This is a decidedly odd post to write as a follow up to one about chocolate mousse, but I am currently dieting.
A good number of reasons have prompted me to do this. Only one is the upcoming nuptials – amongst the many others are how many of my close colleagues and internet acquaintances have recently been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease like diabetes and heart attacks. Another is that my clothes don’t fit, and if I get any bigger, I’ll have to leave the high street behind. Yet another was a recent internet chat with friends across the planet. I was kvetching about being overweight and heading for early death and there being little I could do about it – only to discover the two svelte hunks with web cameras have both been heavier than me in the past and both lost the weight.
I kid myself that it doesn’t show too badly. There are many people my weight who look a lot worse, I think anyway. My last, pre-diet weigh-in tipped the scales at 16 stone 1lb, which made my BMI a scary 33 or so. I’m aiming for 12 stone at the least, hopefully even down to 11. That’s going to take months.
For a kick start, I have chosen Diet Chef, a method with pros and cons.
Advantages of Diet Chef
You go on the internet, plug in your height, sex and weight, and they recommend a nutrition plan. You plug in your credit card and within a few days, huge cardboard boxes they laughably call “hampers” arrive, containing almost all the food you are supposed to eat.
Breakfast is porridge or granola, in a variety of different flavours.
Lunch is a soup in a pouch.
Dinner is a casserole, stew or curry, also in a pouch.
In addition, you also get a snack – either a low calorie sawdust bar or a pack of two oat cakes, in an assortment of flavours. There is also a daily milkshake.
The cereal, soup, shake, snack and stew between them average out at 1500 calories per day. You’re supposed to add one piece of fruit and veg a day too, as well as half a pint of semi-skimmed milk. Since I’m a man, and since I have so much weight to shed, I’m allowed an additional 300 calories a day to make it up to 1800. The booklet you get makes suggestions like rice, pasta, slices of bread and additional veggies, but I have on occasion resorted to making it up with 6 rich tea biscuits.
It’s basically a slop-based diet. It is however, pretty tasty slop. The soups are mostly excellent (Thai Chicken was horrible, however). The evening casseroles are also on average pretty good, although not as good as the soups.
The main advantage is not having to think too hard. At meal times, you wander into the conservatory and sift through the boxes, make a choice, bung it in the microwave for two minutes, and eat it. If you know you’re going to be out over lunchtime, put a pouch, a shake, a snack and an apple in your bag, and that will more or less keep you going through the day.
It fits very well into my chaotic lifestyle.
You get a lot of choice – when you’re deciding what goes in your “hamper” you can choose from a fair variety of soups and meals. The shakes, snacks and breakfasts are more limited, but there’s nearly a month’s worth of different evening meals.
They suggest you give up caffeine. Out of my cold, dead hands, DietChef!
I’ve made almost all of my own bread this year – I have to cook and eat less bread while I’m doing the diet.
Disadvantages of Diet Chef
It’s not exactly sustainable – once I finish, after months of microwave ready meals, I will just have to go back to the ordinary eating that got me fat in the first place, without having learned a whole new set of eating habits.
It’s not exactly cheap – the cheapest deal is 35 days’ food for over £200, and on top of that you need to buy fruit, veg and milk. Even with my extravagant supermarket and alcohol habits, I don’t think I was spending that much on just my food. If we both go on the diet – P has less to lose than me – it will really hit us in the wallet.
You could easily make up most of the food yourself – the cereals in particular, and also the low-cal veg-based soups either from scratch or from tins or packets. The evening meals would be a bit trickier. That would require thinking, though, and the main benefit of DietChef is not having to do that too much.
Until the diet, milkshakes were not really something that featured in my food habits. Each milkshake is 300 calories – but also a lot of vitamin supplements. I am fast learning that 300 calories is easily found and wondering if there are better ways to do it – order the 1200 calorie version without the milkshakes and have 600 calories a day for free choice. Again, more thought needed.
Slop based food has meant lots of stains on clothing. Must eat more carefully.
In my first 10 days on the diet, I have lost 7lbs, which is far better than I dared hope. Oodles of caveats for that: I know the first week of any diet almost always sees a higher loss than can subsequently be sustained. I didn’t use the same scales (not sure we own scales – I’ve been using Boots’ “healthy weight” machine – in different branches of Boots).
But to get there, I have not been too rigorous about the diet. I’ve had more than one portion of fruit and veg – although tapering off from 5 on the first few days. I had a day off when we went to London to see a show and get a meal. I might be able to get to a microwave at work, but there isn’t much chance of that on a train.
I’ve been jokingly referring to the food as “misery pouches” – in fact it’s not miserable. Most of it is tasty. It’s reasonably filling – although I do want to snack as much as I did before. There are long periods of the day when I am thinking about food.
The first week success has persuaded me to keep going, and I have signed up for two more whole months of this. Wish me luck. If you hear no more on this, assume I’m still fat.