Tag Archives: Food

Tricks for eating out and enjoying it!

3 Sep

The vital part of losing all the weight was finding a balance.  To be able to continue my love affair with food, I had to try really hard to find the best way to sort out how much I actually needed to eat.

My stomach was shrinking, my body was actually helping me to help myself. So the smaller portions weren’t that difficult to manage at home, the biggest challenge came when I had dinner with a friend, he is a great cook, the food was bound to be good, so how would I be able to cope, in my head was a fear I would eat too much and my stomach would protest and make me ill or that I would offend because I’d be seen to not appreciate his hard work by not being able to eat it if I was worried about eating too much and how bad it was for me! The trauma of it all!

As predicted the food was great, I asked for about half of what he had dished up, it didn’t actually look too bad, not ridiculously small anyway, I had still had something of everything, and I really enjoyed it!

That’s been the thing, I haven’t damaged my relationship with food in any way, I love food more now than before. Back then there was a love hate thing going on, I loved eating it but hated the control it had over me and my body.

Because I now have control, I can enjoy it and relax.

There were other challenges to come, eating out was an interesting one, of course I don’t have control over the portion size, however I decided early on that this wasn’t going to force me to always end up choosing what looked like the lower calorie option in a restaurant, that seemed like quite a waste!  Or even worse never be able to go out or always feel it was traumatic and no fun!

And after all because I was doing well at home, I should be able to go out and enjoy food too, for a long-term sustainable approach, this had to be tackled head on.

So the trick is to eat about half, then put your knife and fork down, I normally then have a bit of a chat with my fellow diners, while this is happening, my head and my stomach sort themselves out and I can then decide if I am full or not.  Amazingly this is the point where I do normally decide I have had enough, I have enjoyed the food, savoured it and am not stuffed, I then place the napkin over the food or if it’s looking like the staff are beginning to clear I put my cutlery on the plate, it’s then normally taken away – result. I have changed the way I eat, I stop more than I used too, I think we all perhaps just look at the food on our plates and just shovel, it’s a kind of endurance challenge!

Yes it takes a bit of willpower to be able to do that however I counterbalance with the thought of being stuffed and perhaps feeling ill later and the waste that will be, together with the fact that because I use this technique I can eat what I want, not the salad or the boring options.  It makes eating so exciting!  I’d never have been able to have gone on a week’s foodie holiday in Italy without being able to perfect it!

There are some things I do to help myself, I may not have the chips, I love chips however I love new potatoes just as much and I can have a few more of those…but essentially there isn’t much I won’t eat now.

I can do it for puddings too, more difficult but it can be done, Pizza Express have really helped me out here with their ‘tiny’ desserts which come with coffee, a result!    And often if I’ve been really good with the main then a pudding on a special night out is not going to end the world, especially now I’m in maintaining my weight loss!

Same principle for takeaways, stop when you’ve had your small plate full, chat, reflect and if you then think ‘I’m full’, put the lids back on the containers, for some reason once I couldn’t see the food, I lost interest, others could help themselves but I was more than happy…..with a pizza, cut into 8ths not quarters…it’s all really about tricks.

And if the waste bothers you, well for takeaways, order less next time!  Even talk to your takeaway proprietor and see whether they can do you smaller portions, you may be surprised.  I’d love to see pubs and restaurants reduce their portion sizes anyway, some are just crazy, you don’t need to eat massive amounts to enjoy good food.

Give it a go once your stomach has started to shrink, you’ll be getting used to smaller portions, and have in your mind that this is the way forwards to be able to have a normal and healthy relationship with food, it is a head game of tricks!  I can go out and eat, enjoy a takeaway and the lovely food that friends prepare, that’s what motivates me!

So again, it’s all about less.  Just let your head and stomach work together, stop regularly when you’re eating and think, believe me it does work.

The photo is of my first attempt at home at making pasta from scratch! Went quite well, because I’ve sorted my relationship with food, I even love cooking more!


Hunger Pangs

27 Aug

I’ve been asked a few times how this all got started, so let’s go back to day one.

This is perhaps not the healthiest way, but it happened by accident, didn’t last for too long and what came out were a few interesting and crucial learnings about food, appetite and me.

I lost my appetite, almost completely, I might have managed the odd cereal bar but for two weeks I barely eat anything. It was an emotional time and unusually did not result in massive comfort eating but exactly the opposite, I like to think my head was just telling me it was time.

I am though very pleased it happened because:

  • I knew what hunger and being empty actually felt like, we all say ‘we’re starving’ but I can guarantee that you’re not really.
  • My stomach had shrunk over the two weeks, once my appetite started to return I found I physically couldn’t eat as much without feeling sick.
  • It was becoming interesting, my clothes felt a little loose?

I realised that this was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to change, I could just return to how things were, stretch my stomach back or I could see what might happen. It was at this stage that I knew the simplest answer was to just reduce what I normally eat.  I love food and after getting my appetite back I was really looking forward to my favourite things! At the time I had no idea if it would work?

The stomach shrinking thing is interesting, it is of course the basis of most gastric surgery procedures, I was proving to myself that you could do it naturally, if you read about it, this is perfectly normal, your stomach will shrink if you reduce the amount you eat for a sustained amount of time.

For a girl who is a bit geeky it was intriguing, I was listening to my body, now I knew what hungry REALLY felt like, I could control it, I also knew what full should REALLY feel like!

It was fascinating stuff and sowed the first seeds of motivation.  Within a month I had dropped a jeans size.

I found this very useful blog post about managing hunger pangs, of course you will still get them, the trick is to take control of them, I think over time I have used all of these tips and tricks, so it was great to see them all written down!  They do work, it does take a bit of patience at the beginning as you reduce the amount of food you eat but your body will play ball, you just need to get your head to work with it.

Remember a few days of confusion and persistence will pay off in the long-term.

Taming your Hunger

Less of it

26 Aug

I’ve already talked about how we all eat far too much. Yes junk food plays a big part, but I can guarantee like I did, that you eat far too much of everything.

I have my granny’s and great granny’s cook books, from reading them, I was astounded to see that actually a lot of the homemade food of the past (we are talking pre-junk food) contained what we’ve been led to believe is bad for us, a lot of pastry, potatoes, butter and lard, yet the obesity crisis is a modern thing.

I talked to my mum about how she would feed us as a family when we were children, what came to light were three very clear things:

1. We did do a lot more exercise, not the gym or even sport, but we walked to school, we played outside, mum walked to the shops every day, we just moved more in very simple ways.

2. The portions were much smaller than what we regard being normal today.  Even the plates we used then were smaller!  Us kids eat far less than our parents.  If you look at the plates your parents and grandparents had in their dinner service I can guarantee that they were much smaller than what you have in your kitchen cupboards.

3. We couldn’t afford junk food. Now this is interesting, I read a lot of reports that we now eat junk food because it’s cheaper, is it really cheaper or are we just lazy in not wanting to use our ‘leisure’ time to think about producing better food, do we just need to be taught how to cook?  It is too easy for the Government to say that junk food is the issue, it goes much deeper than that, we need to re-focus and re-learn food and nutrition. Junk food isn’t just about the calories, it’s about the fat content, the salt, the additives, the list goes on, just because the kebab has salad in it and you think you’re getting some protein from the meat, it is still contributing to your problem!

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the United Stat...

Image via Wikipedia

If you think about it, as society got more affluent, we began to buy more, what we now think are ‘essential items’ amazes me, after all life could continue without SKY, mobile phones, flat screen TVs, computer consoles etc.  Yet I hear families from all sectors from society saying they can’t afford to eat well and that junk food is cheaper?  And as our purchasing power has increased as has our food consumption.  A good night out is the ‘All you can Eat’ chinese buffet or the biggest steak you can fit on a plate. Eating becomes a challenge, you get cheered and rewarded for clearing your plate, eating until you burst!  These of course are fine in moderation but it has become a normal way of eating.

We all eat too much, we load up our plates and bowls, we eat the same as our male partners, and I for one was brought up to eat everything off my plate! The difference was that when I was being told that at the age of eight, my plate was smaller and the portions considerably smaller.

When I watch programmes about weight problems, the first thing you see is the sheer amount of food that people are eating.  If you give your kids as much as yourself or you eat as much as your man then it’s far too much.

If you eat too much of all of the bad stuff then the problem is amplified, a diet with no fruit and veg or consisting of just takeaways and junk food will accelerate the problem massively. I didn’t have a bad diet before the shrinkage, I did eat far too much of it (even the good stuff) and once I had admitted that, the rest came relatively easily.  So look at what you eat and ask yourself some simple questions:

  • Do you snack between meals?  And is it even consciously?  I would often eat something while I was cooking my dinner or pick up sweets when I paid for my petrol, importantly I would never count this towards what I had eaten that day?
  • Do you eat the same as your partner?  Or if like me you’re single, cook for two instead of one?   Women don’t need the same calories as men remember?
  • What do you eat too much off – is it the bad stuff or the good stuff? Even if you think you have a healthy diet, it could just be too much of everything?  If you need to wean yourself off the really bad stuff, reduce gradually.  My way doesn’t mean you can never have a takeaway or visit the All you can Eat Chinese Buffet ever again!
  • Do you always eat everything, even if you’re full?  Often that feeling is self satisfying itself and feels as if you’ve achieved something.
  • Do you drink?   What do you drink?  3 pints of cider or beer can equate to the same number of calories as a main meal. Sugary drinks present the same problem as do large volumes of things like milk, tea and coffee, I bet you don’t include these when you think about what you’ve ‘eaten’ during the day.

My stomach is now smaller, it takes time but it does happen. I can’t actually eat as much now as I used to be able to, it’s the equivalent feeling of having a gastric band and I had proved though it was possible without surgery.   I’d found out what being empty and hungry really felt like, even if you think you do, it’s unlikely you’ve ever been really hungry, if you can, try it, it’s an important step forward towards being able to take control.

If I now stretch my stomach it protests, I can end up spending the evening in the bathroom if I stuff myself, it’s annoying but reassuring, it’s always important to listen to your own body.

So what are the simple things you can do to make life easier for yourself and make a start:

  • Think about what you eat, once again it’s not difficult to reduce everything initially by 25% and not notice at all, try it with your partner and kids too!
  • If your dinner plates and bowls are quite large, buy yourself special smaller versions, I use a bowl a lot, if you fill up a bowl with pasta, it will look like you’re having far more than if you put it onto a plate?
  • Once you’re full, don’t feel guilty about stopping eating, throw it away and move on, note what you’ve not eaten and reduce your portions for the next meal, you’ll then eat it all and not feel guilty about not eating everything.
  • Don’t insist your kids clear their plates, it’s important for them to understand when they have eaten enough.  Note what they leave and then reduce their next meal by this amount.
  • Eat at the table, make time for food, it’s very important for you to watch how your kids eat, if we’re to avoid them having bigger problems than us in the future.  You are responsible for your children’s future.
  • Really think about the junk food, it has to be reduced, think about the amount you eat, what proportion of your diet does it make up over a month?

And me, well I love food now, I got given some fresh homegrown veg this week, I got so excited!  And importantly I have also have a bar of Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate for tonight!


Small & Achievable

22 Aug

If I had told myself in August 2009 that I was going to lose 6 stone, get fit, get to a stage where I loved exercise, swim 5k, climb a mountain, sail a yacht, do Race for Life and write a blog about it all, it would never have happened!

  • How many times have you started a diet and told yourself that you’re going to get into a bikini on this year’s holiday when in fact the last time you wore one was in 1996?
  • Or that you’re going to get into that pair of very small jeans that you’ve been keeping in the back of the wardrobe?
  • How about I want to look like the very toned, tanned, 20 something fit bloke who pounds the treadmill in the gym (that was for the blokes by the way!) but you get the idea?
  • And finally if you’ve been told or found out that you are obese or even morbidly obese, that to lose what is an enormous figure is just impossible.

If the goals are too big and unrealistic then you won’t ever succeed, you can’t visualise the end result, that may be years away, you won’t be able to appreciate what you are actually achieving and you are setting yourself up to fail from the start. It will be too overwhelming to comprehend.

As I’ve mentioned before think seriously about how many times you have started a diet, lost some weight and then put it back on, at the time can you remember what were you trying to achieve? Was it a ‘big’ goal?

The trick here is to set achievable goals, something that looks like it might just be possible.

What did I do?  Well I bought the next size down in my normal jeans, of course they didn’t fit when I started, but within a month they did, the sense of achievement was amazing, and this brought with a real sense of motivation, I was then firmly focused on getting to the next pair, I always bought the next pair as soon as I got into them. I still think though that the two best times were fitting into the size 22 ones and then being able to go into Evans, buy the size 14 pair and declare that as this was now their smallest size I wouldn’t be back!

From someone who had no willpower, I found I could walk past the ‘birthday food pile’ in the office or appreciate why the mini bar of Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate was a better choice than the 2 for 1 offer on the full size bars.

I was celebrating the achievements as they came, I was buying myself something smaller to wear, they did eventually get sold on ebay but hey they did the trick in motivating me and making me feel great about what I’d done.

If you get complimented on how you look, bottle that, when you’re feeling de-motivated, think about that feeling, how good it was and how you want more of it. Think about what being ‘bigger’ means to you, do you want that anymore?

So by small and achievable try some of these:

  • I’ll lose a dress size/an inch in a month – even less if you get overwhelmed by the whole thing
  • I’ll be able to climb the stairs and not be as much out of breath in six weeks
  • I’ll be able to reduce the amount I eat in the evenings or halve my alcohol amounts in a fortnight
  • Be able to swim/run/whatever you’re doing by a small advance each time, not an enormous jump, as you shrink you will be able to increase at a faster pace, remember the Hare & the Tortoise?
  • I’ll feel great because I am doing something – celebrate that, look for the small things that seem easier

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned actual weight lost, I don’t own any scales, I didn’t weigh myself until I’d lost 3 stones, all the initial shrinkage was monitored through how my clothes felt, it’s well documented that yo-yo dieters will weigh themselves very frequently and become quite fixated on it.  If you only see very small losses on a daily or even weekly basis, you lose motivation, you can’t really see what you are achieving, if you lose 2 pounds one week, then only one the next week, you’re already wondering if it’s all worth it, why if you’re doing the same things in respect to exercise and food why didn’t you lose 2 pounds.  However if you weigh after a month, and you’ve lost 6 pounds, that’s fantastic, you haven’t seen the up and down cycle across the month. Then there is biology, our bodies don’t help us here, we will put on weight due to not being 100% well, what we eat, a woman’s cycle will see weight gain at certain times of the month.

So I see the scales as taking away motivation in respect to small goals, you are taken straight back to that enormous ‘eventual goal’. Of course when I did get on the scales it was a very, very pleasant surprise and I can’t tell you how motivational that was. If you can put the scales away and even better get rid of them. If you do feel the need to weigh use the ones in Boots or at the sports centre and limit it to once a fortnight at an absolute minimum.

If you start off not being a slave to the scales then you stand a much better chance of being able to sustain weight loss too, I know that my weight will fluctuate now,  I’ve had periods of doing a lot more exercise or times when there have been holidays or events where I probably eat more than I would normally do, however by not getting on the scales I’m not feeling ‘punished’, my clothes might feel a bit tight, so I adjust exercise and food again (I’m learning all the time here by the way!).

The motivation that I got each time that new pair of jeans fitted was immense. Even when I first went to the ‘Eat as much as You’ want chinese buffet and I didn’t leave feeling as though I was going to burst because I was now in control of what I was eating was motivation too.

So following on from that a question for you to think about:

  • Are you in control of food or is it in control of you?
  • What are the foods that you feel are stopping you losing weight – for example bread, cheese, chocolate etc?
  • Are you prepared to give them up forever or would you like to be able to still have them in your life?

We’ll look at your answers later…as ever be honest with yourself!

Not a Diet

17 Aug

So I’ve been a bit bossy and very honest about what being big is like and what motivated me to want to change things.

Your question will be now – how did you do it?

Well initially through ‘food’  alone, no exercise, however as I got smaller I had more energy and then just moved more which does speed up your metabolism (more on that later or click on Top Ten Tips for some advance reading).

I didn’t go on a Diet

This was the most important thing for me – I love food, love cooking and love eating, this process wasn’t going to work unless I found a way to be able to continue my love affair. So this sparks off a whole discussion about how you can do this?

I’m not a fan of diets, for me they just say ‘hey, you can’t have me, I’m bad for you!’ no matter how you look at it, it’s about what you can’t have (normally the things you like) and you feel deprived.  Even if there is a nice long list of the things you can have there will be more that you can’t, that you will miss.  A diet always starts with something negative.  Common sense told me that  if losing weight could be a more positive experience, you were more likely to succeed?

On a diet food remains in control, I wanted to find a way of me being in control of food, that way I could always have the food I wanted and loved. I didn’t want to deprive myself of anything.

There is also an end date to a ‘diet’, the holiday or your target weight.  Taking away the ‘end element’ means you can focus on making long-term changes and achieving goals that can be sustained.

Sustaining weight loss means changing your life totally, if you always yo-yo then you already have your answer as to whether diets work for you.  If they did you would have kept the weight off, your issue isn’t losing weight, it’s about sustaining the loss therefore you need to change the focus.

So my first affirmation was that I wouldn’t be on a diet; I would purely change how, what I eat and when.  And most importantly how much?

I have some questions for you:

1.  Do you know how much you actually consume in a day – this covers food and drink?   Try writing it down across 24 hours, take photos of the plates of food you serve, this will come in useful later.  Be honest with yourself, remember to include everything, so if you put 2 spoonfuls of sugar in your tea, write it down.  Include the times you eat everything as well.

2. How many diets have you been on over the years?  Make a list of them, how long you were on them, how much you lost, what was positive about them and what things you really hated.  How long did it take for you to put the weight back on, and how much weight did you gain?

We’ll come back to your lists, are you interested yet in making the changes though?

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