Monday, 30 November -0001

The Jane Plan Diet - Part 1: Say no to naughty nibbling!

In the first week of our exclusive series, nutritionist Jane Michell explains how a few simple stepscan turn weight loss into a life gain. Just follow the Jane Plan and ‘step away’ from the biccies!

Written by Jane Mitchell
In the first week of our exclusive series, nutritionist Jane Michell explains how a few simple steps can turn weight loss into a life gain. Just follow the Jane Plan…

Time after time, when I ask women why they think losing weight is such a struggle, they reply, ‘I just eat all day’, ‘I can’t stop snacking’, ‘I’m always nibbling on something’ or ‘I see food and just have to eat it!’ (Interestingly, when I ask men the same question, they usually cite portion size as the main reason.)

Whether you call it snacking, grazing or naughty nibbling, constantly eating tiny amounts is a common weakness. As people graze their way through the day, they are mindlessly taking in calories they don’t need and food they often forget they have even eaten.

If you never sit down to a meal or can’t walk past a plate of biscuits without picking one up, the chances are you are in the ranks of the naughty nibblers. But rest assured, you are not alone. Research shows that one in 10 of us spends up to £35 a week on sweet snacks and drinks – that’s almost £2,000 a year, or £7 every weekday. It’s hardly surprising we’re in the middle of an obesity epidemic.

Why do we snack so often?

Endless working hours, changing work patterns and long commutes have turned us into a nation of nibblers, according to research, which has found that Britons nibble or snack more than people in any other country in Europe.

The conflicting advice from the media over the years about how we should eat is another reason. ‘Little and often’ is the phrase of the moment. Eating little and often will give you a constant supply of energy; if you leave long gaps between eating, you risk your blood-sugar levels dropping and then eating too much to compensate. The problem is that some of us seem to ignore the ‘little’ and only hear the ‘often’.

The Jane Plan (my plan) of eating does not encourage mindless grazing or snacking, and naughty nibbling doesn’tfeature either. But it does allow you two healthy, wisely chosen, portion-controlled snacks every day. Just two – no more!

If you don’t have time to plan or even think, try:
Fruit – such as two plums, two easy-peel satsumas, a medium banana (no more than two a week, though, as they are high in sugar) and one good-size apple.
Nuts – but watch your portion control here. Although packed with protein, nuts are high in fat and are very moreish. Count out nine almonds or two walnuts or Brazil nuts. 
A packet of miso soup.
Two rice cakes or oatcakes.

If you have a fridge at work or you are at home during the day, try:
A small piece of cheese – about the same size as your thumb.
Babybel cheese.
Individual pot of low-fat yogurt. 
A handful of berries such as strawberries or blueberries.

If you have more time on your hands, try:
One to two handfuls of crudités – such as carrots, celery, pepper, radishes or mangetouts. (Cut them up the night before to take with you to work the next day.)
Two Ryvitas or crispbreads with 1 tablespoonful of hummus or cottage cheese.
A handful of small olives.
A hard-boiled egg.
A handful of edamame beans. 
A handful of cut fruit – such as an orange, wedge of watermelon, slice of pineapple, half a mango or half a grapefruit.

Are you a naughty nibbler?
Study the questions below. If you answer yes to any, it is time to follow the advice to stop that naughty nibbling. If you don’t, you will soon start to gain weight often without even realising it.

Do you graze throughout the day?
Make sure there are no visible snacks. Remember: you eat with your eyes. Out of sight, out of mind!

Are you consistently nibbling at your desk or in meetings?
Make your office space a food-free zone. Ask for fresh fruit and water in meetings – and ask colleagues not to bring in the biscuits and coffee.

Are you a fridge forager?
Do you find it hard to pass the fridge without sneaking a look inside? Stick goal alerts on the fridge door.

Is your handbag full of naughty nibbles?
Make your handbag a sacred place for keys, money and make-up only. Clear out any crumbs from the bottom now.

Do you crunch away in the car?
Ban eating in the car.

Do you nibble on trains and buses?
People eating on the train can be a horrid sight. Eating on the move – except of course on long-distance plane, boat, train or car journeys – is a firm no-no on the Jane Plan.

Do you eat off your partner’s plate?
Keep your hands to yourself and play footsie instead.

Do you find it hard to resist a muffin when ordering a mid-morning cappuccino?
Start by switching that cappuccino to a herbal tea, and stop kidding yourself that you need that muffin.

Are you a biscuit-tin bunny?
Do you always have to have a biscuit with a cup of tea? Ban the biscuit tin. A packet of biscuits in the house is hard to resist – and don’t think you will stick to just one!

Do you lick the bowl after baking?
Remember the rule – never eat while standing up. Put the bowl in the dishwasher as soon as you can.

Do you taste as you cook?
If you are not careful, you can end up consuming the calorie equivalent of a whole meal while cooking. Use a teaspoon, not a tablespoon, to sample your cooking. One teaspoon is enough to tell whether you need to adjust the seasoning.

Are you a night-time nibbler?
Over the years, many people have told me that their weakest moment is at night. ‘I do so well all day, but come the evening, it all falls apart’ is a common moan. If this sounds familiar, change your evening routine. If you come home from work and munch your way through the contents of the fridge before even taking off your jacket, don’t go in the kitchen. Make the bedroom the first room you enter, and change your clothes before going into the kitchen. If you tend to snack in front of the TV, eat dinner before you tune in. If you start to nibble late at night, simply going to bed earlier can help.

Next week: Wise up to eating out and lose weight at the hotel buffet.

The Jane Plan Diet, by Jane Michell, is published by Piatkus, priced £13.99.

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