JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's slimming diet

I've just come in from the garden, where I was sitting in an arbour hung with scented roses as night fell. When it got too dark to read, I began to count the sounds I could hear - birds settling down for the night, the muffled roar of a distant motorbike, the last plane in the Heathrow stack, a blackbird (the only bird in the garden not in its nest) calling to his mate to share a titbit. The stars began to come out in the unclouded patches of sky. The cat jumped off my lap to start his night's hunting - time to come in.

I was reading Hugh Fearlessly Eats it All, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I'm on the first chapter, a rant against the big and vested interests of the food industry. Some of it is funny, but overall it's a little tiring to read because of the strident tone. I was beginning to get slightly fed up with it, considering skipping to the next chapter, when I came across a rant against the Atkins Diet. It ended with Hugh's slimming diet. It's funny, it's healthy, and it's good advice. Here it is in full:

Hugh's anti-Atkins diet

This is principally a diet for energy and health, not weight loss, but serious fatties will probably find the kilos fall off. By rights I should earn billions for this, as it is guaranteed to keep you well-nourished and fit for the rest of your life. But here it is, gratis, from the goodness of my happy, healthy heart:

For breakfast

Eat a bunch of fresh fruit. Then, if you're still really hungry, have a piece of toast.

Mid-morning snack

Eat more fruit. Then, if you're still really hungry, have another piece of toast.


Eat a bunch of veg. Raw if possible. If you're still hungry, have a sandwich (but not two), or a piece of chicken, or a lump of cheese (but not both). Eat with juice or water, not Coca Cola or Fanta.


Have another piece of fruit. If it's a bad day, have a biscuit too.


Eat whatever the hell you like. If you're actually trying to lose weight, eat whatever the hell you like, but not too much of it.

It's very good advice, especially when added to the heart-healthy stuff about not too much saturated fat - limits on cheese, butter, meat, and, above all, processed food.


Ros said...

Mr HFW is a very sensible guy, even if the books can sometimes be heavy reading.

I'll stick up for his diet. Through my teenage years I was fat, unhappy and my parents fed me on processed low-calorie ready meals. I stayed fat.

Now, I'm a little more than half the weight I was then. It's because I, through my own experience, came to the same conclusion as HFW. I'm careful to not overindulge during the day but eat whatever the hell I want at night. Occasionally it is steak with blue cheese risotto but then it's balanced later in the week by fish with steamed vegetables. It's so much more pleasant and more effective than processed diet meals.

Katie Zeller said...

That's pretty much how we eat. I love it that he calls it a 'diet' and hope he makes billions.
Lunch was a big bowl of freshly picked strawberries, a white peach and yogurt. I'll repeat every day I can all summer long!

Joanna said...

Ros, It's so heart-warming when people's real-life experience shouts out loud for commonsense. There's another really good thing about HFW's diet - you get the five-a-day done by lunchtime ... and the sooner you do it in the day, the more likely you are to actually do it ... if you leave it til the evening, the chances are you won't manage.

Best wishes,

Joanna said...

Katie, your lunch sounds spot on! 3 cheers for HFW


Culinary Cowgirl said...

I love it...such common sense...and we need more of that in this world!

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Emma said...

I have been "following" the HFW diet since I read Hugh Fearlessly Eats it All - it just made so much sense. Best diet I have ever been on. I just love that the evenings are free. And it is so easy, specially for eating at work - I just grab some fruit and some veg on my way out the door, maybe a piece of cheese or some leftover meat. Some people do look at me funny for pulling half a cabbage out of my handbag at work though . . . !

Kheighlah said...

That really is a great diet. I had motivation from someone once before to do the same thing. It's great for weight loss, management and just an overall better feeling. If Americans would just eat healthy they'd be so much happier and healthier!

Anonymous said...

I got a great snort out of the dinner comments. Eat whatever the hell you like, just not a ton of it.

It is remarkably simple advice, although perhaps a bit heavy on the fruit and light on the veg for my taste. perhaps some of those snacks could be baby carrots...

Joanna said...

Yes, Erin, I rather agree, let's stand up for carrots, and vegetables generally


Anonymous said...

I just came her via your comment on Toast and while I should probably be paying more attention to slimming diets in general, it was your description of sitting in your garden as dark fell that caught my attention. Evocative and lovely.

Joanna said...

Julie thank you for kind words. Well, we could all do with watching the pounds, I know I could, and you've kindly reminded me to get on with it - I like this approach, because it's so unprescriptive


Flora said...

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall talks more sense than most TV chefs, and he sticks to his principles. Thanks to his 'chicken run' campaign we switched to free range chicken nearly a year ago and we value it much more now we know how it is produced.