I lost 14st eating kebabs and curry

KEBABS, curry, pizza and even fish and chips can still be on the menu of any New Year diet.

Cheryl Aston lost 14st and still tucked into these favourites, shrinking from a size 28 to a size 10.

The secret to the full-time mum’s success was cooking “fakeaway meals” — healthy budget versions of her favourite high street takeaways.

Cheryl, from Birmingham, says: “It sounds crazy but I’ve lost half my body weight eating all the things I loved to binge on before, but by making them myself.

“I’ve got my health and my life back and I’ve saved loads of money.

“I want to show other single mums on a tight budget, like me, that it can be done and the kids can enjoy the food.”

After having her first child, Cheryl, 35, began to see her weight creep up.

She says: “I split with my partner when pregnant with my youngest son Brooklyn, who is now ten.

“Life as a single mum was challenging but got harder when both Brooklyn and his brother Jordan, who is 15, were diagnosed with autism.

“I felt I had to give up my job as a carer to home school them while waiting for suitable school places to become available.

“Life revolved around my boys and it began to show on my size 14 body, which was growing rapidly.

“I lived in leggings and T-shirts because I didn’t go out to work or socialise. It was easy to ignore my clothes getting tighter.”

Busy and budgeting on benefits meant the foods Cheryl bought were usually fatty frozen products the children enjoyed such as chips, pizza and nuggets.

She says: “I told myself as long as the kids were happy, that was the most important thing and I was always able to give them a big meal they enjoyed. If there was anything left in the bank I would treat us all to a takeaway.”

But this made it even easier for Cheryl to gain weight and she soon weighed 24st 7lb and her legs in her size 28 leggings chafed.

She says: “I hated being so fat but I spent so much time at home that I told myself it didn’t matter what I looked like.”

Cheryl tried to diet over the years but always gained back whatever weight she lost. She says: “Ironically trying to eat less on a diet worked out more expensive.

“Fresh fruit and meal replacement plans were too expensive. Both my boys need hands-on care but I was getting out of breath because of my weight.”

One afternoon at their local supermarket, Brooklyn asked for a punnet of grapes.

She says: “My heart sank because they were £3 for a small punnet. I could buy three ready meals for the same price so had to say no.”

A month later, in February 2015, places were found for both boys at specialist schools. For the first time in years Cheryl had time to herself.

She says: “I saw an advert for Slimming World, it felt like fate as they had a membership offer on.”

But at the first meeting in March 2015, Cheryl began to worry about how much dieting would cost.

She says: “As I read the leaflets all the meals they were suggesting were freshly made and cooked from scratch. They looked lovely but I could hardly afford the classes let alone fresh food on top.”

She admitted her fears to the class leader and was overheard by a fellow member who advised her to visit the local Aldi as they had weekly deals on fresh produce.

Other members also shared tips on which deals other supermarkets were offering on items needed to follow the plan.

After ditching her usual shop, Cheryl says: “I’d never had so much colour in the trolley, I ignored the frozen aisle and stocked up on apples, salad, vegetables and fresh meats really cheaply.

“To my amazement, I even saved £5 on my weekly food bill.

“That evening Brooklyn and Jordan tucked into strawberries and grapes after school instead of crisps.

“They loved it but when I explained I was trying to eat healthily they were worried that meant no more pizza or burgers.

“But I’d found recipes online showing how to make home-cooked, ow-ustling low-fat versions and soon I was rustling up all sorts, from mini pizza using pitta bread as a base, to tasty Indian and Chinese dishes.

“The boys devoured each plate and asked for seconds. I knew then it was going to work.”

In the first week Cheryl lost half a stone. She says: “I was not really expecting a loss because I hadn’t felt deprived at all, so I was shocked. This spurred me on and I began collecting and sharing more fakeaway meal recipes.

“I discovered a love of cooking and I began posting pictures of fancylooking fakeaway curries, kebabs, pizza, chips and chicken wings online to inspire others.

“The more fakeaway meals I cooked, the more weight I lost. One month in, I was a stone down.

“My energy was creeping back and I felt proud to be giving my sons a more balanced, healthy diet.”

Last July Cheryl reached her target of being a size 10.

She says: “The boys are so happy and proud, I can play football in the garden and take them swimming.

“I thought my tight budget meant I would always be unhealthy but thanks to my fakeaway meals I have never felt better.”

Diet before  

Breakfast: Nothing  

Lunch: Chips, nuggets and beans.

Dinner: Pizza, garlic bread and chips  

Snacks: Crisps, banana, fizzy drinks and biscuits.

Diet after  

Breakfast: Tomato on to as  

Lunch: Salmon salad  

Dinner: Fakeaway dinner imitating KFC, pizza or curry.

Snack: Raspberries and oranges
 ‘I told myself it didn’t matter how I looked’  ‘The boys asked for seconds’