Relaxing on weekends can make it easy to relax our healthy eating habits, too. Nutritionist Claire Turnbull gives you solutions that make the most of your days off and help you stay on track!
Celebrating with friends at dinner
When a friend invites you to dinner, it’s simply good manners to bring a bottle of wine, and the host will probably offer you a drink and nibbles. Unsurprisingly, you could consume a significant number of kilojoules before you even sit down to dinner. One small (150ml) glass of wine is brimming with around 520kJ (124cal). And if you polish off a whole bottle over the course of the evening, you’ll have quaffed 2600kJ (622cal), which takes about an hour and 40 minutes of brisk walking to burn off.
If you’re looking forward to a special dinner and a drink or two, you may be tempted to skip lunch — but that’s a bad idea. Alcohol lowers your blood-sugar levels, causing hunger to hit hard. As a result, you fill up on cheese, crackers, chips and dips, loading up on kilojoules without realising.
Constant drink refills can make it hard to pace yourself or even remember how many standard drinks you’ve had. Consequently, you can end up drinking much more than you need — or even want.
The morning after can be as much of a diet danger as the night before. If you’ve had a late night and a fair bit of alcohol, you may be craving high-fat, carbohydrate-rich nosh, but these kinds of foods make it too easy to overload on kilojoules.
Eat before you leave home. Have a healthy meal or snack, such as a slice of grainy toast with avocado or a small tub of reduced-fat yoghurt, so you don’t turn up to dinner famished and overeat. Drink lots of water throughout the day to stay well hydrated so you don’t scull your first drink through thirst.
Take a platter of healthy snacks. Dipping raw vegie sticks into low-fat tzatziki or hoummos is a deliciously light way to start a meal, and you won’t regret having eaten vegies when you wake up in the morning!
Choose low-kilojoule drinks. Mix spirits with diet drinks or soda water. Alcohol is very energy dense, so light beers and low-alcohol wine are always healthier options.
Cook a decent breakfast. If you wake up and realise you drank too much the night before, make yourself a healthy cooked breakfast of wholegrain toast, eggs, beans and avocado rather than a monster greasy fry-up!
What’s in your glass?
250ml glass Diet Coke or diet tonic water
375ml bottle light beer
330ml bottle apple cider
30ml nip spirits (such as vodka, gin, whiskey, rum)
250ml glass tonic water
355ml bottle low-carb beer
250ml glass Coke
150ml glass wine
330ml bottle full-strength beer
Relaxing over a café breakfast
Café serving sizes are larger than what most of us usually eat at home, and let’s be honest, it’s pretty hard to leave those last few bites on the plate.
The oil, butter and cream in café dishes, such as omelettes, scrambled eggs and French toast, are likely to be in overly generous George Calombaris-style quantities, burdening these meals with fat and kilojoules.
Muesli with yoghurt and fruit may look like the lightest option on the menu, but it can still pack a heavy kilojoule punch. If the muesli is toasted (which makes it more like crushed muesli bars than cereal), and it’s served with large dollops of thick, full-fat yoghurt, it could have just as many (or more!) kilojoules than those in poached eggs on toast.
The rich hollandaise sauce that tops classic eggs Benedict is likely to be more than 50 per cent fat, which means your eggs are carrying an additional 30g of fat, 1200kJ (287cal) and nearly half of your day’s saturated-fat limit. That creamy sauce suddenly seems less appealing, doesn’t it?
When you’ve settled into a leisurely café breakfast, it’s easy to order seconds, particularly another caffeine fix! Remember: A regular-size coffee made with full-cream milk is brimming with around 690kJ (165cal) and 9g of fat — the equivalent of two teaspoons of butter!
Prefer a cool drink with your brunch? A large smoothie or rich milkshake can be like lunch in a glass, and although not as filling, it can have double the kilojoules of a small meal.
Downsize your portions. If you know the café’s serving sizes tend to be huge, try asking the waiter for a half-size meal. Alternatively, order one breakfast and share it with a friend.
Order heart-healthy fats. Skip the butter-slathered toast, or ask for a side of butter so you can just scrape it on. Order a side of creamy avocado instead, and you won’t even need butter.
Check that ‘healthy’ menu option. Ask about the muesli or look around to see if anyone’s ordered it. If it looks like crushed biscuits, or if the bowl looks big enough to feed four people, choose something else.
Tweak the menu. If you feel like eggs, opt for the poached version. If you prefer scrambled eggs, ask whether the chef can make them with milk, not cream.
Keep an eye on liquid kilojoules. Order coffee made with skim milk or, even better, kilojoule-free black or herbal tea. Regular soy milk has all the fat and kilojoules of full-fat milk, so ask for reduced-fat soy milk, too.
Pace yourself. Order the smoothie or the full breakfast, not both. You don’t have to sample the whole menu today!
How your brekkie stacks up
Eggs Benedict with ham and hollandaise sauce
French toast with banana and maple syrup
Scrambled eggs (made with cream and butter), bacon and two slices of toast with butter
Large skim-milk banana smoothie
Toasted muesli with full-fat yoghurt and fruit
Large blueberry muffin
Sleeping in on the weekend
When you catch up on sleep, breakfast can become brunch, leaving you unsure as to whether you should have lunch when the afternoon rolls around or just wait until dinner time.
When you wake up late and eat only two meals for the day, you may be tempted to graze on anything you can find between meals. And if you haven’t eaten by dinner time, you’ll be starving and likely to scoff a large meal.
The more you sleep, the less water you drink, making it easy to become dehydrated.
When you skip meals or dine out more often than usual, you tend to eat fewer fruits, vegies and reduced-fat dairy foods. On top of this, the irregular timing of meals can mean you easily consume all the kilojoules you need — but miss out on vital nutrients. And thanks to a lack of fibre and fluid, constipation can also become an issue.
Try not to gorge on your first meal of the day. Eat something similar to your usual breakfast or lunch, and if you’re still hungry a few hours later, have a small snack.
Nourish your body with wholefoods. If you miss most of the morning, aim to have two meals and two small snacks. Include vegies in at least one meal, and snack on fruit, low-fat yoghurt, or nuts and seeds.
Rehydrate with H2O. Drink a large glass of water as soon as you wake up, and remind yourself to have a glass with each meal and snack.
Enjoy a nourishing smoothie as a meal or snack. For a drink full of fibre and nutrients, whiz up fresh or frozen fruit, skim milk, low-fat yoghurt and a few tablespoons of chia seeds or oats.
Supporting the kids at the match
Training and tournaments can be scheduled for any time of day and can change from weekend to weekend, so establishing a healthy-meal routine can be tricky. Events can often run over lunchtime, too, making it hard to know what to eat and when.
Event centres, stadiums and local sports grounds often offer only a limited range of foods — usually chips, hot dogs, sausage sandwiches, pies and chocolate. If you’re hanging around all day as team cheerleader, you may be tempted to indulge in an unhealthy bite or two.
Mobile coffee vans are often sitting on the sidelines, so it’s easy to grab a latte or flat white while you’re watching the match. But order large full-fat coffees, and you’ll be sipping hundreds of unwanted kilojoules.
When the game’s over and the scores have been announced, everyone needs to eat, rehydrate and recover. The problem is that most post-match events don’t offer healthy food; you and the kids may only be able to lay your hands on pies and fizzy drinks.
Factor sports events into your weekly shop. Buy and stash healthy snacks (such as dried fruit and nuts, mini bags of pretzels, and muesli bars) in your car’s glovebox. These will keep the kids going until they get home so you don’t get talked into stopping for takeaways.
Enjoy a decent breakfast. Before you all set off for the day, have a healthy family brekkie, such as eggs and beans on toast, cereal with low-fat yoghurt and fruit, or a smoothie. A substantial breakfast not only gives kids energy to perform at their peak, but also keeps hunger pangs at bay for the first few hours.
Pack a cooler bag or esky with healthy food. If you’re at an all-day event, take some sandwiches, muesli bars, low-fat yoghurts, high-fibre crackers, fruit and nuts. It’s important to pack some water, too. If you’ll be out for only a few hours, throw a banana and a muesli bar into your bag in case you get hungry, and grab a bottle of water on the way out the door.
Move as much as possible. Stand up or walk around the field to burn kilojoules while you’re watching the game.
Have a late lunch and a light dinner. If you’re out all morning and get home in the early afternoon, eat a proper lunch and a small evening meal so you don’t snack and pick for the rest of the day.
Going away for the long weekend
If you arrive at your holiday destination without having given your weekend’s meals a second thought, finding healthy food could be tricky. You may have to choose between the tiny corner store and the fish and chip shop!
If you buy too many snacks to share on the road, you could easily end up eating junk food all weekend, and not just in the car!
Firing up the barbecue is one of the best parts of a holiday weekend — especially when someone’s caught some fresh fish to fry! — but the cook often overlooks the vegetables.
A few beers and wines go hand in hand with weekends away, but an entire weekend of drinking sends the kilojoule count soaring!
After a weekend away, the last thing you feel like doing is thinking about what you’re going to cook when you get home, let alone for the week ahead. Healthy eating habits can quickly go astray.
Plan ahead so you eat well. Head to your local supermarket on the way to your destination or on the Thursday evening before you leave. Pack staple foods such as crackers, Cereal, pasta, rice, nuts and eggs, along with low-fat yoghurt, milk and cheese. It may also be worth buying groceries for pasta dishes, beans on toast or an omelette, as all of these make for an easy Sunday-night meal when you get home (tired and uninspired!).
Stock up on the fresh stuff. Pick up fresh food at the fruit and veg shop on the way, or stop at roadside stalls for affordable fresh produce. To boost your vegie intake, buy zucchini, capsicums, onions, eggplant and corncobs as ‘filler foods’ to add to casseroles or to sizzle on the barbecue.
Buy alcohol alternatives. Take diet drinks and soda water to dilute spirits in mixed drinks. The service stations of some remote areas stock only sugary drinks — at twice the price!
Save money and lose kilojoules. Bypass the local burger shop near your holiday home and make your own salad sandwiches, which need only limited cooking facilities and minimum fuss. Decide on one or two meals for dining out, and stay in and cook for the other meals.