Don't Sweat The Small Stuff About Your Diet. Posted on 2 Nov 11:24 , 32 comments


If conflicting nutrition advice for health confuses you, you are not alone. The internet has left us spoilt for choice, nutritional health claims are everywhere. Should you follow the low sugar diet, eat organically or go vegetarian? Perhaps finding your ideal weight or body composition and staying there might be more important.

Eating healthy, being active and maintaining a healthy body weight all go hand in hand. It is very difficult for many people to eat poorly and maintain a body mass index below 25. BMI or Body mass index is a measure of weight based on height. To calculate your BMI you will need to divide your weight by your height squared. A BMI of over 30 indicates that you are overweight and puts you at a higher risk of having cardiovascular disease, indigestion, reflux, type 2 diabetes or some cancers.

A large study published in the Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention Journal, looked at the relationship between energy intake and cancer risk. During the study, researchers screened 38,660 women for a period of 8 years. Their findings suggest that increased energy or calorie intake was positively and significantly associated with risk of breast cancer, even after controlling for the effects of body mass index and exercise. A high calorie intake may modulate cancer risk by enhancing increasing insulin levels. The effect of elevated energy intake on cell changes may be a continuous and cumulative process through out the entire life. Further research is needed, however it is clear that nutritional education directed at calorie control or towards achieving energy balance may substantially reduce some cancers.

We’ve all heard the saying “we are what we eat”, perhaps it would be better worded “we are how much we eat. Remember marketers want us to consume more so food will always be promoted as healthy. Foods which are promoted with the biggest advertising budgets are often those which contain less nutrients and fibre and more fat and sugar. Read labels and stay away from hydrogenised or partially hydrogenised vegetable oils, these are Tran’s fats. Anything that has vegetable shortening on the label contains Tran’s fats and omitting these nasty fats from our diet help with weight management. Check labels for added sugar, sugar adds empty calories to our diet. An easy guide is to check the amount of sugar in grams on the food label. 1 tsp of sugar is around 5 grams, so if the label says 15 grams of sugar, you know that’s 3 teaspoons. Honey and golden syrup contain just as many calories. Other words for sugar are glucose, lactose, corn syrup, malt, malt extract or modified carbohydrate.

Energy in food is measured in calories or kilojoules. All food provides energy, fats provide 9 calories per gram, alcohol provides 7 calories per gram, and carbohydrates and protein both provide 4 calories per gram. While calorie counting has been given a bad rap lately, we cannot ignore the fact that as a nation we over eat.

It is tempting to use the latest super food or diet in the pursuit of health and wellness, but a quick tally up of your current food and drink intake will do more for your health. As a nation we are consuming more calories than we need. Never before have we had so much food available in such large portions. Experts agree we need to become more active, partly because we need to find a way to burn off the extra energy we’re consuming.

Making dietary changes for health reasons shouldn’t be complicated. It doesn’t matter whether you adopt the Mediterranean diet, go vegetarian or eat only organic. What ever you do watch what you eat and moderate your calories. In this day and age, calorie awareness is vital.