It turns out calorie counting isn’t that bad. I weigh all food as I go, calculate its calories using the nutritional information label and note it down. I soon learnt the calorie count for the common foods I ate and weighing became less and less.
After that, here’s how I got started:
- I got my partner on board – He often cooks my meals. I explained to him the importance of this diet and how I’m doing it. I now must trust what he cooks is sticking to the rules too.
- I hid all the naughty treats – I have my own secret stash in the house. The diet starts now, not after I’ve troughed all the treats first!
NHS App. diary – To note down what I have eaten each day and its calorie count.
Electronic scales – To weigh my food.
Reference notebook – To write down individual food and its calorie count so I can easily refer to it in the future. There are apps to use but I find scrolling on a screen increases my fatigue.
Willpower – Oodles of it to see me right to the very end. I can do this!
The NHS app informs that you should:
- Eat 5 fruit and vegetables per day – I add a side salad (lettuce, cucumber and 1 sliced tomato) to my meal or have carrot/celery/cucumber sticks as a snack.
- Drink 2 litres of water per day – I reduce my milk on my cereal and add water instead.
- Eat 2 portions of oily fish per week – Tinned sardines with lemon or salmon are my faves.
- Eat good fats e.g. Rapeseed oil, Olive oil – We cook with light Olive Oil now.
- Limit Sugar intake
- Limit Salt intake
- Limit alcohol – Yes really!
I came up with a few tricks in the beginning:
I weighed myself the same day and at the same time – I found this most accurate as weight fluctuates in the week.
Cut out obvious bad foods – Anything high in fat and sugar (sugary cereals, fried anything, full fat drinks, pastries etc).
Planned weekly meals – I pinned up a menu and wrote out a shopping list. This keeps me focused when brain fog hits. When I can’t go to the supermarket a list makes sure my partner gets everything we need (although he still surpasses my expectations when he comes home with at least 4 of 7 meals hitting their ‘best before’ date tomorrow! And why does he never check for cracked eggs?).
Check the recommended serving size on food labels – I eat fat free live yoghurt. It’s good for the gut and has 3 servings. I eat this across three days to spread out the calorie count while getting the nutrients I need.
Eat half portions – Instead of having 2 eggs, I now just have one each time. Instead of 2 crispbreads, 2 slices of toast etc I have just one. I used to buy a 10” thin based pizza and eat it along with some garlic bread and side salad. I now eat half the pizza with just the salad. I eat the rest of the pizza the next day for lunch. Garlic bread is now an occasional treat.
Watch that cooking oil – The most shocking thing I learned is how something as small as a drizzle of cooking oil or a knob of butter can soon take a chunk of your daily calories. We now use 1tbsp of light olive oil or rapeseed oil when cooking. I now know sauce and spreads are high calorific too. I now either have 1 tsp or leave it out.
Watch the clock – If I want to eat I check the clock. Has it been longer than 2 hours after my last meal? Is there more than 1 hour to wait until my next meal? Yes, to both… I’ll have a snack. Otherwise, I’ll either have a drink or distract myself with something to concentrate on until I can eat.
Fun Fact: You burn more calories while concentrating. This is why many students are always snacking.
Drinks – I have 4-5 mugs of de-caf tea with semi-skimmed milk and 2 pints of diluted, no added sugar, cordial most days. All this makes up my daily water intake, as per the rules.
Alcohol – Enjoy as a treat. My body doesn’t handle this very well. I opt for either a low alcohol beer (up to 5%) or Gin and a low-calorie tonic. Wine would be just one glass instead of two.
Top fact: Did you know the lower the ABV the less sugar and therefore the less calories? This is my new discovery and as a lover of beer it means I get to enjoy an opportune half while still dieting. Win!
And my top trick is… Asking myself these two questions before I eat:
A. Do I need it? (Is it actually nutritional, is there a healthier alternative or when did I last have a treat?)
B. Do I want all of it? (Can I share it with someone?). This was great for treats like cake. My partner and I often share a piece of cake together. I don’t then have the torture of watching him revel in his tasty treat while I sit with an empty plate.
This final trick definately helped with self-control.
Next week…I give you my tips for eating out, take-aways and how I still enjoyed a treat every day too.