Grew it, didn’t really eat much of it at all.

ImageI’ve been on a diet since I was about 10 years old. I wish I was joking.

A friend of mine who I see about 5 times a year says that every time she sees me I’ve either put on a stone or lost a stone, which is spot on. I’m either:

Cramming my face with gay abandon; picking the baked camenbert for my starter, glugging pinot grigio, ripping chicken from the leg with my teeth and generally living a lot like a medieval king.


Punishing myself; missing my Weight Watchers weigh-in for the third week running, googling ‘how to lose 6lb in an hour’ and surviving on nothing more than slim-a-soups, marlboro lights and satsumas (for vitamins).

I’ve never found that happy medium and I fear that 20 years after realising this, I may never achieve it.

Like most 30 year old women, I regard myself as somewhat of an amateur psychologist and am therefore sure I can find the cause of this all-too-familiar story. Here are the top three conclusions I (and most other people) jump to:

Assumption one: It’s my parents’ fault.

Reality: I was brought up with great home-cooked meals, very few snacks, no naughty food in the house and a healthy respect for vegetables and exercise.

Assumption two: Ok, well, it’s obviously in your genes.

Reality: No-one, actually, no-one in my family is overweight. I am the only person utterly obsessed with food.

Assumption three: Well, if it’s not the fault of a blood relative, it must be society’s fault. You must have really low self esteem, because of all these skinny models, glossy magazines and whatnot.

Reality: If I had low self esteem, do you think I’d be writing a blog about myself? (and I don’t read glossy magazines.)

I don’t even think it’s my fault, despite the fact that I would sell my own mother for a soft shell crab handroll in Yo Sushi.

Shall I tell you whose fault it is? It’s bloody food’s fault, that’s what! For being so bloody lovely and diverse and rich and sexy and alluring!  The reason I fail at diets is because I will never fall out of love with food. And I don’t want to. (And I won’t.) (And I like big portions.) (And I eat my friends’ leftovers because I hate waste.)

Over the past year, I have put on weight. I got married and felt that I needed to fulfil certain societal expectations of a new wife.  I needed to get fat, get greasy, shout constantly at my husband and buy a pair of sweat pants that I would always wear, yet never wash. But then one day, my husband unlocked my chains and allowed me to scuttle into the city for an hour.  I went to Zara and realised I couldn’t fit into a large. It was then that knew I needed to lose some weight. I sprung into default reactionary mode and enrolled with Weight Watchers.

One of the defining moments of my life, which pretty much sums up everything I have written above, happened at my first meeting:

Leader: ‘So would you like to stay behind at the end and I can explain the Weight Watchers programme to you?’

Cassandra: ‘It’s OK thanks, this is my fifth time.’

It was great for the first month, I lost about 6 pounds, the meetings were motivational and it was pleasing to see my weight go down each week. However one day, I looked in my fridge and it was depressing. Everything was plastic, chemical, processed, tasteless. I had low fat cheese which didn’t melt on toast, reduced calorie coleslaw that tasted like milk bottle shavings in water and light bread with an ingredients list more at home in a weapons laboratory. I felt sad. I missed food. I needed a new way.

As if by magic, someone at work made me aware of a BBC documentary called ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’, which – at the time – was on the iplayer. The documentary was about a diet called the 5:2 diet. Around the same time, The Sunday Times Magazine ran a piece on the same thing. I watched it, read it, and had (for want of a better cliche) a lightbulb moment.

The concept is simple: 5 days a week, you eat what you want, 2 days a week, you fast. That’s why some people call it the 5:2 diet. It’s easy to remember and the rules are idiotproof. By ‘fasting’ what I mean is no more than 500 calories for a woman and 600 for a man. The picture above is what I had today (yes, I know I could have done something hilarious with the banana and the eggs. You dirty minded people, you.) I had:

  • A banana for breakfast
  • Half a tub of Waitrose Love Life soup and two Ryvita type things for lunch
  • An omelette for dinner

This is roughly 500 calories. I also had a lot of green tea and black coffee.

Some schools of thought say you should eat all the calories in one go, others say you can spread it. I have to spread it. And it’s done me no harm. Since starting the 5:2 diet I have lost about 9 pounds and I’ve started eating real food again. It’s incredibly liberating to know that nothing is off limits on those 5 days. Nothing is off limits on the fasting days, you just can’t go over 500 calories.

So, how does it work? Well, I think the guy whose documentary brought it to my attention is better placed to tell you. I’ve put a link to an article he wrote about it at the bottom of this page.

What I can tell you though, is that I feel incredible. I eat less, I eat better and I feel (and am) lighter. I’m suddenly a lot more lucid and I think that this is down to the fact that I’m not sluggish with stodge. I feel alert and alive. And let me tell you, I haven’t felt like that in a while. None of the things I thought would happen have happened. I thought I’d be knackered on fast days, but I really haven’t been. I thought I’d be starving on my 5 ‘off’ days and desperately cramming in as much food as I could. But I haven’t, in fact my appetite has decreased massively. I assumed that I would dread my fast days, but I actually look forward to them.

Is it for everyone? I’m not sure. I find not eating much, just as easy as eating a lot. Many people I talk to say that they couldn’t do it… but change is good and I say, if you want to shift a bit of chunk, give it a whirl. And the best bit is, you don’t need to buy a book; no-one’s cashing in on your weight loss, setting you targets or waiting for you to fail. You’re not eating an unrealistic diet which you won’t be able to stick to as soon as you’ve hit ‘goal’. You do it for you; for the sake of your pleasure and your health.

It’s ruddy good.

I’ll be blogging about what I’ve had on my fast days on here. This week I’m actually doing it two days in a row (hardcore) as I have four solid days of Christmas fun lined up.

I would love to hear from anyone else who is doing the diet. Tell me how you’ve found it! 

10 thoughts on “Grew it, didn’t really eat much of it at all.

    • You should! It’s easy! And you can keep me updated on here. Would be great to hear how you get on.

      • Started yesterday without actually planning to so I had to make do with stuff I already had in. I had poached egg, tinned tomatoes and a slice of toast for brunch and then oven-baked chimichurri cod with a chunky vegetable and tomato sauce for an early dinner before work. Despite having been hungry all day I couldn’t eat it all so saved some for after work. Of course, once at work I was starving and had to have a Fanta Zero to fill me up! Went to bed feeling a little hungry but proud of myself and woke up this morning with just a normal amount of hunger. Loving it so far and have got an old Pizza Depressed bud to do it with me, albeit in Barcelona!

      • That’s ace! It’s so hard to start off with, but it does get easier.
        Have you seen the 5:2 diet e-book on Amazon? It’s worth a look – there are some good recipes on it. Also, have a look at the tinned tomatoes blog (… there are some great recipes on there too.

        I’ve discovered this week that Japanese food is your friend. One sachet of miso soup is 38 calories and it’s amazingly filling. And rice noodles! Amazingly filling and low in calories too.

        Keep it up!

      • Well, I’ve been going a wee while now – fast number 8 today – and I love it. It’s like a little challenge twice a week! Working out how I prefer to do it still, so this week’s experiment is to only eat once a day, at tea time. Went brilliantly on Monday, not so good today as I’m hungry. Positive news though: last night I had half a Crunchie. HALF. And I left the other half in the fridge for tomorrow. This has NEVER happened before 🙂

  1. Hey Cass, this blog is brilliant.

    I too am a slave to the weight watchers way of life and it does work if I can actually stick to it – there lies the problem.

    My Husband and I enjoy a full social life which generally consists of eating out regularly and consuming lots of red wine. It is a constant battle between needing to be a size smaller and wanting to enjoy my time – is life too short to select a meal in a restaurant because it has the lowest points value on the menu?

    Think I need to check this 5:2 diet out. Do you really eat what you want on the non-fast days or should you still try to control calories etc? Is there any information about how alcohol impacts the results? I’ll Google it…

    Looking forward to future updates.


    • Hi Kylie,

      Pleased you like the blog – I’ll update about the diet very soon. Had a good week this week, but that’s mainly down to the fact that I’ve been poorly so I’ve had a few inadvertent fast days! (NOT healthy at all!)

      You can honestly eat what you want on those 5 ‘off’ days. The only thing is that you body very quickly adjusts to eating less and as a result your stomach shrinks. The trouble is that your brain and your perception of what a ‘normal’ meal is stay the same. So, on those 5 off days you can end up eating big portions, and feeling as bloated as you might do on Christmas Day. The key is retraining yourself to eat smaller portions; portions that your body can handle (and wants to handle.) I think thats the most challenging part of it for me. I’ve still not got it mastered.

      As for booze, I’ve not stopped and it hasn’t had an impact. I’ve had a few boozy nights out while doing the diet and it hasn’t affected my weight loss. Obviously, you can’t drink on your fast days, but the other 5 are OK.

      Keep me updated with how you get on! I’ll post soon about the diet!

      Cass x

      • Started the 5:2 eating regime – I don’t call it a diet week before Christmas, had to stop over Christmas couldn’t bear watching everyone eating. Back into it now. Not finding the fasting too hard as long as I keep busy. Not sure about weight loss yet but will let you know. How much weight have you lost and what are you hoping to lose? I now need to increase the exercise but living in Australia in the middle of summer with temperatures in the 40’s celsius is not easy!
        Cheers Erica

      • Hey Erica,

        Before Christmas in total I had lost 10lb (4.5kg), but then I stopped doing the diet for 2 weeks and put 6lb back on. Ouch. Not ideal, but I did eat a heck of a lot of junk over Christmas.

        Apparently to maintain your weight you should fast for one day a a week, even when you’re at your target weight. I actually think by the time I’m down to the weight I want to be, I’ll be so used to fasting that I’d miss it if I stopped. I know that after Christmas I was dying to get fasting again – my body was so cross with me!

        Since Christmas I’ve lost 4lb (about 2kg), so I’m nearly back to where I was. I’m still 17lb overweight, so that’s the minimum I’d like to lose. My ideal weight for my height is 67kg – I’m aiming for that… but I reckon it’ll take me a good year.

        I’ve discovered this week that Japanese food is great for fasting days on the 5:2 diet. A packet of miso soup is only 38 calories and combined with a few rice cakes, its actually really filling. I’m going to be doing a blog post about some great 5:2 recipes I’ve discovered, so keep your eyes peeled!

        If you’re on twitter, make sure you follow @the52diet as well – it’s a great resource. They also have a facebook page.

        Good luck and keep me posted!

  2. I know you posted this a while ago now, but I just wanted to say that reading it was really encouraging to me!

    I’m also 30, everyone in my family is skinny other than me, and I’ve been dieting on and off for as long as I can remember. I live in Japan so I tend to miss what’s new in the UK, but my mum told me about 5:2 a little while ago, and I thought it sounded doable; I just never have confidence, at the start of a diet, whether it’s actually going to work for me, hence it usually doesn’t and I give up. But since I found a lot of things familiar while reading your post, I think this one might actually be possible! I was especially interested to hear that your appetite has decreased generally; I was kind of worried about pigging out between fast days (I have zero willpower when a cake is staring me in the face…), which is what I tend to do when I go out with friends, but maybe that won’t happen this time.

    Anyway, after that ramble, what I actually wanted to say was thank you for taking the time to write this; I hope it’s going well for you, and I’ll give it my best shot!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s