The Healthening – 13/01/12

Evening all! Fancy another glimpse into the hallowed British Health Foundation weight loss tome?

“The best thing about the front of the booklet is the BHF logo. You immediately know it’s going to be sensible.”

– 39 year old overweight woman

Yes, sensible, like Vinnie Jones teaching CPR to the tune of Staying Alive. Thanks, overweight woman. Also, you need a better superhero name.


Welcome to the second week of my personal battle against weight. I doubt that these updates will be weekly in future, but I thought I should say how things are going so far.

I admit to a certain level of laziness- I’m a casual man, a laid back guy. That’s probably the main cause of my overweight status and lack of fitness. That and the noms. That in mind, it will be of no surprise that I haven’t set up any kind of training regimen yet.

As I said, I intend to sort out diet first and that won’t be a sudden shift. I intend to stay true to myself, which means maintaining a certain sedentary style in my daily life. I want other lazy gits to take something away from my efforts. See how the words ‘take away’ slip in unbidden.

Point is, I haven’t joined any gyms yet. I will be speaking to a pal of mine about some vague fitness training, but so far walking has been my new friend. Once I’ve lost some weight, I can look at bigger and better things.

What I have been doing is keeping a food diary. I’ve tried to keep this in line with the BHF grimoire but that has been a little difficult. Honestly, I’ve mostly just tried to watch my calorie limit, with the help of my nifty app, myfitnesspal.

My heart sank when I saw how little emphasis is placed on meat. I love meat. I could eat meat and meat alone. I knew this day would come, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Fruit and veg are the new kids on the block, or in this case, the plate. Bleh, ack, and poop.

BHF and my nurse man recommended eating between 1,500 and 1,800 calories per day. I’ve gone with 1,410 based on the calculations of my app. I know I risk having an angry Vinnie Jones banging on the door, but it worked out a decent rate of loss and at the moment I don’t get a great deal of exercise, what with working at home on a chair. BHF breaks it down into 8 or more portions of fruityveg, 8 portions of bread-like, 2 portions of dairy, 3 portions of meaty protein, 3 portions of spread fat butter things and up to 200 kcal of high fat or high sugar foods and alcohol.

Beesus, that’s a lot to remember. Well, I drink rarely, in hedonistic bursts, so that won’t be an issue for a while. As for the others, the BHF portion is not the amount it sounds like. Usually it means a small amount that can be measured by eye or hand (such as one handful of small fruits like grapes). So the high numbers of portions actually mean several small portions, which allows you to mix things up and measure them without weighing everything you eat and writing down the calories.

What did I do? Weighed everything I ate and counted the calories. I’m strange like that. What I might do is look more closely at BHF’s nice and easy method once I get bored of all the maths.

So, here’s a typical day in my food diary:



Crownfield’s Choco Rice. Uhoh! This isn’t healthy food. I’m so crap! Thing is, I hate wasting food, so I’m eating a few things like this to get rid of them before buying more. Milk on top.

BHF portion-o-meter: 2 portions of bread-like (6 tablespoons of cereal!), 1 portion of milk.

Calorie-o-meter: 158



Mission Deli garlic wrap of yumminess! Normally two of these, just had one. Just one! No wonder I feel like gnawing the skin off my arm. 20 grams of medium cheddar. 4 slices of ham from generic ASDA reformed ham (ham that used to be really bad but has seen the error of its ways). Oh, and 16 pringles- again, for the purpose of getting rid of the damn things.

BHF portion-o-meter: 1 portion of bread-like (wraps weren’t on there, used pitta as guide), 1 portion of dairy, 1 portion of meat, 75 kcals of crisp (half of my allotted high fat stuff).

Calorie-o-meter: 490



Slightly more diet-like here. Salmon. I love salmon, but it comes in such frustratingly small amounts! Mouth sized! About as stomach-filling as a sudden gust of wind. Things look up with the addition of Philadelphia (not quite cheese) and some potato wedges (not quite chips). Things look down again with the addition of baby carrots and peas. I can eat them if I mulch them into the other foodstuffs.

BHF portion-o-meter: 3 portions of bread-like (No wedges or chips on there, which admittedly makes sense, so I equated it to ‘six egg-sized potatoes’), 1 portion of meat (fish, white, cooked), 4 portions of veg (12 heaped tablespoons, though you try measuring carrots by the tablespoonful), 1 portion of dairy (low fat spread gubbins, I actually had half a portion- 30g instead of 80).

Calorie-o-meter: 409



Drinks, which were three cups of tea and some diluted blackcurrant nonsense. Couldn’t be bothered to work out how much milk I used and whether it constituted a BHF portion. Still can’t. No coke! ASDA apple and grape baggy. Quite nice actually. There, I said it. No bananas yet. Don’t trust ‘em.

BHF portion-o-meter: 1 portion of fruit, 48 kcals of sugar (three teaspoons).

Calorie-o-meter: 200


Therefore, in total, I done eaten this:

BHF: 5 out of 8 portions of fruityveg (fail, but that was expected!)

6 of my 8 portion limit of bread-like (win)

3 of my 2 portions of dairy (one was a half portion but I didn’t count milk in tea- fail)

2 of my 3 portions of meaty protein (win, but at what cost?)

0 of my 3 portions of spread fat butter things (because I had no toast today – win)

123 of my 200 kcal limit of high fat crap (win!)

Calories: 1,257 out of 1, 410 (winny winnerson)


Well, most days went more or less like this. Frankly, the BHF method seems easier, but it means a fair bit of meal planning and learning to use by habit. Clearly I failed on some counts where I could have perhaps had buttery toast for breakfast instead of milky cereal and been fine. I will be putting it aside for now but trying to take on board the proportions it proposes in its portions. She sells sea shells… anyway, calorie-wise I did fine. So far I haven’t breached my limit once.

On the other hand, I’ve been hungry all the damn time, never quite satisfied by meals. I hate it, but really can’t complain. I’ve had it too good for too long.

Also, I will soon be replacing these things with their low fat equivalents- particularly cheese and wraps. Weight Watchers do small wraps with a suspiciously low 98 cals! Once this is achieved, I can have a little more to eat. Can I also manage 5 fruit and veg a day? Unlikely!


The weigh-in.

Despite it being me, I have good news!

Weight at week two: 15 stone, 8 pounds (218 pounds)

A loss of 6 pounds!

Not counting flesh gnawed from arm.


by Bret

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