On a mission to lose weight? No reason to worry about your body, right? Not so fast, missy. Dieting can have serious side effects you can’t see, smell or feel. For one thing, if you’re not getting enough fat, your body can’t absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. “You need a minimum of five grams of fat per meal to make sure you’re absorbing all of the vitamins in your food,” says dietician Tammy Lakatos Shames.
For another, if you’re eating too few kilojoules (generally less than 5 000 a day, though that number is different for everyone), you can weaken your bones by causing oestrogen levels to drop (darn oestrogen!). To steer clear of these problems:
1. Say Yes To Oil
Always eat salad with a little vinaigrette – and not the fat-free kind. The oil will help you absorb the vitamins in the veggies better.
2. Make Tomato Sauce
Add a little olive oil to your tomato sauce. Not only will you get the vitamin boost, but the oil helps your body use the antioxidant lycopene (found in tomato skin) more efficiently.
3. Don’t Forget Calcium
Make sure your shopping list includes low-fat dairy, fish, tofu and cabbage. All are great sources of calcium – you need 1 000mg a day to keep your bones strong.
4. And Vitamin D
Get 400 to 800 international units of vitamin D per day – it helps your body absorb calcium. Good sources: fatty saltwater fish and fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and certain ready-to-eat cereals.
5. Get Moving!
To maintain bone mass, the US National Institutes of Health recommends at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing activity (like weightlifting, jogging, racquet sports and stairclimbing) most days of the week.