What are Australian’s eating?

July 27, 2012 BY: LISA

Or perhaps the question should be what are we not eating!

A recent report put out by the Australian Institute of health and welfare titled “Australia’s Food & Nutrition 2012” has concluded that:

  • 90% of adults are not eating enough vegetables and
  • 50% of adults are not eating enough fruit
  • Women are more likely to have inadequate calcium intakes.

Most of our kids are meeting their nutrient requirements exceptfor calcium but they are eating too much sugar and saturated fat.

The report also shows that we are mostly preparing and eating food in the home with most people eating at home 5-6 nights per week.

So if we are eating at home, however, the majority of people are not eating enough vegetables -this means the meals we are preparing for ourselves do not have enough vegetables!

A more recent report found only one in twenty Australian adults was eating enough vegetables.

We know a diet low in vegetables leads to poor health. If there are no vegies on the plate then what have we actually got on the plate? A large serve of meat and large portion of rice/pasta or potato which adds up to higher calories, higher saturated fat and lower in vitamins and minerals. This type of eating is linked to obesity, heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.  We are definitely heading in the wrong direction.

Here is my challenge to you- Aim to increase the number of vegetables that you eat each day. What we are aiming for is to get in 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day – preferably of different types and colours of vegetables.

Aim to eat a rainbow everyday!

It’s quite easy to increase your vegetable intake:

  • Add some salad to your sandwich
  • Aim to have at least 4 different vegetables on your dinner plate
  • Try to include some vegetables in your snacks

What else does the report say:

When discussing the rates of overweight and obesity people often say “When I was a kid we used to eat bread and dripping”- pointing out that the diet was not as healthy back then.  The conversation then goes on to activity levels that have declined and the impact this has on health and weight. But let’s consider another fact from this recent
report.

There are more than 55,000 food items available in supermarkets! Think back to 40 years ago (which is about as far as I go back!) there was not the amount of refined, pre-prepared, high fat, high sugar foods available. Our food supply is so much more complicated now and as we all get busier we are relying on these quick easy choices to feed us instead of relying on the old favourites such as meat and 3 veg.

Between 2009 and 2011 the top five food categories sold (excluding fruit and vegetables) were:

  1. Dairy foods
  2. Cold drinks
  3. Frozen foods
  4. Confectionary
  5. Bakery items.

That means a lot of stuff in our trolleys are not from the 5 core food groups.

The call to action here is to rethink the number of foods that are pre-prepared in your trolley, decrease your lollie and soft drink purchases and aim to cook meals from scratch- make sure there are plenty of veggies.

Remember all changes can be made slowly. You don’t have to be perfect overnight. Set yourself a goal to include on extra vegetable serve (1/2 cup) each day or plan to cook one meal a week from scratch rather than relying on pre-prepared foods- If you have to rely on these ready meals then try and add in some extra vegetables to the dish.

Making these small changes means that you could lose weight, save money and most importantly improve your health!

Lisa Renn

Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)

 

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