Clip_105Choose an unsaturated spread or swap a reduced calorie mayonnaise instead of butter or ghee. If you spread butter on two slices of bread each day, this clocks up around 10 grams of bad fats, called saturated fat. That’s about half of the maximum amount recommended for an average woman in a whole day, and around a third of the maximum limit for men. So next time you spread butter on toast, think about whether you could choose a lower-fat, unsaturated spread instead. Instead of spreading ghee on your chapati, could you swap it for a little unsaturated spread? Or when you’re slapping butter onto bread for a sandwich, consider if spreading some mayonnaise instead might be an option for you. Reduced calorie mayonnaise has about a tenth of the saturated fat contained in butter.

Choose diet drinks in place of sugar-rich drinks. A can of regular cola has around seven teaspoons of sugar in it. That could set you back about 140 Calories. When you choose a diet drink, it’s likely to be sugar-free and calorie-free. But that’s not a green light to go wild! Diet versions of fizzy soft drinks can still rot your teeth. It’s good practice to have such drinks with your meal rather than sip them throughout the day.

Swap your usual dinner plate for a smaller one. Simply choosing a smaller plate means you can pile on less food. In time, you’ll just get used to having smaller portions, and this can work wonders for your waistline.

Add lemon juice and spices to rice instead of butter or oil. You may be in the habit of pouring some oil or adding a knob of butter to the water when you boil rice. Stop and think: how much difference does it really make? Try drizzling on some lemon juice to help keep the rice grains separate, and add spices like jeera (cumin), cloves, cardamom and cinnamon to give you extra flavour.

People whose waist is bigger than their hips are at greater risk of certain chronic diseases.

If you haven’t had time to keep yourself active over the past few months, chances are your waistline has expanded. But here’s a novel way to start your new healthy lifestyle — forget about dieting!

Dieting tends to be a short-term activity that might get you quick results, but the results don’t always last. Success in the long term happens when you make positive lifestyle and behaviour changes — those small changes need to be realistic.

Top Five Tips

Take your waist seriously. There is a wealth of research that suggests that people who have more abdominal (or tummy) fat, where their waist is bigger than their hips, are at a greater risk of conditions such as metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Don’t just look down at that tight waistband and feel helpless: give it some serious thought and take action. Research suggests that losing even 5 – 10 per cent of your body weight could reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

Eat little and often. Regular meals are important; however, drinking a glass of water before every meal and including planned healthy snacks in between meals can help take the edge off your hunger. You will notice that with planned out portion-controlled meals and snacks, you can enjoy your meals without feeling the need to over-indulge.

Down-size your plate. Something as simple as choosing a smaller plate and cup or glass can help you to eat less. Filling up a smaller plate tricks your brain into thinking you’re still getting a lot of food. You could find that you are actually satisfied with less food, and it might help prevent you from over-eating.

Divide your plate into two; fill one half with salad and vegetables (or fruit you might have later) and the other half with protein (¼) and grains (¼). Add a cup of dairy foods, such as low-fat milk or yoghurt, on the side.

Move more. Sitting in the car, at work and at home isn’t going to help your abdominal (tummy) muscles or your digestion. Get into the habit of adding simple and easy activities into your daily routine. Some changes you can make include using the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, putting the television remote farther away, parking your car at the other end of the superstore car park, going for a 15-minute walk in between meetings, or getting on a treadmill or exercise bike while watching your favourite TV show. Even walking up the escalator is better than standing still.

Go low. You may have heard of the phrase “energy density” or “calorie dense”. In simple terms, this refers to the calories you get from a food according to how much it weighs. Your goal is to choose foods that are lower in energy density; foods that, weight for weight, have fewer calories (energy) than other foods. Energy or calorically dense foods have more calories and not enough nutrition — for example regular soda and doughnuts. Conversely, fruit and vegetables are low in energy density, followed closely by beans.

 Swap out salt and choose low-salt seasonings and sauces instead. Bought seasonings (like chicken seasoning) and sauces (like soy sauce) can often be high in salt. Read the label and choose those which are either salt-free or low in salt. And try using colourful ground spices like haldi (turmeric), garam masala and coriander seed to season your cooked dishes.


  1. Feed Yourself Full and Lose Weight. British Nutrition Foundation. N.p., 18 June 2009.
  2. Getting Started with MyPlate. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Aug. 2012.
  3. Mann, Traci, et al. Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer. American Psychologist 62.3 (2007): 220-33.