I’m not saying mums are fat or anything. Because lots of them clearly aren’t (take Kate Moss for example. Or Elle McPherson). But it is true that after the birth of your first baby (and certainly your second or third) it does become a little harder to keep those extra pounds off your bottom or thighs or tummy (that traditional mummy trouble spot).

Plus there’s the obvious fact that not only do you have your own food to finish three times a day, you also have the uneaten remains of your child’s dinner to pick at – and if my son’s unpredictable appetite is anything to by, that’s most of it. And being mums, we can’t bear to let anything go to waste. Plus there’s the fact that, like canapes at parties or biscuits in the office, those calories don’t count anyway – right?

There’s also the grinding boredom of regular childcare – I know we love our little ones desperately, but there are days when having a nice cake to look forward to at 4 o’clock is pretty much all that gets us through the day.

Of course, you could probably follow a new faddy diet for every week of the year and end up no thinner, or possibly fatter, than you were when you started. I am generally against diets on the principle that using too much brain power to add up calories or follow complicated plans seems like an awful waste of mental energy for busy women who don’t have a lot left anyway (I’d rather read the newspaper, or a good novel than The Atkins Diet thanks). Plus diets encourage you to think about food, and all the nice things you’re missing, all the bloomin’ time, and if you want to lose weight that’s probably not a great idea. It’s been said many times before, but ‘eat a bit less, move a bit more’ seem to sum up what the pages of most of those diet books have to say anyway.

However, going by my own limited experience of trying not to get too horrendously fat (a daily struggle I admit – in the last couple of days alone I have eaten most of a Green & Black’s selection pack, a chocolate cake, a huge Danish pastry, a giant packet of crips and a pack of teacakes and put on about three pounds) I give you my admittedly unscientific diet methods:

1) Weigh yourself every day, or every other day

Yeah, I know all those skinny diet experts say not to (though I bet they actually do). And it can get a bit OCD if you’re not too careful. But the sorry truth is you can put a surprising amount of weight on in a week or even a weekend, and be in complete denial about. So standing on the scales regularly does stop you sticking your head in the sand. If you’ve indulged too much, the numbers don’t lie to you sister – which makes it easier to stay on top of sneaky weight gains. Sorry diet expert guys. I’m right, you’re wrong.

2) Eat fruit and salad stuff

Ok this sounds kind of obvious. Fruit and veg fill you up without the calories, plus they’re good for you. But it’s not just about what you eat, it’s when you eat it. Research has shown, for example, that eating an apple before you have a meal can reduce your appetite and stop you eating too much. It probably won’t stop you craving a chocolate bar, but it might prevent you pigging too much out throughout the day. Plus once you get into a pattern of eating something healthy your body invariably starts to crave it – in the same way, it craves chocolate buttons and Pringles, the professional snacker’s version of crack.

3) Eat breakfast – just not too much of it
I’m not sure if it’s a curse or a blessing, but I’ve never been one of life’s big breakfast eaters. Eating too early on makes me feel a bit sick and slightly dirty (annoying on those rare occasions I stay in hotels or nice B&Bs as I never enjoy the big fat fry ups all that much).
In fact, for years I committed the ultimate dietary sin and didn’t have any breakfast at all. I know all those same skinny diet experts bang on about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and how it gives you energy for the day ahead, and I certainly wouldn’t dare to argue with them. That said, I think it’s easy to go too far the other way and eat too much at breakfast. And as we all know once you’ve set a pattern for the day, you tend to continue with it. You don’t need toast and cereal. And you don’t need too much orange juice either (full of sugar and calories). Just stick to normal portions, and ideally something that keeps you going like muesli with fruit, or porridge, and you’ll be OK.

4) Ditch the diet foods
Most low-fat foods are full of chemicals and sugar, or worse fake ‘no calorie’ sugars like aspartame, so have a weird sickly taste to them. The fact they taste horrible means you don’t really enjoy eating them. So you’re probably tempted to snack again later to reward your poor under-stimulated taste buds. I personally would rather have half a slice of a really lovely full-fat cake than a whole slice of something revolting, dry and artificial tasting, in the same way I’d choose half a tub of normal yogurt over horribly watery low-fat versions. But maybe that’s just me. I’m sure there are many women out there who drink an Options hot chocolate drink out of choice and think ‘yum’ rather than ‘yuck’.

5) Get incredibly stressed/fall in love with someone unsuitable/be so busy you don’t actually have time to eat/get a hideous stomach bug

Any or all of the above or surefire ways to drop a few pounds here and there, but I wouldn’t actively recommend any of them. Except maybe the hideous stomach bug.

Advertisements