In the second feature of our series on weight loss and healthier diets, we’re taking a look at clean eating and how a diet free from processed foods can make the pounds melt away.
While many clean eating regimes are vegan (featured last week), some are simply based on natural, wholesome foods free from artificial chemicals and preservatives. The nutritional programme that fitness instructor Anne Little is bringing to the Huddersfield area allows the consumption of meat and fish, but cuts back on other food groups, such as dairy and starchy carbohydrates. After seven years in the exercise business, Anne realised that she wasn’t addressing nutrition – despite it’s importance to health. And with the rising tide of obesity in the UK she searched for a healthy eating programme that would address both weight issues and health.
As Anne, a former lecturer in exercise and health at the University of Huddersfield, explains: “It’s not about calorie counting, or portion control. You can eat as much as you want - it’s what you eat that matters.”
Sounds too good to be true? Anne, who has been clean eating with the Kick Start Fat Loss programme for nine months, says that while removing dairy products, anything processed, sugar, alcohol and caffeine from her diet might have been difficult at first, the health and wellbeing benefits are so pronounced that she doesn’t want to ‘cheat’. She explains: “The aim is to stick to the clean eating principles 80% of the time; but to be honest when you don’t, you feel so awful you go back to it straight away. It’s hard not to stick to the principles because it makes you feel so much better.
“One of the things you notice immediately is that you get leaner around the middle, which is one of the areas most people are concerned about.”
The programme is a national franchise operation and Anne has just launched the area’s first KSFL club in Holmfirth. However, she’s been piloting the regime among fitness instructors working for Talk Active, the company which runs Zumba, Pilates and high intensity training classes all over Huddersfield.
One of the instructors, Jayne Dawson, 54, from Lascelles Hall, has lost a total of 3 stones (20kgs) in just 12 weeks by following clean eating principles. And she says it’s the first time she’s found an eating plan she could stick to. “I’d tried all sorts of diets and slimming clubs but the problem was that I’d lose weight and then always end up regaining it,” she said.
“I’ve struggled with my weight most of my adult life. I was at my biggest in 2009 when I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. I weighed 18 stones 3lbs.”
She is now nearer to 12 stones and had dropped from a size 16/18 to a size 12/14.
As a coeliac sufferer, Jayne has to avoid gluten in its many forms, but as the KSFL programme restricts wheat and gluten anyway it has been a perfect fit.
Jayne admits that she often made “bad food choices” and had a sedentary lifestyle (she works as an office-based coroner’s officer). Even after being referred onto the NHS exercise scheme PALS and Kirklees Active Leisure, finally becoming a fitness instructor herself, her weight continued to fluctuate.
But within the first week of KSFL she noticed her weight dropping. She explains: “The first week is quite hard because you’re giving up dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and starchy carbohydrates. You are going back to natural, basic foods – meat, fish, and an abundance of vegetables and fruit. My husband did it with me and we felt a bit low and moody, quite lethargic for about five days. After that if we ate anything with sugar it was terribly sweet. Sugar is like a drug and it’s staggering how much there is in everyday processed foods and low fat foods. We both lost a lot of weight in just one week.”
Now Jayne says she has retrained her eating habits in a way that slimming clubs never did. She explained: “At slimming clubs they say you can have a little of what you want; the things that are bad for you and have made you put on weight. But that’s not teaching you to eat the better food groups and provide you with what your body needs.
“My sugar cravings have reduced so that now when I get something sugary in my hand I either don’t enjoy it or don’t want it. With other programmes it was impossible to keep the weight off because I hadn’t learned to eat differently.”
Jayne now cooks healthy meals for herself and husband Mark, from recipes supplied by KSFL and using fresh ingredients, and has discovered that certain foods are not the enemy of slimmers that she once thought. She added: “It has been enlightening. I have learned a lot more about fats and healthy fats, using things like coconut oil. And that when fat is taken out of a product, it’s often replaced with sugar.”
Anne, who describes KSFL as a “revolution against processed food”, is hoping to roll out the programme to a series of classes in the area. As she says, “exercise alone is not enough to lose weight.” For more details visit her website talkactive.co.uk
* The basis of KSFL is removing foods that have been ‘altered’ from their natural state. That means all processed foods – even bread and pasta - are not allowed. It excludes cakes, pastries, confectionary, pies, take-aways and ready meals. Starchy foods such as potatoes and white rice are also avoided, and replaced with slow-burning wholefoods such as quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes. In common with many slimming regimes, eating unlimited quantities of most fresh fruits and vegetables is encouraged. The programme is also available for vegetarians.