We’ve all got weak spots when it comes to food and drink. Whether you’re partial to a family-sized Dairy Milk, have Domino’s on speed dial or have a tipple (or two) most evenings, identifying what your weak spots are and knowing how to deal with them can be your greatest weapon in your battle against the bulge.
Don’t feel bad about your soft spots. So you love a bag of McDonald’s fries – who doesn’t? They’re hot, salty, crispy sticks of food heaven and at MAN v FAT we really don’t believe in ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods. However, if you want to lose weight and you know you’re going through the Drive-Thru multiple times a week, it’s worth considering if you should change these habits to get you going with your weight loss.
We’ve taken a brief look at the food and lifestyle weak spots that many men experience below, with some suggestions on how you can get started with getting things under control.
The problem: Your plate is piled high and you’ve got a reputation for being a dustbin, finishing off whatever other people leave on their plates too. No matter how hard you try, you always end up cooking enough to feed a family even when it’s just you.
The solution: Large than life portion sizes is a common reason that men are overweight. It can be difficult to change when you’re so used to eating loads, but you can do it little by little. Check out the British Heart Foundation’s guide to portion sizes here, which includes a handy(!) way to roughly measure portions using your palms and fingers.
If you can’t quite get the knack of cooking less, try halving what you make and save it for the next day. Plenty of things freeze well for another meal, and you’ll be glad you did it when you’ve got something ready to go tomorrow. Check out our guide to batch cooking here.
The problem: Alcohol is a big part of your life, with social gatherings mostly taking place at the pub and celebrations and commiserations both marked with a drink or two. You like to have a pint to unwind or to complement food, or simply because it’s something you’ve got into the habit of doing throughout the week.
The solution: You don’t have to give up alcohol if you don’t want to, but be mindful of how many calories alcohol actually contains. Just one pint of beer has around 182 calories, so you can see how the calories quickly stack up if you have more than one pint. Which, let’s face it, most of us do.
Try changing what you drink to lower-calorie drinks (spirits are generally low in calories, especially when combined with diet drinks like Diet Coke), alternate each drink with a diet soft drink, or make a pact to stop drinking on certain days.
There are also loads of low-calorie low-alcohol beers around, and they’ve improved massively in quality over the years.
Check out our guide to alcohol and weight loss here.
The problem: Your day goes a little like this – breakfast, elevenses, lunch, post-lunch snack, 3pm pick me up, vending machine visit before heading home from work, dinner, dessert, TV snack, 9pm pick me up, bedtime grazing platter…
If there’s something in the kitchen cupboards and it’s not being used in a meal, you’re on it.
The solution: Eating between meals is fine if you feel that you need it, and some studies even suggest that snacking could actually lead to consuming fewer calories in a day overall (although the jury’s out on this one, as there are also contradicting studies).
The key here is to make sure that you cut down on both the frequency and the calories. By all means have a snack while you’re watching TV in the evening, but don’t make it a big bar of Dairy Milk or a sharing bag of Doritos. You can find a list of our fave low-calorie snacks here, but if you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated than Quavers and jelly, the NHS have some more involved snacks here. GoodtoKnow has a good list of snacks that are under 100 calories here too.
The problem: You’d much rather order a takeaway than cook, especially if you’re tired. Or celebrating. Or need cheering up. Or if you find a good Dominos discount code. Or if you just fancy it. After all, takeaways are just so much more delicious than anything you can cook yourself and you don’t have to wash up afterwards. Bonus. Once you get in the habit, it’s also too easy to be hitting up Just Eat every other night, and your bank balance is crying out in pain.
But takeaway dishes are so high in calories, and even with healthier options you can’t guarantee that they haven’t used loads of oil in the cooking process. You also don’t get any control over portion sizes which can lead to bumper meals and way too many calories for just one meal.
The solution: Be prepared. If you’re relying on takeaways because you’re too tired to cook at the end of a busy day, create a bank of recipes you know you can cook that don’t take a long time (a stir fry takes literally 10 minutes), or pick up something from the supermarket that’s easy to cook and not quite as high in calories.
If you just love the taste of your usual order from your local Indian or Chinese, we’re big fans of raiding Iceland for their frozen, easy-to-prepare versions. No, they’re not quite as authentic as the real deal, but they’re delicious, lower in calories and still take the effort out of cooking.
Treat takeaways as something special you have only every now and then instead of the default answer to ‘what’s for tea?’. Life’s too short to cut them out completely, but just be mindful that having them too often means that they’re adding unnecessary calories to your day, which will soon turn into excess weight.
The problem: You drive everywhere, have a desk-based job, and like nothing more than a good sit down. You read those tips for sitting less, like parking further away and getting off the bus a stop early and just think honestly, who can even be bothered what that nonsense?!
The solution: Nonsense it may be, but getting off your arse does begin with the little things. Sure, you can become a runner and start pounding the pavements, or sign up to the gym and start going a few times a week, but if you don’t work on the little things you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve your health. We’ve got a list of easy ways to sit less and move more here, which yes, involves things like taking the stairs more, but you know it makes sense.
If you’ve recognised yourself in any of the above scenarios, congratulations! Identifying what needs work is the first step to actually doing that work. Which sounds obvious, but it’s true.