The Side-Plate Diet: Breakfasts

In previous posts I have talked generally about the Side-Plate Diet and the business of which side plate  to use (size matters) and how many – I am currently on 3 a day but once or twice a week add another (albeit with an apple and a small handful of nuts on it, so still nice and healthy).

So now for the nitty-gritty of what to actually put on the side-plates during the day so that you are optimally healthy but losing weight.

The beauty of this diet is that you are essentially eating perfectly normal food, you are just constraining the amount by imposing strict portion control. Get your 3 (or 4) plates out first thing in the morning and take pictures of each meal as you go along. Remember, there is evidence to show that by keeping a diary of your food intake, you will increase the likelihood of weight loss. The best way I have found is taking snaps on my phone. If you have got a diet-buddy, send them to him or her, or indeed send them to me.

Let’s start with breakfast: Once you begin the Side-Plate Diet, you will definitely be nice and hungry by the time breakfast comes around. The question of whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day now appears to be moot (have a read of this information from the NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/08august/pages/breakfast-not%20the-most-important-meal-of-the-day.aspx ) but I LOVE breakfast, so here are half a dozen suggestions for brekkies which fit nicely on a side-plate and should keep you going until lunch.

1. Half a bagel with low-fat cream cheese and smoked salmon. This is probably more of a once-a-week treat, or brunch out with friends.

smoked salmon on bagel

2. One poached egg on a bed of spinach

Paleo-Spinach-and-Poached-Eggs-image

3.My go-to, quick and easy breakfast choice: Bircher Muesli or normal healthy cereal http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/oct/23/how-to-make-perfect-bircher-muesli-recipe with honey, berries and seeds or nuts on top. Use a dipping bowl or small teacup for this. I recommend using oats (in my case I am extremely lucky to be a coeliac who can tolerate gluten free oats) as they contain slow release energy. These pictures below show the layers of food I put in my dipping bowl which, by the way, is 4.25 inches across at the top. Almond-milk soaked oats + pomegranate seeds + raspberries + blueberries + topped with flaked almonds.

breakfast 1

breakfast 2

breakfast 3

breakfast 4

breakfast 5

4. One slice of wholemeal toast with enough baked beans to cover. (Don’t overload)

62_beansontoast

5. Low fat Greek Yoghurt (which has twice as much protein as regular yoghurt) topped with berries, a few toasted almonds and some seeds.

greek yoghurt

6. One slice of wholemeal toast with peanut butter or jam or honey on.

toast on side-plate

You can see in that photo that I have the plates out ready for the day ahead. I think I can see four. By the way, I very rarely drink juice or smoothies, but if you do want to, on the Side-Plate Diet, make sure it is in a small glass (see below). Even something as healthy as a freshly made fruit or vegetable juice smoothie needs to have portion control imposed on it.

smoothie pic

The thing to remember though is this: whatever you normally have for breakfast, as long as it isn’t a Mars Bar, or a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s, if you put it onto a side-plate or into a dipping bowl, you are most likely cutting down on your calorie intake. You will lose weight on this diet if you stick to this imposed portion control. However, nobody wants to feel faint or weak from lack of food, so you may need to adjust the number of side-plates you use. There are lots of variables: your metabolism, the amount of exercise you take and your age being the three most obvious. I definitely don’t need the amount of food I used to eat in my 30s and 40s. It has taken me a while to accept that, but there we are.

Also, don’t eat between the side-plate meals under any circumstances. Not so much as one grape!

This diet works!

Good luck and watch out for some lunch ideas coming soon.

green bee for signature copy

Annie Bee x

More pics of healthy breakfast ideas here: https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/healthy-breakfasts/

When Is A Side-Plate Not A Side-Plate?

According to Wiki, a side-plate (sometimes also called an appetiser plate, a dessert plate, a breakfast plate or a salad plate) can vary from 4 to 9 inches (10-22cm) across. Clearly if you are going to have a go at the Side-Plate Diet, size is a crucial point, although hopefully any side-plate is smaller than a normal dinner plate which you would otherwise be eating off. I have pretty much always eaten lunch and dinner on a normal dinner plate, on top of which (being a fairly greedy kind of gal) giving myself as much food as my husband (Mr Bee, who runs 6 miles a day and works full-time). The psychology of this fascinates me: I am pretty sure I felt that I ‘deserved’ as much food as he was getting. But we all know that women need fewer calories than men, on top of which there is the ever important aspect of Calories Out which I touched on in the first blog. More of that later.

The beauty of the Side-Plate Diet is this: you used to eat amount every day off bigger plates. By eating off a small plate, you are cutting down on portion size and, so long as you are not putting a large slice of coffee and walnut cake onto that side-plate, this will definitely mean fewer Calories In. Bingo. Weight loss.

Back to plates: according to Google, in the 1960s, dinner plates were roughly 9 inches in diameter. In the 1980s, they grew to around 10 inches. By the year 2000, the average dinner plate was 11 inches in diameter, and now, it’s not unusual to find dishes that are 12 inches or larger. I imagine in the 1950’s these would have been called a platter, and yet, here we are putting our dinners on them. No wonder we are piling on the pounds. I was out with a colleague a few weeks ago who, on seeing my medium-sized coffee (not the large, the size of which resembles a soup bowl) said we are now dealing with American sizes, even for coffee. She is right. A large Coke, at the cinema for example, is enormous – way too much surely.

By changing the portion size you change the amount you consume. No counting, no faddy protein-only, fruit -only, fat-free, juice -only; no meal replacements, no weighing your food, no supplements. Many of these diets (and I have tried a few) are unsustainable; you will get an initial weight loss but where are you 4 months down the line or, more to the point, 12? They are hard to make work in the office, or eating out. With the Side-Plate Diet you eat  exactly what you would have been eating, but on a small (I would suggest 7 inch) side-plate.

In my house we have blue Denby crockery (it is sturdy, practical and virtually indestructible) and it has done a very fine job for us for the last 15 years, but I like the idea of eating off pretty, maybe vintage, (maybe very modern  – depending on my mood) side plates. You do need to be careful of the size though. I looked at some from John Lewis, but when I read the dimensions closely, although called a side-plate, they were much bigger than 7 inches across.

What about breakfast I hear you say? What about soup? I use little dipping bowls.  original_set-of-four-japanese-dipping-bowls6110184745_54d485544a_z

  Alternatively you could use a vintage tea-cup. Just don’t use a normal sized bowl. Remember: portion control. The other fascinating benefit I have found is that by putting these plates and bowls out first thing in the morning, psychologically I know where I stand. It is those plates, no others. Nothing in between. I do not spend my time thinking about food, as I have parameters in which to stay – those plates. It works for me; let me know if you try it and how you get on and do send in your pics. 

Thanks for reading. Let me know how you get on.

green bee for signature copy

ANNIE BEE x

https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/side-plates/

The Side-Plate Diet: The Background

Most of us who are even slightly overweight are aware that, although no doubt a  complex area from a medical/nutrition point of view, our weight comes down to Calories In, Calories Out. As a neighbour of mine pointed out once, when I had exclaimed about her marvellous weight-loss (and rather put me in my place), “it’s not rocket science”.

Indeed it is not, and yet why do so many of us struggle with our weight? And I do not just mean middle-aged women like me; obesity (the description of which, on the NHS website, is  ‘somebody who is very overweight, with a lot of body fat. It’s a common problem, estimated to affect around one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11 in the UK’) is one of the biggest problems facing the long-term health of the population in the UK today.

The Guardian recently reported, “The UK has higher levels of obesity and overweight people than anywhere in western Europe except for Iceland and Malta, according to an authoritative global study that raises fresh concerns about the likely health consequences”. And from The Lancet: ” Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge. Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene.”

We know that the Calories Out bit is to do with burning the fuel which is our food; also not a simple issue (we are all different with different abilities, different metabolisms and definitely different levels of motivation) but essentially we all know we need to be ACTIVE. (The additional health benefits impact on our chances of getting cancer, dementia and a whole host of problems).

For the purposes of this piece, it is the Calories In bit which I want to share some ideas with you about. We are bombarded with information on healthy eating, diets, fitness regimes, super-foods etc. I went onto Amazon UK and found there were in excess of 131,000  diet books to be had  – it is mind-boggling to think how much more information is out there on the internet about the subject. How may different diets can you name? How many have you been on? Has the weight-loss been maintained? (If the answer to that last question is ‘yes’, well done). Has a diet you have been on left you feeling weak and pathetic rather than strong and healthy?

To make things simple I have devised the Side-Plate Diet: no calorie counting, no eating different things from the rest of the family, no need for bizarre ingredients (unless that is what makes you tick), but rather finding the “Golden Mean” –  the desirable middle  ground between the extremes of deficiency (not enough food) and excess (over-eating).  Healthy eating but with portion control at the forefront of the approach. I came across one diet (which no doubt has its avid followers and no doubt works for some people) which seems to use little ladles of different colours in which foods must be weighed, added up before being turned into a meal (not to mention you have to buy these cute little ladles). By limiting yourself to a set number of side-plates per day, being sensible (yes, I know, a Mars Bar fits very nicely onto a side-plate – the occasional treat is OK but this is a diet), and sticking to nutritious, balanced foods, you avoid the danger of over-eating and, very importantly (a problem for so many of us and certainly me) snacking.

Research has long highlighted  that people who keep a record of what they eat and drink and how active they are – known to health professionals as ‘self-monitoring’ have more weight-loss success. With the Side-Plate Diet I would urge you to keep a photo diary every day: unless you are a Luddite, chances are you, or somebody who lives in your house, will have access to a digital camera (preferably on your mobile phone). By taking pictures of the plates, you can see just how well you are doing but also analyse whether you are still managing to get enough fruit and veg, what the level of carbs are (it is easy to think that a piece of toast fits well onto a side plate and make that the basis of your meals) but also share what you are eating with others (including me). If taking pics is a problem, write it down.

My next piece will be “What Exactly Is A Side-Plate” – you probably think that sounds mad, but let me tell you, size matters! Also coming soon: Being Active, Portion Distortion, Calories Out.

Thanks for reading.

green bee for signature copy

ANNIE BEE X