Each year in February, during Australia’s Healthy Weight Week (AHWW), the Dietitians Association of Australia promotes this message and encourages people to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian to assist with food, nutrition and lifestyle management.
The aim of the AHWW campaign, which runs from 13 – 19 February, is very straight-forward - to encourage more Australians to cook at home as a way to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
A recent study by Omnipoll has found just 17 percent of Australians with a goal to be healthier this year intend to cook at home more. This compares with 54 percent who want to get more active.
DAA spokesperson and AHWW ambassador Mr Themis Chryssidis says big health wins are there for the taking for people who regularly cook at home. “Studies tell us that cooking at home is healthier, being linked with a better overall diet, including more fruit and vegetables. But we’re cooking less often and spending less time cooking now than in the past,” he says. “This does include older Australians who may lose inspiration in the kitchen as children move out or partners die.”
“We need to recognise the social values of cooking too,” Mr Themis highlights. “An older person may have a medical condition which prevents them from cooking, but someone can cut the vegetables while they, for instance tend to the fish.”
He suggests buying frozen vegetables will reduce wastage and the need for chopping. “Plus there are implements older people can use to help them cook,” he adds, “Using convenience foods that fit within a healthy diet, such as pre-cut and portioned vegetables and meat, par-cooked rice or pasta, and ready-made sauces can make cooking easier.
“We need to remember Healthy Weight Week isn’t always about losing weight; it is about appropriate weight for your age and activity levels,” Mr Chryssidis says, pointing out some older people have problems with weight loss. As an accredited practising dietitian, Mr Chryssidis says diets may need tweaking as we age; for instance we may need more protein or calcium.
“I’d prefer to see people over the age of 50 or 60 coming to me before they have an issue with their health,” he says. “It’s about been proactive so have a chat with your GP or see a dietitian – you don’t have to have a referral from your GP to see a dietitian.”
To mark this year’s event, Mr Chryssidis and celebrity chef Callum Hann from Sprout have developed the cookbook ‘Everyday Healthy Bumper Edition’ as a free download from the Healthy Weight Week website.