I spent last weekend in the Snowies with my training partner and the temperature dropped into the negative figures. Going for our training run was a real challenge to my motivation. But we did it, decked out in beanies, thermals and gloves! Although it may not be quite as cold where you are, there is no doubt that winter brings it’s challenges for staying fit and healthy.
With the winter chill we all find ourselves retreating into the home, piling on as many layers as possible and filling our bellies with warm comfort food. Whilst most of us can probably relate to that, we need to ask ourselves what are the effects of this lifestyle on our health, wellbeing and weight?
At the end of last month I joined a panel of health and nutrition experts for a live debate in Sydney to talk through just that. Hosted by the NSW Food Authority and NSW Health to celebrate its 8700kJ campaign, I met long-time friend and fitness expert Michelle Bridges for an energetic discussion.
You can a snap shot of the evening here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBGPuaizab8&feature=youtu.be
The line up
Alongside myself and Michelle, we welcomed Dr Lisa Szabo, Chief Scientist at NSW Food Authority, Professor Ian Caterson, Director of the Institute of Obesity, Nutrition & Exercise at the University of Sydney and Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer to the 8700kJ Big Night In gathering. Also in attendance was Waverley Council and Bondi Rescue’s Trent ‘Maxi’ Maxwell who brought colour to the Gen Y findings.
8700kJ study into winter eating behaviours
We kicked off the evening by looking at some hard facts, from recent research by the NSW Food Authority. The study revealed that almost half of Australian’s expect to put on 1-2kg this winter – that’s the equivalent to the weight of more than two million beef burgers.
The research results are quite alarming – men expect to gain more weight than women in winter, with 15% claiming they are more likely to. And over half (59%) of Australians say weight gain will be caused by exercising less and eating more fast foods and takeaways.
Despite the short term benefits, many of us know these foods aren’t the best choice no matter how tempting they may be.
You can make some easy swap choices just take a look here:
As the days get darker we often lose our routine, staying home more often and seeking warmth in energy dense comfort foods. There is also a psychological shift in winter and it is almost like we are going on holiday – the exercise and balanced eating goes out the window.
Winter is a pivotal time for weight gain and we don’t usually notice we’ve put on the kilos until September-time and by then it can be pretty difficult to shift for spring and summer.
The introduction of fast and snack food outlets now displaying kilojoule energy values is now going some way to help you to make informed food choices when you choose to eat from these outlets. However you are forgiven if you are confused about what kJ are, what they measure and what the average daily kilojoule intake should be.
That is why I am supporting the 8700kJ campaign you may remember me writing about it back when it launched in February of this year. The 8700kJ campaign is all about helping Aussies make informed food choices.
Since it launched the campaign has been making good progress in raising awareness around kilojoules as a metric measure (moving from calories to kilojoules is just the same as when we had to switch from miles to kilometres), lower kilojoule foods and helping people learn about their ideal daily kilojoule figure – different for all of us depending on your size, activity level and so on. The average Australian consumes 8700 kilojoules of food and drink each day and you can calculate your ideal figure by visiting 8700.com.au. In winter this figure doesn’t necessarily change and being aware of that can help us all make better food choices.
There are tools out there to support you. Take a good look at the www.8700.com.au website, have a tour. Don’t just accept winter weight gain. Take action now and I promise you, come summer you’ll be feeling a whole lot better. Download the app, explore, and find out your ideal kJ figure today.