Moderation is the key, says guest blogger Blake Robinson from Dairy Australia.
“Everything in moderation” – we hear it a lot, and overall the intention is positive. It makes sense to keep enjoying the things we like in healthy amounts, rather than cutting them out completely and missing out on the pleasure they bring. But perhaps the concept of moderation could be refined a little further, to help us hone in on where we can make the biggest difference to our diet.
The Truth About Junk Food
The recent Australian Health Survey revealed some staggering truths about the state of Australians’ diets. Over one third (35%) of our calories come from junk foods. For a group of foods the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating “only sometimes and in small amounts”, this highlights a real problem in our current eating patterns.
Not only do junk foods tend to be higher in fat, salt and sugar than healthy foods, they also lack important nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein) – making them a calorie hit that’s adding nothing beneficial to our diets. FYI – the top eight contributors of calories were soft drinks, beer and wine, fried potato products, cakes and muffins, sweet biscuits, pies and baked goods, and confectionery.
The Importance of Vegetables
The Survey also highlighted some areas for improvement in the other direction – foods we aren’t eating enough of. For example – only 4% of Australians are meeting the Guidelines for vegetable consumption. That means more than 9 in 10 of us are missing out on the fibre, vitamins, minerals and other components of vegetables that help protect against chronic disease like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer in the long run.
We aren’t doing too well when it comes to other healthy food groups either. Only 1 in 10 of us are meeting the Guidelines recommendation for foods from the dairy food group – including milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Also read: Why is Dairy So Good for You?
The Benefits of Cheese
Cheese is a good example of a natural, healthy food that some of us feel like we should limit to every now and then. Perhaps it’s because it tastes great and can sometimes feel a little indulgent – but there are many reasons we don’t need to worry about eating cheese as part of our daily meals and snacks.
- We’ve previously discussed the fact that cheese and other dairy products are not linked to weight gain and could actually give you a fat burning edge – and this applies to regular-fat, low-fat, hard and soft cheese – it’s all good!
- A serve of cheese (about 40g or two slices of cheddar) will get you one step closer to meeting your food group recommendations.
- Cheese is jam-packed with nutrients – vitamins, minerals and high-quality, muscle-friendly, hunger-busting protein.
- Cheese is great with vegetables – melted over steamed vegies, grated over a fresh salad or as a snack with some baby cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and capsicum – so you can tick off two healthy food groups in one.
Also read: The Truth About Dairy and Weight Loss
So keep practising moderation where it counts, and enjoy healthy amounts of your favourite foods from the five food groups, with recipes from Dairy Australia.
Blake Robinson from Dairy Australia is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and sports dietitian.