My Low Calorie Diet Solution: A Case Study
For one Scottish wife and mother who was struggling to cook separate meals to suit her family, the answer to her problem couldn't have been simpler. But it took a horrendous bill at the supermarket checkout to propel her towards her solution.
Different Meals for Everyone'My problem', Phyllis explains, 'was that at one point I found myself cooking three separate meals in the evenings to suit everyone.
'My husband John was diagnosed last year with diabetes and to begin with I was a bit freaked out about the importance of the food he needed - and what he mustn't have. I tended to buy foods specially prepared for people with diabetes and, to be honest, mealtimes were getting pretty boring.
'Then my daughter Megan suddenly decided not to eat meat. She didn't give up fish but wanted to cut red and white meat out of her diet. For a while I resorted to buying prepared supermarket vegetarian meals but I knew this was not the best way to go.
'As for myself, I enjoy most foods and I have a lifelong habit of eating small portions several times a day. That seems to keep me fit and at my ideal weight, but because I was turning all my attention to meals for Megan and John I suddenly found it was almost a nuisance to think of meals for myself.'
Finding the Solution'It came to a head one day when all three of us were together in the supermarket for the weekly shop, not something that happens often. Even I was staggered by the bill at the checkout and John was shocked. I decided there and then that there had to be another way.'
In the days that followed Phyllis re-read the information she had on living with diabetes, and how to manage it, and started to feel confident that she could keep John healthy with her own home-cooking. The meals would also fit in for the most part with Megan's meat-free regime, or be easily adapted, and there would be plenty of choices for herself.
'I thought my brain would burst from all the reading I did but it was worth it, says Phyllis. 'I just needed to have some confidence in my own cooking.'
What You Do Need and What You Don'tPhyllis had worked out that a low calorie, low fat diet - which was ideal for John - would be the healthiest solution for the whole family. It is essential for people with diabetes to avoid very sugary and fatty foods which could lead to weight gain and also to an upset in blood sugar control. Having regular meals with high fibre starchy foods such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes, helps to control blood sugar levels.
Phyllis says: 'These are also healthy foods for Megan and for me. Lots of fresh vegetables and fresh fruits give us valuable fibre and vitamins and they also provide the sweetness most people like.
'There is a surprising number of low calorie, low fat recipes, which are delicious and easy. John still enjoys meat or chicken dishes and I often use the same sauces but serve them with quorn or tofu for Megan. We have fish two or three times a week, different varieties of fish baked or grilled, with tasty toppings, and I have a collection of pasta dishes and favourite salads, both hot and cold, which everyone enjoys.
Pudding Anyone?'Even desserts, which I would have hesitated to prepare for John before, are on the menu at weekends. True they are not vital and there are not too many to choose from, but they are special treats. I bake a very low calorie version of Queen of Puddings, with its meringue topping, and serve it with a few strawberries, and it is only 170 calories a serving.'
Meeting the ChallengeLooking back now, Phyllis believes that she needed some time to come to terms with the fact that permanent changes would have to be made in the life of the family after John was diagnosed with diabetes. Megan's decision to make a lifestyle change also took time to get used to.
'With my job to think of as well, it was all a lot to cope with straight away', says Phyllis. 'Maybe it was a good thing that I didn't handle things too well at the beginning.
'It brought everything to a head and now all three of us are coping so well, and are much healthier. A low calorie, low fat diet seems to tick the boxes for all of us. I can recommend it.'