Firstly, it's not about banning foods from your life. It's about creating a balance that allows you to have naughty things as long as they are in balance with everything else. A little of something you fancy is ok!
These are the principles that have been tried and tested from my book and have given great results – not only in weight loss but with sleep patterns and general wellbeing*.
Where possible, keep a maximum of a nine-hour window between your first meal and the last one of the day. It will help to keep your body ticking over, rather than going for more extended periods between meals.
Breakfast: Choose a higher fibre option as this will keep hunger at bay until you are ready for your lunch. Breakfast can be as late as 10 am if that works for you, there’s no need to have it at 7.30 am if that does not suit your lifestyle.
Lunch: This should have a higher protein level, but not free of carbohydrates. It means your sugar levels are more likely to stay stable throughout the afternoon, meaning you’ll be more alert and the need to pick between meals will diminish.
Dinner: This should be a balanced meal, containing carbohydrates, protein and a little fat. Avoid ready-made meals, if you do have them keep to one per week and bulk up with veg and no potatoes.
Snacks: These need to be higher in protein and complex carbohydrates. Have no more than one-two snacks between meals per day, ideally one or none!
Five a day – you should aim for a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day (except for ordinary potatoes which are not included within this). Avoid having more than two portions of fruit each day to control your sugar intake. One portion is very roughly equal to 80g in weight. Click here to see the NHS list of portion sizes for fruit and veg.
Basic portion sizes per person for your main meal (these should be roughly halved for lunch):
• Pasta (70g dry weight)
• Rice (60g dry weight)
• Couscous (50g dry weight)
• Lentils/Pulses (50g dry weight)
• Quinoa (50-55g dry weight)
• Sweet Potato(160-180g- raw weight)
• Ordinary potatoes (150-160g raw weight)
• 100-120g beef, lean steak or mince
• 150-160g chicken breast or Turkey (without skin)
• 100-120g lean pork
• 100-120g lean lamb
• 200g any white fish
• 150g any shellfish such as prawns
• 120-140g salmon fillet
• 160g cooked weight lentils or chickpeas
• 160g meat-free products, such as Quorn, Tofu, Tempah, Seitan
• 3 medium eggs
BREAD: Choose multigrain, stoneground brown bread, or rye bread - avoid white bread. If you suffer from gluten intolerance, use a gluten-free alternative. Bread should only be consumed once per day, so if you have toast for breakfast, then avoid a sandwich for lunch or a slice with dinner. All bread should be a medium slice. There is no need to buy ‘slimming bread’ on this plan; I recommend you don’t. One medium bread roll or a slice of bread should be about 35g
BREAKFAST CEREALS: Choose oat-based or high-fibre varieties, e.g. Porridge, Shreddies, no-added sugar or salt muesli or cereals containing natural grains (such as Shredded Wheat and Weetabix). Portion sizes should be 35-40g
OILY FISH: For good heart health, it is essential to try and eat two portions of fish per week, ideally one of which should be oily fish – e.g. mackerel, salmon, sardines, herrings. If you are vegetarian, vegan, or 13
don’t like oily fish you need to ensure that you eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as chia seeds, rapeseed oil, algal oil, hemp seed, walnuts, flaxseeds and even Brussels sprouts! Adding chia and flax seeds to your breakfast is one of the simplest ways to achieve this, 1tsp per day will help
RICE: Use basmati rice where possible as this has less effect on your blood sugar levels than regular white rice and therefore helps to keep your blood sugars slightly more stable after eating. Keep your portion size for rice to 60g dry weight for dinner. (30-40g for lunch).
PASTA: Use dry or fresh; ideally brown, lentil or buckwheat based – if not ordinary pasta is perfectly fine. Max serving size is 70g dry weight for a dinner. (30-40g for lunch).
DRINKS: You should aim to have 6 - 8 glasses of fluids per day. Tea, coffee and sugar-free drinks can form part of this. Staying hydrated is key to helping your body function properly.
FAT: Keep your fat intake under control by choosing low-fat options. Cut back on foods that contain saturated fats such as processed food, butter, coconut oil and animal-based products where the fat is visible. Rapeseed oil in spray form is perfect, as it controls the amount of fat used. It’s incredibly versatile as it can be used cold in dressings and in shallow frying without compromise. It contains the least amount of saturated fat of all oils. One to try is Red Palm Fruit & Rapeseed oil mix, beautiful colour, great flavour and packed full of good things and it’s a fantastic source of omega 3, 6 and 9. It contains more omega 3 than olive oil.
NUTS & SEEDS: Nuts and seeds are fine as long as you control your intake and have just one portion per day – which is about 25g. Brazils, walnuts, hazelnuts are good choices as they contain the least amount of carbohydrates compared to other nuts.
ALCOHOL: Avoid alcohol where possible and if you do have a drink keep it to no more than two units per day (maximum of 14 units per week), aim for two to three alcohol-free days per week.
CHEESE: Use reduced-fat options where possible and control the portion size; no more than 30g of cheese per person per meal.
EATING OUT: Limit eating out to once a week, and choose sensibly. Be realistic and understand that often, restaurants don’t have a perfect choice, and that’s fine – you are dining out as a treat! Never be frightened to ask for slight changes to a meal, i.e. no sauce, less cream etc. Don’t starve yourself before or after the meal, be more active instead and walk an extra 30 minutes the next day.
*If you have any medical condition that can be affected by the foods you eat then you should seek medical advice before embarking on any new eating plan.