Amongst dieticians, ‘supersize’ is fast becoming a swear word. The fact is that we’re eating much more these days than we were even 30 years ago. In the 90s, for instance, soda manufacturers started to make soda bottles that more than doubled in size. Soda bottle size continued to increase in size until they’d grown to more than 18 times the size of the original bottles.
While the continuously increasing size of soda bottles is a concern for healthcare practitioners mostly because of the amount of sugar in each bottle; this problem is not confined to soda. 20 years ago, the cheeseburger was 333 calories. The average cheeseburger today is 590 calories. To burn off all that extra energy, the average person would have to lift weight for 90 minutes.
All foods can be part of a balanced diet, but only if they are eaten in the right portion sizes. Part of the problem with expanding fast foods is that we tend to bigger portions of unhealthy foods, and healthier foods are sacrificed from the diet. The Healthy Active Kids South Africa report showed that children are eating far too much fast food, and as a result, their healthier nutritional habits are suffering. This is why paying close attention to portion size, and why eating mostly fresh foods is the best option for health and avoiding gaining weight.
Be cautious with your portions
The first rule of portion sizes is to read the label – often the serving size is much smaller than the size of the package. For instance, one bag of dried pasta can have up to 10 servings. Take a look at the nutrition information: the first column of numbers tells you how much of each nutrient is in 100g of the food; the second column tells you how much of each nutrient is in each serving. The serving size is listed at the top. For instance, in a bag of 10 chocolate chip cookies, one serving may be no more than one cookie.
There are many tricks you can employ to ensure that you don’t eat more than your portion:
- Reduce temptation by dishing up in the kitchen rather than at the table.
- Avoid eating in front of the TV – it’s easy to overeat when you’re distracted.
- Share a meal at a restaurant as the portions are often double the healthy size.
- Track your kilojoules with a food tracker or food diary. Just the act of writing down what food you eat can improve your eating habits.
- Have a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or small salad between meals, to avoid overeating at your next meal. Make sure that whatever snack you have is also the correct portion size: for instance, one small handful of unsalted nuts is one portion.
- Make your home a ‘portion friendly zone’ by using smaller dinner plates and dishing up with smaller serving spoons.
- Keep biscuit and sweetie jars out of sight and fruit bowls on easy to reach counters. Also, store healthier foods at eye level in the fridge and pantry.
“Making healthy food choices most of the time is what is important. But figuring out what the healthiest choices are in the context of our busy lives is often complicated,” says Adele Walker, Discovery Vitality dietician. “This is why Discovery Vitality’s HealthyFood benefit is a great consumer resource. But of course, it’s also a good idea to be able to take these decisions into your own hands – and that’s why we want you to be able to read a food label.”
If you’re cautious with your portions you can reduce your risk for cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.
About the #GrowUpFitSA campaign:
Discovery Vitality is introducing a fun, new way to teach you and your family about how to incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyles. Using a social media platform called Vine, Discovery Vitality is running the Grow Up Fit SA campaign: every day in June, which is Youth Month, we will release a six-second video snippet to show you how just how simple and enjoyable it is to Grow Up Fit!
Look out for topics like how to improve your diet by incorporating more tasty vegetables, why sugar and salt are best in moderation and creative, engaging ways to get your kids active!
For media queries contact Taryn Kerr on 011 529 2204 or email TarynKe@Discovery.co.za
About Discovery Limited
Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment products and wellness markets. Founded in 1992, Discovery was guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. Underpinning this core purpose is the belief that through innovation, Discovery can be a powerful market disruptor.
The company, with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, has expanded its operations globally and currently serves over 4.4 million clients across South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Singapore and Australia. Discovery recently announced an intent to partner with Generali, a leading insurer in Europe, and has partnered John Hancock in the US. These new partnerships will bring Discovery’s shared-value business model to protection industries in Europe and the US.
Vitality, Discovery’s wellness programme, is the world’s largest scientific, incentive-based wellness solution for individuals and corporates. The global Vitality membership base now exceeds three million lives in five markets.
Discovery is an authorised financial services provider and trades under the code “DSY” on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.
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