The term ‘beer gut’ is a misnomer according to nutritionist Deborah Harrison, who says there are many other lifestyle issues that also contribute to people’s weight issues.
Harrison – who is set to join Australian Brews News as a regular columnist – is founder of the Drink Beer Be Healthy program, which is targeted at improving male health, although it is open to anyone.
“I’ve been swimming in a women’s health arena for some years now, and I noticed that there was a big gap for men’s health and men’s focus,” she said.
“I needed to find an angle that actually attracted guys to want to make change and do it in a way that sounded like I wasn’t making them sacrifice what they enjoy doing.”
Harrison, whose husband is Temple Brewing head brewer Glenn Harrison, said her program educates people that beer is just one of the “energy dense” foods and drinks that can play a role in weight gain.
“It generally doesn’t come just from drinking beer. You’ve generally not got a good diet and you don’t move,” she said.
“What I like to do is run an exercise on energy dense foods and drinks in general, so they can see how much an average person should be consuming a day in kilojoules and calories, and then what some of these food and drinks actually have in them as an individual serve,” she said.
The former personal trainer said other factors that can contribute to weight gain include over-emphasis on “packaged, convenient and quick foods that are laden with fat and salt and sugar”.
Portion size is also important, as is drinking enough water, and the time of the day that people eat, “how quickly they go to bed afterwards”.
“This could be their reason for weight gain, lack of sleep or interrupted sleep – a whole ream of health issues,” she said.
The Drink Beer Be Healthy program can be taught either in groups or one-on-one, in person with Deborah or via Skype consultation.
It provides a fresh approach by combining coaching and education to cover a broad range of health areas including nutrition, physical activity, smoking, alcohol, sleep and stress management.
“I’m actually educating them on sustainable life change as opposed to putting them on a diet. I don’t agree with diets and I don’t agree with cutting out food groups,” she said.
“I’m pretty keen to get it out there that there is a way of doing it all and enjoying everything.”