Why count the foods you love
In business there’s a saying: ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure.’ Dietitian Dr Penny Small has come up with a really simple way to help us apply this golden rule and measure and manage our total food intake and energy expenditure. ‘By keeping track of the food you eat even for a few days, you learn where the big energy-in amounts come from and you get a sense of what’s working well and what’s not,’ she says.
The following edited extract from The Food Lover’s Diet (Allen & Unwin) is reprinted with permission.
‘As a dietitian I have learnt that if we take a holistic approach to what we eat, we can manage food and our weight without depriving ourselves of the things we love. It’s about learning to love food and live life in a new way – a way that’s good for your body and good for your soul.’
Seven things I wish my mother had told me:
- For a healthy weight, kilojoules (calories) in and kilojoules out is what matters.
- Fat has double the kilojoules of protein or carbohydrate. Water has none. So foods high in fat tend to have more kilojoules and foods high in water tend to have less. This means that energy is the ultimate policeman of fat and sugar content.
- Food is to be enjoyed – all food – there’s no single food that one needs to feel guilty about eating. What matters is how much you eat and how often. There are many ways to achieve balance, and how you do it is your own choice.
- Life skills like time management and personal development have a part to play in all aspects of our lives including our health. Good planning and making good choices help you buy and eat food in a way that enables you to manage your weight.
- Less is more. Small mouthfuls of food eaten slowly taste the best and give the greatest pleasure.
- Food is one to way to cope with the ups and downs of life, but it’s not the best way. Seeking out good emotional management techniques that don’t include food is a better option.
- A bad habit is just a behavior or way of acting that has become routine or ingrained. Learning a new behavior is like learning any new skill. Every time you practise it, it becomes more familiar.
To achieve a happy weight – a balance between eating wisely and not going without, and between self acceptance and an eating pattern you can maintain, not just for a week, but for a lifetime, you need to discover new ways of supporting yourself. Here are a few tricks to help you on your healthy weight journey.
Trick 1: It’s about making small changes.
Trick 2: It’s how much you eat that matters. Portion size and moderation matter.
Trick 3: It’s how often you eat. You can eat the foods you like (including that square of chocolate) because it’s how much and how often you eat them that matters.
Trick 4: Swap this for that. Substituting better choices for the foods you eat most often, such as choosing lean meats and low-fat milks, and yoghurts will help you achieve your weight and shape goals. And making clever swaps with your everyday foods can leave a little room for the treats you love.
Dr Penny Small (BSc. MNutrDiet. GCertPop Health. PhD. APD) is Head of Corporate Nutrition Nestlé Oceania. The book was created by Penny and her team of dietitians with Nestlé donating 50% of royalties to Royal Far West, a charity providing a range of essential health care services to meet the needs of country children and their families in NSW, Australia.