Below are some very popular food choices for snacks, lunches or dinner. The foods selected were based around the items I frequently hear people asking ‘but it’s not that bad, is it’? The table will help to compare the nutrition content of each food. It is important to acknowledge that calories aren’t the be all and end all. If a product is low in calories, it may still be too high in fat or added sugar or both.
|Food||Example item||Energy content||Fat content||Sodium content||Sugars|
|Kebab||Ali Baba Regular beef k’bab||2,279kJ|
|Comment||A surprising number of people think of kebabs as a healthier take away option – after all; it’s only meat, salad and a wrap, right? Unfortunately, the total/ saturated fat content is generally very high. In the example, the kebab contains 12.6g of saturated fat, which is a lot! Not to mention the exorbitant sodium content. The above figures are not even inclusive of extras such as tabouleh, cheese and additional sauce.|
The standard ingredients (with the exception of the salad) are often energy dense but the main problem presents in the large portion sizes of these items – bread (Lebanese bread alone can have 275calories/ 1,149kJ), fatty meats and the addition of cheese and sauces which really contribute to the calories, fat and sodium!
|Subway||Chicken Parma – 6 in||469kcal|
|Comment||Subway is still one of the better take away food options. However, it really depends on the toppings you choose. Particularly if you opt for a ft long! Many of their meats are fatty options that are also high in sodium e.g. bacon, ham, salami. The addition of cheese and sauces will again add a significant amount of fat, energy and sodium as well.At the end of the day, it is always best to prepare your own sandwich because the ingredients can really add up. Otherwise, keep it basic and go without dressings/ cheese and choose lean meat on wheat bread with lots of salad.|
|Low carb protein products||Aussie Bodies Protein FX, Lo Carb, Choc Fudge||858kJ|
|Comment||Whilst these products are an easy source of protein pre and post work out, it is important to recognise that ‘lo carb’ and ‘low energy’ are not the same things and quite frequently, people associate the 2 things with each other. These products are often high in calories and for this reason, you should be weary of the number you consume if your goal is weight loss. At 858kJ for 1 small bar, they can quickly contribute to your daily energy requirements if eaten in conjunction with a regular diet!|
|Boost Juice||Mango magic Low fat Smoothie||Original|
|Comment||Boost Juice do contain fruit, occasionally some dairy and limited fat which is good. The reason they are unideal is that some of the nutrients are lost during the juicing process e.g. fibre from the skin of the fruit.Additionally, they tend to contain a lot of fruit in one serve when the recommended daily intake is 2 pieces per day – this increases the content of sugars (albeit natural) and overall energy you will consume. If you get an original serve, the amount of fruit and hence sugars/ energy can be huge, particularly for a snack. The above example shows up to 76g of sugar in the one drink – that’s equivalent to 19 level teaspoons of sugar!! It is a much better option to eat your 2 pieces of fruit and drink some water.|
|Thai||Wokinabox Pad Thai||Original|
|Comment||Thai is another take away option that I frequently hear people saying is a healthier choice. However, all of that flavour has to come from somewhere and generally it’s from the addition of lots of oils, sauces and salt which add a deceiving amount of kilojoules. Adding to this is the generally large portion sizes people consume and the rice and noodles to go with it, which are also energy dense accompaniments.The above example makes a huge contribution to energy and sodium intakes. A regular or large serve exceeds the daily upper limit of sodium intake in the one meal (2,300mg/ day for adults).|
|Nuts||Mixed nuts, dry roasted ½ cup||407kcal|
|Comment||Nuts are really good for you! They are full of healthy fats, high in fibre and low GI. The issue lies in portion size. Nuts are very energy dense which means you don’t have to eat a lot of them to have consumed a reasonable number of kilojoules. They are still a fantastic snack but as you can see, if you have half a cup (which is easy to do) You have already consumed 1,701 kilojoules in 1 snack. If you gradually graze on them, you could probably consume double this amount at 814calories and 70g of fat!Choose the salt free varieties, watch the portion sizes and you have yourself a healthy snack.|
|Olive oil||Any brand||293kcal|
|Comment||This type of oil is a good choice if it is not undergoing cooking at high temperatures. Olive oil does have its health benefits and we do all need some oils and fats as part of a healthy diet. However, I again commonly hear people justifying their more than generous serves of olive oil because it is “healthy”. In small amounts, sure, but only 2 tablespoons across 1 day contributes 293 calories! Another quick and easy way to add up those kilojoules and fat.|
|Pre-purchase Salad||Sumo Salad – Crumbed chicken Caesar||2650kJ|
|Comment||Store bought salads at least have the advantage of the vegetables they provide. However, they’re certainly not guaranteed to be a healthy option all of the time. This is because most people like to add ingredients like dressings, fried croutons, bacon, cheese, crumbed meat and so on. Adding these sorts of items really adds to the amount of oil, fat and salt that you are eating. The above example provides a hefty 2,650kJ and 10g of saturated fat.On the other hand, making a salad of your own with lean meat, fat reduced dressing/ cheese and lots of salad is a very healthy and recommended choice! Alternatively, avoid the dressings, croutons and heavily processed meats (bacon, crumbed chicken) when designing your own at a salad bar.|
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
If you have any questions about nutrition related issues or if you would like your diet assessed, you can make an appointment with Belinda today. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine, targeted to your concerns.