The basics of a healthy diet aren't that difficult to grasp in theory. It's applying them in the real world that's tricky. One-size-fits-all recommendations don't help much. We asked nutritionists in their 20s, 30s, and 40s to confess to the weight loss problems they've come across over the past year – and to share the strategies they use in their own lives.
Eat right in your 20s
You're at university now, or in your first job, and meals are something you grab on the run.
▶ Fast food is easy and cheap, but because it's laden with fat and salt, you're piling on the kilos.
THE EXPERT FIX: Gather a group of like-minded girlfriends and spend your cash at Fruit & Veg City or an organic produce market. Set aside a Sunday afternoon and, rather than slouching on the couch with a DVD, spend it in the kitchen together cooking up a week's veggie meals.
▶ You guzzle coffee and energy drinks to get through the day.
THE EXPERT FIX: Go to bed before 11pm a couple of times a week rather than using caffeine to cover up your need for more pillow time. Drinking too much caffeine has consequences. More than 300mg daily – 1 1/4 cups of take-away coffee, 1 to 4 cups of energy drinks, 2 to 3 cups of home-brewed or instant coffee, or 10 cups of diet cola – may make you anxious and jittery. And your waistline may not go unscathed either.
▶ Your social life revolves around happy hours, brunches, and other parties.
THE EXPERT FIX: Don't decline the invitations; just minimise the alcohol and you'll save kilojoules on what you drink and eat.If you do want to imbibe, dietician Marisa Moore, suggests having a wine spritzer or Bloody Mary (made with low-kilojoule, nutrient-rich tomato juice. And when it comes to food, Moore sticks to the three C's – cocktail shrimp, chicken satay or skewer, and crudités.
The perfect lunch for 20-somethings
This meal has flexibility, plus it delivers an entire day's worth of immune-boosting vitamin C. Toss it together at home, or get it from a take-away deli.
Healthy chef salad (combine 4 C cos lettuce, 1 hard-boiled egg,
1/3 C shredded carrots, 8 cherry tomatoes, 1 T chopped walnuts, and 2 T cheddar cheese, and toss in 2 T light vinaigrette), a slice of whole-wheat bread, a piece of watermelon, and diet or unsweetened iced tea (2300kJ, 25g fat)