Would YOU know what “too fat” is?

I wrote an article a few months back Being overweight is becoming “normal” says CMO, Dame Sally Davies about how people are beginning to accept that being overweight is the norm…and in a lot of research people constantly underestimate how “fat” they actually are.

So, before reading on, take a look at the figures in the picture and say which one most closely resembles your body shape.

African American women body image scale. Photograph: Adapted with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd

African American women body image scale. Photograph: Adapted with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Whilst on the one hand it’s good to know that people who are overweight or obese are not stigmatised as much now as they may have been in the past, accepting that it’s OK to be overweight is not a great position to be from the point of view of your own health and fitness.

The latest evidence that we no longer see being “big” as necessarily “unhealthy” comes from the Rush Medical Centre in Chicago where a group of African American women were asked to look at the body shape scale above and rate which bodies they thought were underweight; OK; too fat; overweight or obese. They were also asked which of the figures represented their own body shape the closest.

This was only a small study, so not conclusive by any means and the average BMI of the group was 32 (which is classified as obese), but the women thought that only the last two drawings (8 and 9) were “too fat”. The researchers concluded that this particular group of women thought that it was OK to be overweight and it was only serious obesity that could actually be bad for your health.

When it came to identifying their own body shape from the drawings, many of them got it wrong, classifying themselves in a “normal” weight category.

The results of this study cannot be extrapolated out to the whole population but it does raise important issues at a time when the health services are struggling to cope with all the side effects of a population that is getting fatter.

So where did you put yourself on the scale?

For your information, Figure 1 on the left has a BMI of 16, and is therefore underweight; Figures 2, 3 and 4 lie between a BMI of 20 and 25, which is considered normal; figures 5 and 6 are overweight and very overweight respectively;  figure 7 is obese and figures 8 and 9 are severely obese.

Even though it’s well known that not all overweight people are unfit, if you are in categories 5 or above, you should be thinking hard about trying to lead a healthier and fitter lifestyle.

Food for thought, as they say.





Another diet? Forget it. Changing beliefs and habits is the way to go…

weight loss tips

With Christmas and the New Year fast approaching, we must brace ourselves for the inevitable over-indulgence during the festive period (yes we ALL do it!) and the ensuing onslaught of marketing from the diet and fitness industries. Looking at all the hype, you’d be excused for believing that the only thing matters when it comes to trying to lose weight and get fit is either the specific number of calories in a particular food, or the “zanyness” of the latest celebrity workout.

If only it was so easy!

Overweight? Just regulate “calories in” for a period of time or do a couple of sweaty workouts at the local gym and bingo, problem solved!

Unfortunately, we all know deep down that, however much we’d like this to be the solution, it’s not!

Creeping weight gain and inactivity (the two things do normally go hand in hand) don’t occur overnight…it’s a gradual thing that occurs as we get older and our lifestyles change. We no longer have time to rush to the gym and other things such as work and family start to take priority. Combine this with a non-stop onslaught from the food and drink producers and retailers that constantly pushes not-particularly-healthy-food in our direction, then it’s a double whammy.

Take a moment to imagine a world where the retailers only sold fresh, healthy food and drink and we actually had time to walk to work, play games and take part in leisure activities. In this scenario would 80% of UK adults be inactive and 62% overweight or obese? Probably not…and would we actually miss all those sugary drinks and salty snacks? Probably not!

Unfortunately this world won’t exist anytime in the near future so, if you are serious about wanting to lose weight and get a bit fitter, then you’ll have to create a bit of it yourself!

That means forgetting the latest fad diet or crazy celebrity workout and instead concentrating on your daily beliefs and habits when it comes to eating and activity. Only once you have identified the “bad” ones that are causing you to either eat too much or to be inactive, can you then change them.

And once you do that, you CAN adjust the balance of your life to slowly achieve the kind of healthy lifestyle you want to be leading. This adjustment will restore your “natural” weight and fitness levels and ward off the potentially damaging illnesses and problems that come with being overweight and inactive.

Remember though, this is a “lifetime” approach and won’t happen overnight…you’ve got to want to do it!

So now we’ve got the theory out the way…what does this mean in practice?

Change your beliefs: There are many reasons why we eat too much, some which are driven by beliefs we have picked up from childhood, and some which are triggered by external circumstances (the “eat all the food on your plate” childhood rule and the “I eat when I’m stressed” are two examples of this). The key is to identify them and then change them…and the good news is that it IS possible to change existing beliefs.

Change your habits: We are all creatures of habit and tend to do exactly the same things at the same time every day. If one of these is going into a high street coffee shop and buying a cappuccino and muffin mid-morning, or taking the lift instead of the stairs, then clearly that’s not a great habit! Like beliefs, the key is to identify and then change them.

If you get like this approach, then we recommend you read my free article The 5 golden rules BEFORE you try to lose weight . It’s packed full of useful information and advice on how to lose weight and get fit for the long term.

If not, then try another diet…it may work this time!

Good luck!



The “Portion Control” diet – it’s a winner!

I’ve come up with a new diet…it’s called the “Portion Control” diet and it’s going to be a winner! Why?

FACT: Permanent weight control is not about quick fix diets, it’s about taking control of what and how much you eat in the long term (along with a whole host of other things like exercise and activity).

There are no real rules for this (although the “recommended daily calorie intake” figures are a great place to start) and each of us must find our own “balance” between activity and eating. A large man working everyday on a building site will need more food than a small man working at a desk all day. That, surely, stands to reason.

However, most people have lost any sort of “input/output” sensitivity. Food and drink has become devoid of any sort of actual physical need. We eat so many meals a day, food portions are governed by our habits and plate size, we regularly go to coffee shops to meet friends and have the obligatory coffee and muffin (irrespective of how hungry we are), we drink socially, we snack, we have treats, etc etc. Most of what we do in life comes with associated eating or drinking and this is the cycle that has to be changed.

The quickest and easiest place to start is with the size of food portions. Why?

Two main reasons:

1. Most people tend to “fill” their plate with food. That’s a habit but totally mad if you think about it – since when do dinner plate manufacturers know anything about what YOUR body needs? Plates tend to be BIG so most portions sizes tend to be BIG.
2. Most people feel they need to finish everything on their plate. This tends to be a habit that is drilled into you since childhood (“You’re not getting down from the table until you’ve finished everything on your plate” – remember that?).

And then there’s the leaving food cooked by someone else…at a dinner party or in a restaurant…aren’t we all brought up to think that’s rude?

So, in order to get control of your portion size, you probably have TWO big hurdles to overcome before you even start!

So try this advice:

1. Try and assess how hungry you feel before each meal and adjust your portion size accordingly. This will take a bit of time but keep at it. The plan is to work out how much your body NEEDS on a daily basis. Use this hunger gauge to stop and think before you eat. If you don’t feel hungry, don’ eat just because it’s a mealtime.

The New In 90 hunger scale

Eat when you are in 2 or 3 and stop when you get to 4. You should never be in zone 1 or 6 and only in 5 at Christmas and special days!

The really important thing is to STOP eating as soon as you feel a BIT full and don’t worry about leaving food initially. A bit of wastage is nothing compared to your long term health and you’ll soon learn to adjust the size of future portions.

2. Use a smaller plate…a side plate for instance. Once you finish, you’ll probably feel full and won’t need any second helpings.

3. Eat slowly and concentrate on your food…try not to watch TV or use your phone while eating.

4. Don’t let anyone pile more food on your plate and don’t succumb to the “I don’t want anything left” comments!

5. Always have a glass of water with your meal and take regular sips.

By reducing your portion size slowly over time, your mind and body will start to get into tune. You’ll be able to enjoy all your favourite food, not because your mind wants it, but because your body needs it…and that’s the place you want to be.

Good luck


Want to get slimmer and fitter? Here’s one thing you MUST do…


However you want to look at life, virtually none of us live in a vacuum. We all have partners, friends, family and colleagues to either support, work  or live with and we form relationships, however superficial, to co-exist alongside them. We comment and have views on them and they on us. Our behavior influences  them and vice versa.

With this in mind, it stands to reason that if you’re trying to make long term lifestyle changes in order to get healthier and fitter, you have to get their buy in and support. But, on many occasions, this just does not happen.

For starters, it’s incredibly difficult to make the decision to change…so many of us say things like “I need to lose some weight” or “I really should take more exercise” and then leave it at that. To actually start the process is another matter entirely! So when you do take the plunge, the last thing you need is apathy or even hostility or resentment from anyone close to you. This could be anything from children or a partner moaning about the lack of morning fry ups or  sweets in the cupboard to colleagues at work pushing you into yet another morning coffee and muffin.

The ideal way to approach this is to sit down with the relevant people and explain what you are going to do, why you are going to do it and what you hope to achieve. Most people, when they know you’re serious, will probably be very supportive (and maybe even a bit envious!), but you may also get some eye rolling or knowing smiles. However, if you’ve thought it out and are determined enough, you should be able to persuade them to see the benefit of your plan of action. Funnily enough, even if this process is hard, it will set a good marker in the sand for you to prove any doubters out there wrong!

Also, if you have spoken to your GP or a health professional in the past about any weight and fitness issues, it might well be worth telling them of your plans…they should be able to help you and the act of doing so will provide another incentive to really change things this time.

And don’t underestimate how changing your eating and exercise habits may effect those around you. For example, a sudden absence of most processed food and sweet snacks from the menu may annoy other members of the family but it’s important that whatever you do goes for everyone, whether it’s you doing the cooking or someone else. Likewise if you decide to go for a walk instead of the coffee shop with a friend, then you have to handle that kind of situation carefully…of course, you can always persuade them to come with you and then have a treat together just once a week!

Remember, whilst you are the number one priority in all this, any healthy habits and routines will benefit everyone else as well…if not more in some cases! Most people (especially children) will adapt very quickly, particularly if they are noticing a difference in you…and maybe even themselves if they come on board as well.

Whatever you do, don’t try and “go it alone”…you’ll find the journey much harder.

Good luck!

New In 90

This is one of my five “golden rules” for anyone wanting to get fitter, healthier and slimmer. I’ll cover the other four over the next few days!


Meditation and the importance of YOU time.

Make time for YOU

If you have any aspirations at all about trying to lead a healthier and generally fitter lifestyle, then it’s absolutely vital to understand the importance of YOU time and the part meditation can play in helping you cope with the stresses and strains that most of us have in our everyday lifestyle.

Whether it’s a tough job, hectic family life or just a general shortage of time, stopping just for a few minutes each day can have dramatic effect on the way you feel and cope with everyday pressures.

So even if you literally stop what you are doing for ten minutes and do nothing but stare out of the window, breathing steadily and relaxing your muscles, you’ll probably find it beneficial, but if you can go one step further and meditate, then you’ll really notice the difference.

A growing amount of research is starting to show that meditation is effective in treating depression and chronic pain, as well as coping with stress and cultivating a sense of overall well-being.

The discovery of meditation’s benefits coincides with recent neuroscientific findings showing that the adult brain can still be deeply transformed through experience. These studies show that when we learn a new skill or play a musical instrument, the brain undergoes changes through a process called neuro-plasticity. The region of the brain that controls the violinist’s fingers, for example, becomes progressively larger with the mastery of the instrument. A similar process appears to happen when we meditate and the evidence amassed from this research has begun to show that meditation can rewire brain circuits to produce beneficial effects not just on the mind but on the entire body.

The great thing about this is that anyone can quickly start benefiting…simply by finding ten minutes in the day and beginning the process!

Whilst this may sound easy, many people will see it either as a sort of weird mystic practice or a frivolous activity akin to sitting down and reading a gossip magazine!

Nothing could be further from the truth and it’s vital to see one’s general health and fitness in the context of your general lifestyle. So many people are just fixated on weight and diets, or gym and exercise, that they fail to realise it’s all about the overall package rather than just a specific thing.

Getting fitter, healthier and losing some weight is NOT about a certain type of diet and whether or not it’s successful, it’s about how you lead your life generally. That’s why finding those ten minutes for some YOU time is so important! I’ll be telling you exactly how to start meditating in the next couple of days but, in the meantime click on the article above for some initial help and advice.



If you’re a calorie counter, then you’d better read this…

Healthy Mediterranean diet chicken salad

A new report (yes another!) just published in the Post Graduate Medical Journal (PMJ – see link to the article below) criticises the weight-loss industry for focusing too much on calories and not enough on good nutrition. The report also argues that crash dieting may well be harmful, a view I’ve always shared.

The American weight loss industry generates a staggering US$58billion in revenue annually even though long term studies (up to five years) show that most people on rapid diets regain much of the lost weight and about two thirds don’t achieve any health benefits from their dieting. This might be an interesting fact for anyone thinking of “starting” a new diet on January 1st.

The research says that concentrating on good nutrition, rather than counting calories, combined with a regime of activity as part of your lifestyle routines and habits is the most likely strategy for long term success. They cite the “Mediterranean” type diet as particularly effective because it’s full of fruit and vegetables, nuts, olive oil, poultry and fish – and not because it counts the calories of every piece of food and drink that goes into the body. It’s worth noting that this particular diet is named after the area in which the population generally eat this sort of food (Italy, Greece, Spain etc.) rather than any faddish origins or “latest” celeb invention.

The continuing weight of evidence that points over and over again to the futility of calorie-only focused eating regimes, combined with the sheer difficulty of actually sticking to one, leads you to wonder when we are going to realise that the ONLY way for the vast majority of people to get healthier and fitter (and therefore slimmer) for the long term is to get more active, eat sensibly and do both these things as part of a lifestyle going forward in a way that a) doesn’t disrupt it; b) is achievable and c) doesn’t mean you have to cut all the little treats out of your life forever!

And how do you do that?

Well a good place to start is to have a look at 6 ways to kickstart a healthier lifestyle. Once you realise that losing weight is part of the process of getting healthier, rather than a process in itself, the mountain won’t seem so hard to climb!

Good luck.


Postgraduate Medical Journal

It only takes 10 minutes…YES, 10 minutes!

We have had lots of feedback on our last post about meditation…what is it, why is it good for you and what part can it play in a healthier and fitter lifestyle?

What’s immediately obvious is that many people are put off the whole process because of its mainly religious connections, the feeling that meditation is reserved for Buddhist monks and slightly “wacky” people. Some people said they would feel “silly” if they told their family or friends they were going to meditate and  others said they wouldn’t be able to get into the positions!

Whatever you call the process, what’s really important is for everyone to realise the benefits of just finding some time for yourself each day…however busy you are (remember, the average Briton spends over three hours a day either watching TV or on social media). Taking some time out to sit down and “turn off” is a great way to de-stress and relax, and it only needs to take 10 minutes (although if you can manage a bit longer, you will notice even more positive effects).

Like a lot of things in life though, you won’t see wondrous results after just one sitting, so try it for at least seven consecutive days if you can.

Start by finding somewhere as quiet and distraction free as possible. Sit down in a comfy upright chair and place your hands on your lap (no need for any painful cross-legged poses here!). The object is not to fall asleep but if you’re worried you will, put a timer on your phone and have it close by. You’ll also be fully awake, so you’ll be able to hear other sounds, such as the doorbell ring, or a child cry out.

Close your eyes and breath in slowly through your nose or mouth, it doesn’t really matter. Remember, there are no rules here, it’s all about finding out what works best for you. Concentrate on your breathing and your body and feel how your body seems to get heavier with each breath out. Keep your breaths slow and deep.

Now, to get your mind to go from manic mode to relaxation mode quickly takes lots of practice, so you’ll find that you immediately start thinking about something as soon as you close your eyes. That’s absolutely OK and perfectly natural. Just as soon as you realise this is happening, just gently re-direct your mind back to your breathing and body. Repeat this “re-focusing” as often as you have to.

The first few times you try this, your mind will be incredibly restless and all over the place! But remember, just the act of sitting down and breathing slowly can be very beneficial, particularly if you feel extra stressed and your body is taut.

The key thing is to really try and find that 10 minutes! After a while (for some people it happens quite quickly, others take longer), you’ll be able to turn “off” much quicker and soon you feel the benefits of giving your mind a rest as well as your body.

Getting fitter and healthier is much more than just losing a bit of weight and meditation (or whatever you choose to call it) can play a huge part in the whole process. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see the benefits.

Good luck!



Why chairs could just be killers…

The killer chair?

It may well surprise you but the simple chair could just be one of the biggest killers out there.

This is the conclusion derived from 18 studies reported during the last 16 years, covering 800,000 people overall. In 2010, for example, the journal Circulation published an investigation following 8,800 adults for seven years. Those who sat for more than four hours a day watching the TV had a 46% increase in deaths from any cause when compared with people who sat in front of it for less than two hours per day. Other researchers have found that sitting for more than half the day approximately doubles the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Overall, when you combine all causes of death and compare any group of sitters with those who are more active, sitters have a 50% greater likelihood of dying.

Sitting for long periods of time is bad because the human body was not designed to be idle. This creates a BIG problem for all of us. Lack of movement slows your metabolic rate, reducing the amount of food that is converted to energy and thus promoting fat accumulation, obesity and all the associated illnesses that come with this condition…heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and more.

Sitting is bad for lean people too…staying seated after a meal can lead to high blood sugar spikes, whereas getting up and being active for a small amount of time can cut those spikes in half.

One of the problems is that most of us associate being overweight with just eating too much, as opposed to sitting too much! Not only this but people also believe that there is no halfway house to “being active”. Either you are sedentary or you have to go to the gym or play lots of sports.

This leads to the misconception that if you are over weight and unfit (around 80% of the U.K.’s population), the only way “out” of the situation is to diet and go to the gym, preferably at the same time.

The good news if you have this view is that you can achieve dramatic and positive effects on your health by just being generally active and this does not require gym visits or daily jogs!

The way we live now…desk based office jobs, hours of TV and social media and the general “seats everywhere” environment completely negates what our bodies have evolved to do…our ancient ancestors spent the day foraging for food and surviving and they only really stopped to rest and sleep. This was a delicate balance and the modern chair-based society has tipped it right over.

However, the good news is that we can do things to restore the balance in our lives…we just need to spend less time in the chair and more time being active. The key thing is to work out how you can incorporate more activity into your daily life and you can find lots of advice in this article – Is there really any point in being active? You bet there is….

So the next time commuters complain about never being able to get a seat on the train then perhaps the operating companies should actually be removing all seats to leave standing room only…it would definitely be the healthier option!

The key message should be:

Don’t sit…stand!


The New In 90 Plan shows you how to adapt and change your lifestyle to incorporate more activity and better eating habits over a period of three months. It works really well for people who find dieting hard and don’t have the time or inclination to go to the gym.

How to reach YOUR ideal body weight…

If you’re one of those people who are unhappy with your body weight or the look and feel of your body, then don’t despair.

The really important thing to remember if you’re in this situation is that a) you’re not alone (definitely!); b) you can do something about it (definitely!) and c) everyone is different. We don’t all need to look like a supermodel, we just need to feel happy in ourselves and in our bodies.

To start with, it helps to be able to understand that your body is still pretty much in caveman mode when it comes to food. Whilst this analogy is sometimes frowned upon in some academic circles, the fundamentals of eating are pretty much the same as they were many hundreds of years ago. It is only in relatively recent times that food has been in abundance and our bodies just have not caught up with this fact from an evolutionary point of view. In the old days, food wasn’t that tasty (it’s hard to believe our caveman ancestors had gourmet meals and they certainly hadn’t been tempted with a Starbucks blueberry muffin!).

At the end of the day, all the body cares about is survival and that means managing it’s food input in what it perceives to be the most valuable way. It extracts nutrients from the food we eat, converts it primarily into glucose and then distributes it to all the body cells for energy. If the supply of food is greater than required for day-to-day activity, the body (unfortunately!) won’t get rid of the excess but will store it in fat cells “for a rainy day”…remember, the body is always in survival mode.

If there’s an interruption in that regular supply, then the body will issue a “lock down” and will do whatever it can to conserve those nutrients…in fact, it will go as far as break down muscle tissue rather than use up fat supplies if it can. It will also impose an activity ban to try and conserve energy (which is why so many people feel sluggish and tired when they go on a diet). In fact, the body will do everything in its power not to lose weight as long as it perceives there is an impending famine.

Armed with this information, going on a short term calorie restricted diet is the worst thing you can do if you want to lose weight permanently. Sure, you can override the body’s survival mechanisms for a short time and lose weight (but it’s SO hard!) but what happens when you stop? The body thinks “great, no more famine, but let’s store as much fat as we can for the next one”.

It’s an endless cycle.

To lose weight effectively and then keep it off, changes have to be small and subtle…so the body does not really notice any difference. And these changes have to be applied to not only what you eat but how and when you eat it. By adapting your lifestyle and behavior towards food and drink, you are, if you like, imprinting super quick evolution on yourself.

Combine this with getting more active and you’ll literally be teaching your mind and body that this is the way life is now and this is how you are going to live it.

Once you get the balance right, then you will reach your optimum body weight and fitness and stay there – literally for the rest of your life.

New In 90 has lots more help and advice, and it’s specific plan will show you how to undertake this actual process over a 3 month period.

If you are not prepared to invest 90 days and really change things, then you’re probably not ready. But next time you start eyeing those diets…make sure you re-read this blog!


Don’t be fooled! Ten foods and drinks to avoid…

Whilst my main focus is on lifestyle and habit change (rather than calorie counting) when it comes to health and fitness, I’m always on the lookout for pitfalls that anyone can fall into on a daily basis.

Here are some examples of foods and drinks you should definitely be careful of!

1.  Low fat yogurts: These are often marketed as ideal as “part of a calorie controlled diet”, but take the fat out of most yogurts and they become flat and tasteless. To compensate, manufacturers will boost the sugar and artificial flavorings, creating a product that might be low fat but is very high in calories.

Always go for natural or Greek varieties and add your own fruit.

2. Iced tea: Whilst this may seem to be a worthy and refreshing choice on a warm day, most iced tea varieties (including green tea) are crammed full of sugar…and some even exceed the levels found in well known fizzy drinks. As a result, it’s easy to consume your entire recommended daily sugar amount in one go!

Try natural mint tea that’s slightly sweeter to start.

3. Energy bars: Often sold in the “healthy” section of supermarkets and natural health shops, “energy bars” can be deadly and often contain in excess of 500 calories each. Much care is needed when selecting.

Look at the labels and pick one that has less than 250 calories and at least 4g of protein.

4. Prepared salads: How often do you go into a restaurant or take away and order a salad “through gritted teeth” to be healthy whilst your companions have the steak and chips or blt sandwich? Whilst a well constructed salad can be extremely beneficial and tasty, most restaurant chefs or shops flood their salads with extra fats to make them tastier and therefore “worth the money”. Caesar salads are particularly bad because of the oil, Parmesan and deep fried croutons. Make sure you know what’s in a salad before you order or buy…it may be worth picking something else!

Salads can be some of the tastiest dishes out there…so mix plenty of ingredients with only a bit of natural oil (say from tuna fish) and herbs or spices.

5. Hot chocolate: Whilst it is technically possible to have a reasonably healthy hc using a small cup of skimmed milk and only a teaspoon of chocolate (or hot water and maybe two spoonfuls of chocolate), most coffee shop hot chocolates are definite no-go items. The Starbucks Venti 2% Salted Hot Chocolate, for example, will hit you with 760 calories, 22g of fat and 85g of sugar!

Have a fruit tea with a small piece of plain dark chocolate instead.

6.  Flavored waters: A relatively new addition to the shop shelves, these are a sensational marketing gimmick. Often proclaiming to be full of extra vitamins and other energy-giving nutrients, the extra sugar in most of them will far outweigh any benefits given by the former. For instance, one of the best selling varieties, Volvic’s Touch of Fruit, has 27.5g of sugar in a 500ml bottle…equivalent to almost seven teaspoons of sugar. Things get even worse with something like Drench’s blackcurrant and apple water which comes in with a whopping 46g per 500ml. Bottled water is expensive enough without paying extra for added sugar!
On “healthy” water

Fill up a water bottle each morning from the tap…it’s free and much better for you! Alternatively, make your own “fruit infused” water.

Fruit infused water

7. Milkshakes: Just no…never.

8. Smoothies: Often sold as great “health” drinks, popular brands have built their reputation as being one (or even two) of the “five-a-day” servings. Don’t be fooled! Because they contain so much fruit, their natural sugar content is far higher than if you just had one of the original fruit. Throw in some tempting milk, cream or ice cream and their health value goes out of the window. Many fruit juices are as bad, advertising themselves as containing “the juice of ten fruit”. Sounds great until you realise you would not sit down and eat ten of any fruit in one go…ever!

Read the label carefully before purchase, or make your own smoothies with some fat free Greek yoghurt, a small handful of fruit and lots of ice.

9.  Coleslaw: Packed full of carrot, cabbage and other veg, most pre-packaged coleslaw is an accident waiting to happen.  Crammed with salad cream or mayonnaise, an average portion can deliver over 260 calories and 20g of fat.

Make your own using a fat free yogurt, with a squirt of lemon juice and lots of pepper and herbs.

10. Pre-packaged sandwiches: Although many fast food outlets have made a real effort to label their sandwiches and provide low calorie alternatives, it’s still often quite difficult to find one that’s low fat, low calorie and tasty. Many are still made of white bread and are crammed full of mayonnaise or similar. Even the sandwiches that are targeted at “dieters” can contain as much as half the targeted daily intake…and who can make do with just a sandwich at lunchtime?

Go for a wholemeal bread sandwich, containing a lean meat or fish, healthy salad veg with a light dressing. Or instead opt for a soup or egg on toast.

As I’m always saying (boring but true), eating is as much about common sense as it is about micro managing your calorie intake. Read the labels of everything you buy and stick to the basics (e.g. plain water instead of flavored water), reserving the slightly more “unhealthy” options for those times you may not have the choice.