When it comes to food and nutrition, do you know how to make the right choices for you?
From the 11th to the 17th of February the Dietitians at Gippsland Southern Health Service are celebrating ‘Smart Eating Week’ to promote the benefits of healthy eating habits. The Dietitians have answered some commonly asked questions about what smart eating means to the Gippsland community.
What does ‘smart eating’ mean and what is the best diet to be on?
Smart eating is all about living a healthy lifestyle, which combines healthy food and regular exercise. Healthy eating means making sure you eat a variety of foods from the 5 food groups each day including bread and cereals, fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat or alternatives such as fish, chicken, eggs, tofu or legumes. Smart eating also means drinking plenty of water, limiting sugary drinks such as soft drink and avoiding ‘discretionary’ or ‘junk’ foods that are often high in saturated fats, sugar and salt such as pies, cakes, biscuits and take away foods.
There is evidence to suggest that the ‘best’ diet is one that you can stick to in the long term. The one that has been found to be the most beneficial for heart health and reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes is the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is not a diet as such, but rather a lifestyle that emphasizes eating more plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes and healthy fats such as nuts, oily fish and olive oil, while limiting red meat to twice a week and red wine in moderation. Regular exercise and eating with family and friends is also a big part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. By living more like our friends in this part of the world, we can help improve our heart health and reduce our risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
How can I boost my vegetable intake?
Vegetables are good for you as they provide fibre which is essential to keep your bowels healthy, vitamins and minerals for good nerve and cell health, add colour to your meal to make it look more appealing! There are many ways you can incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Try having vegetable sticks for a snack in place of crackers, add vegetables to scrambled eggs or quiches, try salad ingredients such as lettuce, beetroot, grated carrot and onion in your sandwich. Try grilled tomato and mushrooms with your eggs on toast, add grated vegetables to your pasta sauces. Remember to try for 5 serves per day, which is the same as 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day.
Why is it so expensive to eat healthy?
It is a common myth that healthy foods are more expensive. Evidence proves that when buying fresh ingredients instead of single packaged items, and when planning and budgeting your weekly shop, healthy eating works out significantly cheaper than processed and takeaway foods.
There are plenty of ways to save money on healthy food! These include:
Buying your fruits and vegetables in season
Buy frozen rather than fresh
Buy non-perishable items in bulk
Check out the specials
Buy store brands
Plan & write a list when you go shopping
Support local; in Gippsland we are spoilt for choice when it comes to farmers markets
What is the difference between Kilojoules and Calories?
They are the same thing! Calories and Kilojoules are a measure of how much energy, or fuel, the food and drink we consume gives us to be able to work, play, exercise and learn. The difference is that in Australia we use Kilojoules while in other countries such as American, they use Calories.
So, how much energy is in our food? How much energy do we need to burn, through exercise, to maintain our current weight? Essentially, it all comes down to our choices! What foods we choose to eat, and the amount of exercise we choose to do. For example, burning off the energy of an apple can take 12 minutes of brisk walking, while 250ml of apple juice will take 27 minutes! 1 row of dark chocolate will take you about 20 minutes to burn off while that 600ml Chocolate milk will take 73 minutes! Being smart with your choices is the best way to stay healthy.
How can I get an appointment with a Dietitian at Gippsland Southern Health Service?
A referral to a dietitian can be made by yourself, your doctor, another health professional, family, friends and carers. Simply contact Gippsland Southern Health Service to find out more (03) 5667 5555.