Why the 'grandma diet' has outlasted countless food fads

Annette Sym, pictured with celebrity chef George Colombaris, in October 2017. Source: Facebook/@symplytoogood

We’ve had the blood-type diet, the high-fat, no carbs diet, the caveman diet and plenty more, but there’s one weight-loss plan that’s outlasted all the fads, and it’s all based on, err, just eating sensibly.

Annette Sym, who published her first low-fat cookbook more than 20 years ago, is still winning over fans to what’s been  dubbed the ‘grandma diet’. As the Daily Telegraph points out in an interview with the diet guru, the 62-year-old’s mantra isn’t the height of fashion because it doesn’t cut out food groups or use fancy ingredients. 

Instead, Sym just recommends common sense – which is why you may not have heard of her, despite being unable to avoid the multitude of headlines about fashionable diets!

“I was a chubby child, cuddly teenager, buxom bride, and an obese adult. My nickname at high school was ‘porky’. I was a jolly fatty but I was crying on the inside,” she writes on her own website. Then, at the age of 37, Sym received a holiday snap of herself from a friend. Pictured in swimwear at the beach, “when I looked at that photo I saw an extremely overweight, unhealthy woman,” she explains.

So she worked out a series of sensible rules to live by, coupled with her own recipes that she ensured were low in saturated fat, and over 20 months she lost 35 kilograms, and has kept the weight off since 1993.

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Her experience prompted Sym to write and self-publish Symply Too Good To Be True, which has since sold four million copies. Sym went on to write a further six cookbooks, which are all sold in news agencies around Australia as well as online, and that she’s just updated for the next generation, the Daily Telegraph reports.

You can find more information about Sym’s new low-fat plans on the Daily Telegraph‘s site here.

But her simple rules are ones that anyone can stick to, even if you choose not to follow her recipes. First, she recommends always starting the day with breakfast. Next, stay hydrated to keep hunger pangs away (she aims for two litres a day), then monitor your portion size. “If you are overweight you are definitely serving yourself too much,” she writes bluntly.

Sym also advises writing a menu plan each week and finally, just getting moving! “Yes, it’s time to get off the couch and get moving. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week,” Sym writes on her site. “If you haven’t exercised in a while start with 10 minutes a day and build up from there.”

Her site, also called Symply Too Good To Be True, has plenty of other information and support – there’s online mentoring, recipes, dining and cooking tips and success stories – but her mantra will chime with many Baby Boomers. After all, her diet – she prefers to call it an eating plan – contains many of the family favourites we’ve eaten for years.

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“It’s all about normal food: risottos, lasagnes, cheesecake. It’s food we want, with less fat,” the Queenslander told the Daily Telegraph. “There are no tricks.”

Have you heard of Annette Sym before? Do you agree with her thoughts on simple, low-fat eating being better than drastic diets?

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