We are currently in the midst of an obesity epidemic that shows no signs of abating. A recent OECD report stated that English children were the third fattest in Europe, after Italy and Greece, with nearly 27% of girls in England being overweight, and 23% of boys. It’s not much better for adults – the average Brit is overweight, according to the 2011 Health Survey for England. Whichever report you look at, whatever statistic you quote, the facts aren’t good.
We all know that we should be eating healthier and exercising more, with everyone from government ministers to doctors, education professionals to celebrity chefs campaigning for healthier eating. Recipes that keep the calorie and fat count low are a good start, but here are five principles that any home cook can follow that will enable families to more nutritious meals that keep those extra pounds at bay.
1. Go Wholemeal
Everybody knows that brown bread is better for you, but wholemeal pasta and rice are also healthier options than their white alternatives; similarly sweet potatoes are a great healthy alternative to normal potatoes, and taste great baked or mashed.
2. Go Veggie (now and again)
Putting meat into every meal can push the calorie count up, particularly pork related products such as sausages, or if it means buying pre-made chicken nuggets or beef burgers from the supermarket. Making a big pot of homemade vegetable soup once a week is easy, cheap and very healthy.
3. Eat more fish
White fish is incredibly good for you and virtually fat free. Most supermarkets now sell cheaper fish varieties such as pollock that help to keep the budget down in these tough economic times. Pop the fish under the grill for ten minutes, serve with boiled potatoes, peas and a drizzle of lemon juice – a great midweek supper.
4. Not all fat is bad
Not all fat is bad – for example olive oil contains fats that the body needs. Use it to sprinkle over salads for flavour, or to marinate meat and fish before they go under the grill. Unfortunately dairy products such as butter and cheese do contain the fats that can lead to obesity, so try to avoid eating them too regularly.
5. Use herbs and spices for flavour
People often think that healthy food is bland – that doesn’t have to be the case. Sprinkle some chilli powder on your prawns, or thyme on your chicken; use nutmeg in your soups or coriander in a veggie curry. You won’t put on a single extra pound from seasoning your food, and it’ll taste delicious!