The 8 week Blood Sugar Diet – devised by Dr. Michael Mosley, tried by us!
We decided to give the 8-week blood sugar diet a shot because we were feeling pretty lousy. Portion distortion, being connoisseurs of M&S “heat and arrange” meals, too many beers and habitual treats and snacks had played havoc with our waistlines. As classic emotional eaters and yo-yo dieters, this new and somewhat drastic approach appealed because of its strictness, a new way of eating and the lure of a possible 2 stone weight loss. We are not type 2 diabetic but were both in the high-risk category for developing the disease.
21st February 2017 – D day… hopefully for the last time. We conducted a delightful underwear-clad photo shoot, did our waist measurements and measured our blood pressure. It’s all about planning…
Prior to the “start” date, we worked out what we would be eating (not very much on 800 calories a day), rid our cupboards of all that was out of bounds (crisps, chocolate, biscuits, cakes and everything else we considered rather lovely…) pimped up our spice collection and wrote a rather long list of reasons why we were doing this. This ranged from the obvious desire for a smaller wardrobe (or rather the clothes that hang up in it), improvements in health, to it being easier to put our shoes on, to feel more confident and to have the choice of more than 5 shops when it came to clothes shopping…
We are now more than 8 weeks in and the results have been astounding! We both lost more than the 2 stone we were aiming for and feel and look a thousand times better.
Aside from the weight loss, some of our personal successes are:
A new way to eat…
*We have discovered a new way to eat, cutting out processed food has inspired us to cook more, be creative and make those 800 calories count!
*Our portion sizes have decreased dramatically, but because we are eating healthy foods and our blood sugars have stabilised, we’re satisfied with less and don’t miss that “bloated” feeling we used to feel after dinner…
*As so many carb-rich foods are a no go, we have increased our intake of vegetables massively and have decided courgetti, is in fact quite delicious and we will not be going back to pasta. It’s a yes for cauliflower rice, chickpea flatbreads and coconut flour pancakes too – all scrumptious and here to stay. Fish is frequently on the menu, unbattered and without chips…(novel!)
To be moderate or abstain?
*We had thought we were “moderators” could be trusted to have a small chocolate treat every day, a few crisps and refrain from drinking all the fridge’s beers. Clearly, we were delusional, it is actually far easier to abstain completely. Gone are decisions, obliterated are thoughts such as, shall I, shan’t I, but I deserve it, just one won’t hurt – diet jeopardising taunts, it’s a “NO! We’re not eating that sort of stuff.” (currently) and the cupboards are devoid of all such temptations. This diet has removed the need for willpower and we’ve found, by not eating any we haven’t wanted more… A sense of achievement is felt each day you’re on the plan, a bit like when I stopped smoking.
*Kerry’s IBS has disappeared! We’re not sure what to attribute this to, it could be she had an intolerance to something we’ve stopped eating but as we’re eating so differently, it might only become apparent as we start to reintroduce some of the things we ate previously. She’s convinced of course it’s got nothing to do with the beers… but time will tell!
No more snorting…
*I have stopped snoring… this happened with almost immediate effect, 3 days in! A complete revelation to all who know me. “Loud” did not do justice to my previous ability to snort, bellow and huff. All with my mouth closed so quite a feat, but I’m glad to say it’s stopped.
*Our legs are getting longer… not so much belly anymore!
*We’re both fitting into some of our old favourite clothes. After a good couple of years in hiding, back on a hanger.
*I’m so relieved to wake up each morning, without the thoughts of starting a diet. I’m just doing it so no longer have to think about it.
A long-term plan…
*We feel confident in our ability to continue with the diet. With a couple more stone to go, we have made a plan as to how we are going to maintain our new weight. We will not be buying bread again, or drinking in the house (unless we have visitors) Sweet treats will be confined to the cinema/theatre and ice-creams/cakes enjoyed on days out. Alcohol will also join the realms of being appreciated in the outside world. We’ve acknowledged that we just can’t have these things in the house without being tempted.
*We are looking at food in a whole new way, we’ve moved away from making our decisions based purely on how we envisage it will taste, or what looks like a lovely big portion, to what’s this food doing for my body? This is a new thing for us and has changed our food choices dramatically.
*We have taken 4 large bags of clothes to the charity shop-all now too big.
Have you tried to lift over 2 stone?
*Having filled a bucket with 2 stone worth of kettlebells, I am horrified as to how heavy it is. It’s scary how much additional pressure we were putting on our hearts and knees. This is giving us the incentive to lose the other bucket needed! I’m considering swinging the kettlebells around, there only use in the last 3 years was to stop our party gazebo flying out of the garden…
Finally, we feel so much more confident. Proud of how far we have come and armed with the know how to get us to where we are going. For the first time in a long time, getting to our goal weight (be it the top end of NHS guidelines, I don’t think I’ve been 9 stone 8 since I was about eleven…) feels achievable and realistic. So roll on the Summer!
So about the diet, what does it entail?
Well, I strongly recommend you read Michael Mosely’s Book-The 8 week Blood Sugar Diet. This will dispel any dieting myths you may be holding on to. Findings are presented in a scientific way, with medical research to clarify and explain. Plus you will be enlightened as to all the wonderful things you can expect from following the diet. Tips for exercise and mindfulness strategies are discussed, as well as personal stories from those having completed the diet. There is also a list of medical conditions/stipulations. If any apply to you, you MUST seek advice from a medical professional. I have posted this at the end of my blog.
So in short, the diet is based on a Mediterranean style of eating. This means healthy fats & oils, high-quality proteins, non-starchy vegetables and *a piece of fruit… It’s a low-calorie diet, eat 800 calories per day, for 8 weeks. Alternatively, Mosley recommends trying 5:2 (5 days of 1600 calories, 2 days of 800 calories all Mediterranean style) if this is proving too difficult or eating a Mediterranean diet for improved health and slower weight loss.
What to eat…
So, it’s a yes for chicken, beef, pork (and meat replacement products) although processed meats should be limited. Fish, nuts and seeds, full-fat dairy including cheese, butter, eggs and yoghurt. Semi-skimmed milk is suggested, or alternative nut/plant-based milk. Most vegetables are good to go but this doesn’t extend to potatoes. Also, root vegetables need to be eaten in moderation. Olive, rapeseed and coconut oils are recommended for drizzling over vegetables/salads and for cooking. Nut butters are ok too but you don’t get much for your “money!” You need to keep your eye on the carb content of vegetables, *the piece of fruit should be an apple, pear or small portion of berries daily. Porridge is the only cereal stipulate but again watch the portion. I was surprised how many carbs were in 25g, we had previously enjoyed a double portion, whilst under the illusion of “being good!”
Watch your fruit and vegetables…
Whilst doing diets in the past, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of eating as much salad, veg and fruit (within reason) as I’ve liked. This, I now realise, lulled me into a false sense of security where fruit & veg is concerned. They do contain calories and carbs and although they’re good for you, watch the portions and count the calories!
Flavour your meals with plenty of garlic, ginger and chilli, we use lots of jarred spices and fresh herbs and invested in a spiralizer.
See vegetables in a different way…
We bought the good grips handheld spiralizer, it’s basic but strong, effective, compact and perfect if cooking for 1 or 2 people. It’s very easy to use and clean and although doesn’t come with different blades, its great for making courgetti, a wonderful substitute for pasta and noodles. I’ve also successfully spiralized a carrot, so it can tackle harder veg too!
Batch cooking and freezing
It’s also good to get into the habit of batch cooking/freezing. This saves lots of time, mess and is often more cost-effective than preparing individual meals. We make lots of recipes ahead of time. We buy cauliflowers when they’re cheap, blitzing in a food processor to make cauliflower rice. This can be weighed, bagged and frozen, without affecting the taste. We’ve got a mini whiteboard which we use to plan our meals. Ingredients can then be utilised across multiple recipes, saving money and waste.
Planning is definitely a key component to our success on this diet, we know what we’re having, so there is no deliberating. We buy what we need and not much else, and have created a book, with all our favourite meals listed, with the calorie and carb content. We’re then able to do a mix and match of our breakfasts, lunches and dinners, staying within the 800 calories and our chosen carbs of under 40g.
We were surprised at how much you can actually eat on this diet.
Once you have got your head around what’s “allowed” it’s fairly easy to adapt recipes from different cookbooks, depending on what you like to eat. We found that our blood sugar levels stabilised, due to the low GI nature of the diet, meaning our fears of being incessantly hungry disappeared! Drinking lots of water helps, especially sparkly water with a bit of mint and lime! It’s not a mojito, but hits the spot… (nearly).
There are recipes in the back of the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet Book and Claire Bailey (married to Michael Mosley) has compiled a recipe book to support people following the diet. We bought it as an eBook, which has proved to be a bit of a pain but there is a great, varied selection of recipes available to choose from.
The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book
Can you adapt your favourite recipes?
We have used lots of recipes from different sources, now we’re more confident in the diet and better at judging what’s “allowed” we’ve adapted recipes to suit our needs and taste. (Well Kerry has, I’m good with eggs and overnight oats…)
Check out our ideas for meals on Pinterest
What’s Off Limits?
This is not the list you want to focus on, as initially, we thought there was nothing left to eat… but although it may include all your favourites (it did ours…) None of the things here provides any essential nutrition for your body, are full of empty calories and the culprits of unstable blood sugars, carb cravings and weight gain.
Alcohol, all breads, pasta, rice and sugar – anything “diet” or “low-fat” (as often the fat has been replaced with sugar…) potatoes, tropical fruits (sadly including bananas) cakes, sweets, biscuits and cereals. (Apart from porridge) Most processed food is a no, as are prepackaged meals. Artificial sweeteners and diet drinks are listed as an “if you must” – Kerry has a quarter of a sweetener in her coffee, I feel like a drug dealer every time I cut them up… and we’ve avoided diet drinks apart from at the cinema. Kerry decided it was better to have the sweetener, as to be able to do the diet than refrain completely, then give up because for her, to be deprived of coffee, as well as everything else would have been just too much.
What about grains?
Grains such as bulgar wheat and quinoa should be eaten sparingly and keep your eye on vegetables which grow under the ground. The book does explain the option of good quality meal replacement shakes, for the first couple of weeks while you get into the swing of things, but we decided this wasn’t for us, preferring the real food option. The book also provides comprehensive listings of what’s ok and what’s out.
This is not an “easy” diet but it works…
As lovers of all things sweet and sugary, nightly drinkers and big on bread, the decision to start this diet wasn’t taken lightly. On other diets, we were used to a 2 point treat, syn or being allowed to save calories for later. We wondered if doing this diet would mean our life would be on hold. Kerry was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to eat out. Would we be able to have people over, or eat in their homes? In some ways, we were right about this.
Although the 2 stone weight loss and health benefits counteract the minor inconvenience of eating in, taking our own food whilst visiting and “adapting” our guests’ meals whilst keeping our own within the calories. Our family and friends have been really supportive, all incredibly positive and astounded at our speedy results. This is extremely encouraging and gives us the incentive to keep going.
We feel the benefits of this diet far outweigh the restrictive nature of it. Ultimately, it is the “restrictive” nature of the diet which provides the quick results. We are looking forward to being able to eat out again. Will we still go for the burger on a brioche topped with pulled pork, all the sauces and served with twice-fried fries and a bottle of Brew Dog? Watch this space!
Is it for you?
If trying this diet is something you are considering, I’d say give it a go… I’ve read stories from type 2 diabetics who have been able to come off their medication. Serial dieters discuss how 2 years in, they have kept their weight off. The Blood Sugar Diet website, as well as explaining the diet, has a forum. On here, I’m sure any questions you may have, are already or can be answered.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our personal experiences of embarking upon this diet. I’m looking forward to posting an update over the coming months, with hopefully (finger’s crossed) a “We’re at target!” Headline. Good Luck if you decide to give it a go. Look at how much we’ve gained, aside from our 2 stone weight loss. The diet and it’s benefits have given us the incentive to turn our life around. We have learnt a new way to eat and found the confidence to believe we can achieve a healthy weight.
Read how we’ve been getting on in our Blood Sugar Diet Update here.