So I have finally done it you guys.
I've taken the jump into the world of healthy eating, and healthy living. I'm officially a healthy eater!
Perhaps a more accurate description would be I have made the jump into the "I'm-actively-trying-to-make-healthier-food-choices-and-not-slowly-but-surely-killing-myself-with-the-immense-amounts-of-junk-food-and-calorie-laden-carbs-and-sugar-loaded-cakes-that-I-consumed-on-a-daily-basis-though-I-still-sometimes-cheat-and-stuff-my-fat-face-with-delicious-junk-food" bandwagon. But you see, to say I have become a "healthy eater" is just so much easier.
Perhaps an explanation is in order? You see I've never had the 'worst' diet in the world, due basically to the fact that I have a mother who has always emphasized using 'healthy' and 'whole' ingredients, and banned all forms of fast food and junk food in the house since I was a kid. She was able to successfully condition us as children to avoid junk food to the point where we would not even ask for it as we knew the answer was no. If 10 year old Zahra were to pick up a box of Dunk-a-roos in the grocery store, with the hopes of
whining pleading my case enough for them (but MA! EVERYONE IS EATING THEM), I would then put it right back down without trying to argue because I knew the answer was not only "NO", but would also be followed up with a speech about how I would get cancer from eating these delicious cookies + dip combo. Chips? Nope. Coke? Don't even think about it. Fruit Roll ups? HAHAHA you mean chemically infused rubber that will give you cancer AND LITERALLY KILL YOU?
You get the idea.
It came to the point where the idea of "OMG LETS HAVE A YUMMY TREAT" was having an organic yogurt fruit cup.
So then fast forward to a few years ago when I finally became independent and in charge of what I ate in my university years. Having the cash and the opportunity, I started to eat whateverrrrr I wanted. And man. Did I make up for lost time. Pizza? Double cheese please! And a side of greasy fries please. And a Coke. XL. McDonald's? Superzie Me? SUPERSIZE YES!
And as a result....the weight started piling on.....Freshman 15? More like Freshman 20.
And things only got worse when I left school and joined the workforce. At least in school I had to *walk* to class. Not here friends, not here. My commute consisted of walking 10 meteres to the bus stop in the morning, sitting on the bus, getting off and walking 10 meteres to my building, sitting for 8 hours, and busing back home. Meanwhile my snack drawer at work (yes I had a snack drawer) consisted of a selection of cookies, brownies, poptarts, DUNKAROOS (FOR YOU 10 YEAR OLD ZAHRA! FOR YOOOOUUU!), chips, chocolate stuffed croissants (thanks Costco), and oatmeal. Cause, you know, oatmeal is healthy right?
As my weight crept up, and my energy levels fell, I was in denial. See the thing was, I was blessed with this wondrous rare gift that can be bestowed on any woman - a super high metabolism and good genetics. When I started University I weighed 100 pounds. 100 pounds! And at roughly 5'5' that put me at BELOW the average BMI! It was all thanks to great genetics - my sister was tiny, and even my mom had been teeny tiny when she was younger! It was the GREEN light I needed to stuff my face. And stuff my face I did friend. Stuff my face I did.
As the weight started to pile on I ignored it. Honestly I never even weighed myself. I noticed my clothes getting a tad tighter....but I figured I outgrew my high school clothes and that this was a chance to buy a new Uni wardrobe! wee! then I realized one day I was 115 pounds, and I wasn't even remotely worried. I was all "PSSH!! This is a GOOD thing. I need some extra meat on my bones. In fact...I need even MORE meat on my bones!" Before I knew it I went from a size XS to a M. "Pshh. Thats fine...."I would say, rather defensively. "I, uh, as a Medium, I am NORMAL, sized individual. I'm still a HEALTHY size!" :D Then....it just kept coming....in the first year out of school I gained another 15 pounds. FIFTEEN POUNDS. In less than 8 months. Thats when it slowly started to hit me that eating junk every day may not be so 'ok' as I had previously convinced myself. Maybe my beloved mother was on to something when she said NO to the sugar packed junk foods I so deeply desired? I evaluated my diet and realized I was making some pretty poor choices. So I figured, huh.....maybe I should cut out having a coke every day with my meals? Maybe that will stop me from gaining all these pounds. Maybe I should make some healthier choices, like instead of heading to McDonalds for lunch, I will make a Subway Trip. Instead of having a chocolate chip muffin (or two) for breakfast I'll have a FRUIT muffin. Then I will go right back to the weight I was. Yeah. That will do it!
It didn't do it.
It kept coming on. Now those of you who are healthy eaters may be rolling your eyes at me like "NO? Really? You thought stopping having a coke a day and opting for a processed fruit muffins over chocolate flavoured ones would make you skinnier? Oh no. I wonder why it didn't work??" *eye roll* Well heed your sarcasm - I know NOW how wrong I was! But alas I had to wait until that winter to hit rock bottom before slapping myself awake into reality.
Oh God. So sometime this past January I had pulled out some winter clothes I had in storage. I had bought them BRAND NEW the previous year after some major sales in the early spring. Since it was the end of winter at that point I had packed them up, tags still attached, and put them in storage. Keep in mind that when I had purchased them the previous year they were a tad large (that's the way I like my clothes - I prefer baggy rather than skin tight). So I take them out of storage, and put on these brand new clothes, with their tags still attached, and it.....wouldn't fit. IT JUST WOULDN'T FIT ME. Like sure, I could squeeze into them but it was really tight and uncomfortable and looked like I was wearing the completely wrong size of clothing . That was my slap-in-the-face-wake-up- call. In less than a year I had ballooned in size, and clothing that was very comfortable one year, simply WOULDN'T FIT less than a year later.
That's when I decided I needed a change. I started googling. Started learning. Started understanding WHAT I was putting into my body and what it was doing. Turns out half the 'healthy choices' I thought I was making? WERE HORRIBLE for me! It soon became apparent why I was gaining so much weight in such a short duration of time.
So I decided, that starting January 2015, I would start *trying* to eat a healthier diet. I educated myself on what sorts of foods were good choices, and what were bad. And trust me, me and my sweet tooth cheated plenty. But despite this, I still managed to stop gaining weight, and even lose some of it too!
My experience these past 10 months has shown me that the biggest obstacle to healthy eating is the availability of it. If you come home for dinner and you're starving, chances are you will reach for unhealthy snacks to fill you up, rather than wait 2 hours to make a healthy meal. Since then I have come up with several different recipes that are fairly quick and easy to make (without complex ingredients) but are high in protein and fibre (the good stuff) and low in carbs (the bad stuff). I hope to be sharing more of them with you on the blog soon! :)
Now on to this recipe. I have found that the best type of diet to adapt is one that is high in protein and fibre and low in carbs. The reason for this is that protein and fibre tends to keep you full and satisfied much longer than carbs, and in turn leads to less feelings of wanting to stuff your face. :) Carbs, though good in moderation, can lead to problems in the long term including weight gain.
This is a really quick and easy recipe that comes together within minutes. Its a great side to a main meal or can even be the main attraction as a light lunch or dinner.
Sautéed Mushroom and Feta Spinach Side
(note that this recipe is more of a general guideline - that means the measurements for the ingridents REALLY doesn't matter! :) you can adjust based on the amount you have on hand or how much you want to make, or simply what you prefer to have more/less of. If you want more spinach, add more. If you don't like mushrooms, add less. Its very flexible :) )
* 1 pound of spinach
* 2 cup of chopped mushrooms
* 2-3 tablespoons of chopped feta cheese
* 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
* 1 medium onion + oil to fry with
* Garlic powder to taste
1. Slice your garlic cloves and onion up, and sauté it over medium heat with whichever oil you want to use (I prefer coconut) until the onions are slightly brown.
2. Add your chopped mushrooms and cook until slightly brown. When they are about 1-2 minutes to being cooked, throw in your spinach. It may seem like 'too much' spinach as you're throwing it in and it may seem to be overflowing but its OK! When spinach cooks it looses a LOT of volume!
3. Continue to fry until the mushrooms are cooked an the spinach has turned a dark green. Add some Garlic to taste. I like it garlicy so I tend to add a lot! (and add salt and pepper if you wish).
4. Remove from heat and empty contents of pan into a bowl. Throw in your chopped feta cheese and combine.
5. That's it! You've made a really quick and easy (and HEALTHY) side (or meal) in minutes! Yay You :)
And heres a video I made of the quick process :)