IT'S THE beginning of the year, and with it, there's a lot of talk about fad diets and the top tips and tricks to lose weight in the new year.
But, according to clinical dietitian Monique Browning, the key to reaching your nutritional health goals is sustainability, and not relying on yo-yo dieting or prescribing to popular diet culture.
Ms Browning, who works from Ochre Health Bathurst on Saturdays, and services clients aged 16 and over, said there are five key ways to lose weight, and stay in shape in a healthy and sustainable manner.
The first of these is to steer clear of things in packages.
And though Ms Browning said she understands that this can't be achieved all of the time, it's important to be able to read food labels for when you do have to reach for packet items.
"Just be cautious of the things that are inside the packages, and learn how to read a food label too," she said.
"So, make sure you're always checking that 100 gram column, and looking out for things like salt, fat and sugar. There's certain values that those things should be under to know that it's a good product."
"So salt should be less than 400 milligrams per 100, fat is 10 grams per hundred, and sugar is 15 grams per hundred."
Ms Browning's second tip was to avoid full-fat dairy products, and switch to low-fat alternatives.
This includes low fat milks, cheeses, yogurts, ice creams and any other dairy products.
"There is a rumour out there that low fat items are usually higher in sugar, but that is absolutely not true," Ms Browning said.
"What happens is that the lactose content actually gets higher when they remove the fat, so that's why there is some confusion with the sugars, because lactose is a sugar."
The third tip is to always correctly portion your meals by reserving half your plate for veggies or salad.
The remainder of a meal should be made up of a quarter of protein or meat, and a quarter of carbohydrates like rice, pasta, potatoes or other healthy carbs.
Tip number four is that it's important to allow yourself to indulge every once in a while, and to enjoy the perks of being a normal human being.
"Otherwise it won't be sustainable. You can't cut everything cold-turkey, it needs to be manageable and enjoyable, otherwise you're going to give up and go for a huge binge," Ms Browning said.
These treats can include anything from chocolates to a few glasses of wine, take away meals, and anything of a high caloric content.
Ms Browning said the overall rule of thumb is to ensure that 80 per cent of the diet is made up of healthy, sustainable options, with a 20 per cent allowance for delicious delicacies.
And tip number five: don't drink your calories.
Certain types of alcohol are known to have a high calorie content, so it's best to avoid them. But avoiding alcohol consumption in general is also as important.
"Alcohol, unfortunately, only provides us with calories, it doesn't provide us with any other nutritional value; no fibre, no protein, nothing good, just straight calories," Ms Browning said.
"So try to stick to those two standard drinks, otherwise it can be quite easy to blow out your calorie intake when you have a couple of beers at the pub."
Ms Browning said she would also recommend that anybody looking for professional advice to book an appointment with their GP, and ask for a referral for clinical nutrition help.