EMPTY NEST? 5 WEIGHT TRAPS

House prices might be stop­ping them, but your kids will move out. Make the change a healthy one for both your weight and well­be­ing

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Young Aus­tralians are fly­ing the coop later and later, thanks to a com­plex mix of fi­nan­cial, emo­tional and so­cial fac­tors. But when they do, it can be a chal­lenge cook­ing for just one or two af­ter feed­ing an adult fam­ily for years.

This life change of­ten co­in­cides with other risk fac­tors for weight gain, so it makes sense to be aware of some of the ‘empty nester’ traps — and how to over­come them.

TRAP # 1 You cook to feed an army

When the kids are at home, you’re of­ten mak­ing big fam­ily meals for drop-ins and plus-ones. “You might find it hard to stop cook­ing large vol­umes of food due to habit,” says Di­eti­tians As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia spokesper­son, Milly Smith. “That can lead to eat­ing more, be­cause with fewer mouths to feed, there’s more food avail­able — food you don’t want to waste.”

THE FIX Halve recipes, or learn to cook in batches.

Be­fore you start cook­ing, scale the ingredients of your favourite recipes down to serve just one or two peo­ple. If the recipe serves four and you’re cook­ing for two, halve the in­gre­di­ent quan­ti­ties — a cup of rice now be­comes a half cup. If you’re cook­ing for one, use one-quar­ter the quan­ti­ties — a cup of rice now be­comes one-quar­ter cup.

“But some­times it’s not eco­nom­i­cal to cook a smaller batch,” says Smith, “and that’s fine. You can eat the leftovers the fol­low­ing day, or di­vide them into sin­gle por­tions and freeze. The key is putting any ex­tra serves away be­fore you sit down to eat. Oth­er­wise, you might be tempted to keep pick­ing.”

Re­search proves the risk is real, show­ing that when leftovers are vis­i­ble, we wind up eat­ing an ex­tra 700kJ (168cal) of food.

TRAP # 2 You buy too much food

When you’re used to load­ing up your trolley to feed sev­eral peo­ple, it’s easy to go into au­topi­lot as soon your hands close around that han­dle­bar.

“Not only can that lead to an over­sup­ply of dis­cre­tionary foods at home, you could also waste a lot of fresh food, if it spoils be­fore you can eat it,” says Smith. Time for some fresh think­ing!

THE FIX Shop for your gro­ceries on­line.

On­line food shop­ping has been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven to re­duce the over­all vol­ume of food — and the quan­tity of high-fat foods — you pur­chase.

An­other op­tion is to take with you a shop­ping-for-one or shop­ping-for-two list. Monash Uni­ver­sity re­searchers have found that this helps you avoid putting things you don’t need into your trolley by re­duc­ing im­pulse pur­chases. It also makes it easier to re­mem­ber what you came for!

TRAP # 3 You lose mo­ti­va­tion to cook

“Find­ing the mo­ti­va­tion to cook for just one or two peo­ple can be dif­fi­cult,” says Smith. “Plus, some par­ents miss the food-prep help that their adult chil­dren once pro­vided. Both cir­cum­stances make it easy to turn to less healthy choices like take­away.”

You might also be so­cial­is­ing more, which means more time spent at cafes and restau­rants and less time at home cook­ing.

THE FIX Stock your pantry with healthy ‘fast’ foods.

Sta­ples like canned beans or fish, ready-to-heat rice and dried pasta last for ages and make healthy home-cook­ing easy when you’re short on time or in­spi­ra­tion. Canned fish and mi­crowav­able brown rice, paired with a bag of steamed veg and a splash of soy sauce, is a nutri­tious, fast meal.

This is also where frozen leftovers are re­ally handy.

TRAP # 4 Other big life changes are hap­pen­ing

With kids leav­ing home later than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, other life changes of­ten co­in­cide with you be­com­ing an empty nester — changes like menopause and re­tire­ment, which are risk fac­tors in them­selves for un­wanted weight gain.

THE FIX Make a com­mit­ment to daily ex­er­cise.

Sounds ob­vi­ous, but the re­search shows we’re 23 per cent less likely to meet phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity guide­lines around re­tire­ment, and that it’s not un­com­mon for women to halve the amount of ex­er­cise they en­gage in dur­ing menopause.

To en­cour­age your­self to ex­er­cise more, start wear­ing an ac­tiv­ity tracker. Peo­ple who do don’t al­ways nail their fit­ness goals, but stud­ies show they do achieve sig­nif­i­cantly more weekly ex­er­cise, and take more than 750 ex­tra steps a day. Step to it!

TRAP # 5 You eat to feed emo­tions

While ‘empty nest syn­drome’ has tra­di­tion­ally been linked to trig­ger­ing feel­ings of loss, re­cent re­search paints a dif­fer­ent pic­ture for cou­ples, find­ing that re­la­tion­ship sat­is­fac­tion im­proves once chil­dren leave home. Sounds great — but hap­pier mar­riages also bump up the like­li­hood of gain­ing weight, ac­cord­ing to a 2013 study.

And if be­ing home alone makes you feel lonely, that’s a risk fac­tor for weight gain too. It can af­fect lev­els of an ap­petite-reg­u­lat­ing hor­mone that makes you feel hun­grier. Luck­ily, there’s some­thing you can do in both cases!

THE FIX Keep a food diary, whether it’s a pa­per or an app-based one.

Stud­ies have shown that, re­gard­less of which emo­tions might be in­flu­enc­ing your food choices, log­ging what you eat helps keep your ap­petite and weight un­der con­trol.

A com­mit­men t dail ex­er­cis bring re­sult

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.