Lilian is a self described X-sugar addict. On her blog Real Food Healthy Body, she shares her gorgeous food creations and recipes: mostly plant based, gluten free, grain free and super nutritious!
I know Lilian from the interwebs of instagram where her delicious and healthy recipe creations can draw anyone in. She’s a local Melbourne girl who’s generously shared a few tips on healthy living with us.
She also shares with us her motivation for living the way she does, all whilst juggling a fulltime career as a lawyer.
This gorgeous girl knows good food- Read on!
Tell us about your journey to a healthier lifestyle and the main benefits you've noticed in eating and living better.
I had always eaten a diet that was relatively high in grains with some vegetables, moderate protein and small amounts of fat. I also snacked on a lot of sugar (mostly dried fruit and often lollies too), particularly during stressful times. I was struggling with a number of annoying health issues, including terrible digestion, anxiety and panic attacks, gastro-oesophageal reflux, bloating and general 'puffiness', particularly in the mornings. I ate a lot of food, but I always felt hungry and was never satisfied after meals. Then I ended up with acne, amenorrhoea, and a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). I was sick of feeling crap and thought that there must be a way to feel better (that didn't involve drugs). It seemed logical to first look at what I was putting into my body. So after a few months of researching different dietary approaches and the way different foods affect the body, I decided to reduce grains, eat more good fats and limit sugar, particularly fructose. The main benefits that I’ve noticed from changing my diet are: I feel rested when I wake up in the morning and my face doesn't look like a puffer fish, my mood is more stable, my digestion has improved, my anxiety has calmed down and I actually feel satisfied after meals (due to the addition of adequate protein and good fats!).
What tips would you give someone who is just starting out on their way to living a more healthy lifestyle?
Don’t try to change everything all at once. Pick one thing to work on first (e.g. swap soft drinks for water or herbal tea or the 4pm sugar fix for a handful of almonds). Once you’ve incorporated that change into your routine, move on to the next goal. Setting small and achievable short-term goals will keep you motivated and prevent that feeling that it’s all too hard. I think it’s also important to be honest with yourself about what is really holding you back from living a healthy lifestyle. For me, I realised that I made a lot of my poor choices to deal with stress and anxiety. Part of my transition to a healthier lifestyle involved finding alternative ways to deal with stress (instead of reaching for sugar!)
Do you ever get criticised or questioned about your choice to live a more healthy and active lifestyle? How do you respond?
All the time! Working in an office, people often comment if I say “no thank-you” to junk food and alcohol at functions or bring my own lunch to meetings. My response is that I just feel better eating this way (and I’d prefer to save indulgence for a beautiful dessert and half-decent wine). People have also commented on my choice to go to kickboxing training most nights of the week after work. My response is that it’s not a chore; I do it because I love it, which is the absolute truth. I eat the way I do and exercise because it makes me feel good. In the past, I’ve lead a much less healthy lifestyle and I felt crap. For me, it’s that simple.
You lead a busy professional lifestyle working as a lawyer, how to you ensure to eat well and nourish your body whilst in a time poor work environment?
The key for me is to bring my own food to work. Healthy and filling take-away lunch options can be hard to find and overpriced and sometimes I just don’t have time to leave the office. If I have my lunch with me, I know I’m sorted and won’t waste time searching for food. It does require a bit of preparation, but I make it a priority and simplify the process. When I make dinner, I make enough to cover my lunch (and often breakfast) the next day. Yes, it means you may eat the same thing three meals in a row, but it makes life easier. I also make sure my breakfast and lunch portions are substantial enough so that I don’t need to be snacking all day, which simplifies things further.
I’ve also scoped out a few decent take-away lunch options near the office, so I do have something to fall back on in emergencies. Grill’d is one of them (I get one of their chicken or grass-fed lamb burgers without the bun and with extra sides like avocado).
What is one food or recipe you couldn't go without?
It’s a tie between coconut, sweet potato and raw cacao powder (I can’t choose, if I had children it would be like having to choose my favourite child). I always use raw extra virgin coconut oil and shredded coconut in my healthy treats for the health benefits and delicious natural sweetness. If my body needs carbs (particularly after a big workout), I love some roasted sweet potato sprinkled with sea salt. And if I didn’t have raw cacao powder to make raw chocolate treats, life just wouldn’t be worth living.
Apart from healthy eating, what else do you do to maintain a balanced lifestyle?
I love being active and learning new skills. I do kickboxing/Muay Thai to keep fit and to keep my mind engaged. I try and get at least 8 hours sleep each night and meditate before bed. I don’t always achieve this, but I try. Rest is one of the most important things for your mental and physical health and meditation helps me manage my anxiety. I also think it’s important to indulge in whatever floats your boat every now and then, without feeling guilty. That’s part of life. I just try not to go on a bender!