The last campaign from Public Health England is called 400-600-600. As it is explained in their webpage, “the 400-600-600 campaign promotes healthier eating in particular when eating out of home. It provides a simple tip to help keep calories on track and aim for around 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner. This allows for a couple of healthier snacks as part of a balanced diet of 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men each day”.
Unfortunately, the main message spins around calories and how they should be spread through the day, and when their “partners” are Greggs, McDonalds’s, Starbucks and Subway©, you should have critical eye on their information. In contrast we strongly believe the right diet is the one that allows you to eat when you are hungry, eat until you are full, and at the same time keep you thin and healthy (body mass is meaningless without a context). This has nothing to do with calories or fast food.
‘Some products are used to replace sugar but they are indeed just another type of sugar’
There are some good things about this campaign:
Sugar contained in honey, syrup and fruit juice nectars is considered added sugar. This is important, as some products are used to replace sugar but they are indeed just another type of sugar.
Ideas like eating healthier and cheaper by buying and cooking your own meals are reinforced. Although many of us do not spend time analysing our shopping, ready-to-eat meals and takeaways are more expensive than cooking from the scratch. Some of us may unfortunately say ‘I don’t have time for that’, but the truth is that our health is such a treasure and if we don’t take care of it, we are likely to lose it.
There are some bad things about this campaign:
Calorie counting (portion control) is not something we, as humans, need (it is not natural). If you eat the appropriate food, you do not need to count calories to stay healthy. Calorie counting reinforces the idea that all calories are equal, but a calorie of sugar has a different effect on your body than a calorie of chicken has.
Probably, the best advice would be “try not to eat out, but if you have to, do not go to a fast food chain”. However, they offer a selection of healthy options to eat out. So if you go to Greggs (one of their partners) for lunch and you have a tomato soup and a strawberry & granola yoghurt, you will be having only 439 kcal (GREAT!) of which 168 kcal come from sugar (42g of sugar to be precise). So 38% of your healthy lunch is sugar and you have not even reach the 600 kcal you can go up to (LOVING IT!). Just so you know, you will be hungry within an hour after you are done with it… so you will need a snack (AWESOME!). These options are not healthy, fast food is not healthy.
‘There is no science to suggest you are better off eating more times a day’
This campaign recommends a total of 5 meals a day. This could be a right approach for some, but there is no science to suggest you are better off eating more times a day.
The traffic light labels are emphasised as a useful tool to eat healthier (“Cut back on reds”), yet we know how deceiving this green-amber-red color-coded system can be.
The maximum recommended amount of added sugar for 11+ years old is 30g, but they do not actually recommend the healthiest option, which is no added sugar at all. We do not need sugar to live and if we want to have some, we can get it from whole foods. Added sugar is nothing but useless energy (yes, useless).
‘However, saturated fat is SO BAD (it is actually not) we should not even have it when it is naturally contained in our food’
Still demonising saturated fat. Naturally contained sugar does not seem a problem, and we even get to have up to 30g of added sugar daily. However, saturated fat is SO BAD (it is actually not) we should not even have it when it is naturally contained in our food. It would be way more appropriate to advice on avoiding hydrogenated fat, and some seed oils, while enjoying healthy fats like coconut, olive, and avocado oil, real butter and fat that is naturally contained in real food (i.e. meat, fish). It does not mean you get to pour a gallon of coconut oil in your coffee, just don’t fear them, no need to trim your steak, fat will also keep you full for longer.