Nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Crash diets, fasting and the latest food fads may offer some short term results, but they’re rarely sustainable over the long term. A better approach is to develop healthy eating habits that you can sustain for a lifetime.
Kilojoule (calorie) control without the calculator
Counting kilojoules is tedious! Put the calculator away and try these tips instead.
Incidentally, kilojoules and calories are simply units of energy. They’re used to measure how much energy people will get from consuming food or drink. In Australia, the measurement that we use is kilojoules, rather than calories; however, you’ll sometimes see the terms used interchangeably.
Focus on whole foods
Focus the majority of your diet on eating whole foods (unprocessed, unrefined plant foods), such as fruit and vegetables. Aim to eat as little processed foods as possible in your diet and you’ll easily reduce your kilojoules.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating provides a great overview. Whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains clearly represent the majority of the foods displayed in the guide. You can still enjoy other food and drinks, such as cheese and a glass of wine, but all good things in moderation!
Smaller serving dishes
If you’re seeking to reduce your intake of kilojoules, an easy change that you can make is to simply serve your meals on a smaller plate or in a smaller bowl. Assuming you don’t go back for seconds, it can help to limit how much food you serve yourself. Over time, you’ll get used to eating smaller portions.
It’s important to note that the key factor is not just the total volume of food being consumed, but rather the types and proportions of foods being eaten. For example, in a healthy diet, whole foods can be eaten in larger volumes than highly processed takeaway meals.
Numerous studies have shown that eating more slowly gives your body time to feel full, so you’re less likely to eat more than you need. So slow down and appreciate each meal!
Drinks can be a trap
Fruit juice, soft drinks and alcohol can contain a very high number of kilojoules. As liquid isn’t as filling as food, it’s all too easy to consume a very large number of kilojoules from drinks without even realising. So think carefully about your beverage choices and volume.
Water is always a guilt-free option – it has zero kilojoules!
Food is fuel
Food provides the body with the energy it needs for movement. If you have a very active lifestyle, then your body will require more fuel. Conversely, if you have a very inactive lifestyle, then your body will require much less fuel.
Consider your activity levels and adjust your diet accordingly.
You don’t have to give up snacking!
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of eating unhealthy snacks, like chocolates or potato chips. The afternoon hits and a chocolate bar offers a tempting energy boost!
You don’t have to cut out snacks completely; the trick is to substitute unhealthy snacks for healthy ones, such as fruit and nuts. A handful of berries and some nuts will give you an energy boost without the guilt. Bananas are another great option, they’re nature’s pre-packaged snack food!
Beware of packaged snacks that convey a healthy image, such as muesli bars, as these can be very high in kilojoules (in some cases more than an average chocolate bar).