“But I love sugar!”
If you asked me a month ago why I would have no interest in cutting sugar out of my diet, that would have been my answer.
Then my endocrinologist, who’d just booked in a couple of dozen fresh tests to get to the bottom of my ongoing symptoms of fatigue, pain, brain fog and the like, dropped a zinger that really struck a chord with me.
“I also want to send you for a bone density scan, but your body mass index is too high. You need to lose weight.”
That was the best euphemism for “you’re fat” I’ve heard in a long while.
I argued the toss. Firstly that, as my energy levels were regularly through the floor, my activity levels and exercise had similarly dropped off a cliff. I also argued that if a bone density scan appointment takes around six weeks to come through, she should order it now and I’d go on a diet.
She was pretty blunt – but in a nice way: “Weight-loss is 90% about what you eat and only 10% exercise. And, no, I won’t pre-order the scan. You need to put in the work first.”
And that was that. The gauntlet had been thrown down. The challenge accepted. I knew I needed to lose weight. I’d been piling it on for the past year or so since undergoing a number of major operations and then developing my ME-like symptoms.
It’s now three and a half weeks since I began my reformed approach to eating (not a diet) and I’m back at the consultant next week.
I got on the scales this morning. I’ve lost exactly 14lbs so far – that’s one stone. Amazing!
So how did I do it? Well I found a diet that lets me eat MORE, and means I’m enjoying food like never before. My energy levels are better. My skin is clearer. And my food bills have gone down.
It’s not for me to tell you how to eat. But, trust me, if I can do it, anybody can. I have next to no willpower yet I’ve managed this with ease.
Here are the basic rules I’ve set for myself:
- Don’t eat any refined sugar
- Don’t eat any bread
- Don’t eat anything processed and made in a factory
- Do drink at least two litres of water a day
- Do chew every mouthful of food at least twenty times before you swallow it
So an average day goes something like this:
- Breakfast – a cup of coffee with milk and a bowl of porridge
- Mid morning – a piece of fruit and at least two glasses of water between breakfast and lunch
- Lunch – a salad with lettuce, a sprinkle of seeds, some sliced chicken, and herbs, garlic or chilli to add some kick
- Mid afternoon – a handful of frozen berries to eat really slowly like sweets and at least two glasses of water between lunch and dinner
- Dinner – a piece of lean meat, some salad leaves, two or three roasted or steamed vegetables of different colours
- Supper – a small bowl of no-added-sugar muesli
And that’s it! Really!
My plates are full. They’re packed with colour. I’m cooking or making everything from scratch. No more ready meals.
The sugar highs followed by sugar lows have gone.
I’ve also allowed myself weekly cheats. That could be a couple of drinks on a Friday night or it might be a restaurant meal which is a bit richer food-wise .
I’ve also kept a meticulous food diary which I update after every meal or snack, and I Google the ingredients to see how many calories there are. Men should eat up to 2,500 a day. I’ve been feeling full and managing very happily on 1,000 to 1,500 calories.
My consultant was right. If I’d gone to the gym (and I simply cannot even imagine having the energy to do that without days of payback at the moment) I do not think I’d have lost a stone.
It’s also fascinating to see how much my body has physically benefited. Fewer faint-feelings when I get out of a chair. Less of a need for sleeps during the day. It hasn’t helped my mental tiredness, brain fog and blurry vision, but the pain has gone down and I feel much happier in myself.
I’ve also, very intentionally, not called it a diet. I don’t want it to be a fad. I just want it to be my new normal. And because I allow myself the cheats, I actually feel less inclined to do so.
A month ago I could not imagine a day without a biscuit or a bit of chocolate or a dessert with dinner. Now I don’t even want those things!
Next Thursday is a big day for my test results and, hopefully, I’ll have lost enough to get booked in for that bone density scan. As incentives go, it’s worked!