There are many ways you can cut kilojoules from your shopping trolley without cutting flavour. HFG dietitian Zoe Wilson shows one reader how, and you can follow her advice, too.
HFG reader Olivia (30) juggles two jobs as a vet nurse and as an animal shelter manager. Working 12 hours a day leaves her little time to cook or look after herself and, after putting on weight, she’s keen to find a solution.
In a past life, Olivia worked as a fitness instructor and led a fit, healthy lifestyle. Changing careers five years ago, her priorities began to change too, and she’s gained 25 kilos.
“I’ve become really conscious of how uncomfortable I’m feeling”, she says.
Olivia picks up takeaway foods on her way home most nights. When she does shop, her trolley involves quick foods like 2-minute noodles, tortillas, BBQ chickens and pasta sauces. Snack foods like Tim Tams, Burger Rings or Pringles also feature. These choices mean she’s adding extra fat, sugar and kilojoules, making it harder for her to manage her weight.
“I’m prepared to change. If I have to get organised on weekends and make and freeze recipes for weeknight meals, I will,” she says.
“Having a few healthy basics in the pantry for easy meals, as Olivia does, is a good idea. Products like wholemeal tortillas, tomato pasta sauces and salad vegies make tasty, filling dinners.
But, we need to find healthier snacks for her, so she’ll have enough energy to get through the day. This means she’ll be less hungry at 5pm and be more likely to have the energy to cook dinner and go for a walk afterwards.
Slow cookers are a great way to make large batches of healthy casseroles, soups and stews that can be frozen, so they’re ready to go when she gets home late.
Olivia also drinks soft drinks, but a better alternative would be sparkling mineral water if she feels like something fizzy.
Top shopping tips
Eat regular meals. Starving yourself will only lead you to overdo it at your next meal.
Reduce your portions and balance your plate. A healthy serve is a fist-sized portion of potato, rice or pasta; and a palm-sized piece of steak, chicken or fish. Fill the rest of your plate with colourful vegies.
Apply the 90:10 rule. Try to eat healthy, balanced meals 90 per cent of the time and allow yourself some wriggle room the rest of the time.
Go for quality over quantity! Fried or takeaway foods, biscuits, cakes and chips are high in saturated fat, sugar and an excess of kilojoules, without many nutrients. Cook your own meals and use vegies, fruit, lean meats and wholegrains. Add flavour with herbs, spices and healthy fats like olive oil or avocado.
Be prepared. Have healthy meals and snacks on hand to reduce temptation.
Choose water first. Soft drinks and cordial all add excess kilojoules to your day without filling you up.