30 December 2014

If you succumb to over-eating this Christmas don't fall for the crash diet solution in the New Year, NSW Health warned today.

Director for the Centre of Population Health, Dr Jo Mitchell, said it was easy to fall into the trap of over-indulging during the Christmas period, and to then worry about weight gain.

"Often people turn to crash diets as a ‘fix it’ measure to lose weight quickly," Dr Mitchell said.

“Research shows that crash diets achieve little in long-term weight loss. The short-term success is usually due to loss of water and muscle mass, and many crash diets do not provide adequate nutrients and are bad for a person’s long-term health.”

Crash diets may also cause fatigue and affect concentration.

"The good news is that small changes can make a big difference. Start with small, manageable steps to make healthy food choices and begin a regular exercise program which is fun and can be easily slotted into your daily schedule,” Dr Mitchell said.

“Some easy changes are to choose smaller portions, select healthier take away choices by using the kilojoule information on menu boards, carry a piece of fruit with you as a handy snack, fill your plate with vegetables at dinner and make water your drink of choice. Fruit and vegetables are beneficial to long-term health, particularly to reduce the risk of chronic disease such as cancer.”

Dr Mitchell said people should try to be active every day.

“Just 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week improves your heart health and helps with weight control. This can include walking, swimming, dancing, gardening or playing golf and will increase your heart rate but not necessarily make you short of breath.”

Dr Mitchell said a misconception about regular exercise was that it must be strenuous to reap any benefits.

“It is far more important that you do something you find enjoyable,” Dr Mitchell said. “This means you’re more likely to make exercise part of your life rather than let it dwindle away,” she said.

Those unable cannot to fit 30 minute sessions into their lifestyles could still gain health benefits from periods of activity as brief as 10 minutes, providing they added up to 30 minutes in total on most days.

“Even small things like taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking to the corner shop instead of driving can help make you more active.

"Besides helping to keep your weight at a healthy level, regular exercise and a healthy eating plan offer a range of benefits including lower stress levels, better concentration, and more self-confidence.

“As an extra bonus you’ll have higher energy levels, giving you an added boost to enjoy more in life.”

NSW Health offers a free six month telephone coaching and online information service for people wanting to lose weight and improve their health, the Get Healthy Service.

A key initiative of the NSW Healthy Eating Active Living Strategy: Preventing Overweight and Obesity in NSW 2013-2018, the Get Healthy Service is a whole of government strategy to promote healthy eating, physical activity and the achievement and maintenance of healthy weight in children and adults.

Getting healthy starts with a phone call to 1300 806 258 or by logging onto the Get Healthy NSW.​