Healthy lunches


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How to boost the nutrition in your lunch

We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – that it sets us up for a day of heathy eating; provides essential nutrients including fibre, vitamins and minerals and supports weight control. As we have this discussion though, let’s not forget about how important lunch is. The common scenario which now sees busy workers, mums and students eating their ‘lunchtime’ meal at 2 or 3pm in the afternoon; and choosing ‘lunch’ options such as sushi, wraps, rolls and stir fries which are packed full of carbs not only plays havoc with our hormonal balance and cravings but it also sees us consuming a significant number of calories in the second half of the day, when we are least active.

Lunch holds the key to nutritional balance – a lunch too low in carbohydrates, such as a tuna salad can leave you vulnerable to sugar cravings later in the day, while a lunch such as white rice sushi or a Turkish bread sandwich can overload you on fuel and refined carbs, making it difficult to lose weight. Achieving the right lunch balance to support weight control and energy regulation is relatively easy once you know the mix to aim for. To get the amount of vegetable bulk we need to keep full for another 3-4 hours we need at least 2-3 cups of salad and / or vegetables at lunch. Next a decent serve of protein such as canned salmon, lean chicken breast or beef or beans or tofu if you prefer a vegetarian eating plan. The amount of carbohydrate you will need will depend on your level of activity. If you sit down all day for work, just ½ -3/4 cup sweet potato, beans or brown rice or a slice of bread or a few crackers will be adequate, more active workers may require 1-2 cups. Finally do not forget the good fat – olive oil dressing, nuts or avocado will help to slow your digestion after lunch and keep you full. In fact, a recent study published in Nutrition Journal found that individuals who included ½ an avocado with their lunch felt more satisfied and had lower blood glucose levels than dieters who did not.

A few quick and easy nutrient rich lunch options

Smoked salmon wrap

Serves 1

Ingredients

Wholegrain wrap

50g smoked salmon

1 tbsp. Light cream cheese

Rocket to serve

Method

1. Top wrap with a little cream cheese salmon and rocket and serve.

Stuffed avocado

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 medium avocado, halved, seed removed

105g can red salmon

1 tbsp., mayonnaise

1 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce

130g can tinned corn

Method

1. Mix mashed salmon with corn, mayo and sweet chilli. Spoon mix into avocado and serve.

Stuffed potato

Serves 1

Ingredients

Jacket potato

95g tin of salmon

1 tbsp. cottage cheese

1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce

1 small tomato, chopped

½ red capsicum, chopped

1 tbsp. grated cheese

Method

1. Cook potato in microwave.

2. Mix cottage cheese and salmon with sweet chilli sauce.

3. Topped cooked potato with salmon, tomato, capsicum and a sprinkle of grated cheese. 

5 tools for a healthy kitchen


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This is a sponsored post.

A healthy home starts with a healthy kitchen – it is the place we prepare the food to nurture our bodies; where families come together each day as we come and go from the home and the heart of the home. When it comes to our health and nutrition, what is stocked in the kitchen, as well as the tools and appliances we have on hand also play a powerful role in shaping what we eat and drink each and every day. Here are the top tools of my kitchen that ensure my family’s health is a number one focus.

1. A fab blender or processor

Your preference may be a Vitamix, Thermomix or a simple food processor but having an appliance that is easy to access and even more importantly easy to use will mean you can make smoothies, protein balls, soups and vege mashes (if you have little ones like me) a whole lot easier. One of the biggest barriers with this type of appliance is how difficult it is to assemble and / or clean. For this reason I prefer a smaller option and my current fav is the Philips Avent Steamer and Blender which I use to make all the twins vegetables as well as soup and protein balls for the family.

2. Fresh food on display

When food is within easy reach, and in view we eat more of it and for this reason keeping a supply of fresh fruit on the bench, or chopped vegetables on the top shelves of the fridge so you see it as soon as you open the door is an easy way to increase fresh food consumption in your own home. For this reason a great fruit bowl and some air tight containers are other essentials to store your fresh produce.

3. A spiralizer

A kitchen item you would not have seen a few years back, and once you have one you will not look back. Not only does a spiralizer make vegetable preparation a whole lot easier, but you will eat more vegetables simply because you can incorporate them into so many more dishes. Think pumpkin, zucchini, carrots, potato – all which can be used to replace processed carbohydrates in the diet whilst bumping up your intake of nutrient rich vegetables. And the kids will even enjoy using it.

4. The right plates, glasses and bowls

The larger you cups, glasses, plates and bowls, the larger the serving size of food you will eat. For this reason, small wine glasses, a range of different sized plates and bowls and short fat glasses as opposed to tall skinny ones will help you to control your portions on a daily basis.

5. A Zip HydroTap

Having a ready supply of boiling, chilled and sparking water not only means that the entire family drinks more water on a daily basis but we completely eliminate the need to have bottled water and soft drink in the house. It also makes it so much easier to make a cup of herbal tea; prepare the bottles for the baby’s and prepare dishes such as soups and baked goods for which you need to add filtered water of different temperatures. Out of all my appliances I use my Zip HydroTap constantly throughout the day and really miss it when I am away and do not have a ready supply of filtered drinking water and boiling water on hand at any time.

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

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

Which bread should you choose? A bread review.


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You may buy high fibre white for the family, mixed grain for you and then a treat of some good quality (but pricey) Sourdough on weekends. There is an ever growing range of bread and wraps in bakeries and supermarkets so which are the best and not so good choices nutritionally?

Bread has been a dietary staple for thousands of years, and the more advanced technology has become, so too the more processed our bread, resulting in the soft, almost sticky common white loaf many families base a number of meals around each day. Bread, white or otherwise is a rich source of B group vitamins which are crucial for energy production, and hence bread remains a major contributor to energy and the running of energy systems in the body. Less processed varieties of bread also offer a range of other nutrients including dietary fibre, Vitamin E, zinc; iron and long chain unsaturated fats, which is generally why loaves of grain based bread contain more fat than white bread.

Apart from the distinct nutrient differences between white and grain based breads, the other major and most significant difference from a health perspective is the difference in glycaemic index between breads. As white, wholemeal and flat breads have all had the grains ground down in their processing, they have a relatively high GI compared to wholegrain bread, meaning that they release glucose into the bloodstream much more quickly than wholegrain breads. Over time, this means that choosing processed breads as a dietary staple will be resulting in regular glucose peaks and troughs, and subsequent insulin release. High insulin levels over time are related to weight gain and increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Yes, it is true that athletes, particularly elite level athletes can make good use of high GI foods. During events, long rides or as a recovery snack, there is evidence to show that high GI foods including white bread can be used very effectively to restore muscle glycogen levels more quickly than carbohydrate foods with a lower GI. On the whole though, even athletes are better to base their diets around grain based breads and cereals for the range of other health benefits that they offer.

Generally speaking, the more grains the bread has, the better it will be for you, with soy and linseed loaves a standout due to their high polyunsaturated fat content thanks to the presence of linseeds. Polyunsaturated fats have been shown to have a number of health benefits long term including reducing inflammation in the body. While whole meal bread does contain more dietary fibre than standard white bread, it is still a high GI choice and Turkish is perhaps the worse bread of all, with its mixture of large serving sizes, holes that readily get filled with butter or margarine and large amounts of white flour giving it its high GI and carbohydrate load. Another popular choice, sourdough does have a lower GI than regular white bread, but keep in mind that the serving sizes of sourdough also tend to be large which may be contributing to a kilo joule overload if you are trying to lose body fat.

The average adult will need just 2-4 slices of bread each day and be mindful of the increasing sizes. Some large, thick slices of bread can contain up to double the amount of carbohydrates and are really not necessary for the majority of us who would ultimately like to drop a few extra kilograms.

When I am choosing a bread or wrap I am looking for an option that contains a controlled portion of carbs and plenty of wholegrains and fibre. While the fat content of heavy grain breads are generally higher, this is simply due to the presence of grains which only adds positives nutritionally, so don’t worry about it. This is with the exception of the fat in Turkish bread, which is more likely coming from oil. Based on this my favourites of Burgen Soy Lin, the Helga’s Lower Carb range and Cape Seed from Bakers Delight. I feed my twins a plain wholemeal and generally do not go for plain sourdough as the slices are large and the carb content is much higher than a good quality grain bread. If I do buy sourdough I look for small slices of rye or multigrain sourdough.

Bread Type | kJ/cal | Carbs(g) | Fibre(g) | SodiumFat(g)

Per 2 slices / 1 wrap

Plain white | 615/147 | 27.0 | 1.8 | 273 | 1.2

Wonder White | 718/172 | 29.2 | 6.1 | 296 | 1.9

Helga’s Wholemeal | 830/198 | 34.4 | 5.2 | 332 | 2.1

Helga’s Lower Carb | 798/190 | 19.0 | 5.7 | 280 | 6.5

Helga’s Gluten Free | 757/181 | 31.4 | 2.7 | 312 | 3.9

Tip Tip Multigrain | 660/158 | 28.2 | 3.0 | 240 | 1.8

Tip Top 9 Grain | 822/197 | 24.2 | 6.9 | 292 | 5.1

Burgen Soy Lin | 751/179 | 19.9 | 5.6 | 361 | 4.8

Baker’s Delight Cape Seed | 762/182 | 14.6 | 4.7 | 178 | 8.8

Baker’s Delight Chia | 636/152 | 26.2 | 2.8 | 295 | 2.2

Lawson’s Wholemeal | 997/238 | 35.1 | 10.4 | 467 | 2.5

Turkish – 2 slices | 3375/808 | 111.3 | 6.3 | 1938 | 27.5

Sourdough | 1293/308 | 73 | 4.1 | 614 | 0.3

Mountain | 300/72 | 13.7 | 1.0 | 58 | 0.4

Lebanese | 1149/275 | 53.0 | 3.0 | 451 | 2.1

Helga’s Wrap | 854/204 | 34.7 | 1.9 | 301 | 4.0

Wattle Valley Wrap | 490/117 | 19.1 | 2.3 | 241 | 2.7

Mission Wrap | 880/210 | 32.0 | – | 561 | 5.8

This is an independent review. Nutritionally data was obtained via ‘calorieking’. The author is not aligned to any bread brands at the present time. No fees or sponsorship were received for this post. 

Quark Swedish Style Yoghurt – What is it?


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By Simone Austin (consultant to Rokeby Farms) - http://www.simoneaustin.com/

Quark yoghurt involves a Swedish style fermentation process, at a lower temperature for a longer time, giving a milder flavoured, thicker textured yoghurt. I first ate quark yoghurt when holidaying in Germany and loved it, so was excited to find it on the market in Australia.

The Rokeby Farm’s quark yoghurt uses only fresh milk. It is not pot set, stirred, or strained which are all different ways of making yoghurts. It is cold filtered slowly. The milk is passed through a series of filters to remove some of the water and lactose (sugar naturally present in milk) but not the calcium or protein, to give the thick yoghurt that is then naturally high in protein, low in lactose and high in calcium.

Quark yoghurt has live cultures for both cheese making, (L.Lactis and L.Lactis subsp. Cremoris) and for yoghurt (Bulgaricus, L.Casai and Bifidus). The lactic acid bacteria count which are the type of bacteria you must use by Australian food law to make yoghurt are >22billion cfu/170g pot and importantly are live in the end product. When can not call bacteria in most yoghurts probiotics as there isn’t yet the research to show what health benefit the individual bacterial strains have.

Quark yoghurt in comparison to other yoghurts shines. The protein content is high, 10g per 100g in the natural yoghurt and 8.7g in the strawberry flavoured. The sugar content is 3g per 100g in the natural and 6.1g in the strawberry. The sugar content is very low compared to other brands of flavoured yoghurt, without using artificial sweetener. A small amount of cane sugar is used for sweetening. The table below shows a brand comparison (correct as of April 2017)

Why does the high protein and calcium level matter? Many Australian’s don’t get their recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium.

Females 19-51 years RDI =1000mg

Female 51years + RDI =1300mg

Men 19-69 years RDI = 1000mg and

Men 70+ years RDI = 1300mg.

Rokeby’s quark yoghurt has around half the RDI of calcium for adult Australian’s.

507mg of calcium per tub for the natural Rokeby Farms quark yoghurt

436mg of calcium in the strawberry Rokeby Farms quark yoghurt

Calcium is important for maintenance of strong bones and teeth.

Protein is important for all age groups, particularly the older age group to maintain muscle mass and repair. As we age the amount of protein we need increases as our body becomes less efficient at utilising it. The quark yoghurt packs in the protein with around 17g per tub. It is a great way to get in protein at breakfast or for a snack when protein maybe on the light side. Protein is best utilised by the body if it is spread out throughout the day. For sports people and growing children quark yoghurt is a quick way to boost your protein intake for a snack, pre or post exercise.

For people with diabetes or raised blood glucose levels the high protein and low sugar levels make it a great snack. The protein can also help keep you feeling full for longer.

Try quark:

- with a dollop on your breakfast cereal, on a jacket potato, instead of cream, in soup or a smoothie

- add to baking in muffins or cakes

- spread on your toast or a sandwich, smashed with avocado or in a dip

Enjoy this new product, a different experience particularly for those that may not have liked yoghurt before, give it a go!

Rokeby’s quark yoghurt is available at Woolworths supermarkets nationwide.

Rokeby Farms:

Instagram @RokebyFarms | Facebook @RokebyFarms

Website rokebyfarms.com.au

Eating for optimal energy


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This is a sponsored post.

Who doesn’t want more energy? An increased sense of vitality and ability to do all the things you want to do without feeling fatigued and constantly running on empty. It may come as welcomed relief to hear that while getting more rest and more down time may be the ideal solution, simply getting the right balance of nutrients and mix of foods throughout the day can go a long way in regulating your energy levels. And as an added bonus, the feel good effects are almost instant, leaving you feeling more energised the very same day.

1. Eat regularly

One of the easiest ways to keep on top of your energy levels and food cravings throughout the day is to prioritise regular meals and snacks. Not only will eating every 3- 4 hours ensure optimal blood glucose regulation but it will help to avoid the energy highs and lows that can be associated with periods of both over and undereating. The trick with eating regularly is to ensure that your balanced meals are complimented with nutrient rich snacks that offer both carbs and proteins such as a piece of fruit and nuts, a banana smoothie or some energy balls (recipe below).

2. Choose the right carbs

Poor old carbs cop a constant beating but the truth is we need good quality carbs to fuel the muscles and the brain. The issue with the type of carbs we can eat on the run, including processed white bread, juices, snack bars, biscuits and cakes, is that they are rapidly digested and offer little in the way of protein and fibre to help keep us full. This is as opposed to good quality wholegrain carbs and fresh fruit, which supply the energy the body needs along with plenty of other vitamins and minerals. The question of how much carbohydrates each person needs is highly variable, but in general if you aim to include one carbohydrate rich food at each meal and snack you will be on the right track. For example, add a little sweet potato or quinoa to your lunchtime salad or combine a banana and some nuts for a mid-morning or mid afternoon snack.

3. Focus on nutrient rich foods

Key nutrients including the B-group vitamins, iron, zinc, iodine and magnesium are all directly involved in energy production in the body and as such making sure your daily food choices tick the box for these key nutrients is a key step in ensuring optimal energy levels. For meat eaters this means small serves of lean red meat at least 3 times a week; it means enjoying seafood and shellfish at least a couple of times each week and choosing wholegrain carbohydrates and Vitamin B rich foods such as bananas, vegemite and avocado as regular dietary staples.

4. Hydrate optimally

Dehydration is one of the most common reasons that individuals feel tired and fatigued and if you are not getting through 1L of water in addition to an extra 500-1000ml for every hour of training that you do, you will not be drinking enough. Always carry your water bottle with you and get into the habit of hydrating properly on a daily basis. Alternatively, opt for herbal teas for a refreshing, hydrating, warm alternative to water – peppermint, green and matcha teas are all good choices.

5. Get outside

For many of us, cramming as much as we can into the working day is crucial to get all of our work done, but sitting indoors all day, without any natural light is one of the worst things we can do for our energy systems. Make it a priority to get out into the natural light for at least 20 minutes every day for a much needed Vitamin D and ultimately energising hit of fresh air and sunlight. Or even better, team it with your mid-morning or afternoon tea break so you get the nutrient hit you need at the right time along with some light and fresh air.

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Recipe: Banana Nut Bites

Serves 6 | Servings per serve: 2 balls

Ingredients

• 2 bananas

• 1 cup oats

• 3/4 cup Mayvers 100% nut spread

• Coconut for rolling

Method

1. Blend bananas, oats and nut spread and place in fridge until firm.

2. Roll into balls and into coconut and serve 

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

Things I wish you would stop saying about your food!


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The diet stories we need to stop telling ourselves

The truth be known, nutrition is actually very simple – calories in vs. calories out; protein, carbs and good fats along with plenty of vegetables. What makes it complicated is our negative self-talk; the voices in our head that tells us it is ok to eat an entire block of chocolate; or since we have blown our diet for the day or week we will just start again next week. These are the voices that justify; demean; punish and distract from what we really should be focusing on – good nutrition; good habits; good health; good food. So here are the most negative things you can say to yourself about diets, food and nutrition and the self-talk that may be holding you back from reaching your health and fitness goals.

I have blown it

Blown what exactly? The mindset that tells us there is a ‘perfect’ way to eat and if we have one extra slice of bread or an extra glass of wine we have completely ruined any dietary regime is extreme, unfounded and has no real meaning in the bigger picture of life. Expecting human beings to follow self-developed rules for dietary purism will only lead to one thing – an endless cycle of restriction, overeating and guilt. It is important to understand that there is no ‘perfect’ diet, there are simply good habits that we maintain most of the time. So next time you think you have ‘blown it’, the best thing to do is get back to your regular habits the very next meal or snack and stop thinking so much about it.

I have been bad

The most common confession from diet clients when they return for review appointments, except ‘being bad’ equates to eating chocolate or drinking wine as opposed to shooting someone or hitting someone’s car and not leaving a courtesy note. There is no such thing as ‘being bad’ on a diet – there is eating more than we need to; or enjoying a few glasses of wine too many but as soon as we mentally equate eating too much to a childlike behaviour, we begin a childlike cycle of punishment and reward for eating the certain types of food. Focus on food habits rather than one off eating occasions to develop better food perspective and focus on what you are doing right rather than what you perceive to be doing wrong to move forward with positive diet changes.

I will start my new diet next week

Why would you do that? If you need to improve your dietary habits, there is no time like the present. Regularly postponing and starting over with good eating habits not only means that we lose much time but  in most cases it means we never really get anywhere. Rather Monday and Tuesday become days when we eat well before giving ourselves an excuse not to for the rest of the week. If you are committed to changing your lifestyle for good, just start the very next meal. Small decisions add up and there is no time like the present.

It has been a bad day; I need / deserve this

 The late afternoon chocolate binge after a bad meeting; or the ½ packet of chocolate biscuits in front of the TV after a particularly nasty day sets a pattern of satisfying your emotional needs with high calorie, high fat foods that are easy to overeat. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a sweet treat after dinner or a biscuit or two with a cup of tea if you really feel like it, but giving yourself permission to eat when you are sad, bored, tired, lonely or frustrated can being a lifelong pattern of emotional eating. Practice tending to your emotional needs with sleep, the support of good friends, exercise and rest and leave the food for special occasions and your regular meals and snacks.

I am on a ….no carb / sugar / alcohol / wheat / dairy detox this week

While there are some individuals who need to eliminate certain types of food from their diet, for many, regularly banning certain foods and nutrient groups simply fuels the ‘all or nothing’ diet cycle. While some individuals have the mental strength to constantly restrict their diet, self-regulatory studies have shown that extreme restriction requires significant focus from the brain, which is difficult to maintain when other aspects of life too require focus. This may be one of the reasons that individuals are able to remain extremely strict on certain dietary regimes for short periods of time but when life takes over, things fall off the rails. So rather than feeling the need to completely eliminate whole food types or groups, consider a more moderate approach. A little honey in your yoghurt is not the problem, eating an entire bag of red frogs is.

I shouldn’t be eating this

Once we accept that there will always be foods that we should enjoy occasionally, as opposed to thinking that we should never eat them, we then create the freedom to make our food choices based on what we actually feel like eating, rather than playing a mind game over what theoretically we should or should not be eating. Often we eat what is served or available without even considering if we like, want or feel that particular food. Work towards eating what you like and feel like in controlled portions rather than creating mental rules that distract you from your natural food preferences which can also shift your food intake to one of ongoing mental management rather than a physical and enjoyment driven need

Are there real benefits to intermittent fasting?


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How to fast the right way.

If there is one area of diet and nutrition that also has strong scientific evidence to support its use it is intermittent fasting – the phenomena that sees dieters restrict calories for set periods of time to achieve both weight loss and significant reductions in inflammation in the body. So what is the go with fasting? Are there real benefits from it and if so, what is the right way to do it?

The 5:2 Diet

In recent years the concept of regular fasting has gained significant attention off the back of the work of British scientist Dr Michael Mosely who authored the 5:2 Diet.  The 5:2 Diet incorporates 2 non-consecutive days of very low calorie eating, just 500-600 calories or ¼ of your regular calorie intake, followed by 5 days of regular, normal, non-restrictive eating. Early results from studies investigating this unique dietary approach, said to mimic the ‘feast and famine’ lifestyle of hunter gatherers, are promising. While short term in nature only, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and insulin levels appear all to benefit significantly from regular periods of low calorie eating, as does weight, with advocates reporting safe and sustainable weight loss results from the data currently available.

Fasting options

Since the release of this diet there has been a number of variations to the 5:2 model as diet experts and self-proclaimed gurus attempt to grab a piece of the fasting diet book pie. One such program suggests limiting food consumption to just 8 hours of every day; another to not eat until lunchtime hence supporting a prolonged overnight fast or limiting food consumption to just one meal per day. Each of these variations, depending on compliance potentially offer benefits as research suggests that any prolonged period without eating or eating very few calories for short periods offers anti-inflammatory benefits. The issues of course, as is the case with most diets is compliance, as sometimes cutting back on calories is easier said than done.

The 5:2 approach

In the case of the researched 5:2 approach, it is suggested that females consume just 500 calories on two non-consecutive days each week and makes 600 calories. Ultimately this means that on two days of the week you will not be eating very much. For example, 500-600 calories spread over 2 meals equates to 1 poached egg with 1 cup vegetables, a piccolo coffee in one meal and just 80-100g fish and vegetables or salad in the other. For non-eaters, such as busy businessmen or shift workers, this may not seem that extreme but for the average person, who tends to eat several times a day, such an enormous shift in eating habits may not prove that easy, particularly in social situations. My experience thus far is that followers tend to eat more like 800-1000 calories per day while fasting, as an extra coffee or snack slips in, which unfortunately negates the benefits of the ‘fast’.

The second issue that can present when individuals adopt diets that are restrictive in nature is that psychologically it can prime us to think about food more and more. In this context, the simple act of aggressively restricting calories, especially after a lifetime of being ‘on’ and ‘off’ various diets, triggers the deeply entrenched thoughts that accompany the start of yet another diet. In this instance, the mere notion of being restricted, even for a very short period of time if enough to drive individuals to think about food, or rather the lack of it more and more, makes it almost impossible to maintain long term.

Just limit your eating times

If severe calorie restriction is not for you, another option is to simply limit the number of hours you consume food each day. For example, eating only between 8am and 4pm or 10am and 6pm. In these examples while you are not limiting calories to an extreme level, you are allowing an extended period of time for the body’s hormones to return to baseline levels without constantly being disrupted with numerous feeding occasions. While research examining this exact approach is limited, any regime that limits calorie intake via clear daily structure is likely to support weight loss while avoiding extreme diets and calorie restriction.

Is fasting for you?

A crucial point when considering including a regular fast in your weekly dietary regime is what your energy demands are like. If you sit down in front of a computer for many hours each day, and are not overly interested in food, cutting back for a couple of days is unlikely to cause any major issues. On the other hand, if you are a busy mum with 3 kids and you go to the gym every day, chances are cutting your calories back that much when your energy demands are high may leave you feeling tired, irritable and battling extreme hunger and cravings, even if it is just for a day in total.

Perhaps the key thing to know about fasting is that the published research shows that the overwhelming benefits are related to inflammatory conditions in the body such as blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin levels as opposed to weight loss. This is not to say that you will not lose weight rather weight loss tends to be a secondary outcomes for individual battling inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, insulin resistance and fatty liver.

As is the case with any diet, no matter how positive the results are reported to be, is to make sure it is sustainable, and most importantly doing no damage. So, if you know that your body and metabolism will benefit from such an extreme diet kick start, by all means, give fasting a try. On the other hand, if cutting back your calories so aggressively seems a little too extreme for you, why not just try cutting back a little – drop the snacks, have a smaller portion of dinner and have a salad for lunch. You may be surprised to find that you can also lose a few kilos just be cutting back slightly, every single day.

Prefer to cut down on carbs in your diet? Click here for 5 ways to eat less carbs…the right way!

The one super nutrient you are not getting enough of


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Whenever we talk superfoods we instantly think of kale, berries and quinoa – all nutrient dense foods whose strong nutritional properties that give them the superfood label. Another superfood we frequently talk about is salmon, known for its huge omega 3 content in which a serve of fresh salmon will give an adult their entire daily intake of these powerful good fats. What we talk about less frequently is the importance of having the right types of fats in our diets every day. And chances are, unless you are eating fresh salmon every single day, you are not getting enough of the foods that can help you achieve the right balance of fats in your diet. So here are the steps to achieving the optimal balance of fats in your diet and the foods that will help you to get it.

Fat balance in the body is controlled by a number of complex metabolic pathways. It is for this reason that dietary balance never comes down to just one food or diet but rather the interplay of dietary patterns, nutrient intake and balance as well as our genetic response to different nutrients and dietary patterns. When described in relatively simple terms, there are fats that promote the health of our cells, and fats which are more damaging. As the types of fat we consume on a daily basis will be a mix of the different fats, these fats compete for position in the body, and as such having the right ratio of the different fats is a key predictor of the health of our cells, and our body overall.

In general, Australian’s intake of saturated fats is relatively high thanks to a high intake of dairy, meat and processed and fast foods. A high intake of saturated fat, especially as part of a diet in which excessive calories are consumed is linked to increased inflammation in the body, and fat storage in the body’s cells. On the other hand, good fats which include both monounsaturated fats found primarily in olive oil, peanuts, almonds and avocado and the long chain polyunsaturated fats found in grains, seeds, walnuts and oily fish help to balance out these fats and improve the health of our cells. While our intake of monounsaturated fats is pretty good, thanks to our love affair with olive oil and avocado, few of us get the amount of long chain polyunsaturated fats we need to allow them to get into the cell and do their good work.

The reason for this is that natural, long chain polyunsaturated fats are hard to find, especially if you do not eat or like fish. So for anyone wanting to optimise their health, or for anyone battling autoimmune conditions such as PCOS, insulin resistance, fatty liver, thyroid issues or joint pain, here are the key foods rich in polyunsaturated fats to include in your diet to get the 10-20g of these fats in your diet that will help to balance out your ratios of good and bad fats.

Pumpkin seeds

Also known as pepitas, pumpkin seeds like many seeds offer us a massive dose of these special fats. Just 30g of pepitas offers almost 7g of long chain fats or 1/3 of our daily requirement.

Walnuts

All nuts are good for us but walnuts in particular pack a massive punch when it comes to omega 3 content with just 10-12 walnuts offering more than 14g of long chain fats.

Salmon

It is not for nothing that dietitians regularly cite salmon as one of the favourite superfoods – one of the few naturally occurring sources of the powerful long chain fatty acids EPA and DHA, a 100g serve of salmon will give you at least 4g of these fats. And while plant sources of these fats are still good choices nutritionally, as they will convert to the longer chain EPA and DHA,  oily fish remains the richest source of DHA and EPA.

Soy linseed bread

While all grain bread is a good choice, it is specifically the mix of soy and linseed which gives soy lin bread its 4g of polyunsaturated fats per serve.

Chia

Another superseed that offers more than 3g of long chain fats per tablespoon

Sardines

There are few commonly consumed fish in Australia that are naturally rich in omega 3 fats but sardines are one of them with 3g of polyunsaturated fats per serve.

Pecans

If walnuts are not your thing, a 30g serve of roughly 20 pecans will offer more than 7g of long chain fats.

Sesame seeds

Again rich in long chain fats with more than 3g of polys per serve

5 ways to eat less carbs….the right way


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We hear much about cutting out sugar and carbs, and while the benefits of doing so are regularly preached by those committed to these dietary regimes, it appears that a number of health benefits are achieved by simply cutting back on carbs rather than cutting them out entirely. Recent research by Tuffs University published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that simply reducing the glycaemic load of the diet, by controlling the intake of processed carbohydrates and sugars was a powerful predictor of weight loss over a 16 year dietary trial. Such results suggest that when it comes to carbs it is all about the quality of the carbs we are eating on a daily basis which can be qualified by our overall glycaemic load. Most importantly, it is not that difficult to achieve a lower glycaemic load, even when we are regularly consuming many of our favourite foods.

The glycaemic load of the diet is based on the total amount of carbohydrate consumed; how quickly or slowly these carbohydrates are digested as well as how much protein is consumed. Rapidly digested, high carb foods such as white bread increase our glycaemic load, while low carb, protein rich food and slowly digested lower carb foods such as lower carb bread help to reduce it. Assessing the quality of the diet according to its glycaemic load takes into account the entire dietary intake patterns rather than isolating individual foods and labelling them as ‘good’ or ‘poor’ choices. So before you feel the need to get your calculator out, here are the easiest ways you can reduce the glycaemic load of your own diet to help support long term weight control.

1. Swap to lower carb bread

Regular large slices of sliced bread or Turkish loaves can contain as much as 50-60g of carbohydrates per serve compared to just 20g for lower carb loaves.

2. Eat carb rich foods and protein food together

Greek yoghurt and fruit; eggs on wholegrain toast or cheese and wholegrain crackers – a mix of carbs and protein helps to control the release of the hormone insulin and reduce the overall glycaemic load of the meal or snack.

3. Avoid high carb snacks

Rice crackers, banana bread, fruit juices and dried fruit are all snacks that contain refined grains; white flour and / or concentrated sugars which bump up the glycaemic load of the diet significantly.

4. Watch the serves of grains

Brown rice, quinoa, pasta and oats all contain a number of positive nutritional properties but they are also all relatively high carbohydrate foods – for example, a single cup of brown rice contains as much as 40g of total carbohydrate or the equivalent of 3-4 slices of bread. These foods are nutritious but keep your portions to just 1/2 – 3/4 cup cooked a=to help control your glycaemic load.

5. Use your dairy

Whether it is cheese as an after dinner snack; yoghurt with a small serve of breakfast cereal in the morning or milk with your coffee, the study found a positive association with the regular consumption of full cream dairy over time. This effect could be due to the fact that dairy food, thanks to its high protein and nutrient content helps to reduce the glycaemic load of the diet. 

Think you are eating a healthy lunch everyday? Lunch could actually be where things are going wrong for you, so here are 5 ways you could be getting your lunch wrong.

How do I know if I am dehydrated?


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5 signs you are still not drinking enough

Chances are at this time of year you are more likely to reach for a hot Latte than you are your water bottle but regardless of the lower temperatures the human body still needs plenty of fluid to keep hydrated and the body’s systems running optimally. While we often consider thirst to be a sign that we need to drink more water, the truth is that thirst is a relatively weak reflex, and we are already dehydrated by the time our thirst kicks in. So as we move into the more chilly months of the year, here are some of the other signs you may be dehydrated and need to drink more at this time of year.

1. Your mouth not tasting great

When we do not drink enough, overall we produce less saliva and as a result bacteria is more likely to build up in the mouth, resulting in bad breath. So if you are regularly reaching for the mints and gum to keep your mouth fresh, it may be time to reach for your water bottle.

2. Your skin is dry

All cells of our body need water to maintain optimal fluidity, but as skin cells are one of the most rapidly replaced cells, dry skin can be a good reminder that our water intake is less than adequate, especially at this time of year. And if cold water when it is cold outside is not your thing, don’t forget about herbal tea which can be another great way to hydrate the skin but also offer various antioxidants and herbals which are too good for the skin.

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

3. Your body is sore

When our body is not recovering from training we are quick to think about the protein and electrolytes we are not getting to refuel from our workouts but we less frequently consider that the underlying issue may be not drinking enough. Water is required for muscle cell contraction and cell recovery just as protein, magnesium and salts are. So if you work out regularly keep in mind you need at least 500ml of extra water for every hour of training you do.

4. You get headaches

In modern life we are quick to look for a Panadol to dull a pressing headache and to blame screens and sore necks for a sore head but the truth is that our heads are one of the first things to suffer when we are dehydrated as the fluid that supports the brain within the skull will be reduced if the amount of fluid is our body is low. For this reason our first step when we have a headache should be to ready for the water bottle.

5. You are craving sugar

Dehydration can play havoc with blood glucose regulation, triggering the need to eat more, especially sweet foods. Often we interpret this craving as a need to eat when really we just need to drink more. The easiest way to control your cravings on a daily basis is to ensure you consume at least 300-500ml of water or herbal tea with each meal or snack.

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

The SIRT diet


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Another day, another diet, or so it seems and the SIRT food diet is the latest diet doing the rounds. And why wouldn’t it be popular, you get to eat chocolate. And drink wine. And eat spicy food. So is it all that it’s cracked up to be?

Developers of the SIRT diet claim that there are certain molecules in specific foods, known as SIRT foods that activate proteins in the body called sirtuins. Sirtuins are thought to be involved in a number of metabolic processes in the body and specifically when it comes to weight loss boost the body’s ability to burn fat. While research is in its early stages, and has mostly been completed in animal models, to date it appears that exercise and calorie restriction help to activate the sirtuins. In addition it is hypothesised that certain foods contain compounds that help to activate these proteins and promote the burning of fat in place of carbohydrate.

As such, the SIRT food diet focuses on both calorie restriction and eating a load of the foods thought to contain these sirtuin activating compounds including antioxidant rich citrus, berries, cocoa, kale and red wine.

The SIRT food diet focuses on 2 diet phases. The first lasts for just one week, and is a specific low calorie approach (just 1000calories) designed to activate the sirtuin proteins. This low calorie phase lasts just 3 days before calories are then increased to 1500 calories per day, of a diet packed with sirtfoods. Juices are favoured on low calorie days, with two green juices per day made using sirtfoods including kale, celery and parsley along with one sirtfood rich meal during the 1000 calorie period and two sirtfood rich meals and one green juice in the 1500 calorie period. It is claimed that dieters will lose up to 5kilos during this phase.

This is then followed by a fourteen day maintenance phase, in which one green juice and three sirtfood rich meals are consumed. It is again claimed that this eating pattern will result in sustainable weight loss for the entire two week period.

Now at a glance what this diet is proposing seems reasonable enough – more fresh food, nutrient rich superfoods known as SIRT foods and a few low calorie days. Indeed consuming just 1000 calories each day will almost definitely lead to some initial weight loss as the body’s glycogen stores are depleted and a 1500 calorie plan is associated with sustainable, achievable weight loss. Whether this effect is specifically due to SIRT foods remains to be proven, and is the case with all diets, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. In the case of the SIRT diet translating into lots of red wine and chocolate, it is more likely lots of green veges, healthy meals and overall calorie control is the reason individuals get results. And indeed if a few squares of dark chocolate or a glass of wine keep you interested in a diet, there is not much wrong with that.

SIRT foods

Dark chocolate

Red wine

Apples

Citrus

Kale

Tumeric

See Susie discussing the SIRT diet in more detail on Sunrise here.

Colds and flu


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The temperatures are dropping and we now have at least 3 months of short and chilly days. It is also the time of year when colds and flu are thriving and our nutrition becomes even more important to ensure our immune system is at its best to fight off the Winter bugs. Not only does our nutrition ensure we are giving the body the right vitamins and minerals to help fend off illness, but the right foods and nutrients can also reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms and as a result the length of time you are not at your best. So if you are keen to power through Winter and keep as healthy as possible, here are the simple steps to take.

Dehydration is surprisingly the most common reason bugs tend to stick around and continue to make you feel sick. Congestion, runny noses and a small 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 you need to increase your intake of fluids. 100% fruit or vegetable juices, herbal teas or plain water are all good choices. If you are particularly keen, nutrient rich smoothies packed full of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and nutrient rich supplements such as chlorophyll, is another great way to give your body a daily vitamin hit.

Links have been drawn between a high Vitamin C intake and a reduction in cold-like symptoms for hundreds of years. Unfortunately there is only a small amount of scientific evidence that proves that a high dose of Vitamin C can reduce the length of a cold once it is present. Nevertheless, foods rich in Vitamin C including oranges, kiwi fruit, berries, tomatoes, red capsicums and spirulina are all antioxidant and vitamin rich foods which can only offer positive nutritional benefits in times of health or illness.  Fresh fruits and vegetables also have high water contents and help to aid hydration.

Soup is another power-food routinely linked to helping sick people get better quickly. Soup has high water content but most importantly, chicken soup made using the actual chicken bones will contain some of the bone marrow. Bone marrow is thought to have a number of powerful immune stimulating properties which is where the link between chicken soup and health originated hundreds of years ago. Add plenty of vegetables in addition to the chicken stock made from bones and you will be on the right track. And, unfortunately no, the tinned varieties of soup do not count!

Finally there are a number of supplements including Echinacea, garlic, grape seed oil and a variety of herbs promoted as cures and preventives of colds and flu. While the jury is still out on many of these supplements, there are a number of powerful medicinal properties associated with fresh herbs in particular which makes them a great addition to your diet whether you are feeling under the weather or not. Fresh chilli, garlic, ginger and parsley are just a few of the ones that are easy to add to your favourites dishes and which just may help to ward off the Winter bugs.

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

 If you know your body is not at its best; or have high cholesterol or aching joints, it may be time to consider an anti-inflammatory diet. Click here to read more about it.

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

Why bananas are good for you.


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We know that Aussies love bananas. In fact, bananas are among the top selling fruits in Australia and the good news is that bananas do not only taste great but they are choc full of nutrition. When we take a closer look at one of our favourite fruits it becomes apparent that there are a number of reasons that we should also see bananas as one of the most nutrient rich foods out there. Here are just some of those reasons.

1. Bananas are choc full of potassium

A single banana contains a massive 400mg of potassium or at least 10% of the entire amount that an adult needs in a day. The key health benefit associated with a high intake of potassium is that evidence suggests increasing our intake of potassium is a key factor in helping to keep blood pressure controlled. Potassium also helps to control fluid levels in the body and may even reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.

2. Bananas have a special mix of fibre

With a shift towards lower carbohydrate diets, fewer adults are getting the right mix of fibre that is required for optimal gut functioning. Not only does a single banana offer 3g of fibre (we need at least 30g each day) but bananas are unique in that the resistant starch found in green bananas has a number of known benefits for the gut and also helps to control blood glucose levels.

3. Bananas contain more than 10 essential vitamins and minerals

Not only do bananas contain plenty of fibre and potassium but also at least 10 other essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, folate and magnesium in a single serve. This means that you get extra bang for your nutrition buck whenever you eat a banana especially for fussy eaters or small children with a poor appetite.

4. Bananas are linked to a reduced risk of developing some diseases

While dietary data looking at specific foods is rare, dietary patterns linking a high intake of fruits and vegetables repeatedly shows that consuming 7-10 serves of fruits and vegetables per day is linked to a reduced risk of developing some types of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Specifically there is also data that has shown that children who consume a banana a day have a 30% lower risk of developing asthma.

5. Bananas are naturally sweet and convenient

There is a big difference between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in fresh fruits and vegetables. Bananas are a naturally sweet food that can help to tackle cravings whilst managing blood glucose levels and most importantly they are convenient. They come in their own packaging, help you to avoid an unnecessary trip to the vending machine and offer plenty of other nutrients for just over 100 calories per serve. Maximum nutrition for a minimal calorie intake.

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

The lowest calorie treats


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If you are one of the very few people who never lets a spoonful of sugar cross your lips, hats off to you. On the other hand, if you are partial to a treat every now and again, here are some the better low calorie store-bought dessert options in terms of total calories that will allow you to enjoy a sweet treat every now and again, without any cause for concern. 

Mint Pattie

An oldie but a goodie – with just over 80 calories per serve, the great thing about mint flavoured treats is that you are less likely to overeat them as the strong flavour helps to satisfy sweet cravings. For those trying to avoid sugar, a single Mint Pattie comes in with almost 3 teaspoons of the white stuff. 

Macaron

With just overall 100 calories, 2 teaspoons of sugar and almost 6g of fat, this tasty little morsel is a much lower fat and calorie option than our standard cake and slice.

Biscotti

Nutritionally a great choice as traditional biscotti will contain a good portion of nuts and can contain as little as 3g of sugar per serve.

Curly Wurly

You would have eaten your fair share of these at school and thanks to the lower chocolate compared to caramel ratio, these treats contain just 5g of fat per serve but they do have almost 4 teaspoons of 18g of sugars. 

Lindt Ball 

Rich in flavour, the great thing about a Lindt ball is that you only really need 1 or 2 for a massive chocolate hit. A single Lindt Ball contains just 75cal, along with 5g of fat and 5g of sugars.

Furry Friends

Another relatively low cal childhood treat which offer 80cal per serve and less than 5g of fat – the only issue being that they come in packs of 7!

Mango Weis Bar

If ice-cream is your thing, the original Weis bar contains just 85 calories, literally no fat and 20g of carbs and you can even find mini’s which have just 60 calories per serve, if you can stop at just 1.

Splice

Another old school favourite with just 80cal, literally no fat and 4 teaspoons of sugar per serve.

Prefer to keep and homemade healthy alternative on hand for those sugar cravings? Try our Shape Me Peppermint Bliss Balls recipe, prefect for an afternoon snack or post dinner treat.

Nutrition for women


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Men and women are different. Clearly. And as such they naturally have different nutritional needs on a daily basis. Women in particular want great skin, they want their weight to be controlled and they often need help balancing the hormones that can dictate their lives if they are not careful. So here are just some of the areas women want to look and feel their best and the key ways their diet can support them.

For great skin

Skin cells are rapidly replaced in the body and as such our nutrition or lack thereof can be evident quickly when we are not look after ourselves. Consuming at least 5-7 serves of brightly coloured fresh fruits and vegetables every single day is the most powerful thing we can do for good skin. The long chain fats found in fish oil offer us a powerful dose of omega 3 fats, and if you do not eat oily fish at least 3-4 times each week your skin will benefit from a high dose fish oil supplement. A high intake of antioxidants will also benefit skin cells and can also be found in supplements such as Co Q10.

Learn how you can take control of cellulite here.

For a healthy weight

Weight control in modern life is tough – long periods spent sitting, along with a high sugar and high calorie intake inevitably results in weight gain for many of us. Limiting the number of hours we actual consume food in each day is important, as is lowering our intake of processed carbs such as white bread, pasta and white rice, especially at night. Replacing a meal each day with a low calorie smoothie or soup too can support weight control.

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

Serves 1

Ingredients

• 1 small banana

• 1 cup mixed greens (kale, spinach)

• 1 cup low fat milk

• ½ cup natural yoghurt

• 1 serve spirulina

Method

• Blend all ingredients and serve

For battling hormones

A woman’s monthly cycle can dictate how she feels each week, with fluid retention, irritability ad fatigue common around days 20-28 of the menstrual cycle. It has been shown that women will require an extra 200-300 calories on these days, which may somewhat explain the cravings often described by women during this time of the month. When it comes to extra supplements which may help you feel better, Evening Primrose Oil in particular is known to help reduce and manage the symptoms of PMS.

For fluid retention

No one likes to feel bloated and heavy, yet hormonal fluctuations, stress and our diet can heavily impact the amount of fluid we retain each day. A high intake of the nutrient potassium via vegetable juices, soups and bananas can help to shift extra fluid, as will drinking plenty of water and general movement. Adding chlorophyll to your water may too help to reduce water retention.

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

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

 

My top supermarket soups this Winter


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With a sudden drop in temperature we start to think of all things warm and nurturing and is there anything better than a filling, nourishing soup on a chilly Winter day. There are literally hundreds of soups out there, ranging from fresh pots to the good old Cup a Soup, which you can buy for as little as $1 a serve. So if you are keen to make the most of soup this Winter but want some help working your way through the supermarket shelves, here are my top supermarket soups you can find this Winter.

One of the biggest issues nutritionally with pre-made soups is that they can have an extremely high sodium content with some varieties containing more than 1200mg of sodium in a single serve – more than ½ your entire daily upper limit. In addition to a lower sodium content, a good quality soup will contain plenty of vegetables, few additives and as clean an ingredient list as possible.

If you prefer to whip up a batch of soup yourself, or you have the time to, try some of my favourite Shape Me, by Susie Burrell soup recipes such as my Creamy Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup, my Roast Veg Soup or The Best Tomato Soup.

La Zuppa Kale, Quinoa and Vegetable Pouch

The pouch range from La Zuppa is the best of their ranges and this variety in particular is low in calories, sugars and has a very clean ingredient list.

Hart & Soul Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Another pouch variety with a very low sodium content for a premade soup and <3g of sugars.

Campbell’s Simply Soup Healthy Greens

With 68% vegetables this new variety from Campbell’s is packed full of vegetables, tastes good and is a great vegetable side to accompany sandwiches for a hearty lunch.

Woolworth’s Fresh Chicken & Vegetable

I am rarely a fan of supermarket brands but credit where credit is due and these fresh soups made by Woolworths are pretty good nutritionally. Specifically the protein content of this chicken one in particular is high and the sodium at 600mg relatively low for a pre-made soup.

Darikay Tomato, Spinach and Quinoa Soup

If you can track these soups down (they are in Coles) not only are they particularly low in calories but also relatively low in salt.

The reasons we eat


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Why are you eating?

In an ideal scenario we would eat when we were hungry, and stop when we were full but let’s be honest, such a simplistic approach to food is far from the reality in which most of us live. Rather we eat when we are happy. We eat when we are sad and for a myriad of reasons in between. So here are some of the most common reasons we find ourselves eating and some ways to help control non hungry eating.

You are bored

Boredom eating acts as a distraction, it gives us something to do and can be observed early in life when parents constantly offer young children snacks and treats rather than giving them the attention they are actually craving. The issue with eating when we are bored is that the food actually becomes the activity, as opposed to something more fulfilling and meaningful. As the satisfaction gained from eating when we are not hungry is short lived, if at all, it means we are still left bored and unsatisfied once the feasting is over. In this instance the best thing to do is to identify boredom as a specific experience, and seek out an activity that will actually satisfy you, as opposed to distracting with food temporarily.

You are tired

Whether it is reaching for a coffee, sweet drink or chocolately treat, one of the easiest ways to feel better, for a short time at least is to eat or drink something that contains sugar and or stimulants such as caffeine. The issue with relying on food and stimulants to boost your energy, is that any boost is short term, lasting an hour or two at most. In reality, the best things that you can eat when you are tired include fresh fruit and wholegrain carbohydrates which will help to give you a sustained energy release as well as a good dose of Vitamin B and drink plenty of water as dehydration is one of the most common reasons we feel tired and lethargic on a daily basis.

You are craving

Food cravings are interesting as in some cases they may be suggestive of nutritional deficiencies, while on the other they can merely be the result of poorly regulated blood glucose levels. Food cravings may also result from the habitual eating of certain foods in certain scenarios, for example, always enjoying a cup of tea with a sweet treat. Satisfying a food craving occasionally with a specific food is no issue, but cravings sweet, fatty and/ or salty foods regularly is suggestive of learnt eating behaviour which is can be also unlearnt once the link between an environment and a food type is identified and then broken.

You are watching everyone else eat

One of the most significant predictors of excessive food being consumed is other people eating in front of you. As humans, it appears we have difficulty abstaining when others are tucking in. Knowing this in itself can be a powerful tool in reminding you to decide if you are actually hungry before you eat. Sticking to eating only at meal times also creates a cognitive limit to help you self-regulate when food may be present but you know you do not really need to eat.

You are emotional

Once overeating is labeled as ‘emotional; it is as if it gives is permission to eat foods we never usually would and blame it on an external factor. When it comes to emotional eating there is a big difference between indulging in a burger or chocolate bar occasionally and binge eating entire packets of biscuits and tubs of ice-cream regularly and using ones’ emotions as the excuse. Emotional eating occasionally is normal but binge eating is a serious, clinical issue and needs treatment and long term management.

5 ways to avoid Winter weight gain


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How not to gain weight this Winter

If you have indulged over the Easter break, chances are the scales are showing an extra kilo or two and if we are not careful this gradual weight creep that begins at Easter could be as much as 5-7kg come Spring if we are not careful. So if you are keen to not become a victim of Winter weight gain, here are the simple steps to take – now!

Sign up for an event

Few if any of us are feeling motivated come 6am on a cold, rainy Winter morning to go for a walk or get to the gym. So rather than battle mind games for the next few months about making it to training, instead sign up to an upcoming event with some friends or colleagues. This way you can train together, make times to train that suit the shorter days and cooler temperatures and having a clear goal gives something to take your focus of ‘having’ to exercise.

Keep your weekday meals light

Pubs, footy and dinner parties tend to mean heavier, sludgy food – pastry, fried food and warm desserts that pack on the kilos quickly. Before you get into bad habits, make a concerted effort now to keep your meals Monday to Thursday light, utilizing soups, warm salads and grills to help buffer the impact of heavier foods over the weekend.

Choose lighter proteins

An easy way to lighten your calorie load is to choose lighter leaner proteins – white fish, turkey and kangaroo are all inexpensive, nutrient rich ways to slash calories as well as dollars from your food bill. Grilled, made into fish cakes or turkey balls or used as a base for stir fries or casseroles and teamed with plenty of vegetables these proteins will cut your calorie intake significantly.

Weigh yourself

The anti-diet brigade suggest staying away from the scales but the research has repeatedly shown that regular weighing is the easiest way to help us self-regulate your weight. You do not need to do it every day but a quick check once or twice a month can be the difference between gaining a kilo or two or many more.

Watch the hot drinks

With the exception of tea and a milk coffee or two each day, liquid calories add up especially when they are coming courtesy of Chai Lattes, hot chocolates and jumbo sized coffees. If you are looking to liquids to warm up, fall in love with herbal tea which you can drink plenty of for numerous health benefits minus any calories.

Foods to prep each week so you can always eat well


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Planning is the key to dietary success – it is about having the foods on hand you need to eat well so you do not get caught out, hungry and in a situation where you are picking up high fat, high calorie food on the run. In busy lives the weeks also tend to run away from us and what starts as an intention to eat well often results in things falling off the rails by weeks end. So if you are keen to take control of your nutrition this week, here are the key foods to prep each week so you do not find yourself caught out, no matter how busy you are.

Soup

Making a batch of vegetable rich soup each week is the easiest way to build your nutrition platform. Not only does soup keep for a relatively long period of time but it can be used as a quick and easy meal; an addition to a quick grill for dinner or an easy way to get your daily serves of vegetables each day. It is also very cheap to make, it freezes well and studies have shown that consuming a broth style soup prior to a meal can result in you consuming up to 100 fewer calories in total.

Breakfast muffins

Whether you make an egg based mini frittata style muffin, or a bran and oat fruit based muffin, having a quick and easy, nutritious ready-made breakfast that you can grab on the go can be the difference between starting the day right and not. While many of us have the best of intentions when it comes to our diet, time can get away from us and before you know it you are grabbing a coffee and banana bread on the way to work. On the other hand, having a protein and / or fibre rich breakfast option ready that you can literally grab on the run sets you up for a day of nutritious eating.

A multipurpose meal

It might be a pasta bake; casserole; mince dish or pie but having a meal that can be used as several lunches or a dinner over one or two nights that is either prepared at the beginning of the week or prepared and then frozen for emergencies will help you to avoid resorting to fast food or take away meals when your energy and time is lacking. Home prepared meals are generally lower in calories and contain significantly more lean protein and vegetables than meals we pick up on the run.

A protein snack

Whether you make some mini protein balls or bites, mini bags of nuts or stock up with some nut bars or cheese and cracker snack packs, knowing what snacks you have in advance, and also ensuring they contain some protein will ensure you keep away from the vending machine or fundraising chocolates box each day.

Your vegetables

One of the most significant predictors of fresh food consumption is how easy it is to consume. While you may not be likely to grab a tomato or cucumber and start munching, committing some time to packaging your fresh food so it is easy to consume will go a long way in increasing your consumption overall. It may be chopping your carrots in advance, seeking out precut vegetables, or getting super organised and actually making a few extra salads each week in advance, but vegetable preparation is a key aspect of dietary success.

Click here for 5 reasons why you should watch what you eat at work.

Eating for beautiful skin


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Skin cells are one of the body’s most frequently replaced cells, and as such what we eat and supplement our diet with on a daily basis reflects in our skin very quickly. So if you are looking for glowing, healthy, beautiful skin, here are the simple steps to take.

First of all, if your skin is looking a little lacklustre, the first thing to do is check your intake of the key vitamins involved in skin cell formation including Vitamins A, E and C which can be found in fruits and vegetables, seeds and grains. When selecting your fresh fruit and vegetables, remember the brighter the colour of the produce, the higher the nutrient content and the better it will be for you. Focus on including at least 1 red or orange vegetable or fruit in your diet every single day, along with at least 1 cup of leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli. Both offer the powerful antioxidants Vitamin C and beta carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A as well as plenty of fibre which helps to eliminate wastes from the body efficiently. Vitamin C is crucial as it is directly involved in new skin cell generated, and eating antioxidant rich foods every day will also help to prevent cell damage that can cause ageing.

Next, and perhaps most importantly for glowing skin, focus on your good fats. The long chain omega 3 fats which are found primarily in oily fish such as salmon and tuna have a key functional role within the membrane or wall of a skin cell. Both the flexibility of the skin as well as its moisture content is influenced by the essential fats in our diet, which can be low if individuals are following a very low fat diet. For this reason, if your skin has not been looking its best, check your intake of good fats – we need 40-60g a day, and you could even consider taking a fish oil supplement to really give your skin and immune system a boost. Other skin friendly foods that are rich in these essential fats include nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  Nuts and seeds are a rich natural source of Vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant involved in repairing damaged cells in the body. Another easy way to ensure you get an optimal amount of fish oil is to supplement your diet with a high strength fish oil.

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

Another key dietary area closely linked to skin health is protein. Protein rich foods including lean red meat and seafood not only contain the  essential proteins the body needs to build all tissues, but they are also excellent sources of zinc which is involved in  new skin cell production as it helps Vitamin A to be released from the liver, a crucial step for new cell production. Ideally we need to consume zinc rich foods every single day and sometimes ‘occasional’ meat eaters do not get enough zinc or iron each week. If you do include red meat in your diet, we need at least three small serves a week to get the amounts of iron and zinc required for good health and in this case, healthy skin.

Perhaps most importantly lest not forget the importance of hydration. The look and fluidity of cells is largely dependent on keeping well hydrated, yet up to 75% of us are dehydrated at any one time. This means for many of us, better skin simply means drinking more filtered water every single day. At a minimum aim for 1-1.5L and herbal tea is another low calorie way to increase your fluid intake.

Finally, if your goal is great looking skin, you can also consider if there are any specialty supplements that may give your skin a boost. Evening primrose oil, Co Q10 and specific vitamins including Vitamin C are just some of the supplementary health products proposed to help optimise the look and feel of the skin.

Steps to skin superfood success

1. Try adding a vegetable juice made from beetroot, celery, carrot and kale into your diet.

2. Aim for ½ plate of salad or vegetables at both lunch and dinner.

3. Order beef or lamb stir fries when eating out.

4. Use salmon and shellfish in your salads for a zinc and omega 3 hit.

5. Add nuts and seeds to salads.

6. Get into a habit of snacking on some nuts each afternoon.

7. Choose breads and crackers that contain seeds and grains.

8. Take a fish oil supplement at night.

9. Make sure you are eating lean red meat three times a week.

10. Roast brightly coloured vegetables with olive oil and serve with dinner.

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

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

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