Food sense

Every day an awful lot is written about food and much of it seems to contradict what was written the previous day so you’d be forgiven for thinking that the pressure to make sense of it all is just too much. But certain rules do not change and if you foll



1. Beware the labels

Food labels that say ‘low-fat’, ‘light’ or ‘healthy’ don’t always tell the whole truth. A product must contain less than three per cent fat to earn the ‘low-fat’ label, but that can mean it’s full of sugar instead. And there is no such regulation on the word ‘light’ or, indeed, ‘lite’.

2. Measure your portions

Use scales to follow portion sizes in recipes. If you try to guess a portion of rice or pasta by its uncooked size, you may end up with enough for two.

3. Get healthy dips

Fatty dips such as sour cream are loaded with calories. Instead, go for the likes of hummus, which is made from chickpeas. If you have a blender, stock up on beans and pulses and make your own with some natural yoghurt and your choice of extras such as garlic, tomato, ginger, herbs, lemon or soy sauce.

5. Grow a garden

A herb garden, that is. Fresh herbs contain a host of healthy properties – including bone-strengthening calcium, immune-boosting selenium and heart-healthy magnesium, to name just three.

6. Shrink your plate size

Restaurants do the opposite to keep you hungry – a lone prawn and a sprig of green stuff on a plate the size of a satellite dish will have you salivating for more. An easy way to eat less at home is simply to use smaller plates. It will reduce your portion sizes while convincing you that you’ve eaten a big meal.

7. Freshen up your snacks

We all get the munchies, but rather than gorge on sugary biscuits and salty, fatty crisps, keep nuts, seeds or dried fruit in your desk drawer or lunchbox. Raisins, for example, are rich in carbohydrate and minerals, while unsalted nuts such as almonds are full of heart-healthy fats and phytochemicals.

8. Eat slowly

Chew your food properly and don’t shovel it down. The faster you eat, the more you will have swallowed before your stomach realises it’s full. Also, researchers in the US found that when human guinea pigs made their food last an extra four minutes, they burned more body fat.

9. Bulk up your diet

Men with high-fibre diets have less fatigue than those with lower fibre diets, say researchers at Cardiff University.

10. Eat yoghurt

The good bacteria helps keep your intestines healthy, allowing them to absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat. The more nutrients your cells have at their disposal, the greater your energy reserves.

11. Colour coordinate

Load your plate with tomatoes, carrots and spinach. The brighter a vegetable’s colour, the more energy-revitalising antioxidants it contains.

12. Avoid processed foods

Processed foods have things added to them, usually bad things such as hydrogenated oils (fat), sweeteners (sugar) and salt. They also tend to be missing many of the good things, such as vitamins, minerals and fibre, leaving them with a high GI.

13. Keep a diary

Even if you don’t count calories, make a note of what you eat. Research at the University of Pennsylvania in the US has shown that people who keep a written record of what they eat have healthier diets than those who don’t bother to keep track of their efforts.


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