Slim Without Starving

The arrival of warmer weather means that many of us have set our sights on losing weight. The good news is that it is possible – and much healthier – to slim down without starving yourself! Misinformation abounds in the media. So what is one of the healthiest and most sustainable way to obtain and maintain a healthy weight?

How do I lose weight, especially body fat weight?

Seeing a Dietician is a good step, as the Dietician will assess YOUR lifestyle, YOUR medical background, YOUR current eating habits including food/drink likes and dislikes, YOUR triggers for eating, and YOUR body composition. With this assessment in mind, she/he will counsel you appropriately with standard proven scientific tips as to how to carry out a healthy lifestyle including healthy eating, and exercise suitable for you. In addition, a completely individualized eating plan will be designed for you taking into account YOUR job, YOUR type and times of sport/exercise, YOUR family situation, and YOUR budget. This practical approach to weight loss will start you off on a journey to successful sustainable weight loss by means of healthy affordable food choices that one will stay with life-long. No fads are recommended as the result is a yo-yo of weight loss and gain, and the gain always comes with a “little extra” – usually extra body fat!

The critical thing is that one can lose weight whilst eating healthy filling foods: NO STARVATION DIETS!

What are the main causes of obesity?

Obesity is effectively an imbalance of ENERGY:

All food contains energy.  A person’s body uses food for energy to live.

When one eats more food than what they need, the extra is stored in the body as FAT resulting in one becoming obese.

Major causes of obesity:

  • Too much food at each meal
  • Too many snacks between meals
  • Too many energy-rich foods
  • Alcohol
  • High sugar cold drinks
  • Family pressures and social outings
  • STRESS (stress & emotional eating)
  • Physically inactive / less active than one should be
  • Low basal metabolic rate

In general, obese people eat too much of most foods, especially foods with excess fat and sugar.

They are also often inactive.

By following a well-balanced eating plan, with food from ALL the food groups; and by incorporating good lifestyle habits such as regular exercise and having enough sleep, steady and SUSTAINED weight loss CAN be achieved.

Fads including the Banting Diet / Paleo diet are NOT recommended, as results are NOT sustainable; and the diet itself is imbalanced. Serious health concerns such as hypoglycaemic episodes, and increase in blood lipid levels (cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides) can and do result from following these diets.

What is the healthiest, most sustainable and most responsible way to obtain and maintain a healthy weight?  

Lifestyle Changes

Address 3 important aspects:

  1. What you eat
  2. Why you eat
  3. Activity / Exercise

Change what you eat

  • FAT makes FAT
  • Reduce ALL fat intake
  • Less butter / margarine / oil
  • Cut fat off meat, skin off chicken BEFORE cooking
  • Avoid processed meats (viennas, polony, etc.)
  • Use skim / low-fat milk; fat-free yoghurt
  • Read food labels: <5g fat/serving
  • Avoid takeaways (Keep some frozen meals on standby for days when you’re rushed for time or don’t feel like cooking)
  • When eating out choose:
    • Grilled fish/chicken (no basting sauce)
    • Salad (no dressing)
    • Vegetables (sauces to be served separately)
    • Pasta (tomato-based sauce)
    • Fruit salad or sorbet
  • “Healthy” fats
    • Include nuts, avocados, olives, olive & canola oil
    • Use a little from this group daily (e.g. 2 Tbs nuts OR ½ small avocado OR olives in a salad plus 1-2 tsp. olive/canola oil)
  • Eat more FRUIT and VEGETABLES EVERY DAY – 5 servings per day
  • Eat 5 small meals and snacks per day
  • Drink LOTS of WATER

Choose CARBOHYDRATE foods that have a LOW GI (Glycaemic Index)

The GLYCAEMIC INDEX (GI) refers to CARBOHYDRATE FOODS and is a measurement of the extent to which that food will elevate blood glucose (sugar) levels relative to pure glucose. It is an indication of how fast the carbohydrates are broken down and then absorbed as glucose, which is the body’s primary source of energy.

  • HIGH GI CARBS: are digested and absorbed very rapidly as blood glucose and spike blood sugar levels with a subsequent sudden plummeting of blood sugar levels causing symptoms such as chronic fatigue, sudden tiredness, headaches, irritability, the “shakes” etc. Foods with a High GI are not good choices.
  • Foods with a LOW GLYCAEMIC INDEX take longer to digest and will NOT cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels – these are the foods to choose, as through sustaining blood sugar levels, they sustain energy levels. They also assist in the speeding up of one’s metabolism.


  • Sustain blood sugar levels  (prevent hypoglycaemia = low blood sugar levels)
  • Improve and sustain energy levels
  • Speed up metabolism
  • Prevent hunger and subsequent snacking on “junk” foods
  • Keep insulin levels low, and so reduce fat storage, also protecting one against lifestyle diseases (diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure)

In order to supply a slow, but steady on-going release of “fuel” to the body, choose:

Plenty of Low GI, energy-sustaining carbohydrates throughout the day, such as:

  • Heavy, high fibre breads (Low GI breads, seed loaf, heavy “health” bread, heavy rye bread etc.)
    • Provita, Digestive Biscuits, bran muffins (low GI, low-fat ones!), dark Ryvita
    • Starches, e.g. durum wheat pasta/noodles, mealies, baby potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice
    • Cooled, cooked starch, e.g. potatoes (potato salad: low oil mayo) / cooled cooked mealie-meal
    • Breakfast cereals such as Hi-Fibre Bran, raw Oat Bran, heavy low-fat muesli, Whole-wheat Original / Apple Bake ProNutro, Soya Life porridge, cooked oats
    • LEGUMES: baked beans, lentils, green beans, butter beans etc.
    • Fresh fruits and vegetables – use plenty
    • Low-fat, fat-free or 1% milk and Low-Fat and Fat-Free yoghurt.
    • Snacks: popcorn, Low GI low-fat bars


Refined and High GI “quick-release” carbohydrate foods, such as:

  • White / brown (light, fluffy) breads & bread rolls
    • Rice cakes, snack bread, Cream Crackers, Marie biscuits etc.
    • Refined breakfast cereals, such as Weetbix, Oat-so-Easy, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Coco Pops
    • “2-Minute Noodles”
    • Sports / Energy Drinks, e.g. Energade, Game etc. (these are “Sports” drinks NOT “Spectator” drinks!)
    • Sweets, chocolates, marshmallows, crisps
    • Cake flour, cornflour, sugar

The food group with the lowest GI: LEGUMES

BEANS AND LEGUMES play a significant role in weight loss. They are:

  • Low GI (GI values <55 are classified as LOW GI)
    • Soya beans                                        GI is 14
    • Lentils                                                GI is 26
    • Red Kidney beans                           GI is 26
    • Chickpeas                                         GI is 28
    • Butterbeans                                     GI is 31
    • Split peas                                          GI is 32
    • Baked beans in tomato sauce      GI is 48
  • Full of fibre
  • Filling**
  • Very low in fat
  • Versatile
  • Cheap! Great for extending meat/vegetable dishes
  • A good source of protein

**FILLING: by choosing beans and legumes often, meals and snacks become more filling, satisfying one more quickly, and sustaining one for longer. Blood glucose levels stabilize, and as such craving for high GI high-Fat foods disappear.

EXAMPLES of how to use beans and legumes in a Weight-Loss and/or Diabetic and/or a general Healthy Diet:

BREAKFASTBaked beans on Low GI toast
SNACKHummus on Provitas
Dipped celery/cherry tomatoes in hummus
LUNCHRed kidney beans in your green salad
Bean / lentil soup
Couscous salad with chickpeas
Pita with leftover chilli con carne
DINNERChilli Con Carne
Soya Meatballs
Add baked beans/lentils to your mince
Lentil Lasagna
Butter beans with pasta

Ask yourself: WHY do we eat?

Do you only eat when you are hungry?

A GOOD rule is:  Stop eating when you are satisfied

  • It is possible to free yourself of food so that it no longer rules your life
  • Are you an emotional eater?

Tips, tips, tips…


  • Exercising burns up energy.
  • Aim to exercise for 30 minutes every day
  • Many health benefits of exercise
  • Exercising makes us feel good

Plan to do 2½ hours/week (30 min/day) of some form of physical activity

Change bad eating habits GRADUALLY

  • Identify circumstances / situations / activities that lead to eating
  • STOP eating for the wrong reasons
  • In the morning ask yourself “What will I do today?” NOT “What will I eat”

Be positive:

  • Work at changing your lifestyle to improve your health.
  • Losing weight takes time
  • “Crash” diets DON’T work


Take a packed lunch   (less fattening)


  • For every kilogram lost: you reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 16%!!!
  • For every 5kg of excess weight lost, the risk of heart attack or stroke drops by 50%
  • Sleeping patterns improve with the loss of excess weight = improved productivity and effectivity
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