Last year we decided not to keep doing unhealthy diets anymore in the name of (supposedly) healthy living. Instead, we agreed to adopt an essential healthy lifestyle change.
As we all are told many times by the experts and printed on our brains, there are two building blocks for this topic:
1.) A healthy balanced diet 2.) Regular physical activity
The difference of opinion among popular diets (Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Vegan, Paleo, Low Glysemic Diet, Gluten-free, Atkins, Dukan, Mediterranean...etc) arises of how to achieve that healthy diet. This division of opinions often leaves us, the general public, with confusion.
We researched and tried to read a lot on different takes on the topic. We decided to steer clear of any nutrition trend but adopt an alimentation that we see fit at the moment for ourselves. Happily we've got our effort's worth. The "well-known" secret is being constant.
Stefano, my husband, suffers from hypothyroidism and is on medication. As people familiar with the condition may know, hypothyroid patients often find it difficult to lose weight. They suffer from lower energy levels and get exhausted more easily. We tried different diets in the past, including one by a dietitian, nothing seemed to work until recently.
Even though I didn't have problems with my thyroid neither I had much excess weight, I didn't feel myself fit enough. I had some kind of constant fatigue issue, no matter how much I rested I often felt exhausted.
As a result of our lifestyle change Stefano has lost 9 kg and myself a modest 2 kgs at a slow but consistent pace, without starving ourselves to death. Our LDL and total cholesterol reduced, HDL increased. We've started to feel more energetic.
How did we succeed this? (I would like to share our own experience with you guys thinking it may interest some but, by all means, do not ever take me as an expert on the topic! )
- Firstly, we started to practice sport regularly, 3 - 4 times a week. I will talk about it in detail in my next post.
As for our change of alimentation...
- We increased protein intake in our diet as we noticed we didn't have as much protein as we thought we did. When losing weight you will want to lose body fat but maintain lean muscle. Protein helps you do that. By the way, there is often a misperception as if Protein = Meat. We increased our protein intake by consuming protein rich foods such as legumes (lentils and beans mostly) and eggs more often, we didn't start eating more meat.
- We have red meat not more than once a week. We rather eat fish or chicken. We are one or two days a week vegeterians.
- For breakfast we eat a mixture of oats, yogurt, raisins, goji berries, cinnamon and nuts. Mostly on the days that we do more physical activity we have protein shake.
- We haven't cut out bread, pasta and rice from our diet but reduced. We rather choose whole grain varieties when we eat.
- We eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- We avoid any refined, processed and convenience foods.
- We don't consume any low/reduced fat or calorie diet products. We rather have full fat alternatives, obviously paying attention on the amount and calorie intake.
- We use extra virgin olive oil for salads and cooking. We add nuts, often toasted sunflower, pumkin and flax seeds, to our salads.
- We cut out soda and artificial sweeteners altogether. We reduced sugar almost to none (if we don't count 1 teaspoon of unrefined brown sugar that Stefano adds in his espresso)
- We have a daily treat. We eat 1 - 2 mini square of chocolate which obviously has minimum 70% cocoa ;) They come in many flavors: orange, lemon, mint, licorice, caramel, cocoa beans, ginger, chili, rum and many others.
Very strict diet plans are very hard to stick to. They fail you in so many different levels. You either fall off the vagon very soon or, as soon as you stop dieting you go back to your old eating habits and end up overeating all the things you starved yourself. Therefore we had better not to be too harsh on ourselves ;)
- We drink a lot of water, at least 2 liters a day, plus green, black and herbal teas.
- Even though we don't have any regular, planned snacking between meals, if we feel like to have a snack we opt for one portion fruit or a few unsalted, toasted nuts such as almonds, walnuts, brazilian nuts, hazelnuts and cashews.
- We get two Omega 3 pills a day. (Ours have 500 EPA / 250 DHA) Among its countless benefits they are told to promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and help you burn fat, increase your HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides.
- And finally we loosen ourselves once a week. We have one cheat meal. That special meal we enjoy whatever we please such as pasta, pizza, brunch, dessert...etc. It probably goes without saying that we eat reasonably.
This freedom is important for the long-term sustainability of your nutrition plan as well as preventing your body to go in hunger mode which would make you store more fat by slowing down your metabolism and so you'd end up burning less and less calories every day.
- As for physical activity we opted for walking and running. I will talk about that experience in my next post.
Today I'd like to share with you one of our favorite pate recipes...
600 g water
250 g sun-dried tomatoes
Salt, if needed*
25 g basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
180 g extra virgin olive oil
* My dried tomatoes were already salted so I didn't add any.
- Wash basil leaves gently. Drain and transfer on to a tea towel. Wipe gently with a paper towel or tea towel.
- Put water in TM Bowl. Add salt if needed. Bring it to boil for 6 - 7 minutes at 100ºC on Speed 1.
- Add dried tomatoes. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes at 100ºC on Reverse / Speed 1.
- Drain tomatoes in steaming basket.
- Wipe tomatoes gently by pressing with a paper towel.
- Wash and wipe TM Bowl. Place tomatoes, basil and clove of garlic. Blend for 10 seconds on Speed 5-6.
- Scrape down the sides of TM Bowl with spatula. Blend for 5 seconds on Speed 6-7. If needed, scrape down again and blend for other 5 seconds on Speed 7.
- Add olive oil and mix for 20 seconds on Speed 4 and then for 1 minute on Speed 8.
You can use it as pasta sauce by adding some grated parmesan.
I like to use it with rice as well.
If you don't plan to use your pate right away, put it in a jar, cover with olive oil, close the lid tight and store in the refrigerator.
Adapted with a few changes from the recipe titled as Paté di Pomodori Secchi in Io e il mio Bimby.