Like every new mum, I was rarely seen without my camera. It was always in my hand, ready to catch all those magical moments that a baby brings. But while I was keen to capture all my daughter Summer’s special firsts, I made sure that I remained firmly behind the lens. Even at Summer’s christening, I hid from the camera, and we only have one family photo from that lovely day to look back on.

I’d never had to worry about my weight before I fell pregnant with Summer. Then a combination of stopping smoking and breaking my foot meant that I was eating more and moving less, so I gained a lot more weight during pregnancy than I expected. They say that things come in threes, and that was definitely the case with the reasons why my weight crept up to 13st 5Ibs.

Discovering Slimming World Free Foods

Of course, the kind of food that I was eating played a big part in the number I saw on the scales. Juggling my job as a legal secretary with life as a busy mum meant that grab-and-go convenience foods made up my daily menu, alongside the never-ending chocolate and cakes that my colleagues brought to work. Breakfast was a fast-food breakfast muffin on the way to work and lunch was also fast food, from anywhere that I could quickly get to in my lunch break. For dinner I’d go for the easiest option, which was usually a jar of sauce with pasta or a frozen pizza that I could throw in the oven.

As a busy working mum, I didn’t feel like I had the time or energy to cook from scratch.

I definitely didn’t feel like the fun, active new mum I wanted to be. Something else in the back of my mind was the sparkly ring on my wedding finger. After being engaged for years, Jamie and I had finally set a date for our wedding, and I wanted to look my absolute best on the big day.

I was desperate to lose weight but I hated the way that diets left me hungry. Then I discovered Slimming World Free Foods and learnt that I could eat well and enjoy food, while still losing weight.

Ditching the diet pills, shakes and hunger

I’d tried many diet plans before I found Slimming World. I followed a plan where meals were replaced with diet pills and shakes, as well as a plan that restricts the kinds of foods that you’re eating – even fruit was forbidden! I found both of these diets way too restrictive and I felt incredible hungry while following them. Fad diets were never going to work for me.

The difference with Slimming World is that it’s a healthy eating plan, rather than a diet. I never, ever feel hungry. Slimming World Free Foods are the foundation of the plan – and the reason why they’re called Free Foods is because you can eat them in unlimited amounts, with absolutely no restrictions. I’m a huge pasta fan, and I couldn’t believe it when I discovered that pasta is on the Free Foods list! I’ve stopped buying the jars of processed sauce and healthy pasta recipes are now one of my favourite things to cook – we’ll often have a healthy pasta bake or Slimming World lasagne for dinner.

Slimming World Free Foods really satisfy my appetite. I never feel hungry!

Slimming World recipes have inspired me to cook from scratch much more. They’re so quick and easy that I don’t need to rely on the frozen ‘shove it in the oven’ convenience food now. Another great thing about them is that they’re family friendly – something that can’t be said about diet pills and meal-replacement shakes.

My family now eats healthy meals cooked from fresh, instead of quick and easy ones with hardly any nutritional value. This gives me great peace of mind as a mum. I didn’t include vegetables in my daily diet until I was inspired by the huge variety on the Slimming World Free Foods list. Now I’ve fallen in love with veg, although I do have to hide them in a meal to get the kids onboard! One of our family favourites is a big breakfast bake – lean bacon, beans, mushrooms, spinach and egg, all topped with cheese and baked in the oven. This really sets us up for the day, so lunch is something lighter like a soup or Slimming World quiche. Then it’s a trusty healthy pasta recipe, or a home-made Chinese or Indian fakeaway for dinner. 

Three lovely life changes

By the time Summer was running around as a lively preschooler, I’d lost 3st and felt much more able to chase after her. Just as there were three things that contributed to my weight gain, there have been three fantastic ways in which my life has changed since losing weight.

First, Jamie and I finally tied the knot in 2017. I’d reached my target weight of 9st 9Ibs and even had to have my dress altered a second time to suit my new slimline shape. I felt incredible on the day, which was a happy contrast to how I felt on our last special occasion, Summer’s christening.

This time, I was happy to let our photographer get lots of shots for our wedding album.

Then our second child, Harry, came along exactly nine months later! I continued to Food Optimise through my pregnancy (with the support of my Consultant and following Slimming World’s guidelines for mums-to-be developed with the Royal College of Midwives) and I put on much less weight (2st 10Ibs) than I had with Summer. I was back at my target weight so quickly that people couldn’t believe little Harry belonged to me!

I also ditched the desk job to become a Slimming World Consultant, so now I get to teach others about how fantastic Slimming World Free Foods are, and help them to make their own amazing life changes.

Best of all, I’ve rediscovered the confidence that I lost as a new mum. Now I’m a happy, active mummy, dancing around the house with Summer and running around after Harry. I still love capturing all those childhood magic moments, and now I’m happy to be in all those special family shots. I’ve stepped out from behind the camera and it feels amazing!

What are Slimming World Free Foods?

Slimming World Free Foods are the foundation of Food Optimising and include lean meat, poultry, fish, dairy, egg, rice, pasta, potatoes and lots of lovely fruit and veg – so jacket potatoes and healthy pasta recipes can stay on the menu! They’re called Free Foods because you can eat as much of them as you want, with no counting, weighing or measuring – there’s absolutely no need to ever feel hunger on Slimming World. All group members get a handy Food Optimising book on joining, which lists a huge variety of Free Foods. And online members can download a Slimming World Free Foods list pdf.

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.