The Yorkshire GP who says we can think ourselves slim

Family doctor and healthy living author Dr Julie Coffey at home in Sheffield
Family doctor and healthy living author Dr Julie Coffey at home in Sheffield

Yorkshire GP Dr Julie Coffey has written two books to help us lead healthier lifestyles. Catherine Scott reports.

Yorkshire GP Dr Julie Coffey believes we really can think ourselves slim.

Family doctor and healthy living author Dr Julie Coffey walking her faithful Greyhound in Sheffield

Family doctor and healthy living author Dr Julie Coffey walking her faithful Greyhound in Sheffield

The Sheffield doctor has just written her second book, Think Yourself Slim published this month.

It follows her first book Living the SLim Life, inspired by the number of obese patients she was seeing and her own health problems

“Everyone knows how to eat better, and everyone knows being more active will help too. But knowing this and actually doing it on a consistent day by day basis are two completely different things,” says Julie. “Lack of knowledge is not the thing that is stopping people lose their weight, but their current mind-set is.”

At her inner city surgery, Dovercourt on City Road, Sheffield she sees many patients who are in danger of plunging themselves into serious illness - simply because of their diet and lifestyles.

“As a GP I see a lot of overweight people - I know what battles they face and how weight makes them unhappy and unhealthy.

“But the frustration of the job is when patients pass to me the complete responsibility for the health problems they could have prevented, or could reverse with a little change of lifestyle,” says Julie.

“I’m talking about heart disease, high blood pressure and Type II Diabetes, the new health explosion which is nearly always self-inflicted. When I was a junior doctor training in hospitals in Rotherham and Chesterfield it was called Old Age Diabetes; the disease caught up with people as they aged, got more sedentary and put on weight.

“But now GPs see teenagers with it. The cause is not enough exercise and activity and eating the wrong stuff. People either don’t do anything about it because they don’t think the worst is going to happen to them, or they go on diet after diet which can also have a very bad effect on their health.”

Julie understands how hard it is for people to find the right information, and the willpower to take it onboard.

Until chronic knee pain forced her to take stock, she thought she was doing everything right. She had been a vegetarian from 19 and enjoyed exercise - long walks in the Peaks with her retired greyhound Lulu, and kickboxing.

“But by my mid 30s I had a knee joint problem. I knew from being a doctor that I was developing early onset osteo-arthritis like my dad, who ended up having both of his knees replaced in his 60s.

“In search of an answer I started studying the effect of diet on health. My medical training enabled me to find the accurate advice and chuck out the rubbish. And believe me, there is a lot written about diet and health that is simply not true. After years of believing I needed to eat a low-fat diet with plenty of carbs to be healthy, I discovered I had got it wrong. I started eating more natural fats, which meant I felt less hungry and didn’t crave carbs.

“I drank more water, which made a massive difference to my energy levels. I reduced the amount of wheat I ate. I was already following the government Five-A-Day fruit and vegetable guideline so I upped my intake to nine portions a day.

“Within three months my knee pain had gone. And I realised I’d lost 10 pounds and dropped a dress size. I was back to a size 10 again.” But to take onboard all of these changes, first of all Julie had to learn how to take control of her eating habits.

“The secret of being slim and healthy for life is all down to your brain,” says Julie, who studied medicine at Sheffield University. “You can’t get the outside right until the inside is. You have to learn how to take control of your eating habits.”

She became so passionate about what she had learned she found herself enthusiastically talking about it to her patients.

“Some would glaze over, so I’d go back to GP mode and give them what they came for - a prescription.

“But others would be fascinated. She started a weekly blog, which became so popular it is now a free weekly newsletter with a mailing list of 1,000.The next step was to do what few GPs ever do - write her first book. “GPs don’t write weightloss books because they don’t have the specialist knowledge. We are not taught about weight control at medical school. The irony is that most weight loss books are by written by celebrities paid thousands to endorse fad diets, which don’t work long-term. You spend three months of your life in misery, then put back on the weight you lost because you have not changed what goes on in your head.

“I haven’t been paid to write my book. It’s from the heart, that GP’s desire to help people to help themselves, and also to take some of the strain off the NHS so that it can help the people who really need it.”

Living The Slim Life took two months to write. It advocates eating more healthy fats such as whole milk, butter, avocado, nuts and seeds, cutting back on refined carbohydrates and sugar and choosing high intensity workouts and exercise that builds muscle to burn body fat. She the followed this up with Think Yourself Slim.

“Your weight is a reflection of habits stored in the subconscious mind. It’s like a computer hard drive; you can’t take them out, but you can overwrite them via your conscious mind,” sasy Julie.

“My new book shows you how to achieve that mind-set and change your blueprint, and once you’ve done that you will never even contemplate doing a diet again.”

Think Yourself Slim is available to pre order for £9.99 from www.uberhealthblog.com