Web Content Viewer (JSR 286) - Healthy Weight


What do we mean by unhealthy foods and drinks? Some foods and drinks are not part of the Five Food Groups because they are high in energy (kilojoules) but low in essential nutrients. They are also often high in saturated fat and/or high in added sugar and/or added salt and/or alcohol.

The problem with these foods and drinks is that it’s easy have too much of them instead of enough of the Five Food Groups that we do need for good health.

Eating too much of them can also mean you eat and drink too much energy (kilojoules), saturated fat, sugar, salt and alcohol. Not only may this lead to unhealthy weight gain but it can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

People who are trying to lose weight will find it hard to fit these extra kilojoules into their meal planning and still continue to lose weight. However, some people, who want to gain weight or maintain a healthy weight, have a higher kilojoule requirement and can enjoy these foods and drinks occasionally, in small amounts. Because these are optional foods and drinks for some people, they are also referred to as discretionary choices.

If you are overweight and want to lose weight, cutting back on your intake of unhealthy foods and drinks is the best place to start because not only will it reduce your energy (kilojoule) intake, it also helps:

Most Australians eat too many unhealthy foods and drinks. These include:

  • Most cakes, biscuits and sweet muffins
  • Lollies, chocolate, jam and honey
  • Most pies, pastries, potato chips, commercial burgers, pasties and sausage rolls
  • Processed meats and sausages
  • Butter, cream, ice-cream and fatty spreads
  • Chips, crisps and other fatty or salty snack foods
  • Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin-enhanced and ‘play’ waters, sports and energy drinks
  • Alcoholic drinks.

Food can also become unhealthy because of the way it is prepared or cooked. For example, hamburgers can be healthier if they’re prepared using reduced-fat meat, wholemeal buns and plenty of salad. But if they’re prepared using cheaper fatty meat, sweetened white flour buns, fried onions and creamy sauces or dressing, the hamburger will be high in kilojoules. And if you add deep fried chips and a sugar-sweetened soft drink, as is common at fast food restaurants, you have an unhealthy, high energy (kilojoule) meal.

Discretionary foods and drinks can bring added variety and pleasure to your diet. But if you are overweight, or if you are a healthy weight and plan to stay that way, then you should definitely limit your intake of these foods and drinks – especially sugar-sweetened drinks.

If you do eat out at fast food restaurants, either do so only once a week or make sure you choose the healthier options they offer and avoid larger serve sizes.

If you are overweight and trying to lose weight, remember to enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods to help fill you up and limit discretionary foods and drinks. Choosing water as a drink instead of high-kilojoule sugary drinks will dramatically reduce your kilojoule intake alone.

If you are underweight, it is especially important to make sure you include a wide variety of nutritious foods every day – don’t fill up on unhealthy, discretionary foods.


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