Fish fingers for breakfast but chocolate is off the menu: special diet helps St Albans councillor lose 8 stone

PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:12 23 January 2017

Maxine Crawley, who has lost 8 stone in about a year, with an old pair of her trousers.

Maxine Crawley, who has lost 8 stone in about a year, with an old pair of her trousers.

Danny Loo Photography 2017

A well-known St Albans councillor is half the woman she used to be, after shedding an impressive eight stone over the past 12 months.

Former St Albans Mayor Maxine Crawley several years ago, before her lifestyle changeFormer St Albans Mayor Maxine Crawley several years ago, before her lifestyle change

Maxine Crawley, 52, of Redbourn, has dropped from a dress size 28 to size 14-16, despite enjoying fish fingers for breakfast.

Admitting that the fishy start to her day is ‘unusual’, Maxine credits the protein-filled meal for keeping her full until lunchtime, and helping her to keep away from chocolate and other calorific snacks.

She was prompted to lose weight following a series of gallbladder infections, after suffering from gallstones.

The district and county councillor told the Herts Advertiser she “feels more confident and healthier” as a consequence of her dramatic weight loss – so much so that she intends “setting up as a life coach, to help other people at a crossroad with their weight”.

Maxine Crawley, with her cat Anoushka, has lost 8 stone in about a year.Maxine Crawley, with her cat Anoushka, has lost 8 stone in about a year.

Maxine explained: “In January last year my blood sugars were up, I had another gallbladder infection and needed to have an operation to remove my gallbladder. It was a wake-up call, because of my health issues.

“I knew I needed to lose weight, as I was using food to both comfort and reward myself. Food was my psychological crutch. I was morbidly obese.

“The doctors didn’t say I had to lose weight, but they were reluctant to do the operation. So I realised the writing was on the wall, and that if I didn’t lose weight, I would be in trouble. It was sheer terror that made me do it.

“Because of my gallbladder problems, I couldn’t eat fat, so I concentrated on eating low fat, low sugar, plain meals.”

And while many diets encourage people to eat the likes of porridge for breakfast, Maxine has devised her own routine, which provides her with about 1,100 to 1,400 calories a day.

As she has coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition caused by a reaction to gluten, Maxine avoids wheat - as found in flour - and other foods that contain gluten.

She said: “Breakfast is half a fibre roll with two gluten-free fish fingers – the protein in that keeps me full until lunch. I do sometimes have porridge, but I don’t really like it.

“If I feel really hungry I will have a piece of fruit as a snack. For lunch I might have a little pitta with hummus and mushrooms and a bit of ham, and dinner is something really healthy like fish or chicken, and vegetables, along with rice or potatoes.”

After she initially lost three-and-a-half-stone early last year, Maxine had keyhole surgery to remove her gallbladder in May.

She said: “In July, my blood sugars were back to normal. Before changing my lifestyle I was eating loads of cheese, chocolate, crisps and larger portions, and not many healthy foods. I was also eating during the night.

“I would always take chocolate with me, because I was frightened I would feel hungry. I was almost chained to food.”

While she now allows herself one treat a week, Maxine avoids chocolate, and has made small changes such as cutting out food with a high sugar content, such as ketchup.

Also, she has dramatically increased her fitness levels by walking every day, an activity she had initially struggled with when at her heaviest.

Since her operation, Maxine has lost a further four-and-a-half stone.

She said: “After losing eight stone, I feel fantastic. The most difficult thing at the start was finding ways of coping with stress, because I ate for comfort, which was effectively poisoning me. But now, I don’t panic if I feel hungry – I know that is OK.”

Maxine says that her daily walk helps beats stress, and her newfound confidence has encouraged her to buy new clothes and shoes.

She added: “If you want to lose weight, it is a good idea to go to your doctor, as they will help you. Turn to someone for support, because it’s an easier journey and you can’t do it on your own.”

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