Monthly Archives: January 2009

Last chance to get the Dieting Basics ebook for $4

How’s your January been? Most of my resolutions were related to my work and study, but I did manage to go to two “Legs, Bums and Tums” classes at my gym (and I have the aching muscles to prove it!)

Today and tomorrow are your last chance to get my Dieting Basics ebook for just $4. The special offer has been popular all January – so don’t miss out on it. (I’ll be putting the price back up to $12 on Sunday 1st Feb.) The ebook has eighty-eight pages of great advice, along with some gorgeous (and funny) photos, and lots of tips, tricks and information. If you buy it and you don’t find it helpful, no problem – just drop me an email ( and I’ll refund your money straight away.

You can download a free sample of the ebook here, or you can read more about the contents here.

But if you’re in a hurry, just grab it straight away:

Buy Now


You shouldn’t be hungry all the time

I was getting changed at the gym, and overheard one woman saying to another:

“I’m constantly hungry. But it’s working.”

(She was a slim woman, certainly not someone who needed to lose weight.)
I wanted to say to all The Office Diet’s readers that it is NOT okay for a diet to leave you feeling hungry all the time. Healthy eating never means starving yourself: you need enough food to keep your body healthy and fit. It’s especially important to eat enough when you’re exercising.

How Much Is Too Little?

Nutritionists recommend not dropping below 1,000 calories per day as an absolute minimum (and many say 1,100). If you’re tall or male, your minimum is likely to be significantly higher than this. It’s always a good idea to have a chat with your doctor before going on a diet, to find out what’s right for you. If you don’t want to visit your doctor, you can work out your recommended daily calorie intake yourself.

Those are figures if you’re not exercising: if you’re doing a daily gym session or an hour’s walk, you’ll ned to add at least 200 – 300 calories to fuel your body through the activity.

Is Hunger Bad Or Good?

Many of us (myself included) are prone to eating when we’re not hungry. If you’ve been overweight for a while, you might find that you need to get used to the sensation of hunger again. It’s normal and good to feel hungry before a meal, and I personally enjoy my food a lot more when I’ve got an appetite for it!

Many dieticians advise thinking of your hunger on a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 is “absolutely stuffed” and 10 is “starving”. You should eat when your hunger level is about 7, and stop when you’re at about a 3.

Hunger becomes a bad thing when you’re feeling hungry hours before a scheduled meal or snack. If you eat breakfast at seven thirty and you’re feeling hungry at nine, you’re not eating enough. Don’t suffer through hours of hunger pangs – have a healthy snack instead.

Persistent hunger tends to make you irritable, unable to focus and tired: it’s not good for you, or for your work. If you’re feeling hungry on your calorie allowance, try adding an extra 150 – 200 calories per day. You’ll lose weight a little more slowly, but you’ll be far more likely to stick to it long-term.

Don’t forget that the Dieting Basics ebook is just $4 until the end of January – grab your copy now, the price will be going back up to $12 on February 1st!


Good Habits: How to eat properly

Teaching you how to eat might seem like an odd topic for The Office Diet – but don’t worry, you’ve not stumbled onto a parenting blog, and there won’t be any child-sized cutlery here.

Most people have some bad habits when it comes to eating – especially when they’re busy. Paying attention to the process of putting food into your mouth can really help when it comes to forming habits that will see you losing weight effortlessly and easily.

Bad eating habits

Here are some bad eating habits that you’ll want to break:

  • Eating whilst standing up. This is a dieting no-no – you won’t register that you’ve eaten, and it won’t satisfy you. (Plus, most standing-up eating is bits and pieces out of the fridge, or “little tastes” while cooking…)
  • Eating too fast. Digestion begins in the mouth, when you chew your food. Bolting it down is likely to give you stomach-ache. Plus, since it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to register a feeling of fullness, you’re more likely to overeat if you go too quickly.
  • Eating while watching television. This is a bad habit to get into (I should know, it’s one of mine…) because you’ll start associating “watching TV” with “having a snack” – even when you’ve just eaten a meal.
  • Eating at your desk. Take a proper lunch-break and get away from work – for the sake of your mind as well as your body.

Good eating habits

The best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a new one. Don’t try to transform your eating into a model of perfection (especially if you currently eat on the run, snack constantly and never sit down at a table). Try to work one of these tips in every few days:

  • Eat with a knife and fork. Shovelling food in with a fork or spoon on its own means you’re likely to eat too fast.
  • Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls, until you’ve chewed and swallowed. Apparently, this is one of Paul McKenna’s tips – and it is definitely a good way to prevent yourself from shovelling food non-stop into your mouth.
  • Sit at a table to eat. Even if you’re on your own, get into the habit of making meal time an occasion. Turn off the television and sit down at a table to really enjoy and savour your food.
  • Concentrate on eating. While you’re eating, don’t get distracted with that latest page-turner of a novel, or a magazine of new gadgets. It’s all to easy to stuff food in without really noticing that you’ve eaten it … and you’ll end up feeling unsatisfied and wanting more.
  • Eat with your partner or friend. The best way to eat is with another person: you can chat whilst eating, which helps to make your meal last longer, and makes it more of a break in your busy day. Sharing food together is a great way to get closer to a friend.

Good luck breaking those bad eating habits and getting those good ones started. If you want more tips and advice from The Office Diet, make sure you’re getting our RSS feed straight to your feed reader – or pop your email address in below to get the latest post delivered to your inbox each day:

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Review of Dr Gourmet site

If you’re looking for dieting advice and help, one place you might want to look at is the Dr Gourmet site. “Dr Gourmet” himself emailed me and explained that:

I think that this may be something your readers would be interested in. One reason is that we are the only such software that takes families into account for the menu plans. Meal plans can be created for groups of any size, age, or weight. The system also handles leftovers by sorting them into meals later in the week. Our users have told us that nobody wants to cook every day so we built this into the system.

Best of all, it’s free.

The software now also includes a Food Diary, Exercise Diary and Goal Tracking features. In addition users can add their own recipes to a Recipe Box for storage, nutrition analysis and to use in the two week menu plans.

So, is it worth trying out?

Creating your account

Creating an account is straightforward. The site lets you specify how many calories you should be eating, based on your doctor’s instructions – or you can let Dr Gourmet decide. You’re also asked about any health issues (such as allergies), and food dislikes. The interface seems simpler than that for, as it just involves one screen rather than a series of twelve.

Best features

One of the aspects of Dr Gourmet that struck me was the amount of flexibility involved. For example, you can choose to follow a meal plan, or just count calories. If you are following a meal plan, you can create profiles for all the members of your family – and since most of us don’t cook and eat alone, this is a big bonus over more “traditional” diet plans.

As someone who enjoys her food, I also appreciated the emphasis on good food and interesting recipes! The recent Spanish Beef Stew with Olives looked very appetising.

The “Quality Calorie Diet” seems to be the core one for the site, but Dr Gourmet also offers a number of other plans – in a similar way to Sensei.

I liked the layout of the meal plan, which allowed a lot of flexibility over lunch in particular:

The provided clear guidelines on what constituted a “serving” (a single triangle sandwich, basically):

Sandwiches, defined:
Whole Sandwich = 2 lunch servings (two yellow triangles)
2 slices whole wheat bread with 2 ounces lean meat OR 2 ounces reduced-fat cheese
Half Sandwich = 1 lunch serving (one yellow triangle)
1 slice whole wheat bread with 1 ounce lean meat OR 1 ounce reduced-fat cheese

The meals do look a little repetitive, but I’m assuming this is because I entered myself as a group of one – so the site is trying to save on grocery bills by using ingredients in bulk.


The site is quite ad-heavy, and though it seems rich in features, the design isn’t especially snazzy. If you want a great looking weight-loss site, this one probably isn’t for you!

Personally, I’m not too bothered about the looks – and seeing as Dr Gourmet is free to use, the ads don’t bother me. The basic, plain design could be an advantage if you’re on a slow internet connection.

At times, the richness of the features made it a little hard to get started. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to create a “group” consisting of just myself in order to access meal plans, for instance!


If you’re looking for a free healthy meal plan, or even just some more healthy living and eating tips, Dr Gourmet is well worth a glance. The advice seems good and authoritative, and the site is feature-rich, considering that you don’t have to pay for membership.


What’s your weight loss motivation?

With any big goal that takes daily effort, you need to stay motivated. This is especially crucial when you’re trying to change your lifestyle to lose weight or get fit.

Spend five minutes today thinking about why you want to lose weight (or maintain your current weight, or get fitter). And don’t feel bad if your motivations aren’t all “worthy” ones. Being desperately keen to fit back into those jeans you wore as a teenager just might be the thing that keeps you on track when the chocolate cookies are calling your name!

Do you…

  • Want to lose weight for a special occasion? (Mark it on the calendar, and think about how great you’ll feel on the day! Don’t try to rush things, though. Maybe you can’t lose 100 lbs by Christmas 2009, but Christmas 2010 might be a realistic goal.)
  • Want to get fitter to take part in an event? If you’re struggling to stick to your exercise routine, how about looking for a bike ride, walk or run that you could take part in? It doesn’t have to be the London Marathon – but make it something that challenges you.
  • Want to maintain your current figure? Focus on all the things you love about how you look now: I really like being able to find clothes that fit (and suit) me in any shop. I also like being fit enough to do plenty of walking and cycling.

If you’re struggling to stay motivated, one way to give yourself an extra boost is to use your goal to help someone else. I recently received an email about the Pound for Pound challenge where Americans can sign up with their weight loss goal and track their progress. For every pound you lose, 10 cents (enough for one pound of food) is donated to a food bank to help families in your area who might otherwise go hungry.

(You can also donate directly, or collect Pound For Pound lids and seals from specially-marked General Mills products.)

For those whose goal is to get fitter, why not find a charity bike ride (such as the London to Paris Big Issue one) or a run which you could do to raise money for those in need?

Whether your motivations are a little bit “selfish” (like “I want to impress my relatives with how much slimmer I am, next Christmas”) or utterly selfless (“I’m training as hard as I can for this marathon so I can make lots of money for charity”), keep them in mind. Next time you’re tempted to have a second slice of cake, or to skip your planned workout, you’ll find that you’re that bit stronger.


Good Habits: Keeping a food diary

Study after study has found that dieters who keep a food diary are much more likely to lose weight successfully than those who don’t. From personal experience, I can say that food diaries work – I lost 50lbs by keeping one!

Last year, I posted some food diary templates – and that post has turned out to be one of the top ten most popular ones on The Office Diet.

But, let’s face it, recording everything you eat is a bit of a hassle – and most of us are busy people with plenty of better things to do! So if you need a bit of convincing, here are some reasons why food diaries really do work:

  • You’re more likely to resist that slab of cake or second cookie if you know you’ll be writing it down in black-and-white.
  • If you’re kidding yourself that you’re getting your five-a-day, or that you “usually” have wholegrain bread, your food diary might reveal a different story … encouraging you to really make those healthy changes to your eating habits.
  • After a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to spot patterns in your food diary, and make simple changes. If you realise that you always grab a sugary snack around 4pm, you might think about taking extra lunch, or making sure you have something a bit healthier on hand.

Keeping a paper diary

If you’re someone who prefers pen-and-paper to a computer screen, you might want to buy a small diary with enough space to write down what you’ve eaten during each day. Another good option is to keep a sheet of paper, ruled into days of the week and meals, stuck to your fridge or kitchen noticeboard at home (you can print out one of the food diary templates to use in this way.)

Keeping an online diary

For those of you who, like me, are rarely separated from a computer, you might find that an online diary suits you better. I’ve uploaded my food diary template into Google Docs so that I can access it from anywhere – you might prefer to keep yours on your work computer’s hard drive, or on a USB pen.

Whether you keep your food diary online or on paper, get into the habit of filling it in every single day. It’s hard to remember everything you ate after more than 24 hours has gone by – and “little snacks” that slip your mind can really add up.

If you do end up missing a couple of days, get back to keeping your diary as quickly as possible.

Most people will lose weight just by keeping track of their eating, but if you’ve not got much weight to lose, you might want to pay closer attention to the fat and/or calorie content of your food. If so, check out my post on the recommended daily calorie allowance for men and women.

For lots of tips on food diaries, calorie counting and more, check out my Dieting Basics ebook – just $4 until the end of January!