Never have we been more knowledgeable about the foods that we eat and yet year on year we collectively become fatter and fatter. Why? Who knows?
Maybe it's the increased mechanisation of our day to day world, slowly robbing us of all those opportunities to burn off excess calories or (according to statistics from Ofcom) the 3.8 hours we spend watching TV each day.
It could be the sheer amount of food available to us at every turn or the confusing labels that most of it is packaged up in. Or, is it because so many of us have simply lost the innate ability to eat a normal, sensible balanced diet?
That's the belief of Ian Marber, founder of the Food Doctor Clinic which is why in his latest book 'How Not to Get Fat' he outlines how to make simple food choices that will help you manage your weight, reduce your likelihood of health conditions and never have to diet again. Rocket science or ground breakingly new it may not be but nevertheless, well worth reminding yourself of, in this increasingly diet crazy world.
Here are some of his key recommendations:
Always eat protein and complex carbohydrates together
Why? Eating protein rich foods with complex carbohydrates helps to slow down the speed at which the foods release their sugars into your blood stream. This in turn helps to reduce hunger and cravings, increase energy and inhibits the body's ability to store excess calories as fat. It also helps to increase fibre intake necessary for good digestion.
How? Complex carbohydrates include green and salad vegetables, beans, firm fruit, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, oats, stone-ground whole meal bread, rye and barley. Protein rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, soya and soy products, quinoa, quorn and beans.
Meal ideas that combine both groups include breakfast cereal or porridge with added nuts and seeds, baked potato or whole meal bread with baked beans, whole-wheat pasta or rice with chicken or lean mince, fish served on a bed of lentils, oatcakes topped with mackerel pate or cottage cheese, fruit salad with soya yogurt and seeds.
Don't shy away from fats
Why? Fat creates a texture in the mouth that provides a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure which enhances the experience of eating. It also triggers hormones which tell the brain we are full. Fat also slows the speed at which foods breakdown in the body and provides many essential nutrients.
How? Go for low fat dairy products, oily fish, nuts, seeds and oils such as flaxseed, olive and sunflower oils. Avoid sources of cholesterol raising saturated fats such as cakes, biscuits, full fat dairy, fried foods and fatty meats.
Eat every two and a half to three hours
Why? Eating regularly throughout the day keeps energy levels high and hunger pangs at bay. It also, helps you stay in control of your food choices and less likely to give in to the need for a quick caffeine or sugar fix.
How? Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday and fit in a small snack mid morning and mid afternoon with another small snack after dinner if required.
Eat most of your complex carbohydrates in the day
Why? Unless you work nights, we tend to be most active during the day so this is the time we need the majority of our complex carbohydrates to fuel our activity.
How? For dinner and evening snack combine protein with carbohydrates derived from green or salad vegetables as in general, these contain fewer carbohydrates than the amount found in grain based carbs.
Always eat something within 30 — 60 minutes of waking
Why? Keeping blood sugars constant is an integral part of this plan and failing to're-fuel' after 8 hours or so of not eating (whilst sleeping) is a sure fire way to send blood sugars plummeting.
How? Even if you don't have much of an appetite in the morning have a banana and a palm full of almonds, an apple and small slice of cheese or a boiled egg and a couple of oatcakes and then aim to have breakfast a little later when you reach the office or get back from the school run.
Exercise for at least 30 Minutes five times a week
Why? You've heard it said a million times before but regular, consistent exercise is the real key to keeping the weight off.
How? The very best way to make sure you really do exercise almost everyday is to do something that you enjoy. Take the dog out every morning, cycle to work, walk with the kids to school, power walk around the block at lunchtimes, join a tennis club, go running with friends, take up dance classes or go for an early morning swim at your local baths.
For lots more delicious recipes, over 200 simple meal and snack ideas and 10 food planners to use as a blueprint for your own daily diet get a copy of 'How Not To Get Fat' by Ian Marber.