I am currently on day four of trying to cross no. 11 “Go 1 week without a sometimes food” off this years list… and it’s actually been both easier and harder than I had imagined. It was something that I had put on the list because I thought it was time to address another one of my bad food habits…. but what does it all mean… Well over the last couple of years there has been a push to shift the terminology around food to move from good foods and bad foods to everyday foods and sometimes foods… in fact in the most recent update of the Australian Dietary Guidelines ‘sometimes foods’ are now referred to as ‘discretionary choices’… however the idea remains the same… it’s a pretty simple concept… you can eat what ever you want, but there some foods which you can have all the time and then others that are best left to occassionally… here enters my third bad food habit confession…
Em’s Bad Food Habit no. 3
I love sometimes foods, which is not that surprising to most… I love all the foods I shouldn’t and generally speaking the ‘sometimes food’ category has become and an everyday food. Sure they might be different each day, but most days… oh who am I kidding… every day I have a sometimes food… in fact, if I am honest I probably have a few. It might not be massive, it could be something simple like a couple of biscuits for afternoon tea, dessert after dinner, or some chocolate with a cuppa, but it’s always there… it’s not sometimes. In fact most of the foods that I would associate with the word ‘treat’, aren’t really treats anymore, they have become staples. It’s not special or exciting or sometimes even enjoyable when I have these foods because they are way too common. If I am going to get better at this practicing what I preach business I need to make sometimes foods sometimes… not all the time.
So why can we only eat them sometimes?
Well like all my other attempts at practicing what I preach there are a couple of reasons…
I guess we should start with what exactly is a ‘sometimes food’… well according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines discretionary foods are those that are not directly necessary for a healthy body, that is they don’t contain enough nutrients that the body needs to justify their intake. These foods are also often high in sugars, salt, saturated fat and at times alcohol and are best described as energy dense. That is you get a lot of energy or kilojoules/calories, for not much else.
‘Sometimes foods’ or ‘Discretionary choices’ are put this in category for a reason. The dietitians of the world aren’t food kill joys, we do actually want our and your diets to be the best choices for a long, happy and healthy life. Having said that we know that these foods are things we are wired to like, its just the way it is… thats why they are ok sometimes… or with discretion… If we have them too often, we get too much of things we don’t need, or are detrimental to our health, and we are often displacing things we should be getting. I know if given the choice I will always choice chocolate, whatever the other option is… but it doesn’t make it a good choice, in fact maybe I am choosing it instead of something I do need, like dairy, fruit or vegetables.
They are easy to over consume, really easy… being so energy dense it doesn’t take a large volume to get lots of nutrients that our body just doesn’t need. Foods high in fat and sugar are also high in calories and as I mentioned in my original dietitian rant ‘enough is enough’, the reality is if too many calories go in and not enough out, it causes weight gain, and excess weight leads to a whole other list of health concerns. Also those high in saturated fat can also lead elevated cholesterol which increases risk of heart disease and stroke… not something that is conducive to a long, happy and healthy life.
When it really boils down to it… other than enjoyment they don’t offer enough of what we need to have then everyday, yes they are an important part of a healthy balanced diet, but they need to be a small part, not an everyday item. They also can’t stop us from getting the things that we actually do need.
Well this week its to go without them all together, which is probably a little extreme… and very unsustainable… in fact while I have found it quite easy to find alternative everyday snacks, I have been thinking about all the the sometimes foods I would prefer to be eating (I actually dreamt about gingerbread biscuits and chocolate last night)… this is why total deprivation and cold turkey tactics just don’t work, but that’s a whole different blog! My longer term goal is to get some balance back, to make sure I get my fruit, veg and diary in by using healthier snacks rather than always picking things that I know just aren’t that good for me. Again just like the salad goal… it’s pretty hard to measure, but here is a little list of alternative go to snacks that I can have instead of my regular sometimes go to.
– a piece of fruit or a small bowl of cut up fruit and salad
– a small tub of low fat yogurt
– some veggie sticks and low fat dip
– some air popped pop corn
– a handful of dried fruit
– a handful of nuts
– some low fat cheese on some vita weats
So I guess the rough plan is that more often I choose something from the list above or something similar… making sure I am more deliberate about getting both my pieces of fruit for the day, rather than substituting them for something best left for sometimes, practicing what I preach… sometimes means sometimes.