5 food habits to avoid after 7pm to improve your health.


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What you should not do after 7pm.

While what we eat on a daily basis is frequently discussed, less often mentioned is the importance of the timing of our health habits. For most of us, our work and training is completed early in the day, while rest, relaxation and plenty of eating and drinking is done after work throughout the evening. Unfortunately when it comes to our health and our weight this can be the worst times to indulge. So here are just some of the things you should try and avoid doing after 7pm each night if you possibly can.

1. Eat large meals

Not only does consuming a significant number of calories late in the day when you are more likely to be sitting and moving very little lead to indigestion and abdominal discomfort but over time eating heavy carb rich foods at night can result in hormonal changes linked to weight gain long term.

Eating late at night is also bad for our heart. New research recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress reported that individuals who consumed a significant number of calories after 7pm each night had the highest increases in blood pressure overnight. High blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. This finding suggests an early dinner or a light meal such as fish and vegetables is best if your final meal of the day is regularly consumed after 7pm.

2. Eat fatty food

The issue with eating later in evening is not limited to large meals. Indulging in high fat foods such as ice-cream, biscuits, cakes and chocolates aka known as the ‘treats’ we consume in front of the television is linked to increases in blood fats immediately after the high fat foods are consumed. High amounts of fat in the blood contribute to making the arteries ‘sticky’, increasing the risk of adverse heart events. So if you must indulge a little after dinner, look for lower fat options such as Greek yoghurt and fruit, a little gelato or a couple of crackers with nut spread or cottage cheese. 

3. Drink alcohol

It is commonly thought that alcohol, or the sugar in alcohol causes weight gain. This is not the case. Rather when alcohol is being consumed, the calories consumed via food are more likely to be stored. This means that is you are drinking a number of alcoholic drinks along with a heavy meal, chances are you will be on the weight gain cycle, which will be exacerbated the later into the evening you are eating and drinking. The solution? Eat your last meal of the day as early as you can in indulge in a 1-2 alcoholic drinks minus the extra food when you do enjoy an evening drink. 

4. Consume caffeine

While you may have ditched the coffee later in the day, it is important to remember that cola drinks, dark chocolate, cacao and tea (other than herbal tea) contains caffeine and it adds up. For example, a hearty serve of dark chocolate along with a hot chocolate made with cacao or cup of tea will give you close to 80mg of caffeine or a similar amount to that in a cup of coffee. The effects of caffeine including an inability to sleep, restlessness and heart palpitations which can be experienced for up to 4-6 hours after the caffeine is consumed so if you are having trouble getting to sleep, caffeine that is slipping into your diet may be the reason. For this reason, avoiding chocolate late and night and swapping to herbal tea is the way to go.

5. Eat MSG

MSG or monosodium glutamate (621) is found in many sauces including soy and hoisin sauce, flavoured snacks such as 2 minute noodles, potato chips and rice crackers and many Asian dishes in which salty sauces tend to be added. MSG in foods can cause skin irritation, increased heart rate, rashes and headaches in those sensitive to it and as it slips into our diet via many of these commonly consumed foods, we often do not identify it as the cause. So if you suffer from these symptoms or regularly indulge in Asian foods, it may be worthwhile consuming them earlier in the day or seeking out MSG free options.  

The 5 easy ways to improve your diet right now.


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The 5 easy ways to improve your diet right now.

Every day we are inundated with diet tips and tricks yet few if any of these are practical or sustainable. So if you do not have the time, energy or interest in following strict diets or jumping on board with the latest diet trend, here are the easiest ways you can improve your diet right now. 

1. Order some groceries online

For many of us the difference between eating well or not on a daily basis comes down to food availability. When we have healthy options on hand we eat better, control our calories and are less likely to be tempted by treats and extras on a daily basis. To save you the time and energy it takes to get to the supermarket, start ordering some snacks and meals online to be delivered straight to your home or the office. And the best bit, you can do this at any time of the day or night.

2. Drink some water

Most of us are dehydrated at any one time – we never skip our morning coffee yet we forget to carry a water bottle with us. Whenever you are feeling tired, hungry or even bored, an easy way to instantly give yourself an energy boost is to drink some chilled filtered still or sparkling water. Keeping well hydrated is the easiest thing we can do to feel better and more energised each and every day. 

3. Find some vegetables

Adults need at least 5 serves or 2-3 cups of vegetables or salad every single day yet the majority of us get nowhere near this amount. For this reason, whenever you are thinking about your diet, or what you should be eating, the best thing to focus on is bumping up your intake of veggies or salad – grab a vege juice, pick up a fresh salad or order a side of extra vegetables to significantly increase your intake of fluid, fibre and vitamins and minerals. 

4. Wait until you are really hungry to eat

Most of us do not eat because we are hungry – rather we eat because we are bored, it is a meal time or others around us are eating. This is one of the major reasons why we gain weight over time, we are used to eating when we are not really hungry. To test your own hunger, start to rate how hungry you actually are and try not to eat until your hunger is at least an 8 or 9 out of 10. You will find that when you eat meals when you are really hungry, you will actually enjoy them more and become better at responding to your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals. 

5. Focus on what you should be eating

Whenever we start a new diet or program we are constantly told what we should not be eating – don’t eat this, avoid that and naturally this programs our brains to think of these foods even more. As such when we are trying to eat well if we simply focus on the foods we can and should be eating, it will naturally program our minds to seek out healthier options. For this reason filling your mind with thoughts of fresh and healthy meals that you can buy and prepare will make eating healthier eating less impacted by unhealthy distractions. 

Keep an eye on your Vitamin D this Winter.


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Keeping an eye on your Vitamin D this Winter.

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal Salmon.

As we near the middle of Winter, you could be forgiven for feeling less than your best. It is pretty chilly out, the days are short and with plenty of us spending much more time indoors thanks to the impact of COVID, it can be hard to feel motivated. This time of year is also notorious for mood related issues, with up to 30% of Australian adults testing with low Vitamin D levels, a vitamin that plays a crucial role in the regulation of mood. So if you have not been feeling your best in recent weeks, have a history of low Vitamin D levels and/or are spending a considerable amount of time inside at the moment, here is everything you need to know about getting enough Vitamin D. 

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D plays a large number of roles in the body including in helping calcium be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract to support the growth and maintenance of our bones, and also acts to control calcium levels in the blood. The biggest issue with low levels of Vitamin D over time is that it puts our bone health at considerable risk. Low Vitamin D results in high bone turnover, reduced bone density and an increased risk of fractures over time, especially in older people. On a daily basis low Vitamin D levels are linked to low mood, feelings of fatigue, joint and muscle pain and muscle weakness. During the Winter months, low Vitamin D levels become increasingly common as few of us get the amount of sunlight we need on a daily basis to maintain optimal levels throughout the Winter months. 

The other issue with getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D is that we get Vitamin D from a very small number of foods – egg yolks, oily fish including sardines and salmon, fortified milks and some types of mushrooms and for some of us who do not eat much fish, or who skip eggs or dairy it is highly likely we are not getting enough. For this reason, bumping up our intake of omega 3 and Vitamin D rich Tassal salmon and including it in our diets at least 2-3 times each week is a powerful way to significantly increase our dietary intake of Vitamin D. 

It is also extremely important to remember that sunshine is the primary source of Vitamin D for most people. Vitamin D is produced in the body when our skin cells are exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) light that we get from the sun. So when the rays are out, make a concerted effort to get out into them, for at least 10-15 minutes at a time. 

Most importantly, especially if you have not been feeling 100%, the first thing to do at this time of year is to have your Vitamin D levels checked via a blood test. Signs and symptoms of low Vitamin D include fatigue, muscle soreness, mood swings and low immunity. Next boost up your oral intake of Vitamin D with fortified milk, plenty of nutrient rich eggs and oily fish such as Tassal salmon or sardines at least 2-3 times each week. Finally if your levels are low or diagnosed as such, start some oral Vitamin D supplements daily to get your levels within normal range ASAP. 

Recipe: Breakfast Super Stack

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 egg 

1 large flat mushroom

1 Tassal Salmon Bacon Rasher

1 slice wholegrain or Sourdough

Handful baby spinach

Method

1. Heat BBQ hotplate and grill. Cook egg, mushroom and bacon to your liking.

2. Place bread on plate and top with spinach, mushroom, bacon and egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Meal prep ideas for your return to the office.


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Meal Prep Ideas for your return to the office

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

There are pros and cons that come with working from home. On the pro side there is no commute eating into precious time each day, however a big con for many is missing out on the socialising aspect.

From a health perspective, working from home can also be good and bad. On one hand you have access to your fridge meaning you can make a range of delicious healthy lunches and snacks, while some find being so close to the fridge and pantry a recipe for disaster with overeating. So, if you are making your way back into the office as COVID restrictions ease up, here are some easy ways to keep your nutrition on track, especially if the office kitchen is closed for business.

1. Make your own

From a nutritional perspective, taking your lunch to work each day is the easiest way to keep your calories controlled and it will save you plenty of money and time in food courts. If heating up leftovers is not an option, your next best homemade lunch option is super sandwiches or wraps that you can load up with lean protein and tons of salad to create a satisfying meal. Pre-made options will mean that you do not need to track down plates and cutlery at work. Store these in a cooler bag to keep nice and fresh!

2. Utilise soups

You may not have access to the office fridge and microwave right now, but chances are you will have access to boiling water. This means you can still add some warm hearty soup to your lunches of choice to boost both the vegetable content and bulk of your lunch. Look for packaged soups that contain less than 600-800mg of sodium per serve and that are vegetable based to reap the nutritional benefits that come from adding a warming soup to your lunchtime meal. Another easy option is to invest in a thermos and take your warm homemade or fresh soup with you each day to enjoy with your sandwich or crackers. 

3. Go for homemade treats

While the office biscuit tin and lolly jar is off limits, healthy homemade treats will be the way to go for the next few months and the good news is that there are plenty of options. Banana muffins, zucchini banana bread, peanut butter balls and even pre-made pikelets are all tasty, nutritious treats that will give you the sweet hit you are looking for minus the calories of treats typically found at cafes and convenience stores. 

4. Remember that breakfast can be enjoyed anytime

Hot food including eggs may be off the menu if you regularly prepare your breakfast at the office, but fibre and protein rich Bircher muesli bowls can make a super filling lunch option that stores well in cooler bags. Have your overnight oats teamed with milk, Greek yoghurt, nuts and fresh fruit like banana as an easy, pre made lunch option that will keep you full and satisfied throughout the afternoon. 

5. Know the better delivered options

If your UberEats account has been working overtime the past few weeks, it may be exceptionally tempting to keep ordering your hot lunch to the office. Keep in mind that foods we buy from take away and fast food outlets generally contain double the calories of a meal we would prepare at home. For this reason, if you are still ordering in regularly, seek out the lighter option such as Naked Burritos, toasted wraps, plain stir fries minus the rice, sushi and sashimi plates.

Recipe – Banana Walnut Loaf

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

3-4 very ripe mashed bananas

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour

1 cup plain self raising flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup milk 

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 eggs, beaten

50g butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla essence

Method

1. Combine wet ingredients with sifted flour and sugar, banana and walnuts.

2. Bake at 170deg for 50-60mins.

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

How to lose weight the right way this Winter


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How to lose weight the right way this Winter

The Winter months are notorious for weight gain with long hours spent indoors eating and watching TV generally to blame for a few unwanted kilos, especially post COVID. So if you would prefer to take control now and use the quieter months of the year to focus on weight loss, here are some simple strategies for how to lose weight the right way this Winter.

1. Adopt a fasting regime

You may prefer to follow a low calorie plan of 500-600 calories twice each week or to eat all of your calories within an 8 hour period (12-8pm), but research that examines the metabolic benefits of regular intermittent fasting has generally shown a 1-2kg weight loss each month without extreme dieting or calorie restriction. It appears that limiting the number of hours in which we eat, or occasionally eating very few calories acts to help reset a number of our hormones which in turn supports slow but sustainable weight loss.

2. Focus on low calorie foods

You may like soups or salads or roasted vegetables but whatever your preference simply focusing one meal each day around low calorie vegetables not only gives you a daily nutrient hit but also lowers your overall calorie intake whilst still allowing you to consume a good volume of food. Studies have repeatedly shown that when a meal includes a soup or salad dieters consume up to 100 fewer calories per meal. 

3. Add in 30 minutes of walking

Sedentary lifestyles are generally to blame for slow insidious weight gain, and it is common in the Winter months to move even less than usual thanks to the cooler temperatures and shorter days. A simple way to compensate for this reduction in physical activity is to add in a daily 30 minute walk or run. You can do it at any time, but focusing on a routine that includes 30 minutes of continuous movement each day will burn at least 200 extra calories each day for minimal effort. After dinner, as part of your daily commute or during your lunch break tend to be the times that work best for the average person.

4. Change your coffee

When it is cold outside there is nothing better than a warming drink to break up the day but hot chocolates and milky coffees contain plenty of extra sugars and calories few of us need. If you simply swap your coffee to a piccolo or ¾ or swap a coffee or two for a low calorie tea you will save plenty of calories over the next 3 months. Most importantly changing our usual food routine, such as having a milk coffee at the same time every day is one of the best things you can do to give your metabolism a boost. 

5. Give yourself a cheat meal

Diets are rarely sustainable long term as few of us can maintain a pattern of constant restriction. For this reason when you commit to several lifestyle changes, an equally important component is to allow yourself a meal or two off each week in which you can enjoy a meal or event without worrying what you are eating and drinking. A cheat meal does not mean a binge but it allows for a few drinks, larger meal or slice of cake when you really feel like it so you can remain focused the rest of the time.

A new healthy breakfast option to boost your omega 3’s


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A new healthy breakfast option to boost your omega 3’s

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal Salmon.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it refuels you after the night’s fast; it gives you a significant boost of key nutrients required to optimally fuel the muscles and the brain and it is one of the key meals that gives us the dietary fibre we need for gut health. In addition, protein rich breakfasts specifically are known to help keep us fuller for longer after eating, as well as keeping our insulin levels more tightly controlled. Insulin is the key regulator of fat metabolism in the body, so keeping it well controlled is crucial for weight control. Eggs, baked beans, and bacon are some of the more popular high protein breakfast options, but in the case of bacon we do need to be careful and limit our consumption. So today I can let you know of a new, healthier alternative, salmon bacon! Another high protein breakfast option that you can enjoy with your favourite egg based dish or breakfast roll but one which will also offer you a massive hit of omega 3 fat!

With more and more of us spending time at home, and our café breakfast options put on hold, it is the perfect time to reaffirm our commitment to preparing ourselves a nutrient rich breakfast. And it is not a bad idea to enjoy a heartier option, as you may find that a substantial meal, even consumed a little later in the morning is likely to keep you full and satisfied until mid afternoon, and an easy way to cut back on the unnecessary snacking throughout the day.

So as we look for especially nutritious foods to help us get through this challenging time, a novel, new supermarket food has been developed by Tassal – Salmon Bacon. With all the taste of regular bacon, along with a massive 25.6g of good quality protein and your entire daily recommended served of good fats, this product is a must over your breakfast table, especially at Easter. All you need to do is lightly fry over a hot pan with a little olive oil and you have a crispy, delicious bacon to serve with your favourite breakfast ready in minutes. With more protein, less saturated fat and a hit of omega 3 fats, teamed with some grainy bread or breakfast vegetables you will not look back once you have added salmon bacon into your breakfast repertoire. 

My favourite way to enjoy salmon bacon is on a breakfast wrap teamed with rocket, tomato and a little cream cheese but if you are after some more recipe inspo, see below!

Salmon Bacon Nutritional Comparison

Per 100g

Salmon Bacon | Short Cut Bacon | Ham

832kJ / 198cal | 691kJ / 165cal | 443kJ / 105cal

25.6g protein | 17.3g protein | 15.7g protein

10.1g fat / 1.9g sat fat | 9.5g fat / 3.5g sat fat | 2.6g fat / <1 g sat

 1.2g DHA/EPA (omega 3 fat)

943mg sodium | 968mg sodium | 1090mg sodium

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Recipe: Breakfast Super Stack

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 egg

1 large flat mushroom

1 Tassal Salmon Bacon Rasher

1 slice wholegrain or Sourdough

Handful baby spinach

Method

1. Heat BBQ hotplate and grill. Cook egg, mushroom and bacon to your liking.

2. Place bread on plate and top with spinach, mushroom, bacon and egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Top tips for cooking with kids


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Top tips for cooking with kids

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal Salmon.

When it comes to teaching our kids about healthy eating, one of the most powerful things we can do is involve them in food preparation. Here they have the opportunity to become familiar with different foods and meals, learn how to prep and cook meals and snacks and it gives parents and carers an opportunity to have non emotive food based conversations, as opposed to the shouting matches that can occur at the dinner table when everyone is tired and emotional. And while the mess can be a little off putting especially when kids are small, long term the benefits including the opportunity to talk about nutrient rich foods such as salmon, wholegrains and vegetables will far outweigh the mess. So if you know that your little ones (or bigger ones) could really benefit from spending more time in the kitchen, here are some tips to make the process as simple (and non-messy) as possible. 

1. Start with something simple

If you are not used to having kids in the kitchen, forget starting with a complicated new recipe or baked good that will take much time to prepare. Children, especially children younger than 10-12 years will have very limited attention spans which means something you can prepare in 5 minutes or less is a good starting point to get them used to a new activity. Think toast (yes really), yoghurt and fruit bowls or a wrap or sandwich that they simply have to ‘put together’ before you move onto more complicated recipes. 

2. Set the time aside

One of the issues in busy lives is that we get round to doing things occasionally, and do not develop the structure and routine that helps to make activities with children run a lot more smoothly. Rather when it comes to cooking, both for adults and children, getting into a habit of doing something regularly, say once each month on a weekend afternoon means that you will create the space and time to be able to give your full attention to it. Here the kids will look forward to doing it, you will not be trying to cram extra cooking into an already jam packed schedule and you have the time to shop and prepare so everything runs smoothly. 

3. Create the space

Kids take up a lot of space, which means if you do not have a big kitchen, it will be stressful to have them in your space. Rather allocating some room in the kitchen with the right sized stool so they can reach the bench, or moving to the kitchen table will mean that the food prep and cooking process runs a lot more smoothly. 

4. Move onto more complicated dishes slowly

Once you are more comfortable with having kids in the kitchen and have mastered a few basics, you can slowly build up your repertoire. Baked goods such as cookies and pancakes are easy meals kids can get involved in mixing and stirring, making pizza and foods like schnitzels and Tassal salmon patties (see recipe) all have easy steps in which kids can roll, dip, crumb and combine to really get involved in the process. Going through cookbooks together and choosing a recipe for each cooking session is another fun activity and long term you can work towards planning the family’s weekly meals together.

5. Focus on nutrient rich ingredients

After several sessions and when your kids are building up their kitchen skills, it can lend itself nicely to talk more about healthy eating. Here focusing on recipes and foods that offer key nutrients such as Tassal salmon for omega 3 fats, wholemeal flour for fibre, dairy for calcium and plenty of veges for vitamins and minerals helps kids to learn about the important of healthy eating in a fun, relaxed environment. 

Recipe: Tassal Salmon & Sweet Potato Patties

Serves 2- 4

Ingredients

1 cup sweet potato, chopped

 1/3 cup frozen peas

1 Tassal Salmon Fillet (120g), cooked and flaked

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

 1 egg, lightly beaten

 1 green shallot, thinly sliced 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking

Method

1. Boil, steam or microwave sweet potato and peas, separately, until tender. Drain and mash the sweet potato until smooth, mix in peas. 

2. Add cooked, flaked salmon, 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, egg and shallots to the sweet potato mixture and stir to combine. 

3. Place remaining breadcrumbs on a plate. 

4. Shape 1/3 cup salmon mixture into a 2cm-thick patty. Roll in breadcrumbs to coat. Repeat with remaining mixture.

5. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.

6. Cook patties, in batches, for 2-3 mins each or until golden.

Recipes you can make with the items in your pantry.


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Recipes you can make with the items in your pantry.

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

After a long period in isolation, it’s likely that you’re in need of a little cooking inspiration. Your go-to recipes have been made several times already, you still have a few packets of rice and pasta in the cupboard and you’re trying to avoid another supermarket trip as you have plenty food at home. So, if you’re looking for new ideas to prepare at home, here are some tasty recipes you can make at home with items already in your pantry.

Flour

If you are lucky enough to still have a supply of flour on hand, there are many ways to maximise its use in isolation. Banana breakfast pancakes are an easy go-to, as are banana pikelets for a light snack for little tummies. Then we have healthy versions of favourites, including muffins and banana bread, and don’t forget that flour can also be used with milk to make a lighter version of a cream sauce for pies, lasagne and cheesy sauce for vegetable bakes. The good thing about flour is that no matter which type you opt for, wholemeal, chickpea, banana or oat, you will get pretty similar results with these recipes.

Stock

Whether it is stock cubes or liquid stock, you have flavour ready to go that will compliment a number of recipes. While stocks can be high in salt there are reduced salt varieties available, and even liquid stocks that do not contain any added salt, although they tend to be more expensive. Not only are stocks a flavoursome base to soups but they can be used to marinate meat, add flavour to casseroles and risotto or to add extra flavour to any vegetable mix you have. This means that you can literally add stock to any mix of vegetables you have left in the fridge and create a tasty new side dish or light dinner in minutes.

Tinned soup

Contrary to popular belief, tinned soup can be an extremely nutritious meal option. While tinned foods can be relatively high in salt, there is an increasing number of tinned soups that are rich in vegetables as well as meat, some of which can contain up to 10g of protein per serve. Plain vegetable varieties of soup such as tomato can be teamed with a little milk or sour cream to create a filling, nutritious meal. While creamed based soups make excellent bases to pies and casseroles and are much lower fat options than whole cream itself.

Legumes

Whether it is kidney beans, 4 bean mix, baked beans or chickpeas, if you scrummage around enough chances are you will find some sort of legumes in nearly every pantry you raid. Extremely versatile, protein and fibre rich legumes can be enjoyed in many ways, making them an extremely useful food to keep on hand. Whether you make your kidney beans into a Mexican feast, enjoy baked beans as a protein rich breakfast or light dinner, or add beans to your favourite salad or casserole, you will reap plenty of nutritional benefits when you add more legumes to your diet.

Rice

If you stocked up on rice in recent weeks chances are you are already stick of your favourite stir fry or risotto recipe but you may not have considered that you can make some delicious sweet treats with any type of rice you have in the cupboard. All you need to do is boil your rice with milk, a little added sweetness from fruits like banana and you have a delicious, nutritious dessert option to get you through your long ISO nights.

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

Are you sabotaging your own diet in ISO?


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Are you sabotaging your own diet in ISO?

As we move into our third month of living largely in ISO, many of us feeling the result of a few too many trips to the fridge. So if you feel as if you are doing your best when it comes to your food and exercise, here are the ways you may be sabotaging your own diet without realising it.

You are eating extras

Mindless eating, or the calories we consume without even realising it can account for as much as 20-30% of our total daily calories, which in turn can be the difference between weight loss and not. Extras tend to slip in each day via large portion sizes; extra serves of sauces and dressings; mindless munching via biscuits, lollies and individual chocolates we are offered throughout the day and the little ‘treats’ we give ourselves and then justify.

The easiest way to get a true indication of exactly how much you are eating is to keep a food diary. As frustrating as this can be, simply writing down or recording every single type and amount of food and drink that you consume over a 24 hour period can give great insight into why, or why not your diet may be working. In some cases we are not eating enough, but in most cases the reason we are not getting the weight loss we expect is because we are eating more than we realise. 

You are eating more because you train

Not only can exercise increase your appetite, but psychologically it gives many of us permission to eat more, or foods we would usually not eat because we have ‘been good’ and have already burnt off the extra calories. This logic falls apart simply because it is so easy to eat a whole lot of calories and we often do not burn as many as we think. For example, a 30-40 minute gym workout may burn 300-400 calories, while a single piece of cake or fast food meal will contain at least 600 if not more calories. If you are exercising with the goal of weight loss, you do not need to eat more and rewarding yourself with food for exercising will simply undo all of your hard work. 

You are eating at the wrong times

Perhaps the most significant factor that will predict whether we are losing weight or not, busy lives which see us eating dinner at 8 or 9pm are not conducive to weight loss.

The human body is programmed to burn more calories during the first half or the day, and this is also the time of day we tend to be most active. As such, the greater the proportion of calories we consume during the first half of the day, the better. For this reason if you regularly work late or go to the gym after work, you will be much better to eat your largest meal at lunchtime and choose light options such as soup, white fish and salad once it gets to 7 or 8pm or later at night. 

You are going too hard too soon

For the majority of us, who are looking to lose 5-10kg, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint, which means you need to pace yourself. Following a very strict regime in which you consume minimal calories for days at a time may give you initial weight loss results, but this approach rarely works long term as we ‘go off’ our diets, binge eat everything in sight and regain all if not more weight than we had initially lost. For this reason, whenever you commit to a new lifestyle plan, factoring in a couple of meals off each week, and ensuring you actually like the foods you are eating each day, and not feeling hungry is the key to long term success. 

You are buying foods that will not support weight loss

It may be the choices you make at the café, the foods you put in your trolley at the supermarket or what you order on UberEATS but if your regular food choices do not compliment your weight loss goals you are unlikely to achieve them. Human beings will eat the foods they buy and have easy access too, which means if you are buying treats for guests; or ordering pizza for another family member, you will eat it. If you are really committed to losing weight all of your food decisions add up and as such we need to make the food choices we have control of, good ones most of the time. 

Low calorie comfort food


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Low calorie comfort food

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal Salmon.

Long days spent at home can mean that we really, really look forward to dinner. And let’s be honest, a salad is just not cutting it at the moment, with many of us seeking out more hearty meals to self soothe at this rather challenging time. The issue with our favourite comfort meals is that they also tend to be high in calories, thanks to heavy sauces, pastry and heavy carb bases. The good news is that with a few recipe tweaks and knowledge of light ingredient alternatives it is possible to create your favourite comfort meals minus plenty of fat and calories if you follow these simple steps. 

1. Go for a lighter carb

Whether your preference is for pasta, pizza, pies or roasts, the good news is that it is easy to swap the heavier carb bases of pastry, potatoes, pasta and even pizza base for much lighter alternatives. Not only can you find lower fat pastry at supermarkets, but filo too is a lighter option or you can ditch the pastry altogether for a vegetable mash. There are vegetable varieties of pizza bases, pasta and rice, and lighter vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin and even lower carb potatoes can mean you can still enjoy your favourite roasted veg or chips, minus plenty of carbs and calories. 

2. Load up the vegetables

Any recipe will be significantly lower in calories once you bulk up the veg content – think grated vegetables into pasta dishes and stir fries, extra vegetables with your favourite roast and even adding extra vegetables to any pizza, pie or casserole will automatically mean you are boosting your overall nutritional intake whilst reducing the amount of total protein and carbs you are eating. It is the easiest way you can make any recipe a whole lot lighter and healthier – think zucchini, carrot, pumpkin and peas which work well with literally any dish.

3. Add in your good quality protein

Protein rich foods including meat, chicken, oily fish such as salmon and white fish are all nutrient rich additions to meals but opting for proteins that are especially high in omega 3’s such as salmon, or the leanest cuts of meat and chicken will ensure that your recipe remains as healthy and calorie controlled as possible. On the other hand fatty minces and roasted meats, chicken wings and thighs, sausages and processed meats all add plenty of extra fat and calories and are best avoided if your goal is to keep your overall calorie controlled at this time. 

4. Know your lighter sauces

One of the ways that comfort foods add in plenty of calories is via the high fat creamy sauces and gravies we use to flavour the dishes. It is exceptionally easy to make lighter versions of all of these sauces for a fraction of the calories. Think Greek yoghurt as an alternative to sour cream, light evaporated milk with corn flour as an alternative to cream and as a base to your favourite curry, and pre made gravy to avoid using the fat from the roast itself. Often once you lighten the sauce, you lighten the entire meal significantly. 

Recipe: Low Carb Salmon Pasta

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 x Tassal Fresh Tassie Salmon Skin-Off fillets

200g edamame spaghetti 

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup light evaporated milk

3 tsp. cornflour

½ lemon, juiced and zested

1 zucchini, shaved

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup grated parmesan 

1 tbsp. parsley, roughly chopped 

Method

1. Cook edamame spaghetti to directions on pack and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a medium heat and add salmon fillets, cook for roughly 3 minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from pan and allow to cool, then use a fork to flake the fillets. 

3. In the same pan, reduce heat to low and add the evaporated milk and corn flour, whisk to combine and thicken. Add lemon juice and zest and cook for 3 minutes. Add in shaved zucchini and parsley and toss to coat.

4. Return salmon and spaghetti to pan and mix to combine. Season with cracked pepper and serve. 

A perfect food day in ISO.


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A perfect food day in ISO.

As the weeks in ISO start to add up, it is safe to say that the novelty of being at home 24/7 is starting to wear off. It is also likely that the belt or waistband is starting a feel a little tighter after weeks of constant snacking and comfort eating. So if your goal is to optimise your nutritional intake during this time, but also prevent weight gain, here are some suggestions on how you can structure your food day to support both nutrition and weight control. 

7:00-8:00am

Green tea, herbal tea, hot water with lemon

Hydration should be the first thing on our mind when we wake, and while many of us seek out coffee ASAP, a better option to reach for a herbal or green tea which will help to hydrate you, along with an antioxidant boost, and green or matcha tea will also give you a number of metabolic benefits.

8:00am

Protein rich breakfast

While fasting regimes may see you not eat your first meal until late in the morning, if you exercise early or are hungry aim to enjoy your first meal by 8am at the latest to reap the metabolic benefits associated with eating a meal first thing. A meal with 20-30g of high quality protein plus veges will help to keep you full and satisfied until lunchtime. My top picks are Greek yoghurt with a little cereal, berries and a green juice, eggs with vegetables and a slice of Sourdough or protein toast with eggs or smoked salmon and greens. This is also the best time to enjoy a milk based coffee to fire up your metabolism – just be sure to choose a small or piccolo size to keep your calories controlled.

11:00am-12:00pm

Early Lunch

You are much better to eat an early lunch and avoid snacking throughout the morning than you are to snack on extra calories and then not eat until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. An ideal lunch in ISO will be a hot option – a meal that will actually keep you full until late afternoon so that you are not tempted to snack. Good choices include a stuffed potato with salad or soup, a toasted sandwich with salad or soup, leftovers or frozen meal that clocks in at just 300-400 calories. Finish with a cup of herbal or green tea, and a small sweet treat to mark the end of the meal – a piece of fruit, some yoghurt and berries or even a square or two of dark chocolate. 

3:00-4:00pm

Filling snack

Assigning a time to eat your snacks each day will help to keep your overall food intake on track and portion control and protein are the secrets to success late afternoon when you start to feel munchy. Cheese and crackers, nut spread with fruit or a slice of protein toast with spread are all filling choices. The trick is to then team this with another crunchy, low calorie snack such as vege sticks, apple, berries, passionfruit or popcorn to ensure you are full and satisfied and less likely to continually munch through until dinner time. Finish with a sparkling soda water with lemon or lime to help neutralize your palate and put a stop to sugar cravings. 

6:00pm

Plate of veges or soup

This is the danger time in ISO – the time we reach for cheese, chips, wine and snacks to differentiate work to home time and reward ourselves for another long day. A simple swap to a plate of cut up veges with a little dip or a bowl of soup will ensure you get your daily vege serves and take the edge off your hunger so you are less likely to indulge at dinner.

7:00pm

Light dinner

One of the easiest ways you can prevent weight gain in ISO is to keep your evening meal calorie controlled or between 300-400 calories. This is easily achieved when you know your low cal dinner meals – white fish and veges, soup, roasted vege salads, prawns and zucchini pasta or a small frozen meal. Sticking to this guide will then allow you to indulge with a little wine or dessert minus weight gain over time that will result if you follow a big meal at night with extra treats while you watch TV. 

8:00pm

Last eats

Whether you finish the day will a cup of tea, a little wine or chocolate, having a set meal cut of time will help to control your daily food intake and give you a minimum of 12 hours overnight without food.

Announcing Australian Bananas’ ‘Banana Bread Bake-Off’ – In search of the ultimate banana bread


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

Announcing Australian Bananas’ ‘Banana Bread Bake-Off’ – In search of the ultimate banana bread

Banana bread is the current ISO baking craze and as we move towards celebrating National Banana Day (May 1), Australian Bananas is encouraging Aussies to come together over the nation’s favourite baked good by entering their competition to find the ‘Ultimate Banana Bread’.

National Banana Day is an annual event held to celebrate one of Australia’s most popular fruits and to support Aussie growers. Not only are bananas loved across the nation due to their delicious taste, but they are packed full of Vitamin B, dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium and offer the body a rich source of slowly digested energy. They also come in their own carry case, making them the perfect go-to snack on the run.

The versatility of bananas does not stop there, as baking with bananas not only gives you a naturally sweet hit for your favourite biscuits, cakes and muffins, but also offers a soft, creamy texture which makes them the perfect baking ingredient. Even very ripe bananas are perfect for baking as they can add even more sweetness.

Naturally, home baking is a much better option nutritionally than picking up processed sweet biscuits, cakes and snacks. It’s even better when you make your home baking enormously healthier by knowing a few nutrition secrets.

Firstly, where you can, try to seek out a wholegrain base for your baking for example oats, wholemeal flour and wheat bran. These can often be incorporated into the flour-base mix of most sweet bread, cake and muffin recipes, and will add to the nutrient and fibre content of the baking.

Next, maximise the sweetness using natural ingredients as opposed to added sugars. Using overly ripe bananas in a recipe will significantly increase the sweetness of the mix, as will fruit purees or soft dried fruits, such as dates. Contrary to popular opinion, sugars such as honey or rice malt syrup are not necessarily ‘healthier’ than sugar itself. In my own cooking, I try and limit added sugars to ½ cup per recipe (at most) and instead utilise my ripe frozen bananas along with vanilla essence or cinnamon.

When it comes to the type of fat to use in your baking, again you have lots of options. You can indeed use olive oil or a vegetable oil to lower the saturated fat content of your baking. 100% nut spreads too will help to bind ingredients, although they can be a little dry when used on their own. My personal preference is to use butter in baking, but I keep the total amount low, with 50-70g being the maximum I would use for an entire cake or banana bread. My other key trick is to utilise dairy – natural yoghurt or milk both work exceptionally well in keeping a mixture moist, adding key nutrients such as protein and calcium, with minimal extra fat.

Finally, I always look for ways to boost the nutritional profile of my baking by adding nutrient-rich extras such as berries, nuts and seeds. Not only does this help to create a range of taste sensations but adds extra good fat and fibre to your healthy baking.

In order to help celebrate National Banana Day while we are all baking at home in ISO, we want to see your banana bread creations to find one lucky winner who will be crowned with producing the ‘Ultimate Banana Bread’. The competition is open to all different varieties of banana bread so there’s no excuse not to take part!

To enter, head to the Australian Bananas Facebook or Instagram page and upload an image of your banana bread creation, along with a 25-word description. All posts should tag #NationalBananaDay2020 to be entered into the running to win the title and an Australian Bananas prize pack, with the winner announced on May 8.

My favourite Banana Bread

Screen Shot 2020-04-24 at 10.48.47 amvegetarian | dairy-free | nut-free | egg-free

Serves 12 – per serve: 120 cals | 2g fat | 2g protein | 22g carbs | 2g fibre

Ingredients

1/2 cup dates, chopped

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 small ripe bananas, mashed

1 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. bicarbonate soda

1 cup water, boiling1 cup self raising flour

Preparation Method:

1. Heat oven to 170°C.

2. Combine dates, sugar, banana, butter, bicarb and water. The mixture will be quite runny.

3. Add flour and cook for 35-45 mins until cooked through, allowing that it is quite a dense recipe.

4. Allow bread to cool then serve.

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

How to take control of your eating.


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How to stop eating after one Tim Tam!

The diet industry is worth millions of dollars but few programs address the biggest issue when it comes to weight control – the ability to say no. 

The ability to self-regulate our calorie intake is critical for weight control. If we could all simply eat when we were hungry and stop when we were full, few of us would be overweight. And at this time in particular as we are stuck indoors for long periods of time with easy access to the cupboard and fridge, is it any wonder many of us are struggling? And while some people are naturally good at it, the reality is that self control is also one of the most poorly rated of all human strengths.

So if you know that you are one of the many who cannot stop at one or two Tim Tams, or cannot keep any tempting foods in the house for fear of demolishing the lot, here are some ways you can work towards building your own self-regulation skills while in ISO.

1. Stop eating before you are stuffed

Forget eating until your belt buckle is about to burst, aim to follow the Japanese mantra ‘hara hachi bu’, or learn to eat until we are just 80% full. Admittedly this is easier said than done when lashings of food are on offer but actively cutting back and stopping eating a mouthful or two from fullness will significantly cut your kilojoule intake over time.

2. Practice not eating everything

Self-regulation is a skill that can be built; this means that even though you think that you will eat an entire packet of chocolate biscuits, you can teach yourself not too. Enter the Tim Tam challenge, where you actively purchase foods that tempt you and challenge yourself not to eat them all. It may take time but taking the focus away from foods you psychologically restrict and giving yourself permission to enjoy them, only when you really feel like them is an empowering step to take towards self-managing your intake. 

3. Eat mindfully

Overeating often occurs when we are not conscious of what is going into our mouths – the kid’s leftovers; or pre dinner crackers and dip and the work snacks that pack in the extra kilojoules without us even noticing. Make a concerted effort to only eat when you are sitting down, at a meal time and only focused on eating is a key aspect of learning to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full.

4. Eat when you are really hungry

This may sound like common sense but the truth is that many of us eat out of habit or routine rather than real hunger. And, we are often eating so frequently we never really feel hungry. Start by rating your hunger out of 10 and trying not to eat until you are 8 or higher on the hunger scale. Chances are at least one snack a day will be eliminated this way. 

5. Eat only when you really feel like it

Many of us eat the foods that are offered to us as opposed to taking time to really consider what we feel like eating. Once we become a little more discerning with our food choices, calorie control will naturally follow. So next time you are wanting something to eat, or seem to be craving something…..take time out to really consider what you feel like – cheese or nuts; fruit chocolate or dark; ice-cream or a biscuit is a key skill in becoming attune to your appetite and self-regulating your intake based on foods you only really feel like eating. 

How to improve your nutrition while in isolation.


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How to improve your nutrition while in ISO

With many of us now in the third week of lock down, the novelty of being able to sleep in a little later and not have to battle the usual traffic to get to work has almost worn off and we are starting to get a little irritated with the current state of affairs. So if extra chocolate or wine has been getting you through, here are some of the more powerful ways you can actually improve your health and well-being in iso through strategies that will long outlast this period in our lives.

1. Commit to a major kitchen clean out

The truth be known, many of us have enough food in the fridge and pantry to last weeks, if not months.

This time we have been given represents a major opportunity to get stuff done. Stuff that has needed doing for some time such as cleaning out the fridge and pantry, and getting it organised in a way that makes healthy eating easy is a fulfilling and hugely beneficial activity when it comes to our health.

A good clean out will force you to take stock (pardon the pun) of what you have, what new recipes you can prepare using these ingredients and is a chance to really re-organise to you have yourself an Insta worthy fridge and pantry at the end of it. Not only will this inspire you to take joy in food prep again, but it will give you a big job to do over several days. 

2. Spend some time thinking about what’s really important to you

In busy lives we rush from one thing to another, scan the feeds of influencers we don’t know for health and fitness advice and constantly claim to want to lose weight and get fit, rarely actually achieving anything at all, other that wasting a whole lot of time and energy.

Now we have a lot more time, it is an opportune moment to dedicate some time to really considering what your current life entails and what changes you need to make to reach the goals you have for yourself. It is also a perfect time to rid yourself of the noise on social that is not helping you and a good indicator of this is if you do not feel great after seeing or reading something online and instead seek out the people and advice that will actually help to move you forward. 

3. Build a new food plan

Whether you already have a food plan, or know you need more structure with your food to help you be at your best, this is the perfect time to add some new meals to your repertoire, build or get a food plan from a dietitian online and work on cementing some new food habits that will help you to get to where you really want to be. 

4. Get in touch with your hunger again

When was the last time that you felt really, really hungry?

Chances are you can’t remember because the reality is that very few of us eat because we are hungry. Rather we eat because we are bored, other people are eating or something tempting is on offer. And this is the reason so any of us are gaining small amounts of weight over time, we eat when we are not hungry.

So with some extra time, it gives us an opportunity to concentrate on our feelings of hunger, rate them and then only eat when we are really, really hungry. You will be surprised how much better food tastes when you eat when you are genuinely hungry. 

5. Make healthy eating fun

Human beings get bored easily, and this is one the key reasons that diets do not work, we get bored of the same old meals and snacks. So in an attempt to spice things up, if you find yourself with a few hours to kill and cannot bear to look at another jigsaw, take the time to build yourself a new scrapbook – real or virtual of new, tasty and healthy recipes to prepare and try. When we get excited about our food intake, eating well becomes a whole lot easier. 

My top ideas for a more nutritious Easter, whilst still being delicious!


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Celebrating Easter with nutritious meals packed with super nutrients.

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal Salmon.

After the rather intense past few weeks’ chances are you like me are counting down until the Easter break arrives. Although many of us will be socially isolated during this time, many of us will still be lucky enough to enjoy Easter celebrations with our immediate family. And special family meals should be savoured and celebrated. It is not about diets or deprivation, rather enjoying good quality food and special treats while creating precious memories for both young and old (er).

With an abundance of good quality fresh food available to us, it is also a time to indulge the senses with beautiful homemade dishes rich in flavour and nutrition. So if you are in need of a little food inspiration this Easter, here are some ideas on ways you too can serve your family some delicious and nutritious Easter dishes. 

Breakfast

Whether it is a lazy breakie on Good Friday or a more elaborate affair come Easter Sunday, there is something particularly appealing about long lazy April brunches and there are plenty of nutritious additions that will translate your breakfast spread into a café style affair.

Eggs along with a good quality Sourdough or homemade loaf are the obvious options, but don’t forget other nutrient rich additions like Tassal Smoked Tassie Salmon with a hint of lemon or Tassal Smoked Salmon Bacon to give your breakfast spread an omega 3 hit. With your entire daily requirement of omega 3 fats in a single serve, along with more than 20g of good quality protein, adding salmon to your Easter breakfast makes perfect sense from a taste and nutrition perspective.

My Good Friday breakie this year will be Tassal Smoked Salmon Bacon and Egg Wraps, and I have my eye on the Sweet Potato Fritters with Smoked Salmon (recipe below) for Easter Sunday. 

Platters for entertaining

Is there anything better than a platter that is filled with brightly coloured, fresh, delicious foods when you are celebrating or entertaining?

While platters filled with dips, cheese and high fat snacks are not overly good for us, especially when we munch and nibble over many hours, if you instead focus your platters around low calorie snacks and nutrient rich high protein foods, you will strike a perfect balance.

So to build a healthy platter start by loading it with plenty of fresh veges – think carrot, celery and capsicum along with wholegrain crackers and low calorie dips such as tzatziki. Then don’t forget your healthy crunchy snacks such as popcorn, roasted chic peas and broad beans and edamame. Finally you need some protein – Tassal Hot Smoked Tassie Salmon, oysters, prawns or marinated tofu all work well here.

Easter Lunch

Whether you sit down to a hearty meal on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, the options of endless when it comes to giving your Easter celebratory meal a nutrient boost. Seafood is the go to for many and you will not go wrong with a salmon roast, fresh prawns and oysters or a baked option.

This year I will be making a delicious salmon pie for my family for Sunday lunch. Loaded with fresh seafood, tasty leeks and a creamy sauce, you can choose to top a fish pie with pastry or a healthier option is to swap this for a pumpkin /potato mash with a sprinkle of cheese. Not only is a fish pie scrumptious, but it is a another chance to load you Easter meal with extra veges and omega 3 rich fish as you celebrate the good things in life with those closest to you.  Look out for my Salmon Pie recipe which I will post early next week. 

Recipe: Sweet Potato & Carrot Fritters w/ Smoked Salmon

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Serves 1

Ingredients

1 small sweet potato (150g), grated

70g Tassal Smoked Tassie Salmon

1 carrot, grated

3 tbsp. flour or almond meal

1 egg 

1 tsp. parsley

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup kale

Method

1. Combine sweet potato, carrot, almond meal, egg, cumin, parsley, salt and pepper together and mix well.

2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat and drop tablespoonfuls of mixture into pan to cook. Cook for approximately 3 minutes each side, or until golden.

3. When fritters are cooked, add kale to pan to warm and wilt slightly. Top fritters with kale and smoked salmon.

Take control of mindless eating.


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With many of us working from home and the fridge within easily reach, it seems like a great time to talk about how we can take control of mindless eating.

Ever since the term “mindless eating” was coined by eating behaviour researcher Brian Wansink there has been more attention paid to not only what we eat but the way we do it. It seems that busy lifestyles have given way to busy eating and unfortunately busy eating often means eating too much, too often. 

Mindless eating refers to the type of eating that occurs when we are not really paying attention.

A handful of jelly beans from the office lolly jar, a couple of bites of the kids leftovers, the pre dinner snack of cheese and crackers while you chop the vegetables. Extra food, extra calories that we not only do not need, but that we also fail to compensate for.

It seems that when we are not paying 100% attention to what we are putting in our mouths, we are not only more likely to eat far more than we need but we do not register that we have eaten it, so fail to eat less at our next meal to compensate. Although such a behavioural matrix is complicated, and influenced by many factors, basically it means that simply being more mindful about the way we eat is crucial to avoid extra calories slipping into our day, which will end up being extra weight long term. 

Mindless eating is more likely to occur when you are distracted – eating while simultaneously doing something else. 

Eating when driving, eating when watching TV, getting dinner ready, eating when you are not really hungry. Eating mindlessly can easily become a habit that develops when we naturally link a certain situation to eating – always grabbing a chocolate bar when filling the car with petrol, nibbling while watching TV late at night or saying yes to coffee and cake when you are out meeting friends. 

The first step towards gaining control of your mindless eating habits is to keep a record of the times when food is entering your mouth and then simply asking yourself; “Am I hungry or is eating that food, at that time just a bad habit?” Once you are more aware when you are eating out of habit, the easier it will be to stop yourself.

The second step in controlling mindless eating is to make sure you control the amount of food stimulus you have around you. Studies have repeatedly shown that basically we eat when food is in front of us. You are not weak, or a pig, you are just human and basically we are taught from a very early age that if food is in front of us, we should eat it. So, now that you know this, it is time to rid your home, office and social environment of as much visible food stimulus as you can. It is time to clear the desk and bench of lollies and snacks, the office kitchen of the visible biscuit jar and the car of hidden snacks. Not having food in front of you all the time means that you are less likely to think about it outside of meal times, and start to relate your feelings of hunger to food rather than simply because it is in front of you.

Finally, eating mindfully requires you to concentrate on eating and eating alone when you are supposed to be doing it. This means concentrating fully when you are enjoying a meal or snack, savouring each mouthful and chewing it properly. Focusing solely on the eating experience not only means that you are likely to enjoy your meal more but as you are more aware of how much you have actually eaten, over time you are in a better position to regulate your energy intake appropriately.

Managing your late night munchies.


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Managing the late night munchies.

Long days and nights spent indoors at the moment can mean plenty of late night lounge snacking. The issue with this is that eating too much late at night will predispose us to weight gain over time. So if you do find yourself looking for snacks come 9 or 10pm, here are some of the better options.

The trick when it comes to late night snacking is to keep well clear of the sugary, high fat treats such as ice cream, biscuits and lollies which will do nothing to enhance your sleep later on. Chocolate too is a no, no as the caffeine content of chocolate, especially dark chocolate will most likely keep you awake and alert for another few hours. Rather we are looking for calorie controlled options that contain a mix of good quality carbs to help curb your hunger, and a little protein or fibre to boost the snacks nutrient value. 

Cheese and wholegrain crackers

The carbohydrates found in the wholegrain crackers will help to satisfy your hunger, while the protein and in particular the amino acid tryptophan found in cheese will help to relax you and help induce sleep. 

Fruit and nuts

High water fruits including melon and berries are a good choice late at night as they contain relatively few calories and teamed with a small handful (20) of mixed nuts creates a perfect carb, protein snack balance.

Nut Spread with an apple or celery

There are a wide range of 100% nut spreads available in supermarkets now that team beautifully with some chopped celery or cut up apple slices. 

Corn Crackers and cottage or goats cheese

If you like cottage cheese it is a low calorie, high protein option while goats cheese contains just 18% fat compared to regular cheeses and both work well with some wholegrain corn crackers (that taste like popcorn) and a few slices of cucumber or tomato.

Frozen banana dipped in yoghurt

Once you have enjoyed a frozen banana you will never need to seek out high fat ice-cream to satisfy your cravings again. A frozen banana, for just 100 calories tastes like a delicious banana ice-cream and if you wanted to be particularly adventurous you could also dip it in Greek yoghurt and nuts and then freeze it for an extra delicious snack. 

Greek yoghurt and berries

Plain Greek yoghurt unlike many fruit yoghurts is extremely high in protein and also relatively low in sugar. To make it a little tastier all you need to do is add some fresh berries along with some cinnamon or vanilla essence and you have a sweet tasty snack with minimal calories.

Avocado on toast

Unlike a number of toast toppings avocado offers the benefit of not adding any sugar to a snack and a thin spread on a small slice of Sourdough or grain toast is a filling, portion controlled snack.

Turkey on Mountain Bread

As an alternative to a late night sandwich, some tryptophan rich turkey breast served on a thin wrap such as a Mountain bread will satisfy your craving for carbs minus the calories.

Popcorn

2 cups of plain popcorn contains just 55 calories, 2g of protein and 2g of fibre – the key is to avoid adding any extra butter.

Pumpkin seeds

It may sound like a rather odd snack recommendation but not only are pumpkin seeds incredibly rich sources of protein, zinc and essential fats, but the fact they take a while to shell will slow down your eating. If you stick to 1/3 cup you will not go around with this nutrient rich snack. 

Making healthy breakfasts at home.


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Making healthy breakfasts at home.

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

With the recent changes to day to day life, for those of us who would usually pick up brekkie on the way to work, routines have been altered significantly, with our daily muffin and coffee swapped to at home options.

The good news is that when we do pick up our breakfast on the run, we miss out on a number of key nutrients a well-balanced brekkie should have. So, if you are finding yourself suddenly making your own breakfast each morning here are some of the reasons that eating brekkie at home is a much better option and some easy ways you can maximise your nutrition. 

1. You will get more fibre

Breakfast foods are one the key sources of dietary and B-group vitamins in the diet. Wholegrain breads, breakfast cereals and fresh fruits such as bananas and berries are all high-fibre, nutrient rich foods which are rarely served as the default on breakfast menus. For example, a breakfast of high-fibre cereal served with fresh banana will offer up to 10g of dietary fibre, or 1/3 of an adult’s recommended intake. On the other hand, a serve of Turkish toast and avo amounts to just 2-3g of dietary fibre.

An adequate intake of dietary fibre is essential for a healthy gut, and the more we learn about the gut the more we understand the key role it plays in keeping the immune system working optimally. So basically, when you eat breakfast at home you go a long way in supporting your overall health and well-being.

2. You can target fresh foods

To ensure we get plenty of key vitamins and minerals we need to commit to eating fresh, natural whole foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

When we purchase foods away from home, rarely do the meals or snacks contain significant volumes of fresh fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, preparing your breakfast cereal, toast, eggs or smoothies at home means you can easily add in extra fresh food to boost your overall nutrient intake. Think chopped banana or berries on your cereal, fresh vegetables with your eggs and a range of toppings for your toast such as peanut butter and banana, tomato and Vegemite or avocado and banana smash on protein bread.

3. You will save on calories

On average, meals we pick up on the go contain double the calories of a meal we prepare for ourselves at home. For example, a standard serve of sourdough with avocado will clock in at 400-500 calories compared to toast with a topping, prepared at home, which equates to just 300 calories. Alternatively, enjoying an Acai bowl at a café can rack up between 600-800 calories, whereas oats and a banana at home consists of just 300-350 calories.

Taking this into account, when we get back to basics with our serving sizes and add much more fresh food into our breakfast choices, we literally save hundreds of calories each day.

4. You will be kept fuller for longer

One of the key aspects of a quick breakfast on the run is that they are generally made with foods that are not overly filling. Wraps, pastries, muffins and white breads are digested relatively quickly leaving you unsatisfied and looking for extra snacks come 11am.

On the other hand, protein and fibre-rich breakfast options such as eggs on wholegrain toast, oats with fresh banana, smoothies packed with fruit and yoghurt or protein toast are all fibre and protein-rich breakfast options that will keep you full and satisfied until lunchtime.

5. You will save a lot of money

Whilst eating out may be considered an ‘easier’ option, eating breakfast at home can save you money in the long run. With breakfast orders often amounting to as much as $10-$15 per serve, it is easy to see why eating at home is not only good for the waistline but also for the bank balance. Compare that to a serve of toast and fruit costing less than $2, a bowl of cereal less than $1, and a smoothie $2-$3 – the easier option isn’t always the best option!

Recipe: Banana Breakfast Loaf

Serves 10

Ingredients

1 cup self-raising flour

1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 cups grated zucchini

50g butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup milk

Method

1. Combine sifted flours with dry ingredients. Add mashed banana and grated zucchini.

2. Mix melted butter, beaten egg & milk.

3. Bake at 180deg for 50-60min.

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

How your nutrition can help with fighting the flu.


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Flu fighters

With current conversations completely focused on colds and flu and what we can do to help avoid them. Indeed the term ‘survival of the fittest’ can take on a whole new meaning once the temperature drops, as those susceptible to bugs and flu’s drop like flies. So, why is it that some people get sick and some do not? Is it as simple as eating some different types of food, or not getting caught out in the cold without a jumper? When it comes to keeping the common cold and flu symptoms at bay, eating nutrient rich food is of crucial importance. Then there is also the numerous herbal remedies and supplements that claim to hold the power to fend off all the Winter nasties – so what actually works?

What you eat

The immune system, like the other major systems in the body is complex. For optimal functioning in which the body naturally fights off infection, flus and bugs, it is not a matter of eating one or two specific types of food but rather making sure that you eat a number of nutrient dense foods on a daily basis to ensure that the key nutrients are available for the immune response to work optimally. It is the body’s inability to generate bug-fighting cells, from an insufficiency of energy or key nutrients that hampers this process. This can result from both a poor diet lacking key nutrients such as Vitamin C, A and E, zinc, iron and essential fats and/or a diet that is particularly low in energy; such is the case when kilojoule intake is low. For this reason, avoiding diets that are especially restrictive, while focusing your diet around key foods which offer these nutrients in high volumes is the first step towards taking control of your immune health this Winter. Key foods including lean red meat, brightly coloured fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, grains, seeds and nuts in particular may offer specific benefits thanks to their high nutrient contents. 

A common mistake people make with their diets that results in a poorly functioning immune system is eating very well some of the time, while letting it go others times. This is the reason that people often get sick not long after they change their diets; go partying for a few days, over exercise or when they lose weight. It is during these times that you are not eating the range of foods needed to give the body all of the key nutrients it needs to repair and regenerate damaged cells in the body. Of course you still have to have a life during Winter but simply being aware of the heightened nutrient needs of the body during these busy, potentially stressful times and focusing on including key nutrient rich foods in your diet most of the time will help to prevent this immune depleted state. 

Winter Superfoods

Beetroot – packed with antioxidants, the powerful molecules which help to fight against free radicals, the molecules which cause damage and aging within the cell

Lean red meat – rich source of iron and zinc

Kiwi fruit – rich source of Vitamin C

Berries – packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants

Kale – antioxidant and Vitamin C rich

Chicken soup – if made with bones may increase immune function

Green tea – antioxidant rich source of hydration

Broccoli – another vegetable choice packed with antioxidants

Seaweed – a natural source of iodine, the nutrient which helps the thyroid to function optimally

Chilli – slightly increases metabolic rate and can help to clear airways

Watch your fluids

Dehydration is one of the most common reasons we can feel tired, run down and lethargic and when it comes to dealing with colds and flus and dehydration means that bugs are more likely to stick around and continue to make you feel sick. Congestion, runny noses along with a reduced fluid intake of fluid can make headaches and fevers worse, prolonging the effects of a cold. Even if you do not feel like it, if you are suffering from any cold like symptoms, or feel as if you are about to ‘come down’ with something you need to increase your intake of fluids.

While adults require at least 1.5-2 litres of fluid each day, if you have been hit with a bug increase this to 2-3 litres of fluid a day. Vitamin C rich fruit and vegetable juices and herbal tea along with plain water are all good choices. If you do choose to juice to get a concentrated hit of nutrition, do not forget the nutritional benefits of juicing vegetables. Not only are vegetables including carrots, beetroot and celery packed full of vitamins and minerals but they also contain far less sugar than fruits. And don’t forget your skins – the skins of fruits and veges contain high concentrations of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

Proven remedies

Now eating well and increasing your intake of fluid can be considered pretty standard treatments to help the body fight infection but what about the myriad of supplements and herbal remedies out there? As research findings grow, there are more and more proven natural remedies out there which are definitely worth a try. 

Probiotics

A link between probiotics, the natural bacteria found in the small intestine and immune health has been known for some time and research published in The University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey found probiotics helped reduce the duration of a cold as well as the severity of symptoms. Probiotics can be found in some yoghurts and fermented drinks as well as in supplement form from the chemist. 

Garlic

Garlic has been used to treat bacteria, high blood pressure and infection for thousands of years and it is believed that the organosulfides (naturally occurring chemicals found in garlic and onions), along with Vitamin D help to stimulate the production of the immune cells, macrophages. Garlic can be taken as capsules or raw and get some sunlight each day if you can to enhance its potential benefits.

Chicken soup

Chicken soup has been a favourite remedy for colds, flus, coughs and colds for hundreds of years, with many families owning a traditional soup recipe passed through the generations. And it seems that our elders had it right as there is evidence to show that chicken soup with broth made using actual chicken bones may improve immune function. Research published in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that a molecule found in chicken soup, carnosine, helped the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu by inhibiting the migration of infected cells around the body. 

Echinacea

One the most commonly recommended herbal remedies for colds and flu, the antiviral and antibacterial herb that originates from America actually has strong research that supports its use for reducing the likeliness and duration of the common cold. The recommended dose is currently 3g per day. 

Olive leaf extract

Olive leaf extract boasts both natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits and contains double the antioxidant content than that of green tea. While research supporting its use as a specific flu fighter is only in early cellular stages, it remains a powerful antioxidant supplement.

Medicinal mushrooms

This one may surprise you but Chinese and Japanese healers have used the powers of mushrooms for centuries to treat numerous ailments. With shiitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms most frequently referred to, cooked varieties of these mushrooms are known to increase immune system activity.

Why we should all be eating salmon skin.


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal Salmon.

Why we should all be eating the salmon skin.

If you think about the nutritional benefits of salmon, chances are that omega 3’s would quickly come to mind. The long chain, powerful anti-inflammatory fats found in very few foods in as high amounts as found in deep sea cold fish including salmon, sardines and mackerel. In fact, salmon is such a rich source of these special nutrients that a single serve of fresh salmon each day will give you your entire daily recommended intake of omega 3’s. But one thing that many of us do not consider when cooking our favourite salmon recipe is that many of us are throwing away one of the richest sources of omega 3 fats – the skin.

The primary reason that deep sea cold fish including salmon are such rich sources of omega 3 fats is that a higher amount of fat helps the fish to keep warm in cool waters. This is also the reason that the grey layer of flesh that sits right under the salmon skin, along with the skin contains roughly 1/3 of the total amount of omega 3 fat found in the fish, it is basically insulation. Unlike animal flesh and its skin which is high in saturated fat, eating the omega 3 rich salmon skin will increase your overall intake of long chain fats per serve to up to 3g, or 3x what is suggested as a minimum daily intake of these powerful fats. A high daily intake of omega 3 fats is associated with lower levels of inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure, reduced triglycerides as well as great skin and hair. 

One of the barriers to ensuring you reap the extra benefits that come from also enjoying the skin of your fresh Tassal salmon can be knowing how to cook it so that it tastes delicious. While grilling can instantly crisp up your salmon skin, it can dry out the fish so another option is to instead sear the salmon with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and cook it in a pan on relatively high heat – here the skin becomes crisp very quickly and you are only adding in good quality monounsaturated fats to your food. As omega 3 fat is reasonably stable under high temperatures there is no worry about destroying its nutrition when it is cooked. Another option is to actually remove the skin from the salmon and cook it separately with olive oil to create small pieces of salmon skin crunchy chips that can be enjoyed with your fish or as a crunchy topping to salads or vegetable sides. A sprinkle of salt too goes a long way in giving the rich salmon skin plenty of flavour. 

In busy lives we are often on the lookout for quick and easy solutions to fix or nutrition – supplements, powders or formulated superfoods to give us the extra dose of nutrition we think we need. This is one of the reasons that fish oil supplements are so common – here we can get a hit of omega 3 fats minus the time and effort of cooking up salmon 2-3 times each week. What we do need to know though is that you can never replace the synergistic nutritional benefits that come from eating whole foods. This is definitely the case with fresh Tassal salmon found at Woolworths, not only do you get the range of different nutrients salmon offers, but in the case of keeping our natural omega 3 intake as high as possible, you get a huge amount when you choose salmon that still has its skin and enjoy it whole. 

Recipe: Crispy Baked Salmon with Dukkah Spinach Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 x Tassal salmon fillets, skin on

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. parsley

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 cup cooked quinoa

4 cups baby spinach

1 cup radishes, sliced

1 tsp. Dukkah

1 tsp. tahini

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°C degrees.

2. Rub salmon including skin with oil, salt, pepper, lemon and parsley.

3. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes and turn over and cook for another 5-7 minutes until cooked through.

4. Assemble spinach, quinoa, radish and salmon onto a plate and season with lemon juice, Dukkah and drizzle with tahini.