the power of music to lift your mood

I’ve been struggling with finding something to write this week.  I’m brimming with ideas, but have no motivation to come up with the words.  I’ve toyed with just giving up this blog completely, as the stress of finding time for it isn’t really helping my mood.  And that slumpiness goes beyond my blog, in to my real life.  My house is a hovel, I’ve not exercised since Wednesday and I’ve been avoiding people.  Thank god I read What My Fridge Says’ brilliant post about the power of music for lifting your mood and helping you to fake it ’til you make it.

the power of music

Whether it’s part of depression or just a part of my personality I don’t know, but I can be sucked into what I think of as blank space.  It’s a place where everything seems grey, too much effort, not worth it, pointless. My energy seeps out of me and I find it very hard to even move.  Everything feels heavy and aching, it even hurts to keep my eyes open.  I don’t call it a black hole, because a tiny part of me keeps me anchored to my responsibilities – I still get up, get the kids to school, go to work, put the dinner on the table.  I go through the motions, but I don’t engage.  I’m here, but in body only.  My spirit…just isn’t.

Blank space is where I’ve found myself this week.  It probably is depression, as I’m not surprised that I’ve found myself here when I’ve forgotten to take my medication for a couple of days.  Why oh why have they not developed a mental health version of the contraceptive implant or patch, for people like me who suck at taking pills? But that’s a thought for another day.

 

my mood lifters

Today’s thought is about the power of music to change your mood.  I love how Lucy describes music as being sweets for the brain.  Music has always played such a big part in my life, and I’m instantly transported to a different place, time or frame of mind by the right song.  I thought I would share some of my favourite mood lifters…before I go and stick them on Spotify to try and shake myself out of this blankness.

 

Two Doors Down, Mystery Jets 

The poppy sound of this just fills me with joy, I love the 80’s vibe.  And the lyrics are just too cute.

 

Hounds of Love, The Futureheads

I can’t find the official video, but a live version is better.  A great cover of an already great song.  This brings back some lovely memories, seeing them at the Benicassim festival in Spain back in 2006.  Drunk on sangria, yelling my head off in a sea of other people doing the same thing.

 

The Sound, The 1975

I love this band.  This is another one with a great pop vibe, and I love the lyrics of the chorus.  Although it’s about a dysfunctional relationship, I love the idea of loving and knowing someone so much that you know them by the sound of their heart.

 

Real Gone Kid, Deacon Blue

Are you even Scottish if you don’t know all the words to this (or Dignity)?  And there’s a reason – singing this at the top of your lungs and spinning around to the music can shake even the worst of Scottish-winter blues.

 

Little of Your Love, Haim

I’m a little bit obsessed with these girls. Their songs are great to sing along to, and they can really bring it when it comes to a funky wee tune.

 

There’s Nothing Holding Me Back, Shawn Mendes

From indie pop to all out cheese.  I bloody love this, I can’t help but sing along…it’s infectious!

 

believe in the power of music

I could go all day with this!  Looking up the videos here has already lifted my mood from when I sat down to write.  That’s the power of music.  Whether a tune lifts you up because of the lyrics or the melody, the tempo or the memories you associate with it, it can be an incredible mental health booster.

Not everyone agrees with that though (apparently blast Mmmbop at a grumpy person wont make them happy…), and I suppose some of that change has to come from yourself.  The power of music is only as strong as you let it be.  So make the conscious decision to get happy, and whack on the tunes!

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this week’s meal plan

Going back to Weight Watchers last week was just what I needed to set me back on track.  Hubs and I did have a night away in a hotel, and a day doing the Christmas shopping.  That meant alcohol, a three course meal, a buffet breakfast, lunch out and a trip to Starbucks for an eggnog latte (it had to be done).  So whilst I’m not totally in the zone I do feel a lot better about my eating compared to last week.

I’m loving the new Flex plan from Weight Watchers (you can read my reaction to the new plan here).  I’ve been mindful of the changes when picking my meals this week to really get the most out of it.  I’m keen to see what a full week on track will do for my weight loss.

I’ve been sharing my meal plans each week, and they’ve been getting a good reception on social media.  It can be hard to think of healthy meals every week, especially if you’re just starting out on a weight loss journey, or feel stuck in a food rut.  I’m going to make a point of sharing my plans each week – if you see something you like the sound of please let me know.  I’d love to share the recipes for the most popular dishes!

 

our meal plan this week

 

This week’s meal plan

 

Monday – fish stew

I made this last week and froze extra portions.  It was a new dish, and was meant to be a chicken stew but I switched it for fish. I changed a couple of other things too.  It was delicious!

I’ll serve it with green beans again.

 

Tuesday – green veg risotto

This is a new recipe, but I don’t see how you can go wrong with risotto and lovely fresh greens and peas.  I think I’ll add some zero point beans too, to add some protein.

 

Wednesday – Caribbean chicken

This is such a simple dish, but is a nice stew-like dish which is perfect for this time of year.

It has potatoes in it, so I’ll serve it up with the red cabbage I have sitting in the veg drawer.  And I’ll have enough left for lunch the next day too.

 

Thursday – zingy mince

This is a batch cook from last week, and it is such a delicious combination of light and zesty vegetable flavours with the pork mince.  But with Weight Watchers Flex making turkey breast mince zero SmartPoints, I’ll be switching up the meat I use!

 

Friday – cod bake

I meant to make this last week, but I couldn’t be bothered cooking and instead had a batch meal out of the freezer.   But I’ve still got the cod, so I’ll make it this week instead.

 

Saturday – fish cakes

I’ve not made this recipe before, but with cannellini beans rather than potato it means the only SmartPoints in them will come from the very light coating of breadcrumbs.  That means I can spend my allowance on a treat for pudding!

 

Sunday – BBQ pork

It’s our turn to host Sunday dinner with my in-laws!  This is a nice bit of a twist on a roast, I’ll serve it with family favourites corn on the cob and mash potato.

 

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weight watchers flex – my first thoughts

I’ve mentioned in my last couple of meal plans that I’ve been struggling lately.  After getting some bad news about my health, I’ve been swaying between comfort and all-out binge eating.  This week I decided enough was enough, and dragged my sorry arse back to Weight Watchers.  And my timing couldn’t have been better, because there waiting for me was a shiny new plan – Weight Watchers Flex!

weight watchers flex

I’m only two days in, so I don’t have any progress to report.  But I wanted to take a moment to share how I feel about this new plan.  I know change can be hard for some people.  If you’re looking at this new plan with trepidation, I hope I can reassure you.  And if you’re looking to start (or shake up) your weight loss journey, maybe I can convince you that Weight Watchers Flex is the best way to go.

 

weight watchers flex

I am so excited about this plan!  I think it’s going to make life so much easier for so many people.  Previously it was just most fruits and vegetables which had zero SmartPoints. But now that selection has expanded to include vegetable protein sources, unsmoked fish and seafood, skinless chicken and turkey breast, eggs and fat free plain yogurt.

The way you use your allowance has changed too, with the ability to rollover up to four of your daily SmartPoints to add to your weekly allowance. That means you’re covered for weekends or special occasions.  For me, that means being less likely to have that “fuck-it” moment.  You know, where you blow your allowance on one day and then the whole week spirals into food overload. I know I can’t be the only one who knows that feeling!

I think Weight Watchers Flex is the most lifestyle-friendly plan they’ve ever had. It brings together all the things that were so great about previous plans, whilst making it all  more simple.  I suppose the clue is in the name – it’s so much more flexible than ever before.  And healthier, too.

why do we need a new plan?

I know there will be sceptics out there who see a new plan being launched and say well that means there was something wrong about the old plan.  I totally disagree.  Sure – if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it, and all that.  But just because something isn’t broken doesn’t mean you can’t make it better.  And that’s what I think Weight Watchers are really good at.

At it’s very basic level, the science of weight loss is simple – eat less energy than you burn, and you’ll lose weight.  But the science of health, and the science of long-term change are different stories all together.  You could lose weight eating fast food three times a day, as long as you ate less calories than you burned. But I hate to think what your insides would look like, and what would Ronald McDonald really teach you in the long run?

What Weight Watchers Flex does is focus on health and behaviour change.  Those are the two things so crucial to long term success. The zero SmartPoints foods promote healthy choices.  Unlike SlimmingWorld, there are no Muller Lights, Mug Shots or other processed crap in the “zero heroes” list.  And unlike the Clean Eating movement, there is room for indulgences and convenience foods should you need or want them, so it isn’t expensive, restrictive or unrealistic.  And you can make your allowance work for you. More indulgent days can be compensated for by days where you use less SmartPoints.  But that doesn’t mean you go hungry on those days, because the zero hero foods will keep you full and bursting with energy.

 

what weight watchers flex means for me

When I first started losing weight, my diet was full of low-fat this and diet that.  Light versions of things which were just full of crap to mask the lack of real ingredients.  Over the years I’ve learned more about how to eat healthily, using less processed foods.  I think it’s really cool that the Weight Watchers plans over that time have also evolved in the same direction.

When I followed SlimmingWorld, I started eating convenience foods I’d previously worked hard to cut out, just because they were free or healthy extras.   With Weight Watchers Flex I have a plan that encourages me to keep making healthier choices rather than opting for processed foods. A plan which means I can use my allowance on the certain processed foods I want to enjoy (like chocolate…).

My mind has already switched back into a gear which makes me feel happy about my food decisions.  For me that is half the battle. With more flexibility comes less restriction or the feeling of being deprived.  If I feel happy, healthy and in control I’m much less likely to binge, and more likely to stick with it.

So although there wont be a dramatic change to the way I eat, this new plan has reignited my desire.  A desire not only to lose weight, but to be the healthiest version of me that I can possibly be.  That is so important, because this time around I’m not looking to just drop the pounds.  I’m sick of yo-yoing, I want a way of eating and living that I can keep up for life.  I think Weight Watchers Flex is it.

 

 

Are you a Weight Watcher?  What do you think about the new plan?

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this week’s meal plan

I confessed last week that after some bad health news I’d been comfort eating.  That is still going on, and I feel like it’s gone beyond comfort to binging. I’m too scared to stand on the scales, but I’ll be facing the music at Weight Watchers tomorrow.  I hope I’ve not undone all the good work and progress I’d achieved.  It’s that fear that is making me draw a line under it.  I think my body is craving routine and nutrients!At least I wont need to worry about my meals as I try to get back on track.  No matter what, I always sit down and make a meal plan.

I’ve been sharing my plans each week, and they’ve been getting a good reception on social media.  It can be hard to think of healthy meals every week, especially if you’re just starting out on a weight loss journey, or feel stuck in a food rut.  I’m going to make a point of sharing my plans each week – if you see something you like the sound of please let me know.  I’d love to share the recipes for the most popular dishes!

 

our meal plan this week

 

This week’s meal plan

 

Monday – steak chilli

I made this last week and froze extra portions.  It’s delicious – slow cooked beef with kidney beans and butternut squash.  I served it with brown rice and kale.

 

Tuesday – zingy mince

This is pork mince, but it has grated courgette through it and some light flavours like lemon in it.  It’s a good way of sneaking vegetables into kids!

I’ll serve it up with mash potato, and have enough leftover for lunch.

 

Wednesday – fish stew

As we are trying to eat less meat, we eat a couple of fish meals a week.  This is actually a chicken stew that I’ve switched up to have fish instead of meat.

It has potatoes in it, so I’ll serve it up with green beans.  And I’ll have enough left for lunch the next day too.

 

Thursday – falafel burgers

I made these last week and they went down a treat – I’ve finally found a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart!  I froze extras, so I just need to thaw these and heat them up.

I’ll serve them with salad and potato wedges made in the Actifry.

 

Friday – cod bake

This is packed with Mediterranean vegetables so it’s really juicy and delicious.  We hardly ever have pasta, but I think I’ll mix some through this and do it like a pasta bake.

 

Saturday – meal out

Hubs and I are having a date night!  That means a restaurant, some nice wine…and of course, pudding!

 

Sunday – dinner with the in-laws

I’m not sure what I love most about this – my father-in-law’s cooking, or the fact that it means I don’t need to cook.  But it’s always a lovely meal.

 

 

 


This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m not getting paid for the content, but it does contain affiliate links.  You can read more about my affiliate policy here.

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kids need trees – supporting the tree charter

Watching the news last week, I saw a segment on something called The Tree Charter. It’s apparently about how people and society can benefit from trees and should be protecting them. There are ten principles in the Charter, but the one that grabbed me was Recover health, hope and wellbeing with the help of trees. Particularly the point about giving children a a daily dose of trees. I love that recommendation, because kids need trees.

kids need trees

 

childhood and trees

When I think of my childhood, trees played a big part. The trees in our garden were the houses, shops and school of our make believe games. We used to one-up each other to see who could climb the highest…and then shout for dad to come and get us out. We’d leave the house in the morning and, like the old cliche goes, not go home until dinner time because we were too busy playing in the woods. Hide and seek, dens, counting the rings in fallen trunks, peeling the bark off sticks and prising open beech nuts. Coming home smelling of the outdoors, with leaves in our hair and dirt all over our jeans. Kids needs trees to be their playground.  Trees bring out their imagination and their adventurousness, more than any toy or play park equipment ever could.

kids need trees - young boy exploring a tree

And it isn’t just some nostalgic thing, either. My boys love trees. Oldest son has inherited his uncle’s fearlessness and monkey-like skill for climbing to the very top of the nauseatingly tall ones. Middle son is drawn to them, collecting fallen leaves or picking up sticks to add to the pile he keeps at our front door. Even our youngest, at just four months old, is happiest lying in his carry cot with the hood down, watching the branches pass overhead as I push the pram. Kids need trees to spark their curiosity.  Textures, smells, colours and the wonders of nature are things that all children love to explore.

 

magic trees

Trees are amazing.  Just try taking a cranky kid for a walk through the woods, and watch their mood transform.  There’s a reason why you see far fewer kids having tantrums in woodland than in shopping centres.  Anything that can save my sanity like that is magic.  When Middle son is climbing the walls and making the rest of us want to chuck ourselves out the nearest window, all we need to do is ask if he wants to go for a walk.  Suddenly the beast is tamed, too busy pulling on his wellies to remember what he was moaning about.  Kids need trees…and so do parents!

As a mum who has battled depression throughout my adult life, I know that getting out in nature can be an incredible mental health pick-me-up (you can read my tips for boosting mental health here). Whether it’s letting the kids burn off energy so that they aren’t trying your nerves, or finding somewhere peaceful to help clear your mind, being with trees is one of nature’s best therapies.  Fresh air, beautiful surroundings and getting away from housework, job stress and technology can really help you hit reset.

kids need trees - little boy looking at a leaf

 

make trees fun

At this time of year, we can all get a touch of cabin fever.  So if you or your kids need trees, here’s a list of my boys’ favourite things about trees, in case you’re looking for inspiration!

  • conkers  Who didn’t love trying to find the biggest, strongest conker as a kid?  We never get as far as actually playing with them, as the collecting seems to be the bit my kids are interested in, but all you need to know about playing conkers (including the rules and how to make a tough contender) can be found on the BBC website.
  • pine cones  We love these so much that we used them in my wedding bouquet and our table centrepieces! The way they open and close fascinates the kids.  The boys collect so many that we use them as decoration around the house.
  • sycamore seeds  Or to give them their proper name, helicopters.  I’ve got fond memories of both my older boys getting so excited, throwing these up and watching them twirl to the ground.
  • take a rubbing  A bit of an old school one this! But you can create some really beautiful patterns.  Just hold a piece of paper against the bark of a tree, and rub a crayon across it.
  • go for a walk in the woods  Exploring the woods can spark a kid’s imagination. It’s pretty cool to see what weird and wonderful questions about nature they can throw out (though you might need to wait until you’re back home to find the answers on Google!)
  • kick up leaves  What is it about kids and piles of crunchy, autumn leaves?  It must appeal to their mess-making instincts.
  • look at the roots  You can often find a fallen tree in the woods, with all the roots pulled up. My kids are always fascinated by the roots, and all the creepy crawlies that live in them.
  • build or find a den  It can be as simple or elaborate as you like.  Nature may have already created a ready-made one for you, or you can use other materials to make your own.
  • climbing  Of course!  Problem solving, physical activity and a bit of daredevil thrillseeking all rolled into one. The National Trust has some great tips to do it safely. If you get palpitations thinking about your wee one doing their monkey impression, you could always seek out an aerial adventure course. These use safety gear and trained professionals for tree fun!

If you’re looking for more tree-based fun, Fantastic Fun and Learning has a great round up of activities and crafts.

kids need trees - both smiling through leaves

 

sign the charter

A tree will be planted for every signature that the Charter receives.  Technically, that means you can have a tree planted in your honour!  If that isn’t worth a couple of seconds of your time, I don’t know what is.  If I’ve convinced you that kids need trees, you can sign the Tree Charter here.

 

 

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eating less meat without going full on vegan

I mentioned in my meal plan this week that I’m trying to include more vegetarian and fish dishes into our diet.  Eating less meat is becoming quite fashionable right now.  It seems like everyone is going vegetarian or vegan these days.  And while there is a backlash about this fad (how do you know if someone is a vegan?  Oh don’t worry, they’ll bloody tell you!), the hipsters might actually be on to something. I don’t tend to do things just because everyone else is, but I’ve been trying to cut down on our meat consumption for a year or so now. It turns out there’s more to eating less meat than just being on trend.

 

eating less meat

 

vegan or nothing?

Anything that tells you to cut out a whole food group just isn’t for me.  I like variety in my diet and try to avoid putting restrictions on things, as that leads to binging.  It’s important to get your nutrients from a wide range of sources too.

I always assumed you were either vegetarian/vegan, or you weren’t.  My family definitely fall into the aren’t category.  I’ve written recently about my tips on getting kids to eat vegetables, but couldn’t imagine the hell of getting my kids (or Hubs!) to eat a plant-only diet.  That sort of lifestyle just isn’t practical for us.  I don’t think I would enjoy it either.

It wasn’t until I read Michael Pollan’s book In Defence of Food last year that I realised you could be somewhere in the middle.  The book really made me stop and rethink how I see food.  I’ve always remembered it’s main message – eat (real) food, not too much, mainly plants.

Since then I’ve made changes to the way we eat. The main one is that I’ve tried to make sure we eat more fish.  I also try to have at least one meat-free day a week.  It’s not a massive change, in fact it’s been quite easy, but the benefits are huge.

 

the benefits of eating less meat

  • it’s good for the animals  I’ve been shocked by documentaries showing what some animals go through.  Living with a big family on a modest budget, we do tend to buy cheaper meat.  But cheap meat is often blamed for the worst animal treatment.  So by eating less meat, we are in a very small way reducing the demand for it.  It also means we have more money when we do buy meat, meaning we can make more ethical choices.

  • it’s good for the people  Earlier this year I read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.  It exposes the harm the worldwide demand for cheap food is causing. What struck me most was the harm it does to the people employed in the meat packing industry.  While the book is quite old now (though still as relevant) something tells me people are still paid a pittance for very dangerous, hard and unpleasant work.
  • it’s good for you  There are studies linking meat to things like cancer and heart disease. While the jury is still out on how concrete that link is, it can’t hurt to be cautious. If you reduce your meat intake, you need to replace it with other things – more vegetables, pulses or seafood.  That adds variety into your diet, meaning a wider range of nutrients and vitamins.  Eating less meat forces you to try new recipes and be a bit more adventurous in the kitchen, which is always fun!
  • it’s good for your bank balance  I can do a weekly shop for a family of five for under £70.  I couldn’t do that if we were eating meat seven days a week.  Compare a bag of lentils to a packet of chicken breasts and the saving is massive!
  • it’s good for the planet  Farming for the meat industry contributes over 50% of greenhouse gases.  Farming for plant-based food contributes a lot less.  Climate change is something we can all help to reduce. Eating less meat can be one way to do that.

 

simple ways to start eating less meat

Most of us grew up eating meat and two veg for dinner, and still do the same now we have our own families. It can seem like a big leap to change that.  I remember seeing #meatfreemonday a few years ago, and seeing it as such a challenge.  But you don’t have to make drastic changes – small tweaks can be all it takes.

  • have at least one meat-free day a week  It doesn’t need to be a Monday!  Just make it a routine part of your week.  Before you know it, you might have so many veggie dishes you love that you end up eating more than one a week.
  • mix lentils with your mince  If you’re making a lasagna, chilli or bolognaise, try using half the amount of mince you usually would.  Then pad out the meal using lentils.  I thought this was a strange tactic at first, but when I tried it I was totally converted!  You can also use mushrooms, beans or rice too.
  • make veggie versions of family favourites  You don’t need to start eating tofu (I personally am not a fan!) just because you’re eating less meat.  Try a bean chilli or vegetable curry.  Look at what your family loves to eat, and see if you can switch the meat for something else.
  • but don’t be scared to try alternatives  Get curious, and try things like Quorn, tofu or vegetarian sausages.  A lot of these products can be similar to meat, and that might soften the blow!
  • change your mindset  Don’t see it as missing out on meat, but as a chance to try some awesome new foods.  Make it a special part of your week.  Buy new vegetables, grains or beans that you’ve never tried before.  If you’re at a restaurant, try a vegetarian dish you wouldn’t make at home. Take a chance on that weird sounding recipe you always flick past in your trusty recipe book.  Have fun with it.

 

Just writing this has made me realise that I could be doing a lot more to reduce our meat intake.  Who knows, maybe I’ll aim for two meat-free days a week from now on?

 

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our meal plan for this week

I’ll start this with a confession – I’ve spent the best part of the last week comfort eating.  I had to have an investigation in to some pain I’ve been having, and something was found on the scan.  I wont know the implications of that until tomorrow, but having been down this road before I’m quite worried.  What do I do when I’m worried?  I turn to food.  I’m trying to keep my meals as nutritious as possible, to counter the very unhealthy decisions I’m making in between them.

I’ve written before about the fact that I’m a meal planning addict.  I’ve been sharing our plans each week, and they’ve been getting a good reception on social media.  It can be hard to think of healthy meals every week, especially if you’re just starting out on a weight loss journey, or feel stuck in a food rut.  I’m going to make a point of sharing my plans each week – if you see something you like the sound of please let me know.  I’d love to share the recipes for the most popular dishes!

 

our meal plan this week

 

This week’s meal plan

 

Monday – dinner at my parents’ house

My parents are just home from an epic holiday, and so we went to theirs for dinner last night.  I think we might try to make this a regular thing, as Middle Son’s new swimming lesson time means we’re walking home past their house right at dinner time!  For the record, it was good old mince and tatties.  They’d obviously been missing some Scottish stodge after enjoying exotic food for the past four weeks!

 

Tuesday – jacket potatoes with bean chilli

We were meant to have this last week, but with trick or treating ended up just getting an Indian meal from Waitrose on the way home!

I’ll serve it up with salad and save some leftovers for lunch.

 

Wednesday – fish tagine

I try to make sure we have fish at least twice a week, and this is a good way to tart up some basic frozen white fish.  There’s tons of flavour from the spices.

I’ll serve it up with green beans.  And I’ll have enough left for lunch the next day too.

 

Thursday – steak chilli

And by steak, I mean cheaper casserole steak!  As much as I’d love a proper sirloin, the maternity pay doesn’t stretch that far. But slow cooked in a chilli sauce, it gets really tender and delicious.

I’ll serve it with rice and some extra veggies.

 

Friday – falafel burgers

I love falafel.  Anything with chick peas really!  I don’t have a good track record with veggie burgers though, so I’m a bit worried these will be another fail.  But I’m trying to reduce the amount of times we eat meat in a week, so I need to expand my vegetarian options.

I’ll serve them with potato wedges and salad.

 

Saturday – homemade pizzas

Middle Son has a pizza kit that he’s excited to use.  Much like veggie burgers, my attempts at homemade pizza in the past haven’t been very impressive so we’ll see how these turn out!  I think in the past I’ve followed “diet” pizza base recipes, which may have been the problem.  This time I’m just going to embrace the traditional way and hopefully they’ll turn out better.  I’m thinking goats cheese and red onion for the adults, cheese and ham for the kids.

 

Sunday – gammon roast, followed by blueberry brulees

I’m attempting to make the brulees myself, so I’m going to keep dinner really simple.  Gammon with roasties (done in the Actifry), yorkshires, gravy and lots of veg.  I’m making lentil soup for lunch over the weekend, so we might have some of that as a starter too.  The brulees are a Weight Watchers recipe, and diet puddings can be a bit hit or miss, so I’m curious to see what these are like.

 

 

 


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getting kids to eat vegetables

There are certain battles which you can guarantee every parent has fought.  The do-your-homework confrontation, or the find-your-shoes struggle.  But the age old fight must be the one we all face in the dinner table trenches – getting kids to eat vegetables.

Now, I will throw my hands up and admit that I know I’m lucky.  I think my kids do quite well when it comes to food.  They eat pretty much everything that Hubs and I would eat, and for the most part do it happily.  And even though vegetables can still get a bad rap in our house, I can get my boys to eat them with most meals.  So I thought I’d share my tips for getting kids to eat vegetables, based on what has helped us.

 

make veggies part of every meal

When dinner time becomes a battlefield it can seem easier to just cut your losses and avoid veg altogether.  But even if you know they wont touch it, I think it’s important to still have vegetables on the plate.  It may seem wasteful, but kids learn through routine and familiarity.  My 15 year old eats more vegetables now he’s older.  I think that only happened because they were available to him.  His natural curiosity grew stronger than his childhood pickiness!

 

find a food they love…

…and then find a way to sneak veggies into it!  Middle son is a soup fiend, and that’s probably the easiest food in the world to cram full of veg.  Blend it smooth and they’ll never know that the tomato soup contains all sorts of other sneaky goodies.  Dishes like bolognaise or chilli are also good to smuggle veggies in to.  You can really finely chop them or even blend them and cook them right down.  It makes me feel a bit smug when I watch my kids wolfing down food containing peppers and mushrooms.  If only they knew!

 

find a vegetable they love…

…and serve it all. the. time.  Maybe love is a strong word, but even the pickiest of eaters will have one or two veggies that they will actually eat.  And most kids will happily eat the same foods over and over again – if you’re on to a winning thing don’t feel like you need to shake it up too much.  I know with my kids that corn on the cob, onions, broccoli and salad all go down well.  Making sure at least one of those is included in every meal is a sure fire way of getting kids to eat vegetables.

 

getting kids to eat vegetables

 

encourage them to try one bite

Sometimes kids just hate a vegetable on sight.  They’ve never even tried it, but they hate it.  In our house, we encourage the kids just to try one bite.  Usually, they still decide they hate it (stubborn boys, never like to be proven wrong).  But I like to cultivate an attitude of trying new tastes.  Every now and then, something is just too yummy for them to resist.

 

make food fun

I try not to labour the point of how healthy and good for you vegetables are.  What kid cares about that?  Kids are about fun, and so tapping in to that with food can be a good way of getting kids to eat vegetables.

My boys love corn on the cob, but I think part of that is the cute little corn-shaped handles we use.  I’ve also managed to get my kids to eat vegetables more easily if they’ve been involved in preparing them – shelling peas, peeling mushrooms, or even learning safe knife skills can all be fun ways to get them excited about food.  And as I learned from our trip the pumpkin patch, a Pick Your Own farm (or even growing your own) can also spark a kid’s curiosity about veggies.

 

chill out

So, your kids wont eat a single vegetable and you’ve tried everything?  Well, good for you for trying.  As a parent, that’s all you can do.  A lot of the time, the best thing for getting kids to eat vegetables is to wait for them to grow out of the picky stage.  Until then, don’t stress it.  Just make sure they take a good multivitamin and keep setting a good example by eating the veggies on your own plate.

 

I hope my tips help ease some of the dinner time stress that can come when it#s kids versus veggies.  If you have a tip, I’d love to read it so drop me a comment below!

 

 
This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m not getting paid for the content, but it does contain affiliate links.  You can read more about my affiliate policy here.

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5 things I learned from doing 30 days of yoga

Before my youngest son was born, I wrote about my maternity leave fitness bucket list.  Well, at four months in I can say that I’ve ticked off one of my challenges – to complete Yoga with Adriene‘s 30 Days of Yoga.  It may have taken me 34 days rather than 30, but I did it!  And I learned a lot along the way.

 

5 things i learned from doing 30 days of yoga

30 days of yoga

I came across Adriene and her cool, laid back style of yoga some time last year. In short, I love her.  I can’t decide if it’s because I want her to be my best friend or because I want to be her, but she is awesome.  She’s funny, positive and inspiring, and she makes yoga accessible.  There are no expectations in her videos that you will be a super yogi who nails all the poses.  If anything, I think she gears it to us normals.  She has the ability to do the crazy poses, but she doesn’t use her videos as an excuse to show off her own skills – it’s all about you.

The 30 Days of Yoga videos range from about 15 to 35 minutes, so they’re easy to fit into your day.  No two days are the same, which keeps it interesting.  But, in the same breath, there are a lot of postures that come up in most videos, so you can make progress.  This isn’t a hard core, drop a dress size in two days sort of workout.  I didn’t do this for weight loss or really any purpose other than for the yoga itself.  Just to enjoy the movement and the experience, and to see what I could achieve.

I don’t have a big history with yoga.  I took some classes which were run at work a few years ago, but the focus of those was more on relaxation.  I enjoyed them a lot, but when it came to more bendy, strength-requiring yoga I’ve always ended up a bit frustrated with myself.  But I had a yoga DVD that I did in pregnancy, and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to keep it up. As my first workout challenge (and really, challenge isn’t the right word here) since finishing my postnatal recovery, with 30 Days of Yoga I just wanted to see if I could do something for my body each day.  Turns out I usually could.

 

what 30 days of yoga taught me

 

1.  I am not a hippie

I love the language of yoga.  I enjoy focusing on my breath and clearing my mind (or at least trying to).  I like moving my body in ways which gives me the chance to get to know it and appreciate what it can do.  But I am not spiritual in any shape or form, and I just can’t get in touch with that side of yoga.

Does it matter?  With Adriene, no.  And that’s what I learned – yoga is for everyone.  You don’t need to fit into a specific box to get the most out of the practice.  If there’s a phrase or concept that comes up that you don’t connect with, just let it pass you by.  Take what you want out of your time on the mat, and enjoy it.

 

2.  I can commit to something

Ok, so I did miss a couple of days where life just got in the way.  But in general, even if it’s only 15 minutes, I can carve time out of most days to do a little work.  All it takes is a little focus.  It’s so easy to let days slip by without exercising if you have no plan to follow.  A challenge like this is great because it makes you more accountable.  Even on days where I couldn’t be bothered, I had that niggle in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to fall behind.

I need to channel that in to my regular exercise.  Possibly by setting myself goals, like five weeks without missing a class or working out three times a week.  Or create a programme for myself – there’s something satisfying about ticking off the days.

 

3.  I can make progress

Adriene’s mantra is find what feels good, and that is the best advice for yoga (or any activity) that I’ve ever heard.  In the past I’ve been frustrated with yoga. My balance is shocking, my core and upper body strength non-existent, and never in my life (not even when I hypnobirthed) have I ever emptied my mind completely.  But with 30 Days of Yoga, it isn’t expected that you will be perfect…or even all that good. You just need to find the best way to move for you body at that time.

And without stressing about it, you’ll find that you get stronger and more flexible.  Little by little, doing what feels good changes and progresses.  My heels were nowhere near the floor in downward facing dog at the start of the challenge, but by the end I managed to get them down there a few times.  Even in the balance poses, I could feel myself making little improvements.  That’s exciting, and had made me want to keep up my practice.

 

4.  Breathing and stretching feels so good

We all know how good it feels to throw your arms up and have a good stretch, and certain poses in yoga give you just that sort of sensation.  But what I really came away with from 30 Days of Yoga is just how good you feel afterwards.  I usually feel great after a workout, but with yoga it’s not just an endorphin glad-I-did-that feeling.  It’s more than that – it’s feeling freer in your movements, and like a weight has been lifted. It’s a feeling that lasts, too.

I am a highly strung person, I’m always worried or anxious about something, always seem to have  a million things needing my attention.  Yoga gives me permission to switch off from everything and just focus on the breath going in and out of my body. Tuning my movements into that flow takes a bit of focus, and switching my focus to that rather than my thoughts gives me a little period of calm.  Like I said before, I’ve never been able to totally quieten my mind, but even turning the volume down a little makes me feel so much better.

Yoga encourages you to let go of tensions in your body, ones you may not even realise that you’re carrying around. Adriene’s instruction really taps into that in a way I’ve not experienced before, she seems to know exactly when to prompt you to unclench your jaw, smooth your forehead, drop your shoulders.  It’s like she’s coaching you in person.

 

5.  I love yoga

I think it’s probably come across in this post, but I’ve fallen in love with yoga.  I think I’ve fallen in love with Adriene too!  I’m excited to see what I can achieve if I keep up my practice.  With my other fitness goals, it’s unrealistic to think I’ll do yoga every day, but I want to make time for a couple of sessions a week.  Adriene has some other 30 day challenges which I will definitely be doing in the future, but until then I’ll be dipping in to her massive collection of videos.

 

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our meal plan for this week

It’s so important to me to make sure I’m putting good food on the table every night.  Not just from a weight loss angle, although obviously that’s a big motivation.  But I also pride myself in feeding my kids healthy, balanced meals.  I can’t always be sure they’re making the best food choices at school, so I like to know that when they’re at home they’re eating well.  When I grew up there was always home cooked food on the table, and I learned from that.  I hope by doing the same for my boys, it means they’ll grow up to have an interest in cooking for themselves.

I’ve written before about the fact that I’m a meal planning addict.  I shared our plan last week, and it got a good reception on social media.  It can be hard to think of healthy meals every week, especially if you’re just starting out on a weight loss journey, or feel stuck in a food rut.  I’m going to make a point of sharing my plans each week – if you see something you like the sound of please let me know.  I’d love to share the recipes for the most popular dishes!

 

our meal plan this week

 

This week’s meal plan

 

Monday – beef goulash

This is a freezer meal from one I made last week.  I love this recipe (you can find it here), and it didn’t let me down.  I made it in the slow cooker this time, such an easy meal.

I’ll serve it with brown rice and green beans.

 

Tuesday – trout with a Mediterranean vegetable bake

We’re having trout because Hubs got a bargain in the supermarket.  I actually just tend to just buy frozen fish, so a nice veggie dish is ideal to dress it up.  This one has mozzarella in it, so jazz it up even more.

I’ll save some leftovers for lunch.

 

Wednesday – jacket potatoes with bean chilli

I love a baked potato, especially on a cold day (which we’re meant to have a lot of this week).  I made the chilli when I was pregnant, stuffing the freezer full of meals so I didn’t have to cook in the early newborn days.  I’ve still got loads of dishes left in there!

I’ll serve it up with salad.  And I’ll have enough left for lunch the next day too.

 

Thursday – chicken chow mein

This was a new recipe I tried last week – a healthy fakeaway!  I made double and froze the extras for this week.  It’s packed with veggies, so I don’t need to add a side.

 

Friday – salmon in a tomato sauce

I try to have at least two fish dishes a week, and this is a new one for us.  But I doubt you can go wrong with those flavours.

I’ll serve it up with brown rice and veg.

 

Saturday – sausage, mash and beans

A request by my middle son, and I never say no to a lazy dinner on a Saturday!  Plus, we’ll be going out to watch the fireworks, so a nice bit of stodge will keep us cosy.

 

Sunday – dinner at the in-laws

My favourite way to spend a Sunday evening, I love to see what my father-in-law has cooked up.  And it’s always finished with his lush homemade ice cream…naughty, but far too nice to say no!

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