Over the past couple of years, the UK government has made several major announcements to the nation: we’ve been told we’re leaving the EU, that there’s a new female prime minister in Number 10 and we’ve had more election announcements than we can count. And now, to top it all off, we’ve been told we all need to go on a diet. Seriously? Ugh.
Well, not all of us. If you’re already super healthy and eat a good, balanced diet, you’re doing the right thing. But the rest of us need to up our game and cut the amount of calories we consume by 20 per cent.
Government organisation Public Health England (PHE) wants to see portion sizes across 13 different food groups reduced over the next few years, so that by 2024, those of us who could do with shedding a few pounds are eating around one-fifth less than we are now.
Restaurants and food manufacturers will have a part to play in this, making things like pizzas and ready meals smaller so we’re not tempted to overeat, but we’ll have to get savvier with our own cooking at home too.
While everything is okay to eat occasionally and in moderation, we need to make sure we’re not baking too many pastry-laden pies, stop having a plate that’s two-thirds mash and one-third sausages for tea three times a week and start reaching for fruit rather than crisps more often when we’re feeling peckish.
To help us achieve this, PHE is advising that we stick to 400 calories at breakfast time, then 600 calories at lunch/dinner time and another 600 at dinner/tea time. [Surely no one can get annoyed about what we’ve called each meal there…]
If you’re a seasoned calorie counter already, you’ll probably know that there are just over 100 calories in a standard packet Walkers cheese and onion crisps, for example. But, despite what PHE might have technically said, this does not mean you can eat four packets at breakfast and six each at lunch and teatime.
Instead, we all need to make more of an effort to ensure we’re getting our calories from all of the food groups and making sure the foods we’re eating are providing us with a decent level of nutrition.
On the whole, it’s much easier to keep track of how much goodness is going into your meals when you’re cooking them yourself at home, but we all have busy lives and can’t always spend time in the kitchen, despite our best intentions.
One-quarter of the grub we eat is now bought from cafes, restaurants, takeaways or meal deal sections, so make sure you’re checking out the calorie content before you buy.
And, to make things even easier for us, fast food chains like McDonald’s and Greggs will be supporting the PHE’s efforts, promoting options that will help us stick within the new recommended calorie guidelines.
So, basically, the government has announced we’ve got to go on a diet, but Greggs is still going to be allowed? We’re more than okay with that. Definitely the best government announcement of the last few years…