Sunday, 16 March 2014

Dieting and all that

I've read so much about The Right Diet -  eat  less carbohydrates and fat and oh let's not forget sugar and then everyone takes too much salt - that I am considering giving up reading, at least about what's good and bad for you in the food chain.  I recently bought "low salt" soya sauce but when I compared the label to my (nearly empty) "regular" soya sauce, I found the "low salt" contained more salt. Yikes, who do you believe? How about an investigation titled "Is your food label telling you the truth?"

Of course food has to have something added to it to preserve it.  Even naive little me knows that.  Assuming the manufacturers are telling the truth about "standard portions" and "100 grams" worth of their products, it really means studying the labels and making an informed decision.  So there I am standing in the aisle of my local supermarket, blocking the mothers with trollies and grizzling toddlers, reading food labels.  It takes ages and you really need a pencil and paper or something more technical like your I-phone or what-have-you. 

You really have to understand what goes into a product, though, and this requires a lot of label reading.  On bad days and even some good days, I envisage a Reading Room at the supermarket where you can take all the products, read the labels and add up the sugar, salt, fat and calorie content of each one and make your decision accordingly.  By the time you've finished you will either a) have fainted with hunger and been shipped off to the local A&E, b) been shipped off to the local A&E because of supreme agitation, c) decided you will never buy a packaged product in future even if you don't know how to cook the next meal or....  but let me stop there.  I think you get the picture. 

Having driven myself crazy for a few weeks, I now just do an "informed estimate".   I check the recommended daily portion for fat, sugar and salt on each label and go for the lowest.   It's surprising how much more fat there is in some low fat spreads than in ordinary ones, for example.  I give starchy foods a wide berth, only buying wholegrain bread, rice and pasta.  But I do allow for treats now and then - life is too short to cut everything you love out of your diet.  Knowing that Friday night I can have half a bar of my favourite chocolate is a real incentive to bypass the stuff for the rest of the week.  The real solution, of course, lies in limiting the damage and enjoying your meals. I've combined this with exercise - just walking and climbing stairs - and I have lost a few pounds in weight, a fact I enter in my weight diary.  The feel good factor associated with this is a powerful incentive to continue and to have fun at the same time.

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