A strange side-effect of 5:2 ?

Since regaining a healthy weight we are both feeling more energetic and re-invigorated with a zest for life. No bad thing!

What has happened though is that thoughts that we were mulling over have suddenly taken a life of their own and we have found ourselves deciding that what we really would enjoy doing next is to live on a barge, exploring the canals of Europe….

So my focus on healthy eating blogging has taken a bit of a back seat, as work has gone on to develop a website for marketing our beautiful house here in South West France. You can see that here www.houseinfrancewithincome.com 

House in France with Income for Sale

We have also been to visit friends living on a barge and have arranged to do a barge-handling course at the end of next month. All very exciting stuff!

So plenty to do here to get everything ready, but meanwhile continuing with 5:2.

This last week we have managed two good fast days and I am happily now under 9 stone and closing in on my target, whilst Graham is now at a comfortable, healthy weight which he wants to stay at.

I’m still using and creating new recipes, though I’m finding after 15 weeks that we have settled into an easy pattern on fast days and have a few favourite meal plans that we keep returning to.

This week on Monday we had our usual scrambled egg and smoked trout for breakfast and for dinner we enjoyed Simple Vegetable Soup, a No-Carb Chicken Caesar Salad (as per Michael Mosley’s book) and strawberries with fromage blanc

Smoked Trout and Scrambled Egg Simple Vegetable Soup No Carb Chicken Caesar Salad

On Thursday it was plain yogurt with prunes for me (porridge with prunes for him) and then  for dinner, more of the soup (which I had made a big batch of on Monday), Salmon Teriyaki with steamed asparagus and vegetables , followed by my variation of the BBC Good Food recipe for Spiced Glazed Pineapple with Cinnamon Fromage Frais – I use very little honey with the pineapple, a very small amount of butter and don’t sweeten the fromage frais at all. 

Teriyaki Salmon _MG_3300


I am keen to keep going with writing up my recipes and am planning to get a preliminary kindle version of my book ready as soon as I can, with the idea of helping to raise money for my dear friend’s granddaughter, Lexi Sky, so that she will be able to leave hospital and go home. If you find useful information here on my website, there is no better way that you could say thank you than donating a little something to her cause. Please find the link here.

I’m normal! At least weight-wise….

After goodness knows how many years of being overweight, I have now achieved a major target – I am in the healthy, normal zone of BMI for my age and height! Thank you Michael Mosley for revealing the benefits of 5:2 to us! I really think that this has radically changed our lives for the better.

Not only do we look better, but we feel more energetic and have been able to tackle a major change of outlook. With the prospect of improving, rather than declining health, we are now considering moving aboard a barge and exploring the canals of Europe. Having lived on a yacht for several years in the Caribbean earlier this century, this isn’t such a major upheaval as it might seem for us, but before we can undertake such an activity, we need to sell our house, so this week I have spent time on creating a website for that http://houseinfrancewithincome.com/ – hence not much in the way of updates here!

But of course we are still eating healthy food and are planning to continue with the 5:2 way of life. I still have a couple of kilos to lose to get comfortably under 9 stone and well within the healthy BMI zone and Graham is finding that he is hovering around his target quite comfortably.

Here’s a few of the interesting and flavourful meals we have eaten this week. I’ve not had time to write up the recipes or check the calorie counts exactly, but I can assure you that these will all fit into a healthy, balanced meal plan designed to keep you slim 🙂 I hope they will inspire you  :-

Wholewheat Tagliatelle with Tenderstem Broccoli and Chilli

Wholewheat Tagliatelle with Tenderstem Broccoli and Chilli Flakes with Parmesan – based on recipe in Delicious magazine

Sticky Chicken with Rice and Sweetcorn

Sticky Chicken on a bed of stir-fried vegetables, with Camargue Red and Brown Rice with Sweetcorn and Satay Sauce

Scotch Eggs with Light Coleslaw

Oven Baked Scotch Eggs with Light Coleslaw

Flageolet, Pepper, Spring Onion and Guindilla Salad

Flageolet, Red Pepper, Spring Onion and Guindilla Pepper Salad

Crustless Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Quiche

Crustless Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Quiche with Cauliflower Mash

A duo of beetroot, celery and apple salads

A duo of beetroot, celery and apple salads with a tahini and yogurt dressing

Baked Fish with Caper Dressing and Salsa Brava

Baked Salmon with Caper Dressing and Salsa Brava

Pea, Lettuce and Sorrel Soup

Pea, Lettuce and Sorrel Soup

Stuffed Pancakes au Gratin with a fagot of asparagus

Stuffed Crepes with a cheesy sauce, with a fagot of asparagus and a fennel, radish and rocket salad


If you do find inspiration from my blog, the best way I can think of for you to say thank you, would be to help support the sweet granddaughter of my closest childhood friend. Little Lexi Sky was born with muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy and has a difficult life ahead of her. She requires 24 hour care and equipment that is not covered by the NHS. Any donations would be so gratefully received, thank you.  Please go to http://tinyurl.com/LexiSky

A little re-organising

Wow, this blog has grown like Topsy….

I’m starting to find it a little difficult to keep track of everthing, so I’ve now added a Recipe Index to the top Menu (which I think will get automatically updated) and also subdivided my Recipes into categories of Soups, Starters, Salads, Vegetarian, Fish, Meat & Poultry, Desserts and Baking. You can find those under the top Recipe menu and also by selecting from the Category drop down over on the right column. 

I am somewhat surprised to see that I have added more desserts here than anything else – think that is a reflection of my amazement at being able to do them while counting calories! And there are several that I haven’t included yet…

Mojito Cheesecake Fruity TiramisuPlum Kulfi





Above: Mojito CheesEcake, Fruity low cal Tiramisu, light Plum Kulfi

I now realise I shouldn’t have combined multiple recipes in one post really, so will split those up if I get a moment. Also, my early recipes didn’t use the recipe cards, which are so nice and easy to save or print out. The sort of job I could do if I find myself stuck inside the caravan on a wet day…. 

Anyway, all I can say really is that this way of eating really works! I have now lost 10cms from my waist, which has taken me from the red zone on my Heart Matters tape measure, through the pink and to the white zone. I still need to lose another 5 cms to make my height:waist ratio match a healthy 2:1, but I have the confidence to believe I can achieve that. I am now wearing clothes that had been relegated to the back of the wardrobe, including trousers that I used to wear to work before 2000 and jeans that I wore on our honeymoon in 1996…. So I have lost all my living in France weight and all my post-menopause weight and am now working on my giving up smoking weight… 🙂

I hope you too feel encouraged to keep to this way of life!

Body Mass Index – BMI

I weigh myself in kilos, which I can understand for bags of flour and portions of fish or piles of vegetables, but they mean nothing to me in terms of body weight – maybe one of the reasons why mine crept up so steadily the last few years! It was a shock when I realised that my 68.4 kilos was about 10 stone 10 lbs – a healthy weight for me is a good way under 9 stone!

How do you know what a healthy weight is for you? Well apart from your own sense of what weight you should be to look good and feel good, you can use a BMI calculator. This will give you an estimate of your body mass. There are some new weighing machines on the market that will calculate percentage body fat, but I think unless you have a lot of money to spend, these are unreliable. BMI will only give you a range of healthy weights for your age and height, it’s up to you to decide where you need to be in that range for your body frame.

My BMI today

My BMI today

My starting BMI was 29.45 – right towards the top end of overweight  – and would have been set to continue into obese unless I had taken action.

We started on 2nd January on cutting out alcohol for the month, reducing our calorie intake and increasing our activity levels . Then fortuitously my husband saw Michael Mosley talking about the 5:2 diet on TV, as his The Fast Diet book was about to be launched. After doing some researching we both agreed it would be a fantastic way to change our lifestyles and something that we are both enthusiastic about for the long term health benefits. Being in my early 60s I am optimistic that it is not too late to reverse the trend towards diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure and whatever other ailments I was heading for.

The first thing though is to get rid of this excess weight  – and the 5:2 way of eating is really helping with that. I’m still calorie counting as I need to re-educate myself about portion size, which foods have hidden or surprise calories and to know that even when I am eating on a non-fast day that I am not going overboard in adding calories that my body can’t burn off.  I’m really enjoying the challenge of finding interesting, flavourful food that is filling but not fattening.

I know this is a popular diet with foodies, as it can give you the leeway to indulge yourself a little and still maintain a healthy weight. But whilst I don’t want to exclude anything in particular long term, in the short term it is worth saying NO to the wonderful French patisserie, the rich buttery pastry, the rich creamy sauces and so on, while I am working on getting to a maintenance weight.  So I am being careful, but not entirely restrictive. Weekends and the occasional night out can still include a couple of glasses of wine and something sweet. If I have burned calories by cycling or Zumba, then that gives me some spare calories that I could use. But I don’t want guzzle a whole handful of chocolates and ruin everything I have achieved so far –  and thanks to the changes that are happening to my body and brain, I don’t want to! How brilliant is that?

Yes there is some willpower required to keep going on a fast day, to wait another 15 minutes before having something to eat, to say NO to a cream cake or whatever is your weakness – but the goals of being healthy, looking good, and best of all, feeling good – well those are worth working for, worth a little short-term discomfort.

The act of fasting twice a week helps to reduce your stomach size, reduce your appetite and reduce your cravings. It makes you more mindful about what and when you eat and to not mind being a little hungry occasionally.   If you combine this with steps towards avoiding junk food, cutting back on snacking and sweetened soft drinks and replacing processed and refined foods with home-made and wholefoods wherever you can, then you will be well on the way to a really healthy lifestyle, even if you don’t take any more exercise.  It’s a journey, not an instant fix. I’m lucky to already have a lot of knowledge about food and I enjoy planning meals and preparing things from scratch, but I’m still learning about nutrition. I’m happy to share to help others to get healthy and it  encourages me too.

So keep at it. If you have read this far – I hope you will find some useful and inspiring ideas here to help you to keep going with 5:2 in the long term, along with me and my husband.

My current BMI is 27.04 – I still have a further 5 kgs to lose to get me into the healthy zone and my target is to get a little under that, to allow for a little fluctuation.

Let’s all get to a healthy BMI and keep the cost of medical care down!

You can calculate your BMI here on the NHS website.

Not going to bed hungry!

Today was our 10th fast day. Amazing! My weight is still on a very pleasing downward trend. I love my bathroom scales at the moment! I’ve also lost another 1cm off my waist and hips in the last week or so, so I love my tape measure too! I use one that I got from free when I joined the British Heart Foundation – I’m still in the pink ‘at risk’ zone for my waist measurement, but at least I am out of the red ‘high risk’ zone now.

I’ve noticed a few people on the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting support group on Facebook saying that they are going to bed hungry and early, wishing for their breakfast to come soon. That’s certainly not the case for me. Once we’ve had our evening meal I am finding myself completely comfortable and not in the slightest bit hungry. Mid afternoon is when I usually find my stomach grumbling and rumbling, but a cup of rooibosh tea or lime and ginger tea and the feeling passes. The weather was dreary, damp and cold here again though, so I was very glad that the wood burner stove was going as I felt decidedly chilly.

Waking up the morning after I was in no particular hurry for breakfast either. I really think there is a great benefit from going 12 hours or so without filling your stomach – not just because your system gets a break from food processing and pumping out insulin, but your stomach gets used to being empty, your mind gets more used to your stomach being empty and overall it helps to decrease your appetite.

So for our fast day morning this Thursday we had a breakfast of porridge (made with water) and a dozen blackberries each, from last year’s harvest in our garden. A cup of black coffee. No sugar, no honey, no sweeteners, no milk.

During the day I drank another cup of black coffee, a couple of glasses of water, a lime and ginger tea, 2 cups of rooibosh tea.

For our evening meal we had simple vegetable soup followed by peppered smoked mackerel with poached egg, wilted spinach and steamed broccoli and carrots. For dessert we had fromage blanc with a few home grown cherries from the freezer, poached with some mixed spice. No sugar or sweetener

According to myfitnesspal, my intake was just slightly over target, at 515 calories. The mackerel was quite a lot higher in calories than I expected (my 60g fillet was 186kcal), more than twice what a piece of salmon would have been, so not really a brilliant choice for a fast day. But it was very tasty and the meal was very filling.  I think the soup to start with is a great way to break a fast and it certainly helps to fill me up.

About an hour before bed I had a cup of camomile tea, which I often find is helpful for getting a good night’s sleep.

Neither of us went to bed hungry!