How to avoid the fat that gets ‘squirreled’ away

  • How a snacking habit got me into big trouble
  • The fantastic health benefits from being a bit nutty
  • The research that shows almonds are fat busters!

Lara came into the living room as I was glued to the Wales Six Nations rugby game on the TV.

“Is there some kind of squirrel on the loose in here?” she said.

I was momentarily confused.

See, if you make statements like that out of the blue, my brain will briefly assume that there possibly COULD be a squirrel in my living room.

My hunter-gatherer reflex action is to tense my muscles and scan the room for a bushy tailed rodent.

No couch potato, I am ALWAYS primed for action.

Naturally, after a split second, I doubted that there could be a marauder in the living room, and said:

“What are you talking about?”


Lara pointed to the coffee table in front of me, upon which was a giant pyramid of pistachio shells.


“You ate the whole packet didn’t you?”



I felt guilty. Because while I’m always haranguing the family about food and health and everything you fancy in MODERATION, I had yet again failed.

It started with a nibble…. a couple of nuts only, I thought… then I kept going, cracking the shells till my fingertips hurt, eating handful after handful till the mega-sized packet was empty.

My intentions were good, though. Because here’s the thing….

Why nuts are good for weight loss

In 2001, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found out something interesting.

Dieters who stick to a Mediterranean-style diet that includes nuts, lose more weight than those low-fat dieters.

The nut-based secret is simple. Nothing too scientific or ‘out there’. It’s purely that fat, protein and fibre in nuts help you feel full longer, so you eat less during the day.

In short, by helping you feel full, nuts may help you feel less like you’re going hungry.

Just a handful, mind….

The key is to eat only a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachio nuts and walnuts every day.

But don’t gorge like me!

And remember that you have to control the other parts of your diet to make this work. Nuts alone aren’t magic bullets.

A shame, but there you go.

It’s also worth noting that there are some pretty decent side-effects of snacking on nuts though….

  • You can get your recommended daily allowance of Omega 3s from just 7 walnuts.
  • Research also suggests that women who eat 5 handfuls of nuts a week cut their risk of Type 2 diabetes by almost a third.
  • An ounce (25g) of almonds provides a third of our daily vitamin E which can help protect against Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Even the Food and Drug Administration in the USA – normally averse to admitting anything good regarding natural remedies – admits that nuts may help to reduce heart disease and lower blood pressure.

So in a nutshell… eat nuts, but do so in moderation. Please!

How almonds could rid you of this hidden killer fat

The Daily Express ran an article earlier this week which shed the light on more nutty benefits.

They highlighted how the way our bodies store fat can lead to the most dangerous of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and arterial disease.

Typically we are worried about fatty deposits that gets laid down under the skin which is known as subcutaneous fat. This is because we can clearly see it when we look in the mirror and we can pinch it between our fingers across our bellies…

…but the really dangerous fat is that which is packed around our internal organs, the liver, kidneys and even the heart. This is visceral fat and it has been closely linked to those major health issues.

But the Express found a study from 2015 which identified how swapping carbohydrates in the diet for almonds significantly reduced visceral fat, even destroying it when it had formed.

In addition to clearing this heart stopping fat from the body almonds are also known to reduce other forms of heart disease too.

Research has found that they significantly increase the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow – interventions that lower cardiovascular disease risk.

Let’s all go nuts!

One of the features of being around home all day as a result of the various lockdowns and chunks of bad weather we have suffered is the temptation of snacking.

I mentioned this in my newsletter last Friday – if you missed it read it here.

When the fridge light is blinking on an off like a disco, the cupboard doors are slamming like a Cozy Powell (showing my age there!) drum solo and the biscuit tin lid popping off as regularly as COVID jabs are being given out… you know you are in trouble!

So, it’s much healthier to have a mix of nuts in front of you to enjoy when you feel the urge. My downfall in the office is a nice trail mix with coconut, almonds, dried banana, cashews, peanuts and raisins.

I just need to take it a bit easier when I get to enjoy the TV… or I might get booted out into a dray instead!