Do you know how much energy your body needs? And what you can eat without going over?

So many of us are confused about “diet rules”, dietitians are now warning that, despite the best efforts, many women end up inadvertently breaking them — and stacking on the weight.

Maria Packard, accredited practising dietitian and spokeswoman for the Dietitians Association of Australia, says the recommended number of kilojoules a woman needs each day depends on her height, weight, age and physical activity level. However, most need to eat between 7000 and 9000kJ every day.

“The Australia Health Survey in 2011-12 found that 56.2 per cent of women are overweight or obese so it is probably safe to say there are many women who are eating above their recommended energy requirements, ” Ms Packard says.

Some of the most common mistakes women are making, she says, include being too restrictive and following too many diet rules. These include things like not eating carbs after 5pm, eating a gluten-free diet (if not necessary), skipping meals or only concentrating on kilojoules in food and not drinks (not factoring in kilojoules in alcohol, energy and soft drinks).

Many women fall into kilojoule traps thinking they are making healthy food choices, says Brooke Daley, nutrition practitioner at Body Balancing Nutrition.

“Nuts are quite high in energy and are a fantastic snack option, but eat too many and you’ll find it difficult to shift weight, ” she says.

“Muesli and granola can be quite high in kilojoules and contain quite a bit of added sugar. Dried fruit or trail mixes can be calorie-dense and dried fruit is often coated in sugar syrup. Fruit juices are concentrated calories — without fibre to slow down the release. Banana bread is another snack perceived to be healthy but is high in calories.”

Once you identify the kilojoule-laden traps in your diet, Ms Daley says replace them with smarter choices; swap fruit juice for real fruit, muesli for oats, flavoured yoghurt for natural yoghurt and ditch rice cakes in favour of carrot and celery sticks.

It’s not just deceptive kilojoules that can throw out a healthy diet, portion size is an important key to success. Don’t serve up too much — Ms Packard says for your main meal each day your plate should have:

- Half of it made up of salad or vegetables (eg, carrot or broccoli).

- One quarter of it lean meat, skinless chicken or fish.

- One quarter slower-digesting carbohydrates (such as corn, sweet potato, pasta or rice).


© The West Australian