I’m not a fan of diets. And until I came across a book by Dena Harris “Does this collar make my butt look big?” I was unaware that cats also experienced the same pitfalls.  As recounted through feline eyes, Dena explores the crazy world of dieting.  In honour of World Book Day 2018, here are some of the best bits.

First steps

The first step in any diet is to shift into a full-fledged panic the day before the diet officially begins and eat everything in sight.

Harness your motivation

  • My motivation for losing weight is:
    • I want to rock out a belly ring
    • Swimsuit season is upon us
    • To be healthy. Just kidding. It’s the belly ring, bikini, and REVENGE.
  • Find a diet buddy. Give him a paw smack whenever you stray from your diet, as he’s obviously not doing his job.
  • Use motivational notes and reminders. Hang a “Hot Kitty” calendar nearby to remind you what you want to look like.

What cat diet to choose?

South Beach Diet

The diet starts out with lots of restrictions, but the rules are simple: Don’t eat anything that tastes good. However, if you eat something that tastes like processed cardboard, you’re permitted unlimited quantities.

Blood Group Diet

The benefit is that once you know your blood type, you can eat accordingly, and the weight will drop off like a Pomeranian tossed off a bridge.

Paleo Diet

Listen to your body. You may skip meals if you’re not hungry. (We’ve never known this to happen).

Zone diet

Each meal to consist of 30% fat, 30% protein, and 40% carbs. This is all well and good, except cats can’t count. And even if we could, we’d count something much more interesting than carbs.


You may become convinced you’re starving. Should this occur, lie down, take deep breath, then call for Chinese takeout.


Hold off urinating for as long as possible, then make a mad dash for the litter box. Feel the burn.

Dealing with saboteurs

Confront those who don’t want you to change. And by “confront” we mean show them your butt.

Other top tips…in no particular order

Too little sleep can make you fat. Aim for at least twenty-two hours a day.

Track how hungry you are on a scale of 1 to 10. Any time you go above a 1, eat immediately, before fatigue and hallucinations set in.

Don’t skip the most important meal of the day, which would be…..You know what? To be safe, don’t skip any of them.

Whether you succeed or fail on this particular plan, we suggest you go ahead and tell everyone you’ve lost weight. Others will be impressed, thinking you have willpower they don’t, and will go and order a ten-taco special and gain twelve pounds, making you appear more svelte.

Enjoy the occasional cheat day and eat whatever you want. We suggest scheduling cheat days on days that end with a ‘y’.

Buy a low fat cookbook. Now shred it. Admit it – that felt good.

Don’t give up! Unless it’s hard. Or you’re tired. Or really hungry. Or it’s a Tuesday.

Do not reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.


Treat your diet the same way as you treat doorbells, vets, and Aunt Dorothy’s Doberman – get yourself the hell out of there.

Thanks goodness the cat came to its senses. Respect.

Eat yourself better?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition causing symptoms that may include:

  • widespread pain
  • extreme tiredness
  • stiffness
  • sleeping problems
  • memory problems
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel.

Estimates suggest that 1 in 20 people are affected by fibromyalgia, and it is known to affect roughly 7 times more women than men.

Cause of fibromyalgia

The NHS acknowledges that the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but the symptoms are thought to be caused by chemicals in the brain changing the way the nervous system processes pain messages.

It is widely accepted that the digestive system and brain ‘communicate’ with each other via the nervous system, or hormonal and chemical signalling.  While this does not prove a link between food and fibromyalgia, it’s enough to raise the possibility that there is a link.

Despite this, the medical consensus continues to be that food does not have a role to play in the development or management of fibromyalgia, despite acknowledgement that the exact cause is unknown.

Management of fibromyalgia

Current management centres around medication, alongside talking therapies and exercise or relaxation techniques. The focus is on managing symptoms, with little to no consideration given to the role food may play.  This is because there is no evidence of a “one size fits all” diet for fibromyalgia. But instead of dismissing a dietary role, the possibility of an individualised dietary approach should be considered.

Elimination Diet

You are the best person to determine if food helps or aggravates your symptoms.  And there is a way to find out – by trying an elimination diet.  This diet includes eating a limited range of foods that are least likely to cause symptoms, while cutting out foods that contain food substances with the most potential to trigger symptoms in susceptible individuals.  If you experience a notable reduction in your symptoms, this suggests that food does have a role to play in your condition.  Next, you will reintroduce and ‘test’ foods that you had excluded, one at a time, and monitor your symptoms.  If your symptoms get worse, you will have identified a food trigger.  In this way, you are using your personal experiences to manage your symptoms.

Contact Kate

If you have fibromyalgia and continue to suffer despite best medical management, contact me for a no-obligation conversation so you can make an informed decision about whether this is an approach you might want to try.


Remission (im)possible?

In Northern Ireland, over 71,000 people have Type 2 diabetes (Public Health Agency, 2015). There are likely to be many more as yet undiagnosed cases. Type 2 diabetes is characterised by high blood glucose levels, which will cause future health problems if left untreated.

Globally, over 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight at diagnosis. It is widely accepted that increasing levels of obesity increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, managing weight is going to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

But what if I already have Type 2 diabetes? Can it be reversed?

An on-going clinical trial called DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) released preliminary results before Christmas, with impressive results.

Participants were recruited within 6 years of diagnosis, and all were overweight. They followed an 800 calorie diet of specially formulated soups and shakes for 8 to 20 weeks.

The study found that 86% of participants who lost ≥15kg (2st 5lbs) achieved remission (that is, blood glucose levels could be maintained at healthy levels without the use of medication).

Does this mean that I have a high chance of achieving remission?

Maybe. That’s not the conviction you might want but it seems probable that remission is most likely in the early years post diagnosis, and provided a significant weight loss is achieved.

It is important to be clear that the participants achieved remission, not cure. It remains to be seen how long the remission state lasts. It would seem plausible that if weight loss was the key to achieving remission, then keeping weight off will be a key strategy in staying in remission. However, this also highlights that taking action to lose weight to prevent Type 2 diabetes may be a safer bet.

Could a low calorie diet help me?

If you are affected by diabetes and want help determining if a low calorie diet may be suitable for you, contact me for a no-obligation conversation about the pros and cons of this approach. Do not attempt a low calorie diet independently, especially if you are using tablets or insulin to manage your Type 2 diabetes, or other medications such as blood pressure tablets.

Further information

The study is not yet complete so this dietary approach to achieving remission is NOT currently available on the NHS. Get more information at https://blogs.diabetes.org.uk.

The food of love…

Valentine’s Day approaches, and all I’m hearing is “Can food really be an aphrodisiac?” (I’m not actually, but I was quite curious myself…).

The foods which are commonly thought to have aphrodisiac properties includes:

Almonds, asparagus, avocados, banana, basil, cherries, chillies, dark chocolate, figs, garlic, honey, oysters, pomegranates, red wine, strawberries, watermelon and walnuts.

How are they supposed to ‘work’?

Their amazing powers are attributed to nutrient content or shape and aroma.

Nutrient content

The foods above contain a range of vitamins (B vitamins, vitamins A, C, E) and minerals (boron, magnesium, selenium, zinc) or other food chemicals like resveratrol (red wine) or phenylethyline (chocolate).  These are reported to be involved in the production of sex hormones or to improve blood circulation.

What’s not clear is how quickly this may have an effect.  So preparing an aphrodisiac packed dinner for say 7pm and hoping for any significant effect by 10pm may seem a little unlikely!

Shape and aroma

I have nothing to add! Except to say that this provides proof (if any were needed) that the ‘powers’ of these foods reside in your head!

The truth

Good nutrition is important for fertility and sex hormone production (eg oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone).  The hormone most closely linked to libido is testosterone.  The nutrients needed for the production of testosterone are zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D.

But this relies on consistent, 365 days a year, good nutrition.  Top loading on supposedly aphrodisiac foods on the 14th February will not have any real effect.  The affect from the power of the mind is another story.

I’m all for anything that gets people eating well, so go right ahead and indulge in any or all of the above foods.  As for their impact beyond your health and general wellbeing, I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Preparation or deprivation?

Lent has been hijacked. By dieters. It’s not surprising – forgoing food for 40 days is a guaranteed way to lose weight (although I’m not sure that was Jesus’s motivation).

Deprivation is at the heart of both Lent and dieting. Despite it also being about preparation and reflection, for those with a weight loss agenda, the focus is mainly on the deprivation aspect of Lent. You commit to ‘give up’ your usual vices like sugar in tea, biscuits and sweets (while secretly hoping you’ll be lighter by the end of it) and disregard preparation for the aftermath. Another job half done. But a least you’ll get to feel virtuous for a few weeks.

If you do observe Lent, with even a slight weight loss agenda, how about doing it differently this year by focusing more on the preparation and reflection side. Ditch the deprivation. Give up on giving up.

Instead of stopping doing something, try to start doing something that will complement your weight loss agenda. And you never know, it might stick…..

So here goes, 40 days, 40 suggestions. Choose only one, choose a different one every day….or give up sweets again! Your call.

What are you going to do for Lent?

  1. Every time you use an escalator, excuse yourself past people whose legs have temporarily stopped working and keep moving!
  2. If you feel bad or guilty after eating something, your head is trying to alert you to something important (for example, a ‘broken diet rule’). These thoughts and feelings are warning signs of an unhelpful relationship with food. Monitor your thoughts and feelings around food.
  3. Stop labelling food as ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ if you know from experience that this can negatively affect your food decisions. Food is food is food.
  4. Referring to some foods as ‘treats’ elevates their importance. Crisps are crisps, chocolate is chocolate, and ideally should have no more significance than an apple. Try to be neutral with all food.
  5. Have a cup of tea or coffee…on it’s own. This is not about giving up biscuits, but about challenging habits.
  6. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness levels. If you recognise you are full before your plate is empty, practise leaving the rest.
  7. Observe how often you eat that has nothing to do with hunger. Start to think about what drives this eating (eg boredom, comfort, tiredness). This will give you clues about the areas to work on to help manage your weight.
  8. Eat with minimal distractions – move away from the computer, stop checking social media and turn off the TV over dinner. Pay attention to your food and you might find yourself enjoying it.
  9. If you know you have a habit of eating due to boredom, choose a non-food activity to pass the time.
  10. Choose food based on what you know you want and will enjoy, instead of eating what you feel you should eat (diet products….looking at you).
  11. Find a fun activity to do – trampolining, aerial yoga, table tennis. It doesn’t matter what, just do it and enjoy.
  12. Try a fruit, vegetable or other food you’ve never tasted before.
  13. Cook a vegetarian meal – plant based eating is all the rage these days.
  14. Think about the purpose scales serve in your life. Decide not to weigh yourself if they often make you feel bad about yourself. Make your food choices based on what you want to eat, guided by hunger and fullness, not based on a number on the scales.
  15. Question things that don’t make sense such as “You’re not losing weight because you’re not eating enough”. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t accept it as fact.
  16. For all the foods you eat today, but especially ‘diet’ foods or snack foods…slow down and TASTE…..do you really like them that much? Be fussy!
  17. Aim to eat food that satisfies. Satisfaction is more important than simply not being hungry. Being satisfied will help you to eat less.
  18. Tackle ‘comfort eating’. If you ‘comfort eat’, you’re definitely eating, but are you getting comfort? At best, you’re getting a temporary distraction from the real problem. Think of options that will deal with the problem.
  19. Sleep, sleep, sleep – lack of sleep is known to affect hormones involved in appetite regulation. If you notice that you eat more, or make different choices, when you are tired – get more sleep.
  20. Stop comparing yourself to others. You may see people around you eat more than you, but this observation does not help you in any way, and more likely makes you feel worse. DON’T. DO. IT.
  21. Start noticing how your food choices make you feel physically – neutral, energised, lethargic, sluggish, bloated. Choose to eat food that make you feel good.
  22. When you see food, do you see calories, ‘points’, ‘syns’, fat content, sugar content…..? This is the science end. But eating well is an art. Knowledge is only helpful if you are skilful at managing it. Practise art.
  23. Stop self blame. If you have dieted repeatedly…and ‘failed’…you most likely blame yourself but has the diet got something to answer for? Think about the foods you struggle with, get help to deal with those, and don’t repeat old dieting mistakes.
  24. Make a decision to eat for health not dieting. So avocados, nuts, cheese…back on the menu (if you like them), and enough of the diet yoghurts, rice cakes and low fat everything (unless you happen to really love them. Really?)
  25. Use your taste buds…if something looks good, but doesn’t taste great, don’t eat it.
  26. Exercise – choose something you enjoy and makes you feel good, and do it for those reasons. Keep weight loss out of it.
  27. Drink……enough to keep your pee pale.
  28. Sit less….or do some chair based exercises while you sit.
  29. Eat like you respect yourself.
  30. Tell people your boundaries. If you don’t want them to comment on your food choices or weight, tell them.
  31. Batch cook when you get the chance – cook once, eat more than once.
  32. Look at the ingredients lists of foods. If it reads like a science experiment or has multiple ingredients not immediately recognisable as food, do you want to eat it?
  33. Stop allowing packet size to dictate how much you eat. If you often eat until packets are empty, then you are not making independent food decisions – the food manufacturers are pulling the strings.
  34. Don’t get caught out having nothing to eat. Fill the freezer – frozen vegetables, fruit, fish, meats, oven chips – so you always have a back-up plan.
  35. Ditch the euphemisms. For example “I’m trying to be good”. If eating well is so hard you have to ‘try to be good’ then you are either eating foods you’re not really enjoying or denying yourself foods you really enjoy (or both). Does this sound like a helpful long term plan?
  36. Eat publicly. If you eat less when in company compared to when you are alone, then you are concerned about how others might judge your eating. But by eating privately, you are judging yourself.
  37. Stop choosing arbitrary days to start dieting (Monday seems to be popular!). You can respect your hunger, fullness and satisfaction NOW!
  38. Don’t let technology take over either your decision making or your common sense. For example, if you’re using an app to count calories, it might advise you to eat less or eat more. Your app does not know when you are hungry, satisfied or full. You do.
  39. Don’t let other people affect your food decision making. Be independent. Focus on what you want.
  40. Read self help material. Might as well start with Diet Dilemmas book!

40 days, 40 suggestions. Pitching preparation. Ditching deprivation.