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Trying to lose weight as a carer - Carers UK Forum

Trying to lose weight as a carer

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.

I know this topic has come up before, but I'm really struggling with my weight at the moment. Over the past 3 years I have gained loadddsss of weight. Partly down to medication, but mostly just overeating/not eating properly because of caring.

I'm always getting told to lose weight by doctors (I have physical and mental health problems myself) as if it is sooooo easy.

Does anyone else have this problem? I'm thinking of trying slimming world, but not sure if it's just a gimmick.


Hi Jess
I have been a member of 'Weight Watchers' and 'Slimming World' and other clubs, even ran one myself many years ago, to be honest belonging to a slimming club is the only way I can lose weight. For me it's something to do with standing on the scales in front of the club 'leader' and needing to have lost that pound or two. Makes me stick to it.
I KNOW how to diet and at the moment I'm making the mistake of trying on my own which isn't working well and in my heart I know I will have to rejoin one of the clubs. I cheat far too much and then regret it.
It's all to do with calories of course. If you ingest less calories than you use daily, then your body makes up the difference by using up the stored fat. However the secret is to eat the same number of calories every day and up the exercise at least a little bit. It doesn't work so well if you are very low calorie wise one day and higher the next. (Even if that higher is still relatively low.) That's why the club diets work. It means weighing food and eating healthily but it is all worked out for you. It's not calories these days but 'points' and so on but it comes to the same thing. If you follow the plan it will work.
If you can't face a 'club' or there's not one near you, you can join 'on line'. You get all the same information and even a 'forum' for peer encouragement. You do not have to be hungry but it will mean a change of eating habits. You will be surprised at how much you can eat of 'diet friendly' foods and what food is actually more unfriendly than you ever realised.
Why not give a club or an online membership of one of them a try?
Sometimes the GP can prescribe 12 weeks of Weight Watchers or Slimming World free of charge, and if it works then a further 12 weeks.

I haven't tried Weight Watchers but I tried Slimming World recently. Weight Watchers has changed its points system slightly recently but it seems like a form of calorie counting. Slimming World works differently. As Elaine says, you need to eat a regular amount of calories and have a bit more exercise. I found it very hard to plan meals and exercise properly as a carer.

Slimming World works like this: you can eat as much as you like without any counting of all sorts of green vegetables but also fruit, potatoes, rice, pasta (if it was bought as dried pasta). I suspect that if you ate rice or potatoes all day it would not work, but a bowl of pasta and veg is quite nice. You are also allowed a certain number of 'syns', and that's where the counting starts. In fact it is a rigidly low-fat diet except for the syns.
I don't think it's a gimmick and it may work well for you. I lost a lot of weight on it, about 20 kilos, then I began to put it on again. I could not be bothered to count the syns and I had lots of vegetables but no real planned meals. I also hated the Slimming World meals they sell at Iceland. And I refuse to eat reduced-fat cheese!

Finally I actually attended a group to see if that jumpstarted my continuing weight loss. Weighing took a long time and then we had a talk suggesting we compared the labels of yogurts in all the supermarkets, and everyone reported on their weight loss or gain, and everyone had to clap everyone else. I got a round of applause for joining too. It was all meaningless. The group leader said it was better for me in the group because if I recorded my weight online I would lie. Why on earth would I lie? The group was a total waste of time and energy for me. People went in twos, too, so they talked to their friend rather than in the group. It might be worth trying more than one group if you have time to go. I did not go again. It was possible to do pay-as-you-go though.

If you google these things you can find discussions about them on Mumsnet, for example, to get more opinions.
I'm not in the slightest surprised you suffer from being overweight. My friend who looks after her dad at home always says 'Show me a carer and I'll show you someone with weight problems'.

We overeat because it is the only 'easy comfort' we've got.

I was at my slimmest and trimmest that I'd been for for years the summer my MIL announced she couldn't cope on her own any more. In that year my weight SOARED again...

It's just a deadly combination of stress (comfort eating because our lives as carers are so 'un'-comfortable!) and 'boredom' (again, because our lives as carers are so limited and confined). And, of course, our time is all taken up with caring, so things like getting out to the gym, or pool, or even just taking an hour or two to go for a lovely long walk just become impossible!

(For some carers, the only exercise is pushing the wheelchair!)(see that other thread on that topic!)

As for how to tackle it? Well, personally, I think the key is giving up complex/starch-carbs (and giving up as much sugar as possible too - ie, simple carbs).

For me, it was the Ducan diet (which is no-carbs) was a revelation. It was that that enabled me to lose so much weight before I became a carer! The key is to replace carbs with protein. Protein is brilliant because it fills you up (you feel MUCH fuller, for MUCH longer on protein) and it doesn't turn to fat if you have too much of it (well, not for MUCH longer than it takes for excess carbs to turn to fat!)

At first I found it impossible to believe that I could sit down to a meal of, say salmon and broccoli but NO rice/pasta/potatoes/bread and not feel hungry (desperately hungry) at the end of it. I thought you HAD to have starch foods (rice etc) to feel full. But you don't. It's the bulk of the food that fills one - so a LOT of salmon and a LOT of broccoli will do the trick amazingly well.

These days, I eat very few complex carbs (ie, rice etc) and am 'not too bad' (also, MIL is in a care home of course!) except when I 'pig out' (which tends to happen too often.....). But when I'm 'in the zone' then it's no starch carbs at all. Bread does not exist in my house, nor potatoes or pasta or rice (well the latter in the store cupboard 'just in case'!).

However, my own personal weakness is 'sweet fat' (er, icecream!) which I have every night as my 'treat'. I do try and keep it to a very small portion which I eat slowly with a teaspoon.
Slimming World worked very well for me back in the late 90's when I lost 3st and then kept it off until 2009 when I started caring for Mum and put it all back within the space of a year (comfort eating of course) :( .

Mum died in 2012 - so no more excuse for comfort eating but I really struggled to lose the weight second time around. Then in 2014 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (directly due to being overweight) - that was the kick up the butt I needed :shock: I started a diabetic 'friendly' diet, which like Jenny's is very low in carbohydrates and sugars but high in proteins - it took me 9 months but I got back to a healthy 9st for my 5'2" frame and I've stayed there with no difficulty since plus I really, genuinely do not feel hungry and I don't miss the chocolate, biscuits etc. I do, however miss pasta and rice (I'm half Italian so they've always been a large part of my diet) - but if I want to keep my diabetes under control then I know what I have to do !

Yes, Carers do have a tendency to put on weight, a combination of too many calories and not enough exercise will do it every time. Sorry to say this (I'm just as guilty as the next person) but we KNOW what we have to do only we keep keep making excuses as to why we can't do it :roll: We kid ourselves that just one biscuit/packet of crisp/chocolate won't make a difference 'just this once' and we'll 'be good tomorrow' - but tomorrow never comes does it ? and that one biscuit/packet of crisps/chocolate is now on our hips to stay :(

There is no 'easy fix' to losing weight - it is hard to start with but with a degree of determination to not end up dead before our time we CAN do it.
Yes, I definitely agree with less simple carbs but more protein and some fat. The advantage of Slimming World was that it did get me to eat my 5 a day. But I wouldn't have started it if I had realized it was a low-fat diet.
And as a carer, making meals for myself, it was difficult to plan enough, because it takes time if you decide you won't buy ready meals, and you don't want to eat an omelette or vegetable soup every evening.
Thanks for all your responses. It's reassuring to know this isn't just me and that a lot of carers have this problem. Thanks for all your advise. I'm going to try and lower carbs and sugar and ready meals . It's hard with caring sometimes but I need to cook better meals. I think I will try slimming world meetings - just go on a Pay-as-you-go basis at first and see what they are like. If I like them I may ask my GP about a referral (didn't realise they could do that!) I've heard a lot of success stories from people I know/online but just wasn't sure what it would be like.
Hi Jess
I lost weight at a group but tried 2 or 3 before I found one I was comfortable with. It can depend on the leader and/or the friendliness of attendees so don't be put off if the first one isn't right for you.
Also mention it to GP, some do have referrals they can make which save money or aid motivation
Good luck
Personally, I think there are lots of 'tricks' in dieting (which I define as eating less than you want to eat!).

For example, if you are determined to eat only a salad for lunch, make sure you actually prepare it straight after breakfast. You'll be doing so when you're not hungry (having just had breakfast), and it will then be 'ready' for lunchtime. Putting salads together is often timeconsuming, and I've found that if I let myself get to lunch time too hungry, then I can't be bothered to make a salad, but instead have toast.....if the salad is waiting for me, it's much easier to have it.

I think there are not absolute rules or 'methods' it's more a question of working out what works for you, personally.

I'd start by making two lists. One is of foodstuffs and recipes you would find VERY hard to do without/cut back on, and those that would be much easier.

Then rate them on a 'good/bad' rating.

For me, a Good foodstuff I'd find hardest to give up would be tomatoes and oranges (not together). A Bad one would be cream and wine (again, not together!).

A Good one I'd find very easy to give up would be spinach (in fact, I gave it up a long time ago ha ha!). A Bad one would be crisps - I'm pretty indifferent to them. I'll eat them if they are there, but I'd never buy them and don't crave them (I quite like those veggie thins though - but luckily very expensive!). I'm also pretty indifferent to rice, and even potatoes (but find pasta VERY hard to give up!)

If you're going to eat Bad food, make sure it's the best quality you can afford, otherwise it's just wasting your bad calorie allowance.

Try and give up the 'low hanging' Bad food first, because they are the easiest to give up.

Watch out for portion size. The idea is to 'shrink the stomach' so we feel fuller on less.

Welcome hunger pangs that onset just before meals (because they indicate your intake is reducing) - BUT make sure that, as with the salad above, you have a Good calorie meal instantly available, so you don't crack and stuff pasta down you in a hungry hurry! I always prepare my vegetables early on, and get the meat/fish out of the fridge and even in the pan ready to cook, long before I get hungry. That way they're all 'there' when I want dinner.

To aid portion size reduction, drink at least one half litre of water before a meal, so your stomach already has volume in it, which helps to ensure that a smaller portion will still feel filling.

Thick soups 'last' longer in the stomach, and keep your feeling fuller for longer.

Allow yourself treats at the END of the day. I know there's a school of nutritional thought that says you shouldn't eat treat food last thing, but to me the psychological benefit outweighs everything. Because we know that throughout the day we can look forward to our late-night treat (icecream for me) we are more stoical about toughing it out during the day. A treat that is eaten too soon is forgotten too soon - and we just want another one!
Jess_1612 wrote:Hi,

I know this topic has come up before, but I'm really struggling with my weight at the moment. Over the past 3 years I have gained loadddsss of weight. Partly down to medication, but mostly just overeating/not eating properly because of caring.

I'm always getting told to lose weight by doctors (I have physical and mental health problems myself) as if it is sooooo easy.

Does anyone else have this problem? I'm thinking of trying slimming world, but not sure if it's just a gimmick.


My childhood friend has this problem as well. He's tried a lot of diets but nothing works.
Please help. I want to help him but I don't know how :( what are the best diets in 2018?
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