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The sensible diet that saves you money

tape measureThe ‘fat’ Woman’s Hour listener in her 40s looking for practical weight loss advice didn’t find any from the panel of three experts (a researcher, a diet book author and a life coach) bussed in to discuss ‘Diets don’t work – or do they?’ (broadcast Radio 4, 14 February). Instead woolly solutions were offered including: eat more meat (this to a woman running a home and family of 5 on average wages) and overcoming deep-seated psychological issues (‘I’m very happy and have a fulfilled life’ was her response). So how do you lose weight? Follow the sensible approach – eat slightly less and exercise slightly more.

By eating the same foods you’ve always eaten but making slight changes, combined with a bit more sweat-inducing exercise, you will lose weight.

There is a drawback though – it will take a couple of years to lose a couple of stone.

If you’re still reading after that revelation just consider that, like most of us, those extra stones have been gained over several decades so spending another few years getting thinner and fitter isn’t really that bad considering it’ll affect the rest of your life.

So what is the sensible way to lose weight once and for all?

Eat one less of everything

espressoTake sugar in your coffee? Then stir in a level teaspoon rather than a heaped one next time.  But don’t be tempted to reduce the amount of sugar by any more during this first week of change as the taste buds will rebel and you’ll revert back to your old ways. So spend a week or two getting used to the level teaspoon of sugar and then reduce it slightly further (try ¾ teaspoon) for another few weeks, and keep on doing that until there’s no sugar left.

pouring wineBut having no sugar in your coffee isn’t going to do it on its own – so what else can you do? Have slightly less of everything you would normally put on your plate: one less potato, one less spoonful of curry, one less spoonful of custard with your apple pie, one less slice of cheese in your lunch-time sandwich and one less glass of wine (which is going to be the hard one particularly if you enjoy wine like me).

But don’t start reducing everything you eat on the same day, be sensible about it. Try introducing one change a week and let your taste buds and belly adjust. And obviously you aren’t going to keep on reducing the amounts so you’re left with nothing on the plate – aim for a final amount of about two-thirds of what you started with.

So not only are you eating less of everything but you’re also saving money – less food equals smaller grocery bills.

Walk one speed faster

walking feetExercise that gets your heart pumping a bit faster really helps shift those extra pounds. I’m not suggesting you rush around all the time and frazzle yourself into a horizontal heap but, when there is the opportunity, walk at a brisk pace – to the bus stop, back to where you parked the car or between the washing machine and the clothes line.

But be sensible about it. Obviously you’re not going to increase your rate if you’re carrying a plate of hot food or if you’re carrying five bags of shopping across a wet and slippery supermarket car park.

So what other increases in exercise could you try?

  • park the car further away from your destination. Try the long stay car park – not only is this usually further out from a town centre but it’s also cheaper
  • use the stairs and not the lift or escalator (obviously you’re not going to do this if you’ve just a hip replacement)
  • pack in the gym membership and get out the vacuum cleaner instead. A bit of vigorous dusting and scrubbing will not only get the heart going (it would if you tackled the inside of my oven) but it’ll leave you with a cleaner house (very psychologically satisfying) and save money too.

Involve one more family member

wedding cake coipleBeing the only one in the family trying to lose weight just won’t work – everyone has to be involved and supportive or you’ll end up hating their full plates and them too if you’re not careful.

So explain what you want to do and get your other half/your children/your grandchildren/your friends (delete as appropriate) involved. And if they won’t do it willingly then play the trump card – as you’re the one who does most of the food shopping, cooking and car ferrying they’ll have to change their ways at the same time or they won’t get fed or get to their after-school class will they?

But be sensible about it. There’s no need to fall out with anybody over this – just explain that you want to change and changing will make you happier and easier to live with. They’ll fall in after that.

Ask one other person’s advice

And that person should be the nurse in your local medical practice.

being weighedYou’ll be on close terms with her already after all those intimate prods she’s given you during the family planning sessions, so asking her about weight loss won’t make her turn a hair. And she’ll be pretty sympathetic, practical and have enough medical knowledge to discuss your plans for long-term weight loss.

Why not print this article and take it along to the appointment? And if she thinks the ideas on sensible dieting are sound, then why not give it a go?

Let me know how you get on.