So, you’d think that being unable to eat any grains or pulses whatsoever, I’d have no trouble at all controlling my weight, right? So wrong! I absolutely love food, and it didn’t take long before the restrictions on what could eat became less of a problem, and more of a challenge. I started to think about the new dishes I could create, and dropped many of the healthy eating habits I’d already established (hey, I don’t eat grains, so I can leave the skin on my chicken and eat full-fat butter, a la Atkins, but without the restrictions on sugar!). Whenever I felt hard done-by about my health situation, I’d console myself with chocolate or ice-cream. I also have a real problem with portion sizes: my eyes are defintely bigger than my stomach, except that I’ve never let a full stomach get in the way of a good meal. I used to joke that the best way to deal with feeling full was to “push on through it”!
Let’s be clear, I was never obese. I was about one and a half stone (9 kg) heavier that I was before my second pregnancy, when I was a healthy and happy weight. I knew I was heavier than I should be, but for many months I simply didn’t have the energy to think about weight loss, on top of working out how to feel well again.
Then about a year ago, I had a visit from a dear friend from Australia. She has four kids and a very busy life, but she told me that she had made a decision that (despite her own passion for food and cooking) she needed to take control of her weight before she got any older (she is 44 like me). She had been to Weight Watchers, and now weighed 9 kg. less. She looked and felt great, and I felt really inspired. After she left I bought the latest Weight Watchers materials, and set out adapting the new points programme to my diet.
The biggest problem I faced was the sudden, sometimes inexplicable flucutations in my weight due to water retention. It seems that my body retains water whenever my immune system is over-activated, so eating bread or cake can increase my weight by 3 or 4 pounds in 24 hours. But as I weighed myself regularly while excluding grains and pulses, I noticed that other events also triggered fluid retention: at the beginning of a cold or flu, during harvest season (when they are cutting grains in the fields around our village), even when we had the school rabbit for a week (pet allergy). But there were and are times when I just take on water for no reason I can discern: I literally stop going to the toilet for a day, my body expands, and my weight increases. Perhaps I’ve been exposed to an allergen I haven’t identified yet. Whatever the cause, I had to identify this in order to explain why I could diligently stick to my “points” allowance for the week, only to find that I had gained a pound! I realised that this fluid gain was masking my real body weight, and if I was patient, my actual weight loss would be revealed when my body’s reaction had passed. After I had accepted this I was able to be more relaxed about the number on the scales, and look at the long-term trend instead.
I lost 7 pounds (about 3 kg), and then maintained my new weight for a few months. I’m now ready to lose the rest, and I started in earnest a week ago. I want to lose another 5 pounds or so, and I have the incentive a trip back home to Melbourne in February to keep me going. The last time my family saw me (3 years ago), I was overweight, ill, and completely in the dark about what was wrong with me. Although they have tracked my health progress on the phone and by email, this will be the first time they’ve seen me looking fit and well – so I’d like to add slim to that picture, if I can. So wish me luck, as I live the tricky double of a calorie-restricted GrainFreeWorld!