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State of the (HFG) nation

State of the (HFG) nation

We asked you, our Healthy Food Guide readers, how you feel about health, food and life in general. Here’s what you told us!

We surveyed Healthy Food Guide readers online during the month of October 2010.

  • 1558 readers responded
  • 96% were female
  • 4% male
  • 75% were the main shopper for their household
  • 34% had kids at home
  • 66% didn’t
  • Ages ranged evenly from under 25 to 65+
  • Readers are from all over New Zealand, with the largest groups in Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago

You’re pretty happy

We asked, “How do you rate your happiness, generally speaking, from day to day?” Over half (54%) of you said you couldn’t complain, and were “pretty happy most of the time”. A perky 14% said you were “very happy – life is great!”. Carolyn was one of these respondents, who said despite suffering long-term effects from a serious injury, “I always wake up ready to enjoy the day and I do!” We like that kind of attitude.

You’re pretty healthy

We asked, “How do you rate your general health?”, and we were pleased to hear a healthy 11% of you say “excellent!” and 49% say “very good”. Only 1% said they were in poor health, with the rest being “okay”.

You get tired

When we asked about health issues you struggle with, a significant 59% said tiredness and fatigue is a problem. One reader said, “I always feel tired – I can’t remember the last time I had loads of energy.” Lack of sleep was also a big issue for 39% of respondents. Often it was for understandable reasons – this was a big one for mums with young babies – and shift workers.

  • “I have a five-month-old baby girl and have just returned to work. Juggling being a mum, wife and employee is hard!” – Tania

You struggle with weight

Nearly half – 49% – said that weight is an issue for you. Leisa said, “I have just 10kg to lose but it’s enough to bother my everyday life.” Another reader summed up the thoughts of many: “I would prefer to maintain my weight rather than push it constantly. Unfortunately, food likes me – and vice versa!”

  • “If you stopped eating everything that has had a scare (about it) in the last 10 years, you would starve or die of thirst!” – Andrew

You’ve tried diets, but they didn’t always work

We asked about your dieting history. Of the 38% of you who have been on a diet from a book or magazine, half (50%) said it worked for a short time but when you went off the diet you gained the weight back again. A lucky 27% said you have been able to keep the weight off, and an honest 16% said, “I couldn’t stick to the diet long enough to tell!”.

Putting on weight motivates you to change

When we asked what would motivate you (or has done) to make a change in your lifestyle, “putting on weight” (68%) rated higher than a health scare such as a heart attack (39%).
Jane’s story is one many can relate to: “Went to a wedding about six years ago… saw the photos… bought some scales… decided to eat better and exercise more!” Ageing is also a big motivation for many (50%) of you. “Observing my own parents ageing has made me realise the importance of diet and exercise at all ages.” – Kaye

What’s your favourite food treat?

  • anything chocolate! 37.4% (526)
  • pastries/cakes 10.6% (149)
  • lollies 8.3% (117)|
  • ice cream 8.3% (117)
  • cheese 11.6% (163)
  • chips and other salty snacks 23.8% (334)

Have you made any of these healthy changes to your life this year?

  • eating more fruit 52%
  • eating more veges 57%
  • eating fewer takeaway meals 53%
  • eating less processed meat (ham, bacon, salami) 41%
  • eating more fish 41%
  • eating more vege-based meals 39%
  • started a regular exercise regimen 40%
  • replaced full-fat dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt) for reduced-fat versions 27%
  • replaced butter with reduced-fat spread 22%
  • drinking less alcohol 37%

You eat a varied diet

Four out of five of you (79%) eat a range of meals including red meat, fish, chicken and non-meat meals. But 10% professed to be lovers of “meat and three veg all the way!”. Husbands seem to be a barrier to including more variety: “Unfortunately, my husband does not like change from meat and three veg, although I’d like to try some vegetarian meals,” said one reader.

  • “I am sick of foods being condemned and other foods being made into ‘super’ foods. We eat too many ‘food-like’ substances and not enough ‘real’ food.” – Lea

You’re active

A super-fit 17% of you exercise every day, with 39% making the time three to four times a week. For some, exercise is a struggle, with 20% of you saying you only do enough to get puffed “once a week if I’m lucky”. And some struggle even more, with 5% admitting “exercise – what’s that?”. “I have a very busy life, work six days a week and have an elderly parent to look after so finding time for exercise is extremely difficult. I would love to exercise more if I could.” – Fran

Walking is your favourite activity

While 10% of you manage to get a good amount of ‘incidental’ exercise in – walking to work, playing with the kids – 38% of you say walking is your favourite type of exercise. A relatively small 12% hit the gym, while 12% like running, 6% like cycling, 5% love dancing and 3% each enjoy yoga and pilates.

How do you feel when you hear/read a ‘bad news’ health story about a common food causing heart disease or cancer?

  • “It makes me seriously think about not eating that food again – I tend to take these reports seriously.” 18%
  • “I listen, but it doesn’t usually stop me eating that food. Everything in moderation.” 68%
  • “It makes me roll my eyes! I’m sick of hearing things like this.” 14%

You’ll spend more on some things

We asked about your shopping habits. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, 68% of you say you’re prepared to spend more on products that are healthier than other brands. Half of you will also spend more to have free-range or barn-raised eggs or free-range meat, and 42% will pay more for New Zealand-made products. Only 7% said you would pay more for a product’s convenience, and 18% said organics are important enough to spend more money on. Bronwyn was keen on sustainable produce, “But to be honest – only if it costs a little bit more. I try to keep the overall budget low so I sometimes spend more on some products if that works for me at the time.”

You’re organised

We’re really impressed with the 25% who make a plan for the whole week and write a shopping list based on the plan. At the other end of the scale, 20% only decide what to cook when it comes to dinner, but half of you have a rough plan in mind of what’s on the menu, and try to shop for that. To the 3% who say “Plan? What’s that?”, we say, time to check out some meal planning tools!

  • “We are a one income, three kids (household) so shop to a strict grocery budget. Every meal is planned so I know we are eating healthy for the week and will come in within budget before I do the shop.” – Debbie

You take time to cook dinner

We asked how long you spent cooking dinner. Only a speedy 2% claimed to spend less than 15 minutes. The largest percentage (44%) of you spend 30-45 minutes preparing dinner, with 31% keeping it quick at 15-30 minutes.

Other statistics

  • 88% of you say you’re not willing to sacrifice healthy eating in order to stick to a budget
  • 3% of you hate cooking, and only do it because you have to
  • 24% of you have someone with a food allergy or food intolerance in the household
  • 50% of you cook mince meals once a fortnight or more
  • 10% say you have a fussy eating child to deal with
  • 17% say you have a fussy eating adult to deal with



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