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Today’s post is about how you can stop yourself from reaching for that biscuit tin. One of the key complaints people I meet have is that every time they try to eat healthy, they end up sabotaging their own efforts by either falling back into old habits, or gorging on sugary snacks. First off, I’ll start by saying that any diet that is restrictive in nature will not work for 99.9% of people. One of the key points of today’s newsletter that you should take away is that willpower has been shown in study after study to be limited, and like a muscle that needs to be trained. If you jump straight into a new diet/exercise regime, you will eventually fail unless your willpower is already EXCEPTIONALLY high. And the real kicker here is that this willpower that you are so dutifully spending eating right is no longer available for other acts of saintliness (such as not snapping at everyone, driving on the right side of the road, and not spending your afternoon on Facebook at work).
Studies have shown that people who exercise extreme willpower in work will later go home and splurge on junk! The opposite also holds true (if you are extremely restrictive in other areas of your life, your ability to knuckle down at work will suffer). But WAIT! If you’re like me (and I sincerely hope you’re not), you’ve immediately spotted a loophole! If I spend ALL of my day Youtubing videos of kittens playing while at work, I’ll have extra willpower to burn when it comes to my new diet! Unfortunately that’s not how muscles work, and your willpower is a muscle like any other. It needs to be trained and rested, challenged and then allowed to grow back stronger. For more on training your willpower, see part 4 of our blog series on Taking Control of Your Health.
**An aside for those currently starting a new diet and looking for help. I use a calorie restriction diet to maintain my bodyweight for sports reasons (that’s the weight I compete at – I HAVE to reach it). As such that gives me a very concrete goal to work towards, and helps lend focus to my dieting. If you use some abstract goal (I’m going to lose weight, or I’m going to get in shape), you’ll fall down in 2 areas.
Firstly, you have no way to motivate yourself as you have nothing concrete to achieve or record. Yes, you lost some weight, but why not more?? Is it enough?? Secondly, even if you do use a concrete metric (I’m going to lose 3kg) by not attaching a feeling to this goal, it will remain abstract… If you make it, wonderful! But if you don’t, who cares, you’ve just confirmed what you already believed, that you can’t lose weight. You need to FEEL it’s important. Not just because you’d like to look nice, but because you’ve printed donation sheets and asked friends to give to a chosen charity based on you reaching your fat-loss goals. NOW you care! And you’ll feel like you’ve done something so very special and worthwhile! Or, post it on Facebook and let everyone know this is where you are now (include a pic), and this is where you will be in 1 month (choose an inspirational picture that excites you!). It sounds embarrassing, but you’ve made it REAL and that makes it happen! It’s not the other way around.
Ok, enough talk about possible pitfalls, let’s get looking at healthy snack SOLUTIONS!
Here are my top 10 ideas for healthy snacks, 5 instant and 5 requiring a little prep work the night before. They are deceptively tasty, very simple, and extremely healthy (…but maybe not the most exciting). I’ve made the list vegetarian and tried to avoid any common allergens, but feel free to substitute in other foods as you need.
- Sliced Vegetables – cucumbers, carrots, peppers, avocadoes, or anything else that takes your fancy, and dip them in an oil based dressing. A nice one is olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, molasses, and a touch of salt.
- Homemade Yogurt – This is wonderful! Take some of your Kefir from the fridge (you can get your Kefir HERE). Chop up some banana and some berries (keep frozen ones in the freezer if you like). Mix it in a glass with your Kefir and add a drop of honey. Don’t blame me if you can’t stop eating.
- Healthy Sweets: If you are absolutely hankering for something sweet, but don’t want a guilty conscience, try Dates. They’re full of micro-nutrients, fibre, and they taste better than any sweet!
- Dark Chocolate – This is an easy one. But a good quality dark chocolate (at least 80%). Put it in the fridge. Eat a few squares every day.
- Iced Tea – the best meal substitute available, incredibly healthy, great value! Brew a batch of (green) tea in the evening. Add a touch of honey. Place it in the fridge as soon as it’s cool enough. Fill any bottle you have with it and bring it to work with you. If you use black tea, add some lemon juice too!
- Eggs – either do a batch of hard boiled eggs and leave them in the fridge for the next 2 days snacking, OR, do scrambled eggs (add turmeric, black pepper and Himalayan sea salt to make it extra healthy). Chop some scallions and tomatoes into it, and add some chilli and garlic powder. My absolute favourite is Tea Eggs (pictured below). Get the recipe on our blog page!
- Beans – Incredibly healthy and extremely cheap! Buy the beans uncooked, soak in the morning before you go to work, and then in the evening cook your beans down adding ANY spices you like. Add vegetable/chicken stock, garlic, onion, ginger, or other strong flavours when you are cooking it down to get delicious, HEALTHY beans!
- Sushi – Ok, this is my favourite so I couldn’t overlook it. It doesn’t take a lot of prep or cook time, but it does take a little research. Hopefully these links will make it easy for you! Use any fish you like (or none!). While the rice is cooking, mix up your rice seasoning, chop some vegetables into strips, and lay out the Nori. Mix the rice with the mix and spread it on the Nori, add the vegetable strips and fish. Roll and Chop! It takes a little practice, but it tastes AMAZING, is super healthy, and a whole batch can be done in 30 minutes! Pop it in the fridge and eat as you like! (Hide some, because it WILL GO MISSING!)
- Flap Jacks – Put 250 gm Organic Jumbo Oats, 125gm butter, 125gm of Lucuma/organic Palm Coconut Sugar, a handful of Pumpkin seeds, and 2-3 tablespoons of molasses/honey into a blender and mix. Butter a baking tray and put in the oven at 180°C for about 20 mins. It’s that simple! Granola Bars – Heat 100gm of butter while buttering a baking tray. While the butter’s heating, in a bowl mix: 200gm Organic Jumbo Oats, 100gm Pumpkin Seeds, 100gm of Lucuma/organic Palm Coconut Sugar, 100gm berries, 50gm Sesame Seeds, 50gm chopped nuts, 2-3 tablespoons of molasses/ honey, (optional) 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Cook for 30mins at 160°C
- Rice Cakes – The dreaded rice cakes! Yes, they’re not the most flavoursome of foodstuffs, but they’re as versatile as your imagination allows, AND can help control your bread urges (we all know what’s in commercial bread!) Chop a tomato and 2-3 cloves of garlic and cook in a pan with some butter, salt and pepper for 2-3 mins. Or, dice some avocado & apple and mix in a bowl with some balsamic vinegar & soy sauce. OR, crumble the rice crackers into a salad to make it more substantial!
Tea Eggs – Hard to resist, and can be taken with you or eaten warm!
You probably have most of these at home already. Anything that you don’t have can be added to your weekly shop over time, and slowly you’ll get out of the habit of eating junk food.
Tea Eggs Recipes: HERE (allrecipes.com)
Great Granola Recipes: HERE (The Minimalist Baker)