Masterchef tips for achieving a healthy weight

Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo and Nuffield Health Nutritional Therapist Zoe Rowlandson answer some common questions on how to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Which is the right diet for me?

There are hundreds of ‘diets’, all of which claim significant weight loss. But cutting out foods, going to extremes and counting calories are all unsustainable. Your metabolism is unique to you and so not every diet will work for you, says Zoe.

In order to achieve lasting healthy weight it’s important to be mindful of what your individual eating behaviours are. Do you eat more when you are stressed? Do you pander to product placement at the tills of your supermarket? Once you understand your behaviours, you can manage them.

Healthy weight loss and maintenance is a matter of changing your way of life in ways that suit you: eating healthy foods that work for you in suitable portion sizes and fitting in exercise that you enjoy.

How can I stay motivated when I'm trying to lose weight healthily?

Shelina says the key to motivation is keeping food interesting. People tend to think of healthy food as boring, but it has lots of potential, if you know what to do with it.

People eat with their eyes, so mixing colours in our food provides visual flavour. Spices and herbs are the key to adding flavour to food instead of sugar and salt. And cooking fresh, adds Zoe, helps you keep track of your salt and sugar intake as it avoids the hidden sugars in ready meals.

Finally, the pair agree, having a selection of healthy recipe books to hand will provide you with the necessary inspiration to make tasty food to please your palette.

How can working parents or other people with busy lives eat healthier?

Learn to love your freezer, says Zoe. By batch cooking healthy meals and storing them in your freezer, you will save not only time, but money. Keeping a box of nuts or seeds in your bag, she adds, can help prevent you reaching for the nearest chocolate bar or bag of crisps when you’re having a busy day out and about. Nuts are also a great source of protein that will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Being organised is essential, Shelina adds. If you can, plan your meals throughout the week. If you know you are going to be cooking a roast chicken on a Sunday, plan to use its leftovers in a soup or a stir fry the next week.

Keeping a stock of healthy snacks at home will prevent time-pressured binges, Shelina recommends freezing melon as a replacement for ice cream or ice lollies.

What is the best thing to have for breakfast?

Porridge oats provide a good breakfast if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight. They’re natural and you can control what you add, compared to cereals which often have a lot of added sugar. But if you want to lose weight, says Zoe, a more protein-based breakfast, such as two poached eggs on a slice of wholemeal toast, or some Greek yoghurt, would be better. Research has found eating protein in the morning can help you lose weight throughout the day.

How do I know if I'm putting the right amount of food on my plate?

A really good way to prevent yourself from eating too much is to use a side plate rather than a dinner plate for your meals, says Shelina. That’s one technique that helped her shed 3.5 stone after gaining a lot of weight following her Masterchef win, when she was thrust into the busy world of food.

But there’s a pattern you can follow when using a dinner plate, says Zoe: Half the plate should be vegetables, a quarter protein, and a quarter carbohydrates such as wholegrain rice.

Last updated Tuesday 20 September 2022

First published on Tuesday 12 May 2015