Australians, like people in many developed nations, are getting fatter. In the first ever national obesity study, researchers from Deakin University and The Cancer Council found that no group of Australians were immune from the weight-gaining trend and that younger women were twice as likely as older women to gain weight, according to the study, published in 2003 in “Public Health Nutrition.” If you want to change your personal weight statistics, starting a low-kilojoule diet could help.
A kilojoule is a metric unit of energy in the same way that a kilometer is a metric unit of distance. One kilojoule equals about 4 calories. If you are a woman who wants to moderately restrict her energy intake to lose weight, a 5,000 or 7,600 kilojoule diet might be right for you. If you are looking for dieting information not measured in kilojoules, the menu for a 1,500-calorie diet would be the equivalent of one for a 6,000-kilojoule diet.
A sample menu for a 5,000-kilojoule diet might include a breakfast of a half grapefruit, whole grain cereal with yogurt, toast and skimmed milk; for lunch, a chicken sandwich topped with mustard, tomato and lettuce and served with skimmed milk and carrot sticks and, for dinner, a 60 g steak with a medium potato, green beans and cucumbers. Someone following a 7,600-kilojoule diet could eat more fruits and vegetables, a larger portion of meat -- 90 g -- at dinner and include mayonnaise on a sandwich. You could snack on fruit, wheat biscuits and bread with peanut butter.
Eat Properly, Not More Often
Michelle Palmer, an Australian dietitian, said it doesn’t matter whether you eat two or six meals a day to lose weight and that frequent eating may lead to poor snacking choices. In an interview with the “Herald Sun,” Palmer says her experience has not supported current wisdom that the metabolism-boosting habit of eating six meals a day leads to greater weight loss. It’s OK to snack if you make healthy choices. Four apples and a single 60 g chocolate bar contain the same number of kilojoules, Palmer points out, and a single serving of potato chips has as many kilojoules as 9 cups of air-popped popcorn.
The Dietitians Association of Australia recommends that any weight loss diet include lots of fruits, vegetables and legumes -- kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, snap peas, lima beans. The DAA also suggests eating plenty of whole grain breads, rice and cereals, lean meat or meat alternatives, low-fat dairy products or alternatives such as fortified soy and rice milks. According to the association, you should drink a lot of water, limit alcohol intake and be careful about foods that contain salt, sugar and fat.
Make Small Changes
Susie Burrell, a dietitian who writes a column for Australia’s “Sunday Telegraph” says small changes in your diet will lead to the biggest results. She says changes in eating habits over the last 20 years -- eating snack foods instead of a piece of fruit and a cup of tea in mid-afternoon, for instance -- have made Australians heavier. The trend can also be reversed by adopting simple kiloujoule-cutting measures such as using low-fat dairy products, reducing your intake of red meat and using sugar cubes. You save 800 kilojoules a day from your diet if you eat a palm-sized portion of steak rather than one big enough to cover your hand. And you will save about 20 kilojoules each time you use a sugar cube instead of a teaspoon of sugar in coffee or tea.