Saturday 30 September 2017

Carbohydrates - Reintroducing Lunch & Dressing Up Breakfast

   Well. I. Feel. Fabulous. I've been eating more - calories, carbs and diversity - and I'm feeling excellent. It's so amazing to be in a good mood without trying, and I'm noticing the people around me are in a better mood, too. It's so easy to create a negative atmosphere, and that atmosphere has far too much sway over people. I usually give into it when others are the source, but that was also probably because I was already a bit miserable. Now, however, I'm finding the energy to push past it and not let other people's bad moods affect me, and to lighten the atmosphere myself instead. And it seems to be working!
   But, honestly - and I know how silly this sounds - it's nice to be happy. To smile so easily, to wake up and roll out of bed with a spring (after a moment), I'm even sleeping better! My exercise has been going better, I don't dread it anywhere near as much (in fairness, this month's workout has been amazing fun), and my day to day concentration has improved. My writing is going amazingly, and I really feel like I've started this book on a really strong note.

   The past few weeks I've been continuing to force carbohydrates into my diet by targeting my meals. I started with lunch, because my lunch almost never contains carbs, it's literally 2 eggs, 30g salmon, a handful of baby carrots and various herbs and spices. Fortunately eggs are ridiculously versatile and even after a year and a half of lunches like this, I have yet to tire of either eggs or salmon. And while it's true that I've only made one change to it, it's a pretty significant one.
   Yes, I've added bread to my eggs and salmon on exercise days. Imagine that: bread for lunch.
   I chose bread for three reasons - first of all, it's a good source of carbs, calories and fibre. Secondly, because otherwise the only carbs I see post-workout is a small amount of fruit about 30 minutes after I've finished, around 11am, and then whatever I snack on at 3, assuming it's even carbs. And thirdly, because whenever we go to The Netherlands to see Seeg's family, bread is served every day, and as I never, ever eat it, my body doesn't seem to know what the hell to do with it. I don't have Coeliac's or a gluten intolerance, I just gain weight really easily from it, so I figured if I add bread into my lunch (like a normal person) I can add more carbs onto a meal that doesn't otherwise have any more than 6g, mostly from veg, and my body can get used to it.
   Bread is also quite versatile - I can dunk it into soft-boiled eggs, I can make eggy bread, I can make a sandwich, and I can also stick that sandwich in the oven for 10 minutes for a toasted, crispy, lovely warm egg and salmon sandwich. Um, yum.

   On non-exercise days, I leave the bread out because I don't want to eat it every day, and instead I try salads and soups. I usually try to avoid carbs completely after breakfast on rest days, which is ridiculous, so instead I've been branching out and trying some ready-to-eat brands I've seen in Women's Fitness and the like that I've been too afraid to try before because of carbs. This spices up lunch time and introduces me to new flavours, foods and combinations, and things that I might try to make from scratch myself, in time.
   This week I even turned to the Just Jhoom! cookbook for some carrot and ginger soup.

   Changing breakfast was a risk. I did it not long after changing my lunch - it was about five days in, in fact - and it's always been the one time of the day when I have eaten carbs. It's almost always porridge - warm and simple, and I've always quite liked it, and oats are a great source of slow-release carbs. But, more than just energy, breakfast can also be a huge mood-booster. It can shake away bad dreams and give your day a good start, which can reverberate on until lunch time.
   But, though it was a risk to do it so soon after changing up lunch, it's paid off, and I'm actually rather enjoying it. On exercise days, I've kept it simple and just added a bit of fruit to my oats - a handful of berries or a chopped up apricot - and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's not much, but I don't want to increase the size too much because it might hinder my exercise (take too long to digest), but porridge is mostly oats and milk, and is generally the only reliable source of carbs in my day.
   Non-exercise days are far more interesting. I usually have larger porridge bowls, but larger only really because they include a scoop of protein powder which increases the calories and the liquid content. But I've started adding fruit there, too, and nuts, and sometimes a sprinkling of granola. I've also dared a stack of blueberry and white chocolate protein pancakes, using Flapjacked's protein pancake mix (all natural, 200 cals per serving, 20g protein and 20g carbs with oat flour), and I successfully did not feel guilty for it at all. I try to make sure that all the ingredients are clean and healthy, and I can trust the pancake mix on that front, but I also try not to obsess over it. Chocolate is chocolate, after all, even if it is three pieces of Green & Black's, some of the cleanest chocolate there is.
   But breakfast is suddenly a very enjoyable time of the day. In fact, I'm becoming a bit of a breakfast enthusiast... So far, I've tried the following:
• Porridge oats with a handful of blueberries or a diced apricot
• Chocolate protein porridge with a sprinkling of granola & nuts
• Strawberry protein porridge with a diced apricot & a sprinkling of granola/blueberries & baobab
• Green & Black's white chocolate & blueberry protein pancakes with oat flour
• Strawberry & baobab-sprinkled protein mini muffins (same as the pancake mix but baked for 10 minutes, gas mark 4, in a mini muffin tray)
• Blueberry taiyaki (made with that same pancake mix - I was shocked to find that 1 serving made 3 taiyaki!)


   As for dinner, aside from the culinary adventure that dominated my recent staycation, I'm just not there yet. The idea of carbs when the day slows down puts me off big-time. So I've been sticking to the same boring repetitive recipes, but it's also the biggest meal of my day so if this takes the longest to adjust, that's not unreasonable. I've mentioned in the past that sometimes I feel guilty for eating dinner purely because I ate enough to satiate me, which I guess is a feeling I'm not used to when under-eating. Adding carbs into my dinner (mostly just meat and veg, otherwise) will take a little longer.
   Having said that, I have tried to shake things up once a week and using Just Jhoom's cookbook has helped, as has daring to try out Simply Cook. Both mean new recipes, but the latter also enforces more calories and carbs once a week, as well as an extremely interesting meal - I've tried to choose the most interesting, and the family is loving it, too.


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