I think a post-baby diet is the simplest of things in principle yet pretty darn tricky in practicality. You get used to eating a (super-duper early) breakfast, having a snack before lunch to just blinking keep you going and quaffing some of your un-eaten (yet carefully cooked) toddler’s dinner when they ceremoniously reject it in favour of a Peppa Pig yoghurt. You go for coffee (and cake), you get invited to little ones’ parties (with cake) and your cupboards are stuffed full of tea (and cake, in case someone calls round unexpectedly). It’s a calorie minefield with a sugar coating on top.
I’ve just finished week three of my Diet Chef diet and it’s actually going fairly well so far. I have lost 10lbs (just over 5kg) in total as it really is pretty easy. Everything comes delivered, which is great for me. I stick my little one’s dinner on and then pop mine in the microwave for three minutes and Bob’s your uncle. I was peeking enviously at his cheesy pasta dish but – much to my delight – I have a version of that in my hamper! We sometimes have a little tussle over the oatcake snacks even (and if HE eats it is really IS nice)! I’m beginning to think I can’t go wrong, until….
We have a week off. We decide to go to Wales to stay with friends. No problem, I think, I just pack all my meals with me in advance. I realise at this point I have actually saved lots of money on Diet Chef – I cannot remember the last time I went to the supermarket – and when I last popped to my local Co-Op I spent almost as little as I did when I was a student (though, this time, it was on fresh veg and some bread for the family rather than questionable looking frozen mince and garlic bread). So far so cheap.
Back in Wales, I martyrously* (*if that’s not a word it is now) leave the room as everyone tucks into sticky toffee pudding, and I avert my eyes when they all eat delicious home-made Italian and Korean dishes. BUT – at lunchtime – disaster strikes as we are forced to dine in a restaurant that only serves burgers. And chips. UH-OH. However, it wasn’t as bad as I thought! I simply channeled my inner Diet Chef, worked out my daily calorie allowance and actually gave myself a bit of a break. I swapped dinner for lunch and shared a small burger with a handy nearby (and reasonably willing) child. I had only a few chips, I drank a diet drink, and then I left. Yes, left. I had my previously intended lunch for dinner instead, and all was well in the world again (you can’t, after all, easily ask someone in a restaurant to heat up your own soup for three minutes in their industrial microwave after only ordering a Diet Coke).
My greatest test yet though was still to come. We went on a large family weekend trip away in a lovely country house that was stocked full of nice food, every drink you could possibly imagine and chocolate/biscuit galore. I am happy to say not one biscuit, piece of chocolate or slice of cake passed through my mouth (or anywhere else, just for the record). I ate my own food, heated up in the mansion’s microwave. (It felt all very Downton Abbey until that point, but, on the plus side, I could whip up MY meal in a matter of minutes in an emergency hunger situation.) I did slip up slightly by having a small amount of pulled pork in a bun (my favourite) during one evening meal. However, in the old days when I would have had two, I had just one. With a small amount of home-made coleslaw on the side, rather than a vat of it in its own right. And no pudding. A mini victory for me: I felt like I still enjoyed the food as much as everyone else but I only had a bit of it. Surprisingly, I was even calmer on curry night (curry is my favourite and I was worried I’d never be able to resist the silver boxes of joy)…
However, armed with my delicious Diet Chef Tikka Masala (by far my favourite of their meals) I triumphed with my own version, no delivery waiting time or awkward delivery-person-tipping-etiquette required.
I have concluded that this diet is all about a shift in thinking. It’s not about being obsessive, but by making it work for YOU. It has taught me portion control. It has taught me to be more aware. And it has taught me to stick to meal times to eat, rather than willy-nilly (willy-nilly, I now know, is the enemy of all post-baby dieters).
Most of all it has taught me how to curb sensible eating into what it means for me in the real world. After my eight weeks is up and I no longer have the purple packaging to rely on I need to make sure it makes a long-term change to my life. And, by gum (literally – chewing gum is a real savour when the biscuit tin is beckoning) I think I may have cracked it.
End of week 3 = 5kg lost so far. That’s about the same weight as 14 portions of chicken tikka masala!