Here’s what I choose from if I get hungry for a nibble on my diet:
- 1 banana: 100kcals per 100g (average banana is between 125-140kcals)
- 1 satsuma, mandarin or clementine: 26kcals approx
- 1 apple: 50kcals per 100g
- 1 square Tesco’s value plain chocolate, or 1/10th of a bar: 52kcals
- 1 Options Hot Chocolate/Turkish Delight flavour: 39kcals
- 1 Ainsley Harriott Cup Soup: Between 87 and 92kcals depending on variety
- 1 fat-free Activia fruit yoghurt: Between 50 and 75kcals per pot (125g)
To me, that’s plenty – considering that to burn off that 1-inch by one quarter inch square of chocolate is 500 steps on the step machine (1kcal burnt per 10 steps) and for most of the day I’m working on the computer, writing by hand, drawing or painting, and doing the odd bit of housework or lawn-mowing. In other words, mostly sitting around. Interspersed with some driving errands, 30 minutes to an hour or so with the hula hoop on average 4-5 times a week, and once in a blue moon going near that step machine.
I don’t buy cereal or bread anyway, so those things aren’t an issue. Neither is alcohol, or soft drinks, or fruit juice. If I skip my diet shake made with soya milk for breakfast, I’ll have the fruit then instead. IF I’m hungry at lunchtime, it’ll be a Cup Soup, and yoghurt or another piece of fruit. Then I eat my dinner (anything I want, up to about 600kcals) between 5.30pm and 6.30pm. After that, if anything, I’ll only have maybe a hot chocolate, satsuma or apple, or nibble of chocolate before I go to bed, with a decaf tea with sweeteners and a cardamom pod added – cardamom is good for digestion. I drink as much tea or coffee as I feel I need throughout the day, but try to include a pint of plain still water as well, especially if I’m hooping that day.
If I go to my mum’s for Sunday lunch, I’ll take that as my day off. If I take DS10 to the cinema, I get a Happy Meal with her afterwards, and that counts as my day off – if we’ve already had dinner earlier. I’m allowing for one day off dieting a week, but if there isn’t a particular occasion such as Sunday lunch or going out, I’m not bothered, and just stick to my usual diet routine.
So I’m not on any diet guru plan, or food combining, or training programme, just learning my calories and sticking to the idea of eating dinner earlier in the evening. In other words, not a diet I see ‘the end of’, but a diet pattern I want to continue as normal after losing the weight again, containing all the foods that I like.
I guess I’m lucky that the only person I have to cook for as well is DS10, who doesn’t eat the same as me anyway, and still prefers her cheese with a bit of pizza base and tomato sauce attached. Plus the handful of vitamins and supplements we both take. I watched the US show I Used To Be Fat earlier, and the whole family had pretty much bullied their daughter about her weight for years until food was her only friend – but she really blossomed after eventually leaving home for college. I think there’s a myth surrounding the idea that eating together as a family is a healthy thing – in celebrations and reunions, yes, it definitely is – but every day, with each individual’s life containing different patterns of work, school, snacking – I think it can do as much harm as good, particularly when some have issues around foods, allergies, exclusions, is on a diet – it’s an added stress that’s completely unnecessary. The feeling that you’re being watched in your everyday eating habits two or three times a day, or judged, or teased, or controlled by what’s put in front of you, just adds extra stress hormones to the mix.
And when you’re stressed, or upset – it’s nearly impossible to enjoy or efficiently digest your food. Adrenaline blocks effective metabolism.
The happiest and most chilled-out families I know all eat separately. There’s no regime. No issues over who eats what or when. It’s no-one else’s business how each of them choose to graze, or regulate themselves, or exercise. And none of them are overweight. So maybe there’s something in that, too.