There is more to food than just nourishment.
I love food for the enjoyment of eating. Sadly, dietitians are often known as the “Food Police”. This may have some truth to it, but in general, I think most dietitians love food and want you to continue enjoying food, but also be healthy.
Dietitians are not about weight loss diets. We are about health. We work with people who need to manage many health conditions like diabetes, coeliac disease, IBS, heart disease, and eating disorders, as well as supporting those who need to manage their food intake for sports or weight loss or gain.
Health is Individual
There is no one way to manage someone’s health. It all depends on each individual person's needs. That is why we like to see people one-on-one to assess their needs and come up with a plan that will serve them and their health requirements.
Having said all this, if you do want to take control of your health, without becoming obsessive about a diet, here are some tips that you can use to help get your health on track:
1. Are you eating from all the food groups?
It is important to eat from all the food groups (click here to see what all the food groups include) 
so that you tick off all the nutrients your body needs to function. As much as possible, it is beneficial to eat more natural foods and less processed foods. Especially avoid refined processed foods like white bread and deli meats like salami.
Sometimes we can manage on a depleted nutrient intake for a while without showing any negative side effects, but eventually, most people will end up with a health issue that can be traced back to a nutrient deficiency.
Many dietitians, including myself, provide a service to assess your nutritional intake. If you believe that you may not be meeting your needs it can be beneficial to check this regularly. This can be especially true if you are, or have been, following a restrictive diet, such as the paleo diet, ketogenic diet, vegetarian or vegan diets. Having a nutrition analysis can give you a sense of assurance or show you where you need to add in more of certain nutrients to keep your health on track. To book in for an assessment of your nutrient intake you can follow this link: Nutrition Analysis
2. Are your portion sizes excessive or inadequate for each food group?
If you want to know what a portion of each of the food groups looks like and how many serves you need to have on a daily basis, click here. A dietitian can help you to assess your portion sizes and determine if you need to make any changes. I have created a printable check list for you to use that helps you tick off portions each day. You can find it here but you'll need to sign up to my mailing list first. :) I recommend putting this on your fridge, and before opening that bag of chips or other snack food, check what food groups you need to top up on and try to choose your snack according to that!
3. Are you comparing your intake to your parents, partner or friends (or a celebrity!).
You are unique and individual. Your needs and dietary requirements are also unique and individual. Some people need more and some need less. You can use a daily energy requirements calculator to help work out what your needs are. Having said this, counting kilojoules is no fun at all! If you feel you need to manage your weight, getting expert help is often preferable. A dietitian will do all the calculations for you and make some suggestions to modify your intake, without you having to watch everything that you eat. If you would like help in this, I can do face to face, online or email based consultations. If you live in North-West Brisbane (in Australia) I do home visits. See my bookings page to choose what suits you best!
4. How much do you move each day?
If you are like me, and love food, you may need to increase how much you move each day!
Movement is one way to increase your energy output, which may allow you to have a higher energy input. In other words, if you want to eat more, you may need to move more. Simple really :) But remember, if your energy input still exceeds your output, weight gain is likely to occur. If this is your goal, then that's fine! Even if that is your goal, exercise has so many health benefits that if at all possible, you should do some!
I want to put a caution in here about exercise. Firstly, if you are already doing a lot of exercise, this advice is not for you! Secondly, you may have health issues which make exercising difficult. In that case, it would be wise to get expert advice on what you should attempt to achieve.
Exercise physiologists are specialists in finding ways to increase your daily movement even when you have physical challenges, health challenges or time challenges. I highly recommend finding an exercise physiologist to help you increase movement if you need help with that. Melinda Weaver is a great local exercise physiologist for those in the Samford area of Brisbane, and is available for home visits as well.
If you don’t think you need to consult an exercise physiologist, another idea is to find an activity that you love to do, that increases the amount you move. And I’m not talking about reading a book and turning pages! ;) You want your whole body to move. You could get involved in a sport, try dancing, or maybe grab a friend for a walk and talk. Even small things count, like getting up out of your seat and walking around the room for a few minutes every hour, or parking the car further from the shops. What about doing an office based movement activity every couple of hours? I can see it now... The timer goes off, everyone jumps to their feet, someone plays Twist and Shout (The Beatles), and the whole office is doing the twist! Now, I'd love to see that!
5. Do you follow all the latest new diets and celebrity endorsements?
Studies about dieting have shown that diets may help you lose weight for a little while, but the majority of people that go on diets end up regaining all the weight they lost, and more. This has a lot of negative health implications that I explain in my blog posts "Is Dieting Good for Me?" Part 1 and Part 2.
So it's better to focus on health not the latest diet!
May the food be with you!
I hope this has helped some of you from falling into some common health traps and given you tips on how to improve or maintain your health!
If you need support for making changes to your lifestyle, I offer a program, called “Healthy You”. This program gives you a helping hand to get your health in order as I walk with you over 6 weeks to empower you to make some simple changes. After the 6 weeks you can choose to continue with weekly catch ups or try meeting together with the other people that were in your 6 week start-up, to support each other towards health.
NHMRC. Eat for Health – Australian Dietary Guidelines. 2013 [cited 2018 Jan 8]; Retrieved from https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf