1. Set your weight loss goals and calorie intake and diet allowances
Get a piece of paper out. Write down what you would love your weight to be or what outfit you would like to fit into again. What size clothing are you aiming for? This is not about thinness , its about health and a better body shape. We are working on 1200kcal per day for ladies as a maximum calorie intake. If you want to use a calorie counter such as FAT SECRET or FITNESS PAL to record what you are eating, you can check that you are not going over this limit each day.

I suggested that you keep your carbohydrate intake to no more than 15 – 20 g per meal or snack in order to limit insulin secretion stimulation. Insulin tends to encourage fat storage around the abdomen. I don’t want you to go on a completely carb-free diet in the first 30 – 60 days. 1 portion of carbohydrate on the lists provided contains between 15 – 20g carbohydrate in each item shown.

Measure your portions of food out carefully. If you feel a little bit light headed or hungry in the first 3 – 5 days, just persevere as the change in carbohydrate metabolism can sometimes result in this.

Your programme works out to approximately 4 – 5 carbohydrate servings per day + 6 protein per day + 5 fat servings per day + lots of salad and low starch vegetables. Use the portion guideline pages provided so that you can swop items but still keep to your plan.

2. Plan for success
Go through the menu, write a grocery list and make sure you have the foods that you want and need for the week. When you get up in the morning, make sure you pack the snacks and lunch you need for work or if doing a night shift, take something healthy to eat with you. If you get hungry, you will want to eat something that is not good for you or get home and eat a much bigger meal.

Get up 5 minutes earlier to get your meals organised.

Clear your grocery cupboards out in the first month. As unhealthy items are finished, don’t replace them eg: cokes, fanta, juice mixes, chips, biscuits etc. The whole family can start to eat better with you. You also don’t need biscuits waiting for you when you get home from work to tempt you!

Plan your exercise – book a time in your diary and calendar for exercise just like you would an important work meeting . If you don’t allocate time to your health or goals then other things will take your time.

3. Drink more water
Its always a challenge to drink more water to plan for it too. Buy 4 x 500ml water bottles and make sure they are finished by the end of the day and refill them. Or use any other water bottle you prefer but measure out 2 litres per day and finish it. Drinking enough water while losing body fat is one of the most important things any weight loss diet will emphasise.

4. Sleep better
Not always easy to get more sleep or stress less in our busy lives but it has been proven that improved sleep helps weight loss. Shift work can mess with your sleep patterns but perhaps less time on social media before going to sleep will make you sleep better.

5. Eat more vegetables and salads
Low starch vegetables include green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brinjals, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, spinach, baby marrow, patty pans, gem squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, peppers, onions, kale, chilis, carrots. Eat at least 2 cups of these per day. They fill you up, absorb excess glucose sugar and keep your sugar levels more stable during the day (so you don’t crave biscuits and chocolate). Increasing vegetables also helps to lower cholesterol and control sugar levels if you are diabetic. Green vegetables can lower blood pressure so just do it! Even if curried or sambals, it will still count. Steamed / grilled / salad is better as less fat.

6. Small changes add up to big weight loss
We are not all in our 20’s! Hormones, a slower metabolism as we get older can all influence weight loss. Sometimes it takes 2 – 4 weeks of healthier eating to get the body metabolism working better and then the weight loss and body fat loss comes. For other people, they lose immediately. Don’t compare with colleagues or give up if you’re not losing as much as someone else. This is a personal journey and your body is getting healthier and stronger every day.

7. Take control of your weaknesses, triggers for eating
Is it Friday night partying? Is it eating with family over the weekend where you all indulge? Is it late night snacks watching TV? We all have times where we feel that we deserve that treat after a hard week’s work. Reward yourself with something other than food. Or use sugar free mixes with your one alcohol drink per week Or leave the chips / roll / rice out if getting nandos chicken or choose lower calorie snacks to treat yourself with and then get back to your ‘healthy’ meals straight away afterwards. Examples of lower calorie snacks include: Woolworths Slimmers choice frozen yoghurt instead of ice cream; popcorn without oil instead of butter popcorn; Tru fruit ice cream instead of a Magnum; 2 finger kit kat instead of an entire slab; 15g chocolate bar instead of a whole slab; 14g Jumping Jack popcorn or Lays chips instead of a big bag.

8. Be a slim snacker
Some foods are very lower calorie and if starving you can eat these as extra snacks :
Sliced low starch vegetables like cucumber, carrots, celery
Sliced low starch vegetables with fat free cottage cheese
Sliced low starch vegetables with tzatziki (fat free plain yoghurt + finely chopped cucumber)
Sliced low starch vegetables with 1 tbsp hummus
Fat free yoghurt tubs
1 cup fat free milk
2 cups popcorn (no oil)

9. Support each other
The bonus of doing a challenge with other people is that you are accountable to others and you can support each other. A little healthy competition is good for motivation so keep each other going!

CARBOHYDRATES : (each of the items on this page = 1 carb portion or contain 15g of carbohydrates)

1 slice Low GI bread (Albany Low GI, Natures Harvest Seedloaf, Olde Cape Seedloaf, Woolworths Low GI, Astoria Volkorn Rye bread)
½ roll
3 Provitas / 3 salticrax
2 Ryvita
2 Crispbread / 2 Rice cakes
½ Pita bread
1 small Roti

½ cup Kelloggs Allbran/ Bokomo Bran Flakes
1 weetbix
¼ cup ( 2 TBSP) of normal carb Muesli
¼ (2 TBSP) cup of Oat Bran/ Rolled Oats / cooked oats
¼ cup (2TBSP) Wholewheat Pronutro –Apple Bake, Original
¼ cup (2TBSP) Kelloggs Hi Fibre Bran/Bokomo Fibre Plus/ Spar Hi Fibre
¼ cup (2 TBSP or 25g) futurelife powder

PASTA: – (must be durum wheat)
½ cup cooked Pasta eg: Fattis & Monis – Spaghetti, Macaroni etc
½ cup cooked Couscous

½ cup cooked Tastic white rice, Old Millstream Brown Rice, Basmati Rice or other rice

½ cup cooked Barley, Stampkoring, Bulgur Wheat, Quinoa, Millet
1/3 cup cooked lentils
½ cup chickpeas
½ cup cooked/tinned beans (kidney, baked, butter, borlotti etc)

2 Baby potatoes
1 medium (100g) potato, sweet potato, madumbe
½ cup butternut / peas / corn

1 Rusk (Ouma’s Nutri rusk, Classic Hi Fibre, Jespe Rusks)
½ cup Popcorn (low fat)
Sugar – 3 tsps = 1 carbohydrate serving
Honey – 3tsp = 1 carbohydrate serving

1 medium (size of tennis ball) apple, pear, peach, nectarine, orange
2 small naartjies 2 small plums
½ punnet strawberries (8 medium)
2 kiwi fruit 1 cup of cut fruit
½ medium sized Mango
¼ of medium sized Pawpaw/ melon
3 thin slices of Pineapple
1 small banana
125ml Fruit juice
1 TBSP sultanas, raisins 2 to 3 pieces of dried fruit 1 Trufruit bar 1 Safari Just fruit bar

PROTEINS: (each of the protein portions of this page has 7g of protein)

1 small (40g) Kipper
3 medium sardines
1 medium (75g) Pilchard
½ fillet Mackerel (40g)
½ small tin (50g) of Salmon in brine
2 -3 slices Smoked salmon
1/3 fillet (60g) trout
½ fillet (40g) of fresh Fatty fish eg salmon
1 small fillet (70g) of low fat fresh fish eg kingklip, hake, haddock, sole
½ tin (50g) tuna in brine

½ (40g) skinless chicken breast
½ large (40g) chicken thigh, skinless
1 small drumstick
3- 4 slices shaved turkey breast
2 slices (40g) skinless turkey
40g Ostrich steak/ mince
2 – 3 slices lean, cooked Ham
2 thin slices (30g) lean roasted Pork
2 – 3 thin slices lean roasted Beef
2 thin slices (30g) roasted, Fat trimmed Beef
2 level Tablespoons (30g) lean Beef mince, cooked
½ small piece (40g) fat trimmed, Beef steak eg Rump
3 to 4 strips (30g) lean Biltong
½ small piece (50g) Veal
1 egg – not fried 1 Ostrich Vienna

1/3 cup (80g) fat free cottage cheese
¼ cup (60ml) low fat cottage cheese
2 TBSP Ricotta cheese
3 thin slices (30g) of reduced fat cheese eg Mozzarella
30g or ½ round of hard cheese eg Feta
½ cup (125ml) of low fat milk or Yoghurt
1 cup skim/ fat free milk
125 ml flavoured or plain low fat yoghurt
175 ml fat free yoghurt
½ cup full cream milk or plain full cream yoghurt
125ml or ½ cup low fat custard
125ml Huberto’s Sugar Free Ice cream

½ medium soya sausage or patty
80g raw tofu

FATS: Each of these fat portions contain about 5g of fat.
1 tsp of Olive oil
1 tsp of olive spread
2 tsp of Peanut butter, unsweetened
1 tbsp nuts or seeds
1 tsp coconut oil
1tsp sunflower, grapeseed, sesame, linseed oil
1 TBSP of Mayonnaisse, salad dressing
1 ½ tsp low fat marg or butter
¼ of medium avo
5 Olives
1 tsp pesto

Article Credit: Barbara Knoetze, Registered Dietitian in Private Practice in Ballito. Specialised in Diabetes Nutrition and Critical Care Nutrition (ICU Nutrition)