not been great, add one or two exercise sessions to your week or go for a long walk to clear your head. It’s amazing what a difference a big walk in the fresh air with your favourite music can do for your mindset.
- Stay positive! Remember that this is not a quick fix, this is a lifestyle change. Once the momentum of a healthy lifestyle gets going, you will start to crave healthy nutritious foods and the appeal of sugary processed junk food will fade.
Finally, we need to accept that we are all human and nobody is perfect. Without doubt there are going to be times where you will slip up and there will be times when you should permit yourself to do so. Sometimes it’s good for your body to get a shock to the system and quite frankly in my opinion a treat every now and then is good for the morale ! Just keep it to every now and then and eat well the rest of the time and you won’t feel like you are depriving yourself. So don’t let a slip up get you into a rutt, if you acknowledge it for what it is but get straight back on track it will not ruin all your hard work, remember your attitude is everything!
PS – am making the most delicious dinner tonight – healthy lamb pizza drizzled with pesto yogurt! Stay tuned for the recipe which I’ll post later this week just in time for Fathers Day! If you would like to receive these blog posts in your inbox you can add your email to sign up in the ‘follow by email’ box on the right hand side …
Those of you who know Andrew and I know how much we LOVE our training! Currently we both work out about 5-6 times a week with a mixture of cardio (running/walking), bootcamp and weights. We are both members of Step into Life which is an outdoor training programme and we work hard as a team to juggle our training around our kids and other commitments. We know how difficult it can be to fit it in (especially with the kids) but we understand how important our training is and we support each other so that we can both get it done.
When I was talking to Andrew about writing about exercise on The Shrinking Hubby he wanted me to emphasise how much he loves training in a group. Training in a group outdoors is social (we have met some GREAT people!!!), so effective and motivating, the class sizes are smaller than in the big gyms and you get a hearty dose of fresh air (did you know you burn more calories when you train outdoors?? BONUS!).
Weight loss is really about 90 percent nutrition and 10 percent exercise, however there is no underestimating how wonderful regular exercise is for your body and mind. As well as the scientific health benefits of regular exercise , I always find that exercise increases my energy levels, lifts my mood, gives me some release from day to day stress and and tones my body!!! If I am ever stewing over anything, there is nothing like taking myself for a run/walk to work over the issue and clear my head – it’s magic!
When Andrew started his weight loss journey there is NO WAY that I would have believed he would be 7 years later training with me for the Tough Mudder this September (oh yes we are both INSANE!!!!). I used to drag myself out of bed for early morning spin and boxing classes and he would roll over and keep snoring!!! What a shame that now that we have our 3 girls and can’t train together anymore we have to fight with each other for those precious 6am time slots! Training together now is a rare treat!
Here are 5 great tips to help you get started on an exercise plan …
1. Start gently – try walking/swimming and don’t underestimate it for it’s fat burning potential!
Walking is so great for weight loss. Yes you burn more calories when you do a high intensity work out, and the benefits of weights to tone up your body are amazing (muscle burns fat even when you aren’t training!). But when you are walking, you are in a ‘fat burning’ zone, so your body is using its fat stores as energy. Plus walking is so easy to start a training regime with, it’s free, it’s easy to fit into any schedule and it is very effective!
I can tell you that Andrew did not throw himself into a spin class at 150 plus kilos, or start running 10 km daily. He started with long walks and he swam laps at the local pool. He would set himself exercise goals at the beginning of each week – e.g. this week I will go for 3 walks and 2 swims and he had me to hold him accountable! Once he had lost a bit of weight he joined a gym. Initially he felt he wasn’t fit enough to even attempt a spin class but he sucked it up, got on a bike and after the first session he was hooked!!!
2.It is best to walk on an empty stomach so you are burning off fat rather than food! So first thing in the morning (before breakfast) is perfect!
3. If you can walk for at least 45 minutes you will get better results (as after 30 minutes you are in the fat burning zone and your body will be attacking those fat reserves). A brisk walk in the fresh air is such a lovely way to start the day and a great opportunity to get into a good head space.
4. Be committed!!! You know that you will feel amazing for it so don’t even let yourself talk your way out of it! (be aware that our minds can be very persuasive – ignore the negative thoughts – you CAN and WILL do it!!) I still write my regular training sessions in my diary each week. That way I am making a commitment to myself to attend. I have managed to train as soon as each of my babies was 6 weeks old, some mornings I train as early as 5.30 so that Andrew and I can both fit a session in before work. For those of you who have weight to lose, there are NO MORE excuses! The best thing you can do for you, your body and your sanity is to get moving! Trust me – it will be the best change you can make for yourself!
5. FINALLY , don’t be put off by a bit of hard work. I mean, training is not supposed to be EASY!!! Results come when you push yourself!!! I’ll never forget doing a bootcamp one day, it was really tough, I was pushed to my limits and absolutely finished! John, our trainer, said those magic words – ‘Ok we’re nearly done, just run to the end of the field and walk back, and let’s have a stretch!!!’ (Oh how I LOVE those words – let’s have a stretch!!!). I turned to a girl who had just started training with us who was struggling and said ‘THANK GOODNESS that’s over – wasn’t it awful?!’ She looked at me in surprise and told me that she thought I had been loving it and was feeling terrible because she was hating it! Oooooh nooooo, trust me, I hated every minute of that session, but the exhilaration I felt afterwards was worth every minute!!!
So get moving and enjoy those endorphins!!!
I guess having just arrived safely home from a week at the snow with my family it is an appropriate time to share how we handle situations where food is taken out of our (my) control!
I’ve mentioned previously that over our 8 year journey Andrew and I have not suffered too much on the food/wine front! We enjoy eating healthy food whenever we can but we also enjoy socialising and splurging every now and then – and I do truly believe that this is what has helped us in the long term.
When you embark on a lifestyle change, as we did, it is not a quick fix. Yes the unwanted kilos should definitely and quite quickly start to shift (and stay away) if you clean up your nutrition and train efficiently, but it’s a change that you choose to make FOREVER so getting down in the dumps about falling off the wagon is something you have to stop doing!!! Life is about balance – my father has always said ‘everything in moderation’! Guilt will only work as a barrier against your goals.
Anyway, let me tell you, despite our best intentions, our trip to the snow was always going to be a tricky one to stay on track. Thankfully our preference for good food leads us to choose healthy options without really thinking about it anymore, but there are times when you are on holidays that there just isn’t a healthy option!!!
It can be very frustrating when the only options for lunch are a greasy hamburger or pie and chips with gravy and you are STARVING because you have been hard at work skiing all morning!!! Or you think you are choosing the healthy option at dinner only to discover that your salmon fillet is coated in a thick creamy sauce, which kind of completely defeats the purpose!!! And I’m not going to even mention the fries that were served with every kids meal – not worth getting fat over but oh so hard to resist picking at ….. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and put it down to ‘holiday calories’ and not let it ruin your mood. On a positive note, as I wolfed down the aforementioned greasy burger I actually couldn’t stomach the white bun after a couple of bites – interesting what our bodies get used to!!! By the end of the week we discovered alternative lunch options such as a greek salad which we ordered with chicken breast – we felt better immediately!!!
Obviously, there are ways to avoid those holiday calories , we probably didn’t need to drink quite so much wine and we could have said no to the bread roll at dinner, but sometimes it’s just as good for you to put the regime on the backburner and enjoy spending quality time with your family without stress. Stress plays a huge impact in weight retention – particularly around the tummy area so the less stress the better!!!
Andrew and I are lucky to have been on several holidays together since starting our weight loss journey. Each time, we inevitably put a little bit of weight back on, because we do let go of the reins a little (ok, a lot!), but the trick is to HOP STRAIGHT BACK ON THE WAGON the moment we get home!!!!
Last night we walked in the door at 5pm having been on the road with 3 kids 6 and under all day! We were SHATTERED! The easy option would have been to throw the kids in bed and order takeway – it was sooo tempting to just hit the couch without worrying about cooking dinner! What actually happened was that I whipped up a shopping list, sent Andrew off to the supermarket while I started the immense task of unpacking and by 7.30 the kids were in bed and we sat down to a delicious meal of BBQ salmon, green salad and asparagus. SOOOO much better!
Alarms were set for our tag team runs this morning, fridge is stocked with fresh fruit, veg, cooked chicken, hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese and yogurt and we are already feeling amazing! It seriously does not take your body much time at all to get back into a routine it thrives on. The holiday weight will hopefully melt away, and life goes on!!!
Life is too short to let holiday calories get you down!
I hope you enjoyed this post – Andrew really wanted to me to emphasise the importance of getting straight back on track. If you did (enjoy the post!) don’t forget to get my blog straight into your inbox by clicking the ‘follow by email tab’ on this page!
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!
We have learned so much on our journey so I thought I would sum up the top 10 things that have helped us and share them with you. I will elaborate on these in the coming weeks and of course there is so much more information to share. I do not claim to be an expert in nutrition, and I’m not qualified to give medical advice on such matters. I am simply sharing with you what works for Andrew and I.
Here we go …
- Diet drinks are TERRIBLE! Stop drinking them NOW!!! When we started seeing the food coach Andrew was drinking up to 6 cans of diet coke per day – as soon as he cut it out he noticed a difference on the scales!!!! Drink plenty of water or sparkling mineral water instead. A squeeze of fresh lemon or lime in sparkling water is a refreshing alternative to those nasty chemicals which confuse your body, make you hungry and ultimately inhibit your weight loss. If there is one thing you ever take away from my ramblings it is this!!!
- Sugar is the enemy. When I was growing up we were always taught that fat was the problem when trying to lose weight but in fact good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and nuts) in moderation are actually really good for you, sugar on the other hand causes lots of problems not least of all weight gain and is hidden in so many foods.
- Eat as cleanly as possible – check the ingredients of food you buy – avoid artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, flavour enhancers, SUGAR and sweeteners. You will be surprised where you find these nasties …
- Enjoy a healthy breakfast every single day!!! Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day – I have always found that eating a good breakfast results in better habits throughout the day.
- Keep eating!!! Not eating will not help you lose weight in the long term! Starving yourself tells your body to hold onto everything in case it never gets food again!!! Rather eat a good breakfast, a decent mid morning snack (containing protein preferably), lunch, mid afternoon snack and dinner. You will be less likely to feel hungry and your body’s metabolism will work more effectively.
- Move!!! Whether it be a brisk walk, light jog, weights session, or a bootcamp your body will love to get moving. I find it much more effective to exercise first thing for many reasons, but it really doesn’t make a difference when you train as long as you get moving! Although at the end of the day most of your weight loss will come down to nutrition, the benefits of those feel good endorphins released when training will make you feel happier, healthier and more inspired to treat your body the way it wants to be treated!
- Preparation is vital to a healthy diet! At the beginning of the week write down a food plan –what are you going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? When making healthy and delicious meals is it possible to make double and freeze half? Having delicious home made meals ready to go in the freezer will save you from resorting to unhealthy takeaway at the end of a hectic day.
- Drink lots of water (ideally filtered)– at least 2 – 3 litres a day, especially if exercising. Water is everything to our bodies, and you will notice a huge difference when you drink more water if you haven’t been drinking enough. When we are dehydrated we feel tired, lethargic, hungry and unwell. First thing in the morning drink a glass of water with some fresh lemon squeezed in. It is a great detoxer and a refreshing energising start to the day.
- Avoid starchy carbohydrates after lunch. Try and eat dinners that do not contain carbs such as potatoes, pasta, rice and bread. Instead load up on veggies and protein and you will notice a change super fast! If you really feel like you need carbs at night swap the starchy carbs for low GI options such as sweet potato or legumes.
- Get enough sleep!!! We need at least 8 hours sleep a day in order for our bodies to regroup and recharge and not getting enough sleep has been scientifically proven to negatively impact weight loss – with 3 young children sleep is golden in our house!!!
It’s also really important to concentrate on your goal – what is it that you are really seeking to achieve for yourself. It’s much easier to work to specific goal than a vague idea of one. Is it a pair of jeans you want to fit into, a special occasion coming up, an event you want to train for, your fat percentage? Concentrate on working towards that and know that you can do whatever you set your mind to!!!
I hope you enjoyed these tips and I look forward to your feedback, don’t forget to click on the follow tab so that you can follow me via email ….
Have a great week everyone!
I thought a bit of background might be a good idea before we move forward.
Andrew had struggled with his weight from early on in his life. His memories of his school years are of being overweight and unable to participate fully in most activities. Unfortunately he was never able to lose the weight and was teased and bullied for most of his high school years.
Andrew and I met when we were in high school but it wasn’t until our mid 20’s that we met again and started dating. When I bumped into Andrew again in 2001, I was blown away at how well he looked. He told me he had recently lost about 25 kilos with Jenny Craig, I hadn’t seen him since school and he looked well and happy. We hit it off immediately – after all he is an awesome guy! You know how it goes – we got comfortable together, enjoying our food and wine a little too much, and the weight stacked back on … with interest….
Fast forward to our engagement and wedding in 2004 and he was weighing over 150 kilos … not good!
I tried everything to help Andrew lose the weight, but I also was struggling to keep my weight down – it was so hard and depressing. We’d go to Weight Watchers meetings but wouldn’t make it through the next day without breaking the diet. The only vegetable that Andrew would eat was iceberg lettuce – it was very frustrating!!!
I heard about a lady who called herself The Food Coach – her name is Judy Davie – and at the time, she specialised in a sort of personal training program with food for people who need to learn how to eat for health. She was an amazing support system for Andrew and I and with her help over a couple of years we managed to clean up our act and in the meantime had 2 babies!!! Gaby came a little later!
I will be telling you more about what Judy taught us in coming weeks.
You can find out more about The Food Coach here.
Here and here are a couple of articles on Judy’s website where Andrew discusses his journey in his own words – I hope that you find it as inspirational as I do!!!
Next time I’ll share what I cooked when The Food Coach recently popped in for a visit – we hadn’t seen her since before Andrew’s surgery – and she was blown away with how well Andrew looked and how happy he is!!! ….