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A Banting (Newbie) Support Page

If you are Banting, you will be aware of all the support groups and social networking connection groups that are out there. Yet so often, people ask questions and are grilled because they don’t know the basics, or seem to have missed a memo or three.

And people can be so cruel…

When newbie Banters ask a question, often there’s more than one Pontius Pilate preparing to bring out the whips. They get mocked. They get sarcastic responses. They get condescension from all sources. And yes, they do also get some support and helpful answers.

But as Banters, we have all been there. Well, I know I certainly went there when I started out. I remember saying things like, “I will definitely still have some ice cream now and then,” or “Do I really need to eat all that fat?” Life has changed a lot for me in three months. Undoubtedly, for the better. So I thought I would share some things you can share, in kindness, with newbies.

Get rid of as much of the crap as you possibly can. If you don’t have it in your house, you won’t be as tempted to use it. Make playdough with your flour and sunflower oil. Make chalk paint with your corn flour. Use your noodles to create macaroni necklaces and spaghetti hedgehogs (using your playdough and some spaghetti!) If you don’t have small children, find a place that feeds the needy and donate your goods. Unopened goods can often be placed in charity bins at larger supermarket stores. Whatever you do, don’t think you need to eat it all before you can start Banting properly. That’s just asking for trouble.

When you look in your fridge, it should be a place filled with things that expire soon. Not jams and jars that last for years. Fresh yogurts, creams, milk, cheese and VEG!! Oh my goodness so much green! I am in love with Kale and simply can't buy it fast enough. Broccoli and cauliflower are essentials. When shopping, use the general rule of thumb that the greener the veg, the better it is to eat. Spinach, brussel sprouts, cabbage, so many lettuce varietals. Cucumber, courgettes and bok choi. Go mad in the green aisle. Throw in some purple too (aubergines, onions) and some red (peppers, tomatoes.) Yellows are risky; apart from pumpkin, those who are seriously reducing carbs need to watch out for orange and yellow veggies. Butternut and sweet potato are allowed but in limited quantities. White veggies are out. (Sob!) So no potatoes, parsnips, or corn.

When you go for a beverage, water is best. Boring, I know. Sparkling or still, with lemon or mint. As far as hot beverages go, coffee with cream (Yay!) or black herbal teas are also cool. You can, if you’re desperate, make your own hot chocolate. The Real Meal Revolution tells it’s readers that alcohol is poison, so be careful. Any adult with a brain is aware of this fact. BUT if you are one of those adults who occasionally likes to quieten down that brain with a tipple; wine, whiskey, bubbly… all better choices than beer, ciders or mixers. Just keep in mind that part of the ethos of Banting is ‘clean eating’ and adding toxins to the body is quite contrary.

Shopping is easy if you remember to stick to the most original form of the product. The less packaging, refining, altering, the better. If you need to make a quick meal or eat at a place that offers take aways, salads are usually safe with dressings on the side. Even vegetables in restaurants have often got added sugars and starches to make them last longer and taste ‘better.’ Opt for real cuts of meat over processed: i.e. a fillet of fish over fish sticks or cubes, a piece of steak over a sausage etc.

Remember that Banting is not a HIGH PROTEIN diet. Your meat protein quotient is never larger than the size of the palm of your hand. This means, (well it certainly does in my household,) that your meat shopping bill should drastically reduce over time. Whereas I used to eat two chicken breasts at dinner, these days I can't finish one and after a three hundred gram steak would often feel unsatisfied, a two hundred gram steak is ample these days.

The fat is the important part. It is your fuel. It is the flavour. It is what keeps you full. If you cut the fat, (because we’ve been taught that fat is evil,) you will feel hungry sooner and in all likelihood, over eat. But the quantity necessary for each Banter is different. You need to take the time adjusting your fat intake until you reach your happy medium: too much and you aren’t going to feel the benefits of the eating plan, too little and you will end up eating the wrong things.

Make sure you have enough carbohydrates. Not too many. Up to a maximum of two hundred grams a day, or there abouts, is the what we can use up in a day. I’m aiming for about twenty grams per day. Banting himself is rumoured to have eaten four slices of toast with butter every day, (hopefully really unrefined flour!) We do need carbs for brain functioning and energy levels, but they can be obtained from better sources than the ones we are used to, i.e. bread, pasta and potatoes.  

Read labels. Firstly, if you buy food as originally as possible, you wont need to read too many labels. But if you buy food that comes in packaging, read the label and make sure that the ingredients don’t hide any nasties. Nasties include, amongst others, sugar, fructose, sunflower oil, palm oil, cornstarch, any ‘E’ chemicals, aspartame and stabilisers. Those products shouldn’t really make it in to your shopping trolley.      

Sugar is the hidden evil in most of our pre-packaged foods and is almost as addictive as cocaine. I suffered physical withdrawals after eight days without sugar. Others have experienced similar ‘symptoms.’ It’s not a laughing matter and the sad fact is that sugar seems to be in everything. Banters are allowed to swop sugar for stevia or Xylitol, which makes coffee or tea more palatable, but when you realise that sugar is simply hidden in tomato sauce, coconut milk, mayonnaise, yogurt and curry paste, you do feel at a loss as to where to turn. Stick to the rule of thumb that the closer the food is to its original form, the better it is. And try to be as vigilant as possible.   

Fruit is a treat, not a necessity. Well, except for berries, that is. Some fruits contain as much sugar as a tin of cola. Dried fruit is often as sugar laden as a bag of candy. If you are serious about Banting and want to cut the sugar cravings that strike at all odd hours of the day, you need to eliminate as much sweet stuff as possible. And this includes fruit. I know you hear it all the time, but when you’ve cut sugar from your day to day eating, you will taste certain things and not believe how sweet they are. Take strawberries, for instance: I was rather vociferous last season about these fruit being tasteless when they were filling our shelves. This year, I honestly find them almost indelibly sweet. I doubt an entire farming scheme has changed in less than twelve months, so it must be my taste buds.

Get ready to experience new things and love them. Cauli rice, cauli pizza and cauli mash, to name but three. Coconut cream and almond flour, psylium husk and chia seeds. Your pantry, which was once a collection of various white powders, will now become a selection of textures and colours. 

You do not need to cook only RMR recipes. Often your old dinners will do, with a few simple substitutes. Make zoodles (zucchini noodles) for your spag bol night; add cream to your veggies when you sauté them, instead of steaming them. Because you will be eating significantly less, you will find that it is easier to make fewer, tastier side dishes. Spinach and cabbage are inexpensive options here. And they can go with your stock standard roast chicken or savoury mince. 

When you feel the need to snack, (which should become less and less frequent,) go for natural, protein rich or fat rich options. Fresh veggies, avo, fatty biltong, nuts, berries and double cream yogurt (or cream!) Try to avoid things that come readily packaged and last for months in a cupboard. That should be your first warning sign that they aren’t the cleanest option.

Finally, don’t get disheartened when it seems a shlep to cook a Banting meal or to get back on the wagon after a weekend at the in-laws where all they served was mashed potatoes and rice. This is a process plan, not a quick fix. It takes time and discipline until it eventually becomes a way of life. People that have Banted for years, now can't picture ever eating a slice of white bread again. All over South Africa, the concept of Banting is bringing health and energy and yes, weight loss, to folks who previously felt they had nothing left to try.

Banters have more energy.

They enjoy eating more because food is tasty.

Banting isn't a diet.

Clothes are suddenly a lot more fun. They actually fit.

And we have some great social networking groups J

So keep going.


  1. Thank you very much for the kind words of wisdom and encouragement. I have been subjected to acidic comments from the converted. I really enjoyed reading your article and feel better prepared to make the change.

  2. Do it! You won't look back! Thanks for reading!

  3. Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the great work.


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