Tag Archives: comfort eating

How to survive Christmas and keep weight off! Rule No 1.

Peg Alexander worried about XmasAre you dreaming of a Lite Christmas? How not to be the Christmas pudding!

Christmas is the hardest time of year for many when it comes to watching your weight or keeping weight off. And if you are dieting you may as well forget it! Putting it bluntly, many people will put on weight over the festive season (studies suggest an average of around 4lb with some saying up to 10lb!). So is it possible to still have a brilliant Christmas and New Year without becoming the Christmas pudding yourself? Can you indulge without the budge?

Of course it is!!!!
So how do you make sure you don’t become the Christmas pudding but don’t feel like you are missing out on everything? I recommend following my Five Golden Rules of Christmas….

You can hear a lighthearted short radio interview about the Five Golden Rules by clicking here.
You can also check out a more factual interview by clicking here.

So what are the Five Golden Rules of Christmas?

Well over the next few days I’ll be sharing a Golden Rule each day….. in writing and on video. So here goes.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 1:
Christmas dinner is not the problem – it’s all the parties, events, mince pies, chocolates, alcohol and extras that happen during the festive season.

Click here to watch the video.

In the weeks running up to Christmas and between Christmas and New Year it’s party time! But that means nibbles, buffet food, mince pies, cakes, sweets and chocolates – and loads of extra alcohol.

So you have to think about how are you going to deal with this. Staying at home is not an option. Instead work out which of these things you can’t do without, and then make deals with yourself about what – and how much – you’ll have. So for example I’m not bothered about crisps or buffet food but I find it hard to resist chocolate and cake. So I’ll allow myself one or two per party and not eat the stuff I don’t really want just because it’s there. And when I do have cakes and chocs, I really enjoy them!! And fill up with low fat food before you go to parties so you are less tempted to pick.

Are mince pies a problem for you?
If so, accept it and work round it. Many shop-bought mince pies have high levels of sugar and fat. Processed food is more likely to turn into fat on you than home-made. So if you love mince pies, make your own and take them with you to parties. Click here for a quick and scrummy no fat or sugar added recipe. Then you can still have them – but manage your weight. You might make yourself popular with your host as well!

You really need to watch alcohol intake
Alcohol represents empty calories. It has no nutritional value at all but contains plenty of calories. It’s very easy to drink too much over the festive period. So monitor how much you are drinking and think of ways to cut down. Alternate between alcohol and soft drinks – just watch out how much sugar there is in some fruit drinks.

Think about what else you will be eating
Try to fill up at breakfast with a bowl of home-cooked porridge with fruit and nuts (avoiding quick cooking oats). If you go to a lunch or tea-time party and there are loads of snacks but you know you’ll probably end up going out to eat that night, then avoid the snacks. And when you go out to eat, think carefully about what you choose. Click here to some advice about what to choose.

Don’t be scared to ask for your own version of the Christmas menu
If you go to a party with a set menu think carefully about what you choose, by using the eating-out guide. Even if you have to chose from a set Christmas menu don’t be afraid to ask for your meal to be adapted so its lower-fat. Choose a low fat option for your starter and pudding (or at least one of them, such as salad without dressing to start or fruit for pudding).

On average, people consume 4000 calories on Christmas day
On Christmas day we drink lots and eat endless snacks, sweets – plus the big dinner. Just a few small chocolates add up – there are between 40 and 60 calories in many individual chocolates, so keep a count of how many you munch; it’s just too easy to pop them in your mouth without thinking. I keep them out of reach, for example in a cupboard. That way you have to think about everyone single one you have.

Make your Christmas meal that bit kinder too
It will always help if think about the calories of your Christmas dinner and to try and reduce the impact of your Christmas meal. Some handy tips for stuffing the turkey, not you, include…..

  • Turkey is a fat-burning food. Avoid the skin and fill up your plate with turkey breast and veggies.
  • If you are vegetarian think about a low-fat alternative, such as quorn or soya. If you have nut roast, watch how much butter you put in and use wholemeal bread crumbs.
  • Think about mixing roast potatoes with lower GI boiled new potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can roast potatoes using low-fat spray. Always avoid potatoes cooked in goose fat.
  • Don’t put butter on your veggies even if everyone else is having them.
  • Cook some extra stuffing outside of the turkey so it’s not soaked with turkey fat.
  • Avoid sausage stuffing and also cut back on the sausages and pigs in blankets.
  • Make some low-fat gravy for yourself. Or if you have gravy made from the turkey juice, reduce the fat by putting it in the fridge and removing the fat.
  • Make your Christmas pudding lower fat – avoid beef suet and use extra fruit instead.
  • Think about the sauces you have on your pudding. Can you swap your normal custard for low-fat? Try yogurt rather than cream or ice-cream or only a small amount of brandy butter or even brandy custard.

And finally – remember just because there are certain foods and drinks around, it doesn’t mean you have to consume them!

Keep checking to see the other five Golden Rules.

Love mince pies? Then make your own!

mince pie muffins cookedOne of the many lovely things about Christmas is mince pies. They are scrummy. And very plentiful. From now on there may well be mince pies at meetings, at gatherings, when you go for a cup of tea or coffee at a friends. But sadly, many will be very fattening and will turn to fat on you! It really is the case that one mince pie could hurt. Indeed, you may need to walk about 4 miles to walk off just one mince pie! So if you are watching your weight then you need to think carefully about how many you can eat this festive season.

Many mince pies will be shop bought, and most shop bought goods come with more calories which turn more quickly to fat than home-made or unprocessed food. But as we know Christmas is not a time to deny yourself everything. So here is my solution. If you love mince pies, make your own, and take them to places where you know there will be.

This is just one suggestion from my new 5 Golden Rules of Christmas which I’ll be sending out in coming days. In the meantime, here is a lovely, quick, easy and lower fat/sugar free mince pie recipe.

So enjoy!

Low fat and sugar mince pies

For the mincemeat:
500g apples (use cooking apples if you can)
900g mixed dried fruit
3 tsp mixed spice
600ml cider
2 tbsp brandy, whisky or rum.

For the pastry:
1 packets of filo pastry sheets

 

To make the mincemeat:

mincemeat1. Grate the apple and put into a pan with the mixed dried fruit. Add the mixed spice and cider and stir well.

2. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid has almost gone and the mixture is soft and pulpy.

3. Stir in the brandy, whisky or rum and leave to cool.

 

To make into mince pies:
You can either use a small muffin tray to make open pies or you can make parcels.

Using a muffin tray:

mince pie muffin with filo pastry1. Spray with some fry light.

2. Cut the filo pastry into squares. Then use 2 or 3 squares depending on the size of your muffin cases. Place the first square over a cup and mould. Then take the second and put at an angle to the first and again mould. Do the same with any third sheet.

3. Bake at gas mark 4 or 180c for 10 mins.

4. Spoon in the mincemeat.

5. Bake for a further 12 to 15 minutes. Keep checking to see when they are ready. If your muffin tin is large you may need to bake for a further 5 minutes.

 

To make parcels:

mincepie parcel uncooked1. Spray a non stick baking sheet with fry-light

2. Use 2 or 3 squares of file depending on how thick you would like your pastry.

3. Place a couple of spoonfuls of mincemeat in the centre of the square.

4. Bundle up into a nice parcel.

5. Bake at gas mark 3½ or 150c until the tops are brown but the bottoms of the parcels are also cooked. I baked them for around 20 minutes; larger parcels may need more time to bake the bottoms.

Hypno Gastric Band – does it make you lose weight?

 

As readers of my blog will know, although I keep weight off, I still have a small amount of weight I would like to lose; between half and a stone or around 10lb to be precise. This would mean I would be a small size 10 rather than the big size 10/small 12 I have been for the last year or two. I know I can go on a very low calorie diet and lose it and get down to size 8, but I keep putting this amount on again afterwards; it seems this size is just where my body naturally wants to stay. I eat an incredibly healthy diet and am pretty active but I have real trouble keeping to small portions and I eat huge amounts. I also want to be able to eat out a bit more than I do at the moment so when I read that Hypno Gastric Bands have an 80% success rate I decided I had to give it a go! Will a Hypno Gastric Band work?

They aren’t cheap and some hypnotherapists were advertising Hypno Gastric Bands at around £300. But when I received an offer of 3 sessions for £80 it seemed the signal it was time to give it a go.

Hypnosis works for me….
I know I am susceptible to hypnosis. I gave up smoking with hypnosis and I have used it since when I am very stressed about my weight or life. So I was really excited about it and convinced it would work for me. I set off for the first session full of anticipation looking forward to the hypnotist telling me my stomach had been made smaller and I would want to eat a lot less. I thought it would be that easy. Instead, at the first session the hypnotist was quite challenging to me and I wasn’t expecting that! One thing he challenged me about was a need to use scales. As you may know I don’t agree with using scales as the main way to check how you are getting on, rather I prefer judging by my clothes. But he told me I had to use the scales so I could lose my fear of them. He also challenged me about my saying I like eating cakes and chocolate too much and how I find it hard to control myself sometimes around cake. His view – it’s as easy as just deciding so to cut them out. Hmmm.  We finally did he hypnosis. I was disappointed – no mention of the gastric band. Just that I would be happier to eat less and want to eat healthily (which I already do!).

But being a compliant sort of person I did decide to weight myself. The next day I weighed in at 147lb.

Session 2 a week later was a bit easier, helped somewhat by the fact that despite me having been to a house party weekend abroad I had lost 3lb! The session was shorter and we got down to the hypnosis more quickly. Similar stuff to the week before. Again I was left feeling slightly miffed my ‘gastric band’ hadn’t been fitted and it was the same stuff I’ve heard a lot before in hypnosis.

Session 3 and I was on a role. Again I’d lost weight – I’d lost 0.6lb despite having eaten out a couple of time so I thought I was sorted. Clearly my portion sizes had gone down. This time he did ‘fit’ the band. Under hypnosis he took me through the process – from getting on the trolley, through to the operating theatre where he turned the lights off, and then imagining exactly how my stomach was being made smaller. It didn’t seem at all gory though! The hypnosis was quite quick though, I was in and out in 20 minutes. But if it worked I didn’t mind that I felt maybe I needed a bit more time.

So what has happened since?
Well it started off well. I decided I’d weigh myself once a week and the following week I’d lost even more weight and was down to 141.1lb. I was cock-a-hoop to say the least. I was eating more variety of food and the weight was dropping off. And my clothes were feeling looser which I always like.

But then it all went wrong. Another week on and I got on the scales. And …. in the space of a week I had put on over 5lb. Part of the hypnosis was to learn not to panic if I put on weight; to be able to just accept it and then decide to take action the following week. But as we know its not that easy and despite the hypnosis, I was in a bit of a tizz the day I went on the scales.

This is why I don’t like scales. Putting on 5lb of fat in a week with no major change in diet is just not possible, it must be something else (for example I’ve been ill during this time). That’s why I prefer clothes as my guide as they are a more realistic judge.

And how have I got on since?
Well since then I’ve started losing weight again – earlier this week I weighed in at 2.5lb less than 3 days before! But I’m also not giving up on hypnosis as I do think it can work. So to help me top up I’ve downloaded a weight hypnosis book and I’m listening to it once a day if I can. Plus I’m trying some metabolism boosters too and continuing to follow my ‘21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off’ as I know they have helped me stay a size 10. You see, I’ll try anything and am glad for anything that works. This morning the scales have again been kind and I’m back down to 141lb.

Bring it on…..!

Staying motivated when dieting or keeping weight off no 2 – Don’t give up even if you put on weight!

 

In a previous blog I talked about how to stay motivated when you keep weight off or when you are trying to lose weight. Thanks for the comments you sent about this being helpful. In that blog I talked about how you have to concentrate on any positives, even if your weight loss isn’t going to plan. But what do you do if worse than not losing weight, you end up putting it on? Well, that’s what’s happened to me in the last few weeks – I’ve put on weight despite being on a diet – so time for another blog post!

It is hard to stay motivated  …..
There’s no doubt its hard if you are denying yourself and keeping to a diet and then you don’t lose weight or worse put some on. A couple of weeks ago I got on the scales and, horror of horrors, I’d put on about a pound. And I have to be honest and say it’s sent me off-course. Seeing a higher number on the scales bought back the crooked thinking I have about me and weight and I started to catastrophize. I decided that as the diet I was doing ‘obviously wasn’t working’ I may as well give up. Of course, it wasn’t the truth that it wasn’t working as I was losing size, just not weight. But I didn’t see that. I wasn’t concentrating on the positives as I should have been. Old habits returned quickly – I’d been missing porridge for breakfast (not allowed on my diet) so I went straight back to that. Other food came back into my diet pretty quickly. I also went for an impromptu curry one evening, had a couple of cakes at an event one afternoon, and then had puddings every night whilst staying with my in-laws.

We all know it’s just too easy to go back to our normal habits. And what do you think has happened? Well I’ve put on a fair bit of weight in the last couple of weeks; my clothes are telling me this. But I haven’t weighed myself as there is no point in just adding to my misery.

But all is not lost; I’ve not given up…….
So, and I think this is the main point, that sometimes we all fall off the wagon. The point is how do we respond when we do?
I think a lot of the time we think if we have given in once or twice, or even for a couple of weeks, that that is that. It’s all over so we may as well give up on the diet and just go back to old ways. Well ….. WRONG!! Research shows that successful dieters and people who keep weight off don’t do this. When we go off track we accept it, don’t give ourselves a hard time about it. We pick ourselves up quite quickly, dust ourselves down and we just start searching for ways to get back on track.

That’s what I’m doing, and today I am going to try something new to help me eat less! (More of that to come in the future.)

Part of my getting on track involved one last blow out…..
One thing I did decide to do though whilst off the wagon was to allow myself a bit of a blow out and the chance to have some flavours, tastes and foods I don’t normally have. As a calculated decision I decided that having some of these foods on one occasion would help me get my motivation back for the longer term. So last Sunday me and my husband went to the ‘all you can eat international buffet’! Of course I eat loads and came back far too full if the truth be told. But I enjoyed every mouthful and it has helped me prepare for the new method I’ll be trying later today.

I didn’t totally let go though. Here’s some tips I used to still control even at the all you can eat buffet…

1. Quite a lot of the buffet was fried food. Try and avoid food like fried rice, deep fried starters etc. I did have a few prawn crackers and poppadums but kept them to a minimum.

2. Only put a small amount on your plate at a time. You can always go back for more. Use the smallest plate you can find. The puddings section may have smaller ones.

3. Have a break between plates. You may find you don’t want to have as many visits as you first thought you would!

4. Fill up with salads and fruit; most buffets have them. But watch the dressings as they can be really calorific and if you have fruit salad watch for sugar syrup.

5. If you know that puddings will be your weakness plan for this. Don’t have too much first course. Do some extra exercise and think about what else you eat that day. Top up puddings with fruit.

6. Beware of any sauces as they can be very fatty and full of sugar.

7. Drink plenty of water. I also ordered a green tea.

8. Prepare for the sugar rush and carb effect the next day. Have lots of fruit to hand so you can manage it.

9. If you know you are the kind of person who will keep going back for more even if you aren’t hungry, do some deals with yourself about how many times you will do this and stopping before you end up feeling sick!

So if you’ve fallen off the wagon don’t panic. Just get back on, no self re-criminations. And good luck!

Understanding Obesity – Why it’s essential to include those of us who have been obese in finding the solutions

 

Today’s news is dominated by the obesity debate. Researchers reporting in The Lancet are calling for Government action – including taxing junk food. About time – thank God we finally have some research which doesn’t think it’s just down to blaming people who struggle with their weight. This is a real opportunity to hear the voice of those of us who have ourselves been overweight and have found ways to overcome it.

I know all about this given I used to be a size 22 but have maintained at a size 10 for over 3 years now. I know that the biggest factor has been my own self determination and complete desire to not be over weight again. But since day one I have felt that society and our institutions have made it really hard for me:

  • Everywhere you turn there is food, and generally it’s high fat/high sugar comfort food. At work or get togethers you go to meeting and there are cakes and biscuits; rarely fruit, or something like veg sticks with healthy dips. We all need to change so we don’t think it’s a treat to offer people obesity causing food. Like many overweight people I cannot resist – so please, don’t tempt me all the time!
  • It’s an outrage that processed food and junk food, full of rubbish that our body cannot digest and therefore turns to fat quicker, is cheaper than organic food which is good for our bodies, less likely to turn to fat, and is better for our economy and land.
  • Over the years when I was fat the medics just used to tell me to lose weight. I didn’t get any real help from the NHS, just lectures – my doctors surgery even wanted to charge me to do a medical report to say I was OK to go on the Lighterlife diet! I was lucky and could afford to do Lighterlife and so had a year where I was supported to come to terms with my relationship with food through its counselling. One woman in my group had to drop out because she couldn’t afford it. This kind of counselling needs to be available to all and diets like this funded by the NHS. It’s far cheaper than the cost of treating obesity related diseases and far cheaper than weight loss surgery.
  • This is because obesity is not just about the food we eat. We have to get to grips with the psychological reasons why people put on weight. For so many of us, our weight is related to self esteem and how we feel about ourselves. When I was fat I was so overwhelmed by how let down I felt by life and my body if people had a go at me about it then that just made me feel worse – and then even less able to deal with it. We have to stop blaming and stigmatising people and start understanding more.
  • We don’t structure society to help us being able to eat well. How many people gobble a quick lunch whilst working, eating sugary snacks to get us through long working hours. How many families are able to sit down to eat a meal together each day? Life has become so busy we try to just fit in food in between everything else. How many people know how to cook? Basic life skills and yet we don’t have them. I’ve been looking at some cooking courses at local colleges yet they cost quite a bit of money….

I could go on …..

Plus, there is virtually no information dedicated solely to how you keep weight off. I had to find it out for myself. That’s why I’m now sharing what I know.

Joining the debate – where are our voices?
This morning I was lucky to get on the Radio 5 Live ‘Your Call’ phone in.

Someone asked me why overweight people simply just don’t eat so much. I know that sounds easy and straightforward to people who have never struggled with their weight but I can tell you as someone who has it’s not that straight forward. I don’t have a ‘off switch’ from food I like. I wish I did, but I don’t.

You see this is just one really good illustration why I believe people like me have to be at the heart of the debate about how we deal with obesity. I know what it’s like, and I know what took me there. I don’t judge people who are overweight but I know it’s possible to change and to keep weight off.

I hope that as well as listening to The Lancet, policy makers start listening to people like me to see if together we can find the solutions to this very complex problem.

Wandering around …. and feeling great

I believe that feeling good inside is as important to keep weight off as watching what you eat and being active. I know for me that when I feel good inside, and appreciate and admire my body, I treat it better and feel more able to make good choices with food. At its’ most basic level, when I feel good I don’t comfort eat!

Iphone Maps App brill for wanderingOver recent months my maps app on my phone as been really helping. Because I walk everywhere I’ve started just wandering up roads, paths and lanes that look nice; knowing if I get lost my app will help me out, or if worst comes to the worst, I just turn round.

It’s been brilliant. I’ve found so many nice places near where I live; lovely streets, parks and open spaces, guinels and alleyways leading to old farm houses or quaint streets. I’ve met people with lovely dogs and had brief chats I wouldn’t have had. I’ve spotted gorgeous plants and trees and views; simple things bringing real pleasure as I go about my business. And I’ve found shortcuts so I can get around more quickly.

Even in a strange place…..

The other day I was in a strange town headed to the train station. Even then I couldn’t help following a couple of people down this beautiful rose lined path. It took me into this beautiful Georgian courtyard, with gardens full of bright colours and people enjoying the sun. It was a dead end in terms of getting to the station, but a lovely sight and it put a huge smile on my face.

That’s the brill thing about just wandering around on little adventures. If you go wrong, just turLovely hidden back streetsn round and get back on track. And you will probably have learned or seen something that enriches your life along the way.

I had another win in my little detour the other morning. It made me a bit late so I had to really step on it for the rest of my walk. Good thing as walking fast with 3 large bags and a suitcase helped me walk off the 2 glasses of wine I had the night before. A win/win situation in every way. And I still made my train.