‘Lack of time’ biggest excuse for unhealthy eating

Posted by Janice Wong on 4th March 2010

More than two-thirds of Australians, who made resolutions in January to eat better food and cut out unhealthy snacks did not manage to stick to their plans.

Independent research, commissioned by McCain Foods, found while 52 per cent of Australians made a New Year’s resolution to improve their diet, most failed to keep a commitment to healthy eating beyond two months.

Only 30 per cent of those that made a healthy eating resolution have kept it.

A lack of time to prepare meals was the leading challenge faced by Australians when it came to making healthy food choices (20 per cent), with the cost of fresh food (18 per cent) and long hours at work (15 per cent) also posing a challenge.

“Many people fail to keep New Year’s resolutions once they return to work because of the demands of family and work commitments,” said Sharon Natoli, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Founding Director of Food & Nutrition Australia.

However eating a healthy, balanced diet doesn’t have to be difficult, she says. “There are many ways to pull a healthy dinner together quickly, it simply requires a little planning. For those nights when you are really short on time, there are also many choices available in your local supermarket freezer with convenient, nutritious options for many of your favourite dishes.”

Natoli offers five tips for simple ways to keep healthy in a time-pressured lifestyle:

  • Consider frozen foods – frozen vegetables mostly have the same nutritional value as fresh vegetables. Keep them handy in the freezer to boost the vegetable content of your daily diet. Prepared frozen meals that are low in fat and have the least amount of sodium are a good option when you don’t have time to cook.
  • Portion control – people are often surprised at how little they can eat and still feel satisfied.
  • Consistently eating smaller portions will re-train your stomach to be satisfied on less which in turn can help with weight management.
  • Hungry or just plain thirsty – thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, so if you’re feeling hungry try a glass of water and wait for 15 minutes to see how your appetite fares.
  • Cut down on salt – to add flavour without adding large amounts of salt, try seasoning your meals with herbs and spices.
  • Get your heart rate up – there are many small ways that you can include more activity in your day: take the stairs, or walk to the shop instead of driving. This is particularly important on work days with research showing we sit for 110 minutes more on a work day compared to a weekend day. Just 30 minutes of regular exercise three to four times a week will make a difference to your wellbeing.

“Balanced, healthy eating is not a matter of fad diets or fasting. It’s taking a holistic approach to good health – eat well and have a balanced lifestyle with regular exercise,” said Nicki Anderson, marketing director, McCain Foods.

The research was commissioned by Pure Profile in 2010 among a representative sample of 1,004 Australians.