The official recommended daily calorie intake – 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men each day – is a great starting point when it comes to meal planning, but it can be difficult to know exactly how many extra calories we take in each day.
According to Public Health England, adults in the UK are consuming more than 200 to 300 calories more than they need every day, with many unsure of how many calories they should be consuming overall. To help tackle this so-called ‘calorie creep’, the organisation has launched its new ‘One You’ campaign to make it easier to manage calorie intake, particularly when eating out.
The campaign has introduced a new 400-600-600 rule of thumb – that’s around 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner, plus a couple of healthier snacks and drinks in-between as part of a balanced diet of 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men each day.
As around a quarter of calories are consumed on-the-go, retailers including Greggs, McDonalds, Starbucks and Subway have joined the campaign to help shoppers find 400 and 600 calorie meals.
“It’s clear that excess calories are driving weight gain for many,” Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said of the initiative. “Busy lives and too much food mean we’re often eating more food than we realise – especially when we’re grabbing food out and about. This can have a significant impact on our waistlines and our health.
“The 400-600-600 tip can help people make healthier choices when eating and drinking on the go. It’s encouraging to see major high street companies promoting lower calorie options and we hope more will follow suit.”
Public Health England has made it clear that this campaign has not been designed to provide a weight loss programme and as always, those with special dietary requirements or medical needs seek guidance from a registered health-care professional.
However, experts hope the campaign will be helpful when it comes to finding healthier food choices in shops and restaurants.
“Even with the best will in the world, it can be really tricky to stick to our healthy eating principles when we’re hungry, pushed for time and picking up food on-the-go,” nutritionist Amanda Ursell told Cosmopolitan. “These days, many of the extra calories we’re consuming come from eating out of the home and it is easy to underestimate what we tuck into. This in turn can have an adverse effect on our health and on our waistlines.”
According to Ursell, checking the facts before you make your selection at breakfast, lunch or dinner is an easy way of keeping track of what you’re consuming.
“Don’t rely on instinct and guesswork when picking up food on the go, make sure you have the calorie information to hand,” she advises. “Check calorie content on labels in-store when making your meal choice and look out for 400-600-600 meal options available at a range of high street stores.”
Find out more about the government’s dietary recommendations here.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK