As a child I didn’t ever have a problem with my weight. In fact I was positively skinny. So skinny that nasty comments used to be made towards me in school. Funny how it is now fashionable among young girls to be very thin. Eating disorders are rife and a few want nothing more in life than to have a thigh gap. Well I had a thigh gap – big time. The waif look had not hit the north of England in the 1970s. I was not in fashion. Girls with chunky thighs seemed to be popular. So I didn’t ever think about what I ate. I could eat anything. I toyed with the idea of stuffing doughnuts into myself every day to see if I could stop being so skinny.
I was like this until I hit my early twenties. Then I started to get heavier. I discovered a love of food. I loved ethnic take aways and then when we were finally more affluent, fancy restaurants. I didn’t eat much meat so like many vegetarians I think my diet may have become too carb based. My job was stressful so I ate for comfort and for pleasure and I drank way too much wine, self-medicating myself away from stress and depression.
So I was a little too heavy. I was never fat though my mother and sister would often tell me I was. I recall one occasion my mother saying, “I have never known a fat vegetarian apart from you.” In fact, she doesn’t know any vegetarians and never has done. Annoyingly, my husband can eat and drink anything he likes and never puts on a pound. So I kind of ignored my twenty pounds over vanity weight and bought bigger size clothes. I decided I was curvaceous and sexy like Nigella Lawson. I pretended I was ok with it. Interestingly, men don’t seem that keen on super skinny. “I like a woman with a bit of meat on her bones,” being a common sentiment.
When I finally jacked in the proper, professional career I decided to do something about it. I had the time now. So I explored some options and decided to give the Dukan diet a go. It had been invented by Dr Dukan, a French doctor, and he had amazing success with it. Celebrities raved about it. It was known as the Princess Diet due to a certain Kate Middleton supposedly having gone on it before the Royal Wedding. Well she was skinny and classy so that was me decided. This was the diet for me.
I bought the book. There is also a website and you can sign up for coaching and get motivational emails and what not but I decided against this as it was very pricey. I would just manage with the book and it was actually fine. You don’t need anything else. I enjoyed the first reading of the book immensely. Dr Dukan has a very kindly tone and the information is very clear. He states that EVERYBODY loses weight on this diet. Quite a claim.
The main thing in the Dukan Diet is to be mostly eating protein. This is the rule of thumb. As a non-meat eater this was going to make it more tricky for me but I decided I could go with fish and tofu. I also had Quorn products, the meat substitute.
The first stage is Attack. This can last from two to five days depending on your start weight and how long you can stick it. You can only eat protein and absolutely nothing else. There is a list of approved foods in the book. I felt totally weird but I managed it and I lost about three pounds straight off after a few days. I was very chuffed as most of my attempts at dieting in the past had failed.
You then go on to Cruise phase. This involves alternating all-protein days with days that allow protein and some vegetables from an approved list. You alternate like this until you reach your target weight. I took about two months to get to my target weight so I had lost about twenty pounds in total. I was amazed at my success and how fast it was. Dr Dukan only suggests walking for twenty minutes each day. I ignored this and did much more exercise. In fact my weight only really started to plummet when I started heavy circuit training each day.
There is then the consolidation phase where you can add in lots more foods from an approved list.
Finally you are in the final phase where you can supposedly eat anything you like apart from one day a week when you just have protein. This is where the Dukan diet fell down for me. My weight started creeping back up as soon as I started eating normally. One day a week of protein only just wasn’t enough to keep my weight down. I could only maintain if I kept to the more draconian early phases.
Pros: This diet works. I lost the weight and reached my goal weight and it was quite fast. I didn’t need to spend a lot of money or have a lot of fancy equipment. It was simple to follow. I didn’t have to count calories. I had my bloods done at the doctor and they were excellent. I had low cholesterol.
Cons: I felt ill and lifeless throughout a lot of the diet. Eating only protein seemed to make my energy low. After daily exercise all I could do was collapse exhausted onto the sofa and read. My mood was often low as well. The diet made me constipated to the point it was quite uncomfortable. I had to buy fibre tablets. It just didn’t feel normal to make your body feel like this. In the later stages I felt better but then I gained the weight back as soon as I added more food groups. I didn’t feel ethical about eating so much fish as fish stocks are declining. I missed my vegetarian meals.
I went on holiday to Brighton, ate normally and put a lot of the weight back on though not all of it. I came back and started another diet. Cycle.
I would definitely recommend you to try this diet if you are struggling with your weight. It has worked for lots of people and it did work for me in a way. It would suit anyone who is a big carnivore. I just didn’t feel it was right for me, my ethics and my body in the end though it was effective as long as I stayed on the strict stages. The last stage just doesn’t work.
Dukan if you want to!