Carb overload!

Another typical pattern this time of year, and its about to get a LOT colder tomorrow, is seeking comfort in carbohydrates. Absolutely nothing wrong with carbohydrates, as long as they are served in moderation. How many of us have restricted our bread to 2-4 slices a day, or even no bread in a day, and then introduced it, perhaps a really nice loaf from a bakery and couldn’t stop eating it once we got over 4 slices?! Then the habit gets continued day after day, and this really goes well in a pasta story, where you make a big bowl full that’s supposed to last until tomorrow, but you nearly eat it all in go? The same with jacket potatoes and just about anything thats full of carbs, and dying to be eaten in excess!!! As has been documented in previous stories, i had a huge pizza appetite myself once upon a time!

The way to get around all of this is get some idea on portion size. If you think of carb portions as the size of your fist, you shouldn’t really overeat, and the same with your protein portions as i have mentioned many times before. Your veggies can be any size, as long as its plentiful for you. If you stick to these rules, you will find your portion control had literally “gone out of control” and you may have been putting on weight at a rate of knots. So carbs aren’t the bad guys, eat too much of anything and you will pile on the weight, and your appetite WILL accomodate it believe me, so time to get that appetite down to healthy levels again maybe?

Juts a quick note on the atkins diet, of course it worked for weight loss but you could never eat like that for life could you? Plus the negative side effects that were numerous. May be the reason why the atkins product range went out of business, people loved their carbs too much, and as long as you keep those carbs in moderation, you can enjoythe great taste every day and fuel yourself up for great workouts. If you eat too much of anything, you will be overweight, simple as that unless you have some kind of tour de france type calorie needs!

Have a good one and watch the cold the next few days, BUT IT WILL BE DRY so no excuses!


Saturday’s calories challenge!!!

Ok, we have got through friday night, we have reduced our takeaways or not even had them at all!! What about today, i never really do fried breakfasts but what about you?

What about eating out lunch time, or the weekly visit to the chip shop?

What about the binge you usually do on a saturday, the extra beer, the extra wine, the extra starter, main course and dessert?!! Saturday night pizza anyone?!

What about all the extra stuff you do whilst you shop, “that won’t hurt, that doesn’t really matter, and there’s only 200 calories in this ready meal”!!

Once a week, the “cheat meal” doesn’t really matter as it will keep your sanity from the rigours of the week but i’m telling you now that as most of the people i have trained notice, once you eat well, you’re not so tempted to go mad ALL weekend because you will have negative side effects, like i said i suffer from wheezing from sugary/fatty food, and by sunday night i will feel like a 90 year old who has smoked all his life, if i have 3 days of eating badly, plus i can easily put on a few pounds, and then monday morning runs are not a great feeling at all, in fact they can be downright horrible and a massive struggle.

I encourage you this weekend to feel what it’s really like to cut down a little bit if you have an excess weekend, and let me know how good it feels on monday morning? Do you feel lighter, do your workouts feel better, are you motivated to do better because things are suddenly “easier”?!

Let’s work through this weekend by analysing each day, this is saturday so let’s see what happens!!

P.S. If you are in the supermarket, have a look in other people’s trolleys and look at the person pushing it, the trolley will be full of good or bad food, this will often tell you if that person is in shape or not! A fun game for you this weekend!

Have fun whatever you do!


ONE takeaway or DOUBLE helpings!

We all go through it, and it’s confession time for me too! I have taken a liking for Thai takeaways, but i do try to keep it good, i have a chicken stir fry with lots of vegetables, i drain any sauce left over and i have some coconut rice with it, this is my treat for the week. I have noticed though the other things on the menu, and started a month ago getting TWO main courses, such as a beef dish, again with lots of vegetables, but as i have a mega-appetite, the idea of chomping through two thai main courses wasn’t that bad, as it’s not really like doing two indians, or two chineses!

However, as an asthma sufferer since a child, when i started doing the two main courses, i started to wheeze afterwards, and didn’t really enjoy the bloated after effects, but guess what? Now i was used to the two courses, i tried another two courses the week after, and the week after that, and so on…………….until tonight!

I went back to normal and thought i wasn’t really leading a good example here, so did one main course again, and funnily enough, it is enough and i don’t feel bloated, and i’ve saved some money!!

The bottom line is here that we all get carried away with takeaways, saying we will “try” different things, but end up eating the whole lot! The extra main course can make a big calorie difference, plus get our stomach’s used to bigger helpings, all in the name of helping ourselves.

Supermarket time tomorrow, and how many of us have said that pizza looks nice, and have no intention of eating it, but come saturday night, you end up sharing it and really enjoying it, until you feel the horrible bloated effects afterwards!!

Okay, that can be Saturday’s treat amongst others, and what about sunday, sometimes we say “i’m going to eat well starting monday again”! This is an excuse to gorge ourselves on sunday lunch with the odd less than healthy breakfast preceeding it!! And i’m not going to accuse anyone here of a sunday night takeaway to finish the weekend off!!

We are talking 3 bad nights here, and this means we need a mega good week to get rid of all the rubbish of the weekend, plus we haven’t even mentioned alcohol yet!!!

Here’s something to think about, have one glass of wine and it takes 20 minutes of moderate exercise to work it off, or 10 minutes of intense exercise, work out if it’s worth it?!

Let me know if you have a mega-calorie weekend or will it be something more moderate, yet still enjoyable?!!


FIVE weeks to xmas!! Panic time!

Most people have two choices this time of year, they either throw in the towel, or they go on some crazy schedule to lose as much weight as is humanely possible in the next 5 weeks to get into that special dress or suit! Neither are great examples of health being at the top of the list and here’s why;

If you say “that’s it, i’ll start back after xmas, no point going for it now”, then that’s fine, but the facts are that you are wasting 5 weeks of your life, and are going to be miserable going into christmas, and even more miserable after christmas, when not only will you be feeling rubbish, your immune system will be down due to all the bad food and likely alcohol consumption, and you will be prone to all sorts of colds and viruses. Have you ever noticed why cold and flu remedies are advertised in force after christmas? Simple advertising because statistically they know the country is in it’s worst shape in early january!

If you go on the very restrictive route, you will typically go on a very low calorie controlled diet. If you go under 1200 calories per day diet, you are classed as being malnourished, if you go into any doctor’s surgery or hospital and ask if that is true, you will find it is.

The best way to go about any eating reduction is to bring it down gradually, 250-500 calories per day being the maximum amount. This has been proven to have a longer lasting effect on weight loss, and it will be better for your sanity too! The best way to do this is, like i always suggest, to “clean up” your eating habits and shopping lists.

Doesn’t it make common sense to use lean white meats, fish, whole grains, fruit and vegetables as the foundation for good health, instead of worrying about every single last calorie you are consuming? This way, food doesn’t become your only thought all day, and you are able to relax more and get on with the more important things in life.

Doesn’t it make sense to eat these good foods to look after your insides, and protect yourself more against serious disease? It must be common sense to eat well, drink more water, workout more and get some fresh oxygen into your system every day? You will find your body will react by getting into great shape, and truly being energised by the good care you are taking of your body! Keep your portions small, measure your carb and protein portions by the size of your fist, pile on the veg, snack on fruit and nuts and your skin will look amazing too, it really is the way to go and there’s no other way around it.

The quick fixes of this world will encourage you to go on calorie reduced diets of sometimes 3 digits, they are a sure-fire way to fail, and the weight always comes back on, plus 5% on average according to studies.

Members of this blog have posted privately and publicly about how, after a while, your body rejects the sugary/fatty food, because your taste buds will have changed for the better, and those high calorie snacks will taste “sickly” to you now. It’s a process that’s tough for the first couple of weeks, but once you have gone through it, you will appreciate how good it feels to feel energetic, and how it feels for your body to be getting tighter and leaner.

Summing up, if you take a longer term approach based on science and common sense, it may take longer to get there but you won’t have so many of those roadblocks in the road to come, there will be no more yo-yo dieting, and you will be sure your insides will be firing as well as possible. Don’t become obsessed with weight, look at the overall picture and aim to get that waist down to under half your height in inches, that will be a far more realistic measurement of progress and overall health.


My kids programme research

As you may know, i have run successful programmes for kids for many years, and you may be interested to read some research i have done over the years that may surprise you.


 Reasons for kids becoming unhealthy

The biggest influences of a child’s eating habits are

Behavioural factors-Time and convenience, meal patterns and dieting

Family (income, working status of mother, family eating patterns, parental weight, diet and knowledge)

Friends (conformity, norms and peer networks)

Schools (school meals, sponsorship, vending machines)

Commercial sites (fast food restaurants, stores)

Consumerism (youth market and pester power)


80% of parents in many surveys say they have the greatest responsibility for their child’s health, schools come out 52%, food manufacturers 43%, government 33% and media 32%. Parents admit they are the group that could do most about their child’s eating. Parents tend to make only reactive efforts and don’t make any long term changes, more token gestures.


Teachers do make some effort in trying to educate children about eating healthily, although there is little or no supervision on what children actually eat at lunch and break times. Most schools give the kids what they want, burgers, chips, pizza, cake etc and plenty of vending machines. Finance seems to be the barrier to schools providing better nutrition too.

Got more stuff on advertising of junk foods but you may be bored by all that!

More facts about kids in this country

Uk eats more than 15% more ready meals than the rest of Europe, double the amount of france and 6 times as many as spain, 80% of households have microwave in uk compared to 27% in Italy for example.

Many mother’s have more cash available now and rely on readily available foods that are quick to cook but have lots of sugar, salt and bad fats. Many mothers are also working or claim not to have time leaving kids with money to make or buy their own snacks, who then tend to make bad choices.

Since many parents see breakfast and lunch boxes a hassle, the media is targeting the parents by advertising quick options instead, again usually full of fat and sugar.

It’s a fact that the more you don’t cook yourself as a parent, the more you rely on poor nutritional choices and you lose track of what you’re really eating in terms of fat, sugar and salt.

Fruit and veg don’t usually go with fatty/sugary foods, so your chances of getting kids to eat fruit and veg are cut that much more again.

The facts are that children are getting more of a choice in which foods they have, and often make lousy choices!

Most children don’t eat anywhere near enough fruit and veg, well below in fact and is usually up to a third less than 30 years ago.

Most children know that fruit and veg does them good and do not know seem to realise that being fat is not good to them, they avoid being fat simply because the opposite sex won’t find them attractive, the link to health doesn’t seem to enter their mind!

Sweets, fast food, sugary snacks, sugary breakfast cereal, crisps and sugary drinks are now the REAL staple foods of kids these days!

The kids with the least money and their families usually have the poorest diets.


I have numerous examples of kids who worry deeply about the way they look, even if they look very fit and healthy, they can often have 95% compliments or more, but maybe the odd insult will often stick that much more and really hurt them so much that they don’t even notice the good stuff said about them. They often admire the very skinny look that is so common  with pop stars and actors/actresses, but when you talk it out with them, they will often admire more curvy and fuller figure stars but are afraid to go against the grain. It’s important to talk it out with the child and really listen to them about their fears and worries about themselves. It often takes constant reassurances to get the message over. A good way sometimes is to get the child to make a list of good and bad comments they have had over the week, and then they can see for themselves that life is really not so bad, in fact it’s often very good! Most kids are told or heavily influenced in the way they think by their friends and the media. Encouraging individual thinking is vital.

Kids have pressure to dress the same way, eat the same way, dye their hair the same way, have their ears pierced, like the same music, have same clothing styles, to hang around in the same company and friends, to constantly change their look and cut their hair the same way.

Its a fact that most kids are teased in school if they eat healthily. A good start can be at home and actually make your child feel special for eating good foods, give them plenty of encouragement. A good way of doing this is using role models, using Ronaldo, wayne rooney, actors, pop stars like beyonce knowles etc and telling your kids that these people rely very heavily on a good diet, and then give examples of someone overweight, spotty etc as someone who eats badly!

Tell your kids who are sports that they will become stronger, run faster, jump higher and have strong muscles and bones if they eat well, as well as good skin and have a good looking body for life if they make the effort now.

It’s impossible to make kids eat right all the time, encourage the odd sugary snack from time to time, and if they have a party for instance, encourage them to eat badly, the usual response from a child is to turn the “bad” food down, because it’s all about rebellion at that age and they sometimes do the opposite of what you say.

Many kids who have a “too healthy” lunch box are sometimes bullied or called posh, the fast food option is often seen as cool. A tactic sometimes is to get together with some of the other parents in the class and make a healthier lunch box the cool way to go. It doesn’t matter whats cool in the rest of the country, a classroom can be cool all on its own with the parents help.

When you make the lunchbox for the child, experiment by making it a bit more exciting! First of all, try picking a cool looking lunch box, there are many around and there’s nothing worse than a bland lunch box, hows that going to inspire a kid to at properly. Studies have shown that 8-10 year olds prefer lunch boxes while 11-12 year olds prefer brown paper bags.

How about using a cold pack or small cooler box for the food. Nothing worse than having soggy, warm food lunch time. Also try keeping lean white meats in the fridge in good supply, as well as low-fat yoghurts and fruit juices.

Pack in some favourite foods from time to time. Nothing wrong with a small slice of pizza, some pasta or wedges now and again. The key guide to doing it healthily is portion size, by keeping them relatively small, you will reduce the calories while still satisfying their sweet tooth.

Celebrate special occasions such as valentine days, the Chinese new year, Indian special days with putting appropriate foods in the lunch box. Variety is the spice of life and keeping it fresh and exciting only takes a couple of minutes longer the night before and a bit of forward planning with your supermarket shopping list.

Use dips and sauces in your lunch box, kids love using dips because it can bring vegetables to life for them. Believe it or not, vegetables are only second to chicken nuggets when it comes to kids favourite dips. Also popular are low-faqt dressings and low fat sauces.

Kids like foods that are fun and tasty so let’s make the effort!

Some suggestions from parents i’ve seen are

“in our home, we like to encourage our kids to decorate their own pizzas with different vegetables, making faces or whatever with peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives and tomatoes. It has changed our kids perceptions of pizzas”

“i encourage my kids to buy a different food every time we shop, like mangoes or pineapple, a new type of bread with different grains, all of it is healthy so they are keen on trying it out when we get home!”

“we have special theme nights, like Japanese night, Chinese night, Indian night, and get the healthier recipes off the internet, it creates real interest in food and different ways of cooking healthy food that my kids say is incredibly tasty”

“ i make baked potatoes and let the kids create a potato bar. I can get healthy toppings such as low-fat cheese, shredded cheese, salsa and some thin broccoli pieces. Kids seem to love the idea of making their own special potatoes they don’t get anywhere else”

“every april, we plant different fruit and veg with the kids in the garden. When they ripen, the kids take pride in their efforts and love to taste all of their good work!”


 “Try a different fruit in the box/bag every day for a month, make it a mystery what you’re putting in so its different every day, and try to be really imaginative every day, Monday to Friday”.

 Most lunch boxes become tiresome and tedious, as a parent you have the chance to make a real difference in your childs life! Many studies have shown that early intervention in your childs eating has very long term effects in terms of reducing body fat throughout the child’s school life, versus the children in studies who experienced no nutritional intervention.

Some good stuff there i think you’ll agree and sums up how big the problem is right now!