Sarah Vine's weight loss battle hasn't been easy thanks to her underactive thyroid, but with two nutritionists on hand she's being almost saintly
Vicky Edgson , the nutritionist, calls me up. She has been looking at my blood tests. "Your thyroid is practically useless," she says. "I can't imagine how you must have been feeling." Pretty bad, I say, although I point out that it is now medicated. "I mean before that," she says. I agree. I felt awful. Getting out of bed in the mornings was like wading through treacle. Concentrating was hard. I forgot everything all of the time. My hair all fell out. I got fat.
Still, my daily dose of thyroxine has improved things dramatically. But not completely. Like my stomach, it wobbles around quite a bit: some days are better than others. Last time I had it checked, both with my GP and the women's health specialist Marion Gluck, it was a little on the low side. But I decided to stick to the current dose and see if I can't improve things through diet and exercise.
"There are certain foods you really should avoid," says Vicky. "Cabbage, broccoli and soya are all thyroid suppressants." Yippee, I think, until I realise this means edamame, which are practically my favourite food. "Do you like sardines?" she asks. Actually, yes. "Eat lots of sardines. And salmon. And eggs. Eggs are super foods. And you should take selenium."
Diet-wise, then, here's where I'm at. As instructed by Amelia Freer, I've stopped eating wheat completely , and cut out all sugar except for alcohol. I'm avoiding dairy as much as possible, although I still have a dash of milk in my tea. When I'm ready (which is not quite yet) I will embark on her bespoke programme, but for now I feel it would be a bridge too far. I have a lot of bad eating habits to unravel, and I want to do it one step at a time so I don't fall off the wagon.
A typical day now looks like this. Breakfast of scrambled eggs and avocado, or a tomato omelette with fresh basil. Fruit too, if it's there. Lunch often involves soup, which I make myself, or I buy a massive fresh salad full of goodness from my local deli. Today it was a bit chilly, so I had lamb stew with carrots. Dinner will be meat or fish with vegetables and perhaps a salad or, lately, lentils. Lamb chops hit the spot when things get too saintly. If I absolutely have to have something sweet, one piece of Lindt's Dark Chocolate with coconut usually satisfies.
My danger zone is between the hours of eight and 10pm, which is when I get a sudden urge to hit the ice cream. Instead, I drink red wine or fix myself a gin and tonic. I know, it's not perfect. But neither am I. Yet.