Swap your way to a healthier you
With winter well and truly here and temperatures dropping dramatically, we find ourselves even more reluctant to leave our homes, piling on as many layers as possible and regularly eating warm comfort food. As busy mums who often work at home, most of us can probably relate to this, but what are the effects of over-eating on our health, wellbeing and weight?
At the end of last month I joined a panel of health and nutrition experts for a live debate in Sydney to talk through just that. Hosted by the NSW Food Authority and NSW Health to celebrate its 8700kJ campaign, I met long-time friend and fitness expert Michelle Bridges for an energetic discussion. You can see a snap shot of the evening here.
8700kJ Winter Eating Habits Revealed
We kicked off the afternoon by looking at recent research from the NSW Food Authority which delved into our winter eating habits. Surprisingly, the study found that nearly half of Australians expect to gain up to two kilos this winter, and over half of us say that this weight gain will be caused by exercising less and eating more fast and snack foods and takeaways.
However, women aren’t the main weight gain offenders here – our men expect to put on weight over winter with 53 per cent of males envisaging a 2-5kg weight gain compared to only 38 per cent of females!
The study is one of the first to investigate winter eating habits in relations to fast and snack food consumption. It also revealed that:
- 90 per cent say they eat more fast and snack foods and takeaways because they make them feel warmer and happier
- 36 per cent of Australians are concerned about putting on weight this winter
- 59 per cent say weight gain will be caused by exercising less and eating more fast and snack foods and takeaways
- 26 per cent will crave these foods out of habit
The 8700kJ campaign is an educational initiative to support new laws introduced in NSW on mandatory menu board labelling. Fast food chains and larger snack food chains with over 20 outlets in NSW and 50 outlets nationally, must now display the kilojoule counts at point of purchase.
To assist with the war on winter weight gain, NSW Food Authority and NSW Health is encouraging Mums to visit www.8700.com.au where they can calculate their ideal kilojoule intake, search food outlets to see how many kilojoules are in the food they are eating and learn about how exercise can help burn kilojoules.
The introduction of fast and snack food outlets now displaying kilojoule energy values is now going some way to help Aussies make informed food choices. However there is a huge education piece to be done around kJs: people are still confused about what they are, what they measure and what the average daily kilojoule intake should be.
The 8700kJ figure is for the average Australian; however everyone has their own individual figure. Remember in winter this figure doesn’t necessarily change, in fact it may go down if you are exercising less, and being aware of that can help us all make better food choices.
So, here are some quick and easy changes Mums can make in the home and while out at fast food and snack outlets, to ensure that winter weight gain is kept at bay:
1. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Avoid sitting down in the home for long periods at a time – try and break up your working days with plenty of activities.
2. Calculate your ideal kJ figure on the 8700 website or 8700kJ app. Once you know this figure, you can use it to make smart decisions about your menu choices when you next run to the local food outlet
3. Calculate your kids’ kJ figures – Like adults, there is no magic, single kJ number for all kids. Every child is different. Click here for a kids version of the 8700 kJ calculator. There is no option to make weght loss a goal in this one, so if you’re concerned about their weight, consult a qualified health professional
4. Next time you’re tempted to drive to pick up food, why not walk instead? A gentle 30 minute walk will burn off approx. 548kJ
5. Next time you’re about to pop out to purchase a bite to eat, check out the below infographic for some easy food swap choices which will see you eating lower kilojoule options: