As I am on a bit of a health kick right now, I have been thinking a lot about diets.
I've tried A LOT of diets over the years, so I thought I would do a little post about some of these. And why, in the main, they did not last.
Now, around 15 years ago, back when I'd just left uni, I did my only properly successful diet. This was calorie counting - I rigidly stuck to 1200 calories or less a day. I weighed everything. I kept a record of every single thing that passed my lips and how many calories. I weighed myself twice a day. I was a bit obsessed. The main reason for this though was because at the time I was unemployed and I needed a project - so I made the project me!
Also, being unemployed, I was lazing in bed until midday so wasn't eating my breakfast until late and then just counting it as lunch. It was pretty easy to drop the weight in the end . . . and it didn't hurt that I had a nice young metabolism at the time which responded well to the drop in calories and increase in me half-heartedly doing my tae bo dvd in my room! I dropped two stone in a mere couple of months on that diet . . . and kept it off for a good couple of years too!
Calorie counting is pretty difficult to maintain though. I have tried it again, with little success. Even using the myfitnesspal app. But I felt like it was judging me - it would send me little messages as I recorded my calorie intake, telling me I'd had quite enough salt for the day, or my fat intake had went over my allowance . . . and even when it was praising me I felt more than a little patronised!
So what other ones have I tried? Let's count them off . . .
Atkins - doesn't it sound like such a good idea? All the meat and cheese you could want, everything full-fat . . . It's a tough mindset to get into though, and the carb withdrawal made me feel like I do the morning after one of those nights where I've adopted an "eating's cheating" mentality while chinning glasses of vino blanco. Dizzy, struggling to actually walk across the room without feeling like I'm going to faceplank the floor . . . and this can only be fixed by sugar and carbs. Which, combined with all that full fat cheese and meat I've scoffed for the previous few days, just adds up to pounds on rather than pounds off, sadly. :-(
Harcombe - This can be effective if you stick to it, but it's a struggle. The main principles of it are 1) avoiding processed food and 2) not mixing animal fat with carbs. So you can have, for example, lentil curry with brown rice, or a baked potato with vegetable chilli, or meat/fish/cheese with veg/salad . . . but you can't have spaghetti Bolognese. Well, not unless you're using fecking courgetti that is. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind courgetti but it's no substitute for actual spaghetti made out of actual spaghetti. And while Iove chilli con carne just topped with cheese and a big dod of natural yogurt, sometimes I really want it to be chilli nachos, which would be a no-no with Harcombe. So, although I did actually lose a wee bit of weight on this one, and fast, this wasn't a sustainable diet for me.
Clean eating - I can't give up dairy. I can't give up chocolate. I can't give up wine. I lasted about a day on this one. Then made up for it by eating all the unclean stuff.
Sugar-free - I have read the "I Quit Sugar" books (I'll do a "P Tries..." post on that soon) and I actually thought this would be an okay one to try. So much you can actually still eat on a sugar-free diet, surprisingly. Dairy, cheese in particular. (Can you tell I really really REALLY love cheese?) Potatoes and pasta, things that you would think would be bad for you! Even crisps. Oh, and wine isn't forbidden either! I lasted four days on this before I got sick of looking at ingredient labels and seeing "sugar" listed everywhere. And I probably just really REALLY wanted a Dominos.
5:2 - now I thought this could be "the one" - for anyone who has been living under Big Brother house conditions for the past several years, this is when you eat 500 calories or less two days out of any week followed by whatever you like (I imagine within reason) the other five days. Only worrying about calories 2 days a week? This seemed perfect. However, a few problems. Firstly, I became utterly obsessed with food on the days I was starving myself. I actually had to look up recipes to take my mind off the hunger and force myself not to lick my computer screen. Secondly, because calorie counting is an absolute arse, I was eating ready meals and processed jelly pots so it was easier to add up the energy I was taking in. And thirdly, I was eating waaayyy too much on my feast days to make up for the fast days. (You can read about my - very brief - experience on 5:2 and the time I ended up crying in the office car park after forgetting my lunch right here if you care to do so!)
Last but not least . . . we have Slimming World. Now, I don't go to classes. The idea of being weighed by a stranger is bloody terrifying to me. But I have got a hold of the general principles and I do my best to stick to them. I like the fact that it makes me think about what I'm putting in my body, that it makes me plan my food in advance, and that I get to make some utterly delicious meals from scratch. (I will share some of these very soon.) I don't like the fact that, according to its principles, avocado isn't something I can eat on the regular, and the fella doesn't like the amount of dirty dishes it seems to create . . . but overall, out of all of the diets, it's the closest to a healthy, balanced lifestyle I have found so far and the easiest to stick to. And I can still eat cheese.
Still not happy about the flipping avocado though!
Do you follow any sort of diet?