Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Weight Watching...

Sometimes a girl looks at her wardrobe and realizes that some of it is a little tight. Othertimes you quietly put all of your jeans into one of the containers that’s going to take three months to get to you and hope that no-one notices you’re the size of a camper van.

So I’ve joined Weight Watchers. For the uninitiated, WeightWatchers is the slimming club where “no food’s a sin”. Food energy values are measured in “points”, arrived at by doing something mathematical with a kilojoule and the saturated fat content. WeightWatchers also provides a support structure for your weightloss. The theory is that the weekly meeting gives you a network and stops you feeling alone in your diet. To quote from the literature “you can discuss what works and laugh about what doesn’t”. In reality, you find yourself wearing chiffon every weigh-in day and considering the use of laxatives.

I know that WeightWatchers works because I did it eight years ago and lost lots of weight. I used to go with my best friend, Emu. I fondly remember “pointing up” (as we called writing down our day’s food) every evening over several glasses of wine. This memory makes the whole Australian WeightWatchers experience bittersweet for me, because Emu’s a very long way away now. But still, each evening I write down everything I’ve eaten that day, get terribly homesick and work out if I can have that second glass of wine.

Eating healthily can be a challenge in Oz as the portions are insane. There are at least two sandwich joints within walking distance of the ThoughtWorks offices that are known as “the sandwich as big as your head” place. I had a wrap the size of my leg last week and of course there’s the muffin the size of my left breast coffee shop. The food halls are Valhallas of deliciousness, with multiple tempting choices of salad bar, fresh sushi roll, Portuguese burger, rice paper roll. Pho and stir-fry places. Given that a food hall in the UK usually consists of a McDonalds, KFC and Spud-U-Like all congealing away under the heat lamps, this is heaven for me. But the thing that has impressed me most is the freshly tossed salad bar concept. I have no idea why this hasn’t caught on everywhere, but London is just crying out for some of these.

You pick your salad leaf base and size. You add up to six extra ingredients from a list of about 30. These include lots of raw veggies like capsicum, carrot, onion, some roasted bits like aubergine and pumpkin, protein like tuna, egg or marinated tofu and some highly flavoured things like olives, capers and anchovies. It can be a recipe for disaster if you’re not thinking about flavour combinations and I don’t generally approve of any eating establishments where you create your own dishes. Trust the chef, I say. But this really works. You can add something more substantial like marinated octopus, steamed chicken or salmon and then it’s tossed for you and your dressing added.

The whole thing takes about 2 minutes and the result is the best lunchtime solution I’ve ever come across (apart from lunch at Arpege, natch) Beats the compost from Neal’s Yard Salad Bar which I used to have most days by miles.


Anonymous Fi Kirkpatrick said...

lady, lady, where have you been! Well, in Sydney, obviously. There are many mix-your-own salad bars in London - Vital in Berwick St, Salade at Green Park... And yes, I think they're ace. Not sure how good Cobb Salad (Stilton dressing) is on the WW Richter scale though...

9:40 AM  
Blogger Suzi Edwards said...

Hmmmm. I feel like I have been missing out now. I had no idea they existed in London.

7:46 PM  

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