Tom Kerridge: how to stick to your New Year diet

    3 February 2020

    “The smell of freshly baked bread was a trigger for me when I first went on a diet – that’s what I missed the most!” says Tom Kerridge, the Michelin star chef who weighed 30st at his heaviest. Asked in the past to name his signature dish, a deep-fried pig’s head sprang to mind. Now, with a BBC series Lose Weight and Get Fit and a book of the same name, Tom extols the virtues of moderation.

    He initially lost over 12st by fitting a swim into his day, and cutting out alcohol and carbohydrates. Now Tom champions a well-balanced lower calorie diet – which means he can eat bread, and pretty much everything else too.

    While the rest of us are failing at our faddy New Year diets, balking at another bowl of cabbage soup, readers of Tom’s recipe book are eating Spanish style eggs with chorizo, monkfish and coconut curry, and fudgy chocolate brownies. “The good thing about this book is that a lot of the recipes don’t feel like they’re lower calorie, so you can cook them for other people and they’ll enjoy it,” says Tom.

    Having felt his clothes getting tighter again after his initial weight loss, Tom now embraces healthy eating and exercise as a way of life. Here are his tips for sticking with it…

    Motivation matters

    When you have a moment of weakness and you’re craving something, find the inner mental strength to walk away by reminding yourself what your motivation is. You’ve recognised that what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working for you – maybe you’re making noises when you bend down to do your shoelaces up or maybe you’re even in worse health than that. Maybe you want to be able to run around with your kids – whatever it is, remind yourself of the reasons for your diet.

    Embrace the blunders

    Don’t schedule in “cheat days” because they’ll happen by accident anyway. Everyone has days when they fall off the wagon, or maybe you’ll go to a friend’s house for dinner and they’ll cook something that’s not in your diet plan. Enjoy yourself, enjoy the evening, then get back on it the next day. Don’t beat yourself up – it isn’t the end of the world. Remember this is long term. It’s about changing the way you eat, rather than thinking short term.

    Fun factor

    Sometimes you can’t get to the gym and there isn’t anything you can do, but try to make it part of your day because it’s worth going and you’ll feel great afterwards. If you’re dreading exercise then you’re doing the wrong activity. Find something you enjoy, whether it’s playing squash, going for a swim or a run, getting on the bike or going to a class with friends. Finding something that’s fun rather than frightening can be a journey in itself!

    Arm yourselves with alternatives

    Have healthy choices around you so you can reach for those if you fancy something. A big mistake people make is not eating enough, so they get hungry and make the wrong decisions. Eat food and enjoy what you’re eating. Celebrate the foods you can eat, instead of focusing on the ones you can’t. Have low calorie skinny popcorn next to you. Tell yourself: “That burger and chips on the advert looks great – however, I’m cooking myself this lovely penne pasta with pesto and pine nuts and a little bit of parmesan, and it’s delicious!”

    It all adds up

    If you’re not getting any slimmer then re-evaluate what you’re doing because you’re probably cheating somewhere. Use an app and put in everything you consume, whether it’s cups of tea or a bit of biscuit. Maybe the sandwich you made is fine, but what about that nobby bit of bread that you didn’t put in the sandwich but that you still buttered and ate with a bit of jam? Maybe you thought it didn’t count because it wasn’t part of the sandwich – but actually it does count. Add up all those little things and be 100 per cent honest with yourself.

    Celebrate the small stuff

    Enjoy achieving small goals – they’re the important ones. It’s not about climbing Mount Everest or rowing across the Channel. It’s about the little magic moments that happen throughout the day that make you feel great. That could be going up the steps to a plane without getting out of breath, or going for a run and doing it a bit quicker. It might be going that bit further on a bike ride, or getting to the end of the day and finding you’re 200 calories under your target calorie count. Focus on these achievements and feel good about yourself.

    Samantha Rea can be found tweeting here.