Be a Glutton for Vegetables

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Dr Xand van Tulleken explains how putting more food on our plates can actually help us to lose weight – thanks to the magic of vegetables!

22 Dec 2016 |

I’m not interested in clean living and boredom and smiling through my salad while I pretend my life isn’t falling to bits. I like gluttony, extravagance and fun. I like to see everyone leaving the table groaning and clutching their stomachs. I want to be able to tap my belly at the end of a meal and feel it’s taut like a snare drum. But that doesn’t mean I have to gain weight. I serve mountains of vegetables. Each dish is packed with fat, garlic, salt and whatever other flavour I’m in the mood for.

I can eat just about as much as I want. My main advice, I think, would be to have a go at a few of the recipes in the Vegetable Sides chapter of my new book. Make too much. Have a stuff up. See how they do as leftovers. Get stuck in.

I have a few reasons for advising you to eat lots of vegetables and they’re all pretty simple: 

Vegetables are good for you: they’re so good for you, I won’t even bother assembling the medical research that supports this. They reduce your rates of just about every disease. They aren’t magical, but they’re close.

Vegetables slow you down: you just can’t eat a mountain of kale or broccoli fast unless you’re the guy from that James Bond film with the metal teeth. You’ll have to take your time, chew, enjoy and you’ll have time to register when you’re feeling full.

Vegetables speed you up (or at least keep you ‘regular’): modern diets and modern life mean that a vast number of people get constipated. It’s hard to feel slim and happy when you’ve not had a poo for four days.

Vegetables fill you up: but they contain, for their weight, relatively few calories. This seems obvious but it’s the key reason to eat them when you’re losing weight. It’s virtually impossible to gain weight eating only vegetables. Now you’ll have to add a few calories to make them interesting and tasty but unless you batter and deep-fry them, it’s hard to really mess this up.

Making it taste good isn’t difficult. It can be as simple as this:

Buy a pile of green stuff: it really doesn’t matter what: kale – broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens. Even radish tops, beetroot leaves and carrot tops: you can just eat them instead of putting them in the rubbish bin. If it’s leaves and it’s in a supermarket you can eat it.

Heat some oil in a pan: get it nice and hot. Almost smoking. Chuck in the leaves. They’ll sizzle. Stir until they wilt. Salt heavily and/or add a splash of soy sauce or miso dressing or lemon juice. Tip into a bowl. Eat.

I’ve left out some of the hassle – you’ll have to wash and chop stuff – but basically it’s that easy: a head of broccoli isn’t for a family of four. It’s for you! All of it! A bag of kale doesn’t serve a dinner party. It serves you. Want to add flavour? Smash some cloves of garlic with the flat of your knife. Don’t even peel the garlic, you can eat the peel and your hand won’t smell afterwards. Fry the garlic until it’s going a little brown on the edges. Throw in a bunch of dried chilli flakes if you like it spicy. It is virtually impossible to mess this up though you’ll need to do it a couple of times so that you get a feel for when it’s ready. It takes under five minutes, it’s cheap, and you only have one pan to wash.

Dr Xand’s new book How to Lose Weight Well is filled with tips and recipes to help you keep weight off forever, the healthy, simple way. The book is available from 29th December 2016 where all good books are sold. More info here.