Are Britons hiding their calorific secrets?
Obesity rates are on the rise, and the under-reporting of how much we really eat is to blame, claims a new study. The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), a part-privatised government agency, argue that national surveys are not capturing the changes in the way food is eaten in Britain, particularly snacking outside the home and restaurant meals. Many national surveys conclude that the average adult consumes around 2,000 calories each day, but BIT found that the real figure could be almost 3,000.
The report starts: “official statistics show a large decline in calorie consumption in the UK over the last 40 years. At the same time, we have seen the population gain weight over this period. How has weight gone up, if we are eating less?” Their conclusion, we’re not being truthful about how many calories we consume a day, whether this is consciously or subconsciously. It has to be said, I downloaded the health-monitoring app My Fitness Pal a couple of months ago (which has since been deleted) and that glorious white wine spritzer was not recorded, because a) yes I know I shouldn’t but b) who is my phone to judge me?
So the crux of the report is that this underreporting of calorie intake is causing health experts to focus on increasing people’s physical activity, rather than cutting their calorie intake. If calorie counts were correct, they say, the UK population would actually be losing weight, not gaining it.
At The Detox Kitchen we don’t like to focus on calorie counting. We think it’s much more important to focus on the quality of, and nutrients in, the food we eat. Our resident nutritionist Rob Hobson says ‘not all calories are created equal – opting for healthy, nutrient-dense foods from the key food groups (such as choosing wholegrain carbohydrates over refined) is most important. Choosing plant based foods, some dairy alternatives, a little protein and healthy fats should provide you with everything you need to enjoy optimum health.”
This being said, counting calories is still the simplest way of monitoring your daily energy intake. And it is important to be mindful of those two areas people seem to be slipping up on – snack foods and restaurant meals. Restaurant meals are often more calorific than the meals we cook at home, so try to limit meals out to special occasions and cook from scratch as much as possible. And to avoid reaching for sugary snacks, try carrying round nuts with you on the go. Apple slices paired with nut butter are also a favourite snack of ours!
Words: Ellen Tewkesbury