Thursday 6 June 2013

5:2 diet

5:2 diet5:2 diet

I'm not one for a diet, in fact I've never followed one (although vegetarian for many years) and not because I don't put on weight! When I'm feeling heavy and don't like what I see in the mirror, or if my jeans get tight, I try and eat more sensibly, steer clear of baking, try to portion control and move more. Its not always successful but I've managed to keep my weight pretty steady for a few years now.

In the last six months though my weight jumped a few kilos and settled. I tried my usual methods of abstaining from tempting treats, I tried to eat a bit less and exercise more. But those new kilos seemed here to stay and I did not like them.

I've watched recently as bloggers have given up sugar, wheat, gluten, carbs and meat. But if you've read this blog for any time you know I love all those things! The idea of giving up even one for any length of time wouldn't work for me. I wanted something more sustainable that would fit into my current life and diet. I wanted my cake and to eat it too!

Recently I read about the 5:2 diet plan. A local columnist mentioned he was trying it. He didn't seem like a fad dieter so I was intrigued. What I discovered was this BBC video 'Eat, Fast and Live Longer' which outlines the ideas behind this way of eating. The diet is actually about more than weight loss, its about lowering markers in the body that lead to aging, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Its about taking the idea of lowered calorie intake for longevity and health and making it more doable. Its about intermittent fasting.

Stop reading now if you aren't interested, aren't a fan of diets or hate fads! I completely understand. For those of you who are interested though, here is how it works.

For two days a week (Monday and Thursday for us) you limit your calorie intake to 500 calories (2092kJ) for girls and 600 (2510kJ) for boys. That's it. The other five you go about your business as usual.

Today is the second day of week 3 for me and Mr F. Its our sixth day of 'fasting'. We're feeling quite proud of ourselves for getting this far. We plan to get to six weeks and see how we feel. I think it has helped a lot that both of us are doing it - we can support eachother and eat the same meals. Except for those conversations we sometimes have about how hungry we are and what we would like to eat!! We have managed to work it so far that the kids are eating the same dinners as us too, though they eat theirs with rice, noodles, bread and/or pasta, so it doesn't entail too much fiddling. We are getting used to it.

I have lost a little weight, the scales have shifted (actually we need some new scales because our cheapy Ikea ones are hopeless!). But the diet is also about using up fat stores, particularly unhealthy fat, and I am feeling a little slimmer round the middle which is where I gain weight. I feel healthier, I feel virtuous, and I feel like I have more control of my diet. Two days of watching closely what I eat, abstaining from meat, alcohol and dairy leave me lighter and clearer somehow. I'm loving eating more vegetables and drinking more water and having two alcohol free nights. I also like the idea of being more conscious of my consumption and doing good things for my brain and my health.

And the best thing? That weekend I just went away for, where I ate cheese and chocolate and pasta and bread, where I drank g+ts and white wine and champagne. That's fine. Fasting for two days means on the other 5 you can eat what you want. Hurrah! Although we have found ourselves eating less, considering it more and cutting back on things, I know we can splurge when we want without ruining our diet. Knowing that you have free rein the next day makes the fast day much easier too.

There are a couple of resources I've found that have helped me. I downloaded the Easy Diet Diary onto my iphone. Its an Australian calorie counter that has a barcode reader for many local products. Never one to count calories I have had a real education in where those suckers lurk. There are a quite a few online recipe resources too, like Lavender & Lovage, by an English food writer which has some really yummy looking 5:2 recipes with the calories worked out for you. Instagram has some good ideas tagged with 52diet or fastdiet too.

We are spreading our calories over breakfast and dinner. So far, for me, breakfast is usually about ten am, a poached egg on unbuttered toast with half a microwaved tomato, some salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce, accompanied by a cup of tea.

During the day I have nothing more than a couple more teas and lots of soda water with lime. This is the hardest stretch of the day. I have cups of tea at 1 and 5 which gives me something to look forward to. Dinner is always very welcome when it arrives!

Dinner has been, in order, Minestrone; Vegetable Curry with Cauliflower 'rice'; Tomato, Eggplant, Zucchini and Olive Pasta Sauce with steamed zucchini 'fettucine' and green cabbage 'tagliatelle'; Vegie Stir Fry with cauliflower 'rice'; Green Curry Vegetables (using our favourite Marion sauce) with zucchini 'noodles'.

Please excuse the photos, I'm not a food photographer and these are really just taken as a record. As you can see though they were all delicious, filling and packed with fabulous fresh vegetables. They were also all about 200 calories.

Tonight, I'm not sure yet what we'll have. Ideas are very welcome. There will be vegetables, or maybe this Prawn curry or some fish. I need to buy a 5:2 recipe book soon!


  1. I watched the Eat, Fast and Live Longer documentary on SBS and was intrigued. Then I did some Googling and was aghast that it had been morphed into a fad diet! GAH! That wasn't the message I got from the documentary at all! Or is that just my mortal fear of Alzheimer's or a degenerative illness talking? It sounds like you and I have a similar (I think!) healthy approach to tackling the tighter jeans thing. I do like a sensible approach! I'm doing the 'fast' thing today. I'm doing it not because I could lose a kilo or two but because I see no harm in the possibility that my brain/body might set about 'mending' some stuff...

  2. I'm with you on the no-likie-fad-diet thing, but I thought the tv program was fabulous.
    I have only managed a couple of days, no discipline! Also I was sick for a week....but maybe I should get back on track.

  3. I'm intrigued by this approach to eating too. the science seems to suggest great health benefits. It's hard to do it solo in a family but I'm attempting it. I find it hard to know how many calories are in things so I might have to buy the book! Certainly being disciplined for only two days a week is appealing - I'm pretty disciplined though. I gave up eating sugar 18 months ago and have never felt better - no pms at all. Really!

  4. I'm at the point where I have to do something... remember the old saying middle aged spread? I think I've hit that 'spread' ;) It's what happens I guess. Someone told me that women, from the age of 40, put on 5 kilos every ten years regardless of how much they exercise... I didn't like hearing that ;) Yes, I need to try this, but it must be harder in winter, don't you think? and at my time of life it's a 'forever' kind of commitment and that puts me off too I must admit. Anyway, enough of me belly-aching (!) ... Thanks for the push Susie :) Kx

  5. Sounds very workable and I like the fact that the fasting rubs off on to other days where what is consumed is more considered! I'll be watching with interest to see how it works out for you!


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