Redesign your bowl with portion control
WHAT DOES A BALANCED DIET REALLY MEAN?
Michele Chevalley Hedge is the founder of A Healthy View clinic and works as a nutritionist, health writer and
presenter in Sydney. Catch her at The Wellness Show in Sydney, April 1 2016. www.ahealthyview.com.au
Downsize your crockery
Studies have shown you’re more likely to serve yourself larger portions when using bigger bowls and spoons.
Eat healthily when you’re hungry, but not when you’re bored. The idea is to stay satiated by planning healthy snacks throughout the day.
These days, food news and fad diets rule the web and dominate our televisions, making it difficult to know what’s best for your body. The truth is we’re eating more even though we’re less active. In 2012, 63 per cent of the adult population was overweight or obese, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.A significant chunk of the increase can be attributed to the amount of food we’re consuming. Studies repeatedly show that an increase in portion size results in eating more. One study at the University of New South Wales even found that factors such as education about portion sizes, fullness and flavour don’t reduce portions.
In 2016, our work days require less physical labour and more sitting at a desk. Even our down time is spent reclining in front of the television or scrolling through our Facebook feed. Add the fact that we’re eating more fast food that is high in kilojoules, but low in nutrients and you’ve got what has been referred to as ‘the obesity crisis’ in Australia.What’s more is that weight increases over the last few decades haven’t coincided with any significant increases in height, which means our body mass index (BMI) has risen as well. The scariest part of all of this is that a high BMI is the second highest contributor to the burden of disease (the impact of a health problem as measured by financial cost, mortality and morbidity), ahead of smoking and second only to dietary risks.
But there is hope, research by independent market analyst company, Data monitor, revealed that the proportion of Aussies who regularly make an effort to consume smaller portions increased to 46 per cent in 2010, compared with 29 per cent a year earlier, perhaps driven by obesity concerns.
When it comes to what we should or shouldn’t be stomaching and how often, nutritional medicine practitioner Michele Chevalley Hedge has a simple approach: eat whole foods. “A real balanced diet is one where the foundation is seasonal, local and whole foods, meaning food that is primarily unprocessed and unpackaged,” she says. Whole foods are foods in their purest form and have naturally occurring quality fats, good proteins and slow burning carbohydrates, making them the perfect base for a balanced diet. Don’t worry about the word ‘fat’, either. Research shows that good fats are loaded with benefits. Seeds, nuts, olive oil and coconut all contain these valuable fats that are great for our cognitive and mental health as they send signals to the brain (which is up to 70 per cent fat) which help keep us feeling satisfied.
That’s why Chevalley Hedge believes that eating whole foods and portion sizes are linked. “When you’re eating a clean, real-food diet that is naturally low in sugar, you eat a lot of nutrient-dense foods that send a signal to the brain and keep you satisfied via a hormone called leptin. So for example, it’s easy to eat six Tim Tams but it’s certainly not easy to eat six avocados,” she says.Interestingly, the food pyramid – which was heavy on bread and grains and that many of us grew up with, was replaced in 2013. In the new version, good fats are recommended at the peak with vegetables and legumes dominating the base.
“I think it’s pretty good but it isn’t perfect,” says Chevalley Hedge. “The reality is that every person is individual. If there was some way that the food pyramid could have an asterisk at the bottom that said, ‘This is a good foundation but everyone’s health requirements are different’, that would be ideal.”
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.