Over half (53%) of Irish people confess to having both tried and failed healthy eating plans time and again at the beginning of each year, according to new research from Bord Bia’s Potatoes: More Than A Bit On The Side (www.potato.ie) campaign, with 57% of people putting pressure on themselves to battle the bulge left by Christmas calories – setting unrealistic goals that they just can’t keep.
With over three quarters (86%) of people having pledged to be healthier this January – half (50%) concentrating on eating more healthily and over one third (45%) committing to being more active – it’s clear to see the public start off the year with strong intentions. However, often the resolutions are doomed to fail as almost 22% believe healthy foods don’t taste as good as less healthy foods and over one in five (20%) eat foods they don’t enjoy in a quest to stick to their health kick.
The findings, reveal that individuals putting the pressure on themselves, are in fact not helping themselves. Although over one third (34%) understand that they require all food groups to live a healthy lifestyle, almost half (43%) of people are cutting out particular foods that they believe will help them shift the extra pounds and be healthier.
Sugar is the number one food group many people (48%) decided to sacrifice this January, followed by booze (40%) and fats (30%). Instead, replacement foods include spinach and kale as the public make a move to ‘green foods’ with 45% believing these to be better for them than other food types.
Respected dietician, Sian Porter, based in London, comments: “People deep down know what makes sense, but this doesn’t stop many setting themselves up to fail year after year. January, like Monday morning, is a time people tell themselves that being healthy will be easier as it’s a fresh start, and because of this try to do everything at once. For example, people try to eat less, change what, when and how they eat, plan to exercise more, give up alcohol, go to bed earlier, declutter their homes, get their finances in order, the list is endless – is it any wonder they fail? When unrealistic New Year resolutions meets the reality of restriction and deprivation that leads to cravings, guilt and disappointment, they pack it in for another year or turn to another quick fix to solve the problem. Basically, if you do things the same, you’re going to get the same result.
“Instead, people should take control and aim for a healthier balanced diet across 12 months, with small sustainable changes, regular physical activity and targets spread over a realistic time period, rather than following the fads. For example, people should aim to eat a variety of foods from all the main food groups (plenty of fruit and veg, potatoes with skins, and other wholegrain starchy foods, some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein like nuts and seeds and some milk and dairy foods), choose the healthiest foods in those groups and eat the right amount of them. It is great that so many people have an ambition to be healthier – we need to support each other to do it and avoid the common failures.”
Worryingly, almost one in 10 people (9%) admitted to skipping meals as part of a January detox and 8% replace a meal with a smoothie, juice or shake, as part of their healthy eating resolutions. The Food Pyramid** recommends plenty of carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables, along with smaller amounts of protein, dairy, fats and sugars, in order to maintain a healthy, balanced diet – further highlighting the dangers of cutting out whole food groups.
Lorcan Bourke, Sector Manager for Potatoes in Bord Bia, said: “The report shows us that cutting out foods is leading to dieting failures and instead, we need to balance our daily meals. Potatoes, that are fat-free, gluten-free and a great source of nutrition, could be the answer to our January eating woes. Cooked in the right way and with the right ingredients, they can be a quick and healthy option to help people avoid snacking and succeed with more sensible eating plans this year.”
The Potatoes: More Than A Bit On The Side campaign, run on behalf of industry by Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) and AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board), is geared towards making potatoes more relevant to a younger audience and encouraging the public to try new and exciting ways of incorporating them into their cooking routines. The campaign has been approved by the European Commission and received EU funding with co-financing from the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine in Ireland, the Potato Industry and AHDB (Great Britain), with Bord Bia managing the implementation of the campaign in Ireland.
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The research was conducted by Censuswide between 23 December 2015 – 5 January 2016 on behalf of the Potatoes:More Than A Bit On The Side campaign. 2,004 respondents were surveyed from the UK and Republic of Ireland. 400 respondents were from the Republic of Ireland.
*14 January was calculated as the most common day to give up New Year’s resolutions through the following: the Censuswide data analysis program created weightings for scale questions. For each option on the scale, a mean number (e.g.: 1-3 days – the mean would be 2 days) was taken and entered this into the system. Once completed for all scale options, the software took into account all respondents’ answers and computed an overall mean for the base number of respondents (2,004). From the overall mean of 13 days (13.16) Censuswide calculated the date people are most likely to fail their detox/diet, by adding the overall mean to 1 Jan, e.g. if the overall mean was 2, then the mean date would be 3 Jan – in this case it was 13 days after 1 January = 14 January. The hours have been calculated in the following manner: 14 x 24 = 336 hours.
**For information on the Food Pyramid, visit: http://www.safefood.eu/Healthy-Eating/What-is-a-balanced-diet/The-Food-Pyramid.aspx