THE YO-YO DIETER
LUCY DUNN, 50
Although I’m as active as I ever was, I’ve put on half a stone that I want to shift, so I’ve been weighing myself a lot recently. I have a long-ingrained binge-fast approach to eating – my diet is either really good or really bad, often in the same sitting.
This has been exacerbated by the fact that I moved companies in the summer. Starting a new job is exhausting, and good habits have flown out of the window.
I am getting back on track with my running now, but I realise the food bit needs work. I am good at the beginning of the week, but the minute exhaustion sets in, the junk food comes out.
Friday has become a binge-fest of carbs and gin as I try to counteract my tiredness.
9am: Skyr blueberry yogurt 1pm: beetroot and feta wrap
4pm: raspberry jelly, wasabi peas, three biscuits, Diet Coke, crisps 7.30pm: cherry tomatoes and coriander fried in coconut oil with two slices of white bread
Five-mile run 1pm: Leon meatless meatballs 7.30pm: Pret a Manger tuna baguette 9pm: Kettle chips
Yoga (one hour) 9am: porridge 1pm: Pret a Manger macaroni cheese 2pm: Kit Kat 7.30pm: small glass of red wine, crisps and two large gins 8pm: Waitrose coconut sticky rice stir fry with white crab 10pm: bar of chocolate
Four-mile run 10am: three Dr Karg crackers with peanut butter 11am: pack of ovenbaked crisps 2pm: home-made vegetable soup, parmesan sprinkles
7pm: large gin and tonic, crisps and a cheese straw
9pm: Kit Kat
Andrew has some good habits: he walks every evening and intermittent fasting has lots of great science behind it. But one thing that does strike me is he is consuming a lot of Diet Coke. There is worrying research about the detrimental effect artificial sweeteners might be having on our gut microbiome.
Most types of Diet Coke contain caffeine, too, so if you have a can before bed, you won’t access the deep levels of sleep that you need.
Dark chocolate also contains caffeine, but it is also rich in polyphenols; a compound found in plant foods that is incredible for gut health.
That Andrew feels really sleepy quickly after having a high-carb food like bread makes me wonder what his blood sugar is like. He might have a level of insulin resistance. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to go for an NHS health check.
A lot of his lunches are from places such as Pret and Leon. While I’d love people to have homecooked meals three times a day, it’s not practical. Leon is doing a fantastic job of providing healthy food for people on the go. However, Andrew is also having a packet of crisps most days. They should be an occasional treat.
Andrew goes for a 45-minute walk every evening, which is great – he could also consider fitting in musclestrengthening exercises on two days of the week. This activity further supports health, in particular bones and blood-sugar levels.
I’d recommend swapping some snacks for one large meal to ensure he’s getting enough nutrients. He could make lunch at home to bring in to work with him, such as a chilli with brown rice or a salmon fillet with roasted veg and sweet potato.
His diet is also quite low in healthy fats, which are important for heart health. To improve this, he should try to eat one portion of oily fish per week, or snack on nuts and seeds.