10 Nov Is there a way to lose weight while eating the same food I cook for my family?

Story

“Ever since I remember myself, I’ve been on a diet. I was never really obese, but with a height of 1.62m and a weight of 60-65, I’m not exactly fit for a modelling career. I’ve tried everything. From the diets I see on TV, to consultations with dozens of dietitians, from acupuncture to the “magic” slimming coffees. My problem isn’t that I’m not losing weight. I’ve lost up to 14 kilos after my first pregnancy. My problem is that I always gain it all back in less than 6 months. Now that I’m over 40 years old, age has added to my problems. While I’m not eating any more than I used to, I see my body gaining weight on my abdomen, my waist and my hips. Moreover, I don’t have the time to cook special diet foods for my, and I also can’t afford to buy expensive meat cuts, fish etc. Is there a way to lose weight while eating the same food I cook for my husband and two children?”

Response

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

I’ve heard the phrase “I’ve tried everything” a lot, and it’s something that more and more people end up saying nowadays. Unfortunately, most of the times, it’s not an exaggeration. There are so many diets and so many “magic” pills and products that at some point you go “Well, one of the HAS to work”, but in the end the results are either not what you expected, or they’re temporary.

From what you wrote, the problem seems to be the period after a diet. First of all, remember that it’s not your fault, and I’m not saying this to flatter you. I’m saying this because when thousands of people have the exact same problem with many diets, then we should be looking at what’s wrong with the diets themselves and not the people who try them out.

From a health point of view, your weight is considered normal. Put simply, at 65 kilos, your Body Mass Index (BMI) is 24.8. A healthy BMI ranges from 20 to 25. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight, it simply means you don’t necessarily have to lose weight as far as your health is concerned. Therefore, your target weight pretty much depends on what you want your body to look like.

Now, let’s address those concern of yours.

It’s natural that you find it more difficult to lose weight as you grow older. Your metabolism slows down with age, and your body needs less energy every day.

The “special diet foods” you mentioned aren’t necessary. In fact, a good diet shouldn’t force you to cook anything special.

So, let’s move on to your main question. How can you lose weight, while eating the same food as your family?

I don’t know exactly what kinds of foods you eat with your family, so I’m going to give you some general advice. You can keep what you thing is useful.

1) Take control of your portions. Imagine that your whole meal should fit in a dinner plate. About 50% of that plate should be occupied by fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t matter if they’re cooked or raw. Now, 25% should be occupied by starchy foods (pasta, rice, potatoes, bread etc.) and the other 25% should be occupied by protein foods (meat, fish, beans and meat alternatives)

2) Reduce your fat intake. You don’t need expensive cuts to do this. Whenever you buy red meat, simply cut out the visible fat on the sides. When you buy chicken, remove the skin before eating it. This one’s pretty simple, but it’s still worth mentioning, always go for low-fat products, there’s more and more of them popping up in stores. Try using oil instead of butter when cooking, and always prefer using vegetable oil, rapeseed or sunflower oil for cooking and olive oil for dressings. Finally, whenever you’re using any kind of oil, don’t pour it directly from the bottle, try pouring it in a tablespoon and then adding it to food. This will help you control the amount you use better.

3) Kick temptation out of the house. Try limiting the available sweets and high-calorie snacks around the house. If you want to eat something in between meals, go for fruits, low-fat yoghurts or a handful of nuts.

4) Read the labels. Most products have labels on them showing their nutritional contents, including calories. Read them and compare products to find the least fattening one.

5) Avoid what you don’t need. A lot of the calories we eat every day come from things we barely notice. Cutting down on the sugar in your tea or coffee, avoiding that whipped cream the barista always asks you about, all the small things that add up can easily be avoided if you stay conscious about them.

6) Work your metabolism back into shape. In order to boost your metabolism, you can still start some kind of exercise. From what you write, I understand you lead a busy life, so a gym subscription may not be high on your priority list. That’s fine, exercising doesn’t have to be anything intense. Walking is an easy and inexpensive way to get your metabolism and your body up and moving. Try to think if there’s somewhere you can walk to every day, your work, the shops, your children’s school, anything. Even if there isn’t, try to take a walk around your neighbourhood on a daily basis, it can really help.

Once again, thank you for sharing your story, and I hope I’ve been of help to you.
K.C.