{14/03/2012}   Dieting: where is it going wrong?

I have put on weight when I am supposed to be losing weight. Having written with optimism about dieting, I feel I have disgraced myself. In my defence, for the past week and a half most meals have been eaten out due to working away from home. It is difficult to eat healthily when you’re away from home and I even swapped hotel buffet breakfasts for eating breakfast elsewhere. Quite a few lunches were supermarket salads and most dinners were “just” a main course. I did snack a fair bit during the day though. And, even by my standards, most meal portions were (a) larger than normal and (b) all consumed!

I have never successfully dieted. I have been extremely successful in putting on weight over the past six to seven years though. I need to channel that success … reverse it in fact. When I first started my 2012 diet, I was really positive and inspired. I lost almost a stone. I have now put half a stone back on so I suppose I have made a bit of progress! The motivation is there in that I think of a slimmer me with delight. But the actual portion management thing isn’t happening. Help!

A friend suggested an app that is like a food diary. The thought of writing down all that I ate last week fills me with horror. I see magnified visions of laden plates of comfort food, stodge, sauces … things I know I shouldn’t be eating with as much enthusiasm as I do. However, that’s probably the point of a food diary; knowing you’d have to write down everything it might just stop you shoveling in that second sausage, third biscuit …

I don’t really understand how and why I find it so difficult to diet. I think there is a psychological element whereby diet=boring food=hungry=miserable. If I can discipline myself enough to write this every day, to have written a letter every posting day last month, surely I can discipline myself enough not to snack (which isn’t usually my biggest weakness, only when I’m away), to eat less and to choose lower fat food. I’m ignoring the exercise thing, in part because I have a cold and sore throat and exercise just isn’t going to make me feel good. If I were rich and could afford to have someone cook my low fat meals for me (ignoring the fact I enjoy cooking), I reckon I could do it. How about I blow to smithereens some of my dieting myths?

1) I often blame my inability to diet on the fact I love food.

I have friends who have lost weight who also love food.

2) I was brought up to eat everything on my plate.

Serve smaller portions. But that means either leftovers or waste.

3) Leftovers from eating smaller portions are boring.

Eat bigger portions so there are no leftovers … oh. Herein lies at least one of my problems!

4) Healthy snacks aren’t exciting.

Make them exciting. I am a sucker for lunch boxes and food presentation. Some nuts, seeds or dried fruit in a tiny tupperware pot would make me see them as a viable snack option. Torn, scraggly bags do not make me want to eat the contents.

5) Low fat food is bland and boring.

Deep down I know this is utter bollocks. I suppose a lot of the cooking I do is repetition or variation of favourites. My favourites are largely not of the low fat/healthy variety. I need to find some recipes etc of things I like, make them regularly, remember them and have them in mind when I’m food shopping. Lifestyle change I guess.

6) What about eating out?

This is an issue. A few nights I ate out recently, I looked at salads and lighter things. Such things are not an impressive feature in restaurants. When I did go for the least heavy option I could find that sounded nice, I felt a bit cheated, both in terms of quality and quantity. Maybe I should open a restaurant for people who are living away from home in a hotel and who want home cooked food, at least some of which isn’t fancy/heavy. If someone had offered me steamed chicken, rice with something a bit exciting in it and herby vegetables, I’d have been so happy. How I long for the English food of stereotypes!

7) Alcohol?

Just give it up! (and I do mean give up alcohol not give up dieting!)

So to conclude, I need to stop coming up with excuses and just get on with dieting. If I diet, I will lose weight, if I lose weight I will be happy. Low fat is not high misery. Bring it on. Right, crudites and cottage cheese anyone?


Top tips:
1) Pick a sensible diet plan and do it, you will not lose weight by trying to invent your own diet. I found South Beach strict (brutal in first 2 weeks) but effective, Jo swears by Weightwatchers and has lost a lot doing that. They have a web-based food diary thing too to help you out
2) Fruit has a lot of sugar so don’t use that as snack food – humous and crudites is good, but only 1tbsp humous
3) Cut the pasta, bread, potatoes, root veg (high sugar content) and ALL sugary things for a couple of weeks – makes a huge difference
4) Allow only two snacks a day – roughly coffee time and afternoon tea time and don’t have it if you’re not hungry. Aim to phase out snacks altogether
5) Eat a good breakfast
6) Accept that it ain’t going to be fun but that the result will be satisfying – no pain, no gain and other shouty slogans!

Oh, and consider adding exercise, it does work! And write that food diary for last week and this week and do it honestly. It’ll help you see where your food weaknesses are, I remember doing it once and I was appalled at the amount of stuff I didn’t need that I ate.

Not that I don’t appreciate suggestions but that list is daunting and unappealing and why dieting fills me with dread! It’s possibly the “don’t eat x, y, z” thing that makes me want to rebel. I like the concept of the Fat Fighters point system in that you can eat anything in moderation and that vegetables are zero points. Some vegetables I love and that they are ‘nil point’ thrills me into wanting to eat more!

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