houmous dip with veg on the side for dipping

After the excesses of Christmas, the new year can be a fresh start, and many people see it as an opportunity to start eating healthily and looking after themselves properly.


Many people focus on calories, and it’s a great way to become more aware of the food you are eating. But calories are a slightly blunt measure, and you also need to be aware of other nutrients in food such as fat, saturated fat, sugar, salt and fibre. Don’t let that deter you though: calories are a good place to start and it’s easier than ever before to keep check on them, with nutritional information more widely available on food labels and recipes in books and magazines.

The simple fact is that calories give us energy, so the amount of calories an individual needs varies from person to person. As a guide, the average man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain a healthy body weight and the average woman needs 2,000. If you’re a very active person then that will go up. If you have too many calories in your diet you’ll gain weight; too few and you’ll lose weight.

Jamie and I have talked a lot about the nutrition of his food and it’s something he really cares about. We have worked really hard this year to get nutritional information on all the recipes up on the new website. That all came from Jamie wanting to write a nutritious kitchen bible for busy people, an idea that turned into his latest book, 15-Minute Meals, in which we published the calorie content for each and every recipe. But we’ve also made sure that every meal is balanced, and full of vitamins and minerals.

So come January it’s a brilliant idea to try to keep your calories at the recommended amount. But just as important is making those calories count. Get yourself stocked up with foods naturally packed with vitamins and minerals but fewer calories, such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods like whole-wheat pasta and brown rice. Aim to keep fatty and sugary foods such as ice cream, chocolate and fried food which are high in fat and sugar and have more calories for the occasional treat. Doing so doesn’t mean eating less tasty food – 15-Minute Meals is packed with brilliant, balanced recipes and, for even more recipe inspiration, check out Jamieoliver.com!


About the author

Laura Matthews

Laura is head of nutrition at Jamie Oliver. Her passion for food comes from having cooking lessons at a local college from the age of 10, and the nutrition side from a fascination for how the right foods can fuel the body.

Laura Matthews