rome | tips on eating healthy

from-the-market-mycreative

Italy, the land of gelato and carbs. However, because I now live in the country, I don’t necessarily feel the need to indulge in the carb fest that I might have previously ensued on when visiting Rome.  So when I was there a few weeks back I was on the hunt for some slightly more balanced meals. Not that I am saying you shouldn’t eat pasta galore when you visit the eternal city! No, by all means indulge! But if you get to day three of the carbo-loading and want some lighter suggestions here you go!

I don’t know if it was because I was just because I was looking but I feel like the city is definitely expanding on its choice of lighter and healthier eating places. I didn’t get to try them all but there is always next time.

Markets and Grocers

First and foremost visit the markets. Fresh and cheap produce and an insight into how Italians actually eat. Pick up a few bits to snack on through the day rather than getting ‘hangry’ and eating a whole pizza. Warning though: don’t touch the produce. Ask or point to what you want.

Ciao Ceccho

This is a slow food restaurant; a concept I hadn’t heard applied to a restaurant but I thought was intriguing. All of the dishes are Italian. focussed on regional dishes with quality dishes. I had ravioli with a wild greens stuffing and a gorgonzola sauce. Now that might sound less than healthy but I think the difference here was the serving size was actually just right. A smallish dish but satisfying. Tim had a traditional chickpea dish which had a broth and was very tasty and incredibly filling.

aTrestaurant

A healthy ‘fast food’ type place with a few seats and a range of smoothies, salads, soups, quiches, sandwiches etc.  We just had a light bite and it was pretty tasty if a little bit pricier than a take away pizza slice. Great to stock up before the train although the vegetarian sandwich options were a bit limited.

jewish-quarter-rome-mycreative

Of course eating all the healthy food means I did get to have a calorific but delicious traditional Roman Jewish treat for breakfast one morning! Head to the Jewish quarter, find the place with the queue (I don’t even know the name but it is on Vicolo della Serpe, oppose the Kosher Bistro Caffe which did some lovely falafel and salads) and ask for the ricotta and cherry pastry. We headed there early in the morning and avoided the queue.

on the kindle | food, girls and amsterdam

on-the-kindle-defence-of-food-mycreative

Inspired by Circle of Pine’s #theyearinbooks and my new kindle …

I’m not one to give critical book reviews, I just don’t think I am that discerning. So I think I might stick to sharing what I learn from some of the non-fiction books that I read. I am kind of hoping to read at least two books a month. One fiction and one non-fiction. Increasing my literary intake is also necessary as the quality of my English seems to be deteriorating, although my Italian is only improving at an incredibly slow rate. Anyway!


This month I read a book-book, In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan. Mr Pollan and his book and ideas have been doing the circuit for a while but I spotted it on the library shelf at work so thought I would loan a book from a library!

Without giving the book away the principle behind the book is “Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.” It is the first line of the book so really not giving it away.

It is very American focussed, but considering the American diet is pretty much going everywhere and I don’t think the British diet is that much better it is still relevant to other nations. Pollan basically scrutinises what he calls ‘nutritionism’. Food just isn’t food anymore because scientists tried, and still try, to reduce food down to its component parts and gave advise without really knowing what they were talking about leading to ‘component’ advice like the low-fat 80s and 90s and diets we get now which are low carb, high fat, high protein etc. Food exists within a context. You don’t just eat protein, carbs or fat. You eat a carrot (within the object of the carrot), within a meal, within a lifestyle and a culture.

One point I found particularly interesting and hadn’t really thought about is that as humans we can survive and be healthy on very varied diets. But not the ‘Western Diet’. Think for example the differences between the Masai who basically eat blood and meat, some cultures which are vegetarian, some like the Inuit who eat incredibly fatty diets. And they are healthy. But when we get to the Western diet which is full of food which is no longer really food we are becoming really really unhealthy.

His advice is to get back to a starting point of eating actual real food. Ones that don’t have hundreds of ingredients. Ones that your great grandmother would recognise.

Well worth the read if you are getting tired of all the fad diets.


On the fiction front I read Gone Girl. The first half of the book I was a bit bored and wondering what all the fuss was about but then it got interesting. Still not the most amazing book ever but worth the read. I’ll be interested to see how the movie worked out now.

I also picked up The Miniaturist because I had seen the cover and decided I wanted to read it and when Laura mentioned it was her book for this past month I thought I would check it out again and the price was reduced. I really enjoyed this book, just a story with a bit of magic running through it as well as intrigue and a bit of girl power in a sort of medieval laid back kind of way. I also now want to go back to Amsterdam for a visit.


Next on my non-Fiction list is This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. Not a light hearted read for sure. For the fiction side I might see if I can find something that is set in Japan.

health and habits | an update

transformation-is-not-a-future-event

Perfection is boring. It is all progress.

I am using this as a sort of ‘it’s alright, you are doing okay’ motivation. I am definitely doing better in some areas than others but I feel like I am at least moving forward. That is a good thing.

I thought I’d ‘voice out loud’ what I am learning through my ‘habit building‘:

>>> In both March and April I have given myself five habits to work towards. So far, I only seem capable of doing 2 of these at a higher level. Some things seems to come up as more important. I don’t think this is a bad thing per se. I am still interested in working on all these areas but some are of greater concern to me at the moment. So, what is coming up top: working towards healthy.

>>> In March two of the habits I wanted to work on were getting up earlier and working out. I generally find that by getting up earlier I get more done but working out in the morning gives me that extra boost. However, just getting up earlier didn’t lead to me working out first thing (or at all). The day starts slipping by and then I say to myself “oh too late now”. In April I changed this around to working out before 7.30am for 3 points and before 9am for 1 point (I give myself an hour extra on the weekends). This way I am killing two birds with one stone and feel that I am more motivated to actually work out.

>>> Exercise doesn’t come naturally to me (does it to anyone?), but I feel like a happier person when I exercise regularly. Through April I have tried extra things to motivate myself to exercise. One week I decided I was going to work out everyday and share the youtube videos that I did with my twitter followers to hold myself accountable. Because of this I even worked out on my birthday! Something that never would have happened. In the end I only managed six days (after having walked 20km on my birthday I felt I needed a rest the next day) but six days is more than I had done for ages. From this week I have drawn up a four week exercise calendar mixing a few of my favourite instructors and some of their challenges.

>>> I am drinking more water! In March I got a point for every glass of water I drank but now only get a point for every half a litre. That pushes me to get another glass of water in. I would say that my average water intake has gone from 1 litre a day in March to 1.5 litres a day in April. Sparkling water has been amazing in achieving this. I used to hate the stuff but think I am becoming more Italian because I love it. Why do you need soda when you have sparkling water (not that I actually like soda).

>>> Although being healthy is coming up top I have been totally unsuccessful with ‘all healthy snack days’. I managed six in March and don’t even think I have got that far in April so far (being ‘on holiday’ in London being the hardest part). That said we have stopped buying biscuits and devouring the whole packet in one sitting. I am reducing carb intake (I haven’t had a pizza since returning to Trieste a week ago – that is impressive!). One idea is that the only ‘sweet’ we are allowed is gelato. Honestly, I just don’t think I can give it up. I could potentially eat it everyday but might try to push it down to a few days a week.

>>> On the advice of Cassey from Blogilates, I have (very recently) started keeping a food journal and noting how I feel when eating (physically and emotionally). I used to count calories with a food journal but am not noting calorie intake this time. Just being aware of what you are eating and how it makes you feel is an interesting exercise in itself and I think I might learn some interesting things.

>>> In April I also decided to give up TV as a way to be more productive. Although I haven’t been perfect I have stopped binge watching series and only watched a few episodes of my favourite shows. Cutting out TV in your life has a way of making time for more important and interesting things. I just need to stop filling it with mindless internet time now!

>>> I also added working on my dissertation this month. Sadly that and practising Italian have not made much progress. That said there are nine days left of this month and there is always room for improvement.

I know some other people are out there working on being kind to their bodies. I’ve found Anna’s thoughts on obsession vs dedication in working out very motivating, especially since I am definitely someone who leans towards lazy) and Rosie’s health and fitness update series.

Also I am sharing some simple recipes on Instagram, they are amongst the hashtag mycreativeeats.

I’m feeling motivated so would love to hear some of your tips and advice and recipes etc of how you keep healthy and happy and inspired to carry on ‘doing good’.

(quote from a Jillian Michaels work out)

5:2 diet

fast-day-diet-strawberries-mycreative If you follow me on twitter or instagram you might know that I have started a new diet.  Or ‘lifestyle plan’. Whatever, I am doing it to primarily lose weight, which I seemed to have gradually put on over the last few years. A wedding in less than 10 months can suddenly become a strong motivator! After watching a programme about it a few months ago the 5:2 seemed to make sense but I wasn’t yet committed. After failing to “just eat properly” though I thought it was time to kick myself up the proverbial.

So for those who haven’t heard about it it is simple as for two days a week (not consecutive) you eat a heavily reduced diet (500 calories for ladies, 600 calories for men) and the rest of the time you “eat what you want”.

I am now into the fourth week and thought I would share my thoughts so far.

I have to eat three meals a day, although Tim who is also doing it with me just eats breakfast and supper.  It means he can have a bigger dinner but I just don’t think I would get through the day.  My one big tip is eat things which are bulky.

My breakfast options on fast days have been a large tub of strawberries (400g is 120 calories) or a whole grapefruit (about 80 calories).  I try and hold out and have generally had breakfast between 10.30 and 11.00.

Lunch I have consistently eaten … a whole cucumber.  A large one is about 50 calories.  I have mixed it up with adding cottage cheese or a bit of olive oil or pesto for a different flavour.

fast-day-diet-cucumber-mycreative Dinner is where I get to mix it up a bit.  Tomato soup is great.  The large plastic tubs from M&S are only 240 calories for 600ml.  Sure to fill the tummy.  In the summer heat though I have been going for big salads – you would be surprised how much bulk is in salad items.

On Monday after only having consumed 150 calories so far in the day I felt like a more substantial dinner so picked up some ready made polenta (much lower in calories than bread with only 72 calories per 100g) and had this with sundried tomato and lightly fried mushroom (16 calories per 100g).  Which means you can eat a lot of mushrooms.  I am not afraid to use a bit of oil but I am quite sparing as it does just eat up the calories. fast-day-diet-polenta-mushroom-mycreative

Generally, it has bee a lot easier than I thought it would be.  On fasting days I am generally not hungry except for a small portion of the day when I am on my way home.  But some days are worse than others.  This week I started working out again which meant that I was pretty hungry for most of the day on Monday.

I haven’t felt any ‘health’ benefits but I am gradually losing weight although it does bounce around a lot – so not yet consistent for me to say how much I have officially lost.

Let me know if you are interested in more 5:2 recipes or not. I would be happy to share but know that ‘diet blogging’ is not everyones bag.

[excuse the camera photos – when you are only eating 500 calories a day not prioritising plate pimping]

challenge

You know I love a challenge. In January I lived without sugar, in June I was vegan.  October I am not eating out and I am not buying lunch.  This is more an attempt to save some money to stock my winter wardrobe (new boots and coat are needed) than a ‘new way of eating’.

Just browsing around the blog you can see that I eat out quite a bit.  Most weekends we will eat out.  Sometimes it is unplanned and we end up going somewhere not so special which annoys me a little because if I am going to spend the money I want it to be on something delicious but also somewhere with a bit more atmosphere then your run of the mill chain.

The buying lunch at work situation has become pretty bad.  Mainly from a lack of organisation.  Scary to think that it is not too hard to spend £5 pretty easily when you grab a sandwich and snack from Pret or Eat.  Doing that even two times a week adds up.

I am allowing myself coffee dates (as it gets increasingly difficult to meet people in winter without that) and the occasional sandwich option for a meal on the weekend or evening if circumstances make it difficult to take something out.

We’ll see how it goes and maybe November will scrap coffee dates and sandwiches too.

Do you have any tips for meeting up with people that don’t involve food?