Have months of lockdown wreaked havoc with your diet? Don’t panic, you’re not alone.
Reduced activity levels, higher booze intake and increased comfort-eating has left almost half of Brits heavier than they were at the beginning of the year, according to new research by Cambridge Weight Plan.
The good news is there’s still time to turn it around and trim down for a summer of more freedom outside. And we have just the healthy plan to get you into your best shape – inside and out.
Not only is our two-week plan full of tasty breakfasts, tempting lunches and delicious dinners, it’s also packed with immune-boosting seasonal superfoods to help you lose weight and health-proof your body as best you can.
Today, you’ll find your shape-up meal planner and tomorrow an easy exercise routine, plus delicious extra recipes.
How it works
The latest diet research shows that the healthiest and most effective way to slim down is to ditch processed foods and takeaways in favour of fresh, home-cooked healthy meals.
And sticking to a Mediterranean-style diet has been demonstrated time after time as the ultimate way to achieve this.
“This means eating plenty of lean proteins, such as chicken, fish and eggs, pulses such as beans and lentils, and cooking with olive oil and increasing your intake of fruit, veg and wholemeal carbs, such as granary bread,” explains nutritionist Linda Foster.
“This provides your body with high levels of protein and fibre, which will help to fill you up and create long-lasting energy – while the fruit and veg, along with plenty of water, will keep you hydrated and also help beat bloating.”
Our two-week plan (which can be safely followed for longer) keeps hunger at bay because it’s designed to keep blood sugar levels stable, helping prevent those hard-to-ignore cravings for unhealthy treats.
You’ll also cut out alcohol, white carbs and excess salt and sugar to help reduce water retention and flatten your tummy for a leaner-looking body.
Better still, the recipes are super-easy to make, don’t require hard-to-find ingredients and taste absolutely delicious. So get started today to head into summer feeling and looking your very best.
The golden rules ....
Eliminate all processed biscuits, cakes, ready meals and snack foods.Aim to drink two litres of water each day to keep hydrated – but remember any more than this isn’t better for you and can even be harmful. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, but make sure overall you are eating more veg than fruit. For example, one or two portions of fruit per day and three or four of veg. Avoid white carbs – including ordinary potatoes (sweet potatoes are fine). Instead, make sure you choose wholemeal varieties of bread, pasta and brown rice. Tackle stress levels. The last 11 weeks have been full of uncertainty, sending our anxiety levels soaring. Research shows stress can make us choose unhealthier foods (think crisps and chocolate) and eat a greater number of calories. While on this diet, spend 10 minutes a day de-stressing with your favourite technique, whether that’s with yoga or meditation, having a lovely bath or just reading a good book. Try to avoid alcohol for the duration of the two-week plan. The rise in alcohol sales show we’ve all drunk more than usual since lockdown began, so now is the time to hit reset. If you want to continue the diet for longer, you can drop one snack and add a small glass of wine two to three nights a week.
Simply follow the easy meal plan below, choosing three meals plus two snacks a day from the options for two weeks or more – depending on how much weight you want to lose. You can also drink unlimited amounts of black tea, herbal tea, black coffee and water.
BreakfastsOne poached egg with one slice of granary toast, plus half a sliced avocado and half a pink grapefruit. Spinach and pepper omelette made with one egg, plus a handful of chopped red pepper and two handfuls of spinach. Two pancakes made with 75ml semi-skimmed milk, one egg and 25g wholemeal flour, cooked fat-free in a non-stick pan. Top with 2 tbsp low-fat Greek yogurt and a handful of strawberries. Bowl of porridge made using almond or standard semi-skimmed milk and 50g porridge oats, topped with a handful of mixed berries and one chopped pear. 4 tbsp low-fat Greek yogurt, plus 2 tbsp granola and a handful of mixed raspberries, blueberries and strawberries on top.
LunchesAvocado and bacon salad, with one grilled rasher of bacon, half a sliced avocado, mixed green leaves, lemon juice and black pepper, plus one pear. Wholemeal pitta filled with 2 tbsp houmous and half a sliced red pepper. One apple and 10 red grapes on the side. Smoked mackerel salad with one smoked mackerel fillet, plenty of baby spinach leaves and a handful of cherry tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Followed by one banana and 10 grapes. Sweet jacket potato topped with one small can of tuna in water, mixed with 1 tbsp sweetcorn and 1 tbsp low-fat Greek yogurt, plus one apple. Bowl of shop-bought chunky veg soup, plus an open salmon sandwich made with a slice of wholegrain bread, topped with half a cooked salmon fillet mashed with lemon juice and 5 halved cherry tomatoes.
DinnersMozarella cod. One cod fillet baked with torn basil leaves, one sliced tomato and 1 tsp mozzarella cheese, served with plenty of mixed steamed veg, including spinach and broccoli. Moroccan lemon chicken. One chicken breast baked for 35 minutes with 10 chopped olives, one crushed garlic clove, half a lemon, sliced, and 1 tsp olive oil. Serve with roast veg made from one red pepper, five tomatoes, a handful of broccoli florets and half a courgette, all sliced and mixed with 1 tsp of olive oil and roasted alongside the chicken. Tuna kebabs. Chop one tuna steak into chunks and alternate on skewers with grapefruit segments and sliced red pepper. Grill and serve with steamed broccoli and asparagus. Almond crusted spicy salmon. Made with one salmon fillet topped with five chopped almonds and 1 tsp Cajun spices mixed with 1 tsp honey to form a paste, cooked for 18 minutes in the oven and served on top of half a can of drained cannellini beans dressed with lemon juice and three oven-roasted veg of your choice. Veggie chilli. Cook half an onion, thinly chopped, with one chopped red pepper, five mushrooms, one chopped carrot and a can of tomatoes, plus 1 tsp chilli powder and 1 tsp cumin. Cook for 20 minutes, then add half a can of kidney beans. Serve with half a mashed avocado and 1 tbsp natural yoghurt
SnacksAny single piece of fruit Small pot full-fat natural yogurt Sliced apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter Small handful of any unsalted nuts (not dry roasted) 1⁄2 sliced avocado with one slice of ham Handful of cherry tomatoes with matchbox-sized piece of any cheese Carrot sticks with 1 tbsp houmous