Apple or crisps? Take our quiz to find out your eating style and what you can do to follow a more balanced diet
1. What do you normally have for breakfast?
- A. Chocolate croissant or a Danish pastry
- B. Just hot water and a slice of lemon
- C. Toast and jam
- D. Porridge with fresh strawberries and banana
2. It’s lunchtime in the canteen, what do you plump for?
- A. I’m not really hungry, I had a bag of crisps and a chocolate bar at 11.30am
- B. Cabbage soup – I read it’s the latest weight loss trick being used by all the A listers
- C. Same as yesterday and the day before that – a cheese sandwich
- D. Something healthy, usually a salad or a jacket potato
3. You head to the canteen for a mid-afternoon snack, what do you pick?
- A. Anything chocolate. I need a sugar fix
- B. Nothing at all, I will wait for dinner tonight
- C. Bakewell tart. Every day at 3pm on the dot
- D. Dried fruits and nuts
4. You’re down the pub after work with friends and you fancy a snack. What do you choose?
- A. Crisps and peanuts, I love all that salt, and I need a beer to wash it down with.
- B. Nothing, just a mineral water for me.
- C. The usual – salt & vinegar every time. And a red.
- D. I’ll have unsalted nuts and olives if they have them, and a dry white wine spritzer.
5. You’re out to dinner with friends, what catches your eye on the menu?
- A. Anything with chips – and I am definitely eating dessert.
- B. I’m only having a side salad and no dressing.
- C. Nothing foreign. Is there an omelette?
- D. Soup to start, then chicken Caesar salad and a glass of wine, no dessert.
How you answered …
- Mostly As
Eating type: Comfort eater
You tend to reach for the high-sugar, high-fat options. While these are OK in moderation, they have a high glycaemic index, which will elevate your blood sugar. Shortly after your blood sugar will dip, which could make you irritable and will leave you hungry, with a desire to reach for more chocolate and sugar to refuel.
TRY: substituting some of the high GI foods with low GI options, such as fruits, lentils, brown basmati rice and rye bread. A lot of foods are marked low GI in the supermarkets, but try and avoid high fat and high refined sugar options. Prepare fruit and crudités to take to work to snack on, and choose wholegrains in the canteen or out at dinner. If you’re eating out, then think about having a starter or dessert but not both. And consider a low calorie diet mixer with a vodka and gin, or having a wine spritzer, or exchanging the odd drink for a soft drink option. A pound of fat is about 3,500 calories (although it varies person to person), so if you eat 500 calories a day more than you should (that is one chocolate bar and a bag of crisps, or two pints of beer).
- Mostly Bs
Eating type: The disciplinarian
You’re obsessed by rules, and feel the need to stick to a strict regime all the time. The chances are that you see the latest really restrictive diet in a magazine, and follow that for three weeks and then come off the diet with cravings for sweet and fatty foods, pile any weight on you’ve lost and start the whole process again. In other words, you could be a phenomenally healthy eater or a yo-yo dieter. Give yourself a break. If you have too strict a diet, you won’t be able to maintain it for the long term, and you will just go back to your old ways and pile on more weight. You need to find a diet plan that works for you and incorporate real and permanent change into your regime. And eating should be a pleasure, so being able to splurge with friends should be enjoyed every now and again.
TRY: monitoring your ordinary diet before you throw yourself into the next fad. If you want to eat healthily, then before embarking on a faddy diet, keep a food diary, listing everything (honestly) you eat and drink for a normal week, and then analyse it to see where you could makeimprovements. And don’t just eat salads, vegetables and fruit – your body needs proteins and requires some essential fatty acids, so make sure you are getting those – nuts and seeds are a good source of the latter. Remember there are no such things as unhealthy foods – only unhealthy diets. If you have a chocolate bar or cream cake now and again, it won’t make you balloon by three stone. So just remember you deserve the odd treat. It’s all about balance.
- Mostly Cs
Eating type: Unadventurous
You are likely to be a creature of habit – eating the same foods usually at the same time every day. While you are not necessarily unhealthy, there is a high chance that you are not getting the variety into your diet that your body needs, and therefore you could end up with deficiencies that could affect your hair, skin, nails as well as your weight and health. Chances are that you’ve tried different food once, and didn’t like it and that’s made you shy away from anything that you can’t see what’s in it – but spices, herbs and vegetables make a diet exciting, so you should have fun experimenting with your diet, and trying new things on the menu when you go out.
TRY: ordering something you’ve never tried before in a restaurant, or going to a completely new restaurant with a cuisine you’ve not tried before. If this is too much too soon, ask the chef to give you a sample platter with some of your old favourites and new styles. Go to delicatessans or wholefood markets and ask to try before your buy. And get yourself a cookery book and start trying out cooking – especially with fruits and vegetables that are in season. Remember to make sure you get your five a day, and the more colourful the diet, the better it is at supplying a range of nutrients so try and get a mix of different fruit and vegetable colours into your diet every day. If you like jacket potatoes, try baking a sweet potato instead – they have a lovely nutty flavour and are lower GI than a normal baked potato so will keep your blood sugar at a more constant level.
- Mostly Ds
Eating type: Balanced dieter
Your diet is pretty well balanced. You’ve got a good handle on allowing yourself the odd treat, while sticking to good principles of healthy eating, incorporating the major food groups and lots of fruit and vegetables. You’ve got a measured approach to alcohol, and you tend to watch what you eat to control your weight. It’s advisable to make sure you get your five a day, and you already know that getting some in early at breakfast and snacking on fruit gives you a good basis for making sure you achieve that every day.
TRY: you really do everything right, but just make sure that your diet incorporates enough fruit and vegetables, that you don’t bathe salads in unhealthy dressings, and that you are eating a good mix of wholegrains to sustain your blood sugar level. If you are going out for a drink, try mixing a white wine with soda water to make a spritzer or have every other drink as a soft drink to reduce your alcohol intake, and try having two to three days free from alcohol a week to give your body a chance to process the booze.