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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Getting Fit: Salad-free Diet

 Mashed quinoa and pumpkin + beef steak cubes + broccoli

Whenever a person wants to lose weight (in the cases of most ladies, it’s all the time), they’ll build their meals around salads. Before they know it, they become sick of munching on lettuce all day long and eventually lose control in the presence of “proper” food.

Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables and I highly advocate the consumption of veggies daily. At the same time, I believe in feeling satisfied with your “diet” food and not just eating for the sake of wanting to lose weight (but if you love salad, by all means go for it!). Still, it annoys the hell out of me when people think that I lose weight by eating a whole load of salad and depriving myself of “proper” food.

Continue reading if you want to know what’s on my menu instead of salad.

Diet plays a very important role in losing weight. The key is not simply eating less but replacing unhealthy eating habits with healthy ones. A few rules to adopting a healthier diet include:
  • Not skipping meals 
  • Never starving 
  • Eating nutritiously 
  • Reducing processed food 
Note: On my menu, you will not find meal replacer shakes, weight loss cereal or granola bars and diet pill/supplement/tea. I prefer having real food, thank you very much. 

High On Protein 

Ideally, protein should make up 40% of our daily food intake, which is a lot higher than what typical Malaysian meals would have. Because I exercise regularly, I need protein to help build and repair my muscles. Also, protein keeps me fuller for longer and reduces hunger pangs.

My protein sources are mainly from chicken, beef, fish, eggs and soy. I try to include protein at every meal.

Easy On the Carbs 

Another 40% of our daily food intake should consist of carbohydrates, which we tend to have too much of. Carbs are not limited to just starchy grains but also fruits, vegetables and sugar. Carbs are necessary to provide energy and maintain healthy bowel movements. However, if the extra sugars in carbs are not burned off, they will be stored in the body as fat. In many situations, sugar/carbs is the main cause of weight gain and not fat itself.

Complex carbohydrates or whole grains contain higher fiber and nutrients than simple carbohydrates such as sugar and white rice/bread. Because they are slower to digest, they also fill me up and keep me full without having to eat large amounts.

To fill my carbohydrate quota, I opt for alternative grains such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat and rye. I also go for starchy vegetables and legumes such as sweet potatoes, chickpeas and beans. I’ve cut down on wheat flour products (pasta, bread, cookies, cake, etc.) and limit my white rice intake to a maximum of one meal a day.

Filling Up On Vegetables 

Lettuce is not at the top of my list when I want veggies (except Romaine lettuce, which I love). Reason being, lettuce tend to be bland, doesn’t have much “body” to bite and hardly fills me up. Plus, the most commonly used iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional content. I mostly have Romaine lettuce as a side dish or mid-day snack.

Veggies that I do prefer and eat regularly include broccoli, celery, carrots, mushroom, bell peppers, green beans, spinach, tomatoes and okra (ladies fingers).

Fat is Healthy 

Many people who are “on a diet” tend to be terrified of fat. Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish (eg. Salmon) are good for you and they don’t make you fat.

I mostly cook with olive oil and sesame oil. Nuts and avocado are also good sources for fat.

Low Salt Flavors 

Too much salt, despite being calorie-free, causes water retention and bloating. In other words, it can cause weight-gain and make you look puffy. Healthy food tends to put people off because having low salt content results them to taste bland.

For adding flavor to my cooking, I use onion, garlic, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, chili, parsley and other herbs & spices. I also love adding unsalted seaweed in soup to make it more flavorful.

That’s a lot of stuff to digest (pun very much intended) in one post! I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the lunches are usually cook and bring to work. I regularly post up what I eat on Twitter and also Tumblr so feel free to follow me to perhaps get some inspirations on what to eat – besides salad!

  1. Beef cutlets + spicy fried millet wrapped in egg + broccoli + yellow bell peppers 
  2. Spicy stir-fried tomato and chicken breast + okra + millet +stir-fried mushrooms 
  3. Meatballs in tomato-based sauce + spinach + quinoa noodles 
  4. Fried millet with beef + okra + hard-boiled egg + seaweed vegetable soup 
  5. Stir-fried buckwheat pasta with chicken, bell peppers, zucchini and mushrooms 
Disclaimer: This post is based on my personal experiences, what I've read up online and also advice from my trainer, Jeremy. By the way, Jeremy is currently on a month-long holiday but if you'd like to direct questions to him, he'll answer them when he gets back. Meanwhile, if you have any questions for me, I'd gladly respond :)


FiSh. ohFISHiee said...

thanks connie! im wondering, in asian country, my variety of food is quite limited and usually i have oats, soya drinks, milk, bread, and apple for my meals. may I know how should i adjust each meal so that they're all balanced up?

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Connie De Alwis said...

Fish: Well, I live in KL and I believe we are very well-stocked! Besides my weird grains and pasta (which are available in the organic section of major supermarkets), most of the ingredients that I use can be easily found anywhere. What you could try is have a look at your meals if there's a fair ratio of protein, starch and veggies/fiber.

anonymoushedonist said...

the food you cook look so delicious i'm inspired to start cooking and bringing my own lunch! only problem is the cleaning up though, heheh..

Connie De Alwis said...

It was unusual for me to bring my own lunch but I'm very used to it now :) I hate cleaning as well! but my cooking and preparation are simple so there isn't much to wash

Almeda Trocino said...

hmmm...delicious. Thanks for sharing with us Connie.

missroum87 said...

one thing i learned, to eat healthy is quite costly too because the amount of food we need to buy every 2 to 3 days because it has to be fresh. The eat healthy foods require preparations too and planning ahead as well. But the result, is totally worth it. In fact, spending money on healthy foods is much better than spending money for hospital bills. :)

Connie De Alwis said...

Almeda Trocino: Welcome! Do follow me on Twitter and also Tumblr. I post up my food quite frequently :)

Connie De Alwis said...

Missroum87: I have to agree that healthy food tend to be a lot more expensive than unhealthy. I mean, who would wanna spend RM3 on a bell pepper when they can pay RM3 more and get a McValue Meal? Eating healthy is not cheap but you'd have to value it :)

ling said...

hi may i know do you happen to take yoghurt in your daily snack ? Hmm,i'm contemplating on what kinda yoghurt i could get from the Malaysian supermarkets.I can hardly find Low Fat Greek yoghurts around except for just the plain ones :/ What brands do you recommend ? ^.^

Connie De Alwis said...

I don't take yogurt regularly cuz I'm limiting my dairy intake. Actually, I wouldn't recommend flavored cuz high in sugar or artificial sweetener. Also, flavored Greek yogurt is expensive. If you dislike the taste of plain yogurt, may I suggest taking it with fresh or dried fruits like raisins or prunes?

toughcookie said...

i love them pasta! thanks for sharing this... i am running out of ideas what else to put into my salad ;P

❤ Ee Von said...

this is such a great post connie! i definitely like the idea of salad-free healthy diet. your meals look so appetizing and satisfying, so much more realistic than eating a portion enough to feed a bunny hehe.

Jessie said...

May I know where you buy your quinoa products?

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<3 Connie

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