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Nutrition – Let’s get started!

Today I met a lady who I haven’t seen in 3 years, so basically since I started all the fashion, colour, sport, nutrition stuff. She actually is the beautician I used to see for my facial skin with which I had quite a bit of an acne problem. I had to stop seeing her because I couldn’t lie on my back for an hour anymore. My back was killing me although she did everything she could to make it comfy for me. Thanks to the training I don't have back problems anymore while now I don't need facials as my skin has cleared what I'm blaming on the improved diet.

Mirror Into The Past

However, today I met her again. She had left the salon, and got a baby in the meantime – and has a few pounds more on than before. The usual thing: Babies are not really kind to mums figure in the first place and then they tend to be a bit of a nag, so that mum doesn’t have the time to get back into shape – especially when going back to work again.

Life is so mean. During pregnancy one has to eat properly and if not sure about the amount then rather too much than too little and than BANG – from one day to the next calorie intake is supposed to drop drastically. Well, if breastfeeding one might be able to sneak out of it, but even then it’s hard, especially with all these hormones playing havoc.

So: 'What Do You Eat Then?'

So she was rather interested how I had become fit and one of her questions was: What do you actually eat then? I explained a bit and then we got distracted by other things – like girls do when chatting away – and so I thought: Well, I’m going to start working on the 'Nutrition Section' today!

Easier said than done. I have a bit of a problem with this nutrition stuff because it’s so complex, and where to start, and how to bring things into an order? When I looked through my material I noticed that I started 4 articles already, all with nice thoughts, but the bringing it together is the trick.

Then I realized that exactly the same happens when choosing what to eat during the day. One is supposed to eat so much of that, and so much of these, but not too much of those… For crying out loud! Sometimes these rules contradict each other…There are people who actually study that stuff. They spend years of their lives making nutrition a profession, only because it’s all so overwhelming these days.

Eating should be something we just do! If we are using our 'gut feeling' we should be able to know what is good for us. That’s why 'gut feeling' is used as a term for knowing instinctively. Animals can do that. Why don’t we?

.... and the ancestors again!

Well, we are back to the 'ancestors thing' I have going – we used to know, but modern processed food is tricking our brains. We have become addicts of a huge industry. I learned from my journey that once having stepped out of that food empire, things become very easy.

Two Stories Which Kicked My Bum

I saw them both on the telly a while ago and they are stuck in my mind ever since. One is about a lady who was on - I think it was the ‘Diet Doctors’. They had assessed her and developed a set of rules, she was observed by cameras 24/7 and had to keep a food diary. One day she was naughty and had deep fried brie cheese. When asked about it she got a bit grumpy saying: But I got to have it one day again! Sort of - the body needs it from time to time. Hubby and I were both screaming in front of the telly: No, you don’t! It was a very spontaneous reaction and it showed me how much our sense for food had changed already, because 'fried brie cheese' was one of my favourites in the old life.

The other story was about processed food and how bad it is – don’t remember which TV show it was. However, they gave such a chicken twizzlers thingy that school kids love so much to a chef. One could really see the disgust on his face and he said: I'm not actually sure that I can take that into my system.

Taking food into your system!

Wow, what a phrase: Taking food into the system! If it is something good it builds into your body structure and makes it strong and fit, but if it the wrong thing then it is like a parasite creeping through your body. It gets broken apart and taken into every cell, and there it stays. It needs about a year for the body to renew so that every cell has been replaced by a new one due to repair work. So every bit of rubbish you stick into your mouth will be with you for another year, accumulating the more rubbish you eat.

Detox? Not Working!

That means as well that all these Detox theories are not working. The body doesn't have a rubbish depot somewhere which can be emptied from time to time. It does it’s best to constantly get rid of waste via liver and kidneys, but they only can do so much, beyond that they might get damaged even. Have a look at the 'BBC, Truth about food' website about Detox diets. It clearly confirms that a lifestyle of bingeing and then thinking to get away with it by doing a bit of detoxing from time to time does not work.

Clean out time!

So the way for me to go was to clean out my food repertoire. On the telly you usually would see people with rubbish bins clearing out cabinets. I find that a bit too drastic. I had certain things like crisps which I gave away because I had a huge weakness for them. But everything else happened more in my head rather then in the cabinets. I just didn't replace certain things while I was searching for healthy alternatives which I would really like. Had the last ready meals, but not one each but shared and topped up with freshly cooked veg or a salad. I'm an old softy and I have problems with wasting food. Although I didn't have a lot in stock anyway.

You ARE what you eat?

So, here it is: The things that go , the things that are almost gone and the things that stay .

Everything deep fried
Bad fat, too much of it, little nutrition value compared to the amount of calories. And it messes up the kitchen and the environment. Since I’m not deep frying anymore I have to clean my kitchen shelves half as often, and to dispose of used fat is tricky as it actually has to go into special waste and not into the drain.

Ready meals
Too little nutrition value compared to the amount of calories - even the 'diet' ones, too high in salt and sugars, no control over quality of ingredients, very expensive and not that time saving.

Fast food
Too little nutrition value compared to the amount of calories, too high in salt and sugars, no control over quality of ingredients, addictive and very expensive.

Usually too little nutrition value compared to the amount of calories. They are processed food and even with the better ones one doesn't really know what's in, or I'm just too lazy to scrutinise the list of ingredients. I don't like them enough for that. A lot of them are high in sugar. I prefer muesli.

Soft Drinks
The ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ versions are better than the sugary ones, but still: it’s a chemical bomb. I only have them at a restaurant or a party.

White bread
Only occasionally at parties or to go with salmon where the dark bread is too strong in flavour, but not for daily use.  It has too little nutrition value compared to the amount of calories and it is very salty.

Red meat
It is suspected to cause trouble in the bowels. Have a look here, this is only one source of many speaking out against red meat. I'm not having beef due to mad cow disease anyway especially since a work colleague died of Creutzfeld Jakob Disease in his 30s. I have some lamb from time to time, and extremely rarely ham or bacon.

Cakes and muffin stuff
Only very occasionally as a treat. No explanation needed there!

Chocolates – oh, oh, ...
That’s the ones I’m still struggling with. There is still the occasional binge, but I at least see to have good chocolate and not super-sweet bars. Chocolate is highly addictive, but has a high happy factor as well, while the nasty factor is rather low, at least when you have good chocolates. Tricky, tricky,…

Sugar and salt
Extremely REDUCED: I will get to those where it fits in, but basically it’s clear why not, or is it?

I rarely drink because it can cause sporadic but harsh migraines which last up to 3 days, so that was an easy one for me. Hubby liked the evening glass of red wine – which he now skipped. Much too many calories! As an occasional treat: YES, but not regularly anymore.

And what is IN?

So, that leaves the question what is IN. The first thing I decided was to try everything, but only keep in the list of ingredients what I really like. Sometimes things need a while to get used to, and rather often things need to be put together with other things to make it work. But I WILL NOT EAT ANYTHING I DON’T LIKE just because someone tells me it’s good for me.

I hate certain kind of fish, I hate avocado and I hate beetroot, I only like peppers cooked or smoked, I will not eat any sort of sea weed, and you could chase me out of the country with olives. Don’ like it - don’t eat it. I got used to olive oil though. I started with very light ones and now I use a lot of it. As a matter of fact, I don’t have any other oils anymore. So it’s good to give things a try and to experiment with it. And here is my list of favourites which I use throughout.

Everything veg and fruit of course (although I’m allergic to most of them when eaten raw, thus I’m a fan of supplements – will get to this in a separate article as well)

Sourdough bread, whole meal

Chicken cooked from fresh - preferably organic or good quality barn chicken

Prawns/shrimp/salmon - preferably un-farmed

Cheeses of all kinds, especially Feta Cheese, hard cheeses and brie but no cheese spread and the likes (much too salty and processed)

Honey, maple syrup, fruit sugar, Splenda (sweetener which so far is not classified as cancerous)

Food cooked from scratch – see recipes

Ketchup, marmalades – good ones from the farm shop with high fruit content

Pasta - Durum wheat without eggs. When I have the time then home-made from semolina. Some farm shops have them – very nice and colourful hence appealing for kids - and Rikas

Bulgur/Couscous preferably soaked not cooked


Rice - brown rice is better than white one, although I admit I usually have the 'Basmati' and I never could get round the brown one. What I don't like I don't eat. BTW: Wild rice is no rice it actually is some sort of grass seed.

Loads of exotic spices


Yoghurts and Quark (kind of cottage cheese)

Cappuccino – the last resort of sins, but healthier than coffee and trying to cut back to two per day

Green tea, and herbal teas altogether. Beibei is getting the good stuff for me from China. But check out theteahouse the tea is good and Beibei approved. I like the Gunpowder tea.

Muesli bars/Protein bars – careful these buggars are rather high in calories, but a good snack to carry around. They are processed food as well, but I like them so much that here I bother to scrutinise the list of ingredients.

Protein Powder – I will get to that stuff at a given time. There is a lot to tell about the amounts of protein one needs.

It’s a very simple list, isn’t it? But think of it: When you are looking at your diet – it may contain a few different types of sandwiches, some different types of ready meals, some cakes and chocolates, and the occasional take away. That’s not a lot of variety either, is it? And even if you are cooking from scratch, it's usually very similar things over and over again. The things in my list are very versatile and some of my recipes are rather seasonal. I’m already looking forward to the new harvest of butternut squash. I was a bit fed up with it around February, but now I can’t wait for the new local ones to get into the markets. After the summer break you will find my 'Sensational Squash' recipe in this place.

You are HOW you eat!

Food IS a very simple thing! There are only 3 types of basic nutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein) which all fulfil a specific purpose. Then some vitamins and minerals + 1 simple truth:

  • Eat as many calories as you burn – you stay the same.
  • Eat less calories than you burn – you loose.
  • Eat more calories than you burn – you gain.

Trouble just is: How does one know if in balance or not while going along. Probably that's why we are so obsessed with scales.

Trouble just is: That is not working, because the body retains different amounts of water during the cycle and dependant from salt intake (retains) and coffee and rice consumption (dehydrates). This can make a difference up to 1 kg per day. And if working out with weights muscles are gained, which are so much heavier than fat that the scale might even show weight gain rather than loss.

So a scale doesn't give any indication whatsoever about calorie consumption.

It is important to get a gut feeling on how much is right. That's why my approach to food is rather playful. That's why I'm not counting calories. Counting every calorie is too time consuming, and it puts too much focus on the food issue.

Eat like a grazer!

The healthiest way to eat and the best way to find out how much food is actually needed is to become a grazer. That means eating little portions throughout the day whenever getting hungry which should be every 1 ½ to 2 hours. I know so many people who don’t eat throughout the day or have the occasional chocolate or apple and in the evenings they are catching up. Firstly they are hungry, of course. But secondly they eat because they feel that they deserve it. I call this reward eating!

This way of food intake gives too much attention to the 'food issue', as do diets. All the thinking revolves around food: ‘What do I fancy? Should I have it? How much calories does that have?’ The focus is on the food all the time.

Take the focus off the food!

Becoming a grazer is still about calories but in a different way. I’m counting units which make the sizes of my meals throughout the day. I have grouped things into roughly 100, 150 and 200 calorie units calling it my Ration Rules of Thumb.

In the mornings I’m hungry so I even have two 200 calorie units in one go. As I have a job where I’m sitting on my desk I’m actually nibbling three to four 200 units throughout the morning - that’s my slices of sourdough bread with ‘wicked chicken bun’ and brie cheese with cranberry sauce.

I know that I can have something like 2000 cal per day – yep, 2000-2300 depending on how hard I’m working out, that’s what can muscles can do for you! – that is 10 meals of 200, or 20 meals of 100.

In the mornings I have the more carbo loaded ones which bring me through long stretches of time, and throughout the day I try to move on to the more protein loaded. The idea being that when the day is over I don’t need that much energy anymore. I have to get through the gym session and then I can plunge into bed. But I need the protein for my body to build up and repair, so it’s a good time to have it in the afternoon. And according to ‘Truth about food’ protein keeps the feeling of hunger longer away than any of the other nutrients. However, I'm not taking this too strictly, it's more a rule of thumb.

I found that the 'grazing approach takes the pressure out of things. Although it needs a change of lifestyle. It spoils the regular family dinner. Why on earth are we all supposed to be hungry at 6:30PM in order to eat together. I’m at my hungriest at 5PM, and hubby at night at 9PM.

Eat when you are hungry

Paul McKenna a hypno-therapist has developed fantastic strategies on how to eat. His rules are very simple and one of them is: Eat when you are hungry.

That means on one hand never to starve yourself, so: When you are hungry – Eat. It means on the other hand: ONLY eat when you are hungry. And it thirdly means that eating has to do with hunger – and nothing else!

Sometimes the brain gets tricked by smells or moodiness so it will have to learn this 'hunger then eat' rule. That needs persistence and smells are the killers, they really are. If I go shopping and smell the bakery department I still get weak knees. My trick there is to remember how I felt after a bad binge of muffins, that they actually didn’t even taste good anymore, and I remember how addictive that stuff is – and off I go to the muesli bars, my little life savers.

Food is definitely made too much into a social event on a daily basis. Enjoy the occasion – on a weekend or one day per week. But the rest of the time do other social stuff. Go for a walk, have a bike ride, play football, go to the movies – without the popcorn, play games - without gummy bears on the side table, go swimming, ...

That needs a bit or re-organising of the shopping and the household tasks. My freezer became one of my best friends and I don't know how humankind ever could live without microwave. But even if you don't like microwaves there are ways to organise the food for the whole family without going mental. There will be more tips on food preparation and keeping soon.

Since Hubby and I go to the gym together we have more quality time with each other. The 15 mins drive to and from the gym is brilliant to talk things through. In the gym we are working out together, discussing training plans and progress, when we get back he has a light snack, I have a tea, a bit of telly and I turn myself in while he goes on for another hour. I get up at 5:30, he at 8. We are two distinct individuals for crying out loud. We have different rhythms, always had. Only when we tried to equal them out everything went downhill. Now that we took the food out of the equation things are much easier. And the meals we have together we are actually enjoying so much more.

Nutrition and Recipes

General Nutrition
Shedding Fat
The Big Sugar Experiment
Let's Get Started
Ration Rule of Thumb

How2Kitchen Videos
My Basic Kitchen Setup
Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate
Cosmic Coconut Macaroons
Sudorific Chicken Soup
Quirky Cough Syrup
Quark - Quickie
Rika's Raclette
Salacious Butternut Squash
Frivolous Fruit
Weird Cheesecake - II
Prawn Indulgence
Voluptuous Lettuce
Flavoured Olive Oil
Weird Cheesecake
Wicked Chicken Bun

Vit C
Omega 3

MySecretKitchen Dinner Party

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Copyright 2007
Author: Rika