Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: diet (Page 2 of 3)

Just say Yes

A lot of people have messaged me with questions about the Dukan diet. Others have told me the reasons why it didn’t work for them; ranging from feelings of nausea and exhaustion, to vegetarians and vegans having serious issues with the animal protein needed. I understand all of the problems and challenges.

Luckily for me I was able to put a most commonly used improv skill into practice (I don’t know why I have never ever done it with my diet before), and that is, just say yes. I did everything to make the diet work. I stuck to my guns, I broke certain rules if it was going to make me stick to it, and I followed others to the letter. I just said yes, and committed and got on with it. Before I knew it I was two months in 8kgs down and happy and confident that what I was doing was working.

So, instead of feeling disappointed and sad and resigned I felt empowered and successful and energised. I have capitalised on those feelings. They totally motivate me. Everyone’s response to me has been inspiring and delicious too. This is a yes I can success story.

The Funny Side

I was Facebum chatting to a friend overseas about the Dukan diet (USA has its unique challenges when trying to go on a sugar free diet; even the plain yogurt and fat free cottage cheese has sugar in it) and the conversation reminded me of how many funny things happen when you are dieting. It really isn’t all hard work and gloom.

One of the funniest things I did, more than once, was to peel batter off fish. I was out, or away, and had to eat the lesser of all evils. Fried fish it was. And I peeled it. Was it the ideal thing to eat? No. Was it a whole lot better than eating the batter? Oh yes.

I picked fruit out of salad. Actually, in general I don’t love fruit in salad, but especially on the Dukan, where in the first two phases there is no fruit whatsoever (because of the sugar) I picked damn (fashionable) pomegranate pips, orange segments, raisins (sies), apple and even nuts (which are also a no-no on the diet) out of salads.

I hauled sugar free gum, sugar free, fat free yogurt and even oat bran out of my bag. I carried a teaspoon around so I could eat it on the go.

I wore pants that were totally huge for me with belts, before finally agreeing that they were miles too big. I bought new jeans too soon, and lost more weight. I got rid of the big belts before I got rid of the big pants.

I saw the local shops as the drug store. I cannot believe how much terrible stuff is on sale there, just in the aisle that we wait in, to pay. It really is evil. I was on guard.

I became a preacher. I could see people glaze over after paragraph 2 of what I had done, what I was doing, and how. Sometimes I preached to those in need. I have converted more than 3 friends and the results speak for themselves. This makes me, and them, very happy.

Best Snack ever

Gero vanilla flavoured fat free yogurt, 1 tsp cocoa powder, 2 tbs oat bran (daily allowance)

Thing that saved my life

Tuna biltong. Pure protein snack.

Worst snack ever (although I tried twice!)

Vegetarian, fat free, artificially sweetened jelly. Tastes like artificially sweetened nothing.


Some of my friends have always had an excellent relationship with their bodies. They know when they are bloated, or one or two kilos over what is comfortable for them, and then they quietly sort it out by watching what they eat for a week or two. They are in balance. It is a good combination of pride in their bodies and how they look, health, and reality. I have never really been one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I like looking and feeling good, but I don’t like spending time or energy on it. I find it very boring.

Also, while I didn’t have the best advice about my body while I was growing up, with family members projecting their body weight issues onto me, I still managed to be very uncomplicated around my body and food. This meant that I was seldom overweight, until I gave up smoking 11 years ago.

What I remember feeling most often when I was 17kgs heavier was resignation. I was resigned to my middle life as a fat person. I got used to the pictures of a fat me on stage. I felt embarrassed, but resigned. I felt unhappy, but resigned. I felt not myself, but resigned. Until I decided that it was important to change and feel different. Important. I am so excited that I made that decision, and put it into practice. Because it is important. And I feel like I have made such an important decision.

The impact of that is huge. I am allowing myself to feel proud about my body. I am allowing myself to spend time on what I look like. Well, more time than I did before. I talk to everyone about it, honestly and with commitment. I want to have a sustained, healthy, committed relationship with my body. I want it to work for me, and when it does, I have a life that is so much better.

The Truth

Somewhere during the last four months of dieting the proper shift happened. It is the shift that I didn’t think would be possible for me. It’s the one I assumed would never happen. Somewhere, at some time, it dawned on me that my eating habits were to change forever. I was never going to go back to my old, pig out on carbs and sugar, ignore breakfast, snack all day, promise myself I’d eat better the next day, eat the cake instead of refuse it. I was going to actually do this, stick to it, follow the rules (mostly) and get down to my target weight and stay there.

I admit, I was nervous about what would happen when I reached my target weight and the Dukan diet moved into the consolidation phase (the phase I am in now). So nervous that it took me a little longer than it should have to shed that last stubborn kilo. I was so confident of the control I had in the cruise phase.

Here are a few things that helped me stay so firmly on track, and helped me change.

1. I traveled quite a bit while I was on the strict, alternating days of pure protein and protein and veg. Some days it was pretty impossible to eat pure protein (when others were providing my meals for me), but I did my best to sort of stick to what I could. I traveled with my oat bran. I sometimes had yogurt in my bag. I chose very carefully when eating out.

2. I shopped properly. I am so lucky to have the best fish shop in Cape Town on my doorstep. I found out who stocked the fat-free, artificially sweetened yogurt I liked and always have a few in the fridge.

3. I took time preparing meals, and discovering great, creative recipes for fish, eggs and veggies. My new, most favourite thing in the world is cauliflower rice (exactly that. Cauliflower that can be used as rice.)

4. I felt what it was like to be almost completely carb and sugar free. It feels fantastic, and once the initial cravings are gone, there is no pull.

5. I discovered Stoney Zero. Yes, I know it is full of bad stuff, but it is my guilty secret.

I can’t swear that I’ll never sit down and eat a whole slab of Lindt Dark with Chilli again. But if I do it’ll be a once off. I like this new me, and I am going to carry on working hard to keep it.

What is hard about dieting

So far I have written about what was easy for me about going on the Dukan diet. But it would be ridiculous to think that it has all been easy. Of course not. There are huge challenges on the journey and here are a few I encountered.

The first difficulty, for me, is being on a restricted diet in a relationship. It just so happens that Big Friendly is the total opposite of me, physically and eating wise. It is hard enough sharing a meal when I am not dieting, but when I am there are two completely separate buying, cooking and eating routines in our house. Big Friendly is a carnivore. I don’t eat meat or chicken. Big Friendly is way over 6ft tall. I come in at 5ft1. Big Friendly can subsist on a diet of chocolates, cheese curls and salami sticks. I look at chocolate and put on a kilo. Big Friendly adores every single form of carbohydrate, from bread to pasta to potatoes. I am gluten intolerant.

The one thing I found really hard to give up was fruit. The first two phases of the Dukan diet exclude fruit entirely. It is only now, in the consolidation phase that one fruit a day is allowed. I love fruit. And I really missed it.

The pure protein days were tough too. Because I don’t eat meat or chicken I am eating fish, eggs and dairy. Some pure protein days were a boring challenge. But so worth it. I could literally feel the difference the next day. Boredom needs to be countered with creativity. Do different things with the same ingredients.

Ultimately, the hardest thing was just deciding to do it. I don’t know why it took me so long, and I can’t believe it did.

Portion Control Rebel

One of the main reasons I have been able to stick to the Dukan diet, aside from the obvious speedy results I’ve seen, is the fact that there is no portion control. So what you can eat is restricted as opposed to how much. I didn’t realise how important this was for me. I hate feeling hungry or unsatisfied and it makes me irritable. I end up feeling punished, and this is the worst feeling for when I am dieting. It means chucking the towel in, to be honest. So here I have been able to eat protein until I am full. And because protein takes the most effort for the body to metabolise it is absolutely ok to eat as much as you want. I end up experiencing a sense of absolute fullness, and it lasts a long time; often until just before my next meal.

It’s the kind of freedom that I need in a diet. I can’t stand weighing things and counting calories and measuring portions in the palm of my relatively tiny hand. No. I also can’t handle feeling guilty about the amount I eat, as if I was this giant, greedy pig. Not good for sticking to a diet with firm resolve. Here there is no problem with the feeling that I have a healthy, normal appetite. Here there is no need to fill up on junk, or sugar or carbs.

There is a small drawback to eating so much protein. Protein is the most expensive food. Being on this diet is not cheap. But I haven’t let that stop me, and the results speak for themselves.

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