I was asked to create a short term weight loss plan for individuals on a mission to shift some pounds. The brief: to only use food from Gregg’s. Not a dietitian’s idea of an easy project but one I was keen to support for many reasons.

62% of people are overweight or obese in England and often what stops people from starting on their weight loss journey is the enormity of the task ahead of them.

We’re told being overweight is bad for our health and yet ironically health isn’t often very motivating. We can’t ‘feel’ those blood results or risk calculators but we can feel if our clothes are too tight and we’re finding it harder to get up and down the stairs.

The fact is there are many health benefits to be gained from small weight loss goals – which are not only less daunting but also very achievable.

The Gregg’s diet plan, for the purposes of the experiment entailed only consuming food from its menu for 30 days. A tough call for those involved but they dug deep and all did really well.

They had achievable goals in mind – fitting into dresses, feeling more comfortable, that kind of thing.

They came with many misconceptions about dieting and weight loss – for example that it has to involve huge sacrifice, that it involves really small amounts of food or that it takes a huge amount of preparation thus making it inconvenient and hard to stick to.

What this experiment showed was that some of the barriers that people put up can be smashed down. You can make affordable choices which are balanced and you don’t have to deny yourself ‘treats’ or higher calorie foods in order to be successful. I see time and time again our perception that diet has to be perfect to achieve the desired effect – when actually the 80/20 rule allows for flexibility, nutritional balance overall, improved quality of life and most importantly consistency – which is key to success.

Whilst I wouldn’t advice only consuming food from one outlet as the recipe for long term success, incorporating balanced choices on the go as part of your breakfast or lunch can make a big impact on your likelihood of sustaining lifestyle changes. For some this may be a fancy kale and quinoa salad but if a tuna and cucumber sandwich is more your thing, that’s fine!

For longer term weight loss I’d be advising more fibre in the form of veggies, different types of wholegrains, some oily fish for heart and brain function and upping the protein slightly to protect muscle mass and help with the fullness factor.

Behind the scenes of the Gregg’s project, the participants had support from me and a fitness expert. The journey highlighted so many things – that inches round the middle change even when weight doesn’t, that accountability counts for a lot as does support from those around you.

Michelle, for example, lost a few pounds but 9cm from around her middle! She is fitting into her wedding dress due to be worn on the big day soon, and most importantly has a whole new outlook on managing her weight. She says:

“This project has changed a lifetimes worth of bad eating and fad diets. I eat three times a day with smaller meals including breakfast and feel so much better for it. I really feel like I’ve turned a corner. Your advice has made a massive difference to me and to Isabelle (5 year old daughter) who will hopefully not develop my previous rubbish eating patterns. I simply can’t thank you enough”.

And that for me means everything. Watch Michelle’s story.