Food for Thought: Finding a Balance

 As someone who eats out on a regular basis, I’m used to being asked (and frequently so) – “how do you do it.”

Let’s be honest. I’m not a skinny minnie or as lean as I could be given how religious I am about my workouts (part of the answer right there). But it could have gone a very different way, all things considered…

Some of it is likely down to a decent metabolism (thank you, paternal genes) – but the simpler answer is that it’s really about finding a balance.

But first, a bit of a backstory. You see, my past relationship with food has not been without its ups and downs, most visibly always reflecting on the scales.

I left Oggsford armed with more than just a decent degree – the infamous freshers’ fifteen firmly remaining (and  fine, slightly multiplying) through my Uni years, fuelled by a #CarbsOnCarbsOnCarbs diet compounded by a sugar intake which puts my current Dessert Diaries to shame. I’d like to think that there was little public awareness of healthy living back then. More likely, we were just too oblivious to the concept, living as we were in our own bubble where college suppers regularly spanned four our five course meals (served formally, with copious amounts of wine).

Entering the “real world” only made things worse. Landing the job I’d always dreamt of having, I suddenly found myself working 20-hour days (true story), turning to calorific comfort food to support me through it.

Finally waking up to the fact that I was moving in an undesirable direction, I quit, shifting gears and going into a “clean eating” overdrive. I became near paranoid about eating anything which didn’t come with a buzz-worthy label  on the tin (gluten-free/ refined sugar-free etc. etc.)

I may have been skeletal back then, but was I any healthier? To be honest, not really as I’d just gone from one extreme to the other. Too much of these so-called superfoods turned out to be just as adverse (for me personally anyways), not least as they aren’t always the easiest to digest.

Moving away from that harmful mindset and finding a middle ground was gradual, but one which I actually have this blog to thank for, as it made me rediscover a love and deeper appreciation for fine foods, recognising it as something to be celebrated daily (rather than thought of as a “guilty pleasure” or a once-in-a-while treat).

As a writer, I now regularly find myself in some pretty incredible situations – from interacting with Michelin-starred chefs, to exploring local cultures through the popular foods of the destinations I visit. I don’t ever want to look back and think, I should have tried that (the #fomo is so real).

Yes, there are spells when I eat out on a daily basis (a feature of having foodie friends too!), but that’s not to say each of those meals is ridiculously indulgent, nor that I’m pandering to the latest zeitgeisty wellness fad.

To quote the formidable Fay Maschler here, “meals can have a relationship with the healthy progressive style that is now mostly welcome and flourishing.”

It’s now also possible to find a lighter take on more decadent traditions, be it brunch or afternoon tea. I recently tucked into wholemeal scones and desserts naturally sweetened with fruits, at InterContinental Park Lane. Some purists might be offended, but as it’s not the first or last time I’m going to be eating proper scones or desserts, the deliciously healthier alternatives were rather welcome on the occasion.

More importantly (and perhaps I should start documenting this on the blog more?): for each meal eaten out, I usually plan a healthy meal at home. When I’m in India, this meal is usually a simple saabzi (veggie), daal (lentils) and roti (flatbread made with a superfood grain like jowar) yielding a well-balanced mix of proteins, carbs, legumes, grains and fibre.

When I’m in London, I’m partial to eggs (the main vegetarian option for protein), stir-fries and salads, piled shamelessly high with the good kind of fats, from sweet potato to avocados. It’s somewhat justified given my workouts – you’ve got to eat fat, to burn fat and build leaner muscle. In fact, findings of a 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, indicated that participants who consumed the most unsaturated-fatty acids had lower body-mass indexes and less abdominal fat than those who consumed the least.

I’m also a bit fiendish about my morning porridge. Done right, it’s downright delicious with the added bonus that it’s also bursting with essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and is a source of slow-releasing energy, which cuts down on unhealthy food cravings…

… Speaking of which brings me to my thirty-two sweet teeth, which demand satisfying on a daily basis. On some days, only something suitably decadent will do.

But the remainder of the time, I’m happy to settle on good quality dark chocolate or a bowl o’ Oppo (two scoops of which will set you back fewer calories than an apple, while hitting a good spot).

And finally, I work out.

When I initially started going to the gym, I did so with the sole purpose of eating more. Now it’s simply part of my routine, without which my day feels strangely incomplete.

I shake things up every-so-often in a bid to keep things interesting (I’m currently fixated on reformer pilates which perversely enough, can be quite relaxing), also going an extra mile after a particularly indulgent outing – whether by walking (or dancing!) off part my meal, or taking the stairs rather than the elevator where possible.

It’s always the little things which make a big difference!

How do you find a balance in every day life? 

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  1. Khushboo

    I love this post and love how balanced you are. Since we met, I’ve always continued to admire what a great approach you have to food and healthy living overall- you take care of your body by feeding it with a mix of foods that nourish your body AND nourish your soul. I truly believe that the only healthy lifestyle worth living is one where a kale salad & ice cream sundae can co-exist :). Like we’ve discussed in the past, those extra couple of kilos are so worth the memories you create when it comes to eating all those overly indulgent meals.

    1. The Foodie Diaries

      Thank you so much K, your support & fitspiration has actually helped immensely in finding that balance 🙂 I can’t wait for our next dinner date at Table with all the salads & broccoli tacos, followed by a chocolate budino and ofc ice cream 😝 miss you xx

  2. Miriam @londonkitchendiaries

    Completely agree with you, it is all about finding the right balance. It is so nice and important to indulge every now and then and nice to read about how you managed to find the right balance in your life!

  3. Planes & Champagne

    Balance really is key – my uni days saw me pig out on late night kebabs and cheesy chips, then I kind of went the other way and now well I find it too hard to say no to most things but it’s all about enjoying the pleasures in life and moderation is key 🙂 . Your food pics always have me drooling Ayushi! xx

  4. savlafaire

    Great post. The secret is that there is no quick-fix secret – it really is just about having a bit of everything in moderation. I too ate so badly at uni and was a lot bigger and unhealthier back then. Nowadays, I work out 3-4 times a week (HIIT and weights), eat what I fancy when out and keep it simple for weekday lunches (which I make) and meals at home. Food is a huge source of pleasure as well as fuel!

  5. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Aaaah – so that’s your secret!! 🙂 It’s good how disciplined you are with exercising. I must admit that I am not so good with this and therefore, I feel like I do hold back a bit with what I eat to make up for it – not that ANY of my blogger mates would believe that when they’ve seen my love of a sweet treat!!

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