Weight management foods that won't leave you hungry 

The Good Life Letter 
17th October 2010

  • Why life was always better because of my
    Nan's underwear
  • Scientific proof that bigger isn't better
  • Weight management foods needn't be dull...

My sweet tooth was buzzing for a sugar rush last week as
I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall perform his
culinary art with home made marshmallows. (I'm not sure
whether you caught the programme, but it was the one
with the West London vicar who looked like Blakey from
'On the Buses'!)

Often the man from River Cottage employs fruit, berries
and unlikely bits of pig to conjure up the perfect and
healthy dessert - and once again he didn't disappoint.
This time he used beetroot juice to make the
marshmallow pink...... genius.

It's this kind of clever cooking that I really admire,
someone who can give me the food I love, but also looks
after my waistline as well.

At this time of the year the nights are drawing in, a good
fire crackles in the grate and I yearn for those steamed
comfort puddings of my childhood. Suet puddings rammed
with jam, cooked in muslin bags that my Gramp used to
liken to my Nan's' knicker leg!

On top of the pile of calories in the pudding came home
made custard full of egg yolks and a bucket of sugar.....
then for good measure a dollop of clotted cream on top.
How on earth did I avoid becoming a barrel by the time I
was ten?

In fact, come to think of it my Nan and Gramp were
always stick thin, despite fatty gravies, buttered mashed
potatoes and sugary puddings - how did they manage

The answer comes down to basic maths, rather than
clever dieting.

Let me share with you the secret of looking after your

Consume 1 calorie of food and then use 1 calorie of
energy to fuel you muscles, and you are left with no free
energy to convert into fat. However modern life tends to
skew this equation in favour of the consumption rather
than the usage; welcome to the age of the expanding

Nan & Gramp lived in an age when they had to walk or
cycle to work - she in a warehouse packing cloth, him to
the docks chucking sacks about all day. Hard physical
labour....... huge amounts of energy needed to be
consumed just to get through the day.

Even I at the time would spend my days running around
the place, playing 3 hour long games of football or endless
games of fox and hounds. There were no Play Stations,
iPods or Internets about then, even the TV only worked in
the evening!

Unfortunately our modern life is a much softer world, sure
there are still jobs that require a huge physical exertion,
but these are in the minority now. We are office workers,
bent over computers or drivers behind a steering wheel;
we are shop workers sat at tills or call centre operators
thanking callers for waiting.

It is fair to say that our calorie consumption is so much
lower than that of previous generations - even our houses
are central heated so we don't use our energy to keep

Most people now have to actively pursue ways to.........
well, keep active.

We go to gyms, attend classes or run round roads just to
stay in trim. But as we get older that becomes a less
palatable idea.

But, this is a time of real danger. New research has shown
that a lack of exercise, or, more importantly, an increase
in bodyweight is directly linked to an increase in chronic
pain levels.

Pain and the fuller figure are closely associated

Scientists in America - where they know a thing or two
about obesity - have found that those with a higher body
mass were twice as likely to suffer from chronic pain. In
fact, the study says 'Individuals with abdominal obesity
were estimated to have a 70% increased likelihood of
having pain'.

Surprisingly, they found that the reasons for such levels of
pain were independent of osteoarthritis, neuropathies and
inflammatory conditions. This means that these problems
were as likely in both the heavier built and those who
have less meat on them than a butcher's pencil.

The pain then was as a direct result of the increase in
body weight, with factors such as depression, anxiety,
hormonal imbalance and metabolic disturbance being
linked to pain mechanisms and ultimately pain linked to
cardiovascular disease and even cancers.

Phew, that's just a bit too scary.

Weight management foods to snack on freely

So, here's a few ideas to make a change to the
mathematics of your diet - without missing out on some
of those guilty pleasures:

* Include nuts, fruit and fibres in the diet. For
instance, a healthy Pecan Pie is packed with
antioxidants that help lower the risk of heart
disease, and plant sterols which lower bad
cholesterol. Mix a cup and a half of pecan nuts with
2 teaspoons of molasses or dark treacle, a cup of
maple syrup, 3 eggs (beaten) and a little melted
butter - then place in a pasty case and bake. True
comfort food.

* Banana's are such a versatile and practical
ingredient, plus they are naturally sweet. Make a
banana cake by mixing 2 mashed bananas, 2
tablespoons of Manuka honey, 2 eggs, a few
chopped nuts (pecan, hazelnut or walnuts) and a
little melted butter. Then add it to 2 cups of flour
and a teaspoon of baking powder and the same of
baking soda. Bake for half an hour in a hot oven
and eat with natural yoghurt.

Couple really healthy treats like these with 20 minutes of
activity each day and you'll keep happy and healthy.
Activity can be a bit of gardening, a walk to the shops or
running the hoover around - just something to make the
blood pump a bit.

Who knows you might even be tempted to break out an
old suet pudding recipe of your own every now and again,
just to celebrate - if you've still got access to a clean
knicker leg that is.







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