Getting rid of flab a family affair

2011-11-05 15:16

When Renita van der Merwe decided it was time to lose weight, she got her husband and children to join in

Eating out up to five times a week was normal for the Van der Merwe family from Krugersdorp – until mom Renita (36), a financial manager, decided that the whole family needed to go on diet.

Her husband, Vicus (38), had developed a “boep”, she had put on weight she found hard to shed after two pregnancies, and even their sons, Dihan (6) and Carlo (11), were starting to look chubby.

“If we were not eating out, a typical dinner included lamb chops, potatoes and rice – which was a lot of starch and very fatty”, Renita says.

“I lived on KFC and my husband, who is quite big, likes to braai, so every weekend we had meat and he’d have beers. Carlo was getting a boep like his dad. We drank lots of Coke.”

Renita decided to call a halt to this recipe for health disaster in February.

Because the supervised eating plan she chose required radical changes to the contents of the fridge, she involved the whole family.

Renita got rid of the full-cream milk, the white bread and high-starch foods and replaced them with vegetables, low GI products and low-fat or ­­fat-free milk.

What helped most in convincing the kids to join the eating more-apples-and-fewer-sweets diet was explaining to them the reasons for being healthy, she says.

With good food role models in place, the kids followed their parents’ lead.

“My husband and I also ate healthily and there were no temptations in the house.”

Says 11-year-old Carlo: “Me and Dihan know we can’t have too many sweets and doughnuts now.”

Renita’s diet plan included weight loss injections, tablets and shakes – and regular visits to the doctor for check-ups. But mostly it was about changing bad habits and replacing unhealthy food – high in starch, sugar and fat – with good food.The Van der Merwes’ diet is not for rabbits.

A typical family meal now includes tuna or chicken and ­stir-fries.

Says Renita: “The kids always had porridge or yoghurt for breakfast but I changed their lunch from pies, crumpets or hot dogs and sweets every day, to low GI sandwiches, fruit, muffins, biltong pieces and juice. Sometimes, here and there, a sweetie.”

Though the family eats “a lot less starch” these days, rice and potatoes still make an appearance on their dinner plates. They still eat meat too, but now Renita gets the butcher to cut off the fat.

By May, Renita had lost 14kg – down from 82.4 kg to 68.4 kg.

To date Vicus has lost 9kg and, by July, Carlo had lost his little “boep”.

Renita says the family’s lifestyle has changed, but they still enjoy eating well. “The thing about a diet is you can’t do it and then not again.

You must stay on it and not expect other people to take the cake away from you.” 

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