Saturday, April 5, 2008

DO 'traffic light' shopping

Weight loss starts in the store. Yes, this is true - if you have it in stock, you feel compelled to eat it. So buy according to the traffic light system: green for go, orange for caution and red for stop. A typical (basic) grocery list will look like this:

Green-coded foods - enjoy in varying quantities, every day: oats, fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, grains, dried beans and lentils, rice, pasta, non-oily fresh, canned or frozen fish, white chicken meat without skin, herbs, spices, stock powders, fat-free dairy products, cold-pressed virgin olive oil, whole wheat bread.

Orange-coded foods - enjoy in moderate quantities, no more than four times a week: canned vegetables, oily fresh, frozen or canned fish (in brine), unsalted nuts, skinless chicken (dark meat), refined clarified canola or sunflower oil, 2% dairy products, soup powders, canned soups, fish paste and vegetable bread spreads, white bread, red meat.

Red-coded foods - enjoy in really small quantities, no more than once a week: canned fruit, full-fat and cream cheese, fish canned in oil, bacon, butter, cream, chicken with the skin, offal, cakes, confectionery, anything coated in crumbs or baiter and deep fried.

Gone fishing

Fish should not only be reserved for Fridays; it should be consumed at least four times a week. Gram for gram, fish offers the most beneficial nutrients with less harmful fat than any other animal protein foods. The oily fish varieties (salmon, sardines, mackerel, pilchards) are rich in Omega 3 and 6 oils, essential for:-

Diet Start
  • Your brain: keeps the mind alert, brain tissue fluid levels high, regulates brain metabolism, improves neurotransmission and in short, enhances your mental functioning.
  • Your looks: ensures optimal functioning of skin and nails, the formation of new skin cells and alleviates skin and nail problems.
  • Your senses: maintains and protects - and may even improve-your eyes, your sense of taste and smell, your balance and hearing.
  • Your heart, lung and cardiovascular systems: increases oxygen supply, boosts circulation, heals blood vessel damage, prevents arteriosclerosis and positively lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Your uro-genital systems: ensures sex hormone production, reduces PMS,improves fertility, protects prostate and testes in men and improves urinary problems.
  • Your muscles and skeleton: it is an anti-inflammatory agent and eases muscle aches and pains.

Oily fish contains on average 12 to 16 g of fat per 100 g portion. This does not mean you should avoid the oily varieties. On the contrary, study the list of benefits again and see how important it is to eat them regularly!

Non-oily varieties such as hake, sole, kingklip and tuna are low in kilojoules, tasty and versatile, they provide you with super-A protein without the risk of high fat consumption, These varieties contain on average 1 to 2 g of fat per 100-g portion, a real bargain if you're hungry and feel like a large portion of protein!

However, as is the case with all foods, the way in which you prepare fish will make the difference to the size of your dress. All varieties of fish, from the robust sardines to subtle hake, taste better if prepared simply: grilled with a light sauce of lemon and herbs. Those crispy coatings we love so much, only serve to mask their taste. Be honest, don't you eat fried fish because it is actually the batter you love so much? And guess what: its the oil-and-batter combination that loves your hips so much that it clings to them forever!

Chicken considerations

When it comes to enjoying lean animal protein, chicken is a great second choice after fish. The reason is the visibility of its fat, Most animal proteins have fat hidden in the flesh, whereas chicken has most of its fat concentrated in visible fat and of course in the skin. By removing the skin and visible fat from a chicken, you reduce the amount of fat you will be consuming by as much as half.

The question presented once a chicken is on the serving platter is "... white or dark meat?" Regardless of your personal taste preference, you might be interested to know that skinless white meat is the choice if you want to include very little fat in your meal. It contains around 4,5% fat, whereas the dark meat (skinless) contains 9,7% fat. On the other hand, if nutrients are what you are after, go for the dark meat. It contains about twice as much zinc, folate, and vitamin A as white does,

All this proves that when it comes to choosing your chicken, you have only a few simple and sensible choices to make. How to prepare it is a much harder decision to make. There are thousands of rich and tempting chicken recipes (remember the one roasted, skin and all, with chutney and mayonnaise?), so invest in a few low- fat chicken recipe books for your body's sake.

The decision whether or not to remove the skin should be determined by the method of cooking you are planning to follow. Since you will be eating according to the 'Have-a-life' eating plan, you might want to indulge in some crispy chicken now and again. For this purpose, and only this, you would leave the skin intact. It protects the bird from the heat, keeping the meat moist. Therefore, a bird with its skin must be prepared in a 'dry' way, such as grilling, roasting or barbecuing. Pierce the skin all over with a sharp instrument (toothpick or meat skewer) and roast raised, on a rack, so that the fat can be released and drip away. Cooking it in this way releases even more fat and gives it a crispier-than-usual skin - a pleasant bonus for your trouble.

Cooking a skinless chicken has the advantage of drastic fat reduction, but it can possibly become dry and stringy. Which will make you dump your diet faster than you can say: "Pass the gravy". However, poaching, boiling, cooking, stewing or making a casserole, are 'wet' cooking methods for which the skin's protection is not really required. If you cooked the chicken with its skin intact in this manner, the unnecessary (and unwanted) fat will simply leech out into the sauce, and invariably end up on your plate and in your body. There is no point in doing this, especially if you consider that you would never have eaten the fat on its own. So why eat it mixed with (or floating on top of) other juices and flavours? It will just end up floating around your thighs, somewhere under your skin. Your orange-peel skin, at that!

... andjoyohoxing