TOO MUCH TAKEAWAY… NOT ENOUGH VITAMINS… CAN’T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME YOU ATE SOMETHING GREEN?
We spoke to a health insider to find out what you should eat today for a better body tomorrow…
do you have a sweet tooth?
“If you’re eating sweet foods for comfort or out of habit – or because you think they’re less fattening, you could be overloading on kilojoules,” says Fiona Pelly, Discipline Leader in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of the Sunshine Coast. The reason? “Sugar is often found in foods that are high in kilojoule and fat which can add to unwanted body fat stores.”
your eat-right cheat-sheet: “Aim to cut down eating sweet foods throughout your day,” recommends Pelly. “If you crave something sweet try to stay away from chocolate, lollies, cakes and sweet biscuits and increase your consumption of nutritious carbohydrates. Also be aware that fruit drinks and flavoured mineral waters can fool you into thinking they’re healthy but they’re actually loaded up with added sugar – always look for juice with no added sugars.”
do you skip breakfast?
“If you rush out the door without eating breakfast, now’s the time to break the habit,” says Pelly. “Eating breakfast boosts your energy and your ability to concentrate. Morning meals may also be the key to weight loss because when you skip breakfast you tend to end up overeating the rest of the day.”
your eat-right cheat-sheet: “If you can spend 10 minutes in the morning working out what shoes you’re going to wear to work, you can spare more time to eat breakfast.” she says. “Try starting your day with a hard-boiled egg with wholegrain toast; a bowl of wholegrain cereal with skim milk and a piece of fruit; or yogurt and fruit with a wholegrain muffin.”
do you always eat out?
“If you eat out regularly you’re more likely to pile on the weight than if you eat at home,” says Pelly. “Not only do restaurants use more fat and oil in their cooking – because it makes food taste better – but we tend to eat more when we eat out. Add bread and wine on top of three courses, then multiply that a couple of times a week and you’re taking in serious kilojoules.”
your eat-right cheat-sheet: “Try to limit your eating out and choose only one or two courses at a sitting,” she says. “Select healthier options like fish or seafood, Japanese, Thai dishes, grilled meat without sauces, entree serve pastas in red sauces – and always pile your plate with vegetables.”
when was the last time you ate something green?
“When was the last time you had three servings of vegies on your plate – and no, you can’t count chips or fries as vegetables?” asks Pelly. “If you’re not eating at least five servings of vegetables per day, and one of those should be green, your body is not getting the range of vitamins and antioxidants it needs.”
your eat-right cheat-sheet: “Never eat the same vegies every day, always pile your plate with a different variety to give you the widest array of nutrients. Choose from anti-oxidant rich vegies like broccoli, bok choy, baby spinach, rocket, tomato, carrots, garlic and onions.”
do you get enough iron?
“Are you constantly tired, weak and cold? Iron deficiency could be the problem,” says Pelly. “When you skimp on iron, less oxygen makes it to your brain and your ability to concentrate goes out the door. Ignore the problem and you could end up with anemia.”
your eat-right cheat-sheet: “Pre-menopausal women require 12-16 mg of iron daily while men only require 5-7 mg,” she says. “You can get your supply by increasing your intake of red meat and poultry as your body absorbs the mineral about three times better from animal sources than from other foods.”
“Top off your needs – and vegetarians, load up on – beans, lentils, legumes and wholegrains. Eating these iron-rich foods with another food which is high in vitamin C will help the absorption of iron,” she says. “Avoid eating any of these foods with coffee and tea as they contain compounds that can inhibit iron absorption.”
are you carbohydrate-phobic?
“If you’ve stopped eating carbohydrates because it’s ‘the’ thing to do, you’re missing out on the best known foods to provide you with energy and the only source of fuel for your brain,” says Pelly. “Carbohydrates, which are the starches and sugars found in fruits, some vegetables, cereals and grains are broken down to release sugar into your bloodstream and provide you with a long-lasting source of energy.”
your eat-right cheat-sheet: “All carbohydrates are not the same and your body absorbs them at different rates. If you want instant energy, munch on bananas, Calrose rice, white or wholemeal bread or a baked potato,” she says. “Eat slowly digested carbohydrates like baked beans, lentils, oats, pasta, apples or muesli if you want longer-lasting energy.”
are you getting enough dairy?
“If you’ve cut dairy out of your diet because you think it’s fattening, it could be having the complete opposite effect,” says Pelly. “The protein in dairy maintains muscle mass which makes you appear more toned and helps to speed up your metabolism. Calcium is essential for bone strength and preventing stress fractures and osteoporosis,” she says. “While the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, which are found in full-cream milk, are good for your vision and your skin.”
your eat-right cheat-sheet: “To get your 800 mg of calcium a day, eat at least three serves of dairy a day,” she says. “Blend milk with fruit and ice for a smoothie; melt cheese over meals and add yogurt to your cereal.”
are you missing out on fibre?
“Don’t forget to include fibre in your diet,” says Pelly. ” Bulky fibre not only fills you up and therefore stops you overeating, it can help reduce cholesterol levels and is important for good bowel health and decreasing risk of cancer.”
your eat-right cheat-sheet: “Get into the habit of piling more fibre- rich foods on your plate each day,” recommends Pelly. “Choose wholegrain bread over white bread; have a wholegrain cereal and fruit for breakfast; add fresh salad to your meals; and try to eat more fresh vegetables, fruit and pulses.”
Hope this has helped getting your eating back on track?