Your choice!

Everything about Be Strong is about you choosing to do something differently than you have done before. Different way to eat. Different way to move. Different way to live. The last few weeks we have looked at the basics of living differently. Making those small incremental changes to the way we live our lives to develop healthier habits.

Those decisions are ultimately yours, and yours alone, but if you don’t make the decision to change something how do you ever expect anything to be any different for you. The power to achieve your goals is 100% in your hands.

Being accountable to your choices!

We know that 80% of our opportunity in adopting this new healthier lifestyle is about the food. It’s about making the right choices when it comes to food, to eat the food we love, that is within the calorie allowance you have been given.

If you make good choices then you will see the long-term results that you want.

Poor choices might be crash dieting into the realms of steamed fish and broccoli or going carb free, or even choosing a commercial shake diet to follow.

Good choices are just taking the time to look at all the food you like over a period of a week, and checking they fit into your calorie allowance.

Poor choices might be not spending the extra time to check your portion sizes and make the food fit in your calorie allowance for a couple of weeks to get to grips with what your portion should look like.

A good choice is choosing to weigh out your pasta or your porridge, or even your potatoes, to make sure you are getting it spot on. This is something you don’t have to do for long, just until you get used to what your portion should look like.

Poor choices might be not tracking the alcohol on a weekend and the kebab on the way home, or the extra treats, that we kid ourselves and pretend we don’t have, or just plain forget that we have had. How many calories a week do we miss because of this?

A good choice, is getting that little notebook and writing down everything you put in your mouth, with the associated calories every single day for a couple of weeks, so you can learn what works for you.

Yes, it’s boring but it works, and it’s not forever. Just until this new lifestyle beds in and becomes your way of life.

Bad information leads to bad choices!

If you are poorly informed you make poorly informed decisions. There’s so much information in the media about what is good or bad for you, and there is a different study it seems every five minutes, that tells you chocolate is good for you, or to have a glass of wine every day, or not to eat more than two eggs a week, or eating a grapefruit every day to help burn fat.  The best thing to do is to read around a subject and get as much information as possible, weighing up the pros and cons, and then make an informed decision as to whether that ‘study’ is actually giving you some good advice.

Usually, the most balanced advice comes from the NHS and their partners. They get their teams of top doctors and scientists to weigh up all the information available then come up with a set of recommendations.

That’s why they don’t tell you to over eat on one particular food, and generally speaking their advice is to eat everything in moderation, as long as it is based on the eat well plate.

The eat well plate sets out what our plate should look like when we serve up our food…

Just over a third should be carbs like wholegrain pasta, rice, and potatoes, just over a third should be fruit and vegetables, and about one-sixth should be protein-based foods like lean meat, fish, pulses and eggs.

The rest is dairy and dairy alternatives, and oils and fats.

High sugar, high fat processed foods like sweets, cakes, biscuits and crisps should feature less often and in small amounts.

The Eat well plate has been around since September 2007, so that means the government’s advice on how we should eat hasn’t changed in 11 years. How many fads can you think of that have been and gone in the last 11 years…

  • The Cabbage soup diet – where you ate nothing much other than cabbage soup for periods of time.
  • The South beach diet – a low carb, low fat diet, which promises to lose 13lbs in your first week.
  • The Pasta, Popcorn and chocolate diet – a diet which encourages monotony – you eat pasta with 2 types of low fat pasta sauce along with snacks of popcorn and small portions of chocolate.
  • The Lemonade Diet – where you eat nothing and drink a ‘lemonade’ cleanse made form lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper… yummy!
  • Atkins diet – High protein, low carb diet.
  • 5:2 diet – eat whatever you like for 5 days and no more than 600 calories for the whole day on the remaining two days.

Anyone fancy any of these? Or would you rather learn to eat the right things in the right portions, and do that forever, lose weight and then keep it off?

Becoming informed

The best way to become informed is to read, and when it comes to foods, you need to read the calories. Every food label now contains calorie information and some even have the front of pack portion information too, to make that information even easier to find.

When eating out can you look on the menu online first to see if they have calorie info on there, or can you make some good educated guesses about the food on the menu before hand?

Anything with fish or chicken in light tomato sauces, is going to be a safe bet.

Anything with lots of vegetables, that are steamed, baked or grilled, rather than doused in oil or fried.

Take note of the use of words like creamy, buttered, rich, luxurious in the menu descriptions, this is likely to indicate that there is some fat going in there, to up the calories.

Out of all the macro nutrients fat has the highest number of calories per gram in comparison to carbs and protein, so your opportunities to save calories come from reducing fat, so look for fat reducing options in menu descriptions like steamed, grilled, or oven baked.

Take note in your favourite restaurant and see if there are some better alternatives for you to pick. You might be surprised.

To aid with making some good choices in our day to day habits, we have spent some time researching what some good and bad choices might look like in similar types of foods…

Bad Choice / Good Choice

Bad Choice Good Choice
Food Cals Food Cals
Fruit and fibre cereal 40g portion + 250ml of whole milk 316 2 X Weetabix + 250ml of semi skimmed milk 221
Bacon and Egg sandwich 430 Grilled Mushrooms and plum tomatoes on 2 slices of un buttered toast 248
Granola and yogurt (50g honey and oat granola with a pot of muller light vanilla fat free yogurt) 304 Overnight oats ? 30g porridge oats, 100g fat free natural yogurt, three dessert spoons frozen berries 186
Shop bought cheese and onion sandwich, packet of crisps 666 Wrap with ½ chicken breast in spicy coating and salad 323
Home made ham, cheddar and branston pickle sandwich 398 Salad with feta and pomegranate 285
Supermarket Tuna and Sweetcorn pasta 485 Jacket potato with Salmon with dill mayo 358
Spag bol ready meal for one 501 Tin of Pea and Ham soup, slice of multi grain bread 250
Macdonalds cheeseburger and small fries 538 Macdonalds Grilled chicken salad bowl 133
Steak pie with puff pastry, mash, carrots and gravy 636 Beef and vegetable stew and oven baked medium jacket potatoes 436
Store bought frozen Pizza (1 whole pizza) 800 Be Strong Margarita Pizza (1 whole pizza) (+toppings) 385 +
Macaroni cheese 760 Be Strong no cream carbonara 320
Roast lamb (212), roast potatoes(230), buttered carrot and swede mash (180), Yorkshire pudding (47each), gravy (26) 695 Roast chicken(160), boiled new potatoes(93), broccoli (31) carrot(40), green beans (23) and gravy (26) 373
Chicken Kiev, oven chips and peas 630 Fish pie made with sweet potato, haddock and white sauce 450
Snacks and Treats
Jam doughnut 225 Fruit (on average) 90
Chocolate muffin 422 Kit kat 107
Protein bar with peanuts and chocolate 229 High protein yogurt 114
Strawberry Cheesecake single serve pot 278 Meringue and strawberries with fat free natural yogurt 130
Starbucks latte (tall) 150 Cappucino light sachet 52
Strawberry trifle single serve pot 174 Hartley no added sugar jelly pot 6
Pork pie 250 Mini pot of reduced fat humus and cucumber sticks 150

Take Action

This week: –

  • Double check those calories before you put that food in your trolley at the supermarket, before you pick up that quick sandwich for lunch, or give in and have that chocolate bar you’re craving.
  • Does it fit, if it does carry on, if it doesn’t put it back and take a few more seconds to make a better choice.
  • Be accountable to your decision to try this new healthy lifestyle and make the choices that you won’t regret.

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