Five saucy strategies

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Flavour is hugely important to us when it comes to food. So often I’ve heard clients say that they’d like to eat more healthily but they’re worried that this means eating bland food and taking up an eating routine that they can’t sustain.

And when it comes to eating more healthily, many diets will encourage you to ditch the sauce and dips. It’s not bad advice in the sense that they are often the source (pun very much intended) of many additional calories. As you know though, the balance mentality is that being healthier doesn’t have to require living a monastic lifestyle, banishing all of your food pleasures permanently.

Here are a few strategies that can help you reduce your calorie intake from sauces and dips in a more balanced way…

1) Have the ones you love

An increased amount of choice leads to an increased calorie intake. Think ‘all you can eat’ buffets, pic n mix, or mezze platters and you get the idea. Our brains are terrible at counting the calories we’re consuming and if we’re given a choice, we don’t like to miss out, so we choose EVERYTHING.

Pick your absolute favourite sauce or dip and make sure that’ all you have available in your cupboards. Without even trying, you’ll decrease your calorie intake.

2) Are you eating it just out of habit?

Routines can be both helpful and unhelpful. Do you automatically reach for the sauce when you eat out, or do you always order a sharer starter with lots of dips? Do you always buy the biggest back of Doritos and a range of dips every time your friends come round? Analyse your eating habits and see if there are any times or places where you’re overdoing it and make a plan to overcome it in future. If you can’t think of anything, track your eating for a week or two and you’ll likely uncover some times when you could go easy on the condiments.

3) Plan your portions

As I mentioned earlier, we’re very bad at knowing how much of something we’ve had. In a study of people’s eating behaviours in a restaurant, Brian Wansink monitored how much of the free bread put on the table people consumed. They watched them via CCTV and afterwards, surveyed restaurant goers to ask how much food they had consumed. Over ten per cent of those who’d eaten some of the free bread didn’t even remember doing so!

So let’s relate this back to you. You place your dinner on the table and take the entire bottle of sauce with you. Whilst you’re eating, you chat away with your family or friends and don’t notice your hand automatically reaching for the bottle to add more sauce to your plate three or four times throughout your meal. Maybe you eat whilst looking at your phone or watching TV; your mind is distracted and the Ketchup or Reggae Reggae just slips in unnoticed.

Now I could tell you to always be conscious of exactly what you’re eating, but life doesn’t work like that. You can however put strategies in place to eat less without even trying. You could always eat at the dinner table, away from your phone or the Gogglebox, you could put some sauce on your plate and then put it back into the fridge before you sit down to munch, or you could steal a few of those little sachets of sauce when you eat out and limit yourself to one or two with your meal.

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4) Don’t have it in the house

If you can’t trust yourself to control your portions, don’t. Make sure you never have the dips and sauces at home and then you’ll only be able to have them when you’re eating out.

5) Spice it up a bit

Sauce isn’t the only thing that can add flavour to your meals. Maybe swap it out for a spoonful of your favourite spice or some fresh or ground herbs. Whilst they still contain calories, they tend to pack a punch and so you only need small amounts to ramp up the flavour in your food.

Hopefully there’s an idea here you could try, or maybe it’s inspired you to come up with a plan of your own. Either way, as ever choose one small step to do and help yourself find a little better balance.