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Healthy eating at the weekend

It’s relatively easy to stick to healthy eating during a structured week. But weekends (and holidays) can present challenges if you’re not prepared. Nutritionist Claire Turnbull offers strategies for staying on track when you’re out and about.

Issues

  • For many people café-sized portions are bigger than at home – and let’s be honest, it’s hard to leave those last bites on the plate.
  • The amount of oil, butter and cream used in making things like omelettes, scrambled eggs and French toast at a café is likely to be in Nigella Lawson-style quantities (ie. heaps!), making seemingly healthier options laden with fat and kilojoules.
  • The muesli, yoghurt and fruit option may seem the best on the menu but you may find high-fat toasted mueslis (which are more like crushed muesli bars than cereal), served with thick, high-fat yoghurt. This may have just as many – or more – kilojoules than poached eggs on toast!
  • Hollandaise sauce which accompanies the classic eggs benedict is likely to have over 50 per cent fat with one-quarter cup adding 1470kJ and 37g fat (20g saturated fat) to your breakfast.
  • A long breakfast out can mean doubling up on many things – including a second coffee. With blue-top milk a standard cup of coffee has around 580kJ and 8g fat (the equivalent of two teaspoons of butter!)
  • Like a smoothie with your brunch? Remember: a smoothie can be like a meal in itself so you could be doubling up on the kilojoules as well.

Solutions

  • See if you can politely ask for a half-size portion if you know that the café you are going to serves huge portions. Or order one breakfast and share it with a friend.
  • If you are going for eggs, poached is best. If you go for scrambled, ask them to make it with milk, not cream.
  • Skip the butter on your toast or just scrape it on.
  • Ask about the muesli or look to see if anyone else has it. If it looks like crushed biscuits, another option may be better.
  • Go for trim milk coffees or, even better, milk-less tea – it’s kilojoule free. Remember that regular soy milk has as much fat and kilojoules as blue-top milk, so ask for reduced-fat soy milk, too.
  • Skip the smoothie with the full breakfast. If you are watching your weight, choose one or the other.

Kilojoule counter

  • 2 poached eggs on 2 slices grainy toast, no butter = 1370kJ
  • 2 scrambled eggs made with 2 tablespoons trim milk and 1 teaspoon reduced-fat spread on 2 slices of grainy bread = 1500kJ
  • 2 scrambled eggs made with 2 tablespoons cream and 1 teaspoon butter on 2 slices grainy toast = 2000kJ

Issues

  • Alcoholic drinks are packed with kilojoules. One small glass of wine (150ml) has around 520kJ, so if you polish off the bottle, you are looking at 2600kJ: that’s about one hour and 40 minutes of brisk walking just to work it off.
  • When you are running around getting ready to go out, it can be tempting to skip dinner. Not a good idea. Alcohol reduces your blood sugar levels making you feel super-starving later on, when you inevitably end up resorting to munching on bar snacks or grabbing fast food on the way home.
  • Getting caught in ‘rounds of drinks’ can make it difficult to pace yourself as you end up drinking at the same pace as everyone else, often far more than you need.
  • Parties at friends’ places can be the start of a really great night, but if the chips, dips, cheese and crackers are on offer, it can be very easy to load up on kilojoules without realising. A large handful of potato chips is around 1000kJ.
  • The morning after! If you have had a late night with a fair bit of alcohol, high-fat salty food may seem like a good idea but it’s an easy way to overload on kilojoules.

Solutions

  • Eating is not cheating. Having a healthy meal or snack before you go out is absolutely the way to go. Have plenty of fluids throughout the day to ensure you are well hydrated by the time your night out rolls around so you don’t scull your first drink through thirst.
  • If you are going to a friend’s place for drinks, take some healthy snacks, too. If you know you are going to end up snacking, it’s better to have something you won’t regret eating in the morning!
  • Choose lower-kilojoule drinks when you can. Go for diet mixers or soda water with spirits. Low-alcohol beers are a low-kilojoule option.
  • Drink from a taller glass. It can help you drink slower.
  • If you are tempted by a midnight snack, go for a healthier option such as a chicken kebab on rice, a plain burger (skip the fries) or a bowl of cereal or toast when you get home. Marmite and avocado on toast is delicious – it gives you that salty hit and a dose of B vitamins, too.
  • The next day, make yourself a healthy cooked breakfast with toast, eggs, beans and avocado with a diluted glass of fruit juice rather than a monster greasy fry up!

Know your drinks

  • Glass of diet coke or diet tonic (230ml) = 5kJ
  • Bottle of reduced-alcohol beer (330ml) = 160-340kJ
  • Double unit of spirit (30ml, such as vodka, gin, whiskey, rum = 263kJ
  • Glass of tonic (230ml) = 344kJ
  • Bottle of low-carb beer (330ml) = 440kJ
  • Glass of coke (230ml) = 450kJ
  • Small glass of wine (150ml) = 520kJ
  • Bottle of beer (330ml) = 580kJ

Issues

  • When you have a lie-in, breakfast often becomes more of a brunch and sometimes you are not quite sure whether to have lunch when the afternoon rolls around or just wait for dinner.
  • When you miss meals and snacks or eat out more often, fruits, veges and low-fat dairy often get left out of the equation.
  • While you can easily get all the kilojoules you need at the weekend, the timing of things can mean you miss out on vital nutrients. With a lack of fibre and fluid, constipation can be an issue.
  • When you get up late, if you end up having only two meals that day, you may either be tempted to pick and nibble on anything you can lay your hands on in-between meals or, if you haven’t had anything by dinnertime, you are super-starving and hoover up a large meal.
  • Less time awake means less time to drink water – it’s easy to get dehydrated.

Solutions

  • Aim to have two meals and two smaller snacks. Try to include vegetables in at least one of your meals and snack on fruit, low-fat yoghurt or nuts and seeds.
  • Have a glass of water as soon as you wake up and remind yourself to have one with each mealtime and each snack.
  • Make a smoothie to have as a meal or snack: blend fruit, trim milk, low-fat yoghurt and a few tablespoons of seeds together.

Issues

  • As training and tournaments may be at any time of the day and change from weekend to weekend, forming a routine can be tricky. Often events can run over lunchtime, too. It can be hard to know what to eat and when.
  • Event centres, stadiums and local sports grounds often only offer a limited range of foods such as hot chips, hotdogs, pies and chocolate. If you are hanging around as the support person all day, it can be tempting to opt for a hot bite while you are waiting.
  • Coffee on the sidelines. With mobile coffee vans around at every opportunity, it is not hard to find yourself a latté or flat white when you are watching a game or match. These coffees can clock up the kilojoules if you have the large blue-top milk version.
  • The after-event. When the sweating is over and the scores have been announced, it is time for everyone to eat, rehydrate and recover. The problem is, there is often not much healthy food available and a pie and soft drink may be the easiest things to lay your hands on.

Solutions

  • Have a decent healthy breakfast before you set off for the day such as eggs and beans on toast, cereal, low-fat yoghurt and fruit or a homemade smoothie. Not only will a substantial breakfast give kids energy to perform the best in their sport, but it will keep hunger pangs at bay, at least for the first few hours.
  • Pack a chilly bag. If you are at an all-day sporting event, take some sandwiches, fruit buns, cereal bars, low-fat yoghurts, fruit, nuts and crackers. Keep some water in there, too. If you are only out for a few hours, take a banana and cereal bar in your bag in case you get hungry and grab a bottle of water on the way out the door.
  • Have a late lunch and light dinner. If you are out all morning and get home early afternoon, rather than snacking and picking for the rest of the day, commit to having a decent late lunch when you get home and a light dinner.
  • Have something in your glove box. Dried fruit and nuts, mini bags of pretzels and cereal bars will keep the kids going until they get home so you don’t get talked into stopping for takeaways.
  • Stand up when you are watching from the sidelines – it burns more kilojoules than sitting down!

Issues

  • You may end up eating junk food all weekend if you are picking up food on the run and snacking all day.
  • If you have arrived at your destination without too much thought about what you might eat all weekend, it can make healthy eating pretty tricky – especially when there might only be a corner shop and fish and chip shop to choose from.
  • Cranking up the barbie is a fantastic part of a weekend away, especially if someone has caught some fresh fish to cook. But veges can often be forgotten.
  • A few beers and wines go hand-in-hand with weekends away. But this can add to the kilojoule count.
  • After a weekend away, the last thing you feel like doing is thinking about what you are going to cook when you get back, let alone for the week ahead. Healthy eating habits can fast go astray for the rest of the week.

Solutions

  • Head to the supermarket on the way to your destination or on the Thursday evening. Pack things for sandwiches, salad stuff, crackers, cereal, bread, fresh fruit, trim milk, low-fat yoghurt and nuts. Fresh pasta, beans on toast or an omelette can make for an easy Sunday night meal on your return.
  • Stop at the fruit and vege shop on the way or pick stuff up from stalls on the side of the road. Courgettes, capsicums, onions, eggplant and corn are fabulous on the barbecue.
  • Take diet drinks with you for mixing with your spirits. You will often find only full sugar drinks in the service stations of more remote places.
First published: Apr 2011



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