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Banting basics

Garlic and rosemary lamb with cauliflower and black pepper puree

To date, Banting has taken a pounding and those of us who have stuck by it have had to endure the countless jibes and derision from skeptics who have backed the food pyramid. A few months have passed and Banters have started to visibly shrink, now many of these self-same health-conscious individuals just want to know three things: ‘How much, how soon and with how little effort? ‘

There’s more to it than just that, and so for those interested in learning about a Banting lifestyle, what follows is a list of questions I am frequently asked.

Home cooked cottage pie with wilted baby spinach and cauli-mash topping

Cottage pie with wilted baby spinach and cauli-mash topping

What can’t you eat? No sugar or artificial sweeteners, no grains, no vegetable or seed oils and no processed foods. That means no sugar in your tea, no biscuit before bed, no popcorn, no pasta and definitely no bread, even if it is made from organic wheat, stone ground by virgins (or ground by stoned virgins). The benefit of this is that you don’t need a pantry as everything you eat is fresh – you’re eating produce, not products.

How long has it taken? I started in mid-February this year. I could probably have been a lot slimmer by now had I cut out dairy and everything on the orange list, but would I have stuck to it? Probably not. Tim Noakes says ‘all or nothing’, but he also says a diet should be sustainable. I’m not prepared to live on bland food, so I’m taking the long-term view.

It’s not cheating if it’s home-made, low carb and high fat – recipes here

Do you ever cheat? Not as a rule, but there are always exceptions. In the first few months I was still vulnerable to the allure of a flaky pastry or a chewy piece of soda bread, but it was just sugar withdrawal and deprived expectations. The rare cheat never lived up to my imaginings so I soon lost interest. There have been unavoidable circumstances where I’ve had to (politely) eat high-carb foods, but I make sure to eat very little and walk it off once I’m over the heartburn.

My one major non-compliance is the occasional snoek samoosa from Ocean Jewels, but I think we each need to identify our own breaking point.

Ocean Jewels's seared tuna salad with home made mayo

A healthier alternative: Ocean Jewels’ seared tuna salad with home-made mayo

Do you have to exercise? I recently started walking to work (four kilometers a day) but before that, nothing and I still lost weight. Once your body starts responding to the weight loss, you’ll have loads more energy, and that needs an outlet.

Do you cook every day? I cook each day but just once a day. I prepare enough for three servings. My son and I have a portion each for dinner and we split the third portion for lunch the next day. I have a bowl of plain yoghurt with nut butter, honey (sometimes) and raw pecans for breakfast. Eggs would be better as they’d keep me full for longer and I’d lose weight faster, but they make me grumpy so I stick to my full cream, dairy delight.

Roast lardons, sweet potato and carrot, topped with a fried egg

How much weight have you lost? I don’t know as I choose not to weigh myself. I’m far too familiar with the angst attached to those scale readings and how they affect my motivation. I’m done with losing weight by numbers, now I’m doing it by feel. And I must have lost a fair amount as I’ve dropped three dress sizes and feel better than I have in years.

How do you manage to maintain the diet? I’ve found that getting into a regular shopping/ cooking/ eating routine is vital. I keep a small selection of protein on hand and a fridge full of fresh vegetables. I also stock up on dairy, nuts and honey. It’s easy to prepare tasty meals each day when you have a healthy selection of fresh produce to choose from – you have the best of everything to work with so there’s no excuse for a bad meal.

Is it expensive? It was at first as I was still experimenting with a new way of cooking and that meant development costs, over-shopping and wastage. Despite spending most of my life on a vegetable farm, I was strictly a meat-and-potatoes kinda girl and had no relationship with the produce we sold; veggies were merely a commodity that put bread on our table. There I was known as the dessert queen, and it wasn’t until I figured out that I could apply to vegetables the same principles that make a pud yummy, that I finally found my LCHF groove. Now I shop smarter, eat better and the reduction in both waste and waist are significant.

How did you get started? I read The Real Meal Revolution (twice) and initially followed their recipes for guidance until I was familiar with the style of cooking. It’s a very good way to make you appreciate how good the food can be if you’re willing to put in a bit of effort. LCHF means no short cuts.

What happens when you reach your goal weight? I assume my body will reach some form of nutritional balance in its own good time and I’ll have achieved my ideal weight. Continuing to eat the same way should then maintain that.

1. This is not a quick fix, it’s for keeps so prepare foods that appeal.
2. Read The Real Meal Revolution (at least twice) before you start.
3. Return to the book often to keep yourself on track, especially with the quantities on the orange list.
4. Learn to cook – properly.
5. Get over your fear of full cream; low fat is fake food.
6. Don’t eat fake (processed) foods.
7. Get into a routine, it helps.
8. Get through the sugar withdrawals. After about two weeks of headaches, grumpiness, general lethargy and a craving for textures, you’ll feel fantastic. Honest.
9. Be patient. See point 1.
10. Don’t weigh yourself.
11. Listen to your body: no heartburn, no bloating, loose clothes – if you wake up to that each morning, you’re doing it right.
12. Get rid of clothes when they become too big – you won’t wear them again.
13. Make friends with 85% plus chocolate.



  1. moegie

    Superb, have started and though early days, enjoying eating tasty, fresh and lovingly prepared food. Am definately gonna try all your recipes, and cannot wait to taste em! Please, post more of your superb photos,comments and divine recipes……….xxx

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