1. Minimize or avoid the “white stuff.” The main culprits are bread, pasta, potatoes, processed cereals, and rice—all refined and starchy carbohydrates which rapidly turn into sugars in the blood. Switch instead to quinoa, whole grains, beans, and lentils as these are good and filling, too. Avoid just going brown: brown rice is OK, but some whole wheat breads contain added sugar, and the extra fiber added usually only has a small impact on reducing the carbohydrate load.
2. Cut right down on sugar, sugary treats, drinks, and desserts. We offer plenty of recipes for healthy alternatives. The aim is to wean yourself off sugar.
3. Eat more vegetables. In fact, eat a rainbow, from purple beets through red and yellow peppers to dark leafy greens . . . Non-starchy vegetables are also a great way to top up on all those vital phytonutrients. We include lots of tips and simple recipes to make your vegetables irresistibly delicious in the hope that this will encourage even the more reluctant vegetable eaters to increase their intake so that vegetables makes up half of every plate.
4. Include some fruit, but ideally not more than 1 to 2 portions daily. Go for berries, apples, and pears—unpeeled, as this is where most of the nutrients are. And avoid or minimize your intake of high-sugar “tropical” fruits such as mango, pineapple, melon, and bananas.
5. Include plenty of high-quality protein (at least 1½ to 2 ounces per day). The body doesn’t store protein, so you need to maintain an adequate level in your diet to avoid muscle loss. It also helps to reduce appetite. Processed meats (e.g., bacon, salami, sausages) should be eaten in moderation. High-quality proteins include meat, oily fish, eggs, seafood, tofu, soy, and, to a lesser extent nuts, chickpeas, quinoa, lentils.
6. Enjoy your dairy products and eat more healthy fats and oils. Until recently full-fat dairy products were shunned because of a misguided fear that they are bad for you. In 2014 a systematic review by the British Heart Foundation* which looked at the results of nearly 80 studies involving more than half a million people found no evidence that eating saturated fats leads to a greater risk of heart disease. In fact, they found that people with higher levels in their blood of a particular saturated fat called margaric acid (the sort you get in milk and dairy products) had a lower risk of heart disease. These days I encourage people to consume more fats such as olive oil, yogurt, cheese, nuts, shrimp, avocados, and coconut milk. They make food taste better. They are an excellent source of slowburn energy. And, although ounce for ounce they are higher in calories than carbs, they keep you full for longer. Adding fat to starchy food (butter to potatoes, for example), will actually slow the rate at which the starch is broken down into sugars and absorbed. Eating healthy oils also improves the absorption of the essential fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
7. Bring on the vinegar! Vinegar has been found to help reduce weight and visceral (abdominal) fat, improve lipids and insulin sensitivity, so not surprisingly it features in a number of recipes in this book. In a recent study,** scientists found that adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar to a meal cut the post-meal blood sugar spike by 20%, while subjects in another study,*** who were asked to consume a tablespoon of vinegar a day for 12 weeks, lost about 4 ounces more than those taking a placebo drink. Vinegar has been shown to suppress appetite and it also delays the breakdown of food into sugars in your gut.