Get your man in the Kitchen

By Joel Feren, Provisional Sports Dietitian


As we all know, men’s health is a topic most blokes tend to shy away from. To help with this I’ve created the #getyourmaninthekitchen campaign to put the issue of men’s health back in the spotlight. I believe that now is the time for we men to well and truly take charge of our own health.

The evidence shows that males are more at risk than ever of developing heart disease. According to the National Heart Foundation, 153 Australian men suffer a heart attack every single day. That’s a staggering statistic! Not to mention the high rates of developing other nasties like cancer, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and mental health problems.

The ‘Get your man in the kitchen’ campaign is intended to encourage men to get into the kitchen and prepare healthy meals. They do not need to be Masterchefs, but just be willing to have a go at giving their meals a healthier spin. We Dietitians are strongly aware that the key to following a healthy balanced diet is not depriving yourself of your favourite foods. It’s simply a matter of making small, but meaningful adjustments to diet and lifestyle that can lead to a significant reduction in risk factors for disease later in life.

Blokey meals such as baked spuds, spaghetti bolognaise, steak and three veg as well as chicken parmigiana are all on the menu. The key is to tweak them so they are healthier than the original version. And this is not so hard to do. Here are a few ways I encourage my male patients to cook healthfully:

  • use low-fat cooking methods such as baking, grilling or BBQing;
  • use reduced-fat dairy, and lean meats;
  • and load up on extra veggies wherever possible.

The campaign is centered on empowering men to cook more of the foods they enjoy, and providing them with the knowledge and skills to enable them to do this in their own kitchens.

Anecdotally, I see a lot of men in my private practice who simply don’t know where to start in the kitchen. I’m sure I’m not alone amongst health practitioners. Many men think that it is just too hard to prepare a meal from scratch. However, I like to live by the motto, “Don’t work harder in the kitchen, work smarter”. I encourage my patients to use frozen veggies, packet salad mixes (minus the oily dressings), tinned beans as well as tinned fish. The recipes I provide to my clients, both male and female, can mostly be prepped and cooked in less than half an hour. That means that even the most time-poor client can whip up a meal at home in less time than it takes to go out and order a take-away meal.

Cooking meals at home, rather than eating out or ordering take-away, allows the cook to dictate the nutritional value of a meal. Adding more veggies or salad to a meal, at the expense of higher energy-containing foods, will reduce the overall kilojoule content of a meal. A recent study showed that we consume fewer calories when eating at home compared to when dining out[1]. This is most likely due to consuming smaller portions, using lower calorie ingredients and cooking methods, and not always including an entrée or dessert. As health practitioners, we need to empower and encourage our clients of both genders to be less reliant on take-away foods by providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to prepare hearty and healthy meals in their own kitchens.

To get involved in the ‘Get your man in the kitchen’ campaign, you can encourage your male friends, family members and clients to showcase their culinary skills on social media such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Wearing a daggy apron is optional. Just be sure to use the hashtag #getyourmaninthekitchen when posting.

You can look forward to seeing more of the men in your life in the kitchen, and I look forward to hearing their success stories… Just don’t blame me if they don’t clean up after themselves.

For more of Joel’s nutrition tips, check out Dudes Talk Nutrition on YouTube.