The 5:2 Diet Special - Day Three: 'With me, it's always been feast or famine'
On the final day of our series about the diet that everyone is talking about, self-confessed pizza lover Caitlin McBride admits that following the 5:2 plan can be challenging
As with all diets, after a matter of days, you expect to see a transformed version of yourself. A vision of physical perfection: tanned, toned and tight. Well, the 'new me' hasn't quite arrived yet, but it's not a quest I'll be giving up on any time soon.
I have a 'can do' approach to life, but when it comes to my body, I'm just as insecure as everyone else, probably a little more so. I've struggled with self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember. Now that we've covered the why, let's get to the how.
How have I implemented the 5:2 Diet into my life? It has not been an easy task. The normal days, in which you consume your recommended daily calorie intake of about 1,800, are, unsurprisingly, a breeze. Sure, I'm a little more aware of the importance of what I'm putting into my body, but it hasn't drastically changed my diet just yet.
As for the fast days, that's a whole other story. The beauty of intermittent fasting is that it's only required for two days, and if it's a case of wanting to see results, then you simply suck it up. End of story.
In my opinion, you'll never see results without putting in hard work. This is a very reasonable motto, but as I write this, I am on holidays in Las Vegas and Sin City isn't just appropriate in reference to the entertainment.
The variety of food is what I expected, but the temptation of poolside cocktails is a little too much to resist, even though I know deep down, I am drinking empty calories.
Following Vegas, I'll be visiting Texas for the first time in order to catch up with an Irish contingent who have set up base in Austin.
Whether everything really is bigger in Texas remains to be seen, but I know my waistline is just at the thought of deep-fried everything. I'm mentally preparing for my own personal battle of Man vs Food upon arrival.
For now, I won't say that 5:2 is the most difficult thing I've ever done, I've just been forced into more creativity in the kitchen. A high-protein, low-carb diet is recommended anyway, and having the opportunity to write about it has just forced me into a healthier lifestyle.
Giving up pizza has been tough, but I've improvised with wholewheat round pitta bread and tomato purée with a little bit of a mozzarella cheese. 'A bit' is the key word here. I've given up my favourite Tesco balsamic dressing and I've kissed lattés goodbye on fast days.
On a positive note, I'm sleeping better. I'm eating earlier in the evening, which has improved my sleep cycle. On my 500-calorie days, I'm drinking a lot more water, which is never a bad thing.
I'm lucky because I don't get cravings. I'm a feast or famine person at the best of times, so this new approach to food has forced me to eat in healthier moderation. What's the point in virtually starving yourself for two days if you're going to undo any good by stuffing your face for the other five?
Wine doesn't count as a food group, so unless it serves a specific purpose, I'll be saying goodbye to Pinot for a bit. I've had to approach eating habits like a break-up, except it isn't me . . . it's them.
They're the cause of countless stress, tantrums while trying on clothes and of course, the inevitable body comparisons. It doesn't help that I work in an industry filled to the brim with models.
I'm 5'8" and a size 12, making me perfectly 'normal' for my build. But, of course, in this day and age, the very concept of what is considered average changes as fast as a Twitter status update. I will be the first to say that I don't need to lose weight, but my figure is a little more Marilyn Monroe than Miranda Kerr, and, as I approach my late twenties, I don't envisage any long-term harm.
And trying something like the 5:2 only helps me realise that.
For now, this seems like a realistic and viable option. There are both online and in-person support groups for dieters who need a pick-me-up on their fast days, and several recipe books related to the diet have been published in the last few months.
Women's magazines are filled to the brim with handy recipes, but as an already fussy eater, it's proving more challenging than I thought.
While I haven't noticed a major difference in my shape as I've only taken part in the diet for less than a week, I'm hoping that the ends justify the means.
What I used to eat
Breakfast: I'd rather boldly usually skim on breakfast and instead go for two cups of coffee. Chai lattes in particular are my kryptonite. But, after being forced to swap to black coffee on my fast days, it's slowly integrating into my normal diet days as well. I still enjoy my chai latte, but I'm approaching it as a treat, rather than a staple.
Lunch: I've never been a particular fan of white bread, so eliminating it has been quite seamless.
Usually, at lunch, I'd opt for a brown wrap with plain chicken, lettuce and tomato with some honey mustard sauce or relish. Again, my fussy taste (I don't like mayonnaise or creamy sauces) has worked in my favour.
Dinner: Pasta, pizza and pittas – the three Ps are my weaknesses. I still enjoy my pasta (wholewheat) and pitta, but pizza had to get the boot.
What I eat now
Breakfast: A cup of black coffee (I'm only human) and an apple for an energy boost.
Lunch: I tend to skip lunch and opt for some green tea, or more black coffee, instead. I'd prefer to save my calories for dinner rather than use my precious few calories by dining at my desk.
Dinner: This is where I get to indulge in my creative side. An omelette with broccoli, ham and red peppers with a little bit of crushed black pepper for seasoning, otherwise a salad always does the trick.
I try grilling some chicken breast on my George Forman and going to town on vegetables and lettuce as they all contain minimal calories.
Balsamic vinegar and oil will do the trick in terms of dressing, but for me, it's not sustainable for more than the two fast days.