the nutrients we measure:

carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s first source of energy. There are two types of carbs: starch and sugar. Starchy foods include bread, pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes, cereals, oats and other grains, while foods high in sugar include fruit and confectionary. While important for energy, there has been growing debate recently around the idea that carbohydrate, and in particular sugar, could be contributing as much or more to weight gain than foods high in fat. Cook&Count app can be used as a carb counting app, making carb counting easy for home cooked meals.

calories

Calories are a measure of energy. The average woman needs around 2000 a day while the average man needs 2500 to maintain a healthy weight, though this varies for each individual, depending on age, body size and level of physical activity. Cook&Count app can be used as a calorie counting app for home cooking, though we believe in calorie awareness and portion control over strict calorie counting.

fat

Fats provide more concentrated sources of energy and also help to insulate the body in cold weather. Saturated fats are usually from animal sources, while polyunsaturated fats come from vegetable sources. Fat provides more calories per gram than carbohydrate. This means that while fat has the opportunity to provide more energy, it can also encourage weight gain if eaten in large amounts.

protein

Proteins are important for growth and repair in the body. Animal sources include meat, fish, cheese, milk and eggs, while vegetable sources include soya-bean products, pulses and nuts. Physical activity, exertion and enhanced muscle mass increase the need for protein, and protein requirements are also greater in childhood, during pregnancy and when the body is recovering from illness. Protein can also provide energy.

sugar

Sugars are carbohydrates that provide the body with energy. There are many different types, including sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose and lactose, which occur naturally. Natural sugars are found in fruit, vegetables, honey and milk, while processed sugars are often used in high quantities in pre-packaged foods.

fibre

Fibre technically isn’t a nutrient, but it is very important in the diet. Cereals, beans, pulses, lentils, fruit and vegetables are all good sources of fibre. Fibre improves the movement of digested food through the gut and so helps to reduce constipation. Some types can also help to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.

filters:

gluten free

Gluten is the protein part of grains such as wheat, barley and rye. These are commonly found as flour in pasta, bread, pastry, cakes and biscuits but are also hidden in many sauces, soups and other dishes. When our gluten free filter is switched on, Cook&Count app puts a warning sign against all foods in our database that contain gluten. This way you can easily see which foods are safe to eat and which foods aren’t safe to eat. This may be necessary due to coeliac disease, or due to a gluten intolerance.

dairy free

Dairy products are any foods made from either cow’s milk or milk from other mammals. When our dairy free filter is switched on, Cook&Count app puts a warning sign against all foods in our database that contain dairy. This way you can easily see which foods are safe to eat and which foods aren’t safe to eat. This may be necessary due to a milk or dairy allergy, a lactose intolerance or if you are following a vegan diet.

carbohydrate counting

Carbohydrate counting is the method used by people with type 1 diabetes of matching their insulin requirements to the amount of carbohydrate they eat and drink.

Before carbohydrate counting was introduced, people with diabetes had to adapt their eating to how much insulin they took. This was very restrictive and meant that many types of food were out of bounds. Remember the "diabetic foods" sections in large supermarkets and health food shops? With carbohydrate counting people with type 1 diabetes have the freedom to eat as much carbohydrate as they need, whenever they need it. They just need to test their blood glucose and be able to count the carbohydrate content and match the amount of insulin.

A certain amount of carbohydrate is needed in our diet for normal brain function, and low carbohydrate diets are not usually recommended for children who are still growing. General consensus is that a balanced diet for the average person should include 33% carbohydrates. However, dietary recommendations are often changing and it is currently a hot topic about how much carbohydrate is really necessary in our diet. The thing to remember here is that everyone is different and to get reliable, personalised advice you should consult a registered health care professional specialising in diet and nutrition.

For those people with diabetes who don't require insulin (e.g. many of those with type 2 diabetes), carbohydrate counting is an effective way of managing diabetes that, once mastered, will lead to better blood glucose control, greater flexibility and freedom of lifestyle.

It is an approach that initially requires a fair amount of time and effort. Educational sessions with your dietitian or health care professional will give you detailed knowledge of carbohydrate counting. In the UK educational courses are available which teach carbohydrate counting. These are "DAFNE" for those with type 1 diabetes, and "DESMOND" for those with type 2 diabetes. Once you've got the hang of it, it becomes so much easier. And with the help of carb counting tools like this one, it becomes even easier.

Carb counting is also useful for non-diabetics who want to reduce their carb intake, or sports people in training who need to increase or decrease their carbohydrate intake.

For all these groups, Cook & Count will help educate them about carbs and take the guesswork out of carb counting home cooked food.

calorie counting

Calories are a measure of the amount of energy in food and drink. Knowing how many calories are in our food can help us to balance the energy we put into our bodies with the energy we use. The number of calories we need can vary depending on age, gender, height and physical activity levels. A man usually needs to consume between 2000 and 3000 kcal (calories) a day. A woman usually needs to consume between 1600 and 2400 kcal (calories) a day.

Calorie counting can be a useful tool when it comes to achieving or maintaining a healthy weight. It can help us to keep track of the amount of energy we are eating and drinking, and ensure we're not consuming too much. Some foods have far more calories than others. For example fatty foods and dairy products are high in calories and vegetables are low in calories.

The more physical activity we do, the more energy (calories) we use. We burn calories throughout the day and night, but when we move we burn more. The more vigorously we do an activity, the more calories we use. For example, fast walking or hill walking will use more calories than walking at a moderate pace.

If the amount of energy (calories) we consume equals the amount of energy we burn, then we stay the same weight. Eating less is important when you're trying to lose weight, even if you already have a balanced diet. If you're gaining weight, it usually means you've been regularly eating and drinking more calories than you've been using through normal bodily functions and physical activity. To lose weight you have to tip that balance in the other direction. You must start to use more energy than you consume, and do this over a sustained period of time.

tips for healthy eating and living

Children skipping and jumping up a hill.

It's all about moderation

We've heard it all before, but really we shouldn't get too hung up on the bad and the good. Most weight loss diets may work in the short term, say before a holiday or a wedding, but the weight loss rarely stays off. Make some changes to your diet and make them for EVER. Eat and drink in moderation and do enough (see below for what's enough) physical activity.

Five first steps

  1. Stop using the words good and bad in reference to eating
  2. Do at least 5 x 30 minute sessions of physical activity a week
  3. Take an active break every day
  4. Cook at home and keep snacking!
  5. Ditch the scales

Stop using the words good and bad to describe food and your eating habits

Stop punishing yourself! Feeling annoyed with yourself because you've eaten something bad is only going to make you feel worse. Keep eating treats, and over time you will become less interested in them and more interested in and more filled up with the type of snacks in 4. Below. Overall, you may need to reduce the amount you eat and the amount of fatty and sugary foods you eat. Make changes and reductions very gradually and your appetite will reduce in line.

Do at least 5 x 30 minute sessions of physical activity a week

To increase your energy levels and feel better about yourself you may need to increase the amount of physical activity you do. Physical activity is not just for weight loss. In fact, unless you do a very high amount of physical activity it will be very difficult to lose weight without also changing what you eat. Physical activity can help prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes (and help you manage it if you've already got it), some types of cancer and will help keep your bones and muscles strong and your mood good. Try to do a variety of things e.g. walking, cycling, swimming, running, yoga, tennis, football, rowing, dance. Most people are really busy these days and that can often get in the way of being physically active. So start by adding just one thing a week, even if it's just for half an hour. People are usually a lot better at sticking to their intentions if they make a plan of what, when and where they're going to do something, and write it down.

Don't be overambitious, don't expect too much of yourself

Don't set yourself a target to go on a 10 mile run if you have never even run 1 mile. Makes changes gradually. Increase the amount of exercise you do over several weeks or months. The changes you make need to be for the rest of your life if you want to stay healthy. They will be enjoyable and really worthwhile, but it might not be easy at first. Make it sociable. Get a friend to join you in going for a walk, going to a class or doing a team sport. You're less likely to be able to wriggle out of it.

Take an active break every day from work or your daily routine

Get out and go for a brisk walk, even if it's just for 10 or 15 minutes. Don't convince yourself that you're too busy to take a break - a few minutes getting some fresh air and burning off some adrenaline produced by stress and releasing some endorphins will make you feel more energetic, clearheaded and happier!

Cook at home and keep snacking!

Cook your own meals at home, rather than eating ready meals and takeaways. It will be rewarding, more nutritious and you can be sure of what's in it because you've put it there yourself. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Snack on nutritious foods like raw vegetables, fruit, unsalted nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate (at least 70%), grainy crackers etc. You could get your 5 a day just from snacking! Do not starve yourself - if you miss meals your metabolism may slow down as your body tries to store all the nutrients because it doesn't know when the next meal will come.

Ditch the scales

Give them to the charity shop, or take them round to a friend's house and use them no more than once a month. Your weight is not about a number, it's about how you feel and look. And remember that if you're doing more exercise, you may be building more muscle which weighs more than fat.