What I Eat!

Please note that this post was written in 2009 when I was vegetarian and had been for nearly 20 years. I am no longer vegetarian (as of April 2010) and therefore this is not reflective of my current daily diet.

I am often asked what I eat, so I’ll try and describe a typical day as much as possible. I’ll also try to point out where this is not good for others to follow!


…is porridge just about every day. Made with whatever milk is in the fridge (usually real stuff) or boiling water. The amount is large – approximately 100g of dry oats. (WATCH OUT: Having the same thing every day can tempt food intolerance unless your immune system is good).


… is usually a huge salad – lettuce, cucumber, peppers, cherry tomatoes, celery, fennel, beetroot,  alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts and then the calories (energy) come from farm shop cole slaw (no sugar), 3-4 cheeses (e.g. cheddar, edam, ementaal cubes, feta – whatever is in the fridge) and cottage cheese in the middle. With 3-4oz cheese and at least 3-4 table spoons of olive oil, the calories should be more than 700-800. This is a great Phase 2 fat meal. (Andy took a photo on 26/8/09 of our normal lunch salad – see below). I weighed the bowl before and after and the actual food weight is 500g (just over 1lb). In the winter we tend to have the same salad, but with a bowl of soup as well – to warm up. We have the salad first and then the soup, or it doesn’t work!

Every now and again I really fancy bread and Andy and I will share a whole loaf of farm shop granary, or whole wheat, bread and one of the recipe book soups. No butter though – dunk instead. (WATCH OUT: Wheat intolerance is the most common intolerance that I come across – you will do better staying off wheat altogether until you’re close to goal weight and then only cheat with it rarely after that).

If I’m out – I’ll have a sandwich, like a brown bread cheddar ploughman’s. If I want to avoid wheat and I’m out, I’ll have a decaf whole milk cappuccino from a coffee shop (the real milk is so much more satisfying) and 100g (85%) dark chocolate and/or a sugar free, wheat free, sweetener free cereal bar (there are a couple).



… is sometimes a black tie meal out (I’m on a few boards). I always make sure they know I don’t eat meat (mostly I’ll tick the veggie box and sometimes just the non meat eater box – I do struggle to eat any animals!) I may get a goat’s cheese tartlet and then risotto and then a decent chocolate torte – anything tasty and healthy I will eat. I don’t eat things like white bread or boiled potatoes – they’re tasteless – what’s the point?!

At home I do tend to have a fat meal or a carb meal (I’ve just got so used to not mixing). A carb meal would be a large bowl of brown rice and stir fry veg or pasta (usually rice pasta) and a home made veggie sauce or nut roast (the version with brown rice in the recipe book). Portion again is c. 100g dry weight of the rice or pasta and then loads of veg and loads of olive oil. If I have a fat meal, it could be fish (which I have started trying to eat for my health). Andy usually cooks fish in butter. Or I have a veggie fat meal, which would be a cheese/aubergine/olive oil/tomato/courgette kind of concoction – all very Mediterranean therefore. We have loads of extra veg with whatever main meal we have – whatever comes in the organic box we get delivered each week from our neighbour, Paul.

I’ll sometimes ‘mix’ for a main meal – e.g. crispy baked potato (or two) & cheddar cheese or pasta with a mushroom cream sauce.

Andy (I often get asked this too) is a passionate carnivore by the way! He loves his lamb, steak, pork chops, kidneys, liver and all sorts, which I happily buy for him from the local butcher – I don’t object to meat in any way – I just personally don’t want to eat meat. The cat and dog also eat meat and fish (and anything else they can get hold of). They love living in a house that has cream in the fridge at all times!


I drink 4-5 large decaf coffees during the day and 3-4 beakers of water. At home the coffees are black and instant. If I’m out, I’ll have decaf whole milk cappuccinos from a coffee shop.

Here’s the fun bit – I eat at least 100g (550 cals) of 85% cocoa dark chocolate every day. Sometimes I have been known to eat 2 bars! I tend to have some mid morning (WATCH OUT: Avoid snacking if you want to lose weight) and then a couple of squares after lunch and dinner. If I’m working late in the evening I can get through a second bar!

I rarely have any desire for anything before bed. If I do, I’ll have some full fat live yoghurt. I sometimes have fruit first thing in the morning before the dog walk (I walk about 30 mins a day and swim about 3 times a month) and I’ll have fruit late afternoon if there is something in season that I really like (usually berries or cherries or English apples when they first come out).

Things I never eat:

Meat, biscuits, cakes, sweets, confectionery/milk chocolate, sugared cereals, bread with more ingredients than are necessary, tins of things that should not have sugar added (chick peas, kidney beans, tomatoes etc), 99.9% of things in packets! I also don’t drink alcohol, as I never managed to acquire the taste and it all tastes like vinegar to me! (This is not why I am slim – if you drink more calories than I eat in chocolate, you should be in a clinic!)

Things I never choose to eat (but I will eat at a dinner party/function, for example) are white flour, white rice and white pasta.

What I eat if I want:

Crisps: Kettle chips with two ingredients – potatoes and olive oil (not even salt) – as is recommended for Phase 3 in the book.

Ice cream: Haagen-Dazs vanilla, which has (in order) fresh cream, skimmed milk, sugar, egg yolk and natural vanilla flavouring – as is recommended for Phase 3 in the book.

ChocolateS: As opposed to chocolate. I will get really high quality chocolates, ideally hand made from individual shops, which use cocoa, cocoa butter, vanilla and other natural flavourings, real cream, nuts, coffee beans etc and minimal, or no, sugar or sweeteners.

Luxury dessert: The chocolate mousse recipe in the recipe book (p435) is my idea of heaven! I change the recipe to only have sugar to stiffen the eggs (not in the egg yolk part of the recipe) and I use only 85% cocoa chocolate bars – not even 70%.

Other good products: oat cakes (ingredients only need to be oats, olive oil and salt). Gillian McKeith cereal bars are pretty good (handy if you’re on the run all day). Bananas – if you’re not very carb sensitive, the banana is nature’s own little gem in a wrapper. I do like dried apricots, but they are too high carb for people with Candida, or Hypoglycaemia or trying to lose weight.


I take one Centrum Performance multi vitamin and mineral tablet whenever I remember. In the week before my period I eat more dark chocolate! Supplements are not necessary, but I think of them like an insurance policy – have one just in case.

I’ll try and scan in my last BUPA MOT results. When they analysed my diet they were horrified by the fat content and when they saw the blood test results they suddenly went quiet! I’d love to tell them I used to put on weight eating 1000 cals a day!

Website Comments

  1. avatar melissa barton

    This is great Zoe, lovely to see what you eat during a typical day, really useful, and all sounds yummy, that salad looks delicious . look forward to those Bupa results .
    Melissa x

  2. avatar Brandi Fulford

    This is great. I have just begun my journey. I have just finished day 3 and have already lost 10 lbs. Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge. I have been spreading the word all the way over here in Alabama(USA). As of now I have a BMI of 38 and am looking forward to seeing 23! I really feel great so far. Thanks again.

  3. avatar Zoë

    Hi Brandi – thanks so much for sharing this with us. You may have broken the Phase 1 record by now! It stands at 17lbs, so do let us know!
    Many thanks for sharing the news in the US also – we are working hard to get a book into Amazon.com, as it’s too slow ordering from the UK. Our goal is to achieve this before Xmas, so fingers crossed! We need an IRS number and all sorts!
    Keep up the great work
    Very best wishes – Zoe

  4. avatar jane

    HI Zoe,

    The diet looks great.

    Just starting the diet this week and waiting for delivery of your books, meantime I love spicy food, are all herbs and spices okay ?


  5. avatar Aoife

    Hi Zoe,

    Honestly I have just discovered your diet however according to your diet I have completed stage 1. 8 days ago my friend, an ex personal trainer & gave me some advise – its almost identical to your plan. The first 5 days were great my cravings (let I me tell you I had craving & an insatiable appetite I could eat a 1kg of pasta & sauce in 1 sitting) anyway I’ve lost just shy of 8 kg (I currently live in OZ & its all kg over here).

    I was beginning to wonder what was next with my diet as its a little restrictive & you’ve provided me with the answer – thank you.

    To all those who are starting its not as scary as you think I now watch my partner eat all the food I once craved & I dont miss it, honest.


  6. avatar Zoë

    Hi Aoife – thanks so much for sharing this – keep up the great work! We’re launching the books in OZ next March!
    Very best wishes – Zoe x

  7. avatar Kristy

    Hi there, i was just wondering if i am allowed any fruit in phase 1? im quite a fussy eater and don’t eat salad so i am struggling to find a meal that i like to take to work with me for lunch?


  8. avatar Elaine

    Hello Zoe,
    I have put on 30kg in the last 3 years and have got to that point where I’m so scared of going on another diet. (now weigh 110kg and hate the size I’ve become) A friend sent me a link to your diet book. I bought it and the receipe book, and still haven’t picked up the courage to start. I travel a lot, love food; eat for comfort and for every other possible reason .. HELP !!!

  9. avatar Lisa

    I’m so excited, I found this diet in a magazine last week, LBD diet, I have been studying it since, have the e-book now but I’ve just ordered the paperback and the recipie book, will be starting new years day, I saw your comments on Lighterlife, I did lighterlife and I loved it, thought it was amazing, I lost 6 stone easily, but found that as soon as I introduced fruit back into my diet my appetite for sugary carbohydrates were uncontrollable, I would find my self waling around a supermarket at three in the morning eating rubbish and then embarrassingly paying for empty packets. I have high hopes to feel and look well again!!!

  10. avatar Sharon Harrold

    I have been eating porridge and hot water this week but it just isnt sweet enough is there anything I can put on it please i am in phase 2

  11. avatar Vanessa

    I’ve come across a company called Rude Health (rudehealth.com) which produces breakfast cereals which may fit the Harcombe diet. Spelt and corn are steamed and then toasted using a little sunflower oil lecithin(?). The company also does brown rice puffs – nothing added. They also do organic porridge oats plus some other cereals which wouldn’t work ‘cos they use dried fruits. Waitrose, Tesco and Ocado are named among the suppliers. Would these be suitable for the diet?

  12. avatar Zoë

    Hi Vanessa – you’ve worked it out – the puffed rice and spelt look good. The other (muesli) cereals are too high in dried fruits and nuts. Shame they added so much banana stuff to porridge oats – plain porridge is best
    Best wishes – Zoe

  13. avatar cheryl taylor

    Hi i am on day one of the diet, phase 1 i am looking forward to weight myself on day 5 to see what i lose this week.It sounds like a brilliant diet and hope it works for me as i have tried every diet going for the last 6 years.

  14. avatar Syveen

    Hi Zoe,
    on phase 2 finding it great really easy now full of energy and definatley going to adapt eating habits long term, just wondering if you can eat the oat cakes in phase 2 or 3 and how many a day? and should i drink soy milk or skimmed milk with my porridge i dont drink milk otherwise or eat cheese etc? Is whole meal pasta okay to eat, i want to try it with the tomato sauce receipe!!
    Thanks a mill website great help! x

  15. avatar Syveen

    Sorry for got to add, is basil tofu and tomato tofu okay to eat or should i stick with plain tofu, I don eat meat?

  16. avatar Karen Rudd

    Can you eat quinoa pops as cereal on stage 2 of the diet? What aboult spelt flakes, as long as there is no sugar added erc? Just wondered as my husbabd works for a fairtrage organic wholefoods wholesaler and we get lots of food stuffs like this. Also where would fresh coconut fit into phase2? I have found through searching this site that you can have coconut cream, but what about coconut milk?

    Thankyou Karen

  17. avatar neeta

    Hi Zoe

    Was just wondering that with cooking in butter etc, does this have any unwanted affects on functions of organs etc please?

  18. avatar Tracy

    Hi Zoe,

    I’ve strated the diet today! can you tell me if I can make home made humous,
    with chick pea’s and fresh garlic and eat this on phase 1, can I also have a chicken stock OXO cube in my home made soup. (waiting for my ordered cook book)!

  19. avatar Zoë

    Hi Tracy – no hummus in Phase 1 – there’s a recipe in the book for it for Phase 2. Stock cubes are fine – we advise trying to find one without sugar and wheat, but the amounts are generally tiny if you can’t find one without
    Good luck on Phase 1!
    Best wishes – Zoe

  20. avatar Jacqui

    I am, and have been, for several years, living through the bad dream known as ‘the menopause’. I am finally starting to get over the hot flushes but my weight has crept up by over a stone. My morale is not helped by the fact that I have a size zero daughter-in-law who spends many hours in the gym and looks great!
    I decide today that as spring is on it’s way it is time I took myself in hand and sorted out these cravings in order that I can try and lose my excess weight. I know I have a wheat intolerance and I cannot eat bread or I immediately go down with candida and this has not made trying to lose weight easy. I am encouraged by the comments I have read both here and on the Amazon website concerning your books. They are now on order. I am determined to get back to my pre-menopause weight for me self-esteem and also my health. Fingers crossed.

  21. avatar Rebecca

    I am not fat and never have been, but approaching 40 wanted to lose half a stone which I have done. My only query is, why is it that I can manage to put on 4lbs over a weekend by not particularly over indulging? Is this normal fluctuations or could it be that that 4lbs takes me to my natural weight? I am 5’1” and 8st 7 now but I would like to be 8st 5 and keep going back to 8st 10 without effort. It’s making me feel so frustrated.

  22. avatar Zoë

    Hi Rebecca – my first guess would always be sugar and white flour. If you have wheat intolerance you can literally gain pounds overnight with water retention from the body’s reaction to refined carbs. The good news is that it can go as quickly as it came. Have you tried The Harcombe Diet? I’m 5’2″ and my natural weight is 8 stone, so your target is realistic.
    We have set up a club (literally launched 14 March – yesterday) where comments like this can be answered. I won’t be answering any more on these blogs any day now – there’s just too many blogs to keep up with, so we’re going into one club! http://www.theharcombedietclub.com. Look forward to seeing you there
    Very best wishes – Zoe

  23. avatar christine Midgley

    I suffer with irratable Bowels can you still do this diet. Thanks

  24. avatar Zoë

    Hi Christine – The Harcombe Diet should really help – it gets you off all the likely foods that cause IBS and on to only real (nature’s) healthy stuff. The Food Intolerance info in the diet should be interesting to any IBS sufferers
    Very best wishes – Zoe

  25. avatar Rachel T

    Hi Zoe, just come back from Skiing … Followed you advise on Skiing eating from a few weeks ago. I also found a handful of salted peanuts to be a wonderful when out and in need of energy. I couldn’t remember what you thought about nuts as snacks. Still very happy in phase 3, dipping back into phase 2 if I cheat too often! My husband loves it too, as no longer so moody – no highs & lows! Thanks so much. X

  26. avatar Zoë

    Hi Rachel! Delighted to hear you’re both doing well. We’ve set up a new club http://www.theharcombedietclub.com – do come and join us any time you want more info or have a question – or come and be an expert and answer questions! Sounds like you’re in the advanced group!
    Nuts are naturally mixed foods – high in fat and carb. Wonderful foods from the natural earth, but not best for people trying to lose weight. Probably ideal after skiing though!
    Ciao – Zoe

  27. avatar Lucy

    Hi Zoë
    I noticed someone asked the question on the “cholesterol” stream elsewhere on the website, but would a sugar substitute called Xylitol be safe for phase 2 or 3? From what I’ve been told and read, it is 100% natural and safe for diabetics because it doesn’t produce the same insulin response?

    Also…dark chocolate, I am also a big fan — the darker the better. However would the caffeine in this not activate an insulin response? And also the sugar?

    Thank you! (p.s. on phase one and finding the diet a doddle! I fee like I’m being really kind to the body!)

    Lucy X

  28. avatar Zoë

    Hi Lucy – we set up a club for questions like this: http://www.theharcombedietclub.com. Sweeteners is the most FAQ – short answer – don’t touch any of them. Chocolate has sig caffeine content – there’s a fact sheet in the club on it. Not advised for carb/insulin sensitive types but a useful treat for those who can tolerate it. The average Brit eats 100g of sugar per day. If you eat a whole bar of 85%, you get max 15g sugar – and no white flour/transfat rubbish etc.
    It is a doddle – just eat food! Nature provides it :-)
    Best wishes – Zoe

  29. avatar aimen

    hey zoe,
    feels great as i am on day one of phase 1. i had two boiled eggs this morning. i was wondering to have some salad for lunch and then some grilled chicken for dinner.
    could you tell me what else can i eat to keep myself filled?
    are those instantly cooked noodles a good option? that contain wheat flour?
    i am literally so confused of what and what not to eat because i have limited options in the place i live. i can’t even find brown rice here. could you specify foods that are easily available?
    looking forward to your reply and to the diet.
    thanks, aimen. :)

  30. avatar Trudi

    Hi Zoe I bought your book and started the diet 3 days ago. I was reading the phase 2 part in the book and I have got a bit confused. Can you have meat in your wholemeal bread because the bread is carbs.Many thanks.

  31. avatar agatha

    Hi there, I have a rice intolerance which is rare amongst other intolerances, can I then substitute brown rice for Quinoa ? cannot seem to find the answer over the net

  32. avatar Zoë

    Hi Agatha – yes – quinoa for brown rice is fine
    Best wishes – Andy

  33. avatar Kylie

    Hi Zoe, Is fat and skins etc to be left on the meat when cooked? Can it also be eaten?

    Thanks Kylie

  34. avatar Maria

    Hi Zoe

    It helps to understand what your diet is all about & comparing it to The Harcombe Diet – I totally get the principle behind it all, but I still struggle with ideas because I’m lazy and usually just want to grab something to eat quickly and lots of it!

    The idea of using more than one cheese at a time didn’t occur to me, but I love it………

    I do have a couple of questions though:
    a) Is it OK to have buttered toast as long as the bread is 100% wholewheat & organic
    b) Are low salt, low sugar baked beans OK?
    c) I can’t bear cottage cheese, can’t even look at the stuff – could I substitute for extra light cheese spread similar to Philadelphia (they do light, but some of the supermarkets do an own-brand which is extra light)?



  35. avatar nina jagne

    Dear Zoe, thankyou for answering my Parkinsons questions earlier in the week. I would like to know if you do a vegetarian option in your books. Im desparate to lose weight but I really dont like meat. I can eat fish and chicken if needs be but we never eat pork. My friend borrowed your book off me and has lost 4.5 stones.
    I need something I can look at daily and plan from.
    many thanks Nina

  36. avatar Zoë

    Hi Nina – Zoe was veggie for 20 years including the time that she devised The Harcombe Diet, so it’s fine for veggies – you need to get the book back from your friend – well done to her by the way!
    Best wishes – Andy

  37. avatar Tamsin

    Hi Zoe/Andy,
    Are dried apricots, raisins allowed on phase 2?

  38. avatar Julia

    Hi Zoe and Andy.

    Is there an updated version of Zoe’s diet now that she is a meat eater?

    Thanks Julia

  39. avatar Zoë

    Hi Julia – Not as different as you might expect. I still enjoy porridge for breakfast and have a large cappuccino with proper milk at the same time. I still eat enough dark chocolate to give saturated fat phobics a heart attack! I still enjoy lots of cheese, olive oil and salad at lunch time. The non-veggie options are now tinned fish for lunches (awesome for calcium and vit D) and/or leftover cold meats from the night before.

    I still get lots of invites to black tie dinners (lucky me!) – it makes you realise how stodgy the veggie options are (floury tarts, white rice risotto, white pasta dishes). The black tie dinner meat options (lamb, chicken, salmon, beef being the most typical) are much less bloat inducing and better for stable blood glucose throughout the evening.

    Dinners at home are probably the biggest change and I usually have meat options with Andy – more rarely fish options (it’s just so much more expensive than meat at the moment). Roast pork and crackling we have once a week, Friday night – if we’re in – is usually steak night and we have a rib of beef when we’re feeling indulgent or chicken sometimes. Being mostly just the 2 of us, most chickens or joints will last us 2-3 nights. If the boy is back from Uni, we can get through a 2kg pork joint at 1 meal! We still have the classic Harcombe veggie recipes – especially in the winter because our house is so cold something like butternut squash curry or veggie chilli is like central heating from the inside. I still love aubergine, cheese and tomato mixtures, so Andy will do those for me quite often.

    Hope this helps
    Best wishes – Zoe

  40. avatar Julia

    Hi Zoe and Andy

    Thank you for your very quick reply. It was interesting and very helpful for me to read.
    I have been vegetarian for 25 years (like you) but have eaten fish in the last 5 years for health benefits and I also really enjoy it now. At the moment I do not think I could face eating meat. If you get a moment can you let me know how you managed to move from a veggie to meat eater. I would like to introduce meat as I feel wonderful on your diet but worried about eating meat again, mainly due to animal cruelty.

    Thanks again for your time.


  41. avatar Sally

    Really interesting to read your daily food diary. It sounds so healthy and satisfying! I especially love the fact you can eat chocolate and still look good and stay healthy! Thank you for this amazing diet!

  42. avatar Zoë

    Hi Julia – wow – that’s a biggie! To be veggie or not to be veggie is entirely personal choice. I’ll share why I changed, but this is not to say that anyone else should or shouldn’t – it really is individual choice and I never did like veggies who tried to convert others any more than I liked omnivores who tried to do the same.

    The turning point for me was the Weston Price conference in March 2010. It was two presentations that did it – Sally Fallon Morell and Barry Groves (we have a copy of Barry’s presentation here). This was followed by reading The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith (a former vegan) and that was it. I had always known that animal sources were the best for nutrients (many nutrients are only available in animal foods – retinol, B12, D3, K2, heme iron) but I thought I could be healthy enough without eating meat/fish. I now don’t think that humans can be. (I would need to eat 39 eggs daily to get 15mcg of vit D!) We evolved to eat animals and some of them evolved to eat us. Maybe the unfairest change we’ve made is to protect ourselves from them! The Lierre Keith book stunned me. I had never thought of the soil consequences of vegetarian food and I have yet to find a vegan solution to the desecration of top soil that we are perpetuating. I can’t see a way of replenishing top soil other than by having ruminants grazing on the land and we only have animals grazing if people are eating them. Farmers won’t keep them as pets – the fields need to be used for animals or crops. Crops are killing the soil, animals are rejuvenating it.

    There is a massive separate problem that fake food generally (and I include wheat, soya, corn, sugar – our main crops – in that) has enabled the world population to reach – possibly – an unsustainable level. We may not be able to feed 7 billion, let alone the 9 billion towards which we are headed. I spoke at a sustainability conference recently and the one key area of agreement amongst real foodies, farmers and the soil experts is that there is no rationale in feeding crops to ruminants. This is utter madness. The ruminants cannot digest grains. The animals are not then healthy themselves or healthy for humans to consume. The only animal worth eating is one that has lived and grazed freely on pasture land. If crops are grown – let humans eat the crops (arguably we can’t digest wheat, soya, sugar, corn either!) If animals are replenishing top soil – they need to be food. Would I rather that the planet and my health did not depend on eating animals? Absolutely. But I have come to see that it is the circle of life and we are just part of the symbiosis and we play with it at our peril.

    Very best wishes – Zoe

  43. avatar Julia

    Thank you Zoe for your detailed response. It was very helpful.

    Julia x

  44. avatar catherine

    Hi there, this looks great but I assume this diet is the one to follow once you have done phases 1 and 2? As there were a few conflicting things on there that I didnt think would work on Phases 1/2, like the brown bread and cheese ploughmans? Or have I got that wrong?


nine + 9 =

Facebook Comments