Being a couch potato doesn’t just affect your fitness levels, but your eating habits too. So, just what constitutes a typical couch potato diet? In a word: convenience. And all too often the staples of this kind of diet come with a lot of fat, salt and sugar, and very little nutrition.
Here are some tips to help you make healthier fast-food choices.
CURRIES AND STIR-FRIES
- If you fancy a taste of Asia, but don’t have time to prepare it yourself, substitute fried food for baked or steamed dishes on the menu, cream sauces for vegetable or tomato-based ones, and carb-overloaded accompaniments for lower GI options such as pasta or basmati rice.
- Another great trick is adding vegetables into a takeaway dish to boost your vitamin and fibre intake. For example, freshly washed spinach can be added directly into a steaming hot curry dish, or as a side dish, instantly making your meal more balanced.
- While you should always steer well clear of the typical grease-fest on a bun, a burger doesn’t have to be permanently outlawed from your diet if it’s prepared right. Always go lean, with a small whole-wheat bun or pita, and plenty of veggies or salad – and maybe even try a vegetarian option.
- Gourmet burger chains generally provide better quality meat, with less fat, and use fresher ingredients as toppings to make your meal more balanced, so it may be worth spending a bit of extra cash on a healthier, more enjoyable meal.
- If pizza is your preference, thin crust is always the best option, wood oven, whole-wheat or similar, and topped with plenty of veggies. Then, to satisfy your carnivorous cravings, substitute pepperoni slices for low-fat meat like chicken, or salmon, which is rich in omega-3.
- Resist the temptation to go for extra cheese. Instead, add a side salad, and skip the dressings – they can add hundreds of extra calories to your meal.
FISH AND CHIPS
- Most shops offer grilled fish, fresh salads, and baked potatoes, but if you can’t resist the traditional serving every now and then, try to leave some of the batter on your plate, and fill up on salad before you reach for the chips.
FREEZER TO PLATE IN 3 MINUTES
- Microwave meals can be a huge danger zone for salt and fat if you’re not careful. Luckily, the selection has improved dramatically in recent years, so just make sure you choose the healthy options; whether it’s low fat, carb conscious, low salt or healthy balance, as these all provide a much better source of nutrition and energy.
AD BREAK OR SNACK BREAK?
- When an advertising break is synonymous with grabbing yourself a ‘little treat’, you’re in the couch potato danger zone. Because the calories soon mount up without you realising it. And you don’t register these ‘extras’ as food, because they’re not proper meals
- When a snack attack hits, you could opt for healthy treats such as fruit, low-fat, low GI crackers, popcorn (without butter), a small handful of nuts, seeds, yoghurt, or low fat crisps.
REFRESHMENT = A ‘COLD ONE’?
- Alcohol is a major couch potato pitfall. Not many people realise that, after fat, alcohol contains the highest amount of calories per gram (7 calories/g). A pint of draught contains 182 calories and 26g alcohol (2.6 standard drinks), and a bottle of wine contains 70g alcohol and 550 calories (7 standard drinks).
- When you drink, your body treats alcohol as a toxin in your system, and begins to break it down as soon as it’s consumed. This means the energy from alcohol is available first – while the unused energy from crisps and pizza is left to linger in your system and is eventually stored as fat.