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From margarine to cereals... what the strictest of eaters prefer to keep off the menu

Nutritionist Yvonne Wake is the first to admit food labels can be confusing and it isn't always clear what's actually 'healthy'. Here are some of the foods she chooses to avoid

By Gemma Dunn

Published 16/06/2016

Food for thought: not everything we think is healthy actually is
Food for thought: not everything we think is healthy actually is
Sound advice: Yvonne Wake
Salad dressing isn’t as healthy as you think with its added sugar

They're forever dishing out advice, but when it comes to taking the nutritionists' healthy-eating messages home, surely the proof is in the pudding. (Or should that be, lack of pudding).

"Everything in moderation" may be the go-to guideline for a good, balanced diet, but there are certain foods public health nutritionist and lifestyle consultant Yvonne Wake admits she strictly avoids.

Processed foods and anything with unrecognisable ingredients is a no-no, but knowing what's actually "healthy" isn't always that straightforward, and Wake notes that there are many examples of foods that are mis-sold as being good for us.

"The trickery of labelling is still going on and it will always go on," explains Wake, who is also a life and fitness coach and runs wellness retreats in France ( "You can't blame the public, because no one tells them the truth."

She admits when it comes to her own diet, she's "quite a toughie - more extreme than most" (so there's no need for everybody to stop consuming these things entirely), but here are six things she prefers to keep firmly off the menu...


We're often warned of the dangers of fizzy drinks: high sugar, chemicals and zero nutritional value. And it's not just the full-fat versions, with diet drinks options containing pesky artificial sweeteners.

Choose to shun them altogether, Yvonne advises: "Anything that has been produced or mass produced - the Coca Colas and the fizzy drinks - contains so much sugar.

"Worse still, it's hidden sugar because it doesn't state what kind it is on the label. If it mentions sugar at all, it will be a lot because it only has to be listed if it's over a certain amount."


Fast food is fast for a reason and your intake should be controlled to make way for fresh, quality produce sourced from reliable suppliers.

Yvonne states she would never eat a meal from a fast food chain, order a takeaway or indulge in any processed foods for the simple reason: "I don't know what's in it.

"There's no way of telling how much sugar, fat or preservatives are in there. These types of food are sold for their taste, their ability to fill you up quickly and get you running back for more because it's not expensive.

"Basically because it's not real food; it's not clean food."


It's worth noting that most cereals lack protein and fibre and you could end up on a sugar crash within a couple of hours.

"Cereals are the biggest culprit," warns Yvonne. "But food producers don't call it 'sugar': they call it maltose, galactose or anything that has an 'ose' at the end of it.

"We all know about fructose because it's in the media, but if you look on the back of a packet, many camouflage it with a different name."


Rice cakes are often deemed a go-to snack for dieters - particularly those wanting to avoid the lure of bread. But they can in fact prove calorific and high in sugar and salt.

"I used to like rice cakes, but I realised there's a lot of density in there, which means it contains more than it says," Yvonne counsels. "They've now been mass produced, so even if you buy organic rice cakes, they will still contain a lot of sugar - just organic sugar."


You may want to perk up your salad, but you could end up undoing your good work if you slather it in a dressing or condiment.

"Dressings have quite a lot of oil and added sugar and mayonnaise is hugely calorific. I make mine tasty by using a little bit of sesame oil at the end or cider vinegar."


Real butter has always outshone its rival, the additive-heavy and coloured margarine; but only now are we being told it's better for us.

"I love butter," admits Yvonne. "It has to be proper butter though; when it just says 'butter' on the packet. Butter is best because it's natural and we do need some fats."


What is it?

Natural food brand BOL, which launched last year, has just added Salad Jars to their range of healthy, quick-and-easy meals — all designed to be as fresh, nutrient-packed and vibrant as possible, with combinations inspired by global flavours. The Salad Jars come with a fork and dressing — which you pour on, before closing the lid and giving the jar a good shake.

What’s it like?

The range includes four flavour ways so far: The Mediterranean (chickpeas, carrot, courgette, butternut squash and feta), The Californian (broccoli, quinoa, black beans, cannellini beans, tomatoes, kale and pumpkin), The Persian (cauliflower, cooked beluga lentils, chickpeas and spinach) and The Japanese (black rice, raw slaw, edamame beans, black beans, tenderstem broccoli).

All vegetarian and under 400 calories each, and at 300g they make a decently-sized satisfying lunch. They’re certainly a feast for the eyes; colourful and fresh, but it’s the taste test that really counts — and they all go down a treat.

Our favourite is The Japanese (the white miso and ginger dressing is delicious), with The Mediterranean a close second. The brand has an ethical edge (100% of BOL’s first-year profits were donated to the global hunger crisis), and consumers are encouraged to upcycle and reuse the pots.

BOL Salad Jars visit for stockists

Caught napping...? 

One in six of us has napped at work.

Siestas may be most associated with sunny Mediterranean countries, but it seems many of us (one in five) would like to see the tradition introduced into UK culture, too. Perhaps this is little wonder, considering one in six of people in the UK (15%) admit they’ve had a nap at work, while 28% confess they get ‘tired and grouchy’ during the working day (we’re surprised that figures not even higher, to be honest). More than 2,000 adults were quizzed for the survey, by Hillarys (

However, while we may be a nation dreaming of more regular naps, that doesn’t mean we usually get them — the majority of respondents (37%) said they manage to fit in a nap ‘at least once a week’.

Of those in favour of UK siestas becoming the norm, 54% said they believe it would help them ‘concentrate better’ at work.

To check out Hillarys’ Nap Planner, visit

Belfast Telegraph

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