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Secret Eaters - Episode 5

The White-Olivers want to learn how to live on a healthier, more balanced diet for the sake of daughter Ellie.

Mum Leanne knows that she is overweight, while dad Craig used to play professional football and doesn't think he eats that much.

Episode 5: The White-Olivers
  Craig Leanne Ellie
Age 36 31 13
Height 5' 7" 5' 5"  
Weight 17st 15st 9lb  
BMI 37.3 36.4  

The Problem

Craig know that he is classed as morbidly obese but feels he does not eat enough during the day to warrant his weight.  Following a health scare he wants to get to a healthier weight for the sake of his family.

Mum Elaine doesn’t know why she is gaining weight and is not sure what part of her diet is causing the problem

Daughter Ellie wants a healthier lifestyle and to be more aware of what she is eating.

Both Craig and Leanne want to be educated about their eating habits so that they can educate Ellie, but really don’t know where to start.

How they fared

The family are takeaway and junk food addicts, preferring to open a packet rather than cook healthy meals and plan for the week.

Craig’s diary stated he eats around 2100 calories per day, 400 fewer that he needs to maintain his weight, and so he should be losing.  His biggest problem turned out to be over eating and extra large portion sizes – he was spotted eating two dinners at one point.  His actual intake was around 4590.

Although he exercises, Craig is also guilty of stopping off for a couple of pints after a workout, and ended up taking in 4 x more calories than he had burned by exercising!

By making small changes to his eating habits, Craig can quickly reduce his calorie intake. By simply removing the skin from a chicken portion, he could reduce the calories by 2/3.  Also by eating a meal rich in complex carbohydrates before a workout, (such as whole wheat pasta, baked potato or brown rice), Craig could have more energy for his workout and be more likely to go straight home afterwards.

Craig’s challenge is to eat more fruit and veg, cut out sugar filled foods and to go straight home from the gym.

Ellie is served with adult portions of the family’s favourite takeaways.  Secret eaters highlighted that portion control is contributing to the problem of overweight children.

Leanne skips breakfast, eats out and loves a takeaway especially as she can’t be bothered to cook.  Her diary records her calorie intake for the day as 1600, 500 less than she needs to maintain her weight.

The team found that Leanne has sugar in her tea, and because she can’t see it, she doesn’t think that it is calorific, something that many of us are guilty of; out of sight out of mind.

Just 2 tsps of sugar contain 40 calories, and if like Leanne you drink 4 a day, that’s 58400 over a year.  By just replacing the sugar with a low cal sweetener she could lose 1st 2lbs over 12 months.

Biscuits and junk food were found to be her main vices, with every meal she ate either coming straight out of a packet or takeaway outlet.  The show highlighted that manufacturers invest a lot of effort to get the amount of salt, fat and sugar right; which means on the high side to make them desirable, giving us a sugar rush and a feel good factor.

Leanne was found to actually be eating 2300 calories a day and her challenge was to eat breakfast, start cooking at home and to eat more vegetables; all designed to fill her up and reduce her junk food cravings.

After 10 weeks of a reduced calorie plan:

Craig lost 1st 8lbs and is on target to lose 4st 4lbs in a year. 

Leanne lost 1st 3lbs and is on target to lose 3st 3lbs in a year.

The family now plan what they eat, and Leanne realizes that it helps you save both calories and money, plus they now try a different fruit or vegetable every week.

Ellie is now on her second pair of (smaller) smaller school trousers, and believes that ‘if a takeaway family can do it, anyone can’ - wise words from a 13 year old!

Additionally throughout the show, Dr David Lewis looked at why people eating with friends consume more calories than lone diners.  The process, know as social facilitation, showed that if you eat on your own, you are likely to eat around 30% less than if you dined with a friend and 96% less than if you ate in a group of 6 or more.

Tips for coping with takeaway eating:

  • Cook big batches of food at the weekend and freeze individual portions for convenience.
  • If you must eat ready meals, go for the healthy option ranges
  • Bulk out meals with pre-packed salads and vegetables

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