Seema Johnson

Seema Johnson

Seema is 30 and lives in London with her mum at the moment. But that is all about to change! She has just bought a flat with her boyfriend and is getting married in September. She would love to be in better shape for her wedding.

A serial-snacker, Seema loves her biscuits, crisps and chocolate bars and even carries a lunch box around with her full of these snacks, just in case she gets hungry.

She eats a lot of rice and chicken and loves curried mutton. But she also eats lots of microwave meals for convenience and loves to eat out at places like Nando’s and Pizza Express.

Seema says she has always battled with the bulge and, at 5’7” she weighs in at 16 stone 9lbs, she is unhappy with the bulges she has right now. She says,

‘I’m just huge! I’ve got like really big arms as well and I’ve got a bit of a belly going on and I don’t really like it.’

She’s tried every diet going but when it comes to food she can resist anything but temptation, especially if it’s covered in chocolate! A definite serial yoyo dieter, she even has a placard in her room that says

‘One day I’m going to diet. The other 364 I’ll eat what I like!’

She does have a sweet tooth but, even when she’s not eating chocolate, her cooking consists of home-made, family recipes that have been handed down through the generations that contain a lot of fat.

One of her downfall dishes is curried mutton with bread and butter and deep fried dumplings. She said,

‘Fried dumplings are really good. They’re really tasty. They’re quite moreish and they’re one of my favourite foods.’

But the curried mutton doesn’t compete with her all-time favourite dish – Fried Chicken with rice and peas.

Gizzi said,

‘So many of us inherit how we cook from our parents but a lot of those old school techniques tend to be laden with fat. But, there’s no reason we can’t eat and cook the same things we were brought up on but scrap the fat!’

Gizzi Meets Seema

Gizzi arrived at Seema’s flat to see if she could help Seema start to cook clever. She asked Seema to tell her a bit about her weight history. Seema said,

‘Weight with me basically, is up and down, up and down. Very much like a yoyo all the time. At the moment I’m the heaviest I’ve been, ever really and I would just like to get it right back down again to a nice comfortable weight.’

Gizzi said,

‘My ethos is all about being able to eat what you want but, it’s about making really small changes in what you do on a daily basis in order to be able to lose weight over a much longer period of time.’

What’s In Your Fridge?

Gizzi said to Seema that she was going to check out the fridge. The first thing she saw was some fried chicken. She asked to try some. She said she felt so spoilt! But, it is really high in calories. Just one fried chicken thigh has 134 calories! Gizzi said,

‘That is super delicious! But look at my fingers! Can you see how much grease is on them?’

The next stop was Seema’s cupboards. There were crisps, biccies, chocolate bars, cakes. All snacky foods and, as Seema is eating over 500 calories a day in snacks alone, this is definitely an area that needs looking at. Gizzi said,

‘Crikey, you definitely like having a selection don’t you?’

Snack Attack

Seema definitely loves her sweet, sugary snacks and she likes to have a good selection to hand. Gizzi decided that this was the first thing to tackle with her. She said she was going to give her a recipe for marshmallow and strawberry kebabs with chocolate sauce.

The trick when you’re trying to cook yourself thin but want to use chocolate is to use really good quality chocolate which is at least 70% cocoa so you don’t need as much because you get more of a kick. And, using dark chocolate is better because it doesn’t contain milk fat – good tip there! Marshmallows are also a good sweet thing to use if you have a sweet tooth because they have no fat content. Oooh, another tip!

Gizzi's Strawberry and Marshmallow Kebabs

With Seema’s old sugary snacks she was polishing off 540 calories a day.

Gizzi’s sumptuous Strawberry and Marshmallow kebabs with dark chocolate dipping sauce come in at just 190 calories per portion. A saving of 350 calories!

Gizzi told Seema to dig in and asked her what she thought. Seema couldn’t say, mainly because her mouth was full! But she was making some encouraging noises!

When Seema had finished her kebab Gizzi said she thought Seema would get more from the kebabs than her normal sugary snacks. Seema said,

‘You enjoy more actually cos you’ve got the whole dipping thing and, just more fun as well. Thank you!’

Move It . . . Just a Little Bit

Losing weight isn’t just about the food you eat and how much you put in your mouth. Burning off calories is just as important with the added bonus of then being able to add those burned calories to your daily allowance.

Seema has always struggled with fitting exercise in to her life. She said,

‘I’ve had a gym membership for quite some time now and last year I’d been maybe, ten times!’

But, there’s no room for excuses. A gym membership is not required to get a little exercise into your life! Seema has the perfect motivation to get fit too because she is getting married later this year. She said,

‘I’m getting married this year so I’m looking forward to that. So in that white dress you need to be looking your best because all eyes on you. Definitely this is my year to do it and this is my time.’

All Seema has to do is ditch the expensive gym membership and buy herself a skipping rope. Just 15 minutes of vigorous skipping could burn up to 285 calories. If Seema skipped every day for two weeks, she could lose an extra pound and, it’s great exercise for her shoulders and arms!

Seema panted,

‘I really feel knackered now, a little bit out of breath. Feel a little bit phwoar, need to lie down and have a cup of tea!’

The Fat Buster

Seema loves her mum’s cooking and her recipes. They’ve been handed down from generation to generation and are part of her heritage. But the traditional cooking is proving catastrophic for Seema’s curves. She said,

‘There’s a lot of coconut milk, a lot of rice, a lot of curries and, nine times out of ten there’s a lot of fat involved with it as well.’

Gizzi was intending to tackle the Mutton Curry and Deep Fried Dumplings next. She said,

‘She loves her West Indian food. It reminds her of home. It’s her comfort food and I want to show her ways that she can actually eat this but without, sort of, piling on the pounds.’

But first, Gizzi had a shock for Seema. She asked her if she could imagine how many grams of fat she thought would be in her normal Mutton Curry and Dumplings. Seema said,

‘Not really because you’ve been surprising me!’

Gizzi brought over a plate covered with a tea towel and said,

‘If I told you it was the same amount of fat as 25 Yorkshire puddings, seriously!’

Seema, again was shocked. It all added up to 60 grams of fat in her favourite Mutton Curry! Nearly her entire recommended daily amount in one go!

Gizzi had decided to show Seema how to make a goat curry. She said,

‘To start off with you go for mutton but if you go for proper goat it cuts down the amount of fat by way over half!’

Goat meat is even lower in fat than chicken!

Once Gizzi had got all the ingredients in the pan for the curry, she left it to simmer and moved on to tackle Seema’s rice and peas. She said,

‘This is the bit I’m really scared about. There’s a missing ingredient, can you tell what it is?’

Seema spotted it right away – there was no coconut milk. Gizzi said,

‘I’m really sorry but it’s one of the things we’re going to have to substitute.’

But it is worth ditching the coconut milk because 1 can contains 70 grams of fat!

Gizzi's Curried Goat

Seema’s fatty Mutton Curry with Deep Fried Dumpling stomps in at an amazing 60 grams of fat per portion.

Gizzi’s Goat Curry with Rice and Peas tiptoes in at just 7.9 grams of fat per portion. A saving of over 50 grams of fat!

Once Gizzi had finished and served the curry onto a plate, Seema was able to sample it. She said it was lovely and, even though there was no coconut milk the rice was good too. Gizzi said,

‘That’s good right? That’s a massively good alternative, okay? And it’s just by switching the meat, better cooking techniques and, unfortunately ditching that coconut.’

Seema said,

‘I could live with that I think. Well done, I’m impressed!’ Gizzi was triumphant once again!

Calorie Swap

The next downfall dish is a real biggie! Seema’s beloved Fried Chicken and Rice. She said,

‘I love my chicken. I’m sorry, chicken is every day for me. I prefer fried chicken than chicken in a stew because, I think, you’ve got the skin, all the seasonings all mixed up in it. It just tastes a lot better. I do prefer fried chicken.’

For Gizzi to wean Seema off her fried chicken, she was going to have to give her some completely new flavours to compete with the taste Seema loves. Gizzi said,

‘She loves spicy food and, I’m thinking, if I go to another end of the globe that I might be able to bring her back something that she will find equally as interesting but, actually, naturally much leaner.’

Gizzi started off by asking Seema if she knew how many calories would be in her normal Fried Chicken and Rice. Seema said she thought it was about 550 calories. When Gizzi told her it was almost 900 calories, it looked like Seema was about to hit the floor!

Gizzi had decided to show Seema how to cook a Vietnamese dish with pork. She said it was a noodle salad with a bit of stir fry with griddled pork. Seema didn’t look terribly convinced!

Gizzi got out her trusty Vietnamese ingredient, Fish Sauce and got Seema to sniff it. Seema wrinkled up her nose and said,

‘That’s not very nice!’

Gizzi agreed but said that Seema wouldn’t taste it in the dish but that it wouldn’t taste the same without it. It’s used as a replacement for salt in Vietnamese cooking and helps give it a unique flavour. Gizzi also used a pork fillet for the meat which is a super lean meat and she sliced it into medallions and bashed it flat. That’s a clever trick to ensure a maximum surface area to soak up the yummy marinade she had made. Two hours in the fridge and the meat was ready to griddle.

Griddling meat is a much better alternative to frying it – it saves hundreds of calories by not frying it in fat.

While Gizzi was putting together the meal, Seema did not look convinced. Gizzi asked her how she was feeling. Seema didn’t say much. Gizzi told her to trust her.

Gizzi's Pork Bun Cha

Seema’s fat-filled Fried Chicken and Rice has a massive 900 calories per portion.

Gizzi’s Vietnamese Pork Bun Cha has just 426 calories per portion. Less than half!

Seema got stuck in to taste the dish and said it was really nice, surprisingly! She said it had a good little kick to it with the spice. Gizzi asked her if she was enjoying the flavours and Seema said there were things she wouldn’t have thought of putting together, but that the outcome was good.

Will Seema stick to Gizzi’s alternative recipes? Seema said,

‘The goat that you did, I was really impressed with that. I’m definitely gonna try and follow that.’

Gizzi asked,

‘So do you think that it’s really opened your eyes up to how, you know, you’ve been brought up eating a certain food and it’s just traditional and homely to you but, actually, if you carried on it could be getting a bit dangerous?’

Seema said that it had and that some of it had been a real shock. She said it was good to see how you can change things and that she was going to talk to her mum about the changes too! She did say that it would be a harder conversation with her mum than it was with her!

Before Gizzi left, she gave Seema a gift. It was a set of measuring spoons for her, to help her cut down on the amount of fat she uses when she’s cooking in the future.

If Seema just swaps her usual dishes for the alternatives that Gizzi has shown her and skipped daily, she could save over 5,000 calories a week and lose two and a half stone in just six months, just in time for her wedding! Now that is how you cook yourself thin!


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Cook Yourself Thin Episode Nine Seema Johnson

Last Updated Thursday 17 June at 1:25 PM

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