I have just found this, that I wrote to a friend a couple of years ago, who was trying to lose weight. He still is, because he didn't take the advice. He has, since, found a very nice woman, but she rather enjoys food and I don't see them slimming together.
The first thing to remember is never to get too hungry. You will feel tired and depressed and eat sweet and stodgy food voraciously to get your blood sugar level up again and you will not be able to stop.
Are you having enough for breakfast? A serving of porridge from a sachet does not sound a lot, although adding fruit helps. You start the day early and it might be a good idea to have some fruit or a couple of plain biscuits something mid-morning. In fact, try to eat every 3-4 hours, it’ll help to stabilise the production of insulin too and be kinder to your system. But don’t eat standing up or without thinking about it. Sit down and enjoy it, even if it’s just a banana.
Don’t skip lunch. You have a long morning and you need a break and food. If your boss doesn’t take a break himself and assumes no one else will, you will have to talk to him. You have been in this job for a few months now and he should know that you are hard-working, and you do not have to prove your toughness by harming your health. I spent a morning in the high school geography dept a few weeks ago (mm, fun) and they had all double lessons. Half way through they took a 5-minute break and had something to eat. Not disruptive as they didn’t leave the classroom. It was very noticeable that the pupils concentrated to the end of the lesson and behaviour was better than when I’d been in before this practice started.
Have something fairly innocuous to eat when you get home and a hot drink so that you will not get an energy dip before dinner is ready – Bovril makes you feel as if you’re having food. Crudités are good (not with a mayo-based dip though) or a small pack of pretzels or Twiglets. Not a few out of a big pack unless you have an iron will; even if you have, put them in a small bowl and don’t refill it.
As you live alone you have no one else to provide food for regularly so there is no excuse for buying foods you shouldn’t eat. It’s an old tale but true, don’t shop when hungry; sometimes you have to get something on your way home, but just buy for the meal and don’t stock up. Never buy pastry or cakes, anything that combines fat and flour in fairly equal quantities is out of bounds and if it has sugar too it’s beyond justifying. Avoid chocolate or cheese although a small amount of one or the other (must be v. good quality, don’t waste naughtiness on rubbish) can be cheering enough to make it worth an occasional treat. If you buy any ready-prepared food read the label, with particular regard to the fat and salt content. This goes for cook-in sauces too. The flavour is not from good ingredients such as you or I would use, but from fat, salt, sugar or other flavour enhancers. Be especially wary of cheap food, cheap is not the same as good value. Do not buy ready-dressed salads. Do you see the amount of mayo on a potato salad or coleslaw? Use spices in cooking rather than buying sauces. Cardamon, coriander seed – the Indian spices in particular really seem to bring out flavour.
Salads – try them without oil in the dressing. Fresh lime or lemon juice and/or balsamic vinegar bring out the flavour. Potato salad can be a bit solemn without mayo but beans and chickpeas are fine and so is rice and couscous. A chilli and fresh herbs makes a lot of difference to flavour and of course you can add all sorts of things (nuts and seeds are nutritious but contain a lot of oil so eat them but not in huge quantities)
Do you put too much on your plate? Or can’t resist a second helping? Take the right amount, cover the rest and leave for another day. If there’s a bit over that won’t keep put it straight in the bin before you have time to regret it. Eating food you don’t need is just as wasteful as binning it.
Two courses are good as you take longer to eat and feel more cherished. If the crudités are served with a nice tomato and chilli salsa, that feels like part of the meal. Homemade soup is satisfying and keeps for several days or can be frozen in bags. A salad as a separate course is good too or some griddled vegetables. Half an avocado is nice with lime juice on it instead of French dressing. But keep the other half for tomorrow as it’s fairly high in oil. If you end with fruit, cut it up, squeeze a lemon or orange on it, maybe add yoghurt or low-fat crème frâiche and it becomes part of the meal in a way that just eating an apple in the hand doesn’t. Start to like plain yoghurt. A little honey or muscovado sugar can be added.
When you need a treat buy something delicious and heartening. Steak or venison, for example, or a partridge is a treat and you get to eat the whole bird. When you make a casserole make enough for several meals and freeze it in portions for when you haven’t shopped or don’t feel like cooking.
When you are dieting you become obsessed with food, so think about its deliciousness rather than being deprived and always eat lovely flavoursome meals that have been carefully prepared or healthy snacks that make you feel good about yourself. And then, having lost the weight, you will have a good eating pattern so you won’t put it on again.
I know you know all this but I suspect you need taking in hand by a bossy woman – who will also bring you a meal once in a while. And if you don’t have time to shop, I do it all the time, for food anyway, so let me know if I can get you anything.