My pregnancy cravings for Chinese curry made me pile on six stone Nicole was on first name terms with staff at her local takeaway during both her pregnancies. Now a size 10 again she wants to warn other women of the dangers of ‘eating for two’ Wolfing down last night’s leftover Chinese beef curry for breakfast, mum-to-be Nicole Simpson was already planning a return trip to the takeaway when it opened that evening. Pregnant for a second time, once again she could only think about beef curry for every meal – she indulged her cravings so often she knew the first names of the takeaway staff. But ‘eating for two’ twice had left her morbidly obese at 16st 5lbs. And going from a size 10 to a size 24 meant the 5ft 1in mother was always exhausted and struggling to look after her young daughters, Emma and Sinead. Even running up the stairs to soothe them at night left her in a breathless heap on the floor. She feared that if she didn’t tackle her weight she might die Now, after losing six stone and shrinking back to a size 10, she says she never wants to see a beef curry again. And after figures released last week showed half of new mums are overweight or obese at the start of pregnancy, she wants to highlight the damage overeating while pregnant can cause. “Basically because I was pregnant I gave myself free licence to eat whatever I wanted when I wanted,” says Nicole, 22. “I indulged my cravings because I was ‘eating for two’ but it was a big mistake and meant ultimately I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be because I was too fat to do things I wanted to do with my kids. It ruined precious time with them. “A little bit of what you crave is good for you, but I went too far. I ate so much beef curry it was ruining my life.” Care assistant Nicole, who lives in Belfast, was a size 10 and aged 17 when she met her partner Tony Robinson, who is a youth worker. “I’d never really worried about my figure,” she recalls. “I ate a balanced diet and knew not to overindulge.” But everything changed when she got pregnant with their first daughter Emma, now four. Around 16 weeks into the ­pregnancy she was walking past a Chinese takeaway when she fancied a beef curry. “It wasn’t a dish I had ever ordered before. I had tried the chicken one, but it wasn’t my favourite,” Nicole says. “But I just really fancied this beef curry and the craving was so strong I ordered myself one on the spot. When I tucked in at home it really hit the spot.” When Nicole found herself fancying beef curry again the next day she gave little thought to her weight. “I was enjoying being pregnant and feeling liberated about what I ate. I just thought, ‘I am pregnant so I can have whatever I want when I want because I am eating for two’. “Tony thought it was funny. He’d heard about cravings in pregnancy and certainly wasn’t going to argue with a hormonal woman over a curry,” she adds. But as days passed, Nicole ate more and more beef curry. She’d save the leftovers for the following day and end up eating them for breakfast and lunch before ordering more curry in the evening. In between, she’d also snack on fruit, biscuits and crisps. “I would never have dreamed of eating like that before my pregnancy but suddenly I just didn’t care. I couldn’t stop”. In a state of pregnancy bliss she ate curry up to three times a day but it wasn’t just her bump that grew. Nicole’s face got rounder and her arms and legs filled out. Staff at the takeaway would recognise her voice on the phone when she called and would ask: “Hi, Nicole. Do you want your usual?” Sometimes she would order side dishes of rice and chips. But then she began ordering two meals at once so she had a supply for the following day. “I was hooked on it,” says Nicole. “The craving was constantly there. I’d finish a tray and be thinking about the next one I had stored in the fridge.” Two weeks before her due date on Boxing Day, 2011, baby Emma was born weighing 6lb 2oz after Nicole developed pre-eclampsia. Her craving for beef curry disappeared overnight But Nicole did not give up takeaway meals. With a young baby to look after she relied on them more than ever when she found she had no time to shop or cook, and dinner was pizza or fish and chips. “It was really odd but the thought of beef curry made me a bit queasy,” she says. But her reliance on takeaway meals meant that rather than losing her baby weight, she got even heavier. “I knew deep down we wanted another baby so I didn’t try that hard to lose the weight,” says Nicole. She had ballooned to a size 20 when she got pregnant two years later with Sinead. And sure enough, just weeks into the pregnancy, the beef curry craving returned, this time stronger than ever. Only this time, as well as beef curry, Nicole also craved Fanta or Tango. She would even keep a litre bottle next to her bed to sip through the night. By the time she reached full-term she was bulging out of her size 22-24 maternity wear and struggling to walk. “I was huge. I was 16 stone which might not sound very heavy, but because I am only 5ft 1in I looked as round as a cannon ball,” she says. Nicole finally went into labour two weeks overdue and Sinead was born weighing a whopping 9lb 12oz. Once the high of meeting her baby had faded, reality hit hard. “Our family was now complete but I was twice the size I had been before having babies,” says Nicole. “Without my bump I wasn’t a glowing pregnant woman, I was just a fat mum.” She became depressed and withdrawn. Her weight meant she had no energy and she felt embarrassed and ashamed taking the kids to play groups. “Even bending down and getting up again for floor play was a nightmare,” she says. “Emma wanted to play at the park but I couldn’t run around after her without getting out of breath and even pushing the pram was hard work.” But Nicole continued to live on junk until a reality check when Sinead was eight months old put things into perspective. Nicole recalls: “I had put the baby down in her cot for the first time and was listening anxiously downstairs. When she started to cry I ran up the stairs but by the time I reached the top I was panting with ­exhaustion. I worried I might have a heart attack because I couldn’t catch my breath.” Nicole had to shout to Tony to soothe the baby and at that point she knew she had to tackle her weight. “I actually realised that if I kept eating, my life would be at risk and then I wouldn’t be able to be a mum at all,” she says. Nicole was on Facebook last April when a link to the Terri-Ann 123 plan popped up. Instead of weekly meetings the three phase diet offered 24-hour support online and hundreds of healthy high-protein recipes to cook from scratch for a one-off fee. Nicole signed up. “There was literally no time to feel hungry or crave a ­takeaway,” she says. “Every time I looked at my watch it was time to eat again and I had the constant support on my phone from all the administrators and other slimmers so I never wavered.” Nicole lost 10 pounds in the first ’10-day boost’ stage by limiting carbs. And last November she reached her target of dress size 10 and now weighs 10st 4lbs. Nicole says: “The plan had meals the whole family could enjoy like burgers and sweet potato chips so I never felt like I was on a diet. Then the weight steadily fell off.” She’s since taken up jogging, and playing in the park with her kids is now a breeze. “Running up and down the stairs to their bedroom is easy now. And if I ever have a curry it’s made fresh with vegetables from scratch. No more takeaways for me. I don’t want to be a fat mum again.” For more information visit the terriann123dietplan.co.uk