While losing weight with Slimming World from November 2016 to March 2018 the one thing I really missed was cheese. I promised myself that once I'd called a halt to slimming, I would maintain myself at the weight reached at that point (it was twelve and a half stone - say 80kg) by enjoying a morsel of cheese each afternoon, with an apple and a cup of tea. It seemed a reasonable notion.
But of course it didn't quite work out in practice. Knowing that there was a block of tasty cheese in my fridge, ready to eat at any time, was fatal. My 'morsels' soon grew larger. Then I might treat myself twice a day, not just once. Combining these lapses with a general relaxation of Slimming World rigour led inevitably to putting some weight back on. More than half a stone, in fact, in just four months. Not good!
I was annoyed with myself. Fortunately the 'bad' elements in my food intake were obvious:
# More cheese than intended - sometimes an entire 350g block every week.
# More cake on holiday afternoons than was good for me.
# Some unwise indulgences when eating out - pizzas and curries too often, for example.
(It wasn't alcohol. For health reasons, I had continued to record my alcohol consumption on a spreadsheet, and so I could speak with authority on this. If anything, my alcohol consumption was less in 2018 than it was in 2017)
Cheese was the major culprit. So I stopped buying it. This had some immediate effect on my weight, but I sorely missed the taste. And yet how do you stop yourself satisfying a craving, and eating too much as a result, if the stuff is there in the fridge, just a knife cut away?
Answer: keep the cheese in the freezer, so that all cheese eaten has to be defrosted first. Which means that spontaneous cheese-eating is impossible. It has to be planned, and is therefore controlled.
So, take one 350g slab of Waitrose Duchy Organic Cheddar Cheese, strength 5, and cut it into eighteen 19g or 20g morsels.
As you can see, I have (for now) improvised some plastic containers for freezer storage. The idea is to take these small lumps of cheese from the freezer one by one, as a daily treat. They will take at least half an hour to defrost at kitchen temperature. So I can't yield to immediate temptation and have a quick fix.
In Slimming World terms, each little morsel (about 20g) represents 4 syns out of a daily syn limit of 15. I designed my personal daily eating regime (which I still adhere to when at home) to accumulate only 7 syns by the end of the day. So 4 syns-worth of cheese - and not necessarily every day, either - shouldn't be detrimental.
Strength 5 cheddar has lots of flavour. Even a small amount is a big taste hit, and should quell any craving, even if it isn't enough to quench it.
Can this work? Will I start having bigger pieces, or begin to defrost more than one lump at a time? I hope not. Surely I can resist. But I'm only human, and if I find that I'm cheating I will have to bin whatever is left and simply never buy cheese for the home again.
Well, that was a short-lived experiment! I found a small 20g cube of cheese quite unsatisfying. This was dangerous! It seemed to me that with an addictive substance like cheese - it must be the same for chocolate - you actually create and encourage a yearning for it, if you feed yourself teasingly small quantities. Better to leave it alone entirely - or make cheese just an occasional treat when eating out.
I acted before breakfast, chucking the remaining seventeen frozen little cubes of cheese into the bin, and thus removing all temptation at a stroke. I won't buy any more for the home.
In any case, I go away on another caravan holiday next month, and the freezer in the caravan isn't large enough for a lot of cut-up cheese, as well as the usual frozen meat and fish. I'd have to keep a block of it in the fridge instead, instantly available if I felt peckish, with the near-certainty that my nibbling would soon get out of control.