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I'm so confused and have no idea which diet/healthy eating advice to follow

(27 Posts)
amistillsexy Sun 01-Jan-17 21:33:39

I've been very overweight for so long now, I can't ever imagine being a healthy weight. My BMI is over 30, and I'm getting seriously worried about the long term effects.
I've tried so many diets and 'healthy eating plans' it's not even funny, and so many seem to have conflicting advice I am completely confused.
I've tried 5:2, 8-week blood sugar, Montingnac, weight watchers, Slimming world, MFP calorie tracking, Slim Fast Shakes, juicing, you name it, I've tried it.
My problem is that I read so much conflicting information that I end up going round in circles! I believe that what Michael Mosely says about the way Carbs spike insulin is true, and I am very aware of the need to limit carbs, but I find this very hard to achieve with a family of 3 DSs and a husband to feed, since they all seem to need a huge amount of carbs to fill them up (plus, it's a cheap and easy way to feed a family, which is a big issue for us). In order to easily fit a weight loss plan into family meals, I've looked at Slimming World and the NHS advice, which all seems to centre around 'swapping' what I see as healthy for stuff which I really don't want to eat, such as full fat natural live yoghurt for Mullerlights full of carbs and sweeteners. They are also still talking about eating Low Fat, but keeping Carbs, which goes against the evidence that Mosely and Montingnac use. That is really what is confusing me. It would be easier for me to use Slimming World advice, but I feel it wouldn't work because of the carbs I'd still be eating, yet I find LowCarbing very hard to fit in with my family meals.
I do all the meal planning, shopping and cooking for the 5 of us, and each of my 3 boys have their own likes and dislikes about the food I make, which means that whatever I put on the table will mean at least one child will look sad and push their food around their plate saying 'Do I have to eat it?'. The whole thing is so disheartening and difficult.
I've tried to use MFP but found it very hard, since I cook everything from scratch, and I don't even use recipes-I cook intuitively using anything I find in the cupboards, so every meal I make has to have every item inputted as I cook...I just can't do that and cook at the same time, and when I have done it, I often found that by the time I've cooked it and inputted it, I couldn't eat it as it would take me over my calorie limit!
I don't know what I'm wanting really, maybe someone to take me by the hand and show me a way to marry all these issues together and come up with a method that is easy to stick to. Please don't tell me to 'just eat less and exercise more'. If it were that simple, we'd all do it easily. It's a metabolism thing, I'm sure.
Any good advice, or even anyone else in the same boat out there?


madgingermunchkin Sun 01-Jan-17 22:00:12

Ignore the low carb/fat/sugar shite.

I loosely used MFP, as in, I used it to weight rice/potatoes/pasta but that was about it. Youll be shocked at how small those portions should be.

Ideally, you should be aiming for 2 thirds protein and veg, one third carbs.

If you need to snack you want to go for something that will keep your blood sugar levels relatively stable, a combination of protein, fats and carbs; I.e. Apple and peanut butter, cream cheese and crackers, salmon and a handful of nuts, avocado and toast, eggs (poached/ scrambled) on toast, veg sticks and hummus.

A good breakfast such as porridge, eggs/salmon/avocado on toast should see you through the morning.

I find I struggle most when I restrict too much. It makes me crave to distraction. I aim for "being good" 90% of the time.

Get out and walk, even if it's just 30 minutes a day. If you really want to speed up your metabolism then weights is the best thing (I'm talking little weights, and no, you won't end up "bulky") or interval training is also good. Start with just walking; walk as fast as you can for one minute, then a slow amble for a minute, repeat for 15/20 minutes. Build every week/two as it starts to feel a little easier.

madgingermunchkin Sun 01-Jan-17 22:09:43

Oh, and cut all fizzy drinks/red bull etc. There's calories in them.

I only drink water/tea or the occasional coffee. Unless I'm eating out, and then I have whatever I want.

TwentyChews Sun 01-Jan-17 22:19:17

1) YOu need to be honest about the amount of food you are earing. MFP is the thing that works best for me but don't be too fixated on 100% accuracy iyswim?

You had homemade Spag bol - find one. Press enter.
You had porkchops and mash - find something vaguely the same. Press Enter. You had a bakewell tart - find one..etc.etc
YOu can sit down after the meal and enter it all. Yes - you may have gone over your limit - but what I found from MFP is awareness. Awareness that a packet of crisps in the evening means and extra 200 calories. That having a couple of biscuits with my tea was 150 calories added to my day.

With that you also need to be honest about portion size. Make. Them. Smaller.

Eat everything your DH/DS does - but seriously - smaller portions. And maybe cut down some of the fill-you-up carbs - but mostly because they are less useful calories than the protein/veg.

Try to learn what "full" feels like. IF you finish and are not full/sated then yes, have something more. But so, so often we overeat. We finish the plate after our tummies are full. I had been doing this for 40 odd years - slowly this year I have retrained myself. I am not there 100% but I am sooo much better at stopping eating before I get over-full/stuffed.

Just be honest - don't just enter the lowest calorie option -

LiveLifeWithPassion Sun 01-Jan-17 22:19:29

How about giving up all snacking and reducing portion size of whatever your cooking? Have extra salad or veg so you're not hungry. Keep bags of frozen veg in the freezer to have with your meals.

Do 30 mins of walking or other exercise.

fruitysmoothie Sun 01-Jan-17 22:21:07

I would wholeheartedly recommend slimming world, especially if you enjoy your food smile

SpuriouserAndSpuriouser Sun 01-Jan-17 22:21:19

I would follow the NHS advice generally, but without the low fat swaps, just because they tend to have so many additives and extra sugar in them. So lots of fruit and vegetables, plenty of protein (but not only meat, have fish, beans, nuts etc.) and brown bread, rice and pasta instead of white (this helps to slow the spike in blood sugar). Basically go for things that are as unprocessed as possible, in the right amounts (NHS choices does have a lot of useful info about portion sizes). Keep chocolate/sweets/fizzy drinks etc. as an occasional treat and watch your alcohol intake as it's mostly sugar and empty calories.

amistillsexy Sun 01-Jan-17 22:28:12

Thanks for your help, Madgingermunchkin. I don't have fizzy sugary drinks, ever, and don't have diet drinks either.
I drink real coffee, with milk and 1 sugar, which I know I should give up but it's only about 3 cups a day and the rest of the time I drink water or herbal tea. Occasionally I'll drink black tea with a slice of lemon or a glass of orange juice diluted half and half with water.
I think your advice about 2/3 protein and veg, 1/3 carbs is good advice. About 15 years ago, I did WW and lost about 3 stone, and the reason I gave for my great weight loss was the amount of veg I ate. I just need to find a way to replicate that now.
I think I eat too much of everything, which is the problem really. What weight of carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice, couscous, etc) do you think I should have at dinner if I'm keeping to, say a calorie intake of 1,800 a day?
And what about fats, such as cheese, full fat yoghurt, crème fraiche, etc? Where would you put these in the plan you're outlining? (Or should I say goodbye to those?). One of the reasons I'm attracted to Michael Mosely's advice is that I can still eat cheese and yoghurt.

TreaterAnita Sun 01-Jan-17 22:34:55

This stood out to me OP:

I've tried to use MFP but found it very hard, since I cook everything from scratch, and I don't even use recipes-I cook intuitively using anything I find in the cupboards, so every meal I make has to have every item inputted as I cook...I just can't do that and cook at the same time, and when I have done it, I often found that by the time I've cooked it and inputted it, I couldn't eat it as it would take me over my calorie limit!

I lost nearly 10kg last year using MFP. I cooked from scratch a lot and agree that the weighing and inputting is a bit of a pain, but once you've done that the key is just portion control. So say you make a pie, and you'd normally serve yourself 1/6, but when you MFP it that would take you over your daily calories. So instead you serve yourself 1/8 and stick some extra veg on your plate if that doesn't seem a lot.

I read a really good blog about common sense weight loss today
For most people it's just a matter of basic physics - calories in < calories out. It's pretty much common sense that a diet consisting entirely of haribo isn't going to do you any favours, and it's probably not a bad idea to avoid heavily processed food, but the health benefits of having a normal BMI are likely to outweigh the effects of whatever you eat to get there IMO.

amistillsexy Sun 01-Jan-17 22:41:37

Oh thanks everyone. Lots more advice since I started to reply to Mad.

I know it's portion sizes and exercise. That's the problem. I have tried before to walk regularly, and I have some success, then fall back. This week, I've been dragging everyone out for a walk regularly, which hasn't been easy, as the boys would rather go to a park (which is nice for them, but sedentary for me as I just stand around in the cold pushing the swings!), and DH would rather not go out at all! Today, we walked for 40 minutes, about 3km up a hill and down again and I felt much better for it.

I don't have biscuits or crisps or that sort of food in the house often, and if I do, I'm not tempted by it really, but I can polish off a builder's portion of shepherd's pie and still convince myself I need seconds. I'm a good cook, and enjoy seeing people enjoy their dinners, so I make my food as delicious as I can, which unfortunately makes it calorific as well.

Fruity, so many people are saying Slimming World is good. I did try it a few years ago, and lost some weight on it. I know it helps me to be part of a group, weighed weekly, etc. Can you remind me how the 'red and green days' work, please?

amistillsexy Sun 01-Jan-17 22:43:52

Treater you are absolutely right when you say that a healthy BMI will outweigh the effects of what I ate to get there. Maybe that's where my 'block 'is I think...

madgingermunchkin Sun 01-Jan-17 22:50:36
Gives you good approximations of weights you should be using.
The other good thing about MFP is that if you input your weight etc, then it calculates your daily allowance. If you also use an app like runtastic and link the two, then MFP will adjust your daily allowance to reflect this.

You can eat as much cheese/creme fraiche/yoghurt as you want if you use MFP, but I would say 100g tops.

madgingermunchkin Sun 01-Jan-17 22:54:18

Personally, I don't think "the effects of a healthy bmi outweigh whatever it took to get there" is true.

If you really want to keep the weight off, you need to change your attitude and your mindset. Yes, you may lose the weight by dieting/going for the low fat/sugar options, but you'll just put it all back on again as soon as you return to "normal eating habits".

PurpleDaisies Sun 01-Jan-17 22:58:01

I totally agree with madginger. Crash diets might get you to your target weight faster but it all goes straight back on again.

What clicked for me was eating more good stuff and feeling great for it. I try and base meals around veg and lean protein, weighing all my carbs.

wearingbiggirlpants Sun 01-Jan-17 23:03:26

I really really recommend Slimming World. I got to my target weight 18 months ago with a loss of 2 Stones, I need to go and weigh at a group every week as I can't do it on my own. I've also made some lovely friends. I am now part of the social team and do the Pay and Weigh. It's basically healthy eating unlimited lean meat, pasta/rice, potato etc and veg/fruit with a limited amount of healthy extras (cereal/bread, dairy) and treats (syns) that you use for anything you fancy (alcohol usually!). I cook from scratch and most meals can be cooked SW without anyone noticing 😉 good luck xx

Iizzyb Sun 01-Jan-17 23:04:30

I do slimming world. I still eat some carbs but I rarely eat bread & I don't eat loads of rice/pasta/potatoes.

I don't eat muller lights & that kind of thing.

I do cook a lot of meals from scratch - and my freezer is full of my batch cooking.

I also eat a lot of fruit and veg and salad.

I think you can get too caught up thinking about things too much if I'm honest. Good balanced meals. Over time my appetite has reduced a bit & my tastes have changed.

With SW you can eat a lot of things like mugshots and packet pasta/sauce and muller lights but the focus is on cooking proper meals. It's great I can't recommend it enough flowers

TreaterAnita Sun 01-Jan-17 23:14:29

^Personally, I don't think "the effects of a healthy bmi outweigh whatever it took to get there" is true.

If you really want to keep the weight off, you need to change your attitude and your mindset. Yes, you may lose the weight by dieting/going for the low fat/sugar options, but you'll just put it all back on again as soon as you return to "normal eating habits".^

While I do take the point, in order to lose weight you need to eat less calories than you would to maintain so you need to make reductions somewhere. It's too easy to get hung up on this new orthodoxy of clean eating and forget that you need to create a calorie deficit. From the OP's posts it sounds like she eats a lot of tasty and nutritious food. If she wants to lose weight, she'll either need to reduce the amount of that food or make substitutions to reduce the calories (or both). If that involves eating a low fat yogurt once in a while then it's hardly the end of days.

tabulahrasa Sun 01-Jan-17 23:26:00

They don't do red and green days anymore... It's much more straightforward.

Eat till you're comfortably full from, meat, fish, eggs, zero fat dairy produce, rice, pasta, pulses and fruit and veg and make 1/3 of your portion certain veg or fruits.

Then a measured amount of milk or cheese and bread or cereal (or other high fibre stuff) as your healthy extras and a small amount of other stuff as your syns.

lizzieoak Sun 01-Jan-17 23:35:33

Not in the same boat so I hesitate to comment as I don't want to miss the mark. If this doesn't speak to you, feel free to ignore!

Now I'm over 50 I notice at work quite a difference in what the slim staff eat - and how much - and what the heavier staff eat. Some of the heavier women are on diets but - compared to me and the other smaller people at work - they eat about 3 times the portion sizes. So even when they're eating well, there's a lot of it.

It sounds like it might be tricky at the moment w trying to cater to different family members' preferences. So as one measure, what about a smaller plate/bowl? After my eldest was born I started eating pasta for lunch every day in enormous bowls. I put on 10 lbs. once I started eating salads w seeds, Tomato curries, sushi, etc instead and on small plates, the weight dropped off.

I also have 2 strict rules: don't eat rubbish just because everyone else is (people thoughtfully brought in all kinds of cheap sweets over Christmas for the staff to share) & don't eat after dinner - ever.

If none of that speaks to your experience, feel free to ignore!

BrillianaHarvey Sun 01-Jan-17 23:40:42

I too have three hungry boys (of varying sizes) to feed and what works for me is to pass on the carbs that I'm serving them. So I might, say, cook a prawn curry with rice and not have any rice; or they have spag bol but I only have bol.
I've also found it not impossible to retrain their palates by simply saying 'this is what's for supper' and they either eat it or don't.
Are your children school age? Is it just breakfast and dinner that you eat as a family, or lunch as well?

fruitysmoothie Mon 02-Jan-17 07:30:20

Totally agree with tabulahrasa, no Red or Green now just EE which is so so easy to follow and works a treat. I lost just under 4st using slimmingworld in less than a year and I eat loads!!

wonderwoo Mon 02-Jan-17 09:13:07

twenty that mfp advice is so helpful to me, thank you. Like the op, I cook from scratch a lot, throwing in various quantities of things. No two meals are the same. Whenever I do mfp i only last a week or two because of the effort of putting in endless ingredients and then working out what proportion I actually ate. I tried making a standard recipes so I could measure out the ingredients to be the same every time, but found it so hard to keep track of everything.

But I will try again, and not get so hung up on complete accuracy, and perfection. If you have any other mfp tips, please do add them!

carries Mon 02-Jan-17 09:29:10

I was just to write a similar post OP! I'm 14stone and 5'7" so BMi of nearly 31 (oh my goodness!!!). I've put on a stone and a half in the past year and have never been this heavy in my life. Even when pregnant. I too have 3 kids (girls) and have tried all the diets - 5:2, harcombe, ww, sw, mfp. I cook from scratch. I'm now confused what is healthy! I love my food and I know my portions are too huge (I too can eat builders portions!). Have substituted artificial food for real food e.g. Full fat Greek yogurt instead of low fat muller light, butter instead of light spreads etc.. Also feel have to drag the family out, they hate walking.

I want a tasty, family friendly, non-miserable diet. Watching with interest. Oh one thing I've learnt the past 3 years when first tried low carb, I feel better eating less processed carbs and fat (good fat) fill me up.

amistillsexy Mon 02-Jan-17 09:50:49

madginger and purpledaisies, I know that you are right, in general, that healthy eating is the long term goal, but in truth, I've always been overweight since being a child, apart from a few short years in my early 30s when I lost weight on WW and became thin. I'm now 48, and I've been increasing in weight for the last 10 years to the extent that I now need to lose 6 stone just to get onto the top range of healthy bmi. I also do make really healthy food choices, nothing processed or artificial.

My problem is that I have struggled for years with the conflicting advice. Is fat good, or bad? Is it ok to eat some carbs, or should I eat none at all? Should I use sugar, or a low GI substitute such as honey, or an artificial sweetener? Can I have a sandwich for lunch, and if so, should I have a premium one with posh bead and prawns and spina h, or a nasty low fat one with diet bread and low fat marie rose sauce and tiny prawns? I am conflicted with this stuff very day,and have been for years. It's exhausting, and I find myself just giving up.

lizzie, you are right about the portion sizes. I don't eat rubbish and I don't eat after dinner, but I do eat big portions. However, if I don't eat enough, I'll be hungry, then I do look for cheese or bread to snack on, which makes it worse.

brilliana, I do have the 'this is what's for dinner' rule. It's hard to enjoy a meal though, when they are complaining, and if I feed them first, I'm tied to the kitchen all evening cooking! It's best that we all eat together, but I know I need to cook food that's good for me, not them (ie reduce the carbs and fat), and invest less time in cooking so it's quick and easy to cook and eat a rather than taking ages to prepare.

treater, you are right that im making healyhy food choices, and eating well. I really think, I need some rules that will change the way I cook. This needs to be a lasting change! It's just which set of rules to follow that I'm struggling with!

Thanks to everyone for your input, it's really helping. I'm sorry if I've not mentioned you all by name. I really appreciate all your comments though.

I have to get up and get go to work now but I'll be back later.

BrillianaHarvey Mon 02-Jan-17 11:43:55

I really struggle with weight control but before Christmas - with no small thanks to a lovely group of mumsnetters - shifted over 10 pounds. Like you I cook everything from scratch and actually I think this is a really good start as you know exactly what you're eating.
Two very useful recipe books for me were James Duigan's Clean and Lean Diet and Lily Jones' Detox Kitchen. Both focus on protein and veg with relatively minimal fat and carbs. Detox Kitchen is pretty anti-gluten and dairy but that needn't bother you unless you want it to.
If you are basically eating healthily, then really you just need to eat less. Dull but true.
Things that have helped me include:
Eating a proper but calorie-controlled breakfast. 40g porridge with semi-skimmed milk or 1 poached egg with half an avocado if I can be bothered to chop it up. A couple of slices of smoked salmon on a piece of rye bread.
Lunch (which I have on my own) - basically a big bowl of leaves with extra vegetables, dressed with lemon juice and a drizzle of oil, plus some lean protein or smoked salmon.
Dinner - a recipe from one of the above books, adapted for family consumption with extra carbs on the side. Batch-cooked single portions of eg macaroni cheese and tuna pasta bake in the freezer for when the chosen recipe is going to be too demanding for the smallest one. A few calorie-controlled ready meals in the freezer for real emergencies (I like the ones from Cook.)
Wine only if I'm out.
As little sugar as possible.
Snacks limited to a handful of nuts or berries mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Does this sound like something that could work with your lifestyle?

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