It's funny, just a few days after I wrote my more personal "update" post, I found out that my body has gone back to normal more or less after all - hurrah!
I suppose it is only because I decided to go the more natural way with recovering, as opposed to taking medication and other supplements, that it took a little longer than it should have. I have heard that with amenorrhea, it can take a good few years to recover, and so I am really happy that I managed to do so without prescriptions up to here *points to the sky*.
Having that said, since recovering, I have decided to cut out something that has sadly played a big part in my life for the last two and a half years (since I got ill, basically), and that is to count calories.
Now, even if counting to maintain a healthy and happy life-style, I have no discovered that it really isn't that good for you at all! It's understandable that it is a "safe-zone" go-to if you are in a very bad shape and want to work on weight reduction, but it can too easily become a bit of an obsession. This is something I have realised over the last couple of days... Tired of checking the labels on packets? Me too!
Even on days when I would treat myself and go "over the GDA", I felt OK about it, because I had the rest of the meals scribbled down - and thus I was somewhat control still. But I find now that without writing it down - I am struggling: Have I had enough nutrition? Have I had "too much"?
I have always been good at giving advice, but it's seldom that I follow it when it comes to myself, which is a real shame, because you should "practise what you preach". I really detest the word "preach", so.... Practise you own advice? I guess that is more fitting, and as long as you have the proper understanding of nutrition and what is more or less healthy, then you will be OK! Almost a week down the line now, and I find myself worrying about the numbers on the packets a little less, but the first few days was a big struggle. Feeling insecure, like Bambi on ice - but really without reason, I realise that now...
I have a pretty good insight into the world of nutrition since I started the home-nutrition course and also since starting becoming increasingly more interested in a healthy life-style and cooking a few years back, so I know I have the fundamental information which will get me far, and I really have no reason to stress!
So I have decided to put it down in writing, the basic rules for my fundamental diet - which will not be a "diet" the way most people think of it, but more like mindful eating. It is important to enjoy the food, and you shouldn't have to stress about it!
The main things to keep in mind are:
Get your 5-a-day! At least three of these should be through vegetables, as some fruits are high in sugar - it's good sugar though, so if you opt for berries instead of sweets, I wouldn't feel toooo bad about it. Everyone needs a little bit of chocolate now and then though, and I wont deny my body any foods, just eat in moderation. Should you go over your five portions of fruit and vegetables though, that is not a bad thing! Plenty of vitamins and fibre to keep you energised.
Make sure you get plenty of protein, whether it be through animal sources, dairy, nuts, legumes or other sources.
Calcium is another very important nutrient for anyone, really! Your bone density decreases as you get older, and so making sure that you get a lot of it at an earlier stage will help slow that process down. These two points can be tricky for vegetarians and vegans, and might require a little reasearch and understanding beforehand. Tofu, mushrooms, nuts, beans and legumes are great vegan sources for protein. As far as calcium goes, leafy greens, calcium-fortified tofu, soy milk and soybeans are essential. Some supplements can get you ahead, if you're afraid you might not get as much of these nutrients as you need, but getting it all through a varied diet is a lot better for your body (and usually way lighter on your wallet too!) Soybeans are in fact the only vegan food that has been proven to contain ALL 12 key nutrients that your body needs, now how about that?!
Make sure to get enough carbohydrates - this is your number ONE source of energy and it will make sure you stay fuller for longer. Not having a source of carbohydrates with your meal means that the body will take longer to break down the nutrition from fats and protein resulting in you not feeling as satisfied. You are more likely to want a snack shortly after. Just make sure you go for wholemeal breads and pastas, and starchy vegetables packed with nutrition such as sweet potatoes and potatoes.
Healthy fats are essential! I remember always cutting back on oil and butter in cooking, I have realised now that a little bit of this is good for you (also... some things simply cannot be fried without a bit of it). Omega 3 and other healthy fats helps your brain function better, it's easier to stay focused, and it will make sure your hair and skin stay healthy! So if you're craving something salt, grab a handful of nuts, or tropical mix, as it sure will make you feel a lot better.
So, in short: 5-a-day, protein, calcium, good sources of carbohydrates and healthy fats. This is basically the key to good living. Make sure to eat varied, and you are likely to get all the nutrition your body needs without as much as having to spare it a thought!
I eat every 3-4 hours, to make sure my biological machinery stays happy, healthy, and get a regular top-up of energy. If you're in a hurry - grab a smoothie, or homemade granola bar!
I hope you like this little "guide", and that you will find is as useful as myself! If you have anything you would like to add, like hints and tips to mindful eating, vegetarianism, veganism, or thoughts on amenorrhea, please feel free to share your experiences!
This blog will still focus on healthy eating, so worry not that there isn't any nutritional information provided, have a quick look at the ingredients, and you'll see!