7 steps to a healthy diet

A healthy diet is something that we all strive for. For me a healthy diet is not about constantly limiting yourself. It’s about deciding to eat products that are beneficial for your well-being. You will never feel great after devouring a Big Mac. Each time I eat one I always regret I did. There is not one occassion where I was genuinely happy I ate something processed, oily or tasting artificial. On the other hand, there were numerous times I felt amazing after having a smoothie, vegetable soup or a homemade lunch.

A ball of fresh grapes

Personally, I struggle constantly with a healthy, well-balanced diet. I had problems with what I eat ever since I moved out of my home a decade ago. I lived alone in a huge city with all those possibilities within arm’s reach and gained an astonishing 20 kg (50 lbs). My problem was that we live in a world where food is very easily accessible. I move my finger over the screen of my phone and McDonald’s is delivered to my apartment in less than 30 minutes. I can online shop for food, order anything I want and there’s no one to judge me, as I’m all alone in my four walls. 

Food is obviously a great part of our life. We cannot live without it, nor would we ever want to. It became an anti-depressant, stress-reliever and  happiness inducers for many of us. Unfortunately, good quality of meals is directly related to how our bodies look and as well all want to be attractive our diet must improve.  Ever since January 2019 I have embarked on a weigh-loss journey and lost 7 kg [15 lbs] and going strong towards my goal. I’m not a specialist nor am I a trained professional, but I think my progress and how well I feel with all the changes can be of help for you.

Here are my 7 steps for a healthy diet that I had successfully implemented into my own life.

A sliced, healthy avocado

1. Eat outmeal or muesli for breakfest

Ever since the beginning of the year I made sure to incorporate low-sugar muesli or oatmeal into my diet. I usually purchase a bag of muesli and eat it with natural yoghurt. During week days I prepare it at work (it takes around 10 minutes for muesli to soak in the yoghurt and not taste like sawdust. At first I struggled with the flavour – it’s not a delicious piece of cake and it’s hard to get used to… very delicate taste. After eating enhanced food for years, it’s quite demanding to switch to a natural one. Fortunately, just after a couple of weeks I noticed a visible improvement in taste (or maybe I simply got used to it, I can’t be sure). I ate muesli so often now I crave it. This morning I had an avocado toast and felt like oatmeal is so much better. It is important not to immediately give up. I understand it won’t be pleasant at first, but when you give it a try it will get better in time. I promise, you will thank me later.

2. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate

You probably hear that a lot, don’t you? But have you ever followed that advice? Do you actually drink at least 2 litres of water per day? For the last several months I do, but it took me a significant amount of time to get accustomed to. I started with a very easy task: I had a glass of lemon water each morning, just after waking up. I hated how the water tasted and had to add flavour by adding either lemon or cucumbers. Then, after several weeks, I added another big glass of water to lunch. At first I felt as though I drink too much, but the more water I consumed, the better I felt. Another week passed and I drank 8 glasses of water a day (or 4 bottles). When I reached my goal, I felt amazing! I had so much energy and spark. For a person that never drank lots of water I started craving it. Quite frankly felt unwell when I didn’t get enough. Even now, typing and figuring out which pictures would be most suitable this particular post, I already had two big glasses of sparkling water.

Convince yourself that the more you drink the better you’re going to feel. Also, drinking water boosts metabolism and helps you along the weight-loss journey. 

3. Switch to home cooking

Won tons.

Treat it as an adventure. Developing a daily cooking habit is quite difficult, but it will have so many positive effects you will never regret it. First of all,  food you get at the restaurant is never healthy. It is loaded with preservatives and flavour enhancers. I know it’s much easier to get a yummy hot wing, but your body is not going to be impressed by you devouring so much fat. Second of all, it’s pricy. Obviously, lunch at this new bistro you noticed down the street is at least twice more expensive than lunch you could prepare at home. Also, pre-prepared meals are a trap of enhancers, debatable ingredients and lost cash. 

If you’re motivated, but don’t know how to start, think about what’s stopping you. I discovered that most of the time I didn’t want to cook because I simply didn’t know what to make. I found a website with delicious and healthy recipes and have been following ever since. Even tonight, when I’m sick and trying to calmly die in my bed flooded by running nose, I am going to get up and prepare chicken, rice and vegetables for tomorrow’s lunch at work. 

Sometimes I gave up cooking because I felt like it takes way too much time. 

The same site with recipes helped me by offering short and simple instructions for cooking great, healthy meals. If I was too lazy to go shopping I looked at my bank account and convinced myself, that spending 50 PLN [12 euro or 15$] per lunch is not going to help me save money. I also visualized myself looking bomb and it’s been a great help as well. If you’re interested about my meal-planning routine or my love for slowfood check this post here

4. Make several smart swaps

It’s difficult to eliminate unhealthy food from your diet entirely, but you can definitely make several swaps that will improve your health. I have started with not adding sugar to tea. Instead, I drink them plain or with honey. I eat only full-grain bread as it’s easier to get full with smaller slices.  Look at my list and think of more products which can be easily swapped:

  • never buy flavoured yoghurt. It’s so much tastier to eat a natural one with pieces of fresh fruit. 
  • don’t spend cash on pre-produced products, rather buy fresh ones and cook them yourself,
  • skip the mayo and change it for a greek yoghurt,
  • always order the smaller size of portions, chances are you’ll get full with the food you get. If not you can always order more, if yes – you get additional cash!
A piece of cake and coffee

5. Eat sweets in moderation

I have a full understanding that living sugar-free is a difficult existence. But boy, have I tried! I have struggled with weight for my entire life and a sweet tooth I have has been rather detrimental for my “slim” figure. With years passing I have accepted that there is no way I will ever be able to eliminate sweets from my diet. I accepted that a long time ago and so instead of forcing myself to ditch sweets forever I’m simply eating in moderation. I can have a piece of cake at my niece’s birthday party, I can eat dessert on holidays or even eat a candy bar during a cheat day, but I won’t eat more than I really want. Sometimes one little candy can be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.  

The problem is that more often than not we don't focus on our needs and keep eating more chocolate because we didn't notice we've had enough

I try to focus more on food and be present and mindfull of what I put in my mouth. Each time I take a bite of something sweet I’m wondering if I want more of it? Was it enough? How did it make me feel? Do I really want more sugar? In most of the cases I don’t and I simply stop eating. Try this exercise at home as it really helps to eat sweets in moderation. Also, as I am used to eating whatever I want (and thus I’m on a weight-loss journey) the cognitive dissonance of not wanting more sweets is quite mindblowing.

6. Believe in 80/20 ratio

80/20 ratio is a simple rule  of eating food that is in 80% good for you and in 20% less healthy. I use this canon for everything in life as I believe balance is necessary for happiness. My regular week consists of 6 days when I eat healthy and a cheat day when I can eat everything I want. I plan cheat days in advance: this week it’s going to be Sunday. There is no limit of what and how much I can eat during a cheat day, but if you keep strong on remaining days you’re not going to eat much more for a splurge day. Also, the healthier you eat the less harmful food you’re going to crave. Right now I have spread myself a little too thin and got lost in sweets and fats. I have simply lost track of my healthy habits and have been struggling to go back, but I still kept the ratio of 80%/20%, hence I didn’t gain any weight.  

7. Keep away from alcoholic beverages

In general alcohol is a terrible idea. When I was younger, I used to party all the time. I could return home at 5 am, get a couple hours of sleep and go straight to work/classes. Then repeat the whole process and never feel bad or too tired. Right now as I’m 28, I can feel the difference. I never stay up later than 1 am as my eyes are already shutting down anyway. I also can’t drink too much alcohol as my stomach protests in the worst of ways. And the thought of the headache, exhaustion and all the other symptoms of hangover is just damming. 

It is not a secret that alcohol is not good for health. 

Quite frankly, it not only causes you to eat more (and less healthy) but it is also dehydrating and damages your natural immune system. I don’t have any tip for you as to how to stop drinking alcohol in general. I’m terrible at it. Seldomly, I love a glass of wine with a fancy dinner, or a pint of beer with friends on Friday nights. Because of my 80/20 rule I indulge in an occasional drink only once a week (it has to be a cheat day) and I’ve noticed positive changes in my skin and general well-being.

Start your healthy lifestyle right now

I hope my tips will help you get on track with a healthy lifestyle. If you have any questions or tips for me, please write them in the comment or contact me through e-mail. Thank you very much for reading my post and visiting Journal of Dorota.

Within your own self is a treasury… an ocean of pure bliss, consciousness, intelligence, creativity, love, happiness, energy and peace… within every human being.

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How to stop being broke?

If you’re suffering from lack of money and are wondering why is it that some people always seem to have cash and you’re constantly broke, I think I might have a hint for you – you’re shopping inefficiently!

Please don’t tell me now other people have cash because they earn more. That is a misconception that grew into stereotype, when in reality the difference is: they’re frugal and you’re not. First example: me. I earn quite a lot of money for my age, but at the end of the month I struggle to be able to afford basic domestics. On the other hand, one of my best friends is an aspiring artist who seems to always have cash even though she earns a third of what I do. Since I noticed this phenomenon I became more aware of what I buy and how I manage my money. I hope this post is going to give you some ideas that might help you take care of your budget.

Disclaimer:

i suck at saving money

I really do suck at saving, I don’t think I ever had real savings my entire life. The following tips come from my personal experience, but I have yet to establish how to use them in a long run. Any tips?

  1. Buy only what you really need.

This goes for food, clothes, appliances, electronics and home decor – although if you really want to save money you don’t need anything else than food. Each time you think you need to buy something, immediately drink a glass of water, sit down and simply don’t do it. If you lived for a year without a dishwasher, and you struggle with cash, probably you don’t need the dishwasher that much. If your closet is full of clothes don’t buy another white t-shirt or jeans, rather keep your money for a time, when you’d be needing something important.

In case of food, I heard from various sources how you need a list of groceries to be sure you only buy necessities. That is true, I don’t usually go to the supermarket without a list either, but what you need to keep in mind is that even though you have one, you might still buy a lot of unnecessary items. Example: today I made a list of things I should buy for another three days. I folded it and put it in my purse, but just before I left I went to grab some water from the fridge and realised I listed a lot of things I already had! Hence, whenever you decide to go shopping look through your cupboards, fridge and refrigerator to learn what you really have there and maybe during that routine you might invent dishes that don’t need additional shopping – my favourite: spaghetti alio olio.

Another frugal thing I learned recently is to eat less meat. Meat is expensive – it deteriorates fast and you need to spend a lot of time to prepare it, plus you might feel bloated and tired from excess in your diet – shop smarter and more consciously.

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2. Find additional sources of income.

The best tip to not be broke is to earn more and from various sources. I work full-time for a company in Warsaw, but I also cooperate with other companies just to have additional source of income. If you can’t get another job, think about contacting your supervisor about a raise, or some additional benefits. Another way to do it is to get rid of the things you don’t need anymore, but other people may perceive useful – sell those off e-bay and save the money for later.

3. Look for small saving opportunities.

Don’t spend money on useless crap is more approriate for a title here, but it corresponds too much with point number one, so let me stay with the “look for small saving opportunities”. Generally, don’t spend money on… plastic bags – take some from home, gym membership cards if you’re too lazy to ever practice, paid applications on your iPad or phone – cause you don’t need any of it, even if you think you do, magazines and newspapers – use the Internet instead. Don’t buy bottled water if you have the same one or better in your tap, don’t buy fancy notebooks, pens etc. if you have a lot of them lying around your house. Don’t buy flowers, eat at restaurants, drink at pubs… generally live like a freaking monk for a while, but trust me, you will be rewarded. And, oh boy, it will be worth it!

4. Because the whole reason for saving up is to be able to spend it later on something totally worth it!

Keep your goal in mind and work towards it! If it’s a trip, renting a dream car (looking at you Floret), expensive camera or even paying up your debts. Work hard for it and you’ll finally achieve all your goals! Living life frugaly has to have a purpose, and collecting money is a crappy one, trust me. Money does not bring happiness, unless it’s a mean to achieve what you want. So buckle up on your adventure to whatever it is you need to save money for.

Btw. If anyone of you will tell me you don’t need to save money because you don’t have any debts, but in the same time you have mortgage on your house, credit or your balance on the credit card is not 0, than you are an idiot and you should save money cause you’re drowning in debt! If you are not in debt, you don’t owe money to ANYONE! Simple as that.

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Dorota