The three golden rules for losing weight: Dump pizzas and crisps, avoid processed food and cut back the booze


All the best-selling diets ask you to believe in a central idea. Sometimes it’s an appealingly simple premise: carbohydrates are toxic, or eat like a caveman.

Other diets rely on a ludicrously complicated gimmick, such as an analysis of your blood type or the acidity of your food. In my opinion, most of it is nonsense.

Most diet plans have a deeply flawed scientific premise and they might work, for a while, if you stick to them. But dieting is a tricky business. It is about fighting an extremely basic human urge: the desire to eat.

Ditching the pizza and curbing your alcohol intake are two of Dr Xand's three golden rules for losing weight

Ditching the pizza and curbing your alcohol intake are two of Dr Xand’s three golden rules for losing weight

If you want to lose weight and maintain that weight loss, I am convinced you will have to change your life and your approach to food.

That’s why I created my Definitive Diet, serialised all this week in the Mail. I spent months investigating the world’s most popular diets and took all the good bits — while discarding the waffle and gimmicks.

The diet plan I came up with consists of really easy recipes for tasty home-cooked meals so you can get started on losing weight right away.

Because we live in a world full of temptation it can be useful to have healthy eating guidelines to support you. Whether you have a lot of weight to lose or a little, you want quick results or you are happy with a slow burn, these three rules will make sticking to my plan a lot easier.


This is the culinary equivalent of pornography or slot machines or birthday cards for pets — all very well, but the world wouldn’t be a worse place without them.

Junk food isn’t nourishing. It is designed purely as entertainment. It is made with the aim not of feeding you, but of temporarily and inadequately comforting you.

Food should make you feel full or at least satisfied. But junk food does the exact opposite — it makes you hungry.

If you eat a chocolate bar, packet of crisps or doughnut, you’ll usually end up feeling hungrier than if you’d eaten nothing. The real problem lies in the fact that junk food is highly appealing. It’s cleverly formulated and can be delicious. There’s a specialised art in creating irresistible foods that didn’t exist a few decades ago.

If you were a food manufacturer, wouldn’t you hire scientists to invent food that was addictively delicious? The tastier you make the food, the more of it people will eat — and the more money you will make. Food such as salted caramel, honey-coated nuts and stuffed-crust pizzas have been designed to make you eat more than you need or even want.

We are surrounded by these ‘hyper-delicious’ foods, which, unfortunately, are almost impossible to resist. Food design is a sophisticated science that researches just the right ratio of fat, sugar, salt and chemical flavourings delivered with the perfect amount of crunch, creaminess, chunkiness and chewiness to seduce your human brain. Frankly, it doesn’t stand a chance.

Many junk foods work by giving you a powerful hit of the reward chemical dopamine, which allows you a minute or more of intense pleasure followed by longing as levels drop.

This is why it’s so easy to eat a whole family pack of tortilla chips by yourself. Over-eating isn’t lack of willpower, it is dopamine gone crazy — and the food scientists have made it happen.

If you want to lose weight, you can’t eat junk food. It’s simple. And if it’s there, you will eat it — because that’s exactly how it’s been designed.

So remove it all from your house: put crisps, biscuits, sweets and chocolate bars in the bin.

If it’s not in the cupboard, you can’t reach for it and it’s no more a waste to throw it away than to eat it. In fact, it’s much better.


We have become frighteningly reliant on processed foods, convincing ourselves we are far too busy to cook from scratch or we couldn’t possibly rustle up a proper meal without a packet mix or a jar of sauce.

The food industry happily perpetuates that belief. And even if you believe you rarely eat processed food, take a look through your kitchen cupboards. There are, after all, varying extremes of processing.

A microwave meal with an infinite shelf life will be processed beyond belief, and anything in a box or packet will have a list of ingredients your grandmother wouldn’t recognise.

I urge you to try to develop an extreme hatred of plastic-wrapped food because if it is made in a factory, its job is to make you buy more of it, not to nourish you and fill you up.

Before you eat anything, ask yourself: what has been done to it? And how many ingredients does it contain?

The more ingredients something has the further you should run from it because you can be sure those ingredients have been added to make you crave that food.

But if I buy a bag of dry roasted peanuts (which has about ten ingredients) or, worse still, smoked almonds, which are horribly addictive, it is so much harder to stop eating.

Every ingredient is there to make you eat more.

And make a conscious decision to avoid everything with MSG or ‘flavour enhancers’, which really does make food taste amazing.

The danger is that it acts on your brain in a pretty fundamental way, as it makes the food it’s added to hard to stop eating. Avoid it if you want to get closer to a good idea of when you’re full and when you’re not.

Eat real food instead. Peel your own fruit, buy meat with bones in it, wash your own salad. You’ll save money and you’ll think more about what you’re eating and the quantity you need.

Get started on making your own delicious meals from scratch with these simple, nutritious and calorie-controlled meals created for the Daily Mail by chef Georgina Davies.


Dry January is a great time to start a dietary regime because not only are you free from having to factor in the extra calories in that glass of wine or ‘medicinal’ gin and tonic, but you’re much more likely to stick to the plan.

After a few drinks with friends, you are far more likely to say: ‘To hell with the diet!’

So I believe it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol on the rapid weight loss one-meal-a-day plan.

You can have one or two drinks a week in your two-meals-a-day plan. Just apply caution (and watch your calorie intake) on the three-meals-a-day plan.

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