Many, many people struggle to control their weight, don’t they? Yep, sometimes they need to lose a few or more pounds and so embark on some kind of a ‘fad’ diet (mostly women though, as men are much more in denial about excessive weight, eh?). Other times, it is a matter of simply keeping the weight off, retaining the current achieved level and avoiding the return of some unwanted gut fat, isn’t it (men in particular?).
If you are already obese or medically seriously overweight, you need to URGENTLY get help from your GP’s surgery, but otherwise read on, think, and consider if this blog might help you?
Well, the experts will tell you that diets don’t actually work, and as most of us can verify they are quite right, aren’t they? The real solution is of course for us to have a healthy lifestyle diet that balances food intake with our own body’s energy needs, and most of us have got out of the custom of doing just that, haven’t we?
So we just need to redevelop some proper eating behaviours to achieve long-term weight maintenance which takes account of our meals generally needing to be low in salt, sugar and fat. That also of course needs to be enhanced with a reasonable amount of exercise to keep the body’s functions in tandem.
The BIG problem we certainly face in the UK , is that it has become common practice to ‘over-eat’ and our bodies expect that to continue every day of our lives, despite the fact that it has to store the excess blood glucose, which that results in, as fat around the body. What happens is that even those of us who have successfully lost some weigh, tire of our ‘diet-controlled’ eating habits, and revert with a vengeance to our normal bad excessive food intake, despite the unhealthy consequences of that, don’t we?
Now, that simply means we obviously need to change, and change drastically, the way about which we deal with food and treat all the stuff that ‘voluntarily’ we put in our mouths. It may seem obvious to say it, but that all starts with understanding a little bit more about how many calories we are about to consume BEFORE we eat or drink something, doesn’t it? Knowing that, someone can then judge the common sense of swallowing it, by relating those calories against the total DAILY requirement of the average person’s body.
Now, there is no real excuse for ignorance about food calories, is there? No, because these days the energy content (say kcals) is shown on all the packaged food we buy in the shops. It is a good and cheap investment (say £10 – £20) to buy some basic electronic kitchen digital scales though, so you can if you need, accurately weigh food, (so helpful if the packaging just gives you the cals/100g rather than a normal serving size, eh?).
The rule of thumb is that you can eat ANYTHING but you need to be fully aware of, and take into account, the energy content of EVERYTHING that you put into your mouth.
Well, the number of calories most of us in Britain require is surprisingly small compared to what many of us actually consume in modern times – it is only 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men. Take more than that and you put on even more weight, while if you need to lose weight you have to take less. [Your own particular daily values may be of course higher or lower depending on your calorie needs for your lifestyle].
The bottom line here is that we need to eat those things that we like, as that is the only way that we can have any long-term eating regime, isn’t it? But to establish what that ought to be, we have to understand that eating itself is a HABIT and worst of all still, WHAT we choose to eat is equally HABIT forming, isn’t it?
When it comes to eating, we all have our own Achilles Heel on stuff we know full well we shouldn’t take so much of but still do, don’t we? Perhaps, yours is chips, or pizza, or ready meals, or takeaways, or buns, or cakes, or biscuits, or chocolate, or sweets, or fizzy drinks, or snacks like crisps & nuts, or orange juice, or something else, eh? Given that situation, it becomes a matter of good sense and willpower over habit, isn’t it?
However, for example, we all eat far too much meat in this Country and despite the fact that it is an important source of valuable cell building proteins, necessary dietary fats, vitamins and minerals, we often don’t realise just how fattening it is, due to the mass of calories it provides,
If you are say a steak fan, a 200g/8oz sirloin itself will set you back 270cals which would take you over an hour to burn-off by brisk walking [that steak alone represents a quarter of someone’s normal daily requirement]; if you head to a Beefeater restaurant for it, the main meal itself will be about 720cals; even a McDonalds Big Mac Burger comes-in at 540cals and that itself represents 140mins walking; or alternatively a McDonalds chicken burger with medium fries and milkshake is astonishingly nearly 1300 cals (some 50% of a man’s daily budget). Even a modest roasted chicken breast will come in at about 200cals.
The unpalatable truth is that to have a sensible healthy diet with only the needed calories, we all need to cut-down on the meat content of our meals, and limit it to say 100g/4oz TOTAL a DAY.
Some people seem to have a body metabolism that is totally inefficient and fails to convert food into blood glucose effectively, so despite apparent gluttony they still end up thin as a rake, don’t they? On the other hand, some are super-efficient and every mouthful they eat is converted into energy, so they end up fat or obese, perhaps? Most of us though have an average type metabolism and have no real excuse for putting on weight by over-eating, do we?
Surprisingly then perhaps, simply introducing the basic soup meal daily can be the real way forward for many of us IF we are prepared to give it a real go and make it a central element of our controlled food intake. It may sound boring, nonetheless it is anything but, and health restoring good soup has been around for many-many centuries, indeed if not thousands of years, you see.
Now, we are NOT however suggesting or talking here about ‘bought’ commercial soups, whether in cans, cartons, or packets, however up-market they are, are we? No, they are expensive and though they might have some good stuff in them (like ‘real’ ingredients), they will like all ‘processed food’ have a lot of garbage in there as well (like excessive salt and sugar or other technological ingredients). So, it is all about you making YOUR OWN homemade SOUP, with plenty of health providing fibre, isn’t it? You don’t have to be a cooking expert to make your own soup, and it doesn’t even take long, so don’t panic, will you?
The suggestion here is that you go for VEGITABLE SOUP as this very versatile and delicious, so you should make it in a decent QUANTITY that will last you for a good number of days. You will find that it is filling, and a frugal, nutritious and hearty broth with low calories (say 50-100cals), yet providing valuable nutrients.
Many people associate soup with added croutons on top or eating a buttered dinner roll or bread at the same time, or using high fat ingredients like butter and cream, but though nice, that is NOT recommended here, as it substantially raises the calories and that defeats the object in our case, doesn’t it? Yes, just load-up it with veggies and top with herbs.
If you make in bulk, you might find it useful to store soup in used plastic litre ice-cream containers which can be stacked in the fridge/freezer.
You don’t need really to follow a particular recipe as soup cooking is simplistic, and you can just use whatever ‘non-root’ vegetables you can lay your hands on. It also is a very convenient way of using up the ‘unpopular’ parts of vegetables (or even veg left-overs), that often get thrown away (like cauliflower or celery stems, or leaves from cauliflower or radishes and the like, or the hard-thick core of cabbage leaves). Many standard recipes include a potato and a carrot, or parsnip/turnip/swede (which act as a thickener), but that should be avoided if you want to keep the calories down, eh?
The good thing is that one can ring the changes by say using mainly cauliflower one time, broccoli another, or leeks, or peas, or radishes, or mushrooms, or tomatoes, or red peppers, or beetroot, etc. Hence the taste of your batches of bulk soup will be quite varied over time
Apart from vegetables you will need to throw-in some other things to enhance the flavour and that normally could be the likes of onion and garlic, celery and leek, basil, sage, thyme and stock.
To give you an idea of some basic quantities, here is an example that would make about a dozen servings
1 medium onion, 2 medium leek, 2 sticks celery, 3 cloves garlic, 1-2 vegetable stock cube, black pepper, salt, about 2 pints (1200ml) water.
In a large pot, cook the chopped/diced vegetables with a stock cube in about 1½ pints (850ml) water until soft (about ¼ hr). Add half a can of chopped tomatoes. Save about half of all the vegetables and liquidise the rest in a blender, before returning it to the pot and adding extra stock/water as required to get the soup constituency which suits you best.
It is a no-brainer to recognise it would be a bit uninteresting to eat exactly the same soup EVERY day, but there are many easy ways to make it quite different each time – like adding to the heated soup, some protein like a little cooked prawn, or chicken, or meat, or bacon, or chick peas, or crumbled sharp blue cheese, or spice it up with a chilli, or ginger, or soya sauce, or fish sauce.
What you might find is that by just having a satisfying soup on its own as your lunch, will help focus your mind on being careful about all your eating during the whole day, perhaps?
[For any of us ACTUALLY prepared to face-up to a weight issue, the edict to follow is quite simple, isn’t it? EAT LESS – EXECISE MORE!]