Diet reboot - simple changes to help manage weight

If you’ve put on a few kilos during lockdown, you’re certainly not alone.

The CSIRO revealed 40 per cent of people following its Total Well Being Diet gained weight during lockdown months with 66 per cent exercising less, 60 per cent eating more junk food and 63 per cent snacking more. It’s a snapshot the CSIRO says reflects the challenges facing all Australians.

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The benefits of a healthy diet stretch far beyond shedding kilos. From improved mood to helping to manage stress to reducing the risk of chronic disease, a well-rounded diet can help you improve your physical and mental health.

So, given the additional stress and worry everyone is experiencing, what are some realistic and really simple ways to give your diet a healthy reboot? We asked our dietitians to each share their number one, go-to move for eating healthier. And some may surprise you.

Don’t cut carbs 

Angela Saunders, APD, 14 years at Sanitarium

Cutting carbs is one of the most common changes I hear people talk about when they want to shed kilos, but it isn’t necessarily the way to go. While being popular for decades, the science on low carb diets is still debated. Low carb diets may help you lose weight initially, like any restrictive diet, but there’s little evidence they help to keep the weight off. In fact there’s much more science to support the long-term weight loss and overall health benefits for diets that are high in good carbs and fibre.

Carbs are an essential part of your diet. They feed your brain and muscles. Quality carbs also contain fermentable fibres which are imperative for good digestive health and also help prevent dips and spikes in blood sugar levels which helps to keep food cravings at bay.

So my simple tip to reboot your diet is to just choose more quality, or low GI, carbs like those found in wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits, veggies, legumes and nuts and cut back on highly processed carbs like confectionery, cakes, biscuits and takeaways - you get the theme! If you are focusing on losing weight, it’s also important to stick to the recommended serving sizes and number of serves per day.

Slow down

Charlotte Moor, Dietitian, 2 years at Sanitarium

Being at home, may have you feeling as though you’ve put the brake on already, but when it comes to losing weight for the long-term, slowing down and eating mindfully has been shown to have a positive impact. Being conscious of each mouthful without distractions (no more mindless snacking while watching Netflix) helps you to focus on what you are eating, allows you to better gauge how much you eat and tune into the signs of feeling full. Mindful or intuitive eating has been practiced for centuries and it’s a premise to the Okinawan lifestyle. Okinawa is one of the world’s blue zone regions, or exceptional hot spots where people live extraordinarily long and healthy lives.

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Eat more plants

Trish Guy, APD, over 20 years at Sanitarium

Loading up on plants is one of the tastiest ways to watch your weight and stay healthy - it’s no wonder plant-based food is such a big trend. When put to the test, vegetarian diets regularly come out on top for weight loss. As well as getting more nutrients, eating plant-based foods provide plenty of dietary fibre to keep you feeling full for longer and reduce snacking.

However, simply going vegetarian isn’t an instant guarantee to better health. You can be an unhealthy vegetarian if you don’t have a balanced diet. With interest in vegan and vegetarian diets on the rise there’s also been an explosion in the number of fast-food options to tempt you. As with any healthy diet, the key is to switching to a healthy plant-based or full vegetarian diet is to eat a wide variety of whole foods - veggies, fruit, legumes, wholegrains and nuts - to make sure you get a good balance of fibre, quality carbs, plant protein and plenty of nutrients.

Keep up good breakfast habits

Manling Ng, APD, 3 years at Sanitarium 

One good thing about lockdown, or working from home, has been finding a little extra time in the mornings to enjoy breakfast. It’s also an important habit to keep if you are looking to trim down. The old adage “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper” rings true with the scientific evidence showing front-loading calories from nutritious foods to the start of your day helps to lose weight. The right breakfast could do more than just help you lose a few kilos. Ensuring your brekky includes protein will help keep you fuller for longer and fibre will aid gut health and immunity.

Snack right

Penny Eustace, APD, 14 years at Sanitarium

There’s no doubt we’ve been snacking more and it’s a particularly easy habit to fall into if you’re working from home. The good news is, to give your diet a healthy makeover, there’s no need to cut snacks all together. Instead try to focus on snacking right and enjoying your snacks mindfully. Choose snacks that contain quality wholegrains or high-fibre carbohydrates and protein to help keep hunger pangs at bay, maintain your energy levels and even help fill nutritional gaps in your diet - snacks are a great way to get that extra serve of fruit or veggies. Some of my favourite snacks are simply a handful of unsalted nuts, wholegrain crackers with hummus, some fresh fruit (especially if I’m craving something sweet) or even some plain popcorn.

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