General Diet Tips

Preparation For Serious Dieting

Step 1: PURGE your kitchen. Get rid of every bit of tempting, high-fat, high-carb food in your house. Be ruthless. If it's not there, it can't tempt you. If your family complain, consider that (a) it is better for their health as well as your own (b) if you are dieting for your health rather than your vanity, then ask them if they want you to be ill, sick, at risk of heart attack etc. But if you don't have your family's support, you might as well stop now.

Obviously, there are things that they'll be allowed to have that you can't, but try to get less tempting and/or less calorific versions of these things: wholegrain bread rather than white bread etc. If you don't want to throw out the forbidden food, give it away to friends, relatives, workmates.

Step 2: find someone (or more than one) to be a cheer squad and shoulder to cry on. Ring them up and whine to them when it gets hard (and it is going to be hard). The first few days are going to be the hardest, don't be surprised if you find yourself bursting into tears; it's your body reacting to the deprivation, you aren't weak or going crazy.

Food Shopping Tips

  • Don't shop when you're hungry, shop just after you've eaten.
  • Make a list beforehand, and stick to it.
  • Online shopping may help, as it's harder to be tempted by Specials.
  • If you can find a place that home-delivers fresh fruit and veg, that can be great. In Melbourne I use Timewize Fresh Fruit And Vegetables, and get a weekly box of mixed fruit and veg which are excellent quality, including organic. It's important to get good quality fruit and veg, because it tastes nicer, and if it tastes nicer, then you're going to enjoy it more, and if you enjoy it more, it will be easier to stick to the diet.

Dealing with temptation

  • Ask yourself "Is it worth it?" Is it worth breaking the diet over? If you say yes, and give in, don't feel guilty. Feeling guilty tempts you to binge, and that's worse. Enjoy the food. Then ask yourself afterwards, "Was it worth it?" You may find it easier to resist next time.
  • Drink water. Drink more water. Drink another allowed drink. Eat low-cal jelly.

Non-Sugar Sweeteners

  • Saccharine: tastes horrible, I really notice the bitter aftertaste.
  • Aspartame (Equal): has a lot of hysteria associated with it, but, yes, it does cause headaches etc for some people, so it may be best to avoid it. However, it is in a lot of diet drinks (diet cordial, diet fizzy drinks), so be aware of that. Can't be used in cooking.
  • Sucralose (Splenda): also has hysteria associated with it, but I find the claims harder to justify. I like and use it myself. The Splenda granular is a mix of sucralose and maltodextrin, so it has a small amount of calories rather than a negligible amount, but I like the taste and find it easier to use. Can be used in cooking.
  • Stevia extract: Available in Health Food stores. Super-sweet (one tablet = one teaspoon) extract from the Stevia plant, so it is not an artificial sweetener. Slightly aniseed aftertaste but only noticeable if you have it straight; adding it to a cuppa you don't notice it. Can't be used in cooking.
  • Stevia leaves or Stevia leaf powder: available from some Health Food stores, gourmet herb or organic food specialists. One is supposed to extract the sweetness by soaking the Stevia in warm water overnight, and then filtering out the powder/leaves. You're left with a brownish syrup. This is probably not worth it, because the aftertaste is much stronger with this syrup than with the Stevia extract, and it doesn't keep as long. Could be useful in dishes where you want to take advantage of the aftertaste as a flavouring.
  • Xylitol: available in Health Food stores; the same sweetness as sugar but 60% of the calories, so one can't use it with as much abandon as Splenda. It may have a laxative effect if too much is eaten. It is a natural sweetener, not artificial. It has a sort of cool-menthol aftertaste. Can be used in cooking.
  • Erythritol: available in Health Food stores. It has 2/3 the sweetness of sugar, so you have to use more, but it has no calories. It is a natural sweetener, not artificial. Unlike Xylitol, it does not have a laxative effect. It has a cool-menthol aftertaste, similar to that of Xylitol. Can be used in cooking.