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Overweight and Hungry Australians

When we think about people suffering from malnutrition, those struggling with obesity don't usually come to mind. We often relate malnutrition and hunger with people living in poverty or in developing countries where access to food is limited. 

It is possible, however, to be overweight and malnourished. For some, it doesn't seem to matter how much they eat, they're still hungry. Why? Because they're eating the wrong foods.

While many preach that "a calorie is a calorie" and that the sources of calories don't matter, this simply isn't true. From a nutritional standpoint, 100 calories of lollies is not equivalent to 100 calories of broccoli. The body requires micronutrients - vitamins and minerals - to function properly, and when these aren't received the body becomes malnourished. This can lead to a hunger that simply can't be satisfied with "junk" food. People believe that the more they eat, regardless of what it is, the fuller they'll be. Full, yes. But nourished? No. They are consuming excessive amounts of calories that lack the nutrients they need, which leads to weight gain without the satiety that comes from eating the right foods.

We only need to take a look at the standard Australian diet to see where things are going wrong. As a nation we consume vast amounts of processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cereal, muffins, cake), sugar-filled beverages (soft drink, store-bought juices, iced coffees, energy drinks) and sugar-filled snacks (yogurt, chocolate bars, lollies). Where are the nutrients? These kinds of foods have led to an overweight population that's constantly hungry.

By making better food choices we can reverse this trend. Eating unprocessed whole-foods, good amounts of quality protein, good fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential for good health. These foods contain the nutrients you need to stay fuller for longer, and because of this, you're less likely to overeat.

On the other end of the scale, periodic fasting has become popular with those who generally eat well but want to lose a little extra weight or learn more about their body's responses to food. They are literally choosing to be hungry for up to 2 days, such as on the 5:2 Diet, so that they can become more aware of their food choices and how certain foods provide more satiety than others. The 5:2 Diet means eating normally for 5 days, then cutting your caloric intake for the other 2 days of the week to about 500-600 calories, which is a quarter of what is usually recommended.

While fasting is considered extreme by many, this diet highlights the importance of choosing good quality foods rich in nutrients because overeating simply isn't an option on the 2 fasting days. Dieters must make careful decisions about their food choices, and while this diet isn't recommended for everyone, making smart and healthy food choices is.

It is possible to eat less, feel fuller, and lose weight, so think about this: If your calories were restricted, would you make better choices around the quality of foods you're eating? We'd be interested in hearing your ideas and comments on our Facebook page.

Disclaimer: The above article is not intended as medical advice and is not necessarily representative of Alive and Kicking Medical Practices' beliefs or philosophies. The intention of this article is simply to share ideas, thoughts and theories currently being explored within medical and scientific communities. You should always speak with your doctor or a qualified medical practitioner before starting, ceasing, or altering medical treatment.