One year into my vegan journey, I decided to start eating a whole foods diet. I expected to lose the excess weight I was carrying immediately, but that didn’t happen. I haven’t changed my diet at all, but I’ve knowingly (and unknowingly) made some changes over the last six months that have helped me shed a few pounds and lean out. I don’t know exactly how much weight I’ve lost because I decided to stop weighing myself in August 2017. Today, I’m going to share those changes with you just in case they help you too.
1 | Eating just when I’m hungry
My mum always insisted that I ate three times a day whether or not I was hungry. I found that when I started eating plant-based, it was challenging to eat three meals large meals a day, but I would still stuff my belly anyway just because it was what I thought I should be doing. When I stopped doing that and started letting my hunger guide my eating, I began to see changes.
2 | Not eating my kids’ leftovers
If you have kids, you know how easy it is to eat their leftovers. After cooking your heart out, it is always such a waste to throw away all that food, isn’t it? Well, instead of giving my kids portions I knew were too much, I started giving them smaller portions that I knew would satisfy them.
If they wanted more, I’d give them some, but I ruled out any chances of me eating any food they couldn’t finish. On the rare occasions that they leave food on their plates, I put it straight in the bin. But if it is something worth saving, I pack it away in Tupperware containers for another meal.
3 | Incorporating regular resistance-training exercise
I used to be a cardio queen! Gosh, you couldn’t tell me anything about weight-lifting. But please, believe me, the hype about weight training exercises burning more fat than cardio is real! I account most of the changes in my physique to weight-training.
I don’t go to a gym, I workout at home now with Beachbody programmes. And just in case you wondered, I don’t take or recommend any of their supplements or shakes, I’m just in it for the workouts.
4 | Keeping foods that I binge on away from my home
I’m not even ashamed to admit that when it comes to food like granola and nut butter, I have ZERO self-control. Okay, I lie, I am ashamed. I don’t like the fact that I can’t have a regular serving and be content. I either have to finish the whole box of granola or eat at least half the jar of peanut butter.
To prevent me binging on them, I keep them away from home, but I will eat them if I’m in an environment where the portions are controlled.
5 | Eating what I want, when I want
I deprived myself of eating carbs mainly rice and corn (my favourite foods) for over ten years because I was scared they’d make me overweight. After discovering the plant-based life, all I wanted to do was eat rice all day, every day. Most times, I wanted it for breakfast, but I wouldn’t eat it because it was too early. I’d try to eat something else, which of course didn’t satisfy me because it wasn’t what I wanted.
I’d end up eating bits and pieces, and when it got to the time when I thought it was okay to eat rice, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much, but I’d still eat a lot of it just because I knew I could. Once I noticed that pattern, I decided to let go of the rules of what food was appropriate for what time of the day.
It is very typical for me to have rice and beans for breakfast and oats for dinner now. I just eat whatever I feel like eating at a given time. Because I’ve satisfied my hunger and food desires, there’s entirely no need for me to snack in between meals. I should add the disclaimer here that my diet is 99% whole foods based, so when I eat what I want, I’m usually eating a whole food, nothing processed or high-sugar or high-fat.
6 | Intermittent fasting
This one sort of goes along with eating when I’m hungry. I’ve been a natural intermittent faster since childhood apparently. I distinctly remember arguing with my mum every morning about breakfast. I just wasn’t hungry at 7 am, and I never understand why I had to eat if I wasn’t hungry. Eating so early always made me feel sick when walking to school and I hated it so much! She eventually let me have my way when I got ill a few times on the way to school.
Moreover, now that I know the health benefits of intermittent fasting, I am more committed to listening to my hunger signs and eating just when I need to. I usually eat until I’m satisfied – you see my bowls on Instagram, my portion sizes are enormous. Sometimes I eat until I’m stuffed (not the best, lol), but I can assure you that I never go hungry.
7 | Making it a lifestyle, not a diet
This is the most crucial mindset change I made. I stopped telling myself that I couldn’t eat a specific food for a defined period because it was going to halt my weight loss. I made a pact with myself to eat whole-foods at least 95% of the time, but if I wanted something that wasn’t whole, I could eat it.
Eating this way has worked fantastically for me because I know now that nothing is off limits. I’m lucky in the sense that I don’t have a sweet tooth. Where people may have trouble staying away from desserts or chocolate, I’m fine. My problem lies with peanut butter and granola. The struggle…
By the way, is it strange that I only have portion-control issues with peanut butter and not with any other nut butter?
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you did, which one(s) do you think you’ll start trying to incorporate?