Can we lose weight without dieting?

Most think that the best way to lose weight is to go on a formal calorie counting diet. That was not my experience however it is always the case that what you put in your mouth does matter.

I have never dieted in my life – never counted calories, never bought diet foods and never joined weight loss programs. Let me tell you my story.

This is me taken in 2016 – Portugal.

Lets start at about 2012.

My weight gain was a gradual process, a couple of extra grams here or there over a number of years. I didn’t eat junk food and I thought that our diet was pretty healthy overall. Trouble is, I was eating too much of the wrong types of food.

I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in around 2005. Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease that damages the small intestine and its capacity to absorb nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fats and can lead to severe abdominal discomfort amongst other effects.

As a consequence of this intestinal damage, in 2005 I weighed around 46kg (I’m 5ft 1 1/2 inches) due to my body being starved of nutrients.

By 2012, after being on a gluten-free(GF) diet for 7 years my weight had increased to close to 60kg. I was overweight and feeling pretty bloated.

I was very strict with my diet and only ate GF foods like lots of rice, gluten-free pastas and breads. My protein, fruit and vegetable intake was OK and within recommended guidelines. We had risotto and pasta every week and I snacked on GF biscuits. Over time my weight gradually increased.

Something had to change.

Around 2012, our family went to Fiji for 10 days holiday. To read on the plane and at the resort, I picked up a couple of books that I heard about on the radio – Michael Pollan’s, “In Defence of Food” and Loren Cordain’s, “The Paleo Diet”. These books were a revelation and changed my life. I read both over the 10 days and the information gained allowed me to take control of my weight.

As a family, our diet changed. Our kids still ate mostly the same types of food however my diet (and my husbands) changed. Over the next 6 months I lost 8kg and my husband lost 15kg.

We didn’t diet, we just changed what we ate for a period of time.

How did I do this? My tips are:

  • I cleaned out my pantry and fridge. All biscuits and pasta went in the bin. All snack foods went in the bin.
  • No risotto or white rice. No more GF pasta or any pasta.
  • No GF bread or any bread for my husband.
  • No potato or sweet potato.
  • Cut down on our dairy intake – we still had milk, yoghurt and cheese but just not as much cheese.
  • Our vegetable, fruit, fish and meat intake remained the same. All other vegetables were fine except for potato and sweet potato. No restrictions on the amount we ate.
  • We still had eggs, beans and pulses (lentils etc).
  • Breakfasts were usually some fruit and a boiled egg/s, snacks included nuts or fruit, lunch usually salads or soup and fruit and dinner a protein source and lots of vegetables. Chocolate was ok – mostly dark around 70% with less sugar.

Our exercise remained the same as did alcohol intake. The only thing that changed was the types of food we ate. We found that we weren’t hungry and felt pretty healthy – less bloated. I had no idea how many calories I ate every day and still don’t.

Over the past few years since our weight-loss, we have gradually reintroduced some foods – GF pastas made from alternative grains (lentils, buckwheat etc), brown or wild rice, GF seeded breads, sweet potato and from time to time GF crackers with dips or cheese. My husband (is not coeliac) can eat normal breads and muesli and has them every day.

My husband and I – photo taken in 2018 – Dordogne France

My weight has remained stable as has my husband’s since our weight loss in 2012. No increase or decrease. Pretty happy about that!

My take home message is that it’s equally important what you don’t eat as what you do eat.

BBQ fish and zucchini and snow pea sprouts. Healthy and yummy too.


*** Note – This program worked for us however it may not work the same way for everyone.

*** It’s important to check with your doctor first if you suffer from diabetes or are on a medically supervised or prescribed diet before introducing these changes to your diet.

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