Food and Nutrition FAQs

Most nights I work late and just don't have the time nor energy nor interest to cook a meal when I get home. I want something that is nutritious, filling without too much fat. What would you suggest I could pick up on the way home?

Many takeaway foods are high in fat, calories and salt, so if consumed regularly may contribute to a high fat, high salt intake. Here are a few lower fat takeaway ideas: steamed or stir fried vegetables, chicken or beef with steamed rice, BBQ chicken, vegetarian or seafood pizza (ask for minimal cheese), kebabs, small hamburger with grilled meat pattie and salad, pasta and tomato sauce, taco, burrito or enchilada with salad, fish, lean meat, chicken and beans or baked potato topped with baked beans, corn, cottage cheese or coleslaw.

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Can you please tell me which spread is best to use: margarine or butter?

This is a very good question. Both these spreads contain the same amount of calories from fat; therefore you are encouraged to use both sparingly. However, the National Heart Foundation encourages us to move away from (saturated) fats such as butter and use polyunsaturated or monounsaturated (plant based) fats such as margarines, in small amounts.

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I have been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But I never feel like eating when I first get up in the morning. Is it OK to skip breakfast?

Having breakfast in the morning is a good idea because it 'breaks the fast' overnight and it is now widely accepted that your metabolism works more efficiently burning calories through out the day. If you miss breakfast, then it is very likely that you will get hungry mid-morning and often the food available at this time may be higher in fat. Why not try toast, cereal and low fat milk, fresh fruit, fruit smoothie, or yoghurt, before heading out the door or even take breakfast on the run or to work eg fruit, fruit bar, cereal or milk drink. It doesn't matter where and when you have breakfast, just try not to skip it.

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What is the recommended fat intake per day for a healthy weight?

It is recommended that approx 30-33% of your total energy intake come from fat. This equates to approximately 40-50g fat per day for an adult (based on a 1500 calorie diet).

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Recently I have been looking at the ingredient lists on food packets and it appears that 'fat' is often disguised and listed as other names. Can you tell me what these other names for fat are, so that I can look out for them on a food label?

Reading food labels can be difficult especially when there is no nutrition panel and the grams of fat are not listed. Fat is often written as butter, margarine, vegetable oil/fat, animal fat, shortening, palm oil, lard, tallow, copha, coconut, coconut oil or coconut cream, butterfat, milk solids, chocolate, monoglycerides or diglycerides. 'Toasted' may also indicate added fat, especially with cereals.

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Does the word 'light' or 'lite' on the food packaging mean low in fat?

No, not always. A product may be light in salt, fat, sugar, even colour and still be called light. Make sure you check the nutrition panel to find out what the 'light' refers to.

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I try not to use mayonaise or oil dressings on my salads as I know this adds extra fat. But my salads just seem a bit dry. Can you suggest some tasty toppings for salads?

Lemon juice and mixed herbs give a nice flavour, as do commercial oil free dressings. Balsamic vinegar provides a nice tang or you could try natural yoghurt or fruity yoghurt. Here's a yoghurt salad dressing you may like to try:

1 x 150g pottle natural low fat yoghurt
3 teaspoons vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and chill.

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Frequently, I travel overseas with work and find that the meals on the airline are often high in fat. I am trying hard to eat a healthy low fat diet and doing more walking as I need to lose about 10 kgs. Do you have any suggestions for healthier food options during the flight?

Yes. When you book your tickets, request a low fat meal or a fruit meal. Not only will you get an appropriate low fat meal, but you also get your meal first, which is a nice bonus. Also, don't forget to take your own healthy snacks on board. Remember to opt for low calorie drinks such as diet drinks, tomato juice and water to keep you well hydrated.

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Can you tell me which sweet biscuits and crackers are lower in fat?

Sweet biscuits and crackers vary widely in their fat content. Try to avoid those chocolate, carob, coconut and cream filled varieties. Plain, fruit or wholemeal varieties are generally lower in fat. Choose crackers which are unsalted, not greasy to touch on the outside and are wholemeal.

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What can I serve instead of chips and dips when I am having friends over to watch the Rugby?

Why not make pita crisps in the oven (low fat crunchy alternatives to chips). They are so easy. Just cut pita bread into triangles or lengths and bake till crisp in oven at 100°C for 10 mins. Store in an airtight container. Serve with a salsa, hummus or yoghurt based dip. Chopped up vegetables such as carrot sticks, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and courgettes make great dipping vegetables. Plain popcorn, pretzels and rice crackers are also low fat nibbles.

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How many calories can I have per day and still lose weight?

Half a kilogram (500g) of body fat contains about 3500 calories. Eating 500 to 1000 calories a day less than your usual intake should result in weight loss of 500g to 1kg per week. The minimum recommended daily level is 1200 calories for women and 1500 calories for men to ensure that the diet includes all necessary vitamins and minerals. However, this will vary for certain individuals.

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Why is it important to include fat in my diet?

To be healthy, our bodies require a certain amount of fat. Fat has several important functions including:

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Why is 30% of calories from fat in the diet considered healthy?

The NZ Heart Foundation recommends a diet containing about 30% of its calories from fat in order to help reduce obesity contributing to the development of cardiovascular disease. Xenical works to help prevent one-third of the fat in each meal from being fully digested. If the diet contains more than 30% of its calories from fat, you may experience some of the common side effects noted in our clinical trials. We recommend adopting a reduced-calorie diet containing no more than 30% of calories from fat.

Xenical blocks about one-third of the fat in the food you eat from being digested into your body. Your role is to limit the fat you eat in the first place. This is recommended for three good reasons:

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Xenical® (orlistat 120mg capsules) is a Pharmacist Only Medicine for weight loss/control in adults with an initial BMI ≥ 30. Common side effects: abdominal pain/discomfort, wind, fatty/oily stools, rectal pain/discomfort, urgent need to go to the toilet and low blood glucose. Do not use if you have problems absorbing nutrients or with your bile flow. Tell your pharmacist if you have chronic kidney disease or a history of kidney stones, or diabetes, or are taking any other medicines. Ask your pharmacist if Xenical is right for you. Always read the label and use strictly as directed. If you have side effects please see your pharmacist. For further information visit www.xenical.co.nz. All trademarks mentioned herein are protected by law. CPI based on CMI dated 7/12/2012
Xenical is an unfunded medicine; you will need to pay for this medicine.