I have a lot of problems with the diet industry. I hate the idea for a start that so many foods become sinful or shameful, that your choice is restricted, and that the one person in a family who is ‘dieting’ becomes singled out with special meals or not being ‘allowed’ particular food. This whole system is flawed from the start because it’s just not sustainable, we’re never going to live like that long term and so it’s just not going to work.
What does work, despite what my mum might tell you, is simply eating fewer calories. There isn’t a secret formula, it’s just about putting in less energy and expending more. Eat a bit less and exercise a bit more and let your body do the rest. This can actually be done fairly easily if you’re prepared to make a few simple swaps in your diet, and it’s something that the whole family can do as a lifestyle change.
If you do want a bit of extra support, you can always look at something like the 1:1 diet, which is a bit different from your standard diet plan as you get a personal consultant to help guide you. They act a bit like a coach, coming up with a plan for you tailored to your own history, medical and lifestyle needs, and can also help with recipe ideas.
If you want to make healthier food choices as a family though, there are a few easy things you can do.
Check the calories
We’ve all seen calories popping up all over the place, and although it can feel a teeny bit judgmental of your favourite cake in Costa to suddenly tell you in black and white that it’s actually 674 calories, it can be useful. Just taking a few minutes to compare calories and opt for something with fewer calories that looks just as delicious can be a very easy swap to make.
Don’t always go low fat
Lots of foods marketing at dieters advertise themselves as low fat or non fat, but often this isn’t the healthiest switch to make as instead this products have added sugar or sweeteners or other additives instead. It’s often better to stick to the original versions or things like yogurts for examples – go for natural yogurt and just adjust your portion size if you want to.
Switch snacks for fresh fruit
You really can’t go wrong with incorporating more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet, both as a lower calorie option than high sugar snacks but also for the positive health benefits. Fruit and veg is a great source of fibre and all sorts of useful vitamins and minerals, so stock up the fruit bowl with a good variety of snacks and make it easy for the whole family to choose fruit.
Watch the extras
A lot of the unnecessary calories in our diets come from all those little extra bits that we don’t even think about – the blob of mayonnaise on the side of our chips, the glug of olive oil in the pan when we cook spaghetti bolagnese. The great news is that these are really easy to cut out without you even noticing. Oils for example can be switched for a spray oil that just dispenses tiny amounts, condiments can easily be cut out or scaled back, and it’s simple to just spread a little less butter on your toast once you become conscious of portion sizes.
I hope this has given you a bit of inspiration for making healthy food choices!