10 fit facts: A healthy diet

Which foods work well and what to leave out for a healthy diet. A calorie is a calorie, right? No! Not all calories are born equal.

Chocolate barIt is fairly simple to calculate your daily calorie requirement and then you could take it in Mars Bars (280 calories each) but we all know that that won’t help to keep our waistlines in check.

The reality is that we need a balance of whole grains, protein, fruit and vegetables for a healthy diet.

I spend a great deal of time talking to people about what they eat and when. I can see a real link between slow release carbohydrates, a decent fruit and veg intake and a healthy BMI. The more fast release carbohydrates anyone eats the more difficult it is to regulate blood sugar and therefore control weight and BMI.

What happens when we eat fast release, simple carbohydrates?

  • Carbohydrates are predominately broken down in the small intestine into glucose, which is absorbed into the blood stream and causes insulin to be released
  • When we eat a diet loaded with carbohydrates (especially simple carbs) and light on protein the body demands increased amounts of insulin
  • Over time insulin works harder and harder and tires and we can’t keep up with the demand, which can lead to type 2 diabetes
  • We get peaks of insulin in response to glucose highs (you know all about glucose highs – think bars of chocolate!) and if our blood sugar is always high (because we keep eating) then we don’t need to access what we have previously stored, so much less fat is released from fat cells

The moral of the story is: don’t keep eating foods that demand loads of insulin. Resist those simple carbs and go for the complex, slow release ones.

Easy ways to cut simple carbohydrates:

  • nuts and raisinsswap the bowl of sugar coated cereal for whole wheat or porridge
  • swap white bread for real brown bread with grains and seeds
  • swap white rice for brown (yes, I know it takes longer to cook – but it’s worth it)
  • swap white pasta for brown
  • drop the sugary drinks
  • keep crisps and similar snacks down to a minimum
  • drop the biscuits, cakes and sweets
  • reach for a few plain nuts mixed with raisins
  • keep to your 5 fruit and veg a day


Both high insulin levels and high stress levels increase cortisol levels, and cortisol raises blood sugar. Cortisol is associated with increased fat storage – especially around the belly. Central fat cells, found mainly deep in the abdominal wall, have four times the cortisol receptors on their cell membranes. So, keep your sleep levels up and your stress levels down to help with your weight management.

All I am saying is something really obvious: a healthy diet, managing stress and getting some sleep makes for healthy people.

Marion Foreman

About Marion Foreman

I fall neatly into the ‘women who weren’t born yesterday’ category. I grew up in a turmoil of Guardian fuelled feminism. I went from ‘little woman’ to independent person in a decade. I began my nurse training in the early 70s in the midst of a male dominated university town. I convinced myself that my views must be wrong as the ultra clever men didn’t agree with me. It wasn’t until I did my degree with the OU that I realised that I had a voice – and a legitimate voice at that. Four children and three husbands later I have found my place in the world. A place that simply says that I am who I am, that I can choose my own path in life and choose those who walk with me. I have learnt that equality means making and taking opportunities, not feeling compelled to ‘do it all’.