Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge is back on our TV screens in BBC2's Lose Weight and Get Fit with Tom Kerridge, in which he and a group of volunteers complete an eight-week weight loss and fitness journey. The Salisbury-born TV chef, who has worked on shows such as Great British Menu, The Food Detectives and Tom Kerridge: Lose Weight For Good, has had his own weight loss battle to deal with himself. Over the past five years, the 46-year-old has shed 12 stone and has transformed the way he eats with the ‘dopamine diet’ - a diet he is famed for.
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Talking about his weight loss journey, Tom previously told the Irish News: "For me it probably took about 12 weeks, maybe longer, before I made the decision, before I actually made the change. It was January, so it was a New Year’s kind of thing. You can’t just walk into changing your life. You can’t just wake up one morning and go, ‘This is what I’m going to do’. Particularly for food, which is quite habitual. It’s working out a route that you are going to go down. A very simple example of this is recipes, an understanding of what you’re going to cook. You have to plan going out and buying it."
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Tom also revealed the bad habit he ditched to lose weight, confessing: "I used to eat convenience food myself, then I made a decision to change the way I ate for the sake of my weight and health. Ready meals and takeaways are simple and quick but living off processed food comes at a cost."
What is the dopamine diet?
Tom created the diet and it centres around Dopamine, aka the "happy" hormone. According to BBC’s Dietitian Emer Delaney: "Dopamine is a neurotransmitter - a chemical that is responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells in the brain. Dopamine directly affects the reward and pleasure centres in the brain, which in turn affects mood. Its activation occurs for a number of reasons, including the sudden availability of food."
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The dopamine diet lifestyle doesn’t include alcohol and it incorporates smaller portions and regular meals to keep mood and blood sugar levels in check. It’s low in carbohydrates, also. If you need more convincing - chocolate is allowed! But sorry, it needs to be dark chocolate. Some of Tom’s most popular meals include fried halloumi salad and shepherd’s pie with creamy cauliflower mash. Tom deems dairy products 'dopamine heroes', and he includes full-fat cheese, milk, yoghurt and double cream into his recipes.
According to Tom, finding the time to eat proper, homemade food together as a family is one of life’s biggest pleasures. Tom says: "I want to help people to discover this for themselves and reap the rewards. The first step is to cook more fresh food from scratch and thereby reduce the amount of convenience food consumed. This is where it all begins – and needs to continue. For non-cooks, this means learning to cook and building confidence. For lapsed cooks, this means dusting off the apron and rebooting old skills."
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As well as food, Tom also changed his mindset about exercise. Discussing what workout helped him shed weight, Tom said during his appearance on Desert Island Discs: "Exercise is big, so I started off by swimming. I’d swim a mile and I’d swim it really slowly and I wouldn’t give up. It’s a big step and to get into a swimming pool being that big. Being conscious of your body and worrying about it.”
He continued: "It’s not just going to the gym where you’ve got clothes on, you’re just walking around in your pants essentially. Swimming is very good because you become isolated. No one can talk to you, your phone doesn’t ring. You’re on your own."