Eating with Agency – Part 1

I’ve been following my new eating plan for a couple of weeks now, and it’s going great. I feel that I have a sense of agency that I didn’t have before. I’m not mindlessly eating junk food because I’m hungry or bored or upset. Instead, I’m keeping the fridge stocked with unprocessed and minimally processed foods, so that I can make a healthy choice when I am hungry. I’m also planning my meals more thoroughly. My day goes like this:

Breakfast (Sunday – Monday): Porridge (oats and milk) topped with fresh raspberries and blueberries. Homemade Americano.

Breakfast (Saturday): Wholemeal toast, butter and marmalade with a Flat White at Costa Coffee.

Lunch: some kind of salad with some kind of unprocessed fish or meat or minimally processed cheese, with a small serving of salad dressing or balsamic vinegar. Followed by nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

Dinner: one of several dozen meals that form our evening meal menu, tweaked to reduce the amount of ultra-processed ingredients.

Dessert: fresh fruit with or without some fat-free Greek yogurt (with or without a serving of Options Hot Chocolate powder). Maybe a square of Green & Blacks 85% Cocoa Dark Chocolate.

I haven’t been snacking much, as I’ve not been hungry between meals. If I snack it’s on fresh fruit or a homemade smoothie. For drinks, I’ve ditched Diet Coke (Never thought that would happen!) and have been drinking water with a slice of lemon or lime. At breakfast, I have one cup of coffee that I make using my coffee machine, and, if it’s not too hot, I’ll have a cup of decaf tea in the evening.

That’s a big change from what I was eating and drinking before: toast, Flora Buttery, jam, biscuits, cake, crisps, snack bars, ice cream etc etc. And I feel better for it. I have more energy in the day, and I’m sleeping well at night. I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight, but that will come.

Keeping a food diary has helped me make these changes. For the first couple of weeks (see above pic), I wrote down all the foods I was eating under the following headings: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, beige and other. This was in an attempt to eat the whole rainbow and was before I watched the ‘What Are We Feeding Our Kids?’ documentary about ultra-processed foods. After I’d watched the show, I went back through my food diary and drew a box around all the UPFs, just to see how I was doing on that front. Not too bad! This week, though, I’ve modified my food diary (see left pic) and am recording my food under the following headings red, orange & yellow, green, blue & purple, white & beige and UPFs. I don’t think I need to differentiate between orange and yellow or blue and purple. When it comes to nutrients, I think they’re the same. I wanted to create a separate box for UPFs though, just so I could spot them more easily.

So what’s next for me? I’m going to follow this plan and keep my food diary, tweaking as needed, but I’m also going to put our evening meals under the microscope and look at the herb and spice packs I use to see if I can substitute them with less processed ingredients. I do have to keep reminding myself though, I don’t need to eradicate UPFs entirely from my diet; it’s okay for them to make up a small part!

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