Time for a 5-2 challenge update. My preferred fast days? Fridays and Mondays. Perfect bookends for my weekend feast days. Giving me a clear three day run from Tuesday to Thursday mid week where I don’t have to think about what I eat. Of course I fully expect that this plan will be interrupted over the Easter break.
I completed Day 2 of Week 1 on Monday and am in the process of completing Day 1 of Week 2 as I type this. Five hundred calories a day is not a lot to play with and can be blown very easily in a moment of thoughtlessness or weakness. My very best piece of advice? Stock up the pantry and fridge with low calorie food choices. Oh, and if you have a family to feed? Despatch them to the local takeaway for dinner on at least one of your fast days. They will welcome the treat and it really does alleviate the pressure of falling off the wagon as you prepare their meals.
It seems the world has embraced the 5:2 challenge. I have spoken to people who swear by a freezer stocked with calorie controlled ready meals purchased from the supermarket in readiness of fast days. Others who use meal replacement drinks that fill you up quickly and easily. I’m a bit of a purist and prefer to stay with whole food. Prepared and assembled at home. There really is no right or wrong way to approach this. It seems so simple at face value. Do not exceed a strict 500 calorie limit. Keep a vigilant look out for those forgotten calories. They seem to be lurking everywhere.
To succeed I had to do a little restocking of my pantry. Having spent more than a little time in Japan, and having come away from each trip a couple of kilos lighter, I visited the Japanese grocery store stocking up on miso paste, dashi stock, wakame, soba noodles, edamame beans and tofu. At the deli I picked up jars of tuna, and tins of cannellini beans and chick peas. A quick visit to the Farmer’s Market yielded farm fresh eggs, an array of seasonal fruit and vegetables, bunches of fresh herbs and organic chicken. I’ve made a personal decision that on fast days no red meat is allowed. Just chicken or fish. To drink? Lots of packets of tea and bottles of sparkling mineral water. And after this week’s experience I’m wary of the errant skim milk cappuccino!
My very first day on the 5-2 challenge, and its accompanying frenzy of constant calorie counting was covered in my previous post The 5-2 Challenge. Figuring Out What To Eat On Five Hundred Calories A Day. My second day was rather more sedate. Realising just how restrictive 500 calories really were I planned two mini meals.No breakfast. Just lunch and dinner.
Day Two started well with copious cups of tea. Everything was moving along swimmingly until I arranged to meet a girlfriend at a cafe for a quick catch-up. Out of sheer habit I ordered a small cappuccino. At least it was skim. Seventy calories of my meagre five hundred calorie allowance expunged in a moment of thoughtlessness. My only option. Rearrange my meal plan. Perhaps skip lunch and have just one larger, more satisfying meal at night.
Big mistake. That cappuccino left me craving food. The result? An afternoon preoccupied with food and an unscheduled and unsatisfying graze. Coleslaw,with no dressing. Miso soup. Craving dinner I inhaled my Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Plenty of poached chicken and a coleslaw but only two rice paper rounds allowed. No dipping sauce. A modified dressing for the coleslaw to reduce fat.
Somehow, despite my cappuccino hiccup and afternoon graze I managed a calorie count of only 507. There was a lot of juggling involved. Note to self. Deviating from my original plan was exhausting. An unproductive day spent recalculating and measuring calorie values. Get organised and stick to your plan. Here is a snapshot of my day:
|Breakfast||3 Cups of Tea||
|Lunch||1 cup coleslaw, no dressing||
|Mid Afternoon||1 cup Miso Soup with Tofu||
|Dinner||2 Sheets Vietnamese Rice Paper150 g Shredded Poached Chicken Breast
1½ cups Coleslaw
A new plan of attack for my next fast. Avoid cappuccinos at all costs. Only drink tea and sparkling mineral water. Prepare meals the night before to avoid picking and grazing as I cook. Measure out meals onto smaller plates.It might trick my mind into thinking I’m full. Thursday night I diligently prepare a Tuna and Cannellini Bean salad. Ready to be apportioned out into suitable sized meals. It truly is delicious. Taste testing is allowed on a feast day.
My third fast begins with yet more cups of tea. I’m getting used to this. At least I’ll be well hydrated at the end of this. Once again I arrange to meet a friend at a local cafe. Old habits die hard but this time I order a pot of peppermint tea. For lunch I have a small serve of the salad. No preparation required. Lots of sparkling water throughout the afternoon. Two more serves of salad for dinner. Not exactly awe-inspiring but it works. The rest of the family fend for themselves. It’s Friday night I need a break. I think I’m finally starting to crack the code of how to make this work. Minimal cooking on fast days. A soup or salad prepared in advance. If all else fails there is always the humble egg. So my third attempt at fasting I’m under my calorie limit and my days are far more productive than the previous two.
|Breakfast||3 cups tea||
|Lunch||1 serving Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad||
|Mid Afternoon||2 cups tea||
|Dinner||2 servings Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad||
After all that effort calculating and recalculating calorie values I’ve included annotated recipes for the Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad and the Coleslaw. After all I know I will be referring to them down the track myself. This feasting and fasting plan is strangely addictive. I feel positively euphoric the morning following a fast. Lighter. Energised. Focused.
Tuna & Cannellini Bean Salad
Serves 4 577 calories or 144 calories per serve
1 400 g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed weight 240 g (206 calories)
160 g jar solid light tuna in olive oil (330 calories)
1/4 cup chopped red onion (17 calories)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (3 calories)
juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon (17 calories)
1 clove garlic, minced (4 calories)
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Drain tuna and flake. Reserve oil for dressing.
Whisk, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
Add beans, tuna, onion ,lemon zest and parsley; toss to coat well.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Coleslaw with a Reduced Calorie Vinaigrette Dressing.
Serve With Poached Chicken and Rice Paper – Vietnamese Style
10 cups – 667 calories / 67 calories per serve
1/4 head small white cabbage, shredded (55 calories)
1/2 head small red cabbage shredded (88 calories)
2 carrots, julienned (50 calories)
2 red capsicums, deseeded and julienned (31 calories)
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and finely sliced (33 calories)
3-4 radishes, trimmed julienned (2 calories)
4 long green shallots, trimmed and finely sliced (8 calories)
3 handfuls of fresh soft herbs (choose from parsley,coriander, mint, fennel, and chervil) (20 calories)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (20 calories)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (360 calories)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
COMBINE vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
ADD cabbage, red capsicum, carrot, fennel, radish and spring onions, and toss.
COVER with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow the flavours to meld.
TOSS through fresh herbs just before serving.