Keeping those extra kilograms off

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am


Ellis asks: I feel like I've been indulging too much and noticed I've gained a kilo or so. What type of foods should I avoid?

Wynnie says: If you want to achieve a healthy body weight - and optimal health - you need to focus on balancing the calories you consume with the calories you burn. A balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low in processed, fatty and sugary foods, combined with daily exercise, is the healthiest and most effective way to achieve a healthy body weight for your size.

Beware of calorie-laden drinks: Don't swill litres of juice, soda or lattes during or between meals. Did you know a 237ml serving of 100 per cent fruit juice or soda contains about 115 calories? Research has shown that children who have at least this amount of sugary drinks a day tend to eat more than those who don't drink them. It's thought the sugar in these drinks causes their insulin levels to rise, and make them hungrier.

Mindless eating can pile on kilos: Don't make a habit of snacking when you're watching a movie or surfing the net. It's easy to become distracted and overeat when you're focusing on something else.

Savour your meal: Chew every mouthful of food and eat slowly. It takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. Put your utensils down between each mouthful of food.

Low-fat or low-calorie aren't always healthy choices: Often when people think they're eating healthy foods, they tend to overeat or compensate for being 'saintly' by eating more of them.

Get moving: Teens need 60 minutes of exercise every day. Include a mix of aerobic (e.g. running, stair-climbing, swimming, dancing, jumping rope) and muscle strength training (e.g. crunches, push ups, squats) exercises.

Keep a check on portion sizes. The British Dietetic Association advises that, when eating dairy foods, think of a small box of matches or three stacked dominoes. A portion of cheese should be this size. When eating fruit and veg, a portion is the size of your fist. For carbohydrate foods, a grapefruit-sized portion of potatoes, rice, pasta or bread is just right. When eating meat, a pack of cards will help you visualise the portion size.

Luxuries allowance: The USDA suggests having an 'allowance' for luxuries like chocolate, and sugary, fatty and processed foods. Each person has a total calorie 'budget' for the day. This can be divided into 'essentials' and 'extras' like you would with your pocket money.

Essentials are calories which you need to meet your nutrient requirements. Choosing low-fat, low-sugar, high-fibre items whenever you can means you're making the best nutrient purchases. Any extra allowance can be 'spent' on luxury items. Spend wisely though - most of us have only a small 'extras' allowance: 100-300 calories a day.

Rough guide to calories in treats

1 can of cola - 143 calories

1 small bag of crisps - 155 calories

1 medium chocolate chip cookie - 48 calories

1 small bar of milk chocolate - 235 calories

1 small hamburger - 250 calories

4 deep-fried chicken wings - 280 calories

1 slice tomato and cheese pizza - 230 calories

1 small bowl of instant noodles with fried pork chop - 220 calories

1 small egg tart - 160 calories


Breakfast: Choco pie

Lunch: Beef and rice bowl or fast food meal; cola or iced tea

Dinner: Sandwich with bacon, pepperoni, pastrami, ham and cheese, cookie; cola

Snacks: Crisps, graham crackers or blueberry muffin

Exercise: 1 hour PE lesson at school, 2 hours badminton twice a week, basketball every day, skateboarding and cycling at the weekends.