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14 April 2015

Healthy Living (The Lazy Girl’s Guide)

We all want to be healthy, right? Of course we do – we want to feel good and look good, especially with bikini season fast approaching (!). But then there are things such as melting moments and blondies which make you want to rip up your diet plan and stuff your face with yumminess…

For a while now some of you have been requesting a post about my healthy living lifestyle, and I can’t wait to share some of my tips with you because I have a huge confession to make.

I am really lazy.

Seriously; I am a massive couch potato! I find it pretty much impossible to cut things like chocolate out of my diet (hello, have you tasted Reese’s peanut butter cups?) and as for going to the gym everyday – well, yeah, that’d be great, but I simply don’t have the time or energy.

However, it was not that long ago that I made some small changes to my everyday lifestyle (and I do mean small, honestly) – trying out new recipes, cutting out certain foods, squeezing a few exercises into my busy routine… And I’ve found that when I stick to this new plan properly, I really, really do feel a lot better!

So here it is, Part 1 of The Lazy Girl’s Guide to healthy living. Today I’ll focus on food, as let’s be honest; that’s what we all really care about, and next time I’ll look more at exercise and general lifestyle changes. Enjoy!

1) Cut out bread

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Arrrgggghhh. There, I said it. I know, quite a bold statement to start with!  But this, for me, is one of the best changes I’ve made. I used to find it so easy to fall into a pattern of eating a bagel for breakfast, toasted sandwich for lunch, and then a bread roll with soup for dinner. At the time, I didn’t feel that unhealthy, although did experience bloating quite frequently, which I simply put down to my IBS. But since cutting it out, I have felt tons better. I won’t lie – it can be tricky if you are grabbing lunch in a hurry and your choice is between a sandwich, baguette or panini, but if you can pre-plan your lunches as much as possible, it is easy to make the switch. I now live off Ryvita, topped with my usual sandwich fillings, as well as salads and soups. And as for pizza? Well, let’s just say that cauliflower crust pizza is one of the nicest things I’ve ever cooked.

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2) You can be a meat-eater, vegetarian and a vegan

I love vegan food – Deliciously Ella is one of my absolute favourite blogs, as my Instagram followers will already know. However, I also love meat – chicken, pork, beef. Yum. I think it’s a bit of a shame that the vast majority of the mainstream and popular healthy living blogs are written by vegan bloggers, as it can sometimes give the wrong impression that the only way to be healthy is to cut out meat and dairy – but that simply isn’t the case. It’s all about balance. It’s not good for you or the environment to eat meat every day of the week, but the protein and vitamins you gain from animal products are fab and shouldn’t be underestimated! In an average week, I will eat a meat-based meal for 2 evenings, a fish-based meal for 1 evening, a vegetarian-based meal for 2-3 evenings, and a vegan meal for 1-2 evenings. If that’s not a balanced diet, I don’t know what is.

3) Let’s talk about chocolate

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I have not, by any means, cut out chocolate. I mean, Easter wasn’t exactly a no-chocolate affair (see here and here for evidence – whoops!) But I am trying to pick some slightly better alternatives to the bog standard chocolate bars, which yes, are super delicious, but are also fairly sugary and high in saturated fats. My favourites? Snack a Jacks Chocolate Chip Rice and Corn Cakes - these have gorgeous, big chocolate chips in them, and contain 5% of your RDA of sugars; Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate (pictured above) - really lovely without being too bitter – and better for you than milk chocolate; and finally, homemade cornflake crispy cakes - if you make these with just cornflakes and dark chocolate, you’re looking at a much healthier option than shop-bought chocolate cakes. So fear not, fellow chocoholic! I believe that the keyword with healthy living is moderation. If you’ve had a long day at work, or you’ve just slogged it out at the gym (well done, by the way) and you reeeallly fancy a Toffee Crisp, then for goodness’ sake have one. Just don’t have four, OK?

4) No ready meals or takeaways

This is probably fairly obvious – luckily, I have never been a big fan of either of these. Say goodbye to these fellas now; packed full of salt and those nasty saturated fats that everyone keeps going on about, these are NOT your friends. Me? Well, Indian cuisine is one of mine and my boyfriend’s absolute favourites. So we bought ourselves a ton of spices, a good quality curry book and have been feasting on beautiful, homemade curries ever since. And they’re far far nicer than takeaways ever were!

5) Be snack creative

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Fruit’s fantastic! Bananas, apples, grapes, kiwis, satsumas, cherries (one of my faves) – but don’t feel that this is your only snacking option if you’re trying to eat healthily. For example, I’ve fallen madly in love with Metcalfe’s Skinny Topcorn recently (photographic proof) and one of my friends is forever raving about trendy Nak’d bars. I’m also itching to try Ella’s energy bites recipe this week. My point is, healthy eating does not have to be boring. That’s just a myth created by fussy eaters! Do you like hummus? Why not make your own healthy hummus one evening, and take some to work with carrot and cucumber sticks? You will be the envy of office workers everywhere.

It is worth me saying that I personally am not on a “diet” at the moment; I’m not trying to lose weight, but am focussing on putting healthier things into my body so that I feel a bit better. These sorts of changes may help you lose a bit around your middle; they may improve your energy levels; heck, they may even make your hair more glossy and your skin more blemish free. But here’s my disclaimer: if you follow these five steps, you aren't guaranteed to instantly become a goddess (sorry everyone). However... you might start feeling a little bit healthier :-)

I’ll be back soon with Part 2 (exercise and general lifestyle tips)!

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