Slimmer's Healthy Shopping List Essentials
By WLR's Julie Howard
Ever heard the advice ‘check out the habits of a slim person’ when you’re trying to lose weight? Adopting these habits can make the difference and give you the extra push when it comes to reaching your goal weight.
I’m sure I read somewhere that if repeat an action 30-40 times it will then become a habit so, with this advice ringing in my ears, I decided to check out the contents of a slim person’s shopping basket to see what they buy when they get the munchies and what staples they stock their fridge, freezer and pantry with.
Semi Skimmed/Skimmed Milk
Changing from full fat milk (20.1 cals for 30ml) to semi skimmed (14.6 cals for 30 ml) could save you 2.7 calories for every cup of tea or coffee you have during the day. Not to mention if you have breakfast cereal in the morning. Going one step further to skimmed milk (10.3 cals for 30ml) could save you 4.9 calories per cup. Now that doesn’t sound a lot but over the course of a week that means a saving of 205.8 calories and over a year, a huge 10,701.6 calories!
TIP: If you can’t stomach changing straight from full fat to semi skimmed or skimmed try mixing half and half to ease your way into it.
The stronger the flavour of the cheese, the less you need to satisfy the palate. Opting for a more mature cheese generally means you’ll eat less of it. A low fat mature version of your favourite cheese takes it one step further.
Cathedral City Mature Cheese 30g = 124.8 calories
Cathedral City Light Mature Cheese = 93.3 calories
TIP: Grating cheese rather than slicing it helps to trick your brain into thinking there is more on your plate or in your sandwich and it helps to make the cheese go further.
Instead of reaching for the bar of Dairy Milk, make a big bowl of fruit salad. Chop up melon, mango, grapes, citrus fruits, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, kiwi fruit etc. (apples and bananas don’t fare so well and tend to go brown when chopped so don’t do these in advance) – put it all in an airtight container and pop it in the fridge. Now you have something sumptuous to tempt you when the craving for a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar hits.
TIP: Drizzle your fruit salad with a bit of low fat yogurt if you just can’t do without cream. Muller Light Smooth Banana Custard (70g 35.7 cals) is a favourite and makes a good low calorie cream substitute.
Double Cream 70ml = 306.8 calories
Muller Light Smooth Banana Custard 70g = 35.7 calories
Chocolate Mousse, Curly Wurly’s and Finger of Fudge
I keep a stock of these in the fridge for when only chocolate will do. These chocolate treats won’t break the calorie bank but, if eaten slowly and savoured, will give the chocolate craving a run for its money. Let’s see how they stack calorie-wise
Galaxy Chocolate 26g portion = 141.1 calories
Tescos Healthy Living Chocolate Mousse 26g portion = 35.1 calories
Finger of Fudge 26g bar = 113.1 calories
Curly Wurly 26g bar = 117 calories
*26g measurement used for illustration purposes
Full of protein, zinc, iron and vitamins and linked to weight loss, eggs are great for any meal; poached, boiled, scrambled or as an omelette. They help keep you fuller for longer so are perfect to have for breakfast. The old adage of ‘go to work on an egg’ is definitely worth remembering.
Boiled Egg 50g = 73.5 calories
Poached Egg 50g = 73.5 calories
Scrambled Egg Made With Milk 50g = 123.5 calories
Plain Omelet 50g = 95.5 calories
*50g measurement used for illustration purposes
Veg Sticks and Dips
Carrots, cucumber, celery, peppers – they all make fantastic, low calorie dippers for a handy snack. Team them up with a tomato based dip like Salsa and they’ll fill a hole without busting out of your calorie quota. If you just can’t say no to creamy dips or hummus, opt for tzatziki or a low fat hummus and spoon a portion into a bowl instead of eating it straight from the pot.
Full Fat Hummus 28g (Tesco) = 88.2 calories
Low Fat Hummus 28g (Tesco Reduced Fat) = 67.5 calories
Tzatziki 28g = 18.5 calories
Salsa 28g = 10.3 calories
Great on their own or added to a big bowl of fruit salad, yogurts can help when you have a craving for something sweet. Always opt for the low fat versions and you’ve got yourself a sweet snack that’s guilt free. There are even some on the market now that claim to contain something that helps to keep you fuller for longer.
Yogurt with a handful of your favourite fruit thrown in, or trickled over your favourite cereal can make a satisfying and healthy breakfast to start your day off right.
2 Weetabix biscuits = 126.8 calories
Blueberries 28g = 16.8 calories
Somerfield Low Fat Blueberry Yogurt 150g = 130.5 calories
Total = 274.1 calories
A glass of fruit juice counts as one of your 5-a-day as long as it is 100% pure, unsweetened fruit juice – no concentrates allowed. Try a fruit juice you haven’t had before to add a bit of variety – there’s loads of different types on the shelves these days!
Be adventurous when it comes to salad to keep your interest up. Variety is the spice of life after all! Keep changing the things you add to it – tuna, chicken, beef, crispy bacon bits (grilled of course!), boiled egg, grated low fat cheese, toasted almonds , celery, sweetcorn, carrots, avocado, mackerel, spinach, red onions, spring onions, peppers . . .
TIP: If time is an issue, make up a large bowl of your basic salad and keep it in the fridge. Then as and when you want it you can add to it to make a main meal, side salad or a snack.
These are another way to dress up your basic salad and there are loads of low calorie versions in your supermarket. One of my favourites is Kraft’s Light Balsamic Dressing (19.6 cals per tablespoon). Drizzled on a salad, the balsamic gives it that extra kick.
Rolled Oats and Porridge
If you haven’t had porridge since you were a kid, now’s the time to revisit this filling but low calorie breakfast. (That is as long as you don’t smother it in sugar like one of my colleagues does!) If you are pushed for time, try Oatso (193 calories made with semi skimmed milk) or something of that ilk that can be cooked in the microwave instead of on the hob and is already correctly portioned for you.
Now for the science bit – Oats are a good source of a soluble fibre called beta-glucon which helps slow down the digestion and aids absorption of carbs. This wonder-ingredient ensures you stay full for longer.
Wholegrain cereals beat their sugary counterparts hands down at keeping you fuller for longer. Shreddies, Shredded Wheat and Cheerios have also been found to have a naturally occurring prebiotic effect which helps provide food for the good bacteria in your gut.
TIP: Not only good for breakfast, coupled with a handful of your favourite berries, wholegrain cereals can make a tasty, low calorie lunch too!
We all know wholemeal bread is better for us when it comes to losing weight so making sure that’s the loaf you pick when you’re shopping is a good idea. However, if you really don’t like it, give granary or some of the half and half loaves a try.
1 Medium Slice of White Bread = 92.8 calories
1 Medium Slice of Granary Bread = 83.2calories
1 Medium Slice of Wholemeal Bread = 81.0 calories
1 Medium Slice of Hovis Best of Both = 88 calories
Chopped tomatoes are a great staple to tuck away into your store cupboard. At only 88 calories for a whole tin, they make a great base for a pasta sauce or for a homemade pizza topping.
TIP: If pizza is on your menu, try making your own tomato based sauce for the topping. That way you’ll know exactly what’s in it and you’ll be able to adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Whether it’s tinned, packet or homemade, soup is a great, low calorie filling meal and, if it’s a chunky vegetable one, it could help towards your 5-a-day. A warm comforting meal on a cold day, there are loads of low calorie tinned versions on the shelves. One of my favourites is the Baxters Healthy Choice range at around 190 calories for a whole can – perfect for lunch.
TIP: Have a small bowl of a low calorie soup as a starter at dinner time and then a much smaller portion of whatever is on the menu for dinner. Splitting your meal into starter and main will give your stomach a chance to register what you are eating and you’ll feel fuller at the end of the meal.
Yep, you can still have a little of what you fancy! 35g of Snack-A-Jacks toffee popcorn is under 150 calories! That should help with the odd sugar craving.
TIP: Measure or weigh your serving rather than eating it straight out of the packet – especially if you’re watching a movie!
Rice Cakes and Corn Snacks
If you’re hankering after a packet of crisps, swap your normal bag for a rice or corn based snack and you could save around 100 calories.
Walkers Ready Salted = 182.8 calories
Quavers = 86.9 calories
Skips = 88.9 calories
Cheese Snack-A-Jacks = 124.5 calories
*based on a standard sized bag
TIP: Pour the packet into a bowl and eat them one at a time from there. I find it always makes it look like there’s more and last longer.
The chewier the better as far as I am concerned. Nice chewy bars make your jaw work more and gives you the impression you have eaten more. Try the Alpen Light versions (chocolate and fudge flavour is my favourite) – only 62 cals. Or the Tescos own version at around 132 cals.
Hot Chocolate (Mmmmmm!)
With products like Cadburys Options and the Skinny Cow Hot Chocolate range you can still get that hot chocolate fix for around 40 calories. So, no reason not to indulge yourself and still keep within your calorie quota.
Asda Hot Chocolate Made Up With Milk = 205 calories
Options Hot Chocolate Made Up With Water = 40 calories
Wholemeal Pasta and Rice
I said it before I know, but I’m gonna say it again – wholemeal will keep you fuller for longer. Anything that helps keep the hunger monster at bay is worth adding to your basket isn’t it?
TIP: If you’re really not keen, try mixing half and half. Bit don’t forget to weigh it and make allowances for the two different types.
Reduced/Sugar Free Jam
There’s nothing like a little dollop of jam in your porridge or on your slice of wholemeal toast. Opt for a reduced sugar or sugar free version to keep your indulgence down to a minimum.
Normal Jam 10g = 25.3 calories
Reduced Sugar Jam 10g = 18.7 calories
Fruit in any form helps towards your 5-a-day and the varieties on the shelves these days means you shouldn’t get bored. Easy to use and a great snack, don’t overlook the good old tinned fruit salad.
TIP: Make sure the tinned fruit you are buying is in fruit juice and not syrup.
Tinned Fruit in Syrup 145g = 127.6 calories
Tinned Fruit in Juice 145g = 52.2 calories
A great idea if you’re in a hurry. Keeping a couple of ready meals in the freezer for those days when the world throws the unexpected at you or you can’t be bothered to cook from scratch will stop you from reaching for the takeaway menu. Most supermarkets do a healthy version of the usual suspects like Lasagne, Bolognaise, Hot Pot etc.
TIP: Save some pennies too by freezing homemade lasagne, bolognaise pasta bake or casseroles for just such an occasion.
Steamed Veg Packs/Sweetcorn/Peas
Really handy to keep these sorts of things in the freezer for when you run out of fresh stuff. We all know that piling your plate with veggies is a definite healthy habit and the frozen versions are a speedy solution as they can all be cooked in the microwave!
Chicken & Fish Fillets
These are just so versatile. Take them out of the freezer in the morning and by dinner time you have the basis for pasta, salads, stews, omelettes, stir fries and more.
TIP: When grilling your chicken, season with your favourite herbs and spices and then wrap in foil to stop the meat drying out while cooking. I love topping mine with Very Lazy Garlic from the English Provender Co. Makes the house reek though!
Pies, strudels and puddings are high in calories but that’s no reason to miss out on dessert all the time. With the huge range of low calorie ice cream, frozen desserts and ice cream sticks available dessert doesn’t have to be missed out. You could even have one of the kids’ favourites - low calorie ice cream and reduced sugar jelly! A little taste of sweet heaven after dinner.
Pot of Hartley’s Ready Made No Added Sugar Strawberry Jelly (115g) = 3.5 calories
1 Scoop (40ml) Wall’s Light Ice Cream – Vanilla = 32 calories
Total = 35.5 calories
So, armed with all that knowledge, go and hit the shops to stock up on your essentials. With these hints and tips your weight loss goal is nearer than you think.
For more hints and tips on what food swaps to make, check out the Weight Loss Resources Food Database and the Food Ideas board in the Forum. Try them both free for 24 hours.