The Common Sense Diet

There have been so many diets over the years: the Atkins Diet, the Alkaline Diet, the Keto Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Macrobiotic Diet, to name just a few. All of these seem to have a couple of things in common:

1. They are faddy.
2. They are designed to sell books and diet products in order to make money for their originators.

Fat person I offer you the Common Sense Diet. It's so simple that I can't write a book about it because I can say it all in a few paragraphs. And I can't sell you any special diet foods because there aren't any. Sadly, I'm not going to make any money out of this.

The great advantage of the Common Sense Diet is that it is simple, easy and painless. It's based on the common sense principal that to lose weight you must eat less than the energy you burn. If you don't do that you will never lose weight. The downside is that it's not radical enough to significantly help people like the lady pictured. She is the Belgian Minister of Health (yes, really!) and she is grossly overweight. My diet is for people who want to control their weight, probably because they have found their belt has gone out a notch or two and they need to trim off a few pounds or kilogrammes.

The diet comes in two simple steps.

Step 1. Weigh Yourself Every Day

That's right, weigh every day. Choose a convenient time of day and always weigh naked. Before breakfast might be a good time, when you have digested the food from the day before and not yet eaten any more. Just the fact that you always know exactly what you weigh may be enough to cause an gentle reduction in weight. You'll be encouraged each day when your weight goes down. And you'll be motivated to try harder if you see your weight tick up a bit.

You could just carry those numbers in your head, so you'll readily know if you're moving in the right direction, and you'll know how much you have dropped since you began the diet. Being a bit of a geek, I chose to put my weight on a spreadsheet every day, and then I used that you draw a little chart. If you're adept with Excel, you'll find it very easy. Having drawn the chart, I also added in a 5 day moving average line in order to smooth out the random day-to-day fluctuations.

Graph of weight reduction

Step 2. Adjust Your Daily Eating Habit

 First write down or at least work out in your head your daily eating habits. Then include anything outside the daily routine like Sunday lunch or a weekly trip at the pub. Now the key job here is to identify what there is in that list that could be left out and you really wouldn't miss it much. Those will be the things that will be eliminated during the Common Sense Diet.

For instance I used to have a teaspoon of sugar in each cup of tea. Five of them every day. I decided I couldn't miss out sugar altogether but I could halve it, so I gradually weaned myself down over a few weeks. First a level teaspoon, then three-quarters and then a half.  Very soon a whole teaspoonful tasted horribly sweet and I was saving 10g of sugar every day.

My normal lunch was a sandwich (2 rounds of bread, butter and a filling) followed by something sweet or chocolatey. Upon thinking about it I realised that I usually felt quite stuffed after lunch so I reduced my sandwich to one round of bread. Half the calories and I actually felt better rather than worse for giving up the other half. (And I didn't have to give up the best bit!)

I've never been a great fan of potatoes but to please my wife we generally include potatoes in our dinner about three times a week. It was very easy to reduce the number of potatoes I had, while still having some to create a balanced meal.

Those are the things that worked for me. Your choices will be totally different but as long as you pick the right things to remove or reduce, you will gradually lose weight and it won't seem as though you have sacrificed anything.

As I said at the start, if you are fat then it's too late for the Common Sense Diet to work for you. But if you've been finding you need to let out your belt a notch or two, now is the time to try it out.

When I started on the Common Sense Diet I weighed 79kg. Not fat, not obese, but I was nudging slightly into "overweight" for my height. I have now worked my way slowly down to 73kg; I feel better for it. I'm fitter, healthier, happier and nothing I have done has felt like a sacrifice. 6kg may not seem like much, but body fat is about the same density as butter. When you're next in the supermarket, see what 6kg of butter looks like. You might be surprised.


28 May 2020