Does it really matter what I eat these days?
Australians are living longer and can now expect a good quality of life well in to their senior years. Good nutrition and physical activity can work together to help Australians maintain independence, strength, mental agility, energy and vitality throughout life. As we age, the quality of our food choices becomes more important than ever.
Quality foods and an active lifestyle can make a big difference to your quality of life now and into the future, no matter how much you weigh.
Weight loss plans are best set and monitored under medical supervision
If you are considering weight loss, we recommend that you plan this in collaboration with your GP and health care team. Nutrition and physical activity play an important role in the management of chronic conditions but the wrong plan can accelerate the loss of muscle mass and contribute to frailty and bone loss. Your GP may refer you to an allied health practitioner for more detailed advice, which you can access at a discounted rate.
I’m confused: What diet really works?
You have probably seen various diets come and go in popularity over the years. It can be confusing hearing conflicting information about various diets in the media. Unfortunately, some of these diets do not involve smart eating for weight management, and are sometimes known as ‘fad’ diets.
Apart from these ‘fad diets’, trials have shown that a variety of sensible options can be used to lose weight, including strategies that involve various combinations of carbohydrate, fat and protein such as the Mediterranean, vegetarian and low GI eating plans. The real challenge is to keep weight off and maintain a balanced lifestyle and nutrient intake in the process, which means your strategy needs to reflect your food preferences and fit with your needs around convenience, cost and sustainability.
Despite the variety of healthy eating patterns available, there is widespread agreement on the essential components required to achieve and maintain healthy weight, and these strategies are also consistent with the national dietary guidelines such as:-
- Making vegetables a feature of your meals and snacks. This is why our recipe section is full of vegetable based ideas.
- Choosing drinks wisely, water should always be the main drink and limit other choices to small amounts including sweetened drinks, 100% juices, fruit juice drinks and alcohol.
- Avoiding highly processed foods with added fats, salt or sugar.
So what can I do?
To make a sensible start, it can be helpful to look at suggested serving sizes for you as set out in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.You will notice that a similar intake of vegetables is needed at all ages, but as we get older, we need less grain foods and more calcium- rich foods (like milk, yogurt and cheese). Check your intake against these guidelines, and begin making gradual changes where needed.
Once you have set some goals with your GP there are lots of web sites that can support you to stick with your goals and track your progress. Check out the Shape up Australia resources.
If you are interested in specific nutrition topics we recommend you refer to the peak bodies that are most relevant to your needs such as:
These groups keep on top of the latest research and their information is the result of a balanced and thorough analysis.
If you are having trouble working it all out, or have a specific condition to manage, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) can work with you to plan a way forward. You can find an APD through your GP, or online @ https://daa.asn.au/.
See your GP if you notice any unplanned weight loss
Unplanned weight loss may initially come as a pleasant surprise, but it could be the first indication of a serious health condition which may need treatment. It is important to be pro-active and see your GP if you have noticed any unexpected changes in your appetite, weight or the fit of your clothes.
Resource: OPAL (SA Health)