To tie in with the 'New Year, New You' section of the February 2017 issue of Rugby World magazine, chef Kiran Jethwa – who represented Kenya at rugby – offers you some eating advice

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I was asked to offer advice for the keen player who has let themselves go and wants to get a bit of their spark back. So my first advice to you, before I give you a recipe, would be to give up the smoking. I’m not going to preach about this, as I am sure you are well aware but there are a good fist full of reasons why this will make you a better player, and a healthier person.

Let’s assume this is your first step, and you will encounter the inevitable need to binge on food while you get through a tough time giving up smoking. There is nothing wrong with this and nothing to worry about, so long as you ‘binge’ on the right stuff. More on that in a second.

Besides the smoking advice here is something that really worked for me. I gave up 2 simple things whilst trying to lose weight and get fit about three years ago and it worked extremely well. One of them was alcohol. Try going a whole month or more without a drink, then when you achieved your goals drink in moderation. I generally don’t drink during the week and have a couple on the weekend and this suits me fine. This is from a person who has never lost a downing competition!

Kiran Jethwa in Borneo

Extreme eats: Jethwa has appeared in Chanel 4’s Extreme Food and Food Unwrapped

The other thing is refined sugar. This sounds simple but when you look at how much food we eat that actually contains refined sugar it becomes more difficult. There is the obvious sugar in your tea/coffee, this can be replaced with good sweeteners to ease the transition. Then the sweets, chocolates, cakes and biscuits are obvious no-nos. Other less obvious culprits are white bread, processed cereals, ready meals, sauces like ketchup, brown sauce and relishes. These are full of refined sugar.

When it comes to tea/snack time and you feel peckish there are lots of really good options to replace the not-so-good ones. I get stuck into quite a lot of nuts particularly toasted almonds and cashews – these are a great replacement to a biscuit with your tea or coffee. Have ready to hand plenty of carrot sticks, green beans, edamame, toasted sun flower seeds, (the list goes on) that are delicious, packed with protein and vitamins and really will help with your dietary challenges.

With the framework of this diet working for you, you can go ahead and eat good portions of all the foods that are well documented to be good for you. Things that should always be on your menu – eggs, fish (particularly salmon), green vegetables (particularly broccoli & spinach), beans and pulses, brown rice, chicken or turkey, oats, fruit, sweet potatoes, yams.

Here is a great breakfast recipe to kick off your transformation:

Sugarless, reduced oats, Power Packed Breakfast Porridge

  • ½ cup oats
  • ½ cup semi skimmed milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tbsp toasted crushed almonds
  • 1 tbsp toasted crushed cashews
  • ½ mashed banana
  • ½ grated green apple
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

Method

  1. Add the salt to the oats, then add the milk and cook in the microwave. I prefer my porridge to still have a bit of texture so I don’t fully cook the oats.
  2. Allow to cool a little.
  3. Add the grated coconut, mashed banana and grated apple.
  4. Finish with chia seeds and roughly crushed nuts just before eating so the retain their crunchy texture.
  5. You can add a honey to this if it’s not sweet enough, but resist the temptation if possible.

Chefs Tip: Keep your grated coconut ready in the fridge in a sealed container, it will keep for up to a week. Your nuts can also be pre-crushed and kept ready to speed things up if you hit snooze too many times.

Extreme Food with @ChefKiranJethwa returns to Channel 4 in 2017.