Friday, 6 June 2008

Healthy eating by the NHS

I’ve got to be quick but I wanted to have a bit of a rant. The first one on this blog, which is a bit weak given the title. I am not entirely sure how I ended up there but I came across a NHS healthy eating webpage during my lunch break.

I am not on a diet and have never been, mostly because I hate the idea of not being able to eat something. The second it’s forbidden, the cravings start. That said, I’m all for healthy eating and trying to improve our diet. I looked around and found a promising ‘Healthy food swaps’ article. This could be interesting.

Sadly not quite. Although there’s some good advice (swap your morning croissant with jam and butter for the ubiquitous home-made porridge); there are also plenty of unrealistic and, more importantly, unsatisfying swaps. Instead of chocolate biscuits when the afternoon slump hits you, eat a banana. On paper that might sound great, but here, sitting at my desk, all I can think is that I don’t want a banana, I want biscuits. And sometimes only chocolate biscuits will do or in my case Haagen Dazs ice-cream.

This, however, is not quite as bad as the following:

6.30pm: a drink after workIt’s the end of the day and your workmates are all off to the pub.STOP: a bottle of beer (159.8 calories).SWAP: a glass of white wine has far fewer calories (97.2 calories), or stick to water for zero calories and a much healthier night out.

Go for a drink with your colleagues after work and swap your drink for water for a healthier (and, oh-how-much-fun-we-had) night. I’ll be impressed if that works, ever. I am only too aware that alcohol is very ‘fattening’ apart from the high risk of binge-drinking involved but there are other ways around it. Yes, white wine has less calories than beer but you can still enjoy a beer when you are trying to lose weight; just don’t make it three beers.

My take is simple: you want chocolate biscuits, have 1 or 2 instead of half the pack (or the whole one, for that matter). Swap the forbidden list for some good old moderation. I would have hoped the NHS would be able to provide some sounder advice. Perhaps it’s just me but I found it all a bit basic and not that helpful.

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