How to Improve Your Diet to Positively Impact The Planet

burger and fries

Have you decided to become a healthier version of yourself? If so, I’m proud of you and I’m looking forward to sharing that journey with you! What if doing that also gave you the opportunity to take actions and save the planet? I hope you are interested because you can actually do both at the same time. Sustainable nutrition is the future we need.

What is sustainable nutrition?

What I mean is changing your food choices provides the simplest and largest impact you can have on the world and your body. Meat production has a heavy impact on the environment and it’s no secret to anyone that red meat (especially beef) requires a lot more land and more water to produce than poultry, resulting in significantly higher climate-warming emissions. By simply choosing chicken over beef for example, you could reduce your dietary carbon footprint by half! Or you can simply remove animal products from your diet to have an even bigger impact on the planet.

Is a plant-based diet the only solution?

I’ve always found it annoying when someone who chose to be vegan tries to make you feel bad for eating meat, but the truth is their diet is the least damaging for the planet. After a lot of research on the matter, my view on the topic has evolved quite a lot over the past few years. I think it’s all about limiting your carbon footprint without necessarily having to remove your favourite foods from your diet, sometimes it makes a vegan diet easy to adopt, sometimes it feels impossible. So for now I’ve decided to go halfway and have at least one plant-based meal a day.

Huel, short for Human Fuel

huel products in my kitchen

One of the reasons I love this brand so much is that they really care about the environment and are making an effort to talk about it more: “Halting climate change is possible, eating for our health is achievable and lowering our carbon emissions is simple. It all starts with changing the way we eat. It’s time to change the way we think about food.” Huel is 100% plant-based and any food waste becomes renewable energy. They provide all nutrients you need and they constantly innovate with new flavours, no wonder why they keep growing (and it’s really good news for the environment).

What can you do to improve your diet and reduce your carbon footprint?

  • choose fish/poultry over beef/lamb
  • choose plant proteins over animal products
  • eat less food high in sugar/fat
  • avoid fried foods
  • limit your consumption of alcohol
  • eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas), nuts and seeds

How I choose to contribute

Personally, I skip breakfast as part of my intermittent fasting so I have only 2 meals a day (which is not recommended for everyone so make sure you talk to a dietician if you have any doubts). I have Huel for lunch (I love their coffee caramel black edition, I add matcha powder to it) and I eat mostly fish or poultry for dinner (more and more rarely red meat compared to before but it still happens occasionally).

I have nuts as a healthy snack and include a lot of fruits in my diet. Also, I don’t eat gluten anymore and avoid dairy products as my body doesn’t seem to tolerate any of these very well. Gluten-free & dairy-free diets are not always easy to follow but it also benefits the planet, not just me. Bearing in mind I want it to be a lifestyle I can adopt in the long run, not just a temporary measure.

Want to find out more?

If you want to read more on the topic, check out the links below:

What positive change for both your health and the planet have you made so far?

Big Girl x

Weight Loss Journey: How I Overcame the Dreaded Plateau

weight loss plateau

My weight loss journey started in August this year, I was at 85 kg which was unhealthy for my 165 cm height. My BMI was over 31 which is in the “obese” category (BMI above 30). That term is quite scary because even if I didn’t look obese, it was telling me that my body really needed to lose some fat if I didn’t want to run the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So I started to reduce my calorie intake in order to lose weight, aiming to be at a much healthier range within months.

Counting calories is not always enough

2 months later I lost the first 7 kg, I was at 78 kg, which means a BMI at 28.7 and a downgrade from “obese” to simply “overweight” category. Good effort but still far off the healthy range between 50 kg and 68 kg for me. This is why weight loss is a long journey, it takes time to lose fat and it’s important to enjoy the ride if you want to stay motivated all along! I was enjoying my new routine and ready to keep it up that way but something happened: I plateaued… How do you break a weight loss plateau?

Find a method you can easily turn into a healthy habit

If you search for the solution online, you’ll see a lot of articles telling you to exercise more and eat less, because the only way to keep losing weight is to reduce further your calorie intake or increase even more the calories you spend at the gym. Personally, I found it pretty depressing and not really helping.

Thanks to Huel (a plant-based and completely nutritious meal), I already have only 400 calories for either lunch or dinner with all nutrients I need, and I keep the other meal of the day at 500-600 calories max with fresh food I cook myself. I don’t want to exhaust myself at the gym and I don’t want to eat less. I already know I don’t need breakfast in the morning as my body is not fully awake until noon. The solution for me was obvious: Intermittent Fasting.

intermittent fasting how does it work

What is intermittent fasting and how does it work?

There are several types of intermittent fasting methods, but the 16/8 method seemed like the obvious choice for breakfast skippers like me. It consists of fasting for 16 hours and eat within a window of 8 hours. I started this way 2 weeks ago and this is how I broke my weight loss plateau. My weight loss of approximately 1 kg a week resumed…

What my day looks like

  • 8.00am: I have a big glass of water to rehydrate my body and then a cup of tea (with no sugar, no honey, no milk)
  • 12.00pm: This is when I start to be hungry so I have a Huel shake for lunch (400 calories)
  • 4.00pm: I have a small snack involving nuts, fruits and/or some dark chocolate (200 calories)
  • 7.00pm: Dinner time, I stick to circa 500-600 calories per meal
  • 7.30pm: If I’m still hungry, I will have some fruit (berries are very low in calories for example)

I consider my 8-hour window being between 12.00pm and 8.00pm but sometimes I actually fast for longer as this is quite easy for me. Needless to say I drink plenty of water during the day. I can totally see this eating habits staying in my routine in the long term, even after I reach my weight goal of 60 kg. It also makes me want to document myself a lot more on the various health benefits attributed to intermittent fasting so it’s very likely I’ll come back with a post about it in the near future!

Did you (or anyone you know) also come across a plateau in your weight loss journey? How did you overcome it?

Big Girl x

My Weight Loss Journey: Past Failures & Current Plan

My weight loss journey

If 2020 will not be the best year of my life, it will be the year I decided to lose my extra kilos and become healthier, for good. To me, it’s a lot more difficult to keep the weight off than losing it. I guess I’m disciplined enough to stick to a diet and motivated enough to not give up until I reach my target. But it’s just not sustainable in the long term, the extra kilos come back easily afterwards. The word “diet” is the word to ban here, I’m now aiming for new healthy habits designed to stay.

Past attempts / Why it failed

I always struggled to maintain a healthy weight. My lowest in my adult life was around 58 kg and my highest around 85, with a lot of variation in between. I’m 165 cm tall so a normal BMI indicates I should be between 50 and 68 kg.

The yo-yo effect

10 years ago, I lost approximately 10 kg with the help of a nutritionist. But it was hard, I had to control my portions and force myself to eat foods I didn’t really like. So a year later, I quickly put them back on. Then I lost them again by practising “mindfulness eating” this time. I had regular telephone appointments with a dietician and I was going to the gym a lot. But again, I didn’t manage to keep the weight off for long. It then took me until 2017 to do something about it. I lost 20 kg in 7 months on my own, simply with a lot of daily exercise (and a fitbit to keep me on track). I didn’t change anything in my eating habits. And as you would suspect, I put them back on again within the following year…

The common mistake

Did you notice a pattern? The reason why I never managed to keep the weight off is that I never really focused on nutrition. I saw weight loss as a frustrating period when I had to restrict myself “temporarily”. I was never trying to change my lifestyle for good. Now I realise I simply needed to adopt better and healthier habits from the start!

Current plan / Progress so far

I started to stay on top of my calorie intake in August 2020, my weight was 85 kg back then, the heaviest I’ve ever been. 2 months after I started this journey, I lost 7 kg as I am today at 78 kg. There is still a lot to be done, this is why I’m happy to share updates with you to help me feel accountable and maybe even motivate those of you who have a similar journey ahead. I have heard about various weight loss programs and as I’m a fussy eater, I prefer a calorie counting diet. I just need to make sure I stick to my calorie budget: between 500 and 1,000 less calories than what I would need to maintain my weight (around 2,000).

If you’re clueless about how many calories you need each day, use this calculator. Eat 500 calories less every day for a week and you’ll lose 500g. Eat 1,000 calories less every day for a week and you’ll lose 1kg. The latter could be a bit difficult sometimes so I tend to stay in between.

Put yourself first in your to do list

My dos and don’ts

  • I’m doing this on my own but I use an app to help me count calories by logging everything I eat every day. I really like MyNetDiary but there are plenty of apps available for free. It helps you stay on target, gives you some tips and motivates you with a forecast.
  • I don’t drink any alcohol (ever) or any sugary drinks (I only drink diet soda or tea, if not water). This is a personal choice, it’s relatively easy for me as I don’t like beer anyway and wine gives me headaches. It’s probably a quick win for most people to simply avoid sugary drinks as they contain a lot of empty calories. I start the day with a big glass of water.
  • I sleep at least 7 hours a day. A good sleep is very important because you’re less resistant to food temptation when you’re tired. It’s easier to maintain a good sleep balance when you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, whether it’s the weekend or not. I wear an Oura ring to help me analyse my sleep every day, but most fitness watches also offer that feature.
  • I don’t have breakfast. This one is controversial as I heard so many times breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Surely everyone is different because every time I have breakfast I feel hungrier during the day. I just don’t think my body is ready to receive food when I wake up. I don’t even have my voice back when I wake up! Fair to say I’m really not a morning person, it takes me a long time to be ready once I’ve left my bed. Tea with a spoon of honey, that’s all I need and I’m not hungry until 12.30pm.
  • I have Huel for either lunch or dinner. It makes it so easy to count calories and it also tastes great. It’s not a replacement meal as you can have it for as long as you want, it’s designed to give you all nutrients you need in a meal without having to cook anything. For someone like me who doesn’t eat a lot of green naturally, this is helping a lot. You can use it to help you lose fat, or in your day-to-day life, your choice!
  • I avoid processed food and cook fresh food every day. If I had Huel for lunch, I’ll have a nice home-made meal for dinner. I vary between fish, poultry, beef or lamb, with usually potatoes, rice or pasta (I could never do a low-carb diet!).
  • I replace all snacks and/or desserts with fruits, preferably seasonal. I’m such a sweet-tooth, this is probably the hardest part but I fortunately also love fruits.
  • I allow myself a meal out or takeaway once a week. I stay on top on calories (estimated as it’s always harder to calculate it properly when someone else cooks for you) but I try to eat whatever I fancy so I don’t end up frustrated.
  • No unnecessary calories such as sweets. Sugar is addictive and it doesn’t bring your body anything useful. Not to mention it’s bad for your teeth.

And if you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend the 3 episodes of Lose a stone in 21 days (with Michael Mosley) – available on demand on Channel 4 – they’re full of good advice! Do you need to lose weight too? Tell me about the program that works best for you!

Big Girl x