Woman claims STOPPING counting calories helped her lose weight

Woman, 21, who piled on weight from the age of 10 after a knee injury and tried 16 different calorie counting apps says she shed 7.5st when she STOPPED restricting her intake

  • Caitlin Trick, 21, from Swansea dropped five dress sizes with Slimming World
  • Says eating healthily given her new of freedom to enjoy food and lose weight
  • New survey suggests calorie counting not easy or sustainable way to lose weight

A woman who had felt overweight her entire life has dropped 7.5st in two years – after stopping counting calories.

Caitlin Trick, 21, from Swansea piled on the pounds from the age of 10 when she suffered a knee injury and tipped the scales at over 17st.

She tried various diets, including 16 different calorie counting apps and cutting out carbs, but found none of them worked and she struggled to stick to them before falling back into her old habits – which included three takeaway pizzas a week.

In January 2019, Caitlin joined her local Slimming World group which helped change her relationship with food. 

Caitlin Trick, 21, from Swansea piled on the pounds from the age of 10 when she suffered a knee injury and tipped the scales at over 17st


In January 2019, Caitlin joined her local Slimming World group which helped change her relationship with food – and she now weighs 9st 7lb

She now weighs a healthy 9st 7lbs and has gone from a size 20 to a size 10, and admits it’s changed her life.

It comes as a new survey about calorie counting as a weight loss method commissioned by Slimming World – which polled over 2,000 UK adults and over 2,500 Slimming World members – has shown that method alone is not an easy, balanced or sustainable way to lose weight. 

Caitlin explained: ‘I feel like I’ve been overweight my entire life. Looking back to when I was younger, I always felt bigger than other children and I was always conscience of my weight. 

‘I started to put weight on when I was 10 years old and hurt my knee. I had to use crutches and with reduced mobility and boredom, I piled on the pounds. 

Caitlin tried various diets over the years, including 16 different calorie counting apps and cutting out carbs, but found none of them worked and she struggled to stick to them before falling back into her old habits


Caitlin and her mother looked into different weight loss options and she decided to join Slimming World

‘As I recovered and got older, I developed a bad habit of grazing and waiting for the next thing to eat. The bigger I got the less I wanted to go out with my friends so I would stay home and spend that time eating. It was a vicious circle.

‘I’d tried so many different ways to lose weight. I’d tried cutting out carbs and I used 16 different calorie counting apps, but they never worked. I could never stick to them long enough as they were restrictive and cut out so many options. 

‘The most I ever lost was almost 2st before I fell back off the wagon and back into my old habits.’

Caitlin said the ‘final straw’ came when she began studying at Swansea University and fell over while running for a taxi after a night out.

‘I ended up badly dislocating my knee cap,’ she recalled. ‘This led to me seeing a knee and joint specialist who carried out tests and advised that surgery was needed to repair my knees. 

Caitlin has gone from a size 20 to a size 10 and now regularly goes to the gym. She admits it’s changed her life

‘The GP advised that for surgery to be considered, I needed to lose 5st, which was a real wake up call for me and it made me realise I had to make a change.’

Caitlin and her mother looked into different weight loss options and she decided to join Slimming World. 

‘It was daunting because I’d never done anything like it before,’ she admitted. ‘I thought everyone would be judgemental, especially as I was young, but I walked into a room of people who completely understood my difficulties. 

‘Everyone was so warm and friendly, it felt like a big family. I soon realised no one wants to judge you because everyone in group is going through the same thing. 

‘Before I joined, I was embarrassed to talk about my weight to others. Now I feel completely different. I love having a laugh with the other members and after each group session, it always amazes me how fun attending can be.  

Caitlin said the ‘final straw’ came when she began studying at Swansea University and fell over while running for a taxi after a night out


Caitlin’s previous diet saw her indulge in three takeaway pizzas a week, always with a side of wedges, garlic bread and cookies for dessert, but she now eats a healthy balanced diet with lots of homecooked meals (left before and right after)

‘In two years, I’ve lost 7.5st which has been life-changing for me. As the weight came off my confidence grew, and I now feel much more comfortable when giving presentations to my fellow students as part of my history degree. 

‘I’m now able to do simple things that I could never do before, such as cross my legs when I sit down and run up and down stairs quickly without getting out of breath. I now love seeing my friends and family without feeling self-conscious too.’

Caitlin’s previous diet saw her indulge in three takeaway pizzas a week, always with a side of wedges, garlic bread and cookies for dessert.

‘Now I would say I’m a good cook and the more weight I lost, the more I saw I was naturally switching to healthier options,’ she said. ‘I love that I can eat almost everything that everyone else can eat. Nothing is off the menu. 

CAITLIN’S DIET BEFORE

Breakfast – massive bowl of cereal OR toast with thick layers of Nutella (sometimes both)

Lunch – sandwich with thick crusty bread and loads of crisps or pasty from the bakery

Dinner – large take-away pizza, wedges, garlic bread and cookies

CAITLIN’S DIET NOW

Breakfast – yogurt with fruit

Lunch – soup or an omelette

Dinner – beef tagliatelle or Shepherd’s pie

Snacks: apple, banana or a high fibre bar 

 

‘I can have pasta, burgers, chips and even chocolate. It’s easy to incorporate Slimming World’s flexible healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, into in my everyday life and it’s very adaptable when I go out for meals. I love the frozen range in Iceland too, for when I can’t be bothered to cook.’

Caitlin has also become more physically active since losing weight, and enjoys going on long walks with her two dogs – joking that her family is relieved she no longer moans about feeling tired. 

‘I enjoy going to the gym a few times a week, I’m using the bike my dad bought me and I love attending yoga classes which I could never do before,’ she went on.

‘We can now all go shopping too without me getting bored because nothing in the shop fits me – I love going shopping with my younger sister. 

‘I never understood the appeal of clothes shopping before and now I’ve gone down from a size 20 to a size 10, I love it! 

‘Sadly, I found when you’re plus sized and young it can sometimes be difficult to get hold of the latest trends in your size. Now I can walk into any shop and I know the clothes I want to try on will fit me and even better, I feel confident they’ll look good!

‘Losing weight has changed every part of my life. I graduate in the summer and now I’ve lost weight my main ambition in life is to always be happy and never miss another minute! I aim to finish my history degree and would love to be able to help others the way my group’s consultant Joanna has helped me.

‘I joined Slimming World to lose weight, what I didn’t expect was to gain a sense of freedom, for my outlook on life to be brighter and for the first time to be genuinely excited about what the future holds for me.’

COUNTING CALORIES TAKES AWAY THE ‘FREEDOM TO ENJOY FOOD’ 

Almost three quarters of adults (72 per cent) surveyed by Slimming World said they feel that counting calories takes away the freedom from enjoying food, and more than half of adults (51 per cent) agree that calorie counting can lead to an unbalanced diet. The survey went on to show the average amount of time adults spent calorie counting was just four months.

The findings come at a time when new government plans propose that restaurants, cafes and pubs with more than 250 employees must include calorie counts on their menus. Over half of those surveyed (53 per cent) said they’re looking to lose weight as lockdown restrictions are eased.

Of those questioned who had previously tried to lose weight by counting calories, nearly seven in 10 (69 per cent) said they found themselves focusing on the number of calories rather than the nutritional value of food and nearly three in 10 (29 per cent) said they chose to use their calories on less healthy high calorie snacks, replacing regular meals with chocolate (22 per cent), crisps (22 per cent) biscuits and cheese (19 per cent) and alcohol (12 per cent).

Over half (51 per cent) of calorie counters who didn’t find calorie counting a sustainable way to lose weight said they found it too difficult to keep count, 36 per cent struggled in any situation where they weren’t sure of the calorie content, for example eating at a friend’s house or in a restaurant, and 31 per cent felt too hungry. The survey revealed nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of adults who had calorie counted to lose weight said they went to bed hungry every day.

By contrast, Slimming World members polled separately reported forming a new healthy relationship with food, with 81 per cent saying they’d learnt how to cut calories without counting each and every calorie they eat. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of Slimming World members who had tried calorie counting to lose weight in the past agreed that it can result in an unbalanced diet, and 62 per cent agreed that in their experience, calorie counting doesn’t lead to long term weight loss success.   

Previous research showed that eating a diet based around low energy dense foods – foods that contain fewer calories per gram – is more effective for weight loss than traditional calorie counting. That study showed that people who followed a diet of low energy density food were more likely to feel full than those who tried a restrictive approach by counting calories and eating smaller portions.

Professor of Appetite and Energy Balance James Stubbs from the University of Leeds said: ‘Losing weight isn’t easy. Self-management and self-monitoring are important for weight management. 

‘Excessive and exclusive focus on counting calories can take a huge amount of effort and resource and can be a distraction from the package of evidence-based behaviour change approaches that are most likely to lead to more successful weight loss. 

‘A lot of people give up on diets because they feel hungry or deprived. Eating low energy density foods can help overcome that problem. Gram for gram, low energy dense foods contain fewer calories than high energy density foods, so people are able to eat a larger volume of food for the same (or lower) calorie intake, leading them to feel fuller. 

‘The best evidence for effective, sustainable, weight loss is to use techniques to self-manage food intake, physical activity and lapses in weight that we all experience during a weight loss journey – to use evidence-based behaviour change approaches that are more likely to help us change our habits around food.’

Raising awareness of the number of calories food and drink products contain including placing calorie counts on menus in restaurants may make it easier to keep track of calorie consumption, however this survey suggests that the majority of people struggle to sustain calorie counting over the long term.

Carolyn Pallister, Slimming World’s Nutrition and Health Policy Manager said: ‘To achieve weight loss, we do have to eat or drink fewer calories than our bodies use, but that doesn’t mean we have to obsessively measure, weigh and count every calorie that passes our lips – there is an easier way.

‘While counting calories can work for some people and may work in the short term, the survey highlights how for many slimmers it can quickly become tedious, boring and limiting and leave you feeling hungry. 

‘From a health perspective and to aid weight-loss, it’s important to think about the foods you eat and not only the number of calories in them. Choosing less energy-dense, more satiating foods which are high in protein and fibre will help to keep you fuller for longer.

‘A key part of long-term successful weight management is behaviour change support. Members of our community-based groups learn to plan and base meals on foods which are naturally low in calories and that will fill them up and keep them satisfied for longer. 

‘These are foods like lean meat, fish and poultry, beans, pulses, fruits, vegetables and high fibre starchy carbs. Slimming World calls these foods ‘Free Food’ because members enjoy them without restriction, and without the need to weigh, measure or count which, as our survey shows, can be both unsustainable and unenjoyable especially in the long term. 

‘These foods are the basis of a healthy diet so members learn to base meals and long-term eating habits on them and eat them without having to measure every mouthful.’ 

For more information, visit slimmingworld.co.uk to find your nearest group.     

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