Farewell note from Healthy Food Guide editor Nikki Wallman – August 2012
This is my last column as editor at Healthy Food Guide, and as I prepared to hand over to our fabulous new editor Andrea, I got to thinking about everything I’ve learned in my time here.
People often ask me for insider advice on eating well and losing weight, and I think it boils down to three major tips that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. They won’t be the same for everyone, and they’re pretty general. But they’ve really helped me find my healthiest self, and I thought I’d share them with you as I say goodbye. Here we go:
There really is no single food that will make me gain – or lose – weight.
Before I started working at Healthy Food Guide, I tended to think a bit more in ‘black and white’ terms when it came to eating and weight loss. I was never crazy about it, but it definitely impacted on my eating habits. If I had a takeaway pizza for dinner, for example, I’d worry about the direct impact it would have on my weight that week. If I had eggs Benedict on Sunday morning, I’d feel a little ‘guilty’ about it for the rest of the day. I’d generally avoid potatoes because I vaguely associated them with weight gain (something I’d read in the paper that day). The list goes on.
Now? I know roughly how many kilojoules I need to eat in a day to keep my weight steady. I know the bulk of my diet should be made up of fresh fruit and vegies, followed by lean proteins, low-fat dairy and low-GI carbs. And – most importantly – I know that as long as I stick to these general guidelines, a night of joyous pizza indulgence will not wreak havoc on my weight; nor will that beautiful eggs Benedict I’ve been looking forward to all week. As long as I roughly factor them into the totality of my energy intake for the day, or over the course of that week, I can have my cake and eat it, too.
Portion awareness is probably the single easiest way for me to keep tabs on both my weight and my nutritional needs.
This follows from the first lesson I’ve learned. Before I came to the mag, I had no real idea of what average portion sizes for different foods were – I just kind of made it up as I went along (and also, I have to admit, according to my favourite parts of the meal – one particularly memorable salad consisted about 50% haloumi, 30% figs, 10% dressing and 10% green leafy stuff!). As a result, I was surprised to learn that an average serving of cheese is about the same size as three dice; that the meat on my plate should be only about the size of a deck of cards, and much more. The biggest change I needed to make? I suspect it’s a common one – stop making the carbohydrate portion of my meal the largest, and start upgrading my vegetables to half my plate. Now it’s almost automatic, and I feel a lot better for it.
Healthy food can taste not just good, but absolutely fantastic!
I’ve always eaten pretty well (except for a couple of poverty-stricken early years after uni, when I lived in London on a diet consisting mainly of cheap fried, or gravy-coated, food). I did always, however, tend to think that less healthy food had the monopoly on deliciousness, and the healthier dishes I prepared were always a little bland in comparison. However, I’ve learned in my time at Healthy Food Guide that healthy food can really knock your socks off.
One of the biggest highlights of this job for me was attending our monthly photo shoots, where we tried, tested, tasted and photographed the amazing recipes that go into every issue of the magazine. From low-kJ cheesecake to rich chocolate pudding; from beautiful homemade pizzas with goat’s cheese, walnuts and asparagus to golden chicken schnitzels with coleslaw; my every appetite was indulged over the past couple of years. The experience has really opened my eyes to the clever ways you can make your favourite meals healthier, every day. All it takes is a little knowhow, some smart swapping, and the confidence that you can do it!
Well, there they are. There are a million more specific lessons I’ve learned about nutrition in my time here, but these are the three overarching tips that I know will keep me on a healthy eating path for life. I’ll be taking these lessons with me as I say goodbye and I’d like to thank you for your support and feedback to the magazine – please keep it coming!