Disclaimer: I am not qualified in any way shape or form to give weight loss advice, this post draws from my own experience of balancing food writing and health. It should be taken as the egotistical ravings of a food and coffee fanatic and nothing more.

If you picked up my phone right now and scrolled through my instagram feed, I’d say 90% of what you’d find would be pictures of food, and the same goes for the people I follow. This is not surprising when you consider most of them are food writers, food bloggers, and the food obsessed. Food blogging is the ultimate excuse for gluttony, because every meal can be written off as ‘research’.

Consider if you will, exhibit A – me. I’ve never put on more weight in my life than when I’ve been writing about food. And I’d tell myself, based on meeting up with other food lovers for regular feasts or scanning through my instagram feed, where the world looks like one, continuous, envy-inspiring picnic, that everyone I knew was living a life of gluttony sloth much like mine.

But one day, I started to notice things. Other people would get to the end of a meal and go ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so FULL!’ and I’d be sitting there going “Uh, wha?’ Or I’d notice people did other things besides eating, like going to the gym. Or I’d hear about food bloggers who baked a batch of cookies for their blog, then ate one and gave the rest to friends and family. Immediately. Before the temptation to scoff the lot became too much. Or I’d notice that most people weren’t slowly expanding the way I was.

And here’s the real kicker. I write primarily about coffee, so the majority of my pieces concern macchiatos rather than deep-fried monaco bars. Most of things I eat will never ever be used as content for this blog!

So I decided I’d had enough of this crap.

And I’ve been trying, over the last 6 months, to remedy an attitude that has led me to an unhealthy lifestyle, and to lose the resulting kilos. And reading Thang’s recent post over at Noodlies made me think perhaps my insights would be worth something to someone else. Here’s what has worked for me so far.

  1. Walk everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. To work. Home from work. To dinner, to coffee, to your friend’s house, to the gym and back if you go to the gym. Anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours is fair game. Rain or shine, convenient or not, there’s no better way to stay active than to use your legs as your primary form of transport.
  2. If you can’t have ‘just a taste’, you can’t have it. Know your weaknesses. I believe that there are foods that cannot be part of your routine, or they BECOME your routine. So these foods become special occasion foods. But for actual special occasions, because when life is a feast, every meal has the potential to become a celebration, and that’s not always a good thing.
  3. Drinking your calories is for chumps. A recent study showed that our body ‘thinks’ liquids have a low caloric value, so don’t fill up on juice/soft drink/cappucinos/beer because your body doesn’t ‘know’ that a pint of cider is actually food. Eat your calories as solid food and suddenly, you’ll notice what you’re eating.
  4. Develop your own ‘default setting’. Willpower is finite. The reason making the same choices over and over again gets easier and easier is that you build habits, and habits are hard to break. This means that you don’t have to make a zillion tiny decisions every day, relying on willpower when you’re tired, distracted or hungry. You can still have sprite, or fried chicken, or sleep in and skip your morning jog, but the choice you have to make becomes the conscious one of opting out of your good habits, rather than the fraught one of ‘doing the right thing’.
  5. Variety over quantity and quality over cost. Try new/different/more/tiny slices of everything you can get your hands/mouth on. Don’t let your taste buds doze off, life is waaaaay too short to subside on porridge and carrot sticks. Smaller servings of delicious and interesting things does make eating more enjoyable and exciting, and means that you will miss the feasting/stuffing yourself mentality (that can be, let’s face it, such great fun) less and less.

What about you? Do you have any tips for healthy eating when surrounded by delicious food?

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28 Responses to On Healthy Eating – 5 tips from a food blogger

  1. Good thing I do martial arts, and I walk quite a bit too. I also try to achieve a good balance of healthy and not-so-healthy foods. Hope things are going well with you! You look pretty fit in the picture where you’re wearing the hoodie, at any rate.

  2. Cyndie says:

    This is my daily battle: born French, I love food, but I also want to keep slim! I have such an obsession (for both: eating and putting on weight) that it’s exactly why I started my blog nearly two years ago. I think avoiding processed food, portion control and eating for pleasure but in moderation are the keys to success to be a slim foodie!
    Cyndie recently posted…Five Tips to Grow Strawberries in Pots ( + Benefits of Growing Your Own Food)

  3. Love your advice on drinking (or not drinking) – must, must remember. Also loving your trackie-dacks – v fetching!
    thang@noodlies recently posted…Blogging tips: turn your blog into a profitable hobby

  4. vegeTARAian says:

    I love this post Lau. Well done, you look fabulous! I wish I lived closer to town as it would be great to walk everywhere. Being stuck in the ‘burbs means I rely on my car to get anywhere. Over the past couple of months I’ve had early morning sessions with a personal trainer at the gym, 3 times a week. It can be hard to get up when it’s still dark but I feel so much better afterwards. Now I just to work on minimising my food portions!
    vegeTARAian recently posted…sol.cafe, Baulkham Hills

    • I agree it is tricky when you don’t live near the places you need to go. I’m walking a little less these days, but I’ll swim a kilometre every few days, swimming is one of my fave forms of exercise. Gotta find what works for you! My whole thing is to only do exercise you can imagine doing for the rest of your life.

  5. cook suck says:

    don’t eat one (1) day a week and have the odd weekend bender where you don’t eat anything
    cook suck recently posted…Ever notice how all the miserable failures in life are…

  6. Gaby says:

    Sound advice! I’d add: clean your house of crap. If it’s not there, you won’t eat it. And if you’re as lazy as the majority of people, you won’t get out to buy it.

    • Lau says:

      I 100% agree with you there. There’s no pasta in my house, so we don’t have pasta for dinner. Given the chance, I could eat pasta every day for the rest of my life…

  7. Great post! I like your honesty. I wish I had your willpower but one day, I am sure my ‘will’ will kick in! :-)
    Cindy (A Foodies Joy) recently posted…Fairfield Feast Food Tour – Part 1

    • Nah, willpower is no good. You just need to create new habits, and teeny tiny things make the hugest difference. Hands down the three changes I made that made the most difference were not having spaghetti in my house, cutting out alcohol and walking everywhere.

  8. Variety is the key to everything. Walk everywhere but take taxis everywhere else. Don’t worry about what other people think. Drink mostly clear liquors and wine: Ron Swanson is wrong. Beer is bread in liquid form. Plate of sashimi for lunch once or twice a week. The rest is gravy.
    Prick With A Fork recently posted…Universal Food-Care

  9. I LOVE this post. I love it because of your honesty. Us food bloggers have a tendancy to hide behind our drool-worthy cake pictures, like that’s our full time life! I’m a big fan of small portions of delicious food and eating consciously. Your body needs food. It should be an enjoyable experience rather than simply a fuel. Go you for getting healthy!
    Sophie – thestickyandsweet recently posted…Coconut Cakes

  10. Biker says:

    Great advice. Walking is great and easy to encorporate into your day. If you want to take it up a notch, short intense interval exercise has been shown to be even more effective that the long, slow, painful, time-consuming moderate forms.

    And I’m absolutely with you and Gaby on the not having it in the house thing. For me it’s ice cream. I can start out with a precisely measured 1/2 cup and before I know it the better part of a 1/2 gallon is gone.

  11. milkteaxx says:

    you still look great and i love the exhibit A! i work in physical activity research and its so hard to get people to walk instead of drive! good on you for walking everywhere, and it is reccomended we move 60 minutes a day, and if you do a bit of housework, that would cover a good 20-30 min!
    milkteaxx recently posted…Universal restaurant. Christine Manfield.

  12. Rebecca says:

    I too follow numerous instagrams that consist of food; it is such a ‘food world.’ I also share your love for food; I can’t go past chocolate or any sugary foods without buying and eating some. However I have been trying to loose weight and your 5 tips are very useful. I have heard of some but I never considered “Drinking calories.” I was unaware of how high alcohol, juices and other drinks were in calories, I generally turn to juice for sugar however I have realised at times that could be worse then what I would have eaten. This point has really enlightened me and set me on track for successful weight loss and healthy mind.

  13. Lee says:

    Your tips are so relevant. The one that had me written all over it was tip number two: if you can’t just have a taste you can’t have it. Chocolate and lollies, it is amazing how quickly you hit the bottom of the packet without realising it.

    The other thing I find that goes with this is educating the ones you live with to not buy those foods you can’t help yourself with. My husband spoils me and it is a slow process of changing his buying habits to align with my health goals.

  14. On ‘If you can’t have ‘just a taste’, you can’t have it: know your weaknesses’. I have found it’s equally important to also know my ‘can’t live without its’. After a bit of self-reflection, I realised I can’t live without coffee, popcorn, corn chips, chocolate or wine, so I don’t self-flagellate for eating them on occasion. I can live without icecream, cupcakes, potato chips, lollies and beer, so I say no more often than I say yes. I then have room for coffee, popcorn, corn chips… you get the idea. This is entirely the wisdom of Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat – and here’s cheers to Aussie wo/men developing a similar culture, via excellent blog posts like Lau’s.

  15. stef says:

    love this post! you have a real talent for being able to make your writing feel conversational, and i think thats the reason i am able to engage with what you are saying. I especially love the point on If you can’t have ‘just a taste’, you can’t have it – I think its important for everyone to learn and know their own weaknesses! this post has really encouraged me to look at healthy eating from a different perspective.

  16. Emily says:

    Great advice…I particularly like the one on walking…saw a study recently on TV that concluded simple, constant activity is the best way to shed calories…as you have found – thanks!
    Emily recently posted…Affiliate

  17. Marylou says:

    Hi..I loved your mention of drinks containing lots of calories…I tend to forget that my LARGE coffees are actually food :(
    Marylou recently posted…Jura Ena 9 Micro – Is It Worth The Price?

  18. Deby Yuza says:

    This post is awesome! very thoughtful and real.

    Cooking and eating vs. staying in shape is definitely my biggest battle throughout my entire life.
    I have always love food since I was young and I was never a skinny kid.
    I decided to learn how to cook a few months ago when I was on my super long 4 months summer holiday and wanted to make a journal out of it, so that is how my blog was created.
    Since then, I bake, cook and eat out a lot.
    My instragram is also starting to be filled with food pictures, and I keep trying new recipes all the time.
    and then KAPPOOWW.
    I noticed that I’m getting more round and I felt guilty for over-indulging myself.
    I hate feeling guilty after I eat.
    Food supposed to be fun, right?
    That’s why I decided to change my lifestyle to cater my love of food.

    My tips are mostly similar to yours.. But here you go..
    1. I exercise regularly – I jog almost 3/4 times a week.
    2. I walk more – yes, this does help! especially when I have no time to jog, I just walk around more.
    3. Try to cook & eat healthier food at home during the weekdays, then eat something indulgent on weekends (eat like a peasant during weekdays, eat like a king on weekends)
    4. Slow down on the alcoholic beverages and soft/sweetened drinks – I really limit myself when it comes to beer and cokes since I think they’re just giving empty calories.
    5. Portion and self control – it’s basically self explanatory, right? no will, no way.
    Deby Yuza recently posted…Taste Studio’s 1st Session : “Deconstructed Layers”

  19. thank you so much for posting this up! i’ve been overweight for most of my life but it especially went bad over the last few years. finally took action this year and been going to the gym 3-5 times a week. i still make time to try as many places as possible including some pretty unhealthy guilty pleasures but i often complement it with exercise the next day. it’s hard being a foodie…
    Annie @ The Random Foodie recently posted…Ton Ton Takeaway Chifley, Sydney CBD

  20. […] I want to eat some cheesecake this week. And even though I still have a few kilos I would like to lose, I am going to have some. This is my actual cheesecake recipe, and it is actually a cheesecake. It […]

  21. John says:

    I had 2 choices. Eat less or exercise more, (or both but I couldn’t do both!). So I decided to choose the latter.

    I took up cycling and love it. Country cycling (just east of Melbourne, Warragul).

    One good thing is that apart from the exercise you’ll also speed up your metabolism by getting more exercise. You build some muscle and muscle takes more to run.

    Big tip though, don’t just take up exercise for the sake of it because if you don’t enjoy it I guarantee you won’t stick at it. You need to take up something you enjoy if you’re planning to stick at it long term.
    John recently posted…Lansky Knife Sharpeners. Simple and Inexpensive, but Manual

  22. Em says:

    Great post! Makes me realise how much more exercise I should do. I always get off the bus one stop early, but that probably isn’t enough, haha! I also live literally next to a gym, but sod’s law it had to be an expensive one so there’s no hope for me attempting to go there sadly. I read an article about staying healthy on the go, which was quite interesting: http://www.eatbreatheblog.com/healthy-eating-for-busy-people/

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