London born Polly first studied nutrition whilst training to be a dancer in her late teens and early twenties. A healthy diet plays an important role in keeping in peak condition for dancers, but unlike other sports where performance is the focus, dancers are pressured to be slim and physically attractive to get work too, and this can drive young dancers to all sorts of unhealthy methods in attempts to lose weight quickly for auditions. Polly picked up many tips, both healthy and unhealthy, along the way, but can now use that knowledge to make informed choices about how and what to eat to stay both slim AND healthy.
Nutrition as a subject was covered more comprehensively whilst studying for an HND in Beauty and Health Therapy Management at Chichester College, equipping Polly with detailed knowledge of how food impacts health and wellbeing as well as weight.
Polly acquired the qualification of Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant, and followed this by co-founding and becoming a director of The Fit Mum Formula, who provide online nutritional and fitness programmes in a more detailed and comprehensive way, focusing on fat loss, and increased muscle tone, leading to a more effective metabolism and addressing issues such as insulin resistance and the effects different foods have on your hormonal disposition.
These days Polly has a creditably healthy attitude towards food. This, combined with her knowledge of nutrition, enables her to be both slim and healthy whilst enjoying any food she likes in a normal, sociable, realistic way, enjoying the odd burger or piece of cake as much as the rest of us.
Polly is a full-time Mum to four-year-old Aurora and one-year-old Bella, whom she wants to have a healthy, relaxed attitude towards food in a world where even children are being inundated with images of ‘perfect’ bodies and complex dietary advice. She decided to write this book out of frustration at the ridiculous diet advice and claims we are frequently bombarded with by the media, who cash in on our insecurities and weight problems with their impressively creative nonsense which serves only to not work, so that readers will buy the next publication looking for an alternative solution. Two thirds of UK adults are overweight, and it has been suggested that if trends continue 25 percent of children will be obese by 2050 *42. With Polly having witnessed first-hand the effects of yo-yo dieting and unhealthy weightloss methods as a dancer, the importance of staying healthy is something she feels very passionate about. Not only for herself but also to set a new positive health forecast for future generations.
I wrote this book as a rebellion against the nonsense that calls itself dietary advice with which we are told every day. It’s in magazines, newspapers, documentaries, TV news, and quite often our peers, family and friends who are all swapping tips on how to shed the pounds. The way the body functions is complicated – the sheer thousands of University degrees available to study would not enlighten you completely, not least for the fact that new discoveries are still being made every day which change people’s perspectives on health, diet and weightloss. And the result is often another fad diet based on this ‘science’ while people try to capitalise on these discoveries. Hormones, genetics, lifestyle factors and the relationship between food and body chemistry all play a part, but what they all still point to is that if you eat more calories than you are burning, you will gain weight.
Despite the comments that are sometimes made to me, I am not underweight, for I am a slim but healthy BMI 20, in other words the correct weight for my height. When people call me ‘skinny’ I can only assume that what we have come to see as ‘normal’ and healthy has changed over the years – many people in the UK are at the higher end of the ‘healthy’ BMI range and many people are overweight, but are addressed affectionately as ‘curvy’, ‘womanly’, or ‘chubby’. I have always had to be slim for either dancing or modelling, two worlds where looking good is a CV requisite, and that is how I have come to know every diet trick in the book, both healthy and unhealthy. I know how and why diets work or fail and the tricks to make losing (or gaining) weight easier. I still try and stay slim (I’m as vain as the next person) but these days by avoiding the fads and simply eating normally and healthily. Since leaving stage school I have gained qualifications and pursued projects that have enhance my interest and knowledge in health and diet. Food and nutrition will always be a major part of my life, and in many ways that’s good because we need to eat. It is fuel for our body; nothing more, nothing less. Over time food has become emotional, social, artistic, a statement of financial and social class, but at the end of the day, it is simply the fuel we need every day to keep us alive. This may sound tedious if you put it like that, so to make it more enjoyable, let’s say life is too short, and we can be healthy and eat yummy food and feel satisfied. It is possible. I do it every day.
This book is written for healthy adults. It is not a ‘self-help’ book and I am not a counsellor. If your eating is linked to emotional or psychological issues then these may need to be addressed by an appropriately qualified professional. I am not a doctor. I can call myself a ‘Nutritionist’ from the training I covered during my time studying for an HND in Beauty and Health Therapy Management and with the Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant qualification, but not a ‘Dietician’ as this term requires further qualifications in dietetics and nutrition. Keep a note of this when searching for professionals in relation to diet, whether it be one-to-one consultations or the latest celebrity diet, as you don’t want to be paying for the guidance of someone not much more qualified in nutrition than your average magazine editor. As with any changes to diet or exercise habits, consult your GP for advice first.
This is not even a ‘diet’ book. It is a re-education of normal eating that you can do anywhere, anytime, every day for the rest of your life. This is normal eating.
Unfortunately our nation is becoming heavier with each year that goes by, and you only need to look at the best-seller book lists with their infinite turnover of diet books to realise many people want to lose weight. Of course we all know someone who can ‘eat whatever they want’ and not put on weight. Some people think that of me, but it is simply not true. Everyone has different metabolisms and what one person can happily chow down and still be skinny will make another person fat. But the fact remains that if a person consumes more calories than their body needs they will gain weight. These ‘slim people’ do not exceed eating what their body needs. Eating ‘whatever they want’ is also not the same as saying they eat every cream cake in sight. Perhaps they genuinely enjoy a healthy balanced diet, including unhealthy treats in moderation. Did you ever watch a thin person eat? Often I have noticed they order the most fattening thing on the menu but only manage to eat a third of it. This could have something to do with fat being more filling than low fat equivalents, but is just as likely to be their appetite which they are in touch with and so stop when they are full.
A common misconception by overweight people is that they have been afflicted with a slow metabolism, that is, their body does not burn calories fast enough. Studies show that, excluding the very small percentage of people with medical reasons for a slow metabolism or difficulty losing weight (such as an underactive thyroid gland), in fact the opposite is true. The larger the person, the faster their metabolism. So an overweight person burns more calories than a slim person doing the same level of activity. This also means that the less weight you have to lose, the less you will need to eat to lose it, which is why the last few pounds are usually the hardest.
Dotted around the book you will find notes and tips to help you. If you are easily distracted you may find it helpful to put these or your own ideas or mantras around the kitchen to stop you reaching for food when you don’t really want nor need it, perhaps on the fridge or cupboard doors. I’ve also included some of my favourite low calorie food and drink suggestions to stop you getting stuck in a rut when it comes to trying to cut down your calorie intake. You will learn as you read through this book there is no need to cut out your favourite foods, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few new ideas to keep you inspired.
Years ago I once claimed that if I wrote a diet book it would contain only four words: ‘Eat less, move more’. However after realising that it wasn’t always as clear cut as that, I have aimed in this book to expand on that statement without changing the concept in anyway. By reading this book I do not want you to embark on another diet. Rather I want you to stop dieting, and start eating, just normally from now on! Eating should not be a battle, and foods are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Eating is healthy, sociable, enjoyable and above all a necessity, so stop feeling guilty and read on…