I am on a diet yet I can still review restaurants

Keep calm and diet onBREAKING NEWS ALERT: FooDiva is on a diet – a low-carb regime, yet I am still able to review restaurants in Dubai, and eat my way through a menu. Relief…that’s out in the open now. It’s only thanks to your encouraging feedback on my social media channels (here and here), that I have decided to open up and reveal more. Those of you following FooDiva over the last few years (thank you), will know that I don’t really write about myself and what I am up to; always conscious that the website is about bringing impartial restaurant reviews and interesting dining features to the table, and is not an online diary of my personal food life. So I hope on this occasion you will excuse me, and that this post may strike a chord with you.

Why a diet now you may ask?

I’ve long been a proponent of Dr Peter d’Adamo’s Genotype diet and portion control a la Mireille Giuliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat, but I’ll be honest lately I’ve struggled to adhere to both these regimes because I LOVE my food and have a HUGE appetite. Anyone who has dined with me, male and female, will know that I can eat them under and over the table. So French women don’t get fat but FooDiva can…oh how I wish I had French blood. So in the last year I have invested in a personal trainer two to three times a week, and whilst my body is getting more toned, the kilos are still piling on. Hence more drastic measures are required, and I have resorted to this diet.

So what is this diet?

It’s a medically supported, three-month, low-carb diet recommended by endocrinologist Dr Rita Nawar and her dietician Dana Wehbi at the Weight Care Clinic in Dubai Healthcare City. Over the last couple of years I’ve heard many a long-term, weight loss success story in Dubai attributed to Dr Rita. The first appointment with her involves a body composition analysis which requires a three hour fast (AED750); followed by a series of blood, glucose and urine tests at nearby Medlab. If you have recently completed a full medical, those test results will suffice. A ten hour fast is required for these tests, and expect to pay around AED1,900 which hopefully your medical insurance will cover. Once the test results are in a day later, I see Dana (AED250) where in tandem with Dr Rita she recommended a diet on the basis that the results showed borderline insulin resistance, with the view that I should lose between 1 and 1.5 kilos a week mainly from the waist – and should keep it off. My personal goal is to drop from 67 kilos to a minimum of 60; the weight that I am most comfortable at. The diet has a list of foods that have to be avoided over this three-month period, and recommendations for produce that can be eaten – whilst I must eat something every three hours (and in advance of training first thing in the morning), even if it’s just a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt.

Low-carb diet

My simplified version of dietician Dana’s low-carb diet

It’s actually a much easier diet than I thought it would be, and it hasn’t affected my restaurant reviewing. On the days that I am out and about and do have to taste dessert, for instance, I skip my fruit and protein bread allowance. I am lucky though that I don’t have a sweet tooth, but my two guilty pleasures of cheese and champagne are allowed 🙂

Where am I now on the scales?

Well 12 days in, the scales weigh me in at 65.4 kilos (a drop of 1.6kilos), so I am hoping I can keep the momentum up, or down I should say. I already feel a lot lighter and less bloated, whilst also more energised and happier 🙂 And best bit is…I have no hunger pans. Dana called after the first week to see how I was faring, and I also report back over email every ten days with my weight to make sure I am on track. A month into the diet, I will have an appointment with Dr Rita for a repeat body composition analysis. Don’t be tempted to get on those scales every day as our body weight fluctuates.

I am having fun with a couple of inspiring cookbooks that I bought online through Amazon – The new low-carb diet cookbook by Laura Lamont and The big book of low-carb recipes by Nicola Graimes.

I am out to prove that you can still dine out and eat healthily, so wish me luck! Given the response from my social media snippets, I am considering compiling a round-up of low-carb friendly restaurants in Dubai after the three months are up. Would that interest you? In the meantime, here’s Paraphernalia’s recommendations for all restaurants low-carb.

Have you tried this diet? Or any other diets that work for you? Any tips to keep me engaged?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

For appointments with Dr Rita at the Weight Care Clinic call +971 4 3635395 (no website).

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    Diet, Food, Food & Drink Features, Low-carb, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants

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31 Responses to “I am on a diet yet I can still review restaurants”

  1. Dave Reeder August 26, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I am shocked, shocked! How can that abomination Vegemite be allowed! Marmite or nothing…

    However, congratulations on the willpower and determination, which is already showing a result. I’ve never been one for fixed diets but have managed to reduce my waistline by about six inches from the start of the year by simply not eating for two days a week (never fixed ones) and increasing my water consumption.

    • FooDiva August 26, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      I purposely added Vegemite in anticipation of a reaction like yours Dave! I’ll be honest I’ve never been a huge eater of either that or Marmite…more out of habit rather than dislike. But thanks to a special man in my life (there’s some more personal insight!) he has converted me to Vegemite 😉 And Dana says I am allowed two teaspoons a week.

      Bloody hell that’s good going of you, I think I would collapse if I didn’t eat for two days!

  2. Melanie August 26, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Surprising that oats, beetroot on the list for ‘no’ and also that you are still getting round the menus. It seems doctors are happy to tell one to drop the weight … But then are less prescriptive as to ‘how’ . I’m inspired, thank you.

    • FooDiva August 26, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      I would be interested to see how your diet compares Mel in terms of yes and no foods. I am not a fan of oats anyway so this one does not bother me. Lots of sugar in beetroot hence it’s out.

  3. Mita August 26, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Congratulations and good luck to you. Very inspirational and would love a list of low-carb restaurants at the end of your three-month diet.

    • FooDiva August 26, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Thank you Mita. I think it will get harder as the weeks go by. Consider it done…in three months 🙂

  4. GA August 26, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Writing restaurant reviews, being invited to food tastings, its what we love and yes it takes its toll on our waistlines. I started a group on FB in January called Eat Less Move More DXB, and that is exactly what I have been doing since January. I am not on a diet, diets fail. Once you restrict yourself you will find you end up cheating. A little bit of what you love does you know harm.. I agree with Dave, Marmite all the way!

    • FooDiva August 26, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Good for you GA. I guess time will tell if the kilos stay off. Even though it is a diet, I am so surprised at how much I am enjoying the whole process. I think I am lucky though as not only do I not have a sweet tooth but I’ve always found bread, potatoes and rice really bloating so now that they are out (apart from the delicious protein bread) I feel so much better and don’t really miss them. I probably will after three months though! I do miss my fruit though…one portion a day does not satisfy my craving. As for Marmite, see my response to Dave!

      • GA August 26, 2015 at 4:18 pm

        I also have a no carbs after 6 pm rule as well, good luck with it but I don’t think you need to lose any weight x

        • FooDiva August 28, 2015 at 7:28 am

          Yes I’ve heard of that rule too GA! You are too kind…I hide it well lol. xx

  5. IshitaUnblogged August 26, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    What a coincidence! I have been going to Dr Rita Nawar as well!!!! My insulin levels are more than slightly tipped over the borderlines and hence I have not been going out that much if you have noticed. In the summer holidays, I have ended up cheating slightly. It’s not difficult for me to go on a carb-less diet, but it would kill me if I were to go vegan or vegetarian!

    • FooDiva August 26, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      Wow small world Ishita! Dr Rita has a huge following here. We must compare notes 🙂 I am with you, I can’t give up meat and seafood!

  6. Shona August 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Great result in 12 days FooDiva! I’m with you on the vegemite. 🙂

    • FooDiva August 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Thanks Shona for the support on both counts 🙂 See my response above to Dave on the Marmite v. Vegemite 😉

  7. Bilna August 26, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    That’s really inspiring for all 🙂

    I have never been on a diet but I usually try to balance my activity level and food.. With occasional (read every weekend ) indulgences ????

    • FooDiva August 26, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks Bilna. You are very lucky and perhaps you have a high metabolic rate. I used to be able to manage my weight when I was younger – however it’s become increasingly harder in the last few years.

  8. Caroline Tapken August 27, 2015 at 10:01 am

    I am currently following an Ayurveda inspired diet, which is contrary to my normal ‘healthy’ fare. Nothing raw, grains (not wheat) at breakfast and lunch, main meal at lunch time and only soup (with ryebread/crackers) in the evening. No water within 30 minutes of eating or within an hour after a meal – herbal tea is permitted. no dairy, no processed foods & no red meat. Unfortunately wine and champagne are not recommended for me, but whiskey and vodka are 🙂 Good luck FooDiva – it’s not easy!

    • FooDiva August 28, 2015 at 7:31 am

      How interesting and how different Caroline. How many months? Yours sounds much stricter than mine I think…I’ve never been big on carbs myself anyway so I am finding my diet relatively easy. The fruit is the hardest part for me. Let’s see! Good luck 🙂 xx

  9. Sally - My Custard Pie August 27, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Good luck. I’m going to be looking for some kind of eating regime when I return from UK and an Indian wedding. I’m sceptical of low carb though and can’t see why chickpeas are banned. Seems madness (although Vegemite I understand… Marmite all the way!). Eating out per se does seem to encourage putting on weight. I think portion sizes are ridiculous.

    • FooDiva August 28, 2015 at 7:39 am

      The diets are tailored according to the test results, so yours might dictate another regime Sally. I expect you have quite a high metabolic rate so can probably tolerate more carbs than most. Chickpeas, lentils etc are all very bloating. It’s interesting because as part of the Genotype/ blood group diet (I am O+) that I have loosely followed over the years, all legumes are not permitted. As soon as I eat them, even a little bit of silky hummous my stomach expands! On dining out, I’ve actually found it refreshing because it’s easier to navigate a menu and narrow down choices. But yes some restaurants do serve ridiculous portions…it’s a fine balance because they don’t want to be criticised for being mean and lean.

  10. SJ August 27, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I love everything on the “No Foods” list! I can’t imagine life without desserts, bread, pasta and pop corn. What about quantities and portion control? Are you allowed to eat as much as you want from the “Yes foods”? Good luck Samantha!

    • FooDiva August 28, 2015 at 7:42 am

      I guess it’s not for you SJ! Good question, other than where stated (protein bread/ fruit), you can eat as much as you want….needless to say using your common sense, ie avoid eating a whole cow!

  11. Kelly August 27, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    I know that as we grow older, we do not easily lose weight and this is due to the rate of our metabolism. I agree with your list of No Foods but I do not understand why lentils, beans, chickpeas are in this category. I believe in healthy eating with no red meat (or not much) and small portions in general. What about fish?
    Anyway, you are fine….but I am interested to see how this diet will work for you. Good luck.

    • FooDiva August 28, 2015 at 7:46 am

      True Kelly, and I have found my metabolic rate has slowed down in the last ten years. Remember when I used to be so skinny. 45 kilos when I was 17 and moved to the UK…and would live off those doughnuts in the Manchester uni canteen! See my response to Sally above regarding the legumes. Seafood/ fish as stated in the diet plan can be eaten in unlimited quantities. I will be much happier in myself if I reach my goal of 60 kilos.

  12. Karen@beatobesityUAE.com August 27, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    Fantastic motivation and advice Foodiva…
    I myself started changing the way I eat and by just making small changes – I feel so different, yes I have lost a few pounds but mainly I just feel so much healthier and have so much more energy – so that is a WIN for me 🙂

    You are certainly doing it the right way by getting expert support from a health professional I am going to post your ‘I am on a diet yet I can still review restaurants’ on my site which is http://www.beatobesityuae.com which I started as a platform for Healthy Active Living – great tips and advice to also support,

    I would also LOVE to list the low-carb restaurants at the end of your three-month diet.

    • FooDiva August 28, 2015 at 7:52 am

      Thanks Karen. I am glad you have shared your website here – a fantastic initiative to really drive home the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Let’s hope I find a good selection of low-carb friendly restaurants!

  13. Ella January 2, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Happy new Year Foodiva! Great information, very interesting indeed but I am wondering how did you do or doing with this diet?

    • FooDiva January 3, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Hi Ella and happy new year! I followed the low-carb regime for three months, but I did cheat a couple of times once when I was down with the flu and the second when I was travelling so all in all deduct about three weeks. Within this time frame, I also used K-cal for a month – their five day breakfast and lunch meal plan which I found very tasty and time efficient because you don’t have to grocery shop as much! Overall I lost about six kilos, but more importantly I felt so much more energised. With all the Christmas feasting taking its toll, I am returning to low-carb again…as of today 😉 If you’re on FB or Instagram, check out the #lowcarbdiva hashtag where I was sharing restaurants with low-carb friendly menus.

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