Top tips on 8 key weight management areas

Particularly good if you've been using Cambridge Weight Plan with me as a weight loss diet programme, here's my top tips on 8 key weight management areas.

Buying food

-          Low GI foods, such as bananas, apples and baked beans should help keep you fuller for longer. Buy some of my recommended books on GI diets and Healthy Eating.

-          Look at calorific values of foods. E.g 1x Clementine/satsuma = 22 Cals, 1x Apple = 47 Cals,  1x plain wholegrain toast = 58 Cals, 1x small banana = 76 Cals, 1x300ml lager = 87 Cals, 1x chocolate digestive biscuit = 89 Cals, 25g packet of crisps = 132 Cals, 440ml bitter = 141 Cals, 25g salted roasted peanuts = 150 Cals, 1x 250ml glass white or red wine = 170 Cals. A large glass of wine is more calorific than a Cambridge soup or shake (approx 145 Cals)!

-          Buy food online to avoid temptations in store.

-          Write a shopping list and stick to it e.g. from the Cambridge Meals in Minutes recipe book. don’t buy things you saw on the TV or magazine advertising.

-          Avoid aisles where you know you will be tempted, or have high salt, sugar, and saturated foods.

-          Remember to use the Cambridge Eat Easy range of low calorie ready meals, or have a Cambridge bar, shake, soup, or porridge once a day – all available from me.

-          Go for colour – this usually means you get a great range of nutrients (serve yourself a rainbow, it doesn’t just look good, it’s full of goodness)

-          Try and go somewhere that has plenty of fresh food and a high turnover.

-          Buy fresh, organic, local, raw produce instead of unprepared or processed food – you’ll get  more nutritional value.

-          Chopped fruit and veg such as carrots, leafs, broccoli spears etc often have poorer nutritional value than the whole veg or fruit.

-          Eat more fish, less meat (aim for 2-4 portions of lean, white meat a week).

-          Don’t buy what’s on offer in supermarkets – they are often high in sugar, salt and saturated fat, highly refined products, and therefore poor nutritionally.

-          Look at labelling for salt, sugar and saturated fat content and check the portion size to which it refers (eg does a quarter or a whole pizza contain 25% of your RDA!). The traffic light schemes focus on the key nutrients that we should be cutting down on (salt, saturated fat, sugar, calories), so choose much more greens, then amber and avoid reds. Try to avoid foods containing over 5% fat.

-          Don’t buy green packaged foods thinking they’ll be better, and anything ‘giving you energy’ is probably loaded with sugar.

-          Look at best before dates and buy those that are furthest away.

-          Don’t go shopping when hungry or when distracted by children or other thoughts – you won’t buy as much or will make bad decisions!

-          Buy a little a bit more often - instead of one big shop – your food will be fresher so higher nutritionally.

-          Buy portion ratios to match the Eatwell Plate – eg 2x200g pork steaks, 2 medium potatoes and 2 tomatoes does not match the Eatwell ratio!

-          Keep portion sizes real – what does an average 80g portion of fruit or veg correspond to? (3 heaped tablespoons of veg or a bowl of salad)

-          Store them as guided on the label eg in the fridge – to extend nutritional value.

-          Cook more often than you buy ready made things eg chips, icecream, soup, meals –spending time in your kitchen can relax you as you get used to appreciating and cooking ingredients, rather than just eating food.


2.       Cooking food

-          Follow the Cambridge guide in the Steps programme or the much bigger range of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts, in the Meals in Minutes Recipe book.

-          Grill, cook en papillote (wrap in foil/greaseproof paper and steam or bake), griddle, poach, steam, bake, microwave, stir fry and dry fry - rather than oil-pan fry.

-          Use fry sprays rather than oils.

-          If you nibble while preparing food, have a piece of fruit , glass of water, celery or carrots nearby to munch on.

-          Trim off visible fat from meat.

-          Remove skin from poultry.

-          Make your own oil-free dressings and marinades with herbs, lemon, vinegar, honey, garlic, mustard, and keep it in a jar in the fridge.

-          Be honest when you measure – 30g of grated cheese is 30g!

-          Make your own big healthy food plate portions and freeze the rest for convenience.

-          Keep a good supply of herbs and spices to add interest and nutrtional therapy value (they’re great for the heart, circulation, immune system, skin, kidneys etc).


3.       Eating food

-          Try not to skip meals – you’ll eat more the next meal you have! In fact, try to eat a little more often, so go for 3 healthy nibbles (eg celery, carrots, fruit, veg) and 3 mini meals. Breakfast is particularly important.

-          Keep healthy foods available to see (eg put them on work desk) – so they’re in sight and reach - and you’re more likely to eat them.

-          Chew – poor digestion and nutrition starts in the mouth.

-          Eat slower (eg put a knife and fork down between mouthfuls) and enjoy your eating taste!

-          Drink plenty of water before meals to fill you up, and with a meal too. Food Agency Standard guidance is to drink a minimum of 1.25 litres per day, with 2 litres of water consumed in your food (eg lettuce, steak, potato).

-          Use a smaller plate for main meals.

-          Don’t leave extra food on the table when you are eating.

-          Don’t have food or munchies in front of you when you’re disctracted by the TV, phone, computer, film etc – you won’t realise how much you’re eating.

-          Use My Cambridge to keep a check on food and drink diary.

-          Watch out for alcoholic calories.

-          Put leftovers in the bin or freezer – avoid temptation.


4.       Eating out

-          How often do you eat out or get a take-away?

-          Visit the restaurant online beforehand and see the menu – it gives you time to consider the best choice. Go for lean ham, chicken melon and simply prepared seafood. Pates, fried mushrooms and cheeses, pastries, chips and fried rice are normally high in fat. Plain rice, boiled and baked potatoes (no butter) are better choices.

-          Ask the chef how it is cooked (grilled or fried) or the cut of meat – avoid fatty and fried foods. Soups are great but may include lots of cream or oil.

-          Think about the Eatwell Plate and choose good ratio-proportioned dishes particularly with respect to veg/fruit, dairy, fat, meats and sugars. Eg a salad is usually a great ratio.

-          Think about portion sizes - often a starter is better sized than a main.

-          Think about sharing dishes with other diners if portions are large.

-          Choose side salad or unglazed vegetables to help fill you up.

-          Avoid all you can eat buffets – tempting your greatest willpower.

-          Ask for dressings on the side.

-          Avoid ‘creamy’ sauces and go for ‘tomato-based’ instead.

-          Ask the chef if they can prepare a meal or sauce especially for you, you can even take the ingredients or sauce in beforehand – you’ll be surprised how many chefs enjoy meeting an interested and educated diner!

-          Have a Cambridge bar or shake, or fruit, before you go to fill you up.

-          Go for vegetable crudites rather than muching on crisps or fried foods, or bread and butter.

-          Don’t starve yourself before a big blow out – it works the wrong way and you eat/drink more than you want to during your blow out!

-          Eat slower.

-          Take things away/back home e.g. eat half a pizza and take half home.

-          If you’re full, go for a coffee or herbal tea rather than a dessert.

-          Sorbets and fruit salads are low fat dessert options. Avoid big spoonfuls of cream, custard and Greek yoghurt.

-          Watch alcohol intake – good intentions dissolve in alcohol! Add a side glass of water and a diet mixer to make it last longer, e.g. bitter diet shandy or wine spritzer.


5.       Exercise

-          Exercise has so many health benefits to your muscle tone, strength and flexibility, stamina, heart, circulation, and immune system – so you will look and feel better and reduce health problems.

-          Consider exercises you can do 5x a week for 30 mins (or 10x a week for 15 mins) by combining it with a daily duty eg walking to supermarket, cycling to work, jogging, spinning, circuits, football, or boxercise classes with a friend or family member, playing squash with someone during lunch or after work, walking a dog, or stepping up, stretching, or yoga in front of TV or Wii Fit.

-          Think about learning a new exercise such as swimming (361 Cals for 30 mins if you’re 82kg), skiing (264 Cals), yoga (216 Cals), jogging (405 Cals), ironing (91 Cals), dancing (184Cals) or golf (200 Cals).

-          Use MY Cambridge to record your calorie expenditure online against calorie intake – a healthy lifestyle does both diet and exercise at moderate daily levels.

-          Follow Cambridge Active guidelines –know how many calories you burn by aerobics, gardening or shopping for one hour (If you’re 82kg, you burn 250 Calories with a moderate 30 minute aerobics, 195 Calories gardening, and 145 Calories supermarket shopping).

-          Consult your GO before any strenuous exercise. Start slowly and build up gradually, with the right clothing and footwear and a professional, if appropriate. Warm up and cool down with stretches. Stay hydrated with extra water.


6.       Enjoyment!

-          Relax and spend time with friends, talking, both in your home town and away.

-          Do things you enjoy e.g. art galleries, watching live music, theatre, reading, visiting countryside or cities, organising dinner parties, going to the races, dancing, drawing, learning a new skill such as poetry reading, or coloured glass making, economics or Spanish.

-          Remember those 3 most important things you wanted to do which was why you wanted to lose weight – e.g. go out cycling with your friends or play with the kids - and DO THEM!

-          Treat yourself to a slice of cake or muffin or sausage roll every third week, instead of every third visit to the coffee shop.


7.       Support

-          Call me if you are feeling weak or have been tempted by food – just a helpful chat or text may be all you need!

-          Use my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and also Cambridge Weight Plan's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for reminders of what you’ve achieved, why you achieved it and how good you’ve been. Remember to use my Facebook page photo albums on ‘Nutrition and Cambridge’ for advice!

-          I offer free monthly weigh ins (BMI and waist to height ratio) for Cambridge maintenance clients – come along if you are unsure whether you are putting on weight, or if you just want to ask something or perk yourself up.

-          Talk to friends  – give them the opportunity to  congratulate and support you! That’s what they want to do after all.


8.       Motivation

-          Are your 3 main reasons for starting to lose weight way back when you first came to me – or before that – still true and valid?

-          What reasons do you have to maintain your weight now? Is it pride, self-esteem, sport or exercise related, for medical health (eg diabetes, heart disease, risk of stroke, blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma), for friends or lovers, for social reasons?

-          How motivated are you to maintain your weight? Have your lifestyle, friends, intentions and goals changed? Can you face going back there?

-          It is difficult in today’s society to eat a nutritionally complete, balanced diet (with artificial ingredients and ready made to last longer processed ‘foods’ from around the world), but it makes you even more special that you are motivated to keep yourself educated and look after your body so well. You are what you eat!


My recommended books on GI diets and Healthy Eating from my Amazon webshop - Including:

·         Getting the Best from the GI Diet (Rick Gallop) – lots of good nutrtion advice, recipes, exercise suggestions, a great traffic light system for all foods, for everyday living.

·         Dr Ali’s Weight Loss Plan (Dr Mosaraf Ali - Prince Charles’s doctor!) – focuses more on problems associated with weight gain, traits and physical ailments and a holistic approach to health including yoga and massage.

·         Bartram’s Nature’s Plan for your Health (Thomas Bartram) – Following a section on nutritional requirements, a naturopathic approach including a herbal repertory for ailments and nutritional therapy.

·         Eating Well for Optimum Health (Andrew Weil) – hefty book on nutritional requirements, various diets from around the world (eg mediterranean), recipes and a few appendices.


     All the best and contact me for more help or information on 02380639913 or 07968065885.

     Best wishes, Steve