How to start the year right.


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This is a sponsored post.

Over the next few weeks you are going to see a lot of articles and blogs written on New Year’s diets, quick weight loss and detox programs. So if you are looking to overhaul your diet and lifestyle in 2017 here are the quickest and easiest changes you can make to your diet to drop a few kg quickly and help reset your health in no time.

Clean out the fridge and cupboard – now!

If there are tempting treats and sugary snack foods in sight, you will eat them. If you are serious about getting your diet and lifestyle on track in 2017, you need to keep all the healthy foods you need on hand to eat well, minus the temptation. So get organised, get shopping and get a ready supply of healthy foods on hand to help you eat well.

Look for natural ways to boost your health

It may be taking a fish oil capsule to help reduce inflammation in the body; a liver supplement to help you recover from the silly season or some grapeseed oil to give you an antioxidant boost but starting the year with the right regime of supplementary health products is an easy way to give your health a boost and complement your busy lifestyle.

Read more on fish oil and how it can help you, here.

Base 1 meal a day on vegetables

Whether this equates to a vege juice to start the day; a large salad for lunch or a vegetable soup for dinner, simply replacing one meal a day with a low calorie vegetable based alternative you will drop 200-300 calories out of your day without noticing which will support 1⁄2 – 1 kg weight loss a week.

Just 3 meals a day – no snacking

Unless you are training for more than an hour a day, or start work before 8am, chances are that you will only need to eat 3 times a day. Often we snack out of habit not hunger, and as such take in an extra 400-500 calories a day, just on snacks alone. Shifting your food intake to 3 good, filling meals will not only help to regulate your appetite so that you are really hungry for your meals, but it also helps to control the release of the hormone insulin which is involved in fat metabolism long term.

Did you know a surprisingly high number of people have a fatty liver? Learn how you can help build a healthy liver here.

Include a protein rich breakfast

Basing your first meal of the day around protein rich foods such as Greek yoghurt, eggs, cottage cheese or lean meat which offer 15-20g protein per serve appears to help regulate the release of the hormone insulin, which in turn appears to regulate appetite. Not only are these protein rich foods also rich in nutrients, but they will help to prevent the sugar cravings that kick in at 10-11am after a breakie of cereal, toast or fruit.

No food 8pm – 8am rule

It may surprise you to hear that just having a 12 hour break without food overnight may help you to lose weight. Late night meals can mean we eat lightly the next day and shift our calorie intake towards the second half of the day, when we are least active. Make a concerted effort to eat your final meal each day by 8pm at the latest and notice how much more you enjoy a filling breakfast the next day.

To learn more about D&X product range including where to buy them, click here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for D&X. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

5 reason why you aren’t losing weight when you have insulin resistance.


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So you have insulin resistance – why are you not losing weight?

Weight loss is difficult at the best of times. Not only does it require focus and commitment, but nagging hunger, especially in the early stages of changing your eating habits is challenging to deal with. If you also have insulin resistance, it becomes even harder. Insulin is perhaps the most powerful hormone in the body. It controls fat metabolism. This means if your insulin is not working properly, your ability to successfully burn body fat will be impacted. Welcome to the world of insulin resistance. So if you have IR, and are having trouble successfully shifting the kilos, here are some of the reasons why.

1. You are not getting the right amount of carbs

Carbohydrate is the primary fuel for the muscles and for the brain. Insulin breaks down carbohydrate and allows it to be burnt as energy. As such when insulin is not working well, as is the case with IR, it makes sense that we need to cut back on our carb intake. This is where is becomes all about the balance – too little carb will halt fat metabolism, as will too much and unfortunately there is no magic number for all people. Your carbohydrate needs will differ depending on the degree of IR you have; your activity levels and how much weight you have lost already.

2. You are getting too many calories

When we cut back on carbs we have a tendency to eat larger serves of protein rich foods and overdo the good fats courtesy of nuts, oils, spreads and avocado. While carbohydrate control is important with IR, so too is calorie control. The number of calories you need will also differ based on how much activity that you do. Individuals with IR will also need fewer calories than a person with IR as their cells are less efficient at burning fuel.

For more on what you need to know about diet when dealing with insulin resistance, click here.

3. You are exercising but not moving

Often when we get the gym we are so proud of ourselves that we then actually sit down more and burn fewer calories throughout the day than if we had gone to the gym. While exercise that gets your heart rate up and works the muscles is an important aspect of managing IR, so too is being on your feet and moving at least 10000-12000 steps each day.

4. You are eating at the wrong times

Insulin management requires regular amounts of carbs and proteins spaced throughout the day. This means that small breakfasts and lunches followed by an evening of snacking, even if you calories remain controlled will not support weight loss.

5. You need medication

For some people, no matter how much they diet and exercise their insulin remains elevated. High insulin levels will block fat loss which is why some people will need medication to help manage their insulin levels. To determine if this is the case you will need a GTT with insulin levels ordered by your GP. 

Try on of our Shape Me insulin resistant recipes, such as our Spring Lamb with Walnuts & Beetroot, here.

Heart health. Keeping your heart healthy.


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*This is a sponsored post*

Keep your heart healthy this February

With February being the month for all things love, romance and big red hearts, it is also an opportune time to talk about heart health, or more specifically the foods known to keep our hearts healthy. When it comes to heart health, Australians are not doing overly well. Heart disease remains our biggest killer yet many cases of heart disease could actually be prevented when the right lifestyle factors are targeted. So if you do have high cholesterol or blood pressure, or simply want to eat better to help lose a few kilos, here are some of the best foods for the heart.

Olive Oil

While we hear much about the wonders of coconut oil, the truth is that when it comes to looking at the research that supports the health benefits of any particular oil, you cannot go past olive oil. Great for the skin, with exceptionally high levels of powerful antioxidants that help to protect our cells from damage and as an addition to any meal to help boost satiety fullness, olive oil has one of the highest proportions of monounsaturated fat and lowest proportion of saturated fat of all the cooking oils available. Often considered a poor choice for cooking at high temperatures, the truth is that the high quality of olive oil means that it can be used in most dishes with the exception of deep frying, as well as used as a flavoursome dressing. The fresher the olive oil, the higher the antioxidant content so replace your olive oil every 2-3 months. Also keep in mind that ‘light’ varieties are not lighter in fat or calories and spray varieties lack the nutrient quality of fresh oil. Research suggests that including as much as 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day will help you to reap the many health benefits

Legumes

Legumes or beans have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years with cannellini, kidney and borlotti beans featuring regularly in a range of cuisines including Mexican, Italian and Lebanese. All beans are extremely nutritious containing a mix of low glycaemic index carbohydrates, dietary fibre and protein; their relatively high protein content making them a popular meat substitute for vegetarians. The soluble fibre found in beans has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels and beans also contain high levels of B-group vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium as well as folate. While legumes are often used as the base of meals for vegetarians, beans can also be used in range of meals including mince, soups and salads for extra bulk and an extra nutrition hit. And best of all, legumes are extremely cheap, making them a most economically addition to any meal.

Oily fish

Oily fish including fresh salmon, sardines, tuna and snapper is an excellent source of the heart-healthy omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA have profound effects on heart health, ranging from decreasing triglyceride levels — an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease — to reducing the risk of sudden death from heart attacks by almost 50 percent.

Nuts

We should eat a serve of nuts every day for a healthy heart. Yes, it is true – nuts are very good for us. In fact, a 30g serving a day is actually linked to weight control long term. Unfortunately, as is the case with many things in life, more is not better and knowing that nuts are good for us does not mean we can eat them in unlimited volumes. In fact, we only need 30-50g of nuts each day to reap the numerous health benefits. Nuts, like seeds and grains are relatively high in fat with a small serve providing between 20-30g of fat in total. The good news is that the fat found in nuts is predominately unsaturated, the type of fat that contributes to optimal cell health, the fat which helps to regulate a number of hormones as well as improving good cholesterol levels. When it comes to which type, walnuts stand out as clear winner. Walnuts are known as a “super food” as they contain exceptionally high amounts of the long chain polyunsaturated fats. For this reason, individuals with high cholesterol can reap many benefits of adding 10 walnuts a day to their daily diet prescription.

Vegetables

When the diets of cultures who have the lowest rates of heart disease are examined it becomes apparent that fresh fruits and in particular vegetables have a huge role to play. Specifically studies investigating the dietary patterns of those from the Mediterranean have identified including a massive 7-10 serves of brightly coloured vegetables in the diet every single day is a key component of this diet linked to specific health benefits. Not only do vegetables add a hearty dose of antioxidants and fibre to the diet, they are exceptionally low in calories which means they play a key role in weight control. Even better serves them with olive oil to help promote nutrient absorption.

Water

ZIP_WinningAppliances_10.12.16_72Often forgotten for the specific roles water can play in our health, research published in the Journal of Epidemiology has shown a specific link between a high daily intake of water and a reduced risk of heart attack. In fact makes who consumed more than 5 glasses of water each day had almost a 50% lower risk of having a heart attack while women who drank 2 glasses of anything other than water had almost 3x as high a risk of having a heart attack. A diet that includes plenty of water is linked to better dietary practices, an increased feeling of fullness and lower blood pressure. Even more reason to load up on the clear stuff.

Hydration plays a major role on how you perform through the day, both at home and at work. Read more here.

And the one we do not need to worry about

Eggs

Eggs do not increase blood cholesterol levels. Old science told us that the cholesterol we consume in foods (animal foods contain cholesterol) increased blood cholesterol and we now know that is not the case. Rather genetics, the total calorie and fat balance in the diet will determine if food patterns increase blood cholesterol levels. So how many eggs should we consume each week? Given that eggs are an extremely nutrient rich food (with at least 11 key nutrients) adding a couple to your daily food repertoire poses no issue and may even support weight control thanks to their high protein content thought to help control insulin levels and appetite.

Read more about why drinking more water can be the easiest way to lose weight, here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.

Infants and junk food


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Why are we feeding our kids so much crap?

If you have spent any time in a shopping centre, or at a park that mums, nannies and prams inundate at 9 or 10am each morning, chances are you would have noticed that our small children seem to eat a lot more than they used to. Babychinos, biscuits, dried fruit and rice snacks fill tiny plastic containers as carers continually feed their young ones in an attempt to pacify them so they can enjoy their skim capp in peace. You have probably also noticed that the foods small children are eating are not always so healthy. Potato chips, juice, cordial, cakes and sweet biscuits frequent the snack boxes of small children a lot more frequently than they should. No longer are these foods an occasional party treat.

New research published by the University of Melbourne has confirmed what observation was suggesting. The study followed the diets of more than 450 infants until they reach 20 months of age. Not only were 1/3 of the children not meeting the dietary guidelines for key foods that supply important nutrients for growth and development including meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables but there was an incredibly high intake of ‘junk’ foods. Alarmingly by the time infants were just 18 months of age, 18% were eating hot chips, 27% sweet biscuits and 16% lollies and chocolates more than twice a week. It appears that these high fat and / or sugar and high calorie foods are no longer party foods, rather foods that parents routinely feed their children, even at this young age.

Struggle with the balance of a healthy lunchbox and one they will also actually eat? See Susie’s breakdown of what a well balanced lunchbox should look like here.

While there is always the argument that it is better for kids to get used to eating treats so they do not feel deprived, there is a major difference between treats being used as occasional treats, once or twice each week and these foods becoming part of the regular diet of small children, often in place of more nutritious food options. Contrary to popular opinion, small children do not need a lot of food, which means these treats quickly form the basis of their diets. At a time when young children are also learning about the types of foods that we need to eat to keep healthy on a daily basis, sending the message that these are everyday foods is setting them up for a lifetime of poor eating habits. In addition, programming the taste buds of small children to seek out exceptionally sweet and salty foods is again teaching them to seek out these flavours, flavours and tastes that will always be preferred over bland vegetables, grains and proteins.

At this point in time when more than ¼ of our children have weight issues, there is no sugar coating it. Parents have to get serious and stop feeding their kids so much crap. This also means that they too probably need to eat a lot less crap. We need to stop feeling like we need to constantly need to reward and treat our kids with poor quality food. Because ultimately it is only them who suffer.

Struggle with a fussy eater? Susie’s eBook Your Kids, Their Food can help you learn to manage a fussy eater without compromising on their nutrition. Available now for just $14.95. Click here to purchase.

5 things you may not know about sparkling water


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*This is a sponsored post*

Things you may not know about sparkling water

We all know we need to drink more water to be at our best on a daily basis but if plain still water is just not your thing, what about sparkling water? Is it as good nutritionally as regular water and is there any other issues to be aware of if sparkling is your preference? The good news is that sparkling water offers a number of health benefits and if it helps you to drink more filtered water in general, it can only be considered a good thing.

1. Sparkling water may help with indigestion

Forget pills and potions, the tiny bubbles and mix of minerals found in sparking water is one the easiest ways you can quickly reduce digestive discomfort and indigestion. It appears that the gas found in sparkling water helps to move food through the digestive tract, which in turn helps to alleviate abdominal discomfort quickly.

2. Sparkling water may help your skin sparkle

Used throughout Asia for this very purpose, it is thought that the carbon filled bubbles of sparkling water help to tighten and firm the skin; reduce puffiness and help to remove dead skin cells. To gain the benefit simply use some sparkling water with your evening cleanser to wash your face, mixing both sparkling with a little warm still water. Who would have thought that good skin starts in the kitchen!

Read more about why drinking more water can be the easiest way to lose weight, here.

3. Sparkling water can help to aerate foods

For anyone who likes their pancakes fluffy, their tempura batter light or anywhere else you see water added to a recipe, swapping it for sparkling water will help to create a light, fluffy effect thanks to the addition of the carbon bubbles of sparkling water because pancakes and pikelets can never be too fluffy!

4. Sparkling water can brighten your dull vegetables

As you focus on your New Year’s Resolution to eat more vegetables, let’s be honest, there is nothing less appealing than some soggy, boiled vegetables on a plate. Give your vegetables a whole new lease of life by simply plunging boiled vegetables into sparkling water after cooking to help them hold their colour. Sparkling water helps to reduce the chemical process that results in a loss of chlorophyll and carotenoid (the colours) of the vegetables.

5. Sparkling water helps you to keep your heart healthy

One interesting study published in the Journal of Nutrition has examined the impact of women drinking a litre of sparkling water each day and found a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels. While the exact mechanism that explains this outcome is not fully

understood, it appears that the minerals in sparkling water have numerous benefits on fluid balance and liver function. And if choosing sparkling means that you will drink more in total, there are only weight and health benefits associated with that so drink up!

Read how a Zip Hydrotap changed Susie’s life, here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.

Help! My child won’t eat breakfast


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The best breakfasts for kids who won’t eat breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – chances are you have heard this before. Specifically when it comes to weight control, hunger management and helping with attention and concentration, breaking the overnight fast is a key dietary habit to establish, particularly for our kids. And now it seems we have another key reason to make sure your kids do not leave the house without breakfast. Recent research from the University of Cardiff has shown that primary school aged children are twice as likely to do better at school when they consume a nutrient rich breakfast.

The study examined the dietary habits of more than 5000 children aged 9-11 years from 100 different schools who listed all the foods they consumed over a 24 hour period, which included 2 breakfasts. The study found that students scored 50-100% higher on assessment scores when breakfast was consumed. Even more specifically, the quality of the breakfast was another significant predictor of performance with nutritious foods including wholegrains, dairy and fruits linked to better performance whereas treat style breakfasts of biscuits, potato chips and sweet treats, as reported by as many as 20% of children had no link with better academic performance. So yet another reason to nag your slightly defiant primary schoolers to eat something decent before they head out the door.

The good news is that you do not necessarily need to sit the family down over a hot breakfast every day to reap these academic benefits. Good nutrition can also be quick, easy and child friendly once you know the right mix of foods.

Struggle with the balance of a healthy lunchbox and one they will also actually eat? See Susie’s breakdown of what a well balanced lunchbox should look like here.

Top quick and easy breakfasts for non-breakfast fans

Breakfast drink

Whether it is a glass of milk or a fruit smoothie, rest assured that milk is a nutrient rich breakfast choice that will be more than adequate in fuelling a young brain for a few hours until recess or fruit break. If you are super organised, a vege / fruit smoothie is extremely nutritious but even a simple glass of milk will do the trick.

Toast with avocado or peanut butter

Simply teaming a wholemeal or wholegrain slice of toast with a protein rich topping such as cheese, peanut butter or avocado creates a breakie combo that is significantly more nutritious than toast with sweet spreads and while peanut butter may be a concern at school, if your house does not need to be nut free, 100% nut spread is a highly nutritious food.

A tub of Greek yoghurt

While fruit yoghurts can be packed with sugar, Greek yoghurt is much higher in protein and can be found in convenient squeezie tubes and consumed on the way to school. Another idea is to freeze Greek yoghurt with a little fruit to create a breakfast ice-cream on a stick.

A couple of crackers with cheese

Who said breakfast has to be toast or cereal? Nutritionally a couple of wholegrain crackers teamed with a cheese slice or stick is a good mix of low GI carbs and protein offering similar nutrients to that of a small serve of breakfast cereal whilst remaining a quick and easy option to eat on the way to school.

Breakfast baking

Who does not love a bit of baking and kids are no different. If you like to get into the kitchen you could do a lot worse for breakfast than a fruit muffin or homemade banana bread, particularly when recipes utilise eggs, wholemeal flour, fruit, nuts and seeds. And these can even be frozen and kept for emergencies when cereal or toast is flatly rejected.

Struggle with a fussy eater? Susie’s eBook Your Kids, Their Food can help you learn to manage a fussy eater without compromising on their nutrition. Available now for just $14.95. Click here to purchase.

Updated post: Packaged snacks for kids


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Of course fruit, dairy and homemade snacks are always the best option when it comes to lunchbox fillers but let’s be honest, there are plenty of parents who buy packaged snacks for their kids. So, if you do, here are some of the better packaged snacks for kids that I see on the market.

LCM’s Oaty Bubble Bars

With 25% less sugar than original LCM’s; just 100calories per serve and 2g of fibre, if you want to avoid fights with your kids but still give them a snack that is relatively low in sugars, you will find they like this one.

Sunbites Air Popped Popcorn

With <80 calories per serve, 2g of fibre and no added sugars, popcorn is a great lunchbox choice.

The Happy Snack Company Kids Roasted FAV-VA beans

With a perfect mix of protein and fibre, minus the sugars of many snack foods, these tasty morsels come in a variety of flavours and are a much better option nutritionally then potato chips.

Struggle with the balance of a healthy lunchbox and one they will also actually eat? See Susie’s breakdown of what a well balanced lunchbox should look like here.

Milo Energy Snack Bars

With <5g of added sugars, just 80calories and almost 2g of fibre, this popular brand combines some nutrition with a child friendly product.

Freedom Foods Caramel Crunch

One of the very few gluten free, nut free snack bars that comes in at just 80cals, is low in sugars and has a massive 4g of fibre per bar.

ARI Bars

In the health food section, a low sugar, gluten free bar option for <100calories.

Cobb’s Popcorn

Another popcorn option.

Milo Starz

Another 80 calorie snack choice with a relatively low amount of sugar compared to traditional biscuit style snacks for kids.

Uncle Toby’s Fruity Bites

Individual sized portions of breakfast cereal that combines wholegrains and fibre in <80calories and 5g of sugars.

Not sure what to give the kids after they come home from a long day, tired and cranky? For Susie’s list on her top after school snacks, click here.

The best foods to eat for training


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Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here. This is a sponsored post.

If you train regularly, at the gym, with a PT or by yourself, the last thing you want is for your nutrition post training to be undoing all of your hard work. Similarly, if your goal is to bulk up and help build muscle tissue, what you eat immediately after your session is crucial to ensure you reach your training goals. So if you are unsure about what you should be eating when to satisfy your workout goals, here is your ultimate guide to help you choose the best thing to eat after exercise.

Before your workout

It is a common belief that not eating before your workout will help to maximise fat metabolism, but unless you are going for a light walk, you will train harder for longer and as such, burn more fat in total if you take a small amount of carbohydrate (20-30g) on board before your workout. Carb rich options that are easy to digest include a banana or a couple of plain crackers.

For morning workouts

As a general rule of thumb, the sooner you eat in the morning, the better it is for your metabolism. This means that even though you may have been taught to wait an hour until you eat after training to optimise fat loss, it is actually better to eat straight away to fuel your depleted muscles and get your metabolism pumping. If your goal is fat loss, a protein rich breakfast with 1-2 serves of carbohydrates should fuel you for at least another 2-3 hours. Good options include a protein shake with a banana, eggs on wholegrain toast or Greek yoghurt with fruit and a couple of tablespoons of wholegrain cereal. If your goal is to gain lean tissue, aim for a 500-600 calorie meal such as an omelette with brown rice or wholegrain toast as well as a protein shake with milk or fruit to boost your calorie, protein and carbohydrate intake to support muscle growth.

See Susie’s previous posts for Australian Bananas, including ‘Are bananas a good choice for breakfast? Yes!’ here.

For afternoon workouts

Afternoon workout sessions can be tricky as on one hand you do not want to spoil your dinner by overeating after training but sometimes it can still be an hour or two until we eat our next meal. If you will be eating your evening meal within an hour of your session ending, and your goal is fat loss, you are fine to wait until dinner to eat. For hard sessions of 30 minutes or more, include at least half a cup of cooked carbohydrate such as sweet potato, corn, quinoa or brown rice at this meal to help you recover adequately before your next session. If it will be another hour or two until dinner, to avoid experiencing ravenous hunger an hour or so after your session, grab a light 150-200 calorie high protein snack with a small amount of carbs to keep your blood glucose levels regulated. Good options include a nut based snack bar, a banana and a handful of nuts or a couple of wholegrain crackers and a slice of cheese. On the other hand, if your goal is muscle gain, regardless of when you will next eat, adding another 300-400 calorie meal immediately post training will help to provide extra calories and carbs crucial for muscle growth. Good options include a shake with milk and a banana for some carbs, brown rice with tuna or a chicken sandwich.

For evening workouts

Exercising after your evening meal has a number of metabolic benefits including helping to reduce post meal blood glucose levels but often we are then left with hunger right before bed. As not to undo all of your hard work but overeating at this meal, if you are peckish before bed and your goal is fat loss keep your snacks small and protein rich. Good options include a small serve of 10-20 nuts, a couple of crackers with a slice of cheese or a banana. On the other hand, if your goal is to gain muscle mass, another 200-300 calorie meal before bed will support weight gain. Try Greek yoghurt and a banana or a couple of slices of toast with tuna or cottage cheese.

The best frozen meals


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The ever expanding frozen meal section of the supermarket would suggest that we have less time to prepare meals than ever before. The issue with such wide variety is that it makes it very difficult to decipher what is a nutritious choice that supports weight control. While most frozen meals promote some kind of health benefit whether it is ‘a healthy choice’, ‘lean’ or ‘high protein’, in many cases the ingredient list can reveal products packed with fillers, preservatives and very little in the way of actual vegetables and lean protein. As a general rule of thumb, the fewer the ingredients, the better when it comes to frozen meals. Most importantly, options that have a relatively high proportion of protein rich foods and vegetables rather than consist mostly of rice and pasta are among the best choices. So to save you some time at the supermarket, here are 5 of the best frozen meals that offer a nutritious, calorie controlled and relatively cheap lunch or dinner option if you are time poor.

Lean Cuisine Pots of Goodness Spanish Chicken

With almost 20g of protein, 12g of fibre, good fats via the addition of seeds and 2 ½ serves of vegetables these handy pots make a nutritious light dinner or lunch option. Another strong indicator of the quality of this meal is the high proportion of vegetables (44%) along with very few ingredients which would deem the product overly processed. All varieties in this range are strong nutritionally but this variety stands out.

Michelle Bridges Beef and Tomato Casserole

Of all the meals in this range, this option stands out thanks to its especially low total carbohydrate (22g) and high protein (26g) content per 375g serve. With a massive 10g of dietary fibre and a relatively low sodium content, this fibre rich meal ticks a number of positive nutritional boxes.

Healthy Choice Protein Plus Italian Baked Chicken

One of the few varieties in this new higher protein range that is not packed full of carbs. With 29g of protein and 29g of carbs per 380g serve this is a well-balance, calorie controlled meal choice. A good volume of vegetables also adds 9g of fibre per serve. The couple of downsides are that the sodium content is relatively high and the ingredient list shows added salts and thickeners. Despite this, the meal itself is well balanced nutritionally.

Lean Cuisine Balanced Serve Beef in Red Wine Sauce with Garlic Mash

Most of the varieties in this range have a rice or pasta base at the expense of veges and protein but this option with just 280 calories, 14g of protein and 30g of carbs is one of the better options. The ingredient list is not as clean as that showcased in the Lean Cuisine Pots of Goodness range and the vegetable content is much lower but this remains a relatively food, calorie controlled lunch or light dinner option.

On the Menu Angus Roast Beef

Available at Coles, this inconspicuous range has a couple of simple meal options that are not specifically marketed as healthy options but which still tick a number of positive nutritional boxes. This roast option is low in fat, high in protein with a couple of serves of vegetables all for just 300 calories and minimum added salt.

Alternatively, for quick and easy (and nutritionally balanced) recipe ideas, check out some of my favourite Shape Me recipes here.

What calories are in your smoothies


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Did you know that your smoothie probably has more calories than a meal? Hard to believe but the truth is that what started as a juice craze a few years back has now turned to smoothies, with smoothie bars popping up all over the place. And how could a smoothie not be a good choice nutritionally – coconut water, almond milk, cacao powder, fruit, LSA, CHIA, Greek yoghurt – surely this is a nutritional mix that is impossible to beat?

When it comes to smoothies or any of the drinks we choose for that matter is that the body does not compensate well for liquid calories. This means that even though we may drink 400-500 calories of healthy juice or smoothie, chances are we will not eat a whole lot less even though we have consumed this much high sugar liquid and this is why we have to be very careful of the ingredients we mix into any drink, shake, smoothie or juice.

Try one of my favourite smoothie recipes, my Blueberry Breakfast Smoothie, here.

Yes, CHIA, LSA, avocado, milk, yoghurt, fruit, vegetables and some oils are all very healthy for us, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. In fact, if you consider that a serve of each of these ingredients will have a minimum of 50 calories, you can see how it can all very easily add up. In the case of a banana chia smoothie that contains yoghurt, milk, honey, banana, and CHIA these are the calories you are looking at for a typical 500ml smoothie:

Banana CHIA Smoothie – Cal | Carbs (g)

1 banana – 100 | 22

100ml Greek yoghurt – 130 | 7

1 tbsp. honey – 85 | 20

1 tbsp. CHIA – 65 | 0

300ml almond milk – 100 | 8

= 480 Cal | 57g Carbs (or more than a small meal!)

So before you completely ditch your favourite smoothie, the key is to be aware of your serving sizes and the number of ingredients you include. As a rule of thumb, 3 ingredients is a good reference guide and try to limit high calorie additions such as seeds, oils, avocado and nuts to 1 at most. Berries are a slightly lower calorie fruit and coconut water, honey and syrups add more concentrated sugars. The greater the number of low calorie veges such as cucumber, kale, spinach and celery the smoothie contains the better and 1 piece of fruit per smoothie will give you more than enough sugar. Most importantly, watch the serving sizes – a 300ml smoothie will have similar calories to a snack whereas large sizes will be equal to an entire meal.

Hunger getting the better of you all the time? Here are 5 reasons why it could be happening.

What’s the right diet for me in 2017?


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With a New Year on its way it can be easy to be lured into the latest diet fad or craze yet with so many different diets out there even if you do want to approach a New Year healthy eating regime the right way it can be nothing short of confusing. So if you are planning to give your lifestyle an overhaul in 2017, here are some easy questions to ask as you look for the right diet.

How much weight do you need to lose?

If you only need to lose a few kilos, any diet is likely to work and in fact, strict regimes which cut the carbs are most likely to do the trick, as long as you stick to them. New research has shown that low carb diets are best for quick weight loss, although they are best followed for 6 months or less in order to avoid the long term issues associated with a high protein diet. This means if you are happy to cut back on your bread, cereals, starchy vegetables and processed foods for a few weeks, you are likely to get a few kilos off easily, if of course you can stick to it. In my experience counting carbs and keeping them to just 80-100g in total per day will still get good weight loss results without you needing to cut the carbs entirely.

See my 14 day intensive Kickstart plan here and sign up today for just $15.00.

Are you looking for a strict diet or a lifestyle?

Diets work when people follow them but the issue is that people have a lot of trouble following them for long periods of time. For this reason, more moderate diet approaches that may not see you lose kilos each week, rather a more sustainable 1/2 -1 kg each week tend to be a better long term option. For this reason, regimes such as the Mediterranean Diet, which is packed full of fresh foods but allows rooms for a little indulgence are better and more appealing weight loss options long term.

Do you have hormonal issues?

A significant number of individuals needing to lose >15-20kg have underlying hormonal issues such as PCOS and insulin resistance which can make weight loss challenging especially when following popular diets not catering for these underlying metabolic issues. For this reason if you have IR or PCOS you are best to see a dietitian who is experienced in these areas if your goal is long term weight loss.

See my Shape Me weight loss programs designed specifically for those with IR or PCOS.

Do you only want to diet part time?

Of all the evidence for effective diet solutions that has been released in recent years, intermittent fasting has emerged as one of the key areas of interest. It appears that giving the body a break from calories for extended periods of time has significant benefits for our metabolism and the hormones that control fat metabolism. For this reason, if you find it difficult to diet all the time but can bee strict for occasional periods, intermittent fasting via the 5/2 Diet or The Fast Diet may be right for you. You will not lose large amounts of weight quickly but over time you will lose some weight and potentially lower your cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure.

Do you want to order your food online?

With plenty of meal delivery services out there, ordering your meals online and waiting for the kilos to drop off can appear to be the easy option. While there are some great options such as Eat Fit Food which offers a range of different calorie controlled plans keep in mind that many of the popular meal options are carb heavy with heavy rice and pasta bases which are not conducive to weight loss. For this reason, if you can,preparing your own meals will always trump pre-prepared options as you cannot go wrong with salad, lean proteins and vegetables when it comes to weight loss. 

Building a healthy gut


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*This is a sponsored post*

Is there anything worse than feeling clogged up, bloated and heavy? For many of us not feeling the best we can on the inside can make or break our day. Whether it is constipation, bloating or just feeling sluggish and lacking energy, digestive discomfort is far more common on a daily basis than you may think thanks to a myriad of reasons including stress, lack of activity, dehydration and of course our daily dietary choices. In particular, it can be the amount and specific types of fibre we are regularly consuming that can influence the way our gut feels each and every day.

The more we learn about gut health, the more we realise how crucial it is in influencing the way we feel. One of the easiest ways we can all powerfully influence the health of our gut is to ensure we get enough dietary fibre. Not only does the right mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre ensure that our digestive tract works efficiently and keeps us regular, but an optimal intake of fibre is also linked to healthy gut microflora; helping to lower cholesterol levels* and helping us to feel lighter and more active.

An adult requires 25-30g of fibre1 each day to keep the digestive system healthy and help to reduce the risk of constipation, some types of cancer and diverticular disease, yet with busy lifestyles it can be difficult to reach these targets without focusing on specific fibre rich foods that can be added into the diet regularly.

There are a number of foods that are great for good gut health – fresh fruit, probiotics, wholegrains and vegetables all offer different mixes of fibres known to benefit the gut. In particular, super-fibre psyllium found in Metamucil is an easy, proven way to reap the multiple health benefits associated with optimal fibre intake. And what’s more it can be incorporated into your diet on a daily basis to help you feel lighter and more active.

Metamucil is made with 100% natural psyllium husk, a super-fibre with many health benefits. Psyllium is a type of soluble fibre which helps the body’s toxin removal process via its cleansing effect. It is not absorbed by the small intestine and helps to retain fluid in the intestine which helps to make bowel movements easier. When mixed with water, psyllium quickly forms a gel which passes through the digestive system to help cleanse the insides. The natural mechanism by which psyllium helps to promote regularity in turn makes Metamucil perfect daily fibre supplement for anyone wanting to optimise their own gut health.

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A strong dietary platform comes back to strong daily habits. When it comes to gut health, adding in your own ‘Daily Glass of Super’ with a healthy, nutrient rich juice or smoothie that incorporates a serve of Metamucil is an easy and time efficient way to get the fibre you need for optimal digestive health. Check out these easy and nutritious recipes to get your own ‘Daily Glass of Super’.

1http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/fibre/

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.47.40 PMRecipe: Antioxidant Hit

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 small banana

1/2 cup berries

1 carrot, juiced

1/2 cup Greek style yoghurt

1 small piece ginger

1 cup ice

1 dose (1.5 teaspoons) Metamucil Orange

Method

1.Blend together all ingredients and serve.

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.30.44 PMRecipe: Breakfast Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 banana

1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

1 tbsp. cacao powder

1 tsp. chia seeds

1 dose (1.5 teaspoons) Metamucil Natural

1 cup of ice

Method

1.Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Recipe: Citrus Boost

Serves 1

Ingredients

1/2 cup spinach leaves

1/2 cup pineapple

1/2 cup ‘no added sugar’ coconut water

1 small banana

2-3 mint leaves

1 dose (1.5 teaspoons) Metamucil Lemon Lime

1/2 cup ice

Method

1.Blend ingredients in a blender for 1 minute until mix is smooth

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.30.52 PMRecipe: Berry Breakfast Burst

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened almond or dairy milk

1/2 cup natural yoghurt

1/2 chopped banana

1/2 cup berries

2 tbsp. oats

1 tbsp. ‘no added sugar’ peanut butter

1 dose (1.5 teaspoons) Metamucil Wild Berry

Method

1.Blend ingredients in a blender for 1 minute until mix is smooth

* Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 7 grams of soluble fibre from Psyllium husk, as in Metamucil, may lower cholesterol levels. Reductions in cholesterol may contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease. This applies to the following Metamucil variants only: Orange granular AUST R 10184, Natural Granular AUST R 10186, Orange Smooth AUST R 47537 and Orange Smooth AUST R 47552. Use as directed and consult a doctor if you are planning to take Metamucil as part of a cholesterol lowering program

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Metamucil and Shape Me.

Sparkling water


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*This is a sponsored post*

When it comes to water, one of the most common questions asked is, ‘Still or sparkling?’ and following that, ‘Is sparkling water a healthy choice?’ With the warmer weather upon us, along with the need to drink more water to keep well hydrated when the temperature is soaring, knowing which the best fluid options are is crucial. And the good news is research suggests any type of the clear stuff will make an excellent choice.

Sparkling water is made via a process in which adds carbon dioxide to water under pressure giving it its ‘fizziness’. Contrary to popular opinion this process does not add salt, rather the process of adding gas to the water creates a small amount of carbonic acid. sparkling water, like filtered water contains no calories and although the addition of carbonic acid does reduce the pH slightly to 5 or 6 (filtered water has a pH of 7), it is not significant especially when compared to soft drinks and juices which can have pH levels as low as 2 or 3.

Read more about how to stay hydrated through the party season here.

One of the common misconceptions about sparkling water is that it is damaging to the digestive tract. While research specifically examining the impact of sparkling water is scarce, of the evidence that is available, if anything points to potential benefits associated with consuming your water with bubbles. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology examined the effects of sparkling versus still water on digestive symptoms. The study found that in female subjects just 250ml of sparkling water released significantly amounts of gas which related to the women’s perception of fullness minus any gastrointestinal discomfort. As such drinking sparkling water is suggested as a method to aid the feeling of fullness with and in between meals.

Most importantly, there is no significant evidence to show that the slightly lower pH of sparkling water is related to further erosion of tooth enamel or damage to the bones unlike juices and flavoured carbonated drinks known to both negatively impact the health of the bones and the teeth. As such, a simple swap from flavoured bubbly drinks and juices to zero calorie sparkling makes complete sense both from a sugar and pH perspective.

For any sufferers of digestive discomfort, sparkling water has also been linked to a reduction in both indigestion and constipation, especially when compared to regular water. It is hypothesised that the gas found in sparkling water helps to move food through the digestive system helping to alleviate abdominal discomfort.

Perhaps most importantly the ultimate benefits associated with drinking bubbly water is that if you like it, you are likely to drink more of it and for most of us this only means good things in terms of our hydration. The average adult will need at least 8 glasses of water each day to maintain optimal hydration – have you had yours today? Still or sparkling?

Read how a Zip Hydrotap changed Susie’s life, here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.

Best and worst Christmas food and drinks


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Party season naturally means party food but unfortunately a number of our favourite party foods are exceptionally high in both fat and energy. As a general rule of thumb, try and avoid anything fried and crunchy instead looking for fresh ingredients including vegetables, salad and fruit. And, if you must indulge look for small, portioned controlled options of your favourite party foods.

Christmas Food

1. 3 Mini quiches 789kJ / 12.3g fat for 3 stuffed vine leaves (dolmades) 323kJ / 3 g fat

2. 10 feta stuffed peppers 1010kJ / 20g fat for 4 marinated artichoke hearts 338kJ /6g fat

3. 1 tablespoon Kraft French onion dip with 6 Jatz crackers – 811kJ/ 11.4g fat for 1 tablespoon (25g) Light Philadelphia Sweet Chili Pour over with 6 wafer thins – 350kJ / 3g fat

4. 100g piece of Christmas pudding 1379kJ/ 11g fat for 1 small mince pie 658kJ / 5.6g fat

5. 2 Four and Twenty 50g Party pies 1030kJ / 13.8g fat to 2 sushi rolls 330kJ / 1g fat

6. 1 small bowl (50g) Red Rock Deli Sour Cream & Chili potato chips 1025kJ / 11.7g fat for 15 Grain Waves Wholegrain chips 560kJ / 6.2g fat

7. 2 Walkers shortbread fingers 826kJ/ 11.2 g fat with 5 fresh dates 420kJ / 0g fat

8. 5 Cadburys Favourites chocolates 990kJ/11.9g fat for 3 Red Tulip After Dinner Mints 406kJ / 1.9g fat

9. 3 pieces Giant Toblerone 1724kJ / 23.4g fat for 2 Arnotts Premier Orange Sweet Thins 436kJ / 5.8g fat

10. 1 handful (50g) honey roasted cashews – 1316kJ/ 27.5g fat for 50g Fantastic Delites Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream Rice Snacks 900kJ / 6.4g fat

11. 5 thin slices Don Hungarian Hot Salami (50g) – 850/18.5kJ for 1 slice smoked salmon (50g) 380kJ / 5.5g fat

12. 6 plain rice crackers + 2 tablespoons Copperpot Basil w. Cashew & Parmesan Chunky Dip / 1023kJ / 19.5g fat or Piece of tomato and basil bruschetta for 546kJ / 8g fat

13. 2 Chicken Satay sticks / 1000kJ/11g fat for 5 oysters 150kJ / 1g fat

14. 10 Cadbury chocolate covered almonds (50g) – 1155kJ / 18.1g fat for 35 Gourmet Jelly Beans 40g – 600kJ /  0 fat

15. 3 fried chicken wings – 1260kJ / 21g fat for 6 large king prawns – 750kJ / 3g fat

16. ¼ Camembert cheese (50g) with 6 Arnott’s water crackers – 950kJ / 13.8kJ for 3 Kurrajong Kitchens Lavosh Crispbreads with 2 tablespoons Chris’s Light hommus 528kJ / 4.4g fat

17. 13 Pringle chips (25g) 562kJ / 9g fat for 6 Grissini sticks 235kJ / 1g fat

18. Box of Pad Thai (150g) 1287kJ/ 17.3g fat or Box of Thai Beef Salad 920kJ/5.6g fat

19. 20 honey roasted cashew nuts (30g) 790kJ / 16.5g fat for 10 stuffed green olives 329kJ / 5.3g fat

20. 15 Christmas M&M’s (30g) 615kJ / 6.3g fat for 10 strawberries (300g) 400kJ /0g fat

If you are playing host this Christmas season, offer some healthier options to your guests with these healthier party snacks.

Christmas Drinks

Full strength beer vs light beer

345ml bottle Tooheys Extra Dry – 555kJ vs. 355ml Bottle Pure Blonde 447kJ

 Wine vs spritzer (1/2 wine 1/2 fizzy water)

 473kJ for 296kJ

Champagne vs light champagne

 120ml 355kJ / 199kJ Yellowglen Jewel

Gin and tonic vs Bacardi and coke

460kJ vs  635kJ

Stay hydrated through Christmas with these top 5 tips on staying hydrated through the party season.

The superfood potential of cranberry


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*This is a sponsored post*

We often hear that berries are a ‘superfood’ – a type of food that offers a wide range of health benefits and as such is often referred to as one of the foods we need to eat more of on a daily basis. Blueberries get much attention for their superfood powers but let’s not forget about cranberries. Cranberries have been considered a superfood specifically in the area of urinary health for a number of years, but this antioxidant rich fruit appears to have a number of potential health benefits for our heart, digestive system, oral and skin health.

Cranberries contain the polyphenols called proanthocyanidins, molecules found naturally in some plant foods that have powerful antioxidant properties – that is, they act to prevent the cells from damage. Proanthocyanidins specifically help to prevent bacteria sticking to cells which helps to stop infections. It appears that while other fruits contain polyphenols it is specifically cranberries that have this effect hence their proposed benefits when it comes to preventing urinary tract infections.

Read about the top supplements I recommend to my clients, here.

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are surprisingly common with up to 1 in 4 women in Australia suffering from a UTI each year. Anecdotally the use of cranberry to help manage and prevent recurrent UTI’s has been proposed for some time and there is some evidence to support the therapeutic use of cranberry, in a range of forms. Specifically it appears that while cranberry will not prevent bacterial growth in the urinary tract in some people it appears ti stop bacteria from adhering, reducing the duration and frequency of infection. This means that for anyone who suffers from recurrent UTI’s, the active use of cranberry potentially offers benefits to reduce the incidence of UTI infection.

In the same way cranberry appears to work for the urinary tract, there is also some evidence to show it may also help to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria in the mouth is linked to increased levels of plaque formation, gum disease and tooth decay and as such reducing this bacteria is linked to a range of positive dental and oral health outcomes. While specific research investigating the proposed link between cranberry and a reduction in tooth decay and gum disease, theoretical models support the use of cranberry in moderation to support oral health.

Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 5.47.46 PMOne of the most recent developments when it comes to the overall health benefits cranberry offers in the diet is its linked to digestive health outcomes. Of all the areas of nutrition that are of growing interest, gut health and its link to immune function is perhaps the greatest. Previous research has linked cranberries to a reduced risk of developing stomach ulcers thanks to their antibacterial function. More recently, cellular studies have linked the antioxidant rich cranberry polyphenols to positive changes in gut microflora, or the gut bugs that help to optimise digestive health and potentially regulate immune function. While this area of research is still in its early stages, antioxidant rich cranberry again appears to only offer positive benefits.

To learn more about D&X High Strength Cranberry including where to buy or any of the other products in the D&X range, click here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for D&X. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

Preventing Christmas weight gain


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The diet hacks you need to prevent Christmas weight gain.

Chances are if you have spent the last few weeks indulging with plenty of Christmas cheer the clothes are starting to feel a little tight. The issue with gaining a couple of extra kilos at Christmas is that research suggests we rarely lose it which offers even more incentive to actively prevent weight gain this Christmas. And these are the simple diet and lifestyle hacks that will help you do it.

Stop giving yourself permission to overeat

Whether it is several trips to the ‘all you can eat’ buffet; twenty five high fat canapés or binge eating on foods you never usually would simply because it is holiday time, a crucial behaviour associated with weight control, even during holiday times is to maintain as much regular diet structure as you can. Let’s be honest, no one comes into your house and makes you eat far more food than you need or even really want. There is nothing wrong with enjoying good quality food with family and friends but binge eating foods that you never usually would simply because it is ‘Christmas’ makes no sense. So, rather than writing off the next month and giving yourself to eat whatever crosses your path commit to making good choices. This does not mean going without, rather not eating rubbish for no other reason than it is Christmas.

Don’t waste your calories

You may love chips, or chocolates or nuts or really good cheese but chances are you could take or leave some of the high calorie treats that will be on offer over the coming weeks. So, rather than eating whatever crosses your path mindlessly, make a concerted effort to only use your calories with foods that you actually really love. This means no more cheap lollies or fried foods being passed around at an event, instead making a decision of what to eat based on what you really feel like eating and then enjoying it properly. It may also help to keep a record through the day of exactly what you have consumed to help identify times when you may be more vulnerable to making poor food choices mindlessly.

If you are hosting an event this Christmas season, avoid the calorie overload with my top party foods.

Learn the art of compensation

Holidays mean fun times which can also mean extra treats and more down time. A key skill when it comes to achieving the right balance between good food, regular social occasions and weight control is learning to compensate when we have overdone things. Whether this means factoring in extra exercise, or an alcohol free period, a couple of days of light eating following several days of higher calorie eating or extra walks, learning to compensate when we have eaten more than usual is a useful strategy that will help you learn to control your weight for life. Most simply, next time you have a heavy meal or big day of eating, simply follow it with a light day of salad, vegetables, soup and grilled fish and you will feel back in control in no time.

Exercise, no excuses

For many of us, the holidays mean that we have a little more time rather than less. This means that considering the extra calories we will be consuming it makes sense to factor in more exercise. Daily morning and afternoon walks, an extra gym session and active family activities such as beach trips, bike rides and bush walks are all ways to include exercise as an integral part of the holiday season. The best way to commit to regular exercise even during the holidays is to plan ahead, schedule it and where possible commit to it first thing in the morning before other distractions pop up during the day.

Monitor your weight

It may sound harsh, but the simple act of checking your weight once or twice a week during the holiday season may be all you need to do to stop your weight creeping upwards. In fact, research into the habits of those who have lost weight and kept it off show that no matter what, they regularly monitor your weight. This way, as soon as you see the scales start to creep up, you can cut back rather than gaining 3-5kg and then having to do the hard yards to work them off. And remember, it is far easier to prevent weight gain than it is to get it off once it is there. . If you find weighing yourself regularly daunting, start with just once a week first thing in the morning. Tuesdays and Fridays (after the weekend and before the weekend) are good days to check your weight on a weekly basis.

Take some supplies with you

It does not matter if you are flying, going on a car trip, for a picnic or just to a friend’s BBQ, if you want to commit to eating well and controlling your weight for life, it is time to get into the habit of taking food supplies with you. Once you have some salad/vegetables and protein options always on hand, you are far less likely to over eat non nutritious, high carbohydrate snack foods that are readily available. This is not to say that you cannot enjoy treats when you are out and about, but it means that you never become a victim to your food environment and find yourself forced to eat high calorie, non-filling foods simply because you found yourself hungry and had no other choice but to eat what was there. Offer to take the salad; carry a protein bar in your bag and never arrive at an event hungry in an attempt to keep focused and your nutrition on track no matter what the event or occasion.

Here are my top Christmas party hacks to ensure you don’t leave the party having completely overloaded.

My top party foods


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One of the biggest issues when it comes to pre-Christmas parties and events is the snack food – the high fat pastries, chips, dips, choc coated snacks and canapés that can equate to hundreds of extra calories when they are freely consumed over many hours. So if you are hosting a soiree this festive season, here are my top party foods that will stop the calorie overload.

ChobaniChobani Meze Dip

With fewer calories than regular dips, and a whole lot of protein, these tasty wonders are a great choice especially when served with vegetable sticks as opposed to carb rich rice crackers and biscuits.

Roasted Broadbeans

Who needs high fat potato and corn chips when you can have a protein rich bean? And now they come in flavoured varieties you will not go wrong with these tasty morsels which are far more difficult to overeat than chips thanks to their high natural fibre and protein contents.

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 1.24.18 PMMUNCH snacks

The pumpkin seed variety in particular is packed full of omega 3 fats and these tasty morsels can take the place of both sweet and savoury bite sized snacks on any platter.

Grissini Sticks

With significantly fewer carbs than both bread and biscuits, grissini make a perfect dipping stick or stand-alone munchie.

Take the time to prepare for the Christmas season with my Shape Me intensive 14 day Christmas Kickstart plan, packed full of delicious Summer recipes as well as more tips to keep you on track through the party and Summer season. Sign up today for just $15.00 here.

Bounce Bites

A gluten free alternative to choc coated Christmas treats, the good news is that these protein rich bite sized snacks actually taste pretty good.

WoolworthsBaby Carrots & Cucumbers

A cute baby version of anything is always appealing and the same can be said for our favourite vegetables which can be found in hand snack sizes to enjoy with dips

Jarlsberg Cheese

With significantly less fat than regular cheddar cheese, rolled up Jarlsberg is a protein rich and tasty addition to any savoury platter

Recipe: Fig, Feta & Hazelnut salad

Serves 1

Ingredients

2 fresh figs, cut into quarters
1 cup baby spinach and rocket mix (~50g)
40g reduced fat feta
20g hazelnuts
1/2 Tbsp. pepitas
1/4 cup canned brown lentils
1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Cracked black pepper, to taste

Method

1. Gently toss together all ingredients and season with cracked pepper

Make it through the party season without feeling like you have overindulged with these easy Christmas party tips.

Christmas party hacks


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Chances are you have already overdone things a little this party season so in an attempt to prevent a full pre-Christmas blow out, here are the best Christmas party hacks to avoid a complete calorie overload.

1. Never arrive hungry

If you arrive at an event ravenous you will demolish everything and anything that is in sight. Take the edge of by simply grabbing a protein rich snack an hour or two before you head out such as some cheese and crackers, a protein or nut bar or some Greek yoghurt. This way you will be much more in control of your food choices throughout the event.

2. Stand away from the food

Did you know we will double the amount of food when we can see it?! For this reason standing well away from any buffets and smorgasbords will naturally help to control your calorie intake. Instinct tells us to say yes to food when it is offered, which means the less we are offered, the less we will eat.

Social Image 2Take the time to prepare for the Christmas season with my Shape Me intensive 14 day Christmas Kickstart plan, packed full of delicious Summer recipes as well as more tips to keep you on track through the party and Summer season. Sign up today for just $15.00 here.

3. Stick to a canapé limit

With the average canapé containing 200 calories, you can see how easy it can be to be victim of a complete calorie overload at parties. Limit yourself to just 3 canapés at any one function and ensure that you eat a soup or salad at some point during the day to compensate for the extra party calories that are found in chips, dip and pastries.

4. Avoid the high fat traps

While pastry based treats, cheese and dips can be exceptionally high in fat and kilojoules, the good news is that there is also a range of many lower kilojoules snacks that still taste fantastic. Look for popcorn, breadsticks, low fat dips and crackers and seafood based snacks.

5. Keep a close eye on the drinks

As is the case with activity, the festive season should not be seen as an excuse to forget your personal limits with your alcohol intake. Try and have two alcohol-free days each week to give your liver a break, drink plenty of water and be aware of high calorie mixers such as juice, and soft drink. When it comes to making the best choices, as a general rule of thumb, vodka, lime and soda and champagne contain the fewest calories.

For tips on how to get more vegetables into your day, click here or for a list of the fresh foods to keep on hand to help you support weight control, click here.

Foods you did not realise are ridiculously high in salt


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With nutrition discussion so often focused on carbs, proteins, fat and sugars, it can be easy to forget that far too many of us are consuming excessive amounts of salt on a daily basis. In fact, despite recommendations for us to limit our sodium intake to less than 2000mg each day, many of us are consuming 2-3 x this amount on a daily basis thanks to a diet heavy in processed foods. Here are a few of the foods you probably do not consider to be unhealthy choices, yet foods which can be ridiculously high in salt.

Noodle Bowls

A seemingly simple quick and easy meal on the run, packet noodles and in particular noodle bowls can contain more than 2000mg of sodium in a single bowl, thanks to the little seasoning sachet which can contain a number of different types of salts and flavours.

Turkish Bread

Popular in recent years, not only is a single serve of Turkish bread equivalent to 4-5 slices of regular bread in carb terms but it is packed full of added salt with a single serve offering more than 1000mg of sodium, or more than 1/2 the recommended upper daily limit.

Wraps

While wraps are often considered a healthier choice, a recent report commissioned by Helga’s* has found that some wraps can contain more than 500-600mg of sodium in a single wrap. For this reason to make a healthy wrap choice look for brands that contain less than 600mg of sodium per 100g.

Soy Sauce

With a single tablespoon of soy sauce containing more than 1200mg of sodium, if you consider that popular Asian dishes may contain several high salt sauces including fish, oyster and hoisin sauce, a slat overload is the reason you may feel particularly thirsty and bloated after your favourite Asian feast.

Packet Soups

Often a single packet food sachet can contain very few calories and as such are interpreted as a healthy, low calorie diet food but to give the mix flavour packet soups are often packed with salts and can contain 600-800mg of sodium in a single packet.

Prosciutto

All processed meats contain added salt to help preserve them and add flavour but prosciutto is one of the saltiest with 2 thin slices containing more than 500mg of sodium.

Curry Paste

Another sauce we would not think twice before adding to a favourite meal, a single 50g serve of curry paste contains more than 1000mg of sodium and that is before you consider the other ingredients used to make an entire curry.

Tinned Spaghetti

Any food found in a tin will generally contain some added salt to help preserve the food but tomato based spaghetti options are particularly high with up to 600mg in a ½ cup serve.

*Susie is currently working as a consultant Dietitian and spokesperson for Helga’s and provided commentary for this report. To read more about the report and it’s results, click here

5 ways to stay hydrated through the party season


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*This is a sponsored post*

For many of us the party season starts around Melbourne Cup, quickly followed by the early end of year get-togethers then Christmas parties and of course Summer holidays. Generally speaking these social events also mean plenty of eating and drinking and unfortunately dehydration especially if your drinking tends to mean a lot more beer, wine and celebratory drinks than your usual water. So before the party season is in full swing, here are some simple ways to ensure that keeping well-hydrated is just as big a focus as is having a good time.

While it can be easy to get into good drinking habits when we are in our usual routine, often when we find ourselves in different environments, eating and drinking different things is when our hydration suffers. Instead of keeping our water bottle within easy reach, or having our Zip HydroTap handy for regular refills, someone is constantly filling up our wine glass and before we know it, dehydration and a hangover are inevitable. Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of dehydration for several physiological reasons. Firstly, alcohol reduces the production of a hormone in the body that helps the body to reabsorb water. While the levels of this hormone are reduced in the body more fluid is lost due to increased urination. In addition, naturally you tend to drink less water when you are drinking alcohol, which means if you are out drinking over a number of hours can leave you with significantly less fluid than you are used to consuming. Then, if you drink excessively and become sick, again you may lose more fluid via vomiting or sleeping and again not drinking for long periods of time.

For this reason if your goal is to enjoy the party season and the spoils it offers minus the headaches, dizziness, dry mouth and fatigue that are all signs of dehydration you need a party hydration strategy that ultimately becomes a habit when you do decide to indulge with a few drinks.

Screen Shot 2016-11-24 at 9.30.06 AM1. Always turn up hydrated

As soon as you know that you have a social engagement, party, function or long lunch, that is your reminder to load up with some filtered sparking or still water in the few hours preceding the event. While we do not ‘load fluid’, that means we will simply excrete extra via increased trips to the bathroom, drinking an extra glass or two in the hours before your engagement will ensure that you arrive hydrated.

Could drinking more water be the easiest way to lose weight? Read more here.

2. Think one drink wine, one drink water

The simple act of alternating alcoholic drinks with a sparking or still water is a great habit as it will help to counteract the dehydrating effects of the alcohol itself. If you find it difficult to count the number of drinks you are having, try and finish one glass before having your glass refilled.

3. Have a drink rule

It may be one an hour, or two the first hour and then one each hour after that or a total of three or four in any one sitting – when it comes to self-regulating our intake of alcohol or even food for that matter, making a decision about how much you will have prior to

the engagement will make it easier to stick to your predefined limits. As a general rule of thumb then allow an extra 200-250ml of water for each alcoholic drink you have consumed in any one sitting.

4. Go for hydrating mixers

Forget cola drinks that also add caffeine to the mix, fruit juice or tonic water – where possible choose drinks that can have soda or sparking water added. In the case of punches, spirits with mixers or even sparkling wines, a little water can go a long way in drawing out the drink and adding to your positive fluid balance

5. Drink up before bed

You may not feel like it, but one of the most powerful things you can do to lessen the likelihood of waking up to a nasty headache thanks to severe dehydration after a big night out is to consume a good amount of water before you hit the sack. At a minimum aim for a bottle or 500-600ml and if you can take extra to bed with you in case you do wake up and can manage to drink a little more fluid through the night. Basically if you are feeling thirsty you are likely to be still dehydrated so aim to keep drinking until your urine is clear again and you no longer feel thirsty. Generally speaking you will need an extra 1-1.5L to rehydrate after an occasion in which you drank a significant number of alcoholic drinks.

Hydration plays a major role on how you perform through the day, both at home and at work. Read more here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.