I still keep the photo that started it all. I was on holiday with my parents in Northern Ireland and we’d spent a beautiful day strolling along the Causeway coast. As we sat on the sofa that evening, I was excited to see the pictures – until I saw the one of me on the cliffs, and my heart sank. I looked so much bigger than I’d imagined.

I’d been in denial about my weight for years, hiding my figure under baggy black tops and loose-fitting skirts. Now I realised I wanted to do something about my size.

Still, when my mum asked me to join Slimming World with her, I was sceptical. Previous attempts at losing weight had always left me feeling hungry, so I was relieved when my Consultant, Lorraine, explained I could eat unlimited amounts of Free Food like rice, pasta and potatoes.

Living on my own, I rarely bothered to cook for myself. But it turned out to be much easier than I expected to fit Food Optimising around my lifestyle.

On Sunday afternoons I’d batch cook slimming-friendly sweet potato curries, sausage casserolesand other filling meals to enjoy throughout the week. And if I wanted something easy after a long day at work, I’d fry a chicken breast in low-calorie cooking spray with a splash of balsamic vinegar, and serve it with Slimming World chips and steamed vegetables.

Mum and Dad were behind me every step of the way, showering me with praise after each loss and raving about my new-found cooking skills whenever they popped round to try my latest recipe.

I can still enjoy dinner out with friends without worrying about my weight loss, too – I just look up the menu online so I can plan ahead. Now, when I go out, I feel confident slipping on a fitted, size-10 dress that shows off my slim figure… And I love flicking back through all the photos afterwards!

Top tips for eating solo

Save time

Quick cooking techniques are ideal for individual servings. Get dinner on the table quickly by stir-frying, grilling or griddling.

Shop smart

Buy larger packs of meat and fish, then repackage into single portions and freeze. Avoid pre-packed fruit and veg – buy loose so you get exactly what you need.

Get ahead

Batch cook favourite meals and freeze them into single servings. Opt for stackable tubs which, ideally, can also be used to reheat your meal.

Freeze your speed

Stock up on frozen fruit and veg and you’ll always have some healthy Speed Free Foods to hand. Just use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer.

Enjoy yourself

Cooking for one is easier, quicker and more relaxing than cooking for a crowd, and you can eat when you want.

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.