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Image by Annie Spratt


Food Fabulous

Notes from midlife

The magic pill for weight loss

I wonder how long you have spent over the course of your life searching for the magic pill when it comes to weight loss? And how much money you have spent on miracle products that promised to make the weight drop off overnight – or at least not make the business of losing weight seem so tricky?

A quick look this morning and I can see you can spend £28 a month on magic tea or a whopping £119 on a month's worth of magic sachets. The websites are beautiful; the products are enticing. I almost believed that sh1t myself.

But let's get real for a moment...

There IS not such thing as the magic pill. Or is there???

If you are someone who has spent a significant amount of time in slimming clubs, what you should know is that almost certainly you have been taught to eat the wrong things.

Of course, actually eating the 'right things 'will help you lose the weight naturally, without calorie counting, and eating the way I show my clients has them naturally wanting to eat the foods that will love their body rather than deciding to seek solace in a bag of Haribo's.

What the slimming clubs miss is the vital mindset element of losing weight. Part of that is taking care of your self-care. That is the real secret sauce for losing weight, and here’s why.

If you are an emotional eater, no ‘diet’ in the world is going to help you deal with what the real issue is – your wonky relationship with food. You need to rewire your food brain because emotional eating and binge eating are major causes of diet failure and, unless you get to the root of the problem, you’re destined to yo-yo diet … forever.

So let's fix that right away!

Self-care is the recognition that only you can make yourself happy and that, if you make sure that you dedicate some time every day purely for your own enjoyment, you will have more fun, you will be more fun to be around, and you will have far greater reserves to deal with the stresses of everyday life.

It's not to say that others cannot contribute to your happiness. Just that they cannot create it.

That’s an inside job.

The miracle of self-care doesn’t end there. When you dedicate a small amount of time each day to your own happiness, there is less need to reach for the chocolate biscuits. I’m guessing you’re like many of my clients – you are so time poor that rewarding yourself with treat foods like cake and biscuits is the easiest way to show yourself some self-love.

My experience in running a nutrition clinic is that so little of why you eat what you eat has to do with nourishing your body. The far greater part is to do with how you feel about yourself and about life in general. Eating half a packet of chocolate biscuits is much easier than figuring out – not to mention getting – what you really need, which might be a way to de-stress, feel loved, get attention, kick back your heels and even sleep.

I am sure that you get what I am saying conceptually, but this is not enough for the magic to work. Just understanding won’t get you the benefits. You have to be in action.

Before you think you have this already taken care of, I challenge you this: have you?


Are you doing at least three things every day just because they make you happy rather than ‘in order to’ achieve something?

Self-care is a skill and it is a discipline. It is something that can be very easy to do, which is why it is something we often don’t bother to do).

So, your challenge: make a list of at least 20 things (even really frivolous things) that you LOVE to do just because they make you happy or they delight you. Just so you know, housework will never be self-care, however much you like a nicely pressed sheet.

I’ve got all kinds of things on my list. Some take hardly any time; some take a little longer. You don’t have to spend long for a self-care activity to be effective. These are all things that feel good in the moment (rather than going to the gym, which is pretty hellish at the time but gives you a warm, smug glow afterwards) and this is important. What can you put on yours?

Don’t worry if it feels difficult right now or if you’re completely stumped. It can get like this when you’ve spent so long taking care of the happiness of others rather than your own. Consider this a work in progress. You’ll be constantly adding to your list, taking things off, adding new ideas to try.

Here are some ideas that might resonate to kick you off: reading a novel, watching your favourite guilty-pleasure TV show, sitting outside with a cup of tea in the sun, taking a little nap, doing a jigsaw, painting your nails, just ‘being’ for 10 minutes without the pressure of having to achieve anything, dancing around the kitchen to music from the 1980s (don’t judge), listening to a favourite podcast, putting on a face mask, diffusing essential oils, doing a little colouring in one of those adult-inspired colouring books, getting a massage, buying yourself flowers, making a vision board, taking a walk in nature, lighting your favourite candle, taking a nice hot bath with some posh smellies, doing a crossword or Sodoku, cuddling the cat for a while...

You get the idea.

This list is just for you. It’s not a list of what ‘people’ should do. You will have your own personal likes and dislikes.

Sometimes when I bring in this exercise into my private client work I can almost see them raising an eyebrow or – occasion – rolling their eyes. However ridiculous or indulgent it might seem, I promise you it’s the gold.

I remember one particular client – let’s call her Sandra – who was very sceptical but she agreed to take it on to see what would happen. At the next session, her face was lit up like Blackpool Illuminations. Her whole body seemed to shout, “I totally love my life”.

She was a good student and had diligently followed my recommendations because she was all-in by this stage.

Of course, what she’d come to see me for was to lose weight and regain her energy, what she started to notice for herself was a whole-life-altering experience. She had started to create her life exactly as she wanted it.

She was clear what she wanted at why, she acknowledged but didn’t dwell on what had kept her trapped before, she was reminding herself daily about what was in it for her to continue to make changes (or just keeping rinsing and repeating what was working), and she was doing things she’d forgotten she really enjoyed.

Self-care when you don't have time for self-care

“When do I have time for all this self-care,” you might be saying to yourself as you read this. “Does she not know that I am the Queen of Busy?”

Truly, when you make some extra time for you, suddenly more time appears in the day as if by magic, which I can only explain by way of saying that, when you focus on my own happiness as well as your job, family and so on, you will have a much more positive, can-do attitude that gets things done more efficiently.

This is all down to an increase in resilience. When you do nice things for yourself and your own happiness, you are more resilient.

When you are happier in yourself and more resilient, you don’t sweat the small stuff as much.

When you don’t sweat the small stuff as much, you show up in life differently. You react differently (or maybe don’t react at all) in certain situations.

And you know that for any action, there’s a counteraction from another party. You’re tired, you shout at the kids because their rooms are a state, they then react based on your reaction and pretty soon a whole chain of unfavourable events start to happen. Cue sulking, shouting, door slamming and so on. I like to think that it’s not just in my house.

This does not mean, of course, that you are not busy and that time is a challenge. I’d love for you to take this on as a project in the next few weeks and really do the work as it was meant to be done, then see what happens. It might be that you have to become a planning pro and schedule this stuff into your day like you would any other event.

You've probably heard it said that you have to put on your own life jacket before you can help others. This is that situation. If you need some help with that, I wrote a mini programme just for you. It's so cool, you can even get it podcasted to you so you can tune in while you walk the dog. Or whatever. Check it out, below. Just click on the image to learn more...


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