Event catering

Friday and Saturday were difficult for me this week. I went out straight out after work on Friday night until late, and then was out again all day and night on Saturday.

I wasn’t just eating away from home, but I was tired as well, and that’s not the best combination for making good decisions about what to eat.

I was involved in singing with my choir for a high-profile concert. The schedule meant that I had rehearsals from 5.45pm to 10.00pm on Friday, and then on Saturday I was rehearsing and performing for 13 hours from 9.00am until 10.00pm. 

It’s not impossible to plan ahead for these things, and bring your own syn-free food along to eat. Indeed one of the women in my choir is doing Slimming World as well and was very good and turned up with all her meals pre-prepared.

I did not!

I wasn’t prepared with my own food, and the meal breaks were limited, so I was pretty-much at the mercy of the event catering. And while they had provided different meal options for vegetarians and celiacs, there wasn’t a syn-free option in sight!

So I ended up eating what was provided by the caterers – which varied from limp sandwiches to a chilli con carne and rice. I can pretty much guarantee that they weren’t using Slimming World recipes, but it did help that they only dished out minuscule portions!

Thankfully on the Saturday my wife loaded my bag with loads of healthy snacks, so I was able to keep satisfied. I had boiled eggs, loads of fruit, and a oat bar for my Health Extra B. That stopped me resorting to bags of crisps and sweets from the corner shop to keep the energy levels up.

I suppose the lesson I learned is to think ahead and bring my own food when I’m away from home like this in the future. Ideally it needs to be something that doesn’t need to be cooked or heated, and can maybe be eaten straight out of the storage container, as I can’t rely on there being any kitchen/cooking facilities.

Short-term vs long-term thinking for food addicts

Don’t they look amazing? I want them all!

Many decisions in life have short-term and long-term impacts upon us.

If I decide not to study for my exams tonight, then the short-term impact is that I have more time to relax or party, but the long-term impact is that I might fail my exams!

The same kind of short-term vs. long-term thinking often applies to weight loss as well. If I decide to eat a tray of donuts, then the short-term impact is that I feel great, but the long-term impact is that I gain weight which then impacts my health.

And so, most of the time we try to focus on the long-term goal in order to make better decisions. We prioritise the long-term weight loss over the short-term pleasure of the donuts. 

The nature of addiction

Unfortunately addicts (of whatever form – drugs, alcohol, gambling, or food) often have a distorted balance when it comes to short-term and long-term thinking. They find it harder to focus on the long-term goal, and end up giving in to short-term cravings.

An alcoholic knows that their drinking has an impact on their health, relationships, family, work, and quality of life – but the short-term release or euphoria they get from drinking overrides the long-term impacts.

It’s the same with people that have a food addiction. Ask any overweight or obese person, and they’ll tell you that they know that their overeating is bad for them, but the short-term pleasure they get from consuming the food or drink takes precedence.

I think that only by recognising and acknowledging that overeating is a food addiction can we hope to tackle the problem.

Education is not the answer

Educating people on healthy eating is not the way to tackle a food addiction. Just as educating alcoholics that being sober is good for them doesn’t stop them drinking.

I’ve known that fruit, vegetables, and lean meat are the road to a healthy diet for my full adult life, but it hasn’t stopped me eating my own body weight in chocolate and crisps!

I remember being in hospital a couple of years ago, and my consultant (having noticed my obese frame) had arrange for a dietitian to come and talk to me. But she wasn’t able to tell me anything I didn’t already know.

It wasn’t that I was eating loads of chocolate because I was ignorant of its effects on me. Like a smoker who knows that it’s bad for them, I know what healthy eating looks like, and I still don’t do it!

So what is the answer?

Well there are many things that can spark an addiction – and most of them stem from someone being unhappy about something in their past or current life. Their own private addiction is often their means of escape; their way to forget about their problems, even for just a few minutes.

And so, to me, the way to tackle this addiction cannot be just telling them to refrain from whatever they are addicted to. We need to get to the heart of the problems they are trying to drown out – and hopefully give them coping mechanisms to deal with those problems without resorting to bad short-term decisions.

I should probably point out that I’m not a psychologist, and I have no direct experience of treating or studying addiction. This is just my personal theory, based on my personal experience with food addiction. Your mileage may vary. But do feel free to comment on this post to let me know what you think.   

8 Worst Problems of Weight Loss

Losing weight with Slimming World can feel great, but it also has a down side!

Here are the top 8 problems faced by people who lose weight:

  1. All your clothes are too big for you. As you lose weight and get a bit smaller, all your clothes will start to look a bit baggy on you, and you may even have trouble keeping your trousers up! Being smaller means that you need to invest in a new wardrobe, which can be expensive. Your only saving grace are those clothes that have lurked in the back of your wardrobe for the last 10 years that were previously too small for you. Let’s hope they’re still in fashion, because as a thinner person, you might feel a new compulsion to think less about what clothes will fit around you, and more about what clothes show off your amazing body.
  2. People keep saying you look great. It’s nice when people start complimenting you about how great you look, but after a while it can be get quite tiresome. You’ll end up screaming inside “Does nobody have anything else to talk about, except for how amazing I look?”, and wishing that you didn’t keep having to have the same conversation with everyone.
  3. You have a new lease of life. As you lose weight, you might notice that you want to get out of the house more and do more things. But this new lease of life can a lot of time and be expensive. As you socialise more and get involved in new activities, you’ll notice that you don’t have enough money left to buy all that junk food you used to eat, or indeed have the time to eat it!
  4. You may feel compelled to exercise more. Losing weight can often mean that you feel healthier, and want to exercise more. You might start with a gentle walk, a swim or a cycle, but before you know it you’re contemplating joining a running group. Exercise is great, but it can be addictive, so be careful!
  5. You might attract unwanted attention. As you get thinner, you may find that you become more attractive to other people, and they might start flirting with you or asking you out on dates. If you’re not looking for love then fending off this unwanted attention can become exhausting.
  6. You might turn into a health nut. There is a real danger that you can become obsessed with weight loss and healthy living, and become the boring one who keeps talking about Food Optimising and Body Magic to your family and friends.
  7. People will be jealous of you. As you lose weight, it’s possible you might experience some signs of jealousy from people you know. They may not say it to your face, but some people may be resentful of how well you’re doing, and may start to treat you differently.
  8. You might reach target weight. When Slimming World has been such a big part of your life for the last few months or years, it can be scary as you approach your target weight and contemplate life without losing any more weight. Luckily when you become a target member, you can still come along to class, be supported in maintaining your weight, and – even better – it’s free!

Hope this has been of some help. If you know of any other weight loss problems, feel free to contribute them in the comments below!

Starting again at Slimming World

So here I am, starting Slimming World for the second time in my life.

I did it once before, about two years ago, along with my wife. We went along faithfully every week to class for six months, and during that time I managed to lose just over 4 stone in weight. So I know that Slimming World works. But unfortunately life seemed to get in the way, and we stopped going.

I got seriously ill, and healthy eating didn’t seem to be the biggest priority in life. Indeed, my doctors kept telling me not to worry about my weight, and instead concentrate on my treatment and getting better. So I took that as a license to go crazy and eat all of the wrong foods. And wouldn’t you know it, all of the weight went back on, and a few pounds more!

I was sat at home all day, and it was very easy to stuff my face with chocolate, sweets and crisps. I knew it wasn’t healthy eating, but I could blame the steroids given to me as part of my treatment for giving me the munchies.

So I end up at the point that I now weigh 24 stones, and all my 3XL shirts are straining at the seams. I’ve finished my treatment, and (here’s hoping) I have been cured from my illness. And so it’s time to do something about my weight.

I know all about healthy eating. I’ve been on countless diets over the years. However most diets leave me feeling hungry for most of the time. But Slimming World is different. You can eat as much as you want, as long as you’re eating healthily. And so I’m signing up to start again.

My first goal is to try and get 4 stone off by the end of the year. After that we’ll see how we go.