A healthy approach to eating well for life

A healthy approach to eating well for life

I’ve always struggled with my weight from a young age but the transition of moving up into secondary school was when I knew I felt much bigger than my fellow pupils. My school uniform trousers didn’t fit me and I just felt really self-conscious and had very low self-esteem.

As I went through my teenage years my weight was going up and down dramatically, which I found really hard to deal with. I used to turn to food for comfort but being young I lacked a knowledge of the best foods to eat so the pounds piled on. By the time I got to 20 years old I was the biggest I had ever been. I stood on the scales and was horrified to see how big I had become, weighing almost 20 stone at the age of 20! It was a big wake-up call which led me to trying to lose weight by cutting food groups out but that wasn’t very successful as I always felt restricted. One day a friend at work mentioned she’d joined a Slimming World Group and was shouting from the roof tops about it as she said she could still enjoy all of her favourite meals, like burgers and chips and chicken curry, and yet she still lost weight. I had to find out more so I joined our local Slimming World group in Tunbridge Wells in May 2014.

It did take me a good month to pluck up the courage to head along there – mainly due to my perception that ‘men’ don’t do slimming clubs. But I knew I needed help and in a way it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, we all have our own weight issues! I joined weighing 19 stone 2lb and within the space of a year I’d achieved my ultimate target of 12 stone, meaning I’d loss of 7 stone 2lb by 2015.

In a nutshell every Slimming World group helps members achieve long-term success through a great support network  and healthy lifestyle changes, all done around Food Optimising. This is a unique and healthy eating plan which satisfies even the biggest of appetites and encourages people to fill up on unlimited amounts of satisfying foods such as meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruit, eggs, pasta and much more. Meals like curry and rice, lasagne, Sunday roasts and even fish and chips are not off limits, you just have to balance things out and employ the Food Optimising strategy.

My transformation from a member to a Slimming World consultant – and now a newly graduated Slimming World Team Developer – has been incredible. I would never have thought I’d be in this position as I only joined a local club to improve my health but the opportunities this has led to have been endless. Once I achieved my target weight four years ago I could see how rewarding it was for my consultant to be able to help change so many members’ lives each week. I just had that feeling that this was something I could do too!

I trained at the Slimming World academy in Derbyshire last year doing diplomas in nutrition and the psychology of weight management. Since then I have left my full-time job and recently undergone a training scheme to become a team developer and am now managing a team of consultants in Tunbridge Wells.

Since Joining Slimming World I have learnt so much about myself and how Food Optimising the Slimming World Way can make such a difference to life – and your health. Since losing weight my confidence has rocketed and I feel so much happier in myself and my appearance. Throughout my journey I’ve met so many inspirational people who are now close friends for life and that it just priceless!

Jesse runs two groups one every Friday evening at St. Phillip’s Church in Birken Road at 5.30pm and one on Saturday mornings at St Barnabas Primary School on Quarry Road at 8.30am and 10.30am.


Homity pie

Serves 4

Ready in about 1 hour

Low-calorie cooking spray

  • 600g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 spring onions, sliced
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp mustard powder mixed with 1 tsp water
  • 25g reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat your oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Spray a medium baking dish with low-calorie cooking spray. Boil the potatoes in a large saucepan for 12-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, return to the pan and add the stock. Mash until smooth, then set aside. Spray a large, non-stick frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat. Fry the

onion, carrot and celery for 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, spring onions, peas and spinach, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted.

Add the parsley, eggs, mustard mixture, mashed potato and half the cheese. Season and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish, smooth over the top and evenly scatter over the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Divide between 4 plates to serve.


Bakewell pear strudel

Serves 6

Ready in about 1 hour

  • 4 firm Conference pears, peeled
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus juice of ½
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 2 level tbsp custard powder
  • 2 x 45g Jus-Rol Filo Pastry Sheets
  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 10g flaked almonds
  • 2 x 175g pots Müllerlight Cherry yogurt, to serve


Preheat your oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Grate the pears into a sieve and leave to drain for 5 minutes. Press to squeeze out any extra juice, then tip into a bowl. Mix in the lemon zest and juice, almond extract and custard powder until well combined, then set aside.

Line a baking tray with baking paper and lay a sheet of filo on top. Spray with low-calorie cooking spray, then top with the second filo sheet. Turn the tray so one of the long sides is nearest to you. Starting 2-3cm in from this edge, spread the pear mixture in a rectangle shape, leaving a 5-6cm empty filo border along the remaining 3 sides. Fold the filo border over the fruit from both shorter sides, then, using the baking paper to help you, roll up

from the side nearest you, so the last turn is just pastry and the join sits underneath. Spray the top with a little more low-calorie cooking spray.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp, scattering over the flaked almonds halfway through cooking. Leave the strudel to stand for 10 minutes before slicing into 6 and serving with the cherry yogurt.

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