Diet therapy

Managing the waistline during the recession

When things get tough people often turn to food for comfort.

Unfortunately as weight is gained not only do we become less healthy and more prone to diseases such as heart disease and diabetes but also we suffer mentally. We become more depressed, anxious and angry it can be harder to concentrate and make decisions and our self esteem declines.

If this all sounds familiar then here are a few tips to help:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables they are filling and contain fibre, vitamins and minerals for growth and brain function and stop some forms of cancer.
  • Club together with some friends and grow a garden. Not everyone has the land, tools or knowledge about gardening but when the load is shared as a group the task becomes more fun and you can learn new skills. Besides everything tends to grow at once so there will be plenty to share. Encourage children to help you too.
    Also don’t discount canned and frozen vegetables. These can be just as nutritious as free ones if steamed and quantities can be easier to control with less wastage especially for people flatting or living alone.
  • Keep eating your breads and cereals
    White bread and processed cereals such as cornflakes and rice bubbles are cheap they are digested very rapidly within 30minutes-1hour and then you get hungry again. Better to start the day with some porridge and if you add 1-2 Tbsp of bran you will feel full for at least 2-3hours. Also the fibre in these cereals will help to control your weight and blood sugar levels and reduce fat absorption. While you may need to look out for specials the wholegrain breads are also more filling than white and the B group vitamins they contain are important healthy nerves.
  • Watch what you drink
    Keep drinking low-fat calcium enriched milk and aim for 2-3 glasses per day. While it may be expensive you need it for strong bones and teeth. Don’t take your mobility for granted it is money well spent.Also drink plenty of water as soft drinks, cordials and excess alcohol will increase your weight and risk of diabetes.
  • Buy lean meats and aim for 3 red meat, 2 white meat and 2 non-meat meals/week.
    While sausages and luncheon meats are cheaper they do contain high levels of saturated fat. You don’t need a lot of meat to stay healthy. Women need around 60-90gm per day cooked meat (90-120g raw) while men and children need around 90-120g/day cooked meat (120-150g raw). So shop around and buy only the exact amounts you need rather than ‘rounding quantities up’.
  • Look to other forms of protein to aid body growth and repair.
    Baked beans, lentils, tofu, eggs, cheese can all be used to replace the protein of meat at least twice a week while still giving you valuable nutrients. If you choose to be a vegetarian full-time then learn as much as possible about it first because there is more to this than just cutting out meat and some animal products, especially if considering vegetarianism for your children.
  • Mind the takeaways
    One would think that there would be fewer takeaways eaten during a recession. However there are recent reports from Australia that McDonalds® plans to open 79 new stores there over the next 2yrs and Domino’s Pizzas are opening 4 new stores. As people find restaurant food becomes more expensive they turn to takeaways instead. However these are neither always healthy nor cheap. Keep some plain pizza bases or burger buns and patties in your freezer and make your own. It’s a great way to use up leftovers and something that the kids can help with too.
  • Get Moving
    You don’t have to pay huge gym fees or have the latest gear to keep fit. You just need a plan to increase your overall exercise a little each day. If you aim for 4-5hours each week of walking, biking, jogging or other activities you enjoy and keep a diary you will soon clock up the miles and notice how much better you will feel.

About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

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