Diets Vs Deliciousness

12 Jan

At the beginning of each year there is a certain phrase that seems to crop up everywhere and that, if I’m honest, hurts my soul a little bit:

“I’m going on a diet.”


Please don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the goal of getting healthy and losing weight – even as a self-confessed food obsessive I want to feel good (and yes, let’s be honest, look good too) but denying myself foods that I love would actually just make me miserable………and irritable!

As I write this I’m at one of our sites – an office for whom we cater breakfast & lunch five days a week – watching our clients tuck into their hearty lunches (spicy jerk chicken with rice and black eye pea salad, since you ask) which are so filling that sometimes even I can’t quite manage a whole one! And do you know what? These guys look pretty darn good, no one looks like they need to even consider the dreaded ‘D’ word.

So how do they do it? How are they staying fit and slim without banishing delicious food from their lives?

Well, of course, there’s the obvious – exercise. We’ve got a pretty active bunch here, they love their football and yoga, and we all know that movement is key to keeping the pounds off.

But in terms of food………. I think it has a lot to do with flavour. Our chefs know that food needs to taste great as well as looking good and they certainly know how to pack in the flavour!

A tasteless meal makes for an unsatisfactory meal and one that will leave you reaching for the snack jar straight afterwards. Taste, however, doesn’t have to mean calories. We’re so lucky these days, the world’s flavours are on our doorstep, even a trip to the local supermarket can yield some amazing herbs and spices along with all sorts of ingredients to play with. But even closer to home there are swaps you can make so that you can still enjoy your favourites even if they’re usually a no go when you’re trying to lose weight. A personal favourite is to swap in mashed avocado in place of mayo – especially with eggs – or to pack chopped veg into dishes such as chilli con-carne or a shepherds’ pie, reducing the fatty meat content.

For inspiration, try the Hairy Bikers- Hairy Bikers Diet Club recipes.  I know – there’s the ‘D’ word again, but fear not! Just like our chefs, these guys know how to achieve flavour without the fat and they won’t settle for bland dishes. Their skinny beef lasagne contains a surprising substitution but feels as indulgent as a traditional one and the toasted crumpets with warm spiced berries, yoghurt and honey make the perfect lazy weekend breakfast….They even have a healthy chicken kormaEating Well also have some great substitution ideas to keep you satisfied while you slim.

So go on, make it a goal to get fit and healthy this year, and maybe even drop a few pounds…….but please, if only for those of us who shudder at the word, don’t go on a diet! Because, in the words of Delia Smith herself:

“Food is for eating, and good food is to be enjoyed……I think food is, actually, very beautiful in itself.”

Oh Delia, how very right you are….