Something I have never really spoke about are my previous weight loss attempts. I am counting the last 5 years as a single event, as in reality I have trended downwards that whole time, with a couple of blips along the way.
This is not the first time I have lost weight. Twice, I managed to lose 3 stone, but then hit a wall. I think, with a few more years experience I now know why.
At the time I really thought I just couldn’t lose weight. It must have been genetic. I was just destined to be fat, and go through this endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain. I was eating less, more healthy and exercising, if I couldn’t lose weight doing this then I never could.
Then I discovered veganism, and then later, whole foods, plant based diets. I’m now just under 6 stone lost, and still have a bit to go. This is however, the longest, sustained lowest weight I’ve had in my entire adult life.
Previous attempts, I had tried a variety of things including, but not limited to:
- Calorie counting reasonably healthy but non vegan food
- Calorie counting unhealthy food
- Slimming World
- Scottish Slimmers
They failed for a variety of reasons, but I can categorise them into two distinct areas, either I was still hungry, or for some reason, it wasn’t sustainable.
Long Term Sustainability
I found the slimming clubs to be unsustainable in the long term. They encouraged healthy eating in some respects, but certain foods were recommended to avoid, and some unusual foods were recommended. Something in the nature of it didn’t sit right with me. I get that they are businesses, but when it’s motivated by money then the main aim is usually making more of it.
There was also something about the sympathetic tones when you didn’t lose much, or at all, and were questioned on whether you had a bad week, as if weight loss is linear and your body knows the play along with the club.
It was always the same people at them too, very few people ever reach their target weight at all, but the people who go to slimming clubs are paying for the privelege.
My previous calorie accounting attempts, and slimfast left me hungry. Although they all involved eating different foods (junk food, healthy omnivore and slimfast), ultimately they all failed for the same reason. In one way I was on the right track, it is important to keep an eye on the calories to ensure you are eating a deficit. However, I have an issue with food volume. I can eat a high calorie but low volume meal and I don’t feel full. In fact, unless I have eaten an absolutely huge amount, I don’t often really notice feeling full. For me, portion size is important.
And this is where all of these attempts failed. As I was still eating a lot of calorie dense foods but restricting my calories, so I had less on my plate. I would start eating more vegetables but it was never enough. This is where a plant based diet comes in.
Why a whole foods plant based diet works for me
The reason why this diet works for me where my previous weight loss attempts didn’t, is calorie density. The food I now fill my plate with isn’t calorie dense, but it is dense in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and almost more important for my weight loss, it takes up a lot of space in your stomach. I often have kale and spring greens as a base to any meal I am eating (sometimes with some added sriracha). This big serving is likely to be around 40 – 50 calories, but the volume is the key here. Steamed, these vegetables take up a lot of space. This makes me feel full, and that is the key to my weight loss. I have discovered, the only way of me keeping on track is feeling full. The only diet that can do this, at the portion size I like, is a whole foods plant based diet.
I sometimes look at my portion sizes and feel a little bit shameful (hello still morbidly obese brain!). I then however look at what others are eating, compare calories mentally and realise I am eating less than them, but often many more nutrients and definitely more fibre.
Added to the weight loss, eating a plant based diet makes me feel fantastic, my skin is pretty good, and I’m full of energy. But that’s not the point of this post. If you are struggling with calorie counting, and still feeling hungry, I encourage you to up your roughage. Leafy greens are so low in calories, but filling and excellent for you. Try having a large salad before your meal, or for lunch with some added legumes and grains, but have them as the side to the salad.