Do you have a take-away every Friday night? Does your lunch consist of hamburger and chips? Are you on first-name terms with the pizza deliveryman? If so, then read on.

Take the ‘s’ out of ‘fast’ and what do you get? Yes, ‘fat’. Many fast foods contain high proportions of fat, particularly saturated fat, which is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease.

Today we lead very busy lives and our eating habits are suffering as a result. Fast food is often short on fruit, vegetables and fibre. These are important elements of our diet, which can help prevent heart disease and some cancers.

I’m not asking you to give up fast food and take-always all together – they are great as a treat but if you eat them every day or even a few times a week you could be missing out on some vital nutrients such as those found in fresh fruit and vegetables, and consuming too many unwanted nutrients such as saturated fats.

Here are some simple tips:

1. Don’t be misled – foods that are labelled ‘light’ or ‘low fat’ might have less fat in them but are often full of sugar instead to improve the taste. This results in the food often having the same amount of calories as the full fat alternative

2. Alcohol – alcohol can be misleading too. Did you know that each gram of alcohol contains seven calories? This means that a small glass of 12% wine (114ml) can contain 90 calories; 340ml of Becks larger contains 156 calories; half a pint of Boddingtons bitter contains 83 calories; Barcardi Breezer has 200 calories; 50ml of Baileys Irish Cream has 155 calories; and a pint of draught Guinness notches up 182 calories.

3. Breakfast – the most important meal of the day. Always eat breakfast, preferably before you leave home in the morning. Grab a banana and a glass of milk if time is short – it’s better than nothing. Consider getting up just 10 minutes earlier to fit breakfast in – the benefits will last for hours. Focus on foods that are ready to eat like yoghurt or fresh fruit

4. Snacking – There is nothing wrong with snacking; it just depends on the snacks you choose! Most people snack on biscuits, crisps and sweets. Eaten once in a while these snacks are fine, but when they are eaten regularly, on top of or instead of regular meals, they are less healthy for you. Try a handful of dried fruit – apricots, prunes, currants or sultanas – or some crisp raw vegetables such as carrot or celery sticks or strips of pepper, a fresh juicy apple or small bunch of grapes, bowl of fresh salad.