I was lucky enough to be invited to collaborate with a dear friend and yoga teacher @Clarefisheryoga (https://www.clarefisheryoga.co.uk/) recently, for an evening focusing on self-care through yoga and healthy eating. Whilst I can’t claim any qualifications or special knowledge on the subject it got me thinking about what self-care through food means for me. So here’s my own little recipe for looking after yourself through healthy eating.
- Find the foods you love. There is no point in attempting to eat healthily by forcing down huge quantities of spinach and rice cakes if (like my husband, who claims spinach makes his teeth go squeaky and rice cakes are the devil’s work) you hate them. Healthy eating should always be enjoyable – experiment as much as possible until you find the foods and meals you enjoy and then work them into your regular repertoire.
- Make small swaps. Taking on a huge diet change or challenge will most likely just set you up for failure and self-flagellation. Instead, just make a few minor tweaks here and there, now and again, and then stick with them.. swap greek yogurt for mayonnaise, swap unsalted nuts for crisps, swap one of your daily caffeine hits for a herbal, go a few percentage darker with your chocolate.
- Find time. Both to eat properly and to prepare to eat properly. If you know you never have time to get a decent breakfast together in the morning, find a moment in time the night before to prepare some overnight oats or a smoothie so you can grab it on the go. Take healthy snacks with you so you never get so hungry that you’ll stuff down the nearest pack of biscuits because they’re the only thing available. Try and plan your healthy meals a few days in advance so that you have the available ingredients – or do a big batch cook at the weekend. Where possible find time to sit and eat and focus on the food you’re enjoying, rather than the millions of other things you feel you should/could be doing and thinking about (I’m terrible for this – currently consuming my lunch whilst writing this post!)
- No denial. Don’t deny yourself the foods you love. You simply can’t care for yourself if you’re treating your body as a sworn enemy and denying it all the good things in life. So if you know that you need chocolate or wine to get you through the day – have it! Just try and keep it to a couple of squares or one glass instead of a whole box or bottle. And try and take a moment to really enjoy the treat you’re having, rather than ingesting without even noticing. When you go for that Sunday lunch with your family – do have the sticky toffee pudding – but look forward to it in advance, relish it whilst eating it, and remember it with joy afterwards.
So, the dish I served up for those who came to our little event was this Chipotle Chicken and Black Bean Chilli. I consider it pretty healthy – lots of protein, low GI carbs and healthy fats. However there is simply nothing “dietish” about it – it’s filling, nourishing and delicious and I was so pleased that everyone who came to our evening seemed to enjoy it.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped red onion
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 chopped red pepper
1 small jar chipotle paste
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 can chopped tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
2 cans black beans
2 ripe avocados
100g feta cheese
sour cream or greek yogurt
Preheat the oven to 150. Pour the oil into an oven proof casserole dish and heat gently on the hob.
Add the onions and gently saute for a few minutes until soft. Add the chicken and brown all over, before stirring in the chipotle paste, spices and peppers, and frying for another 5-10 minutes to soften the peppers.
Add the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on the casserole, transfer to the oven.
After 1 hour, add the beans (drained), leave the lid off and return to the oven for half an hour more.
Dish into bowls and top with chopped avocado, a handful of chopped feta, coriander and sour cream or Greek yogurt.