Tuesday, March 13, 2018
The recommended daily calorie allowance is 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women. If we stay within this range, our natural energy consumption ensures the calories are put to good use and our weight remains steady. The less active you are, the less calories you burn, so the less you need to eat in order to maintain a healthy weight.
If we consume 1000 calories more than we need each day, without working off those additional calories in energy, the weight slowly starts to creep on. We don’t suddenly wake up one morning and find our clothes no longer fit and we have ballooned in size. It is a gradual process. We gain a couple of pounds every year until the weight mounts up and then we either buy bigger clothes or resort to fad diets. These are short-term solutions which ignore the very fact that it is our relationship with food in the first place that caused the issue. If we do not address the issue itself, we cannot hope to solve the problem.
Put simply, yes.
As a rule of thumb, Public Health England recommends consuming about 400 calories for breakfast and 600 calories each for lunch and dinner to allow for extra drinks and snacks throughout the day.
Make the wrong choices at your local coffee house (*hint – Starbucks signature hot chocolate with whipped cream = 400 calories!) and you’ve almost blown your lunchtime calorie budget before you have even unwrapped your (low fat) chicken Caesar Salad.
Of course, we don’t always know how many calories an item has nor do we always want to make the sensible choice, and that is absolutely fine, as long as the indulgent option is the exception, rather than the rule. It is all about taking responsibility for our own health.
Take alcohol for example. When we think about our calorie consumption, we rarely think about those contained in the alcohol we drink. A regular habit of a small (175ml) glass of wine with dinner every evening, or a couple of pints after work, could see your weekly calorie consumption boosted by 1,590 and 2,615 calories respectively – and that’s not even taking the weekend’s consumption into account.
We live in a time poor society, fast food is tempting and delicious BUT it is also full of salt, sugar and fat. Processed – or should that be ultra-processed — foods (including such household staples as: bread, crisps and frozen pizza) are quick but, according to recent reports, carcinogenic.
So, as with everything in life, we have to weigh up the benefits of a quick fix with the negative impact on our long-term health.
In the real world, with work and kids and dogs and households, convenience food will always have a place (hence the name) but it must not be our go-to meal option. We need to recognise that making our own curry sauce is an entirely different health proposition to buying a ready made jar (for one thing you know exactly what it contains). Where we do reach for the less than healthy choice, we need to recognise it as such and, where possible, supplement it with vegetables, add in a handful of nuts or follow it up with a piece of fruit for pudding.
It is too easy to place the blame elsewhere. Yes, fast food outlets and supermarkets need to be more proactive in providing us with guidance to help us to make healthier choices, but we also need to take more responsibility, after all, long-term we are the ones who will suffer the consequences for the choices that we make.
You can find further information, tips and resources on the NHS Choices website.