Nan’s wartime recipes helped me lose 6st

nan's war time recipes lost weight

by take-a-break |
Updated on

After a stark warning from the doctor, I needed to get my emotional eating in check. Would I have to ditch my favourite family recipes? By Dee Wright, 49

wartime recipes helped me lose 6st

Walking out the school gates, I heard a girl shout after me.

‘Your legs look tree trunks!’ she yelled.

I’d started gaining weight as I hit my teens and it meant I was often the target of cruel comments at school.

Now, holding back tears, I headed to my sanctuary — my nan Dylys’s house.

Bursting through the door into her cosy kitchen, I was hit by the delicious smell of sausage quiche, and instantly perked up.

‘Mmm, my favourite!’ I said, giving Nan a big hug.

Nan’s cooking was delicious and her baking divine. Every Saturday, we’d whip up fairy cakes together before settling down in front of the TV to watch Blind Date and 3-2-1 with bowls of jelly and ice cream.

As I grew up and left school, Nan remained a huge part of my life. But one day, Mum called me with devastating news.

‘Nan’s got cancer,’ Mum said. ‘She isn’t going to make it.’

When she passed away, I was heartbroken and turned to food for comfort, desperate to transport myself back to happy childhood memories eating sweet treats with Nan.

Before long, I’d reached 17st 10lb, a size 22.

At 38, I fell pregnant which encouraged me to eat healthier. But after my daughter Autumn was born, the old habits crept back in, especially when I split up from her father.

Four years later, I went for a health check, and the doctor had a stark warning.

‘If you carry on the way you are, you won’t make it to 50,’ he said.

weight loss

It felt like a punch in the stomach. I was terrified I wouldn’t be around to see Autumn grow up.

Back home, I tried different ways of losing weight, but nothing stuck.

Then one day, a Slimming World leaflet landed on my doorstep, and I plucked up the courage to drive to the group. Only, I was too anxious to go in. Instead, I watched the members come and go from the car.

The second week, I did the same. It was only on my third attempt that I finally found the courage to walk in — and I instantly realised I needn’t have worried. Everyone was so welcoming.

Stepping on the scales, I discovered I weighed 16st 1lb, but I felt determined that from this moment, the only way was down!

In my first week, I lost more than 8lb and after four months, I’d dropped two stone.

I had so much more energy to play with Autumn and was no longer afraid of getting stuck in soft play centres.

It encouraged me to keep going and eventually, I hit my target weight.

I felt so much happier and more confident and I wanted to share that feeling and help others to achieve it, so I became a Slimming World consultant, setting up a group near my home in Southport, Merseyside.

Knowing exactly what my members were going through really helped me to support them on their weight loss journeys.

Then one day, I was tidying up at home when I stumbled across a book. Opening it, I realised it was one of Nan’s cookery books. It was full of her handwritten recipes from the 1940s and reading them I was instantly transported back to the wonderful smells of her kitchen.

Feeling inspired, I decided to recreate Nan’s staple dinners with a healthier twist.

Replacing butter with Frylight, and trimming the fat off bacon, I made her potato and bacon bake.

Then with reduced-fat sausages and fat-free cottage cheese, a crustless version of my favourite quiche came to life. I also adapted her savoury mince recipe.

The tastes of all the dishes reminded me perfectly of Nan.

And, to my delight, Nan’s adapted wartime recipes were published in the Slimming World magazine, for other readers to cook for themselves.

Now I can’t wait to celebrate my 50th birthday this year knowing I’ve changed my life for the better.

It’s fantastic that Nan’s recipes have been given a new lease of life and are now helping others to lose weight too. I know she’d have been so proud of that — and of me too.

For more information, visit or call 0344 897 8000

5ft 3in

17st 10lb Size 22

11st 3lb Size 10-12

Total loss
6st 7lb

Diet before

Breakfast: almond croissant or sausage sandwich

Lunch: sandwich, crisps, chocolate, Coke

Dinner: pizza

Snacks: chocolate, ice cream, family-size bag of crisps

Diet now

Breakfast: oat waffles with fruit

Lunch: jacket potato or crustless quiche

Dinner: potato, bacon and cheese bake or chilli con carne with wedges

Snacks: mini bag of popcorn, satsumas

Dee's top tip: Join a SW group. With encouragement and support from others, you’ll never feel alone in your struggles.

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