Lovely to meet you!
My name is Sonja and “For The Pleasure Of Eating” is my food blog that focuses on the joy of eating while fuelling my body in a healthy way.
I’m a German living in Ireland since over 15 years. I suppose that makes me about 1/3 Irish by now.
In summer 2020 I decided I want to lose some weight, but, being coffee fuelled and food motivated, I didn’t want to do it with a restrictive diet, that has me hangry all the time. Being a woman over 40 and having arthritis did not make this easier.
So I started figuring out my own way and lost 70lb in just 1 year, while still very much enjoying food and life in general.
This is what I will share here with you.
No matter if you’d like to lose a few pounds or just find new recipes to enjoy and share, you will find ideas here.
My motto is: If it doesn’t create a party in my mouth, it’s not worth eating.
A Few Notes On How I Cook
While I’m not a vegetarian, let alone vegan, many of my recipes are vegetarian and some, incidentally, even vegan. I don’t eat much meat, but if I do, I make it count by buying good quality free range meats. Ideally from my local butcher.
I am lactose intolerant when it comes to cows’ milk. But I can happily eat yoghurt and cheese, as the fermentation seems to help my body to digest it. So you will find plant based milk in most of my recipes. At this point I prefer it’s flavour and the options it gives me over cows milk.
Most of my recipes are made from scratch, using wholefoods preferably, but again, I like a balanced approach, that doesn’t rule out the use of, say white flour, if a recipe seems to need it for lightness. Or the odd bit of serrano ham. Or maybe ready-made tomato sauce for my “emergency pizza” (yes, I do eat pizza), balanced out by the sourdough wholemeal base, which adds flavour and nutrition.
Why my experiences might help you
Starting in July 2022 I lost over 70lb within 12 months, despite being over 40, suffering from arthritis and taking steroids. All of this while still enjoying food and not being hungry all the time.
While many people I know love being active, I much prefer reading or playing PC games, getting lost in other worlds, and *whispers*snacking in bed. I also work from home, so my job doesn’t involve much movement either.
Considering these circumstances, it’s not surprising that I gained weight over the years, reaching about 220 lbs while being 1.75m (5.9ft) tall.
About 10 years ago, I had managed to lose around 45 lbs quite easily, but slowly gained it back, especially during Covid (didn’t we all?).
With severe arthritis and being on numerous medications for it (including steroids), coupled with the challenges of being over 40 and despising exercise, I lacked the motivation and energy to lose weight for a long time.
However, as we all age, pains and other health issues become more prevalent, especially when we already have a chronic illness.
For me, it was the experience of my kneecaps randomly popping out in the middle of the night, causing excruciating pain, the realization that my cholesterol levels were alarmingly close to requiring medication (as pointed out by two GPs) and one day, looking in the mirror and thinking, “This does not feel like me anymore” which sparked my determination to lose weight.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or registered health professional, so this blog consists of my own experiences and opinions, sharing what I did to lose that weight and keep it off, while still enjoying food very much.
I believe that eating should be a daily pleasure and that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Making healthy choices doesn’t have to be restrictive and boring; it can be delicious and fun.
My Approach To Losing Weight
I knew a conventional “diet” with restrictive mindset wouldn’t work for me, as I don’t believe extreme restriction is sustainable. Moreover, I love variety and exploring new recipes without having to exclude a lot of foods, let alone entire food groups. So, I knew I had to find my own way, which I thought had to be to eat more, not less.
Inspired by several different books, but not following any of their methods entirely, in my case, this meant adding even more veggies and fruit to my diet, actively thinking of ways to include them into recipes. The more the better. More plants mean more volume, which leads to being satisfied and happy after eating, instead of constantly thinking about the next meal.
Well…I do that too, but not because I’m hungry, but rather because I enjoy cooking.
On the other hand, let’s be realistic for a moment, I did have to cut down on a few things that are not as healthy. In my case, having a decidedly sweet tooth, that meant reducing sugar. Reducing. Not eliminating.
Same with oils: As I discovered, it’s pretty easy to reduce fat in most dishes, without losing flavour, if you do it in a mindful way without cutting it out entirely.
Now don’t get me wrong, I did start exercising in the second month of this journey. Very slowly. With Pilates. From my bed. I’m not kidding. I now have a tiny home gym and do resistance training twice a week, Pilates once (otherwise my back will kill me) and went back to my all-time favourite hobby of Western Riding a few months ago. Considering my pain is by now so far under control that I can do this again makes me incredibly happy.
That being said: If you can’t exercise, I feel you. It was hard to start and on some days is still really hard to kick myself to do it. I am not a gym bunny by any stretch of imagination. Though hey, I can see muscles in my arms! And I can lift a western saddle again!
Once I achieved my goal weight, I did about 2 months of reverse dieting, which meant I gradually and cautiously increased my daily calorie intake, to avoid regaining all the weight. This was very successful, and I still lost about 2lb per month. I am now at a stable weight since several months and back to a “normal” calorie intake. I did get into the habit of tracking what I eat in “My Fitness Pal”, As I wanted to get a better idea of the energy I was consuming vs what my body needed, but I’m not doing it religiously anymore, as I feel I don’t need it much. Mainly new recipes get entered, to have a nutrition overview.
I will share my very own way with you on this blog. Which incidentally includes utterly delicious recipes for anyone, not just for those who’d like to lose weight.
And you will be able to spoil your family and guests, while feeling good about what you are eating. Eating is pleasure. And I plan to indulge in it. If you enjoy it too, I’ll take you with me on my journey of savouring all that life has to offer while maintaining a reasonably healthy lifestyle and weight.