Can chips and beer be part of a healthy diet?

A: Yes

I write this knowing I’m at the risk of stereo typing men, but I love chips and beer too! Both beer and chips contain nutrients, especially hot chips. They are not unhealthy and I strongly believe this type of pleasure, especially when enjoyed with others, is fundamental to our overall sense of well-being and therefore health. In fact I am enjoying a lovely dark ale with some chippies as I type this!

Provided you are nourishing your body adequately, all types of food (and drinks) can have a place in a healthy diet, even if you have high cholesterol or diabetes (or you have been told you are pre-diabetes). The ability to enjoy all things in moderation is a sign of a healthy relationship with food. A healthy relationship with food is fundamental to maintaining a healthy diet.

A common trap people fall into is cutting out all the “bad stuff” (note – there is no bad food) and then finding themselves in a situation where they would like to have some the food they are trying to avoid. When this happens, a common experience people face is the “what the hell” effect. You decide you’ll partake in the food on that occasion, but then restrict again tomorrow, this often results in going overboard as you experience the “last supper effect” – having as much as you can now, as who knows when you’ll have it again! Moderation is out the window and there’s always another tomorrow.

Do you have too much belly fat?

There is strong message out there that any amount of “extra” fat must be bad for you. This is simply not true and your health is so much more complex than your body size or weight. People can be classed as “overweight” or “o*ese” as per the BMI scale and still be perfectly healthy. I use the talking marks and the * to soften the use of highly stigmatising and shaming language.

Your health is influenced by multiple factors, including your emotional state, sleep, stress, how active you are both socially and physically and of course to some extent, by how you eat. Usually when people have gained weight, the weight gain is a symptom of one, or a combination of these factors.

If you have been told your weight is too high, but you have good emotional health, you manage stress, you keep active enough and you generally eat well enough, then your weight may not be a problem. You may still feel it’s an issue because you don’t like how your body looks, which is completely understandable, and this is where we talk body image.


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Fast facts!

  • While sit ups can be helpful for overall fitness, they will not give you a “six pack” unless your genetics allows you. Also, a lean stomach is NOT a requirement for health.
  • While body image issues can be seen more as a woman’s issue, many men also experience body shame and poor body image. Poor body image can stand in the way of taking better care of your health or simply doing all the things in life you want to do.
  • Nourishing your body well and being active can improve your cholesterol without having to forgo the pleasure of good food, good wine (or beer) and good company!
  • Research shows that learning to eat intuitively and building physical activity into your daily life is a great way to achieve and maintain good health.
  • More fibre in your diet can improve your cholesterol, help keep you feeling satisfied and boost your immunity! Dietary fibre is key to the health of your gut microbiome and your gut microbiome is key to your immunity, health in general and even weight.
  • Two weekly servings of oily fish, like salmon, can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by 20% – but if you don’t like fish, don’t stress, there are other ways…
  • You can beat high cholesterol with diet and exercise and get off those medications
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