The 10 Commandments of Healthy Eating & Weight Loss

Gain control of your diet and weight by following these 10 wise rules.

Thou shalt…

  1. Fuel up frequently. Eat a little and often, and you’ll give your body a constant supply of energy which will help you to avoid cravings.
  2. Think before you eat. Consider why you want to eat something. Is it because you’re hungry? Or because you’re stressed, bored, lonely, angry or depressed? If it’s not hunger, will that sugary indulgence actually solve the problem, or just make you feel worse?
  3. Avoid food shopping on autopilot. Stop repeating your bad habits week after week. Buy something healthy that you’ve never tried before, or flick through a recipe book for inspiration. A varied and interesting diet will help to satisfy the appetite better and is more nutritious. Aim to try a new healthy food or dish every week.
  4. Never buy “foods you can pick at”, such as crisps, chocolates and peanuts. Once the packet has been opened it’ll be hard to stop, so best not having them in the house at all. It’s a slippery slope!
  5. Take control. Prepare your own foods rather than eating out or buying take-aways and pre-prepared foods.  Put yourself in charge of the ingredients list and portion sizes. Your salad may taste better with a thick dollop of mayonnaise, but do you really need it? Is it more important for you to reach your weight loss goal, or have a salad that tastes marginally better?
  6. Opt for wholegrain foods.  We digest them slowly, so they’ll make you feel fuller for longer. Look for wholegrain bread, pasta, breakfast cereals and brown rice.
  7. Steer clear of foods with a lot of added sugar.  Watch out for words, such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolysed starch and invert sugar, corn syrup and honey on the ingredients list. If you see one of these near the top (they always start with the biggest ingredient first), you know the food is likely to be high in added sugars.
  8. Give a very wide berth to high fat foods. Again, check the ingredients list. High is more than 20g of fat per 100g, and low is 3g of fat or less per 100g.
  9. Under no circumstances be a plate cleaner! Think about how much food you are consuming in each sitting. Stop eating when you feel satisfied, not stuffed. Eat slowly, your fork is not a shovel. Your brain doesn’t start signalling feelings of fullness until 20 minutes after it actually is, so take your time and give your body the chance to recognise that you’ve had enough to eat.
  10. Limit your alcohol intake. Not only is it highly calorific, but it also reduces your will power and ability to say no to alluring fatty foods. You also maybe a little less angelic with your food choices the morning after!

Good luck and remember that you're allowed to break the rules every now and then. Just put yourself back on track as quickly as you can, and don't make a habit of it!


Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Fats: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly…

Most people are familiar with the terms trans, saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. But how do they differ, and what do they do?

The first thing to understand is that fats are classified by their "saturation". This means the amount of hydrogen atoms attached to the fat molecules.

The Loveable Rogue: Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are completely "saturated". In other words, each fat molecule is completely covered in hydrogen atoms.

Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature. They’re found in meat and dairy products, cooking fats and hard margarines. They're typically to blame for the high calorific value of most cakes, biscuits, chocolates and puddings!

Unfortunately, these are also the fats that raise blood cholesterol levels, promote hardening of the arteries, and contribute to blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

Your Oily Ally: Polyunsaturated Fat

These fats are typically liquid at room temperature and are not "saturated" with hydrogen atoms.

Polyunsaturated fat may help prevent heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels, and could reduce the symptoms of joint problems and certain skin diseases. They include the healthy heart and brainfood fat, omega-3, which is found in oily fish salmon, mackerel, sardines and fresh (not canned) tuna.

Your Mediterranean Mate: Monounsaturated Fat

Found in vegetable oils that remain liquid at room temperature, monounsaturated fats are also not "saturated" with hydrogen atoms.

Monounsaturated fats are found in olives, olive oil, groundnut oil, nuts, and avocados. The so-called "Mediterranean diet" is rich in monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturates, have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and therefore help in reducing the risk of heart disease.

The Frankenstein Fat: Trans Fat

Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. They're found in processed, fried (especially doughnuts) and baked goods (including partries and biscuits).

They've been popular in the past because they're cheap, easy to use and last a long time. However, recent research has shown that trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, and increase your risk of developing heart disease.

How Much is Too Much?

All fats are equally high in calories and should be eaten in moderation. A good place to start is to look at the labels on the back of foods.

  • High fat is considered anything more than 20g fat per 100g
  • Low fat is 3g fat or less per 100g.
  • High levels of saturated fat is more than 5g saturates per 100g
  • Low levels of saturated fat is 1.5g saturates or less per 100g

Trans fats don't need to be labelled separately under European law. However, hydrogenated vegetable oil must be listed, and this may contain trans fats.

Don’t be Fooled by “Low-Fat” Labels

Don't always assume that 'low fat' on a label means that it's a healthy choice.

All the 'low-fat" really means is that the food is 25% lower in fat than the standard equivalent. If the food is high in fat in the first place, then the low-fat version may still be high in fat!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.