CO Q10 and anti-aging


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For anyone who is keen to optimise health and supplement their dietary intake where they can to help slow the natural cellular aging process, chances are they have heard of CO Q10. A naturally produced molecule, CO Q10 is involved in a number of cellular processes in the body including energy production, cell generation and thanks to its antioxidant capacity helps to protect the cells from damage. Of particular interest is the fact that CO Q10 is known to be lower in individuals who are suffering from cancer, heart disease and some neurological conditions including Parkinson’s Disease. It is for this reason that CO Q10 is often sought out as a dietary supplement to promote health in individuals suffering from these conditions.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 2.31.06 AMWhen we take a closer look at the scientific evidence, there is good evidence for the use of CO Q10 in individuals who suffer from high blood pressure, heart failure or if they have a clinical CO Q10 deficiency caused by other health conditions or secondary to taking particular types of medication. Of most interest is that there is also some evidence to suggest that supplementing with CO Q10 if you have cancer, macular degeneration and to help prevent the visible signs of aging may have some benefit. It is for this reason that seeking out a sound source of CO Q10 in the right doses may indeed support your overall approach to aging, health and well-being. 

Most importantly, no matter what supplement you use to compliment your lifestyle, nothing beats a good diet. Ideally we want to ensure our diets are loaded up with fresh fruits and veges, good fats and lean proteins to naturally offer it the essential nutrients it needs to protect cells from damage on a daily basis. The brighter the colour of the fresh fruit and vege, the higher the antioxidant content will generally be. Good fats play a crucial role acting as natural anti-inflammatory’s and proteins found in eggs, lean meats and fish help with cell generation and recovery on a daily basis. 

To learn more about D&X CO Q10 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.

My new partnership with Australian Bananas


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Could there be a better energy snack than a banana? Nutrient rich, sweet, tasty and packed in their own case, Aussie bananas are one of the most convenient and nutritious natural foods out there which is why I have come on board as an official ambassador to Australian Bananas. My job is to help share the message that a banana is a perfect snack choice for busy people; a sweet, nutrient rich choice for busy infants and toddlers and a superfood as we get older thanks to the wide range of essential nutrients a banana offers. Have you had one today?

Nutritionally a banana offers carbs for energy, a massive 2-3g of dietary fibre per banana as well as Vitamin B, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin C. Contrary to popular opinion, a banana does not contain a lot of sugar, rather 20-25g of total carbs, or the equivalent of a couple of slices of wholegrain bread worth of energy per serve. For this reason, bananas are the perfect energy rich food for growing kids, any active person training regularly or for those wanting the fibre benefits of the significant dose of resistant starch a banana offers. 

So if you are a banana lover, or know you would benefit from the nutrition a banana offers, here are the best ways to use a banana in your daily nutritional plan.

1. As a breakfast fibre boost

Add a serve of natural carbs, along with an extra 2-3g of fibre to your favourite breakfast smoothie, yoghurt or cereal mix.

2. As a pre-workout energy boost

The best time to consume concentrated carbs is an hour or so before you train meaning a banana is a perfect late afternoon or early morning pre-workout snack.

3. In baking

Whether you like banana bread, muffins or cakes, the easiest way to reduce the amount of sugar in your baking is to replace it with fresh fruit.

4. As a snack on the run

How many times have you found yourself out and about and hungry without a tasty snack to get you through. Always carry a banana for the perfect self packaged energy rich snack on the go.

5. Low calorie dessert

Forget high calorie biscuits, ice-cream and chocolate. A frozen banana is a low calorie delicious after dinner treat

Recipe: Cacao Banana Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 banana

2 tbsp. LSA powder

1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

1 tbsp. cacao powder

1 tsp. chia seeds

1 cup of ice

Method

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

The latest on your diet & PCOS


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PCOS is the most common hormonal disorder among pre-menopausal women, affecting 12 to 21 per cent of Australian women of child-bearing age – or more than half a million Australian women. Not only does PCOS have serious consequences for fertility and hormonal control in general, in many cases it is also closely related to insulin resistance – the hormonal condition that can make weight loss very difficult. To date research investigating the diet specifics associated with the best outcomes for women battling PCOS has been scarce but new research published in the the scientific journal Nutrition & Dietetics has identified some dietary specifics which may be preventing women dealing with PCOS from reaching their weight loss goals.
The study reported researchers comparing the diets of 38 women with PCOS and 30 control women and found that while overall calorie intake was similar in both groups, women with PCOS were getting more of their daily calories from saturated fat (around 30-40 more) and less from carbohydrates (around 110 less), compared to women without PCOS. This finding suggests that while women dealing with PCOS are aware of the need to keep their carbohydrate intake controlled, they are simply doing this by eating more fat, a scenario unlikely to be related to positive weight loss and health outcomes long term.

Generally speaking, women dealing with PCOS will get good weight loss outcomes with a dietary prescription of 30-40% total carbs, or 100-140g of total carbs each day. In food terms this translates into carbs at both breakfast and lunch, along with a small amount at dinner, for example a 1/2 cup serve of potato or sweet potato. In general, when we cut one food out of our diets, we tend to simply replace it with something else and this study suggests that when we women with PCOS cut back on carbs they in turn eat more fat. Again in food terms this is likely to mean a salad with loads of avocado, dressing and high fat meat, but still considered better than a sandwich simply as there is no bread. Another example is restaurant meals – fried meats or fish in place of pasta or rice – lower in carbs but not calories or fat.

It is the necessity for dietary specificity when you have PCOS that means you need sound, evidence based dietary advice to achieve these dietary targets on a daily basis. PCOS is one of the most challenging metabolic conditions to manage and achieve sustainable weight loss that will still mean you get to eat foods you like and enjoy eating. So if you have PCOS, see a dietitian with experience managing the condition. It will make the diet and weight loss thing a whole lot easier.

If you struggle with PCOS and are looking for a weight loss program, the Shape Me PCOS plan could be for you. With over 350 PCOS designed recipes, Shape Me has developed a higher protein option for women battling PCOS and weight gain on an ongoing basis. As PCOS is a medical condition, Shape Me strongly recommends working directly with Susie via the Ask Susie functionality to have all of your individual needs supported throughout this program. Sign up today here.

The easiest way to lose weight


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Forget juice fasts, low carb diets and intermittent fasting, the easiest way to lose weight is free, readily available and an easy daily habit – just drink more water. New research published in the scientific journal Obesity (Read it here) has reported that overweight or obese men and women who were instructed to simply drink a 500ml glass of water 30 minutes before each of their meals lost an extra 2kg over a 12 week period following a lower calorie diet. This result was explained by the fact that dieters who were instructed to drink more water consumed up to 40 fewer calories per meal than dieters simply following a lower calorie diet without the extra water. Such findings support previous research which find that individuals who drank water before each meal consumed up to 200 fewer calories on a daily basis.

There are a number of reasons why the simple act of drinking more water is linked so closely to weight control. First and foremost, drinking water before a meal helps to ensure that we are eating purely out of hunger, rather than because of thirst. In general drinking more water is linked to more positive health related behaviours and there is also some evidence to show that drinking ice cold water can actually increase the number of calories you burn. So just in case you need a few more reasons to drink some more of the good stuff……..

1. Dehydration can cause us to eat more

Our desire to drink and keep well-hydrated is relatively weak compared to hunger signals which see us grab food the minute we are slightly hungry. In fact statistics suggest up to 70-75 per cent of us are dehydrated at any point in time. So next time you are feeling a little hungry, get into the habit of drinking some water instead and waiting at least 30-60 minutes or until you are really hungry to eat. Remember light to clear urine will indicate you are hydrated.

2. It stops you drinking other high kilojoule drinks

When you are drinking a couple of litres of water each day there is less opportunity for kilojoule packed soft drinks, milk based coffee, flavoured tea and juice which tend to take the place of water when we are thirsty. Basically this means we consume far fewer kilojoules over time when we primarily drink water, in turn supporting weight control.

3. It keeps your tummy happy

Do you regularly feel tired, bloated and clogged up? When it comes to maintaining a healthy digestive system, drinking enough fluid is the crucial link between fibre intake and exercise to keep waste moving through the digestive tract efficiently. While water-based salad and vegetables help this process, you cannot go past good hydration as a key factor in preventing the abdominal bloat.

4. You will burn more kilojoules

It is proven that drinking cold water, especially icy cold water will help you to burn up to 400 extra kilojoules or 100 calories per day for every 2L of water you drink, which the equivalent of an extra snack every single day.

5. Psychologically it helps to keep on track with our diet and lifestyle goals

Health-related behaviours are often built by association. For many of us, the simple act of always carrying a water bottle with us, or starting the day with a glass of water and lemon helps to keep us mindful of what we are eating and drinking and as such focused on our diet goals throughout the day. Since the clear stuff is generally free, why wouldn’t you try drinking more of it? It may just work.

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

Is stress eating making you fat?


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Stress; the description given to the feeling of being unable to respond emotionally or physically to real or perceived threats in daily life appears to be widespread in modern society. Long work hours, even longer commutes and more and more demands on precious family time just a few of the variables that leave many of us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day.

In small doses, stress can actually be good for us. Stress gets the blood pumping and improves attention and concentration when it is experienced in small doses. At the other extreme, chronically high levels of stress can impair immune function, mood and well being as individuals feel overwhelmed and out of control in their daily lives.

Different people respond differently to stress. Some become withdrawn, anxious while others compensate with alcohol, drugs and even food. For those who use food for comfort, the link between eating and stress is likely to be formed when we are young.  Crying babies are often soothed with food, when they may instead be looking for touch and attention. While we are no longer babies, no one offers us a carrot when you are frazzled do they?

The issue with using food to help temporarily relieve stress is that we can in turn start to use stress as an excuse to eat poor quality food. Each and every time you feel a little frazzled, stuffing a couple of chocolate biscuits into your mouth, which can translate long term into a couple of extra packets of biscuits a week, under the “emotional eating” umbrella. If such behaviours actually fixed the stress, perhaps there would be no issue, nut in many cases, eating more poor quality, high calorie food, is likely to make the stress and anxiety worse when it comes to eating and weight control long term.

For this reason, if you are going through a stressful period it is worth considering the way you may use food to relieve your stress but more importantly what nutrient dense food choices you may need in your diet to help support your body during particularly stressful periods. Ideally eating regularly, with a balance of good quality carbohydrates and lean proteins will help to regulate your blood glucose levels and ensure you are at your best mentally physically and mentally to deal with stress when it presents. Another simple trick is to be mindful of your use of stimulants such as coffee and cola based drinks. While they may give you a hit of energy, they are also likely to give you a nasty energy lull an hour or so after consuming them, which may too leave you less able to optimally deal with your stress. Aim for no more than 2-3 coffees a day and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.

As stress places enormous demands on a number of the body’s systems, ensuring your intake of key vitamins and minerals is optimal is too imperative when proactively managing the stress in your life. In particular, the B group vitamins found in wholegrain breads and cereals are crucial for ensuring optimal energy while the minerals iron and zinc will give your body the key nutrients it needs to produce red blood cells. If you are feeling chronically tired, and you know you do not eat as well as you should, taking a multivitamin can ensure that you have an adequate intake of these key nutrients. If the fatigue is continual, it may also be worth taking to a trip to your GP for a routine blood test to ensure everything is alright medically.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to stress and eating is that while the instant reward from consuming food, sweet foods can make us feel momentary better, in most situations the food is unable to solve the underlying issues that is causing the stress or emotional distress. The key to ultimately managing stress based eating is learning to adequately manage the stressor itself. For many of us this means learning to cope better and develop clear strategies for identifying, managing and ultimately reducing the amount of stress in our daily lives. 

Are you missing the big F? (It’s fibre!)


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In between Paleo, low sugar and low carb dietary regimes, there is one, basic, important nutrient in our diets that has been forgotten – dietary fibre. Crucial for gut health, digestive health and to keep you regular, not getting enough fibre on a daily basis can leave you feeling bloated, heavy and fatigued. The interesting thing about dietary fibre, is that there are different types of fibres, found in different foods and not getting the right mix of these fibres which can occur when we eliminate different foods from the diet can have significant consequences for our gut health on a daily basis. So if your tummy has not been working as well as you would like it to, it may be worth considering if you are getting enough of the right types of fibre in your diet.

Once broadly referred to as ‘roughage’, dietary fibre can be broken down into three different types; soluble and insoluble fibre and resistant starch. Soluble fibre found in fruits, oats and beans is digested in the stomach and intestines, forming a gel like substance when exposed to water. Soluble fibre helps to move waste through the digestive tract and also helps to lower cholesterol. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and moves undigested through the intestinal tract. Insoluble fibre is found in wheat bran, grain based breads and cereals and in many vegetables and helps to keep you regular. The third type of fibre, resistance starch comes from legumes such as kidney beans and chic peas and other wholegrains and is thought have play a special role in protecting the gut from colon cancer.

There are numerous health benefits in the short and long term to be gained by reaching your fibre targets each day. Keeping regular ensures that wastes are removed from the body as they should be and various digestive tract issues including irritable bowel are better managed. Another area of scientific interest when it comes to fibre and health are recent findings that suggest that the health of the digestive tract is powerfully related to immune function. Such findings would suggest that keeping our gut as healthy as possible with the right type and amount of fibre on a daily basis is a significant aspect of health and wellbeing long term. Finally a by-product of resistant starch digestion, butyrate appears to protect the cells in the large intestine from DNA damage, reducing the risk of bowel cancer. 

Ideally we will consume a mix of the different types of fibre to receive the health benefits that each soluble and insoluble fibre offers. While consuming adequate fibre is crucial to prevent constipation, consuming too much of any one fibre type can actually have the reserve effect than it should which is another reason why aiming for balance is the key for sound digestive health.

As a general rule of thumb, consuming 2 piece of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables on a daily basis is an easy way to get at least half of your daily fibre requirements. Secondly choosing grain based cereal, crackers and bread will also give you between 3-5g of fibre per serve. Snacking on beans, nuts and grain based snack bars is another easy way to top up your fibre intake. Finally to ensure that you are also getting a good dose of resistant starch, add some more legumes into your diet – chic peas, kidney beans and baked beans are all good choices. If you find that your tummy is a little sensitive to these heavier sources of fibre, any wholegrains including brown rice, oats and barley are an alternate source of resistant starch.

While dietary fibre is important, it is also important to note that you can have too much-consuming more than 40-50g of fibre a day can leave you prone to gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort so be careful as more is not always better! Naturally for individuals with food intolerances or who suffer from FODMAP intolerance, there are certain high fibre foods that should be avoided to avoid further discomfort. 

If you are dealing with a FODMAP intolerance or another food intolerance and looking to lose weight, try my Shape Me weight loss plan here.

Burning calories without the gym


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If you hate going to the gym I have good news for you. There are plenty of daily activities that you can engage in regularly to significantly increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis. And even if some do not seem all that appealing there is sure to be a couple that may tickle your fancy.

Passionate kissing

Forget the obligatory peck on the cheek when you walk in the door, to seriously burn some calories, up to 2 per minute in fact, you are going to need to get your best French kissing on. The more facial muscles involved in the kiss (think Charlotte in Sex in the City, ‘he ate my face’), the more calories you will burn. While you would need to kiss for quite a while to even get close to a workout, there are numerous other health benefits associated with kissing including reductions in both blood pressure and cholesterol. Your teeth will also be in better shape as kissing helps to produce more saliva which helps to neutralize acids in the mouth, reducing the risk of tooth decay.

Shopping

Now while pounding the floors of your local shopping centre will burn roughly 40 calories for every 1000 steps you walk, the most benefit from shopping comes when you are trying plenty of clothes on, again moving your body, carrying and lifting. Even more will be burnt the more heavy shopping bags you  carry, or even better, loading and unloading groceries, which will burn as many as 130 calories per 30 minutes of shopping, or the equivalent of 10 minutes running on a treadmill.

Cooking dinner

For many of us, cooking the evening meal is a chore we would rather give to another member of the family but if you consider that plenty of chopping, bending, lifting and standing, a 30 minute session in the kitchen can add a 70-80 calorie burn, about double what you would have burnt if you had continued to sit in front of the TV and order takeaway. More importantly, a home cooked meal is likely to save you 200-300 extra calories that you would have consumed if you had ordered take away food which means home cooking is a win-win.

For some great quick & easy recipe ideas, see our free Shape Me recipes here.

Relaxing in a hot bath

This is a surprising one as you would think that relaxing in the bath after a long day would be anything but a mini workout but research has shown that taking a long hot bath can burn as many as 140 calories. From a physiological perspective, it appears that exposure to the hot temperatures helps to reduce blood glucose levels perhaps as a result of specific proteins being released after heat exposure. This links to other research that has found that individuals who take a sauna regularly live longer than individuals who do not. Whatever the reason, if taking a long bath replaces another 15 minutes on the treadmill, why would you not.

Drinking ice cold water

In the Winter months this may not seem all that appealing, research has shown that drinking a glass of ice cold water can burn up to 8 extra calories per day. Now while excessive water consumption can actually be dangerous, drinking your standard 6-8 glasses of iced water equates to an extra 40-60 calories burnt each day, or 5 minutes of running that you simply do not have to do.

Getting sexy

There are few husbands or partners who will not take great delight in sharing with their wives or girlfriends the many benefits of bedtime action but you cannot deny that a sexy romp is a serious calorie burner. It is estimated that 30 minutes of sexual activity involving a number of muscle groups will burn as many as 200 calories, or the equivalent of a 20 minute run. So if you prefer to take on a more passive role during intimate relations, this may be just the incentive you need to get up and at it, and be able to then skip your gym workout as a reward for doing so.

Insulin Resistance


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Insulin resistance is one of the most challenging medical conditions to manage when it comes to weight loss. Not only do high levels of insulin circulating in the blood stream actively block fat metabolism meaning you physically cannot burn fat no matter how much you move or how little you eat but the cravings and fatigue can make you feel really dreadful. A diagnosis of insulin resistance often explains unexplained weight gain, an inability to lose weight, acne, fatigue, cravings and distinct abdominal weight gain.

For some time we have known that diets that adjust the amounts of carbohydrates you are consuming over time, along with a higher protein diet supports slow, yet sustainable weight loss. Naturally the diets I write for women (mainly women) dealing with insulin resistance and PCOS, such as my Shape Me Insulin Resistance and PCOS plans, are jam packed with vegetables, and we generally get good weight loss results from this approach. Now we have some new evidence to show that simply loading our diet up with vegetables rich in the antioxidants B-carotene and B-cryptoxanthin, reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance by as much as 50%.

The study reported in the journal Nutrition & Dietetics tracked the dietary habits of almost 1000 men and women over 3 years and found that their intake of carotenoids found in bright orange, red and yellow veges such as carrots, pumpkin and red capsicum as well as leafy greens including spinach was related to a significantly reduced risk of developing insulin resistance. It appears that the powerful antioxidant molecules found in these vegetables help the blood vessels more flexible in dealing with the lifestyle stressors and not so susceptible to developing resistance to various hormones including insulin.

This finding gives more reason to load up on your brightly coloured vegetables. The minimum recommended intake is 5 serves per day, but I would be doubling this for optimal health and well-being. Ideally you want to include vegetables at every meal – spinach, tomatoes, vege juices at breakfast; large salads or soups with lunch and at least 2-3 cups of cooked vegetables at dinnertime. Remember to add some olive oil to help maximise nutrient absorption and the brighter the colour, the higher the nutrient content.

Eating more vegetables on a daily basis is the easiest step you can take towards weight control and now it seems fending off insulin resistance. Why wouldn’t you?

Sign up to my Shape Me Insulin Resistance plan here.

Recipe: Tomato & Basil

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Ingredients

8 large Roma tomatoes, halved crossways

1 red capsicum, quartered lengthways

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. caster sugar

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups reduced-salt chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 cup basil leaves

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Line the base of a large roasting pan with baking paper. Arrange tomatoes and capsicum in a single layer in pan. Sprinkle with vinegar, oil, sugar and garlic and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Set aside.

3. Combine stock and tomato paste in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat.

4. Combine with tomatoes and capsicum and blend with basil leaves until smooth.

Do you need an immune boost?


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Hands up who has been struggling with the cold weather this year? While we know that plenty of Vitamin C, fresh fruits and vegetables and garlic is great for our immune system, far less often do we consider the importance of iron and zinc in keeping our energy levels optimal and our immune system at its best. So, if you know you do not eat enough red meat or seafood and keep getting sick, it may be useful to check your numbers. When it comes to iron we need 13-18mg/day and zinc 8mg/day.

Iron in food / mg 

200g steak / 7.0

1 cup mince / 5                

1 chicken breast / 2.0        

Fish fillet / 1                

½ cup baked beans / 2.2              

Slice grain bread / 1              

Breakfast cereal with iron / 3                      

6 oysters / 3.5            

½ cup Spinach / 0.6

 Zinc in food / mg  

 Almonds (25) / 1.0

 1 cup baked beans  / 1.4

100g lean beef / 5.3

 1 cup brown rice / 1.6

100g chicken / 1.2

 1 cup muesli / 2.1

30g pumpkin seeds / 1.9

6 oysters / 59

 Can of tuna / 0.9

Nutrition for breastfeeding mothers


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The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week – a time dedicated to considering the way breastfeeding is associated with wellbeing from the start of life. It’s also a time to reflect on how we need to respect one another (mums and beyond) and also care for the world in which we live.

The principles of World Breastfeeding Week aim to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mum and baby, highlight the support mums need to begin and sustain breastfeeding, and champion the support networks and organisations available for mums and families.

While my friends at Bellamy’s offer alternatives for mothers who may not be able to exclusively breastfeed, breast is still the best option for mum and babies, particularly those aged up to six months. Here’s my list of nutritional tips for breastfeeding mothers.

Breastfeeding: nutrients required

Anyone who has exclusively breastfed will be well aware of the enormous energy demands breastfeeding puts on your body. In terms of calories you will need up to an extra 500 calories per day – which is roughly one extra meal. As most new mums struggle to eat the minimum amount of calories as a busy, sleep deprived new mum, it is no surprise that many women struggle to produce enough milk. For this reason, eating enough is one of the key things for new mums to focus on to help establish and maintain their milk supplies. Always take food when visiting a new mum!

Breastfeeding: snack ideas

A breastfeeding mum will need at least three meals, as well as two or three snacks to get enough calories. Ideally, meals and snacks will be nutrient rich – offering protein, good quality carbs and good fats. And unfortunately, the extra cake just won’t cut it. Food that you can eat on-the-go tend to work best. These might include nut bars, Greek yogurt, toasted sandwiches, brown rice and tuna, pasta or cheese and crackers – all foods that do not require a lot of preparation but which offer plenty of nutrition. Late night feeds can quickly lead to late night snacking on sweet treats to help give you an energy boost when you are tired.

Remember, while biscuits, chocolate and cake may satisfy you from a sugar perspective, overindulging will often keep baby weight on – so try and limit portion sizes and not let yourself get too hungry by making sure you are eating regularly.

Breastfeeding: milk supply issues 

For mums struggling with supply issues, there are a few key things you can do to help increase milk supply. Maintaining optimal hydration is the most important thing and you will need at least two or three litres of fluid each day when exclusively breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding cookies are also popular but they can cause gut discomfort for your baby as they are high in fibres – so be aware of these issues for your newborn. While breastfeeding you will also need to be careful with caffeine consumption as babies can be quite sensitive to caffeine. Choosing decaffeinated versions of your favourite hot drinks may be the best choice for your baby. Also keep in mind that chocolate too contains caffeine – especially dark chocolate, which can in turn be transferred to your baby.

Breastfeeding: my experience

Breastfeeding, while a wonderful thing if you can do it, can also present some challenges. It is for this reason that it may be right for some mums and not for others. Importantly, there should never be any judgement associated with this. It is a personal choice whether breastfeeding is right for you and your baby.

As a new mum of six-month-old-twins, I look at mothers with bountiful milk supplies with much envy as I am lucky to be able to express enough milk to offer each of my twins two breastfeeds each day. While I breastfed one of my twins until three to four months, one never latched very well so I always expressed for him. Now, I find expressing the most time efficient given I am juggling two babies and do the best I can with it.

It is a sensitive issue for me as I would have loved to exclusively breastfeed both my babies. For this reason, I rarely ask mums how and what they are feeding their baby unless prompted. This is simply as I know myself what a personal area this is and is often associated with much guilt – which should never be the case. All mums feed their child the best way they know and can, whether that means exclusively breastfeeding, comp feeding or using various formulas.

Read more about my experience as a new mum here.

Susie is currently an ambassador for Bellamy’s Organic. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are her own. To read more about Susie’s partnership with Bellamy’s, click here.

What Mummy Feeds Us


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IMG_5584Another month into the eating habits of Baby Gus and Baby Harry and I think it is fairly obvious from the size of them they are getting plenty of nutrition. At the moment I am focusing on increasing the variety of foods they are eating, and also rapidly increasing the textures of the foods they are trying. Often we keep baby’s on very soft, pureed foods for too long, when they need to get used to a range of textures quickly, hence mixing up more chunky veges and finely minced meats and chicken rather than a complete puree. If you interested in reading more about the Importance of Texture in Kids Food, see my post here.

IMG_5468On average I feed the twins lean meat 2-3 x each week, along with 2-3 different vegetables. I alternate that with chicken breast and salmon. At this stage (6-7 months) baby’s will generally eat what is on offer with clear likes and dislikes not developing or being developed until 18 months plus.

The only food so far I have had issues with is avocado. Avocado is an extremely nutrient rich food offering Vitamin E, essential fats, fibre and Vitamin B but I think it constipated the twins a little so will hold off with this for a few more weeks. 

I am a massive fan of baby oats and use the Bellamy’s Organic range, but my local Woollies do not stock it and I ran out last week so instead I offered the twins 1/2 a Vita Brit. I choose Vita Brits as they are one of the few cereals that do not contain any added sugar but after a week of these I think they are little heavy for the twins tummies so have swapped back to Bellamy’s Oats which I found at Coles. I have also started added the only yoghurt I would offer to baby’s, Barambah Bay Yoghurt. It is really hard to find (Harris Farm do have it) but it is without doubt the best yoghurt on the market with no other ingredients than milk and probiotic cultures. Breakie at our house as such as been oats, a little yoghurt with a small amount of pear or banana and everyones tummy is doing nicely.

IMG_5469Perhaps most importantly, the twins now have their own water cup (not bottle). Developing hand eye coordination at this time is important, as is learning that water should be the fluid of choice when children are thirty. The twins love their cups and are not drinking extra water regularly which too helps to prevent constipation. You will also notice in here pics that the twins do feed themselves. Not a lot but they routinely hold their own spoons to again help with their hand eye coordination. Yes it is messy, but very good skill based training for small baby’s. And yes there is baby food all over our lounge room. lol

Are you getting enough iron?


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It may come as a surprise that despite having large volumes of nutrition information readily available, as well as plenty of food, many Australian women still have low iron levels. In fact, as many as one in four women may be experiencing the symptoms of iron deficiency, including extreme fatigue, irritability and low energy and mood on a daily basis. The most ironic fact of all when it comes to iron deficient may be that it is often not those who do not eat red meat who are most likely to have low stores of iron. Rather, sporadic meat eaters who enjoy iron rich beef or lamb just once or twice each week are far more likely to deplete their iron stores over time and suffer the effects of low iron.

Iron is used in the body to transport oxygen to the cells. The body; being the highly functioning machine that it is, stores a certain amount of iron to ensure that some is available when dietary intake is low. If dietary intake is chronically low, over time these stores will become depleted. If the iron stores in the body have been depleted to such an extent that there is not enough to allow oxygen to be transported, full iron deficiency anemia results. Research has indicates that individuals will feel physical effects of low iron, even if their blood levels are normal but their stores are low.

Iron is present in a wide number of foods including both red meat, chicken fish, whole grains and leafy green vegetables but the amounts of iron absorbed varies widely between foods. Non-haem iron found in plant foods is not particularly well absorbed compared to haem iron, found in lean red meat. For individuals who do not regularly any type of meat, chicken or fish, their body will be much more used to absorbing iron from plant based foods such as grain bread and fortified breakfast cereal. Meat eaters though need to make a concerted effort to expose their body to well absorbed forms of iron, even in relatively small quantities at least 3-4 times each week to ensure that they give their body’s the opportunity to absorbed the iron they need of optimal energy production.

Looking for iron rich recipe ideas? Try my free Shape Me recipes here.

Iron in food / mg iron

200g steak / 7.0

1 cup mince / 5

1 chicken breast / 2.0

Fish fillet / 1

1/2 cup baked beans / 2.2

Slice grain bread / 1

Breakfast cereal with iron / 3

6 oysters / 3.5

1/2 cup Spinach / 0.6

Daily iron requirements / mg/day

Babies (7-12 months) / 11

1-3 years / 9

4-8 years / 10

9-13 years / 8

14-18 years boys / 11

14-18 years girls / 15

>18 years males / 8

18-50 year female / 18

>50 year female / 8

Pregnancy / 27

Breastfeeding / 9

Iron in food / mg | Zinc in food / mg                          

200g steak / 7.0 | Almonds (25) / 1.0

1 cup mince / 5 | 1 cup baked beans / 1.4

1 chicken breast / 2.0 |  100g lean beef / 5.3

Fish fillet / 1 | 100g chicken / 1.2

1/2 cup baked beans / 2.2 | 1 cup muesli / 2.1

Slice grain bread / 1 | 1 cup brown rice / 1.6

Breakfast cereal with iron / 3 | 30g pumpkin seeds / 1.9

6 oysters / 3.5 | Can of tuna / 0.9

1/2 cup Spinach / 0.6 | 6 oysters / 59

So many decisions…


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Diets tend to work for as long as we are able to stick to them. In fact, of all the diet research that is available, there is no real difference between the outcomes of many different diets, whether they are low fat, high carb, high protein – over time people lose similar amounts of weight, for as long as they stick to any particular diet.

What then happens though is we do go off our diets, regularly. We skip a meal here, allow an extra treat there and before you know it, 3 or 5 of the 10kg you have lost have been regained. The reason for this is that ultimately, if we are really committed to losing weight and keeping it off 90% of our food decisions need to be made with weight control in mind. No more, “I’m on a diet”, or “I’m off”; in the environment in which we live, in which food is so readily available and activity so scarce, we need to remain conscious of our food decisions 90% of the time. This means that each and every time we order off a menu, make a lunch choice or choose a snack, we need to keep our basic food rules in mind. Sure there are special occasions but at least Monday to Friday and for most of the day, we need to make this commitment or our weight will always be something that is always out of control.

Changing habits is not easy, it takes weeks if not months of mindfulness, conscious decisions and ultimately lifelong commitment but keeping the constant reminder of health and fitness at the forefront of your mind for the bulk of food decisions that you make on a daily basis will ultimately give you control of your weight and your body, for life and that is a very empowering way to live.

My top office snacks


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If you work in an office, chances are by the time 3 or 4pm hits you are looking for a tasty snack to help you get through the remainder of the day. To avoid being lured to the biscuit jar or vending machine, the secret s to keep a supply of tasty, ready to go snacks at work with you. The only issue is avoiding eating all of them in one go because they are so yummy!

roasted-fav-va-beans-lime-and-cracked-pepper2The Happy Snack Food Company Roasted Fav-va Beans

If you love potato chips, these are the snacks for you except they only contains 100cals per packet and offer 5g of protein per serve.

Mainland Cheese and Cracker Snack Packs

A perfect mix of carbs and proteins sure to keep you full until your next meal.

Munch pumpkin seedThinkfood Pumpkin Seed MUNCH snacks

With a massive 8g of protein per 6 pieces, not only are these morsels extremely nutritious, but they taste great too.

Tassal Salmon & Beans

When you are really hungry you need real food and this portion controlled salmon and bean snack pack not only gives you your daily omega 3 boost but will fuel you for several hours – a perfect late afternoon snack before you hit the gym

dark-choc-espresso-webCarman’s Dark Choc Espresso Nut Bars

A perfect alternative to coffee and chocolate comes in a choc nut bar that contains just 10g of carbs per serve.

What’s your tummy telling you?


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Gut issues are more common than ever and the greater the tummy trouble, the more diet gets blamed. Banning gluten, grains and dairy is common, and people looking for low fodmap products is on the rise. The interesting thing about the gut is that the symptoms you present with are very good indicators of exactly what is going on in your tummy. So here are the most common gut symptoms and what they could mean in terms of foods you may need to avoid.

Bloating

A common description and for which the timing is most telling. If you feel bloated within an hour or two of eating, it is most likely the fibres in foods such as legumes, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, oats and dried fruits that you may be sensitive too. Generally this bloating will only last a couple of hours and can easily be avoided by consuming small volumes of these fibre rich foods at any one time.

On the other hand, if you are feeling bloated constantly, and start the day with a flat tummy only to see it balloon out by the end of the day, chances are you are sensitive to FODMAPS, a type of sugars found in a range of fruits, vegetables, dairy and wheat. While it can be difficult to pin point the exact FODMAPS you are reacting too, in general people have 1-2 types they are particularly sensitive too. If you think you may have a FODMAP intolerance, Shape Me can help you.

Wind

There are a number of types of wind ranging from odourless to pungent gas. If you are often experiencing wind but it is not smelly, you are fine and chances are your diet is high in fibre. On the other hand, especially smelly gas can be a sign of lactose intolerance and if coupled with frequent diarrhea, it may be worth giving a lactose free diet a go. 

Loose stools

Runny poo can be caused by a number of factors but most likely it is from lactose intolerance or a gut bug. A surprising number of individuals do have gut bugs which can be picked up from OS travels or contaminated water. So if your gut issues have been short term only, it may be worth visiting your GP to determine if a gut bug may be the underlying cause. On the other hand, if your loose stools have been a constant feature in your life, it may be worth trying a lactose free diet. 

Constipation

The obvious explanation for constipation is a lack of dietary fibre, and or fluid but if you know you get plenty of fibre and drink plenty of water, wheat or gluten may be your issue. Other signs of gluten issues or coeliac disease include headaches, low iron and long term unexplained gut issues. As coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition, you may also have other family members with thyroid dysfunction or diabetes. Wheat intolerance unlike coeliac disease is more likely associated with gas and bloating. If you are looking for more gluten free recipes, Shape Me offers both low FODMAP and gluten free programs.

The most important thing to remember is that long term gut disturbance is real, so before you self diagnose always seek out the opinion of a qualified medical professional or dietitian to ensure you are not simply eliminating foods from your diet for the sake of it. 

Everything you need to know about fish oil


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Of all the supplements that are available, fish oil would be one that I prescribe most frequently in my nutrition practice. Known for its range of health benefits including lowering triglycerides, blood pressure and inflammation in the body, few of us get an optimal amount of long chain fish oil in our diets on a daily basis.

Fish oil refers to supplementary capsules that are made from long chain fats that are primarily found in the flesh of deep sea, cold water fish including tuna, mackerel, Atlantic salmon and sardines. These essential fats play a key role in regulation inflammatory pathways in the body. It is hypothesised that modern diets which feature relatively low amounts of these essential fats compared to the amounts consumed thousands of years ago somewhat explain the rise of inflammatory conditions including Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Nutritionally when it comes to the types of fats we consume, there are 3 main types – saturated fats found naturally in meat and dairy as well as added to processed and fried foods. Monounsaturated fats found primarily in nuts, olive oil and avocado and polyunsaturated fats found in some nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and then in their long chain form in deep sea cold water fish. While the body requires a certain amount of fat each day, it is the types of fats that is of greatest interest from a health perspective as from a cellular perspective the different types of fats compete for uptake into the cell.

Generally speaking modern diets see an influx of saturated fats and even monounsaturated fats which basically ‘drown out’ the long chain omega 3 fats. So unless you are eating fresh salmon most days, chances are you are getting nowhere near the 1-2g of fish oils known to help even out this ratio of fats to give you the health benefits associated with an optimal intake of the these fats.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 3.33.56 PMIt is for this reason that committing to taking a daily fish oil supplement can be a much needed daily boost of omega 3 fats. D&X Odourless High Strength Wild Fish Oil* contains 300mg of the long chain fats EPA and DHA meaning that a daily dose of 2-3 capsules will give you a massive 1g of long chain fish oil linked to a number of positive health outcomes. And most importantly, it is odourless so no need to worry about a nasty aftertaste so you can take them at any time of the day or night when you are most likely to remember to take them.

To learn more about D&X Odourless High Strength Wild Fish Oil 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.

A strong nutrition platform for good health


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In busy modern life, many of us live with chronic stress exposure. From long working hours to exhaustive commutes. To juggling family demands with work and maintaining relationships, is it any wonder that we often return home at the end of the day and fall in a heap. Many of us are barely surviving let alone thriving. And our mental health is suffering as a result. Antidepressant use is widespread and 1 in 5 people will suffer from a mental health episode at some point in their adult life and up to 14% of us struggle with anxiety – something has to give.

While instant retirement may seem like the best option, along with moving to a beachside home to live the simple, for most of us this is simply not an option. And while we can seek out stress reduction strategies, one of the easiest things we can do on a daily basis to improve our mental health is to fuel ourselves properly. What we eat and drink on a daily basis determines how we feel. When we feel energised and healthy we are more in control and much better equipped to deal with the stressors life throws at us.

So if you feel that you have not been managing your stress particularly well, and not taking the time to look after your body physically, here are some easy steps to help you build a strong nutrition platform for good health.

1. Eat more fresh food

Ideally we need 7-10 serves of fresh fruit and veges every single day to help promote optimal nutrient intake. This means we need a big salad or soup at lunch as well as 2-3 cups of vegetables at dinner, along with a couple of pieces of fruit every single day.

2. Keep hydrated

At any one time most people are dehydrated primality because thirst is a reasonably weak reflex compared to hunger. Drink more water by always carrying a water bottle with you, have a daily water target to aim for or consider installing a ready to go water filter like a Zip tap HydroTap at your home or office*.

3. Sit down and enjoy your meals

Taking time out to enjoy balanced meals in a social environment away from screens is one of life’s most simple pleasures. Not only is our nutritional intake better when we at this way but we control our calorie intake much more specifically when we are focused and mindful when eating.

4. Get your good fats

Oily fish, nuts, seeds, grains, olive oil and avocado contain a range of different fats which are linked to positive mood states and a reduced risk of depression. For the average person this translates to a handful of mixed nuts, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a serve of oily fish each day.

5. Plan ahead

Planning is the secret to good nutrition – packing your lunch the night before, keeping filled water bottles at home and at work, ordering shopping online, preparing a few meals in advance. Once you get into the habit of planning your food and fluids in advance you eat better, drink enough and feel a whole lot better each and every day.

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

My top 5 products from Aldi


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10 years ago, a close friend and dietitian colleague used to talk to me about the benefits of shopping at ALDI. Being the supermarket snob that I was, with much more disposible income than I have now, I used to laugh the suggestion off that I would ever shop at ALDI for fear of missing my brand names far too much. Fastforward 10 years, a heafty mortgage and baby twins and I am all for the ALDI shop simply becuase I save a whole lot of money. Most importantly I know that a number of the key brands sold at ALDi are almost if not identical nutritionally to the name brand comparison product. And why on earth would you pay more the exact same thing, that is a ridiculous waste of money. So here are the top ALDI products that I include in my trolley on each visit.

ALC6674_PRODUCTS__PD__30Baker’s Life Wholegrain Wraps

This image shows the white variety but the wholegrain variety contains just 18g of carbs per serve making it a perfect carb portion for lunchtime wraps.

Hillcrest Nut Bars

I am a big fan of nut bars and these are a tasty, calorie controlled sweet treat much cheaper than popular supermarket brands.

AWARDS_PD_61_7astirfryvegtables500gMarket Fare Stir Fry Vegetables

Frozen veges are just as nutritious as fresh as long as you do not overcook them. With stir fry mixes, such as their Market Fare brand, as well as their individual steam packs available for a fraction of the price, these are always in my trolley.

AWARDS_PD_Dairy_26_65a610d145Westacre Lite Cottage Cheese

All the ALDI cheese is significantly cheaper such as their cottage cheese which I am a fan of. Their cheese and cracker snack packs also are great snack options for both adults and children.

ALC6887_PD_GROCERY_AWARDS_UPDATE_388x314_1Slim and Trim Meal Replacements

Any mention of meal replacements ignites furore but people do use them as calorie controlled quick meal options on the go and these bars and shakes have a very similar nutritional profile to major brands for 1/2 the price.

What’s wrong with your breakfast


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While many of us are aware of the importance of starting the day with a nutritionally balanced breakfast, in reality we do not always get it quite right. Here are the most common breakfast mistakes that can have a big impact your calorie intake and energy for the rest of the day.

Eating breakfast too late

As a general rule of thumb, the earlier you enjoy your breakfast, the better it will be for your metabolism. It is commonly thought that delaying hunger until later in the morning; or waiting until after a workout will maximise fat burning but the truth is in both cases, the metabolic boost you will get from enjoying your first meal of the day before 8am will override both of this rationalisations. So forget waiting until you reach the office at 9am and start the day with coffee and toast, get into the habit of starting the day with a light protein rich breakfast such as an egg on toast to get your metabolic rate up and kicking.

Not getting enough protein

An ideal balance of wholegrain, low glycaemic index carbohydrates and 15-20g of protein at breakfast will ensure that you not only have well controlled blood glucose levels and energy throughout the morning but a good serve of protein will help to keep you full and satisfied for at least 2-3 hours, ideally until lunchtime. Muesli with sweet yoghurt and fruit; plain toast and coffee and breakfast smoothies made with fruit, milk and yoghurt all tend to be relatively high in carbohydrates relative to protein which can leave you hungry just an hour or two later. Protein rich breakfast options including eggs on toast, a toasted sandwich or Greek yoghurt with fruit and a small amount of oats or muesli will help to achieve a good balance of carbs and protein.

Not counting the coffee

Flat whites, cappuccinos, soy mochas and chai Lattes all contain calories and sugars (generally from lactose naturally found in milk) and calories that do need to be considered as part of a meal, not an insignificant extra. Often we start the day with a milk coffee, and follow it up with another once we arrive at work and forget that these both count as part of the breakfast. For any coffee that contains a significant amount of milk, consider is equal to a slice of toast in calories and if you are watching your total calorie and / or sugar intake consider swapping to black coffee or tea to cut out some of these extra calories.

Enjoying a café breakfast

For city workers, or anyone who has a great café close to home or work that offers a coffee and toast for a cheap price, it can be hard to resist a daily café treat. Unfortunately the types of breakfast options served at cafes rarely complement our dietary goals. Large slices of Turkish toast slathered in butter; fatty sandwiches with cheese and fatty meats, large slabs of banana bread or oversized muffins and thick sugary yoghurt and granola can equate to 600-800 breakfast calories, more than double what the average person needs. Save the café breakfasts to weekends or special occasions or at least look for lighter options such as an omelette with 1 slice thin toast, mini breakfast wraps or Greek yoghurt and fruit. 

The health and fitness benefits of Pokemon Go


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Well we finally have a mobile game that encourages users to get up and be active! A massive well done to the creators of Pokemon Go for developing a mobile interface that actively encourages people to get up, get moving, clock up thousands of steps and burn calories. And it seems that as long as you keep a close eye on what is going on around you, engaging in Pokemon Go is a much more enjoyable way to burn some serious calories and much more entertaining than going to the gym.

scrnAs we get fatter and fatter, and as our kids get fatter and fatter, we are very quick to blame our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Whether it is time spent online for work, mobile addicted teens or game addicted children, as humans we sit down more than ever before. The metabolic effects of this are catastrophic.

Not only do we burn fewer and fewer calories but over time we fail to maintain optimal muscle mass which in turn means we burn fewer and fewer calories. Weight gain is the result, and the lifestyle diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer that accompany it. Health professionals continue to suggest we keep a record of our steps and be active every day but with the pressures of busy lives, is it any wonder this is a priority way down on the list.

The simple idea of developing a fun and free way to get active is a brilliant idea for both children and adults alike. Suddenly we have kids and teens outside the home, often involving parents in their play, and we have more adults moving and having fun. So as long as you look before you cross the road, Pokemon Go is a thumbs up from me.

Here are our top tips when playing Pokemon Go:

Hatch eggs

effIf you haven’t discovered eggs yet, tap the red Pokeball on your screen, tap Pokemon then swipe left to see your eggs. Your eggs can be incubated to hatch new Pokemon but to do this you must walk a certain number of kilometres. So pick a 5Km or 10Km egg (you’ll generally only get pretty useless Pokemon from the 2Km ones), get walking, and before long you’ll be prompted to watch your new addition hatch. A great way to motivate yourself to get out there and walk.

Don’t walk and stare down

settWhilst it’s tempting to stare at the screen as you’re walking around, this is where problems can arise. Jump into settings and make sure “Vibration” and “Battery Saver” are set to on. Then work out where you’re walking to next, put the phone in your pocket and walk to your next Pokestop or Pokemon Gym. Once you get there, and have a safe place to stop, pull out your phone and continue playing. If you encounter a Pokemon on the way your phone will vibrate to alert you, so you won’t miss anything. If that happens, again find a safe place to stop, take out your phone to catch it, then keep walking.

Oh and with “Battery Saver” selected your phone screen will go black if you tip your phone upside down (like when it’s in your pocket) but your kilometres will still be tracked, so you can set and forget and enjoy the scenery.

Go catching with the kids

You’d be hard pressed to find a kid in Australia who hasn’t heard of Pokemon Go yet. So if they’re pestering you to put the app on your phone, and it fits with your philosophy regarding screen time and gaming, give it a try and go Pokemon catching together. Not only can you be there to help reinforce the safety message of remaining alert at all times when out of the house, but it’s a really fun way to keep them moving and play together.

Keep it updated

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Oh and finally, you may have to get used to seeing error messages like this one on the left. Pokemon Go is only a week old as we write this and is immensely popular already (it’s the top free game app in iTunes), but there are still a few bugs and server issues for the developers to iron out.

So be patient with it, but be sure to look for updates which are being released fairly often and keep your app up to date.

Enjoy playing safely, we’re off out to try and catch us a Pikachu. Gotta catch ‘em all!