It’s the end of the day and you’re mentally adding up your calorie intake hoping you can still afford that sneaky square of chocolate. Don’t you wish counting calories was a waste of time?

It is, according to nutritionist Zoe Harcombe. “It’s nonsense, ” she says. “Everything about it is wrong. One kilogram does not equal 3500 calories. You will not lose one kilogram if you create a deficit of 3500 calories.”

Ms Harcombe says it is possible to eat more and lose weight without counting calories by ditching the processed food for real food.

“You don’t count calories but you make calories count, ” she explains.

“The Harcombe Diet came about because I was trying to answer the million-dollar question: ‘Why do we overeat when all we want is to be slim?’ I was a food addict. I didn’t want to eat meat and fish — just fruit, sweets and cereal products. I wanted to be slim and yet I found myself craving food like an alcoholic craves alcohol.”

Ms Harcombe’s research led her to make the connection between food cravings and addiction to the combined impact of three health conditions: candida, food intolerance and hypoglycaemia. She developed an eating plan to get these conditions under control and optimise nutrition, therefore reducing cravings and getting back in control of food.

The diet is in three phases:

Phase 1 is five days long and it was designed to overcome the three conditions. This phase allows as much meat/fish/eggs/vegetables and natural, live yoghurt as you want and then brown rice/quinoa/oats in a limited amount.

Phase 2 adds back dairy products, fruit and more grains, and works through what you may need to avoid for longer in order to continue to lose weight.

Phase 3 focuses on three rules: “don’t cheat too much”, “don’t cheat too often” and “be alert and stay in control”.

Ms Harcombe says when you no longer want to lose weight you can eat anything you want, however, you will realise you can control your eating as your cravings should have disappeared.

“Phase 3 is where I’ve been for 20 years — maintaining my weight at 50kg easily, with no deprivation, calorie counting, hunger or any of the nonsense I used to have dominate my life, ” she says. “I enjoy brown rice curries; bacon and eggs; pasta and tomato sauce; porridge with proper milk; steak and mushrooms cooked in butter; berries and cream; cappuccinos with dark chocolate . . . I also have croissants, ice-cream and crisps when I fancy them. The Phase 3 rules have served me well for a long time.”

“Just counting calories itself is the worst thing you can do if you want to lose weight and keep it off. There’s no judgment going on here — I was a gold medallist calorie counter in my teens, but why on earth would you want to sign up to that life of hell when you could be eating real food in abundance, nourishing your body, cheating carefully and maintaining fighting weight?”

The Harcombe Diet: Sample eating plan

Breakfast: Bacon and eggs or milky porridge or natural yoghurt and berries.

Lunch: Salade Nicoise or baked potato and vegie chilli or cold meat platter with deli selection or hummus and oat cakes with crudites dips.

Dinner: Butternut squash curry with brown rice or rice pasta with homemade tomato sauce recipe or steak with all the trimmings or cod with melted cheese and char-grilled cherry tomatoes or rack of lamb.

Zoe’s top tips to lose weight and keep it off:

1. Eat real food

2. Eat three times a day — unless you are a cow or want to be the size of one, stop grazing!

3. If steps 1 and 2 don’t get you to a healthy weight, reduce your carbohydrate intake — even what you think of as “good” carbs are still just sugar.

“The ideal way of eating for Phase 3 is: don’t eat processed foods. Your health will not suffer at all if you never eat another processed food again in your life.”— Zoe Harcombe.

The Harcombe Diet: Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight by Zoe Harcombe can be ordered from Amazon, or go to theharcombe


© The West Australian

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