January 10, 2011

Healthy habits here we come!

Happy New Year! The Canuck has decided that this year is ‘the year of tennis’ for the two of us and 10 days into 2011 he’s already booked us in for a social tennis group on Saturdays at a club up the road. I’m thinking that after a Christmas of home-baked goodness a lot of us are making some similar changes in an effort to shed the extra kilos.

Aim for healthy habits rather than crash diets

As the saying goes, every journey starts with the very first step. So, if you are aiming to lose some weight, rather than ‘going on a diet’ and radically changing what you eat, try to think of a small change that you can make today and keep doing until it becomes a healthy habit. By aiming for healthy habits you are more likely to make changes that will last and be better for your health as well as your waistline. If you are trying to cut down on fat then start today by swapping to a reduced fat milk today. Try doing that every day for a week or two and before you know it you’ll be choosing low fat milk at the supermarket without thinking (low fat dairy products are recommended for all the family over 2 years old).

I have to mention here that after reading my previous blog post on whole grains my friend Pren has done exactly this and now has a healthy habit of choosing grain bread rather than white. So it can be done!

Losing the extra ‘fruit mince pie kilos’

It's not rocket science: most of us know it comes down to fewer calories in and getting more physically active; but that’s easier said than done sometimes!

If you can find a couple of small things you could change that would reduce your total intake by 500 calories each day you would be on the way to steady weight loss. You don’t need to count every calorie of every food you eat, just make one or two changes as a start.

Some places that you might find that 500 calories lurking:

A café muffin 500 calories

A large flat white coffee or latte 220 calories
A 50g (small) pack of chips (crisps) 250 calories

A can of soft drink (soda) 150 calories

Two chocolate biscuits 200 calories

A 55g chocolate bar 250 – 300 calories

1 glass of wine 150 calories

So if you swapped your breakfast of a regular flat white coffee and muffin to a skinny flat white and piece of fruit toast and had water rather than a soft drink you’d be having 500 calories less each day.

Vegetables are packed with nutrients without excess calories so another way to cut back on calories without getting hungry is to eat plenty of veggies. At meals, aim for your plate to be ¼ lean meat or other protein, ¼ carbohydrate and ½ vegetables of different colours for a variety of nutrients.

Remember to be realistic about your weight loss. The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is slowly and steadily. By aiming for half a kilo each week (about a pound a week) you’re being realistic and are more likely to stick to those healthy habits.

One of the biggest intervention studies ever conducted in nutrition recently found that the most effective eating pattern for keeping off the extra kilos once you’ve lost weight was eating a little more protein and choosing lower glycaemic index foods (like grain bread instead of white and sweet potatoes rather than white potatoes).

Move that body

Another great healthy habit to pick up in the New Year is adding in a little more physical activity. People that lose weight and keep it off are most often the ones that get 60 minutes of exercise each day, including walking to train station, walking home with the kids after school or meeting a friend for a bike ride before you go for coffee (or, like the Canuck, joining a local social tennis group). Why not get 20 minutes exercise tomorrow work your way up to 60 minutes by March?

If you are in Australia, look out for Healthy Weight Week activities January 23 - 30, 2010. For individual advice on weight loss make an appointment to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian

If you have a healthy habit goal for 2011 post a comment below to let me know how it's working out.


  1. #1- yay! im famous!!!
    #2- i already switched to no fat milk and its fine for most stuff but really doesnt cut the mustard if i just want a glass of milk. :0) also getting my lates non fat now but really just drinking my coffee black these days and switched to coke zero.
    #3- i thought we were measuring things by the "cats in a back pack" standard these days. kilos and pounds ppfffff.
    #4- SWEET POTATOES are better than white potatoes!? really?! ok then. yes please *holds out plate for some sweet potatoes*

  2. I never make resolutions for the new year, but this year I just decided to stop putting flavors in my coffee. I'm a barista, so I have constant access to lots of sugary flavored syrups for drinks. I decided to just embrace the wonder that is a skinny cappuccino with honey and cinnamon instead of some sort of syrup and so far, I've stuck clean to it. Thanks for the article. This is lovely.

  3. Great ideas for small changes you can make! Thanks for sharing them.