Straight & Curly 81: How We Eat

This episode of Straight and Curly was brought to you by Open Universities. Go to open.edu.au to check out the single module post graduate units they now offer!

Last year Carly and I did a three-part series on ‘food and diet’ where we attempted to cut through all the media sensationalism about what we all ‘should’ be eating. That series was very popular and listeners told us they really appreciated our pragmatic ‘find out what works for your body and do that’ approach.

It’s been around 18 months since we recorded those episodes so we thought it would be interesting to check in with each other and see if we’ve changed anything in our personal philosophies around food since then. We also share where we both stand on things like sugar, wheat and meat.

This is our last episode for the current season and if that makes you sad, or if you’re someone who prefers reading over listening, you might be excited to hear about our first book! It’s called A Real-Life Approach to Diet and Lifestyle Detoxes.

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Read the transcript

Carly:  In today’s episode, we thought it would be interesting to go back to the topic of diet and food. We originally did a three-part series on that topic in 2016 where we talked about various food myths and discussed our philosophies around healthy eating, including the contentious use of the phrase ‘clean eating’.

Kelly:   Yeah, they were such interesting episodes, and they were really well received by our listeners. I think people appreciated both the pragmatic, and non-dogmatic approach we took because there does tend to be such a cult mentality around most of the ways of eating, at the moment. I was the one who suggested we come back to this topic because it’s been well over a year since we did those three episodes and I reckon we’ve both shifted our viewpoints on a few things since then.

So, this episode isn’t going to be tip-based like we normally do. It’s going to be more of a general conversation about where we’re at with our personal philosophies around what we do and don’t eat. And I thought a good place to start would be to re-visit the word ‘diet’ and our thoughts around ‘diets’ in general. So, Carls, where do you stand on diets and dieting?

Carly:  My position is quite a controversial one for a responsible self-improvement writer in this day and age, but I’m quite a fan of the concept of dieting. I see lots of talk online encouraging people to simply ‘listen to their bodies’, eat whenever they’re hungry and ‘just eat the damn cake’. None of that has ever worked for me in my life, ever.

The way my body processes food means if I stop concentrating very hard, daily, on what I’m eating, I gain a kilo a week, steadily, until I stop doing that. If I embraced these holistic, mindful ways of eating that people are trying to advocate, I’d be at a very unhealthy weight very quickly without even trying.

I work super-hard to look like the type of person who doesn’t care much about what they eat. And that’s just my sad fate. I’ve accepted that I will always need to be on a diet or eating plan of some description in order to lose weight – or even maintain the weight I’m at.

I think some people think I’m quite obsessed with my weight and yeah, I actually am. But that’s because I’ve previously gained 10kg in a year without even eating Tim Tams so it’s really important for me to stay on top of it.

A thing that I struggle with a lot is there’s a lot of talk about triggering eating disorders when we talk about diets and clean eating. But the obesity epidemic is a very real problem, and we can’t fall into the trap of treating it with kid gloves at the expense of people who might be triggered into disordered eating.

There was a Harvard Politics article I found that I really quite liked, and there’s a quote I just wanted to share. The quote is American-centric and people might think it’s weird me mentioning it because I’m Australian but our obesity epidemic is on par with America’s.

So, this is the quote.

“Failing to deal with the reality of America’s obesity problem for fear of perpetuating an unhealthy obsession with body image would be a disservice to the public and powerless for the health of the nation. However, it is equally detrimental to attempt to tackle obesity by promoting restrictive diets and extreme exercise regimens. Adopting approaches that focus on positive attitude and lifestyle changes not only protects against eating disorders and issues of body image, but also is actually more successful in preventing obesity. Therefore, America need not choose one fight over the other. The solutions to both are actually one and the same.”

I really enjoyed that quote. Just because I’ve declared that diets work for me, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to work for everyone, and there is a different approach for every person. Having said that, if you don’t need to lose weight, never ever diet. Just eat loads of vegetables and keep doing you.

Kelly:   Yeah, there are two things I want to pick up on in what you said. One was where you touched on the topic of ‘moderation’ when you mentioned how people are just like, ‘Eat when you’re hungry, and listen to your body.’

So, I’ve got a friend who’s a dietician and says people are forever asking him, ‘What kind of eating method do you propose?’ And he’s like, ‘I don’t subscribe to Paleo, or gluten-free, or quitting sugar, or any of those things. I subscribe to moderation.’

The problem with this is that it’s so easy for a dietician to subscribe to ‘moderation’ when it comes to diet because a dietician is totally up with what they should and shouldn’t be eating.

That said, and you know this is a bugbear of mine: What even is moderation, when it comes to eating?

Carly:  Exactly.

Kelly:   Your moderation, Carls, is very different to my moderation because we have completely different metabolisms and body types. You struggle to maintain weight – much less lose weight – even when you are eating ‘perfectly’ AND exercising every single day. I have less difficulty achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. What moderation looks like for me would look quite undisciplined to you!

The other thing I wanted to touch on from what you said earlier is this idea that talking about diets can perpetuate disordered eating and eating disorders. I have my own history with disordered eating, and while I freely admit I can only speak for myself, I can say with certainty that diets were not responsible for my disordered eating. My own self-worth and self-esteem were responsible for disordered eating.

So, when people point to diets like I Quit Sugar, or ways of eating like I Quit Sugar and Paleo and say, ‘These are going to trigger off disordered eating, for those who are inclined to eat in a disordered fashion,’ well, yeah, they probably will.

But here’s the thing: if you’re prone to disordered eating, you’ll find a way to eat in a disordered fashion no matter what diets are popular right now. Meanwhile, there are people out there who can benefit (and have benefited) hugely from re-learning how to eat by following things like Paleo and I Quit Sugar.

I don’t think we should stop them from being able to do that to protect people who are going to find a way to eat in a disordered fashion no matter what.

Ok, now that rant is over, where do I stand on diets and dieting?

To me, the word ‘diet’ has always simply meant, ‘the food that you eat, or the way that you eat’. I think the word ‘diet’ has a lot of negative connotations because people usually associate it with restricted eating. But here’s the paradoxical thing: the reality is if you are going to eat in a healthy manner then, by necessity, you are restricting yourself.

Carly:  YES.

Kelly:   Nobody in the world can just eat whatever the hell they want without any kind of consequences. This is just not reality. When people moan that ‘Diets are so restrictive,’ and, ‘This way of eating is so restrictive,’ I’m like, ‘Well, you do realise that eating in a healthy fashion is necessarily restrictive, right?’

People are aiming for is the ability to eat whatever they want whenever they want. That’s just not realistic. This is why we’ve gotten ourselves in the trouble we’re in. We feel deprived when we eat well.

And that’s a crying shame. We’re so focused on what we can’t eat, instead of focusing on the great stuff we can eat.

So, I do get a little bit annoyed when things like Paleo or I Quit Sugar are referred to as diets in that negative way, when they’re both simply ways of eating. And the main ‘way of eating’ they both promote is a heavily plant-based diet where you just eat real food. No halfway intelligent person can argue that that’s a bad idea.

With regard to dieting, I’m a little bit conflicted. If you use dieting or going on a diet as a way to ‘reset’ yourself when you’ve slipped into some poor eating habits, I’m all for that. I kind of use that method myself. What I’m not a big fan of is diets that heavily restrict calories way below what the normal is for humans. So, women need around 2000 calories a day and men need around 2500 depending on their size. A lot of calorie-restricting diets are 1200 calories a day for women and 1500-1800 for men. That’s not a lot of food, and it’s not sustainable.

Carly:  Particularly if you’re exercising, as well.

Kelly:   Exactly. If you ‘restrict’ yourself to a heavily plant based diet where you’re mainly eating vegetables every day, all day … you don’t have to think about calories. Stick to eating real food you’ve prepared yourself, mostly veggies and you will probably lose weight.

If you restrict your calories to 1200 calories but those 1200 calories are from Mars bars, you’ll lose weight, but not only is what you’re doing there unsustainable, it’s not teaching you good eating habits.

Carly:  And you’ll get scurvy, as well.

Kelly:   (Laughs) Yeah, and those are the things that lead to this cycle of weight loss, weight gain, weight loss, weight gain. And they’re the things that lead to unhealthy mindsets around food. So, I’m very pro the diets that teach you how to eat well. I’m not pro the diets that starve you all the time. That’s the difference for me.

Carly:  Yeah, exactly, and the thing with diets is when I’m on a diet, it’s not actually that different to the way I eat every day, normally. I eat extraordinarily healthily, but if I’m actually trying to lose weight, I will do things like cut out dairy. When I am in maintenance mode, I eat yoghurt. When I’m trying to lose weight, I will cut that out.

Kelly:   At the heart of it all we just need to become better educated about the stuff we’re putting into our bodies. And we’re going to try and address some of that today by talking about where we stand on a few contentious subjects. So, Carls, where do you stand on sugar?

Carly:  Ah, sugar. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan, but I also don’t freak out about it. At the beginning of the year I was loosely following the ketogenic low carb, high fat diet. I wasn’t seeing results. Ben saw great results, so good for him. That’s great. I think he’s lost about 10 kilos in the year, the bastard. I wasn’t gaining weight, but I wasn’t losing weight either. So, I’ve made some other changes. As a happy accident, I have, sort of, given up sugar this year without even really trying. There has been a Magnum ice cream in my freezer since April, and I haven’t eaten it.

Kelly:   Oh my God.

Carly:  Which is so weird because that’s just unheard of. Ordinarily if there was ice cream in my freezer it would have been gone 20-seconds after it got brought into the house. I adore ice cream, a lot. But I just haven’t really felt like it. Also, sugar has started tasting a little bit coppery to me, and a little bit like blood, if that makes sense.

So, yeah, it’s very unusual, but I just find sugar unnecessary in my day-to-day life. If I’m going on a hike I’ll still have a muesli bar, or a slice of dessert if someone made it for me. I’ll have sugar in yoghurt because I love yoghurt, even though I’m light on dairy these days. I love a full fat flat white coffee, and that’s got quite a bit of sugar in it. So, I eat sugar occasionally. I try not to seek it out, but if someone opens up a bag of Sour Patch Kids I’m going to have one because they are my absolute kryptonite.

I’m dancing around the topic here a bit because it’s sort-of difficult when you say, ‘Oh, I don’t eat sugar,’ because I don’t, but then I don’t want to be at a conference and have someone see me eat a Mentos or something and…

Kelly:   Haha! I know!

Carly:  So, yeah. I’m very strict, but I’m also not binary. When I say, ‘I don’t eat sugar,’ I mean 95% of the time I don’t eat sugar, and then maybe Ben and I will split a gluten-free caramel slice when we’re away for the weekend. But when I say, ‘Occasionally,’ I really do mean occasionally. Not twice-a-week instead of seven-days a week. I mean, like, once every month.

Kelly:   Exactly. Now, here’s what irritates me about sugar. (Sorry, I’m going to be ranting a lot in this episode – apologies in advance.) What irritates me is hearing people say they hate the whole I Quit Sugar movement because it’s asking people to eliminate an entire food group. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. Sugar itself is not a food group.

Secondly, anyone who’s actually done the I Quit Sugar program will tell you it’s not about totally eliminating sugar. Yes, I know the name of the program might suggest that’s what it’s about and it’s unfortunate that’s what the program had to be named because – marketing – but I Quit Sugar is about reducing the amount of sugar in your diet down to the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations of around six teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar a day. I know I sound like an ad for the program but I’m not anything to them beyond having done the program myself.

The only way to reduce your sugar intake down to the WHO recommendations is by dropping processed foods from your diet, and eating a diet that is based heavily around plants. I Quit Sugar shows you how to do this.

I mentioned in Episode 30 that I grew up to be an adult who hated cooking so I went to packets because they were the fastest way to cook meals. And that was not good for me. My allergies were completely out of control. My gut health was terrible. There were so many consequences for my body and when I did I Quit Sugar it just changed everything for me. It changed how I cooked. It taught me how to eat foods close to the source. It got me away from packaged and processed foods. So it kind of blows my mind how vociferously people can campaign against a diet that’s teaching people how to cook for themselves and gets them away from processed foods!

Where do I stand on sugar, specifically? I think it’s a huge factor in the obesity epidemic plaguing the Western world. I also think it’s having a huge impact on gut health in the Western world. More and more research is showing that poor gut health is linked, not just to poor physiological health, but really poor mental health as well. It appears our guts are like a second brain for the body. When you remove processed sugar from your diet and reduce your overall sugar intake to the WHO recommendations, you drop excess weight. Your skin improves. Your mental clarity improves. Your behaviour improves. The benefits are manifest and I kind of can’t believe we’re still having this conversation.

The knowledge is becoming more mainstream, however. Go back nine years when David Gillespie first wrote Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat, and even seven-ish years ago when Sarah Wilson did her first version of I Quit Sugar, they were just outcasts for even making the suggestion. It’s kind of hilarious to me, today, to see in mainstream media that everyone’s like, ‘Well, yeah, duh. Of course, sugar’s bad for you.’

Ok, enough of me ranting about sugar now! Carls, tell us, where are you on wheat?

Carly:  Well, my partner is a celiac, so wheat doesn’t really come into my house. The only place I have wheat, and it’s actually gluten, not wheat, is in oats. I like bread, and think it’s a good food as long as it’s grainy and brown. But it’s not a daily part of my diet, and hasn’t been for over 15 years. If my body allowed it I’d have a fresh brown bread and salad sandwich every single day with butter on it. That would be my ideal lunch. But it doesn’t agree with me – bread is not food that I function well on.

Interestingly, there’s scientific research that shows you can be allergic to gluten, but you can’t have an intolerance. In my test group of one, however, I call total BS on that because sometimes I’ll go to a mate’s house, and they’ll have garlic bread, and I’ll eat it because I’m human and garlic bread’s amazing. And I eat garlic bread once every five years. But it does terrible things to my gut.

I’m not going to demonise gluten, however. I don’t find it necessary in my diet, and I know lots of people that have had really good results from giving up gluten. But if you don’t feel like you need to, and it doesn’t make any difference to your life, keep eating your beautiful sourdough spelt bread with a big salad on the side. That’s totally fine.

Kelly:   Yeah, I’m a little the same as you. Neither Ant nor I eat wheat anymore, but for different reasons. For me, it’s because I find my gut works better when I don’t eat wheat and I’m a big fan of my gut working well. I also find in avoiding bread and pasta that I have better brain clarity.

The reason Ant doesn’t eat wheat is because he had these permanently aching joints for years. I had seen some research that showed gluten can inflame joints and make them feel achy so I suggested he come off wheat/gluten and see if it made any difference. And this thing that he had for literally years and years, and thought was a normal part of life, suddenly disappeared when he stopped eating wheat. So, he just stays off it now because otherwise his joints hurt.

All that said, I’m not totally anal about it. If I look at a freshly baked loaf of sourdough, and I really, really want a piece of it with some butter lashed across it I’m just gonna have it. If someone bakes me a cake for my birthday I’m gonna eat it. I guess I employ the 80/20 rule when it comes to wheat. Our kids eat bread, and they still eat pasta. My kids kill me because they will only eat store-bought white bread and let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of good nutrition to be found in store-bought white bread.

My goal is to learn how to make a really genuine proper sourdough. I figure if they’re gonna be eating white bread, I’d rather they be eating that kind of white bread. In a genuine sourdough, the fermentation process does something to the gluten. It doesn’t eliminate it, but it breaks it down and makes it easier for the body to process.

In general, with wheat, however, I think just experiment on yourself. If you find coming off it makes absolutely no difference to how your body operates, how your brain operates or how your gut operates, I am very envious of you. Go for it. Just eat as much wheat as you like.

Carly:  Just in the interest of sharing, I’m not a huge fan of pasta. Like, I could happily not eat pasta ever again. There are a whole bunch of things that are involved with wheat that I give zero shits about, but I will crawl over my dead mother for a dumpling. I love dumplings so hard, and I don’t care what I’m doing, or what kind of diet I am on. If we’re going out for dumplings I am participating fully in that situation.

Kelly:   (Laughs) I’m a bit like that with dairy. We’re not specifically talking about dairy today, but I had to come off dairy years ago because it triggered sinus allergies in me. I really, really miss dairy, and it took me a really, really long time to get off it for that reason. It’s just everything I liked was related to dairy. So, I feel your pain.

Carly:  See, I’m currently not doing dairy at the moment because I get really intense period pain, and I had a few people suggest cutting back on dairy would help with that, and it straight up did. I find it a really hard thing to self-police, however, because I’ll look at this delicious, beautiful coconut yoghurt and think, ‘I just want to eat you.’ But then it’s like, ‘But do you want to be in pain in three weeks’ time?’ It’s such a weird trade-off because you’re, kind of, going, ‘But I might not be.’

Kelly:   It’s such a future-self thing, isn’t it?

Carly:  It’s so future-self. I’ll be all, ‘But ‘now’ Carly really wants to eat this yoghurt.’ But I’ve been very good and it’s been making a very big difference.

Ok, let’s move on to meat. Here’s where I stand on meat. I used to buy organic meat and very sparingly, but I watched a great doco on SBS by Michael Mosley called, The Truth About Meat and it opened my eyes up to some really interesting stuff.

For example, there’s a lot of research that shows factory farming is actually better for the environment than free-range and organic meat farming. Many organic free-range practices are based on, what they call, human vanity metrics. So, we think cows are happier in green fields and being fed grass when there’s no real evidence to show this is true. A lot of these happy animal practices came into place because people were seeing grain-fed cows in brown fields and thought, ‘Oh no, they look really sad,’ but there wasn’t really any evidence to suggest that they were.

I mean, I’m obviously not advocating cruelty to animals in any way, but I do believe I’m higher on the food chain and that is how the circle of life works. I’ve also got a weird iron thing where my body doesn’t store excess iron. Most people can have, like, one piece of red meat a week and then their bodies will draw on their excess iron stores. I don’t store the excess. I only use what my body can use in the moment and then the rest gets thrown away. So, I have to top up my stores a bit more than other people.

I realise I haven’t really made a stand on meat, but I have lots of information and ideas swirling around, and that equals small, quality portions of meat, once or twice a week.

Kelly:   Yeah, it’s really hard to find peer-reviewed research on this because whatever your stance on meat is, you can find research that supports your stance. It’s a really difficult topic to research accurately. So, my stance on meat is, I like it, and I’m not philosophically opposed to eating it because, like you Carls, I feel we’re up the top of the food chain in the world as it stands currently. I am, however, opposed to the idea of the animals I’m eating having a terrible life while they are alive.

My friend Alexx Stuart says, ‘Ideally, the worst day of the animal’s life should be the day they die to become your food,’ and I am down with that. I’m currently trying to become better educated on that element of this topic, and I’m trying to ensure that the meat my family eats is sourced from places where animals are treated well while they are alive. I’ll definitely take a look at that Michael Mosley documentary you’ve mentioned, Carls.

Carly:  That one is UK based, and again, I don’t base everything I believe on that documentary. But it did give me some really good ideas and things to question because I was just mindlessly buying organic meat thinking that was the best thing to do when the emissions are so much higher through organic farming than they are through factory farming. Then you’ve got the dilemma of, ‘Well, do I care about the animals, or do I care about the environment?’ That is a really huge question.

Kelly:   Yeah, right. I have to admit, I avoid a lot of these shows about how animals are treated because I think if I watched them I just wouldn’t want to eat meat. But I know a lot of the shows are not reflective of what happens in Australia or Australian practices. So, yeah, it’s very difficult to be truly across all these things. And if anybody does have any really, genuinely good, well-researched, trustworthy stuff that they can point us to that would be awesome.

On the topic of whether we actually need to eat meat or not… look, at some stage homo sapiens gained control of fire, and with that, the ability to cook meat. There’s a lot of debate around whether we are genuinely omnivores (meat and plant eaters), or whether we’re herbivores (plant eaters) who have learned to be omnivores. (Because we can cook meat now, and the cooking of meat means our teeth and guts can handle meat better.) It doesn’t matter whether we are genuinely designed to be herbivores or omnivores. The fact is, we can eat meat, and the ability to eat meat and access the calories, nutrients and fats available in that meat allowed our species to survive in times and climates (cold ones) where there just weren’t a lot of plants around. Also, our ability to create fire and thus cook meat, allowed our guts to get smaller, which allowed our brains to get bigger.

Carly:  It’s quite ironic, actually. The reason we are smart enough and have the consciousness to question whether or not we should eat meat, is because…

Kelly:   … we ate meat. And that’s another interesting part of the debate. The ability to cook meat and eat it 30,000 years ago gave us a competitive advantage. But, do we need to eat meat today, in modern times?

The answer to that is ‘probably not’ because we do have the ability to access most of the necessary nutrients from other forms of food. However, there are a lot of people, like you Carly, and I am like this to a certain degree, who struggle to maintain their iron levels when they stop eating meat. So, yes you can get iron from supplements, and from eating lots of spinach, but it’s not as bioavailable as eating meat and getting iron that way. You would have to eat bags and bags of spinach to get the amount of iron you’d find in a palm sized piece of steak. It’s not really practical.

Like most things we’ve mentioned today, it kind of comes down to you and your philosophical leanings, your personal preferences and beliefs, and an understanding of what works for your body and what doesn’t. I think that’s the approach that ties us together, Carls. We’ve both researched and we’ve experimented on our own bodies, and we’ve figured out what works for our bodies. And that’s the way we follow, but we try not to be too dogmatic about it. Do you agree?

Carly:  Yeah, definitely, absolutely.

Kelly:   Cool. Ok, we’re gonna finish up this episode by sharing what a typical eating day looks like for each of us because this is something we do get asked quite a bit. So, Carls, what does your typical eating day look like?

Carly:  At the moment I’m being extremely strict, and I’ve started fasting from 8pm at night until mid-day the next day, and it’s been working absolute wonders for me. I tried the 5:2 diet a few years ago and it was very effective, and my body responds quite well to having those fasting days because I have a really, really slow metabolism. If there is any food at all in my body, my body will squirrel it away, and burn it. That’s just not effective for weight loss at all.

Kelly:   Or even weight maintenance.

Carly:  Or weight maintenance, exactly. So, I’ve lost seven kilos now, this year, which is good.

Kelly:   Wow!

Carly:  Yep, I only have to lose another four centimetres off my waist for it to be in the healthy zone. I’ve lost 13 centimetres off my waist this year.

Kelly:   Wow, that is amazing. I’m so glad that the number on the scales is shifting now, because it wasn’t shifting before, and I couldn’t understand it.

Carly:  It’s so motivating, and it’s not like I’ve actually made massive changes. I’ve just tweaked little bits and pieces because, as I said, I eat healthily pretty much all the time and have done for 15 years. And I’ve been exercising five times a week for years and years too. The whole ‘getting to a healthy weight thing’ has been a very frustrating experience for me. I’m now only about 10kg over what I want to be, and that’s really hard to lose because the closer you are to your optimal weight the harder it is to lose it. If you are 50kg overweight, losing the first 30kg is easier than losing the last 20kg.

So, at the moment I don’t eat until midday. Then I will have a spinach, mushroom and goat’s cheese omelette. Then at 4pm I’ll have a big salad – it’ll be a salmon salad with avocado and spinach and some whole egg mayo. I make sure I’ve got lots of vegetables and good fats in every meal that I have. Then for dinner I’ll have fish or meat with roasted broccoli and cauliflower. I try, again because I’m being very strict at the moment, not to snack in between. But, if I’m particularly hungry I’ll have some nuts or peanut butter celery sticks, or a green smoothie. A few times a week I’ll have an unsweetened coconut milk sugar free hot chocolate because I’m crazy like that.

But, I do really want to reiterate that I’m being extremely strict at the moment. Before I started fasting I’d always have breakfast, but I’m coping very well without it. Also, one night a week I’ll have three glasses of wine, and I enjoy that, and I won’t stop doing that. And when I’m not in a weight loss phase I’ll start having wine more nights. I very rarely drink during the week but Friday and Saturday nights I’ll have a couple of glasses of wine. I’ve got four more weeks to go on the current challenge I’m doing, and when it’s relaxed I’ll have some dinners out and that kind of thing and go back into my maintenance mode.

Kelly:   Yeah, cool. Unlike Carly, I have a body that, so long as I’m eating reasonably healthily and exercising regularly, I will maintain a healthy weight and my weight doesn’t fluctuate too much.

So, my typical eating day today, is I have a green smoothie for breakfast, and I just love that because it takes all the decision making out of breakfast for me. Then I’ll have some nuts and/or a piece of fruit around morning tea. Lunch will usually be leftovers of whatever dinner was the night before, or I like doing frozen veggies fried up in a pan with some eggs. Early afternoon I’ll have some more nuts and/or fruit as a snack. Then for dinner, which I tend to eat dinner around 6pm…

Carly:  Oh my God, that’s such a pensioner time to eat dinner.

Kelly:   Yeah, I’ve just always eaten dinner really early, I don’t know why. I think…

Carly:  It’s because you go to bed at 8pm.

Kelly:   (Laughs) Yeah, well, that’s probably why. So, I eat dinner around 6pm, and it’s usually something like roast veggies with roast meat, chicken or fish, or rice and a meat dish like curry or mash with some bolognaise. Over the course of the day, I do try to eat 3-5 cups of vegetables. Three cups minimum.

I get a good amount of vegetables in my green smoothie. Then I get some more in my lunch because that’s usually the leftovers of the night before. Then I’ll always have veggies or salad at dinner. I don’t usually eat dessert because we just don’t have dessert stuff in our house. If you don’t have it in the house you can’t eat it. After I’ve eaten dinner I usually don’t have anything else to eat for the night.

As you said, I go to bed at 8:30pm so that’s how I get away with that. If you’re staying up until 11pm you’re gonna get hungry. What I find is most days I end up having a 12-13 hour fast between dinner and breakfast. I find that makes it very easy for me to maintain a healthy weight.

Carly:  Night time snacking is not ideal for anyone because…

Kelly:   It’s a habit. It’s not a need, it’s a habit.

Carly:  Yep. You’re not doing anything – you’re just sitting around. It’s not like you need extra energy. You’re eating purely because you want to.

Kelly:   Yep. So, my approach works for me because I eat healthily, but I don’t have to be super, super strict about what I eat. I might put on one or two kilos if I go on holiday and just don’t think much about what I’m eating. But then what I find is when I come home I revert to my normal eating and exercise habits, and those kilos drop back off. I think I’ve mentioned before that I take a very 80/20 approach to eating. When I’m at home, and I’m in control of what I’m eating, I eat well. If I go away to a conference, (like I’ve just had two successive weekends away at a conference, and I reckon I ate more sugar on those two weekends than I’d eaten all year), I can do that because I eat well 80% of the time. Which means the 20% of the time I just kinda go, ‘Mmm, I’m gonna have this giant brownie,’ it doesn’t really matter because I’m not doing that every single day.

So, closing thoughts to finish up this episode.

I personally feel if people are trying to improve their diets and make positive changes and don’t want to get all caught up in Paleo this, sugar that, low carb this and high protein that … probably the most impactful thing you can do is to move your diet away from processed foods towards food you make yourself. This allows you to take control of just how much added sugar, preservatives, and additives you’re consuming. That in itself is a really big, good health move. Then the other thing that both Carly and I both love focusing on is eating more veggies. We’ve done a whole episode on that – just go to straightandcurly.com/005 to listen in.

If you try to eat three to five cups of veggies a day, this is going to crowd out your plate with things that are high in nutritional value, and leave less room for things low in nutritional value.

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