I first remember going on a diet aged 12, the age Dexter will be on Saturday. It was the Cambridge Diet, where mum and I drank beef flavoured soup, whilst pinching our noses so that we didn’t taste it. I can’t have been very big, I certainly wasn’t fat, and in Mum’s defence, maybe I just wanted to be like her and copied what she did.
I wish she was still here so that I could ask her questions about my weight, body image, diet and food as I was growing up . I can almost taste the soup when I think about it and so, from a very early age, I’ve been conscious of my weight and what I look like.
It’s funny the things you remember – and the things you never want to pass on to your own children. And as much as Dexter’s diet certainly isn’t perfect, we eat really well as a family … at least we do now. I need to reverse the damage my bad eating habits have had on Dexter and I and I hope it’s not too late.
The reason I’m telling you this is because I recently spoke to Public Health England (PHE.) They are currently running a campaign called “One You”, which aims to encourage adults, particularly those in middle age (that’s me then!) to take control of their health so that they can enjoy significant benefits now, and in later life. The direct cost to the NHS of obesity and people being overweight is estimated at £6.1bn, and I don’t want to add to that statistic.
As you know, I’ve been following Slimming World for five months now, and I wanted to make sure that I was eating the right things, for me as a woman in that age bracket, and also for my family. So I thought about the things I eat a lot of, and the things I avoid, and asked the campaign nutritionist if I was on the right path. Because I know a lot of my lovely readers are watching their weight too (and even if you’re not, it’s always good to be aware of eating healthily, especially as you get older), I thought I’d write about some of the things they recommend.
Here are the things we discussed and how it affects me and my diet:
I think I may have asked, “Are carbs evil?” because even though on the Slimming World plan you can eat as many carbs as you like, I limit them because I don’t like to feel too bloated. However, PHE made a really valid point about switching to whole grains (ie. the brown versions), because as a nation, particularly in this age bracket, we don’t eat enough fibre – so from now on, when I do have carbs, which tends to be at lunchtime, I’ll do my best to switch to brown rice or pasta. We already eat wholemeal bread at home – strangely, Dexter prefers it to white bread, so that’s one less argument to have with him! Oh, and carbs are our primary source of energy, so it’s important not to skip them altogether!
Mmm sexy subject right? But I hear a lot of people who follow Slimming World complain about constipation (I’m alright though, thanks for asking.) And it also seems to be a common complain amongst us … more mature people. I found the following things can have an impact on your digestion:
- Menstrual cycle
- How much water you drink
- Your mobility
So those factors will have an affect on how regular you are, but if you eat your 5-a-day, drink plenty of water and keep active, you stand a much better chance of not getting bunged up!
I love a smoothie as much as the next person, but I’m well aware that they’re full of sugar and because I would have to syn it (mark it down as a treat on the plan), I steer clear. However, 150ml counts as one of your 5-a-day, so if you like them, fill your boots – BUT … most bottles are 250ml so if you drink one bottle, without even realising, you’re taking in more calories and sugar than you realise. Like most things, all good things in moderation, but be careful with this one, it’s full of sugar. Talking of sugar …
Sugar Vs. Sweeteners
I eat quite a lot of sweeteners in things like yogurts and when I make some of my favourite Slimming World meals, and these days, I don’t eat much ‘real’ sugar, so I wondered whether a) sweeteners were safe to eat and b) whether a sugar-free diet is good for you.
Firstly, Public Health England don’t advocate a sugar-free diet and suggest that it’s nigh impossible to maintain. Having said that, a good blogging friend of mine, Alison, has dramatically reduced her sugar intake, which has had a really positive effect on her hormones, so it’s something to think about. I still eat the occasional bit of sugar (nothing like a cheeky Tunnocks tea-cake in bed at 9pm #thuglife), but my tastebuds have changed dramatically since I’ve been losing weight and I find everything tastes super sweet now, so I can’t eat as much sweet stuff anyway. My palate seems to have been re-educated!
Adults eat twelve times as much sugar as they should (shocking, isn’t it?), and there’s currently no evidence to prove that sweeteners aren’t safe. You have to ask yourself, what’s worse? Sugar, or sweeteners? And I know what camp I’m in.
Another thing which caught my attention is how important fish in your diet is, particularly oily fish, and so my love of salmon continues! Also, how weight bearing exercises are important later in life, and that’s something I really need to do more of.
The over-riding message from PHE is look after yourself. Us woman are notoriously bad at doing that, putting everyone else above ourselves, and the ‘One You’ campaign is designed to draw attention to this. What that in mind, why not take the How Are You quiz in the sidebar – it’s a bit squashed (sorry!) but just click on it, it will work. At the end you will be directed to some free and personalised support offered by One You, should you want it, about how to make healthy changes for life. I just took the quiz and *buffs nails* I scored 10/10. Had I taken this 5 months ago, I reckon I’d have been lucky to have scored 4/10.
Losing weight for me has just been a series of making small changes. Eating sushi for lunch instead of McDonalds. Swapping late night chocolate for an apple and an Alpen bar … and going to Zumba instead of watching TV. These have all amounted into something wonderfully positive. But I started with one small change, and if I can eat healthily … the woman who would think nothing more of eating a family-sized bar of Galaxy every night, then you can too. You just need to make a start.
“I’m supporting One You, Public Health England’s new health campaign which provides free and personalised support, advice and tools to help adults make small changes to improve their health now and in the future. Take the online ‘How Are You’ quiz now!”
Note: If you have any questions regarding the advice around healthy eating and a balanced diet advice please contact Britmums and they will set up a call with Public Health England to discuss.