‘I did 30 fad diets in 40 years – then horror diagnosis helped me ditch weight for good’

Carol Tinker, 59, from Lincolnshire, started fad dieting from the age of 18 and always found herself regaining weight she’d lost – but after recovering from cancer, she started a new plan that helped her lose weight for good

Carol says she started calorie counting when she was 18

A mum-of-two who has tried 30 diets over the last four decades and always regained the weight has finally lost it for good.

Carol Tinker, 59, from Lincolnshire, started calorie counting at the age of 18. At the time, she was a size 12-14 and felt like she was putting on weight.

At first, she lost 10lbs and was pleased with her progress, but before long she was trapped in a cycle of losing and gaining weight every year for the next 40 years.

She said: “I used to go on all the fad diets, the soup diet, the Atkins diet, shake diets. I’d tell my mum, she’d get the food in and we’d try to lose weight together.

Carol says she tried fad diets for 40 years



Now Carol is more confident in herself and has no trouble keeping the weight off



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“I’d do it for two weeks, lose 10lbs then just put it all back on again and some. I wasn’t eating properly so as soon as you stop the diet, the weight goes back on.

“I always felt ill on a diet. I never felt healthy and my brain didn’t work as well.”

In 2019, Carol received the devastating news that she had breast cancer which had spread to a lymph node – and she says she turned to food for comfort.

While going through grueling chemotherapy she was too exhausted to make meals from scratch and relied on ready meals. Within two years she had gained five stone.

“My mother’s way of coping was to feed me and I was on steroids which didn’t help,” she said.

Carol felt at an all-time low due to her cancer treatment, weight gain and stress at work – plus her medication made her joint pain unbearable.

After she was given the all-clear from cancer in 2020, Carol was introduced to NHS-backed Second Nature, which uses behavioral science to change bad eating habits into good ones.

The plan doesn’t ban any food groups meaning you’re allowed to eat chocolate, cream, butter and nuts.

After signing up, Carol was given a recipe book and a qualified health coach through an app.

She added: “I was so ashamed of my weight and wasn’t convinced about it so it took me a while to sign up. But when I got my parcel in the post, it was quite exciting.

Carol says her sons also like the meals she makes


Carol Driver)

“I got scales, a watch and was put in touch with six other ladies in the Lincolnshire area. I also got the recipe book and was worried about cooking from scratch.

“There was no chance I was going to have time to do it and I thought it would be boring but I enjoyed it!

“I was so used to getting something out of the freezer and bunging it in the microwave, I forgot what cooking was really like.”

Carol started eating oats and yoghurt with berries for breakfast, a wrap with sweet potato, beetroot or halloumi for lunch and a Second Nature home cooked meal for dinner.

“We like the massaman curry with the avocado chocolate mousse for dessert or the bang bang shrimp, the BBQ pulled pork and the cottage pie with cauliflower mash,” she said.

She has learned how to cook for herself again, rather than resorting to ready meals


Carol Driver)

Carol lost more than four stone in the two years she’s been on the Second Nature diet



Carol’s husband and her sons, aged 13 and 16, also enjoy the meals, which she says give her the freedom to eat how she wants.

She said: “I love cheese, I love cream and butter. A friend of mine couldn’t believe that I could eat all of those things while on Second Nature. And if we’re out for dinner and I’d like a glass of wine, I’ll have it!”

Two years on from starting the plan, Carol has lost more than four stone and says her eating habits have changed.

She has also started dog walking for two hours most days – and incorporates walking into her day-to-day life.

Carol said her habits have totally changed since starting the plan, and learning to cook for herself again has changed her life.

She said she’s sleeping better and prioritizes her forty winks – and as the weight has fallen off her, she’s become more comfortable too.

Carol also doesn’t put too much pressure on herself to stick to a healthy eating plan all the time, and didn’t weigh herself until 10 days after Christmas.

She said: “I don’t call Second Nature a diet and I don’t see it as a diet at all, I just see it as making healthy choices.

“I’m not restricted by anything at all. I just feel like I’m living a healthy lifestyle! I just look at my little zigzag line for the year and it’s still going down.

“I eat more than I used to. I don’t feel hungry and I’m certainly losing weight. I feel like I’m not going to put that back on and I’m just going to carry on losing!”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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