Deciding to lose weight is a life changing decision. It's a bit like marriage, you want to do it, you want to make it work, but are you going to become a different person? Will it change you? It's a journey you embark on in high spirits and with great expectations - with very little idea of where you'll end up.
It's not the big changes, it's the small ones that challenge you most. The things you used to do automatically without thinking - breakfast teapot for two not one; not taking the car keys off with you. When I started my weight loss programme, I knew I'd have to eat different things, but I hadn't really worked out what that meant day to day and just how deep rooted those changes would be.
Going shopping, cooking meals are habits that are built up over the years so you go through the motions with barely a thought, you just do what you always do. I saw a study a few years ago that found a very high proportion of us have fridges and cupboards full of the foods our parents had, foods we grew up with.
One of the scariest things about starting to lose weight for me was the first shop. If you're like me, you don't have a shopping list, it's all in your head, you can shop happily on automatic pilot. Well on my diet, my old list didn't work any more - panic! I was lucky, my weight loss plan gave me a shopping list, so I didn't have to work it out from scratch, but it was still very strange, like having a map to a new world.
Some of the the territory was familiar; chicken, fish, fruit and veg, porridge, yogurt. So far, so good. But there were alien objects on the list, strange foods that made me feel I was shopping for a stranger. Crisp breads? Rice cakes? These were foods eaten by people on diets who don't like food! I remember my Mum eating them in the 60s, along with the grapefruit and the boiled egg diets that made her ill and a bit tetchy.
I was suspicious and unnerved. I am definitely not a faddy diet person, I care about my health, these were not my foods, what were they doing in my trolley?? I consoled myself that they were only a small part of the list, and I wasn't ashamed of being on a diet was I (or was I? Hmm, another story). I decided to regard it like eating food in another country, I didn't have to love them, I just had to try them out, for a while.
The biggest change was the number of absent friends from my shopping trolley, foods that I always had in my house, and would no longer. Losing weight meant I had to say 'farewell' to foods I loved, foods I delighted in discovering and eating - cheese, bread, cakes and biscuits and wine. I loved cheese; I loved the variety, the taste, the texture of cheese. I loved the social aspects of cheese, talking about a new discovery, sampling different tastes at the end of a lovely meal with friends. Low fat cheese would not cut the mustard. These delights were absent entirely from my shopping list and I felt a sense of loss. I was a person who loved cheese who would eat it no longer. I missed cheese!
But I gradually came to love my new shopping trolley. I love the colour of the fruit and veg that now fills it full to the top. Low fat yogurts replace cheese and I discovered Rachels Low Fat Organic Probiotic Rhubarb Yogurt which is better than ice cream (and now as dangerous!). We have lots of different fish too and very rarely eat processed meat. I delight in the diversity and abundance of my weekly shop, and I certainly don't feel deprived, my basket truly does overflow. The local farm shops are doing well out of us too as we treat ourselves to local seasonal veg and fruit. If you're in East Lothian try Knowes Farm Shop and Gosford Bothy Farm Shop. Haddington Farmers Market is a treasure trove of local healthy lovely food from around the area.
What we eat says a lot about who we are. Our faith or beliefs can determine what we eat; we have allergies and sensitivities; foods we we like and don't like, all of these say something about us. What we eat makes us who we are physically and psychologically. How many times have you looked at the shopping basket in front of you in the queue at the supermarket and formed a judgement? I do. I can compose complete life histories, if not dynastic sagas based on the content of the next shopping trolley. Have you ever hidden the white bread under the fruit in the trolley or explained to the check out person that the chocolate biscuits are for your Mum? I have. Oh yes, food is much more than just physical nourishment.
Now, almost a year after reaching my target weight, I am happy with the new me. I like what my trolley says about me. It says this is a woman who loves to eat healthily and well. Changing what I eat has changed my size but also changed how I see myself and I hadn't really expected that, it's a bonus. This idea I eat healthily is also a bit of a brake on indulgence, well I like to think so!
They say you are what you eat, how true that is!
Take care and happy shopping