Healthy eating is the next thing I need to get to grips with in preparation for the Winter months. I find if I can get into good habits in September I am more likely to continue eating well during my gloomy months.
Most people who have ever suffered with SAD will agree that it becomes quite difficult to maintain a healthy diet when they feel low. When we are depressed and lethargic it is quite normal to crave all the bad stuff.
I don’t have a sweet tooth but during Winter I find I reach for the biscuits or chocolate in the evenings. When it’s cold and dark I also feel the need to eat more bread, potatoes and pasta. There is nothing wrong with these foods in moderation. But moderation is the key word. And it’s a word that seems to disappear from my vocabulary when my mood is low and I lack motivation.
This year I have decided to adopt a plant based diet. That doesn’t mean I am suddenly going to become a vegetarian. I like meat too much to give it up completely. But I do want to try and eat a diet that is about 60% plant based. I also want to try and introduce more fish. It is my least favourite food but I know how good it is for me.
I’m hoping that this type of diet will keep me feeling more alert, energetic and happier.
Nutrition is something I have been interested in since school. I studied it at O Level and have taken a few short courses in recent years. I feel that I am fairly knowledgeable and have changed my diet over the years to help with my physical and mental well-being.
When I was going through the menopause I introduced more foods containing phytoestrogens into my diet to help alleviate symptoms. Foods such as oats, soy, beans, flaxseed, sesame seeds and nuts.
When I gave up smoking my immune system hit rock bottom and I suffered from a number of viral infections so again I changed my diet to include more “immune boosting” foods such as spinach, broccoli, red peppers, avocado. kiwi and Greek yoghurt.
On the whole I stick to a 80/20 way of eating. Where for 80% of the week I eat healthy meals and the other 20% I relax my eating habits so I can enjoy a takeaway or a nice meal out.
I have a rather large collection of recipe books and the following are just a few of my favourites.
I can’t talk about food without mentioning Joe Wickes. Two and a half years ago I purchased his 90 Day SSS Plan. This completely changed my way of eating and the result was I lost two stone and dropped two dress sizes. His meals are simple, tasty and nutritious and use everyday ingredients that we all have at home. If you don’t already own one if his books then I definitely recommend buying one. Or follow him on Instagram @thebodycoach for inspiration.
I have followed the Food Medic on Instagram for a while (@thefoodmedic). It was refreshing to find someone who combined food with medicine. I have cooked quite a few recipes from her book including Sticky Soy Salmon with Aubergine and her Fruity Curry.
Another Doctor who has written a book on food and nutrition who is also on Instagram is @doctors_kitchen. Lots of spicy dishes and vegetarian meals.
I remember watching the TV show Doctor in the House a couple of years ago and thinking it was genius. Teaching people to eat for health and to combat illness. This book covers lifestyle as well as nutrition. I think there is definitely a movement towards eating for health and wellbeing rather than weight loss. Something I have always been a fan of. He is also on Instagram @drchatterjee
This is the most recent book I purchased. It is so good I read it cover to cover in one day. Honestly one if the best books on nutrition I have read. It educates you with the science, busts the food myths (which I applaud as I am totally against any kind of eating plan that encourages giving up a particular food group). It has some really good recipes and teaches you how to get all the nutrients you need into your diet. Very informative and a real eye opener. Follow her on Instagram @pixienutrition
If you are interested in any of the books I have mentioned then click on the pictures to take you to Amazon.
Here are a couple of meals I have thrown together this week inspired from the books above.
Tandoori Salmon, Potato Crisps and Stir Fried Veg topped with Feta Cheese.
Vegetable Singapore Noodles
Both of these meals literally took less than 20 mins to make, are filling and healthy.
I am a big fan of meal planning. I have done this for years. When I was a single parent with a low income my food shopping budget was very strict and I certainly couldn’t afford to waste food so I always planned meals on a fortnightly basis. I still have this same mentality now and it also means I am less likely to opt for a takeaway or convenience food when I am feeling low.
I tend to follow a regular pattern when planning my meals which fits in around my work schedule. Mine is something like this :
Always something quick and easy as I finish work later on a Monday. So I will have either pre-cooked something on Sunday that can be heated up or we will have a slow cooker meal that just needs to be served.
This is fish or seafood night as again it’s quick and easy to prepare and cook after a busy day at work.
I tend to cook a vegetarian meal on Wednesdays. Using up the last of the vegetables that I bought at the weekend.
This is the day I tend to finish work a little earlier and the night we tend to go out. We might do a spot of late night shopping, go to the cinema or pop to our local pub for a drink. So on this night we will either have a takeaway or heat up leftovers from the freezer. There are always portions of curry or chilli in my freezer.
After a busy week at work Friday is my day off from cooking. So my husband normally takes over in the kitchen. If we didn’t have a takeaway the night before then we might have one tonight. Otherwise it will normally be a stir fry or a pasta dish.
If we are not going out then I love to spend more time cooking something nice on a Saturday. This will often be a feast of little dishes. Usually something Mediterranean inspired.
Sunday is always meat and more often than not served with potatoes. If it’s not a Roast then it might be cottage pie, steak and homemade chips or a chicken and sweet potato dish. Today I am cooking pulled pork with vegetable ragu and mini roasted potatoes.
I have already planned this week’s meals as you can see below.
Hopefully my planning and collection of recipe books will help me stick to a healthy diet over the Winter months and ensure that I feel as good as possible.
Are you a fan of meal planning? What do you have on your menu this week? I love trying new recipes so would love to get some ideas from you all.
Thank you for reading.
Love Melanie xxx
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and if your symptoms are severe you should seek advice from your Doctor. The tips I share and the lifestyle changes I make during the Winter months are based on advice and information I have gained over 15 years. They are tried and tested methods that work for me, but everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another.