The one thing to make a real difference to weight loss is…

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Hi everyone,

This week I saw a great article in the Guardian Newspaper: Our gigantic problem with portions: why are we all eating too much? It echoed with what I’ve been saying for years – that portion sizes have increased quite dramatically even in my lifetime, and they can be far too big!

This is happening at home, as well as in supermarkets and restaurants. In the kitchen, we now tend to use larger plates and wine glasses; in the 1950s the normal diameter for a dinner plate was 25cm, now it’s 28cm! Psychologists believe that you’re more likely to eat a larger portion if you serve it on a large plate, the same applies to drinking more from larger glasses as well. We’re also being sold larger portions in supermarkets and restaurants; a study by the Food Standards Agency found that ready-meal portions have grown significantly in the last few years; a shop-bought beef lasagne averaged around 250g in 1999 but by 2008 had grown to 500g.

All this portion distortion means that you can be eating a healthy diet, but are still consuming too many calories. And the rules of weight gain are simple: if you’re taking in more energy (i.e. calories!) than you’re expending, then you’re going to put on weight. This is why when I’m asked what the one thing you can do to make a real difference to weight loss is, I always recommend cutting portion sizes by about a third.

Now this is easier said than done! Not only are we are being sold bigger portions, but a lifetime of eating bigger portions means that our perception of what a recommended portion looks like has become distorted as well. To help, here’s a list of what the correct portion size looks like:

One portion of: Equals the size of:
Rice or pasta, uncooked Tennis ball
Lean meat A deck of cards or an iphone
Fish Cheque book
Hard cheese Small matchbox
Vegetables 1 handful (about 80g)
Salad Cereal bowl
Fruit 1 handful (about 80g)
Butter or olive oil Tip of your thumb
Potato A small computer mouse

So try to bear these in mind when you’re cooking or eating out this weekend!

Jane xx

Add Asparagus Into Your Diet!

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Hello everyone,

I’ve already done a blog in praise of seasonal greens, but I thought I’d pick out my favourite veggie as it comes into season – asparagus!

Asparagus packs a nutritional punch, not only is it a great source of fibre, it also has high levels of calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A and C. Plus it contains more folate than any other veggie. Wondering what that is? Well folate is essential in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Those neurotransmitters are responsible for maintaining and improving your mood, so they’re pretty important!

Asparagus can be pricey, but it’s unbeatable flavour makes it worth it at this time of year! Whilst imports are available all year round, British asparagus isn’t in season for very long, it’s best between April and July. So snap it up whilst you have the chance!

If you’re looking to add some asparagus into your diet, I’ve got a few recipe ideas for you!

1) Asparagus, Poached Eggs and Parmesan

Calories: 313 per serving

This is a lovely way to start the day, and will keep you full all morning! At 313 calories I do recommend that you have a lighter lunch if you’re watching the calories. Plus eggs are really nutritious as well!

Ingredients:

  • 600g asparagus
  • 8 medium free-range eggs
  • 120g Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Snap off any woody ends from the asparagus stalks at the point where they break easily and discard. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the asparagus, return to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender
  2. Pour about 2.5cm boiling water into a small saucepan. Return to the boil, reduce the heat to medium-high, crack the eggs open then carefully tip them into the pan, keeping them well apart. Cook for 3-5 minutes until done to your liking. (Alternatively, use an egg poacher according to the manufacturer’s instructions.)
  3. Drain the asparagus in a colander and divide among four warmed plates. Top each plate with 2 eggs and scatter with the cheese. Season and serve.

2. Asparagus

This dish is so easy and quick to make, it can been done in 2 minutes! Perfect for lunch at the office.

Ingredients:

  • 8 asparagus spears
  • Lemon juice
  • Chopped olives
  • 5 tomatoes
  • Pine nuts

Method:

  1. Place the asparagus spears on a plate and drizzle with lemon juice. Then sprinkle with chopped tomatoes, chopped olives, and top with pine nuts.

 

I hope these recipes will help inspire you!

Have a lovely weekend,

Jane xx

 

My Top Ten Diet Secrets

Hello everyone,

We’re constantly bombarded with messages from the media about the latest celebrity fad diet and how to lose weight. I always say that following a healthy, balanced and calorie controlled diet that doesn’t cut out food groups is the right way to lose weight healthily and successfully. That might sound boring, but it’s the truth and it probably doesn’t surprise you that much! But I do have some secret diet hacks that you may not have heard before to help you stick to your diet and get the best out of it! Here are my top ten:

  1. Reduce your plate size

In a study carried out at Cornell University, reducing plate size from 30cm to 25cm led to 22%  fewer calories being consumed. Eating the correct portion size on a smaller plate can be much less disheartening than a large plate that’s half empty!

  1. Eat slowly

It takes twenty minutes for your brain to register that you are full, so taking your time allows your brain to catch up with the signals coming from your digestive system.

  1. Avoid eating from containers, mixed bowls or saucepans

Seeing food on a plate or in a bowl gives you a better idea of portion size and helps you avoid portion distortion.

  1. Create a great running playlist

Listening to the right kind of music while running can keep you going for 20% longer and burn more calories, according to a study by London’s Brunel University. This applies to walking as well!

  1. Try to cut down on the alcohol

Dr Neilson, of the National Centre of Health Statistics, conducted a study of 11,000 people and found that alcohol made up 16% of their daily consumed calories. Yes – 16%! So cutting down on your wine o’clock is an easy way to cut calories.

  1. Find your goal outfit

Find your dream dress (or top, jeans or work suit) and buy it slightly too small. Hang it in prime position in your wardrobe, so that you see it every day. It’s a great motivator!

  1. Start a food diary

An honest food diary can help you cut down on mindless munching, recognise your triggers and unhealthy eating patterns and make it easier to plan ahead.

  1. Beware of abundance shopping

Avoid multi buys – you can end up with more food than you need!

  1. See the bright side and be grateful

It’s seems too good to be true but laughing for just 15 minutes a day burns enough calories to shift up to 5lbs of fat over a year

  1. Drink peppermint tea

It soothes inflammation in the gut, and drinking a cup 30 minutes after a meal can remove that dreaded bloat!

Jane xx

 

My Favourite Seasonal Spring Greens

Hello everyone,

The first three months of 2016 have absolutely flown by, I can’t believe it’s already April! Now that the clocks have gone forward and the days are getting longer, it’s really beginning to feel like Spring. It’s my favourite time of the year, I always feel so much more energised once I’ve ditched my Winter coat.

I also love this time of year because of the veggies that come into season. Seasonal foods are fresher, so they tend to be tastier, more nutritious and cheaper. Your local farmers market is a great place to source fresh fruit and veg, plus you’ll be supporting local businesses and making sure that the food hasn’t travelled too far to reach you (which is more environmentally friendly too!)

Now it’s April, there’s no excuse not to buy nutritious veggies! If you need some inspiration, here are my top four seasonal spring greens:

 

  1. Purple sprouting broccoli

Versatile and vibrant, purple sprouting broccoli will add a great crunch to your meals! It’s packed with vitamin C and is a great source of vitamin A, calcium, fibre, folic acid and iron. On top of that, it contains the phytochemical sulphoraphane which is thought to help prevent certain cancers and may also provide resistance against heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.

Serving suggestion: purple sprouting broccoli can be used in a similar way to its cousin. I like this Delia recipe for steamed purple sprouting broccoli with a chilli and sesame dressing.

 

  1. Asparagus

Asparagus packs a nutritional punch, providing great sources of fibre, calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A and C. It also contains more folate than any other veggie, which is essential in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Those neurotransmitters are responsible for maintaining and improving your mood, so folate is a great addition to your diet!

Serving suggestion: asparagus can be enjoyed on its own! I like to plate up about 8 asparagus spears, and sprinkle them with chopped tomatoes and chopped olives, I then top it with pine nuts and a drizzle of lemon juice.

 

  1. Spinach

Spinach is well known for its nutritional qualities. Vitamins A and C are present in significant amounts, as are several antioxidants and folic acid. Spinach has a distinctive taste, – I like to think of it as a ‘love it or hate it’ food. It’s available all year-round, but the freshest and tenderest spinach is available in Spring.

Serving suggestion: Milder and younger spinach leaves can be eaten raw in a salad. The older ones are usually cooked. I like backed eggs with spinach!

 

  1. Watercress

With its pungent, slightly bitter and peppery flavour, watercress is one of the strongest-tasting salad leaves available. It’s highly nutritious, containing significant amounts of iron, calcium, vitamins A, E and C.

Serving suggestion: watercress is good in salad (I recommend using it instead of rocket), and can also be delicious in soup.

 

Happy cooking!

Jane xx