Nadiya Hussain: Eating for comfort

Juggling a hectic schedule with healthy eating is often a struggle, so our columnist suggests ways to keep a balanced diet under pressure.

Multicoloured doughnuts

We’ve all been there, and I certainly am always battling myself. Working long hours, and with food, means that I often feel I need sugar and caffeine just to stay on top of things. I am guilty of it and lots of us grown-ups are guilty of putting ourselves second where food is concerned. We’re not always good at thinking about what goes past our lips.

I know when I am elbow-deep in recipe testing and knee-deep in laundry, all I want is a bag of chips, a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate – and when I’m that busy, I have zero time for exercise. This is when life feels like it is utterly thrown out of balance.

Not eating well is a never-ending rollercoaster of sugar highs, blood-pressure lows and floods of guilt that keep on coming. Of course, that only makes me less productive; the opposite of what I intend when I reach for the caffeine, carbs and sugar.

I love my job and I would not be doing anything else. But throwing myself into it so passionately can often be to the detriment of my health. Why is it that we’ll wake up to do something we love and not do the same to look after the body that allows us to do it in the first place? It’s because we’re human!

Balance has never been my strong point. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl. I will either eat all the chocolate or none of it. I’m not good at the middle ground. 

Eating well is not only good for our bodies but also our neglected souls. So, just like we put an alarm on to get out of bed in the morning, we should have an alarm bell reminding us to eat well and prepare ourselves for that every day. Thinking about everything you will eat first thing, and how you will eat, makes you much more productive – and it’s less likely that, at the end of the day, you’ll have to tell yourself, ‘I really didn’t need another bar of chocolate’.

Chocolate bar with silver wrapper

Rules I live by to be productive at work and together as a mum are:

  1. Always prep lunch the night before – if you are caught short, you are more likely to make a bad lunch choice.
  2. Set the alarm to get out of bed at least an hour before you normally would, especially if you struggle to get out of bed. Not being rushed and feeling relaxed allows you to make better choices in the morning.
  3. Have breakfast and try to carry a healthy snack with you to make sure that, if you get a pang, you can sate it without guilt.
  4. Always carry water with you. When you’re thinking you need a caffeine hit, you may just be thirsty.
  5. Don’t feel bad if you have a bar of chocolate – it’s not the end of the world.
  6. Food does not always have to carry guilt; food brings so much pleasure. If we can find balance, with food, exercise and mindfulness, we are winning at life.

Read more articles by Nadiya...

Summer holidays on a budget
My family favourites
Cooking for independence
We can make our children healthier
How to get kids to eat their greens
How I eat on a budget
Why I asked my family to be vegan
Kids and restaurants can mix

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