Nutrition knowledge is power
Carbohydrates get a bad press; the whole of Tinseltown seems to have rejected them in order to squeeze themselves into the teeniest of red carpet frocks. But eating the right carbs in the right quantities is crucial. Starchy foods like potatoes, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, wholegrain bread and cereals should make up a third of your diet. They'll keep you fuller for longer (putting a stop to extra curricular snacking), they contain very little fat, are low-calorie and bursting with fibre. Eat them three times a day, exercising portion control - 3 heaped tablespoons of brown rice, cous cous or pasta is just right.
Read the top 5 diet myths busted
Fruit and veggies should make up a third of your diet and you should eat 5 portions of them a day. Sounds daunting? It really isn't; one portion is the equivalent of a banana, an apple, a plum, a tablespoon of vegetables, 3 tablespoons of fruit salad, a tablespoon of raisins, a handful of berries or a glass of juice. Top up your levels by adding side salads to meals or drinking juice with your breakfast. Steaming veg is a good way to get the most of all those nutrients and crunch through carrot sticks dipped in humous as a healthy and tasty snack.
Eat a week of superhero vegetables
If you haven't heard about the benefits of oily fish you must've been residing under a rock in the middle of the deep blue sea for the last decade. Omega 3 fatty acids are good for your brain, your heart and your skin. Eat two portions of fish a week - one oily (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines), one not (haddock, plaice, cod, tinned tuna). Not battered or accompanied by chips please.
Cook mouthwatering mackerel dishes
Saturated fats have no place on a zesty dinner plate, but unsaturated good fats can serve up the nutritious benefits. Hard cheese, butter, pastry and cream are high in saturated fat so exercise caution. High fat foods are those than contain 20g fat or more per 100g. With saturated fats avoid anything higher than 5g per 100g so check the label. Go for olive oil, seeds and nuts to get those good fats; they'll improve cholesterol, cut your risk of certain cancers and keep you trim.
Healthy oils: the top 10
You've swapped Coke for Diet, chocolate bars for cereal bars and take a sweetener in your tea but you may still be eating more sugar than you think. Always check the label and if sugar, sucrose, fructose, maltose, invert sugar, hydrolysed starch or corn syrup are too high on the list, avoid; they're all nifty names for the sweet stuff. Sugar is often added to lower fat products to make them tasty - everything from breakfast cereals to yoghurts, cereal bars to baked beans are loaded with the sweet stuff, so be sugar savvy, or risk type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and tooth decay.
6 steps to curb your sweet tooth
If the ingredients list looks like it would be more at home in a science lab than a restaurant menu, don't let it anywhere near your shopping trolley. Don't buy meats with an endless list of ingredients that include MRM (mechanically recovered meat), the meat should be recognisable, and ground up with herbs, spices and some breadcrumbs but little else. Processed foods tend to dominate the middle aisles in supermarkets so shop the perimeters for natural, fresh foods.
8 guidelines to shop more healthily
Make sure you're staying hydrated by glugging 8 glasses of water a day. Not only will it help you avoid headaches and general fatigue, you may sometimes mistake hunger for thirst and find yourself consuming more calories than you need. Tea and coffee in moderation are fine, and even promise some benefits for your heart, eyes and bone health - but stick to a couple of cups a day, swap breakfast tea for green tea and you can even boost your metabolism. The odd glass of wine is fine, just keep track of your units - a glass of vino is one unit, you should consume no more than 14 a week.
10 reasons to drink more water
Read more from Zest.co.uk:
The eat all day diet
Supercharge your diet
Recipes for a healthy supper tonight!
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