- Making improvements to your diet can mean changing or breaking lifelong habits. Some of them may be difficult but they can be made
- Changes don’t have to be wholesale. They should be gradual and easy to maintain
- Set yourself realistic targets so that you are less likely to feel ‘on a diet’ or that you are being deprived of foods you want but can’t have
- Eating more healthily is not a test, and punishing yourself for having ‘that cake’ serves no useful purpose and will only make you miserable
- Don’t be tempted to miss meals. Current thinking suggests that you should eat five times a day: two healthy snacks between three main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), evenly spaced
- Particularly, don’t miss breakfast: you’ll feel hungry all morning and be tempted to snack on unhealthy instant sources of energy.
When you’re shopping
- Before you go decide what you’re going to eat, make a list and stick to it
- Avoid the temptation to pick up foods which ‘look nice’ or are on ‘special offer’ – many of them will be packed full of sugar and fat
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry
- For guidance, read the nutritional information on foods – but don’t obsess!
- Many foods today come in low or lower-fat versions. For example, if you drink full cream or whole milk, switch to semi-skimmed. There are also a wide range of low(er) fat yoghurts, cheeses and salad dressings
- If you usually eat red meat, try chicken, turkey or fish instead
- Ready-made meals can be packed with fat. If you’re buying them choose products containing no more than 5g of fat a serving
When you’re cooking
- If you eat meat, trim off the visible fat and skin
- Grill food rather frying
- Avoid fried or sautéed foods
- Don’t add salt
When you’re eating
- Eat calmly, taking time to enjoy the food: savour the tastes and textures.
- Chew your food slowly, rather shovelling it in and swallowing it whole.
- Try to make mealtime a ‘no distraction’ time. Eat from the table and not your lap and resist the temptation to turn your meal into a TV dinner.
- A glass of water with meals will aid digestion and make you feel more full
- If you tend to pile your plate high – eat off a smaller plate. Eat until you are comfortably full – not bursting or bloated
- Shovelling food can lead to indigestion and heartburn
- Try to develop regular eating habits as this will help to regulate your appetite
- Avoid piling on the salt and sugar.
And, if you’re eating out
- Choose plain grilled meat, fish and poultry and avoid gravies and sauces made with cream or butter
- Avoid the temptation to smother a healthy meal with butter or high-calorie sauces
- If you feel brave enough, ask if lower fat versions of meals are available
- By all means have wine with your meal but remember it’s not calorie free!