Food I Eat For My Health Journey

Today I thought I’d share more about the food I eat, as it’s something I’m asked about fairly often on My Instagram. I’m on a journey to a healthier me, here’s a picture of me at my highest weight, and me currently, just to show the difference

I feel no guilt or shame about the picture on the left, it’s still me I just weighed more, that’s all. I was experiencing back, knee and joint pain. I’d dislocated my left knee cap twice, my body wasn’t coping with the weight I was carrying. That’s why I started this journey. I’m not saying that “thin = healthy” or that obese people should all do what I’ve done, I’m just sharing my experiences

Now, onto the food

I hate the idea of giving up all your favourite foods into to try and improve your health, so I haven’t. What I’ve done it tried to find ways to eat the food I love, but lower calorie versions (that don’t taste like sadness). I’ll share some examples

Many vegans make creamy or cheesy sauces from nuts, cashews in particular. For me this presents two issues. I don’t have a high speed blender needed to process the cashews, and cashews are quite high in calories and fat. So what I do is this; for cheese sauce, I make it just like you make non-vegan cheese sauce. I make a roux, then a béchamel, to which I add a little vegan cheese. The plant milk I cook with is Alpro light soy milk. It isn’t unsweetened, but it has lass sugar than dairy milk (5g per 100ml) so it’s good for cooking with. It’s also lower in calories while still being a good source of calcium and protein

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Picture from the recipe Classic Vegan Cheese Sauce

For cream sauces, I use my homemade cream substitute, tofu cream. All you need to make it is a box of silken tofu (they’re usually around 300g-350g) and between 200ml-250ml plant milk (I use Alpro light soy milk, as I mentioned before). You can then flavour the cream with things like garlic, herbs, vegetables, salt, pepper etc. It’s great for pasta dishes

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Picture from the recipe Creamy Mushroom Carbonara

Another way I like to use tofu cream is to replace soy cream or coconut milk in a curry. You still get a delicious creamy flavour, but much less calories

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Picture from the recipe Easy “Chicken” Tikka Masala

Another thing I do is use TVP (textured vegetable protein) to replace mince. It’s high in protein, cheap and low in fat. It’s great for dishes like shepherd’s pie. I do this as some mock mince can be quite high in fat and salt, so I like to keep things simple by using TVP. I buy mine from Holland and Barrett

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Picture from the recipe Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Another mince substitute I like to use is minced mushrooms. Sometimes I use them on their own, or along with lentils for added protein. This can help to keep the meal lower in calories

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Picture from the recipe Chestnut Mushroom & Lentil Ragu

One thing about fat that you might like to consider is this. Fat/oil can give dishes a lot of flavour, so if you just take that away and don’t replace it with anything you might sacrifice the taste. This is why a lot of low fat “diet” foods may contain sweeteners, they’re compensating for the lack of fat. So to get around this, add in other things to flavour dishes

Adding herbs and spices can really add a lot of flavour. If you want to naturally sweeten a dish (say for example, to combat the acidity of chopped tomatoes in a pasta dish) add sweeter vegetables. Adding a finely diced carrot will help with acidity and add natural sweetness. Just start frying it at the beginning of the dish, with the onion or garlic or whatever you’re using

I would like to point out that I don’t avoid fat/oil completely, I just find lowering the amount of it that I eat works for me. Especially for foods like houmous for example. Traditionally the only oil in it comes naturally from the tahini, (although a small amount of oil may be added as a garnish). But in supermarkets in the UK they tend to add a fair bit of extra oil, and it isn’t really needed. So I make my own

Something else I like to do, is make my own mock meat (although I do buy it too). I love to make seitan, it can be shaped before cooking, ideal for burgers and sausages. Or sliced and eaten hot or cold. I like doing this as  I know exactly what’s going into my food, and can control the salt content, as some mock meats can be very salty

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From the recipe Vegan Sausage and Tomato Casserole

I’ll end with some more general things that I do;

  1. I bulk out my meals with vegetables. This adds more volume to my food. I like adding mushroom “mince” to pasta dishes, grated carrot to a stir fry, or diced peppers to chilli, if you dice or grate finely, you often won’t even notice it’s there (I realise vegetables aren’t loved by everyone)
  2. I make sure I drink plenty of water during the day, I aim for 2.5 litres daily
  3. I don’t deny myself food I love (like pizza) I just eat it less often than I used to, or lower calorie version, like these Vegan Pitta Bread Pizzas
  4. I cook mostly from scratch and avoid jarred sauces. This way I can easily control the sugar, salt and fat content of my food
  5. I make sure I’m aware of everything I’m consuming. Before I wouldn’t really pay attention to what I ate through the day, and would underestimate just how much I was eating. Once I paid more attention, it was easier to see things I could cut out without even noticing. Things like controlling my portion size, not going back for seconds etc
  6. I don’t look at foods as good or bad. Some food I view as “okay to eat often” or “might not want to eat as often” or “maybe only occasionally”. Food doesn’t have moral value, therefore it can’t be good or bad, viewing it as such is generally unhealthy and unhelpful

Did you get all the way to the end? Well done! It was a long one. But I hope this has been of some use

One thought on “Food I Eat For My Health Journey

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