Living proof you can lose weight and still bake
EATING LOW-FAT CAKES KEPT SWEET TOOTH UNDER CONTROL
NATALIA FORD, 36, works for the UK Green Building Council. She is single and lives in Hackney, east London I have been battling with my weight since the age of 10 when I used to pinch sweets from my parents’ shop.
Thanks to an unlimited supply of fizzy cola bottles and flying saucers, plus tucking into large portions of fish and chips and cake at school, by the time I left home at the age of 18 I weighed almost 11st – far too much for my petite 5ft frame.
My bad habits followed me to university and it wasn’t long before my weight was pushing 12st. But it wasn’t until Christmas 2010 that I realised just how big I was.
As I dressed for dinner with friends I pulled on a favourite pair of size-18 jeans but couldn’t do up the top button. I broke down in tears. I was angry at myself for letting my weight problems get so out of control and I was angry at everyone else for not telling me.
I heard about a local Weight Watchers group and I made it my New Year’s resolution to give it a go. No one had ever explained to me how to lose weight before so being given the framework and basic rules really helped me to get going.
Weight Watchers encouraged me to make smart switches, swapping foods such as toast for breakfast, which doesn’t fill you up for very long, for a bowl of porridge. Instead of high-fat sandwiches for lunch I made chunky root vegetable soup.
For dinner, I started to make low-fat versions of my favourite takeaway curries. I started to cook from scratch as it meant that I knew exactly what I was eating.
Nicola lost an amazing 3st 10Ib while still being able to enjoy her food
In the first week I lost 2½lb and continued to lose about the same each week. One of the best things about Weight Watchers was being able to indulge in my favourite cakes. I had always enjoyed baking for my friends so I decided to try my hand at healthy bakes.
I found a recipe for fatless sponge online. I gave it a go and took it in for my fellow slimmers to try. Spurred on by my success I tried an angel cake made with natural Greek yogurt and egg whites and decorated it with fresh berries and figs.
Being able to have the occasional treat of a slice of healthy cake kept my sweet tooth under control and I was able to reach my goal weight of 9st. While my creations may not be quite as indulgent as a gooey chocolate brownie, they still hit the spot.
And the best part? Using healthy ingredients means that I can have cake every single day if I want to. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll be cooking my creations for Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood on The Great British Bake Off.
Unbelievably you can make muffins with courgettes
THESE DAYS I MAKE CHOC MUFFINS WITH COURGETTES
NICOLA UPSALL, 36, is an accountant and lives in Leeds with husband Adam, 36 and their two children Dan, three, and Joe, one When Adam and I got married in 2009 I was a slim size 12 and weighed a healthy 10st.
But when I fell pregnant with Dan two years later my weight ballooned to 15st. I had suffered a miscarriage in the past so was anxious about the pregnancy and used it as an excuse to comfort eat.
I would have a big slice of cheese on toast for breakfast, a tuna mayonnaise sandwich and a packet of crisps for lunch plus biscuits and chocolate. Dinner was quite healthy, usually fish and vegetables, but it was the extras I’d eat either side of it that were the problem.
Who knows, maybe next year I’ll be cooking my creations for Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood on The Great British Bake Off
My mum is a great baker and would drop by with delicious homemade lemon drizzle cakes, which I couldn’t refuse. By the time I gave birth to Dan in 2012 I was bursting out of my size-16 maternity clothes.
I managed to drop a few pounds while I was breastfeeding Dan but I still had a long way to go so decided to join Weight Watchers. I was drawn to the plan because I could eat anything so long as it was within my daily points allowance.
The plan worked and when I found out I was pregnant with Joe in March 2013 I had slimmed down to 11st and a size 14. I didn’t gain quite as much weight the second time around and when I rejoined Weight Watchers after the birth in January 2014 I weighed 12st 11lb.
It might not sound that much to some people but I’m only 5ft 2in so I was seriously overweight. I was determined to succeed and stuck to the programme. For breakfast I would have porridge made with hot water followed by a banana.
Porridge and banana for breakfast can keep you away from the snacks until lunch
Lunch was soup with a bagel and dinner was homemade lasagne or spaghetti bolognese. If I was still hungry, I’d have a meringue nest with fruit for pudding. In the first week I lost 3lb and on average 2lb a week thereafter.
By the end of June, when I was a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding, I’d lost 2st. As soon as I hit that 2st mark everyone started to notice the change in my shape which was a lovely confidence boost.
I really didn’t feel like I was on a diet. I was still eating normal food but I reduced my portion sizes and ate everything in moderation, including cake. I’d always found baking relaxing so started making lighter versions of my favourite cakes, for example chocolate muffins made with courgettes.
Dan loves baking too so we started making cakes together. I’d work out the points value from the ingredients. I was surprised to find that most cakes aren’t too bad points-wise. I use a lot of Mary Berry’s recipes and her banana loaf is only four points for quite a generous slice.
But you have to be careful because there are some recipes that are ridiculously high. Mary’s lemon meringue pie, for example, is 13 points per slice so I adjusted the recipe. I swapped the biscuit, sugar and butter base for biscuits and apple sauce.
Instead of using condensed milk for the filling I combined egg yolks, lemon and cornflour and piped small blobs of meringue on to the top. My new version has five points per slice. Despite eating cake every week I reached my goal of 9st 1lb earlier this year.
I started running soon after and as I could only jog for one minute I started the Couch To 5k challenge and I was soon running 5km three times a week. I love the fact I’m back to my ideal weight and feel like the real me again.
* A version of this feature appears in November’s Weight Watchers magazine, on sale now. For more details see
This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.express.co.uk