In a country where obesity is a growing concern, South Africans should be more aware of where we are falling short in our dietary habits.
According to Statistics SA 68% of women and 31% of men in the country are overweight or obese.
One in five women and 3% of men are severely obese meaning they have an elevated risk for heart disease, diabetes and other conditions relative to obesity.
Mandy Read of Read and Biggs Dieticians at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban as a nation we tend to overeat and we often regard meals as great social occasions.
“There is no point in filling a car with petrol when the tank is already full… It is therefore important to listen to your body and understand when you need to eat.”
Here are three basic areas where Read suggests we fall short:
- Hunger Signals: When you carefully listen to your hunger signals, which are a physical feeling and not merely the desire to eat, you will not overeat. This means that you will not gain weight, you will actually lose weight if you are overweight. Try it - eat only when you are hungry for a week and watch what happens.
- High protein, fat and sugar content: South Africans tend to enjoy high protein, high fat foods such as fried chicken, fish and chips, takeaways and braais. We also tend to consume much sugar and foods high in sugar. Some sugar, as part of a balanced mix of foods is fine and makes food taste great – however many of us gulp down sugar-rich cold drinks and use excessive amounts of sugar in tea, coffee and with porridge.
- Superfood (nutrient-rich foods) craze: No single food meets all the criteria to be a ‘superfood’. Imagine how boring it would be if we only needed to eat one food. The trick to a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is to eat a diverse mix of different types of food, while focusing on reducing our fat, sugar and salt intake.