The sixth part of Maryon Stewart’s guide to weight loss focuses on eating on the go and important nutrition advice.
Consuming a good diet will help us to lose weight without dieting as well as having many longer term positive effects on our health There is plenty of evidence to indicate that our nutritional state has a major bearing on our future health prospects. For example
- A diet high in fruit and vegetable fibre, low in animal fats and rich in the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, can reduce the risk of breast cancer by half.
- Eating a diet rich in calcium, magnesium and essential fatty acids, taking regular weight-bearing exercise and by taking supplements of red clover you can prevent the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, and reverse it in the early stages.
- A diet rich in B vitamins, in particular B1, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid, vitamin C, essential fatty acids and magnesium, in addition to taking supplements of the same, can help to prevent and treat mental illnesses such as depression, dementia and schizophrenia.
- Consuming a diet rich in essential fatty acids and magnesium, with a low animal fat and salt intake, can help to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure). A study in the USA of 100,000 nurses with high blood pressure discovered that they were magnesium deficient.
- A diet that is particularly rich in essential fatty acids and magnesium can help to unblock clogged arteries and reduce the risk of stroke.
- B vitamins, the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, the minerals chromium and zinc, and the essential fatty acids and phytoestrogens, have all been shown to help to control diabetes.
What’s on the Menu?
Meat and poultry
For non-vegetarians: all meat, including lamb, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, other poultry and game, and offal such as liver, kidneys, sweetbreads and hearts, can be eaten if desired. Meat and poultry can be fresh or frozen.
Meat must be lean, with all visible fat trimmed before cooking. Do not eat the skin of chicken or other poultry; it should be removed before or after cooking.
Fish and shellfish
For non-vegetarians: all types are included and they may be fresh or frozen. Do not eat the skin, as it is high in fat and calories.
Note: all meat, poultry and fish should be cooked by grilling, dry-roasting, steaming, baking or stir-frying with low-fat ingredients, eg tomatoes or vegetables.
You can and should eat large amounts of vegetables, especially green ones or salad foods daily. Your allowance will be detailed in the daily menus.
Root vegetables, eg potatoes and parsnips, are limited to one small portion per day if desired. Beans and peas, which are protein-rich vegetables, are also included in moderate amounts.
For vegetarians and vegans these are an essential part of the diet. You are allowed all types of nuts, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, corn, rice and potatoes. Vegans in particular should have two or three portions of these per day. Some people experience abdominal bloating and wind with beans and these should be well cooked to minimise this effect.
All fruits are allowed, except glacé fruits and tinned fruits with sugar. Keep tinned fruits without sugar, and dried fruits to a minimum. If you want to eat bananas (the world’s most popular fruit), half of one is equal to a single fruit portion.
Reduced calorie foods
Fortunately, there are now many excellent calorie-reduced versions of such foods as salad dressings, mayonnaise, soups and baked beans.
Vegetable oils and vegetable mayonnaise
A small amount of these foods is allowed daily. You can have up to two teaspoons of a low-fat polyunsaturate-rich margarine, such as Flora Light, per day. There are no fried foods on the diet (you didn’t really expect them, did you?), but there are some stir-fry dishes and here you just wipe the inside of the pan or wok with a piece of kitchen roll dipped in sunflower or corn oil.
Nuts and seeds
Brazil nuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are very nutritious, but unfortunately high in calories. If you are eating Wake Up Muesli (see website for recipe) for breakfast that will be considered to be your daily allowance of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Wake Up Sprinkle (recipe also on the website), which is made up of ground nuts and seeds, is allowed on three occasions during a week to help liven up a salad or a fruit dish.
Rice and other salads
Rice of any variety – long grain, short grain or basmati – is allowed. Rice cakes (a rice crispbread) can be used.
Potatoes in moderation – boiled new potatoes for example or jacket potatoes
Up to seven eggs per weeks are allowed, unless you have a very high cholesterol level. They are highly nutritious and very good value for money.
Use either dairy or soya milk and yogurt, or rice milk. Butter or a polyunsaturated low-fat spread is allowed in very small quantities: one or two level teaspoonfuls per day. However, if you have premenstrual tension, painful breasts or an elevated blood cholesterol level, you should have a low-fat polyunsaturated spread instead of butter.
Foods to be avoided or limited initially
Wheat and bran
If you feel bloated and suffer with constipation or other gut symptoms it might not be a bad idea to avoid foods containing wheat and bran for the first month or two and concentrate on having alternatives – show alternative and talk about them. Wheat and bran are rich sources of phytic acid which can prevent nutrients from being absorbed and the gluten can cause a chemical reaction which results in bloating.
Animal fats and some vegetable fats
Animal fats, some vegetable fats, hard margarine, lard, dripping and suet are out, as are palm oil and coconut oil, and foods containing them. Chemically, these vegetable oils are much more like saturated animal fats than good quality sunflower or corn oil, which are high in healthier polyunsaturates. Hard margarines made from hydrogenated vegetable oils are also off the menu.
Sugar, honey, glucose and fructose (fruit sugar)
Any food made with these should be avoided. This means cakes, biscuits, most ice cream, sweets of all kinds, chocolate and puddings. This is not as depressing as it sounds. You will find suggestions for low-calorie desserts for each evening of the diet.
Fruit juices are high in fructose, which weight for weight has the same calories as sucrose (ordinary sugar), so if you wish to include them water them down.
It’s best to keep your alcohol consumption down to not more than 3 units a week to begin with for the sake of reducing calorie intake but also because alcohol knocks most important nutrients sideways.
Salt should not be used in cooking or at the table. This is particularly true if you experience fluid retention or high blood pressure. Salty foods such as ham, bacon and any other salted meats should be eaten sparingly. Crisps, peanuts and many convenience meals should not be on the menu at all. If you really cannot do without the salty flavour try a substitiue made from seaweed like Seagreens. Try flavouring any salads, vegetables or cooked main dishes with pepper or herbs instead of salt. You should find that your taste for salt reduces as you progress through the plan.
Caffeine and tannin
Both caffeine and tannin should be kept to an absolute minimum, or better still substituted with alternative drinks. Remember that caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate and cola, plus some over-the-counter drugs. Tannin is usually found in tea and red wine.
Try to have no more than two decaffeinated drinks per day, as these contain other chemicals, and instead use alternatives like dandelion coffee, particularly ground root rather than instant, Redbush, tea, which is a good tea ‘lookalike’, chicory or any of the herbal teas.