The best foods to eat for training

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

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

Before your workout

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

For morning workouts

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

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

For afternoon workouts

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

For evening workouts

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

The best frozen meals

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

Lean Cuisine Pots of Goodness Spanish Chicken

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

Michelle Bridges Beef and Tomato Casserole

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

Healthy Choice Protein Plus Italian Baked Chicken

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

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

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

On the Menu Angus Roast Beef

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

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

What calories are in your smoothies

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

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

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

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

Banana CHIA Smoothie – Cal | Carbs (g)

1 banana – 100 | 22

100ml Greek yoghurt – 130 | 7

1 tbsp. honey – 85 | 20

1 tbsp. CHIA – 65 | 0

300ml almond milk – 100 | 8

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

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

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

What’s the right diet for me in 2017?

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

How much weight do you need to lose?

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

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

Are you looking for a strict diet or a lifestyle?

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

Do you have hormonal issues?

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

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

Do you only want to diet part time?

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

Do you want to order your food online?

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

Building a healthy gut

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*This is a sponsored post*

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Serves 1


1 small banana

1/2 cup berries

1 carrot, juiced

1/2 cup Greek style yoghurt

1 small piece ginger

1 cup ice

1 dose (1.5 teaspoons) Metamucil Orange


1.Blend together all ingredients and serve.

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

Serves 1


1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 banana

1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

1 tbsp. cacao powder

1 tsp. chia seeds

1 dose (1.5 teaspoons) Metamucil Natural

1 cup of ice


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

Recipe: Citrus Boost

Serves 1


1/2 cup spinach leaves

1/2 cup pineapple

1/2 cup ‘no added sugar’ coconut water

1 small banana

2-3 mint leaves

1 dose (1.5 teaspoons) Metamucil Lemon Lime

1/2 cup ice


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

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

Serves 1


1 cup unsweetened almond or dairy milk

1/2 cup natural yoghurt

1/2 chopped banana

1/2 cup berries

2 tbsp. oats

1 tbsp. ‘no added sugar’ peanut butter

1 dose (1.5 teaspoons) Metamucil Wild Berry


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

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

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

Sparkling water


*This is a sponsored post*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best and worst Christmas food and drinks

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

Christmas Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Drinks

Full strength beer vs light beer

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

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

 473kJ for 296kJ

Champagne vs light champagne

 120ml 355kJ / 199kJ Yellowglen Jewel

Gin and tonic vs Bacardi and coke

460kJ vs  635kJ

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

The superfood potential of cranberry

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*This is a sponsored post*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preventing Christmas weight gain

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The diet hacks you need to prevent Christmas weight gain.

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

Stop giving yourself permission to overeat

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

Don’t waste your calories

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

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

Learn the art of compensation

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

Exercise, no excuses

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

Monitor your weight

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

Take some supplies with you

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

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

My top party foods

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

ChobaniChobani Meze Dip

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

Roasted Broadbeans

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

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 1.24.18 PMMUNCH snacks

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

Grissini Sticks

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

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

Bounce Bites

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

WoolworthsBaby Carrots & Cucumbers

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

Jarlsberg Cheese

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

Recipe: Fig, Feta & Hazelnut salad

Serves 1


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


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

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

Christmas party hacks

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

1. Never arrive hungry

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

2. Stand away from the food

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

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

3. Stick to a canapé limit

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

4. Avoid the high fat traps

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

5. Keep a close eye on the drinks

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

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

Foods you did not realise are ridiculously high in salt

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

Noodle Bowls

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

Turkish Bread

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


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

Soy Sauce

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

Packet Soups

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


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

Curry Paste

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

Tinned Spaghetti

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

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

5 ways to stay hydrated through the party season

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*This is a sponsored post*

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Think one drink wine, one drink water

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

3. Have a drink rule

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

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

4. Go for hydrating mixers

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

5. Drink up before bed

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

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

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

Snacks for kids

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

Any busy parent is well aware of the challenges that can present when trying to find healthy, nutritious and appealing snacks for kids. Not only can it be a juggling act to track down tasty and nutritious snacks but what kids will or will not eat on any given day can differ widely. There is also the question of how much our kids should snack in general, so to help busy mums and dads here is your guide on how to snack right for kids.

A snack should be considered a ‘mini meal’ and as such have the right nutritional balance to keep both kids and adults full for at least a couple of hours. For this reason, processed bars, twists, bites and biscuits rarely do the trick. Not only do they rarely contain the key nutrients growing kids need but they are often digested quickly leaving kids hungry quickly after eating them.

Are bananas a good choice for breakfast? Yes! See more on why, here.

As a general rule of thumb, a nutritious snack for kids should contain some good quality carbs for energy and some other positive nutritional properties whether this be protein, fibre, wholegrains and/or nutrients such as calcium found in a banana, cheese stick or wholegrain crackers. This way a snack is not only giving growing children the carbs they need for energy but also contributing some other key nutrients that will support optimal growth and development.

As you would expect, a good snack choice will also be as natural and unprocessed as possible. For this reason, fruits such as bananas and dairy based snacks such as cheese, a glass of milk or some Greek yoghurt come up trumps when it comes to ticking the box for both health and nutrition.

Finally but perhaps most importantly, snacks for kids need to, where possible be child friendly. Less processed snacks including home baked, fruit and dairy are competing with highly processed, often sweet and brightly packaged snack foods that children will automatically be drawn to. Don’t be afraid to dress up your nutritious kids snacks to help make them as appealing as possible.

Top snacks for kids

Homemade treats such as fruit muffins or banana bread

Crackers with cheese

Smoothie with milk and fruit

Snack plate with dips, veges and cheese


Roasted broadbeans

Homemade pizzas or wraps

Frozen yoghurt ice-blocks

Greek yoghurt

Yoghurt or choc dipped bananas!

Recipe: Australian Banana Pops

Makes about 12 pops


2 x 170g tubs of Chobani Greek or Coconut Yoghurt

24 dark chocolate bits

6 small Australian Bananas cut in halves


Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Dip each banana in yoghurt and add 2 eyes using dark chocolate bits.

Place in the freezer to set for around 1 hour.

What type of eater are you?

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While each and every one of us will have a different eating style which has developed during the course of our lives depending on what we were taught as children, who we spend our time with and our individual food preferences, there are a few common patterns of eating that can be actually preventing us moving forward when it comes to our diet and exercise goals. The good news is that once such patterns have been identified, they can generally be managed with a few basic behavioural strategies.

Eating style – restrictive

Restrictive eaters base their food choices around what they think they should be eating as opposed to what they feel like eating. They tend to have very strict food rules such as, “I never eat carbs at night”, and can be prone to overeating when a situation has resulting in their self imposed food rules being broken. Restrictive eaters are often on a diet, may avoid social situations for fear hey will not have access to the foods they think they should be eating and tend to spend far too much time mentally calculating the fat and kilojoule content of their diets.


In the case of restrictive eating, a good starting point is to start asking yourself, “What do I really feel like eating?” before each of your meals try to gauge your natural hunger and appetite signals. Always remember that there are no rules about what we should and should not be eating – instead there are balanced meals with everyday foods and foods that we eat sometimes in controlled amounts. Removing the cognitive programming which has become entrenched in your mind that has been telling you that there are foods you should not be eating, is the most important thing to practice if you are a restrictive eater. Once you have started to challenge these thoughts, it will gradually become easier to start to eat foods you would have avoided previously and not feel out of control if you do try a dessert or eat a controlled portion of carbohydrates at dinner.

Do you place enough emphasis on your lunch and ensuring your lunch has the right nutritional balance to set you up for the rest of the day? Here are 5 ways in which you could be getting your lunch totally wrong!

Eating style – emotional

Some of us stop eating when we are sad, stressed, lonely or distressed while some of us eat more. Emotional eating is frequently reported as a behavioural side effect of emotional distress, and if not identified and managed early can result in many kilograms of extra body weight courtesy of chocolates, ice creams and biscuits – the most common foods sought out by emotional eaters.


There are a number of proven behavioural steps which have been shown to help manage emotional eating. The first thing to do is to identify the key times when you find yourself eating high kilojoule food after certain emotional triggers. Once you have done this, you can practice having a “time out” in between the trigger and the eating – try calling a friend, getting out of the house ( a change in environment works very effectively) or writing down he pros and cons of eating. This space makes it much easier to think rationally about eating rather than rushing to the fridge and downing a tub of ice cream. Most importantly, if you know you are prone to emotional overeating, never keep your comfort foods in the house, at least if you have to go and buy there will be some time in between the event and when the food is available which may help you to make a rational decision not to binge.

Eating style – serial dieter

You name it; the serial dieter has tried it! Low carb, high protein, fruit only, cabbage only; to no real avail as a serial dieter never appears to lose weight as too much energy is being spent on trying out weird and wonderful diets instead of concentrating on developing long term healthy eating behaviours.


If you are a serial dieter, it is time to stop. Think about all the precious time and energy (and not to mention money) you have wasted on these programs for no real outcome. If there was an easy way to lose weight, we would all be 5kgs lighter, but basically sustainable fat loss is hard work. If you are serious about getting healthy, book yourself into a dietitian and get your own personalised food plan to deal with your own personal weight issues once and for all.

Eating style – night binging

Night bingers eat next to nothing all day, only to arrive home famished and eat everything in sight. Consuming a disproportionate number of kilojoules during the second half of the day not only means that energy is often lacking during the day but weight gain can result as high kilojoule foods such as pasta, rice, alcohol and treats are foods frequently chosen at this time of day.


If you are a night binger, you too need to get organised and start to support your metabolism rather than sabotage it. Practice planning ahead each day so you can ensure that you have all the food supplies you need to eat at least eat 3 meals each day and try having a protein rich snack such as a nut bar, milk based drink or protein bar on the way home from work so you do not walk in the door ravenous. Like emotional eaters, you may find it helps if you do not keep too much “easy to eat” snack foods such as biscuits, crackers, dips, chocolates and potato chips at home as these are foods which are too easy to grab and over eat when we are starving.

Eating style – Health Nazi

Health Nazis may look fabulous from a distance but a closer look can reveal dry skin, fatigue and low mood as the obsession with all things natural and healthy has resulted in a life without much pleasure. While eating nutritionally balanced food should be a goal for every one of us, taking it to an extreme in which one will not eat out or eat any type of food unless it is organic, natural and unprocessed can become mentally draining and may be a sign that things have gotten a little extreme.


If you cannot remember the last time you ate out or even enjoyed your food, you need to loosen the food rules a little. There is nothing wrong with choosing to eat healthy but if it is limiting you socially, there is a problem. To break free of this health obsessed pattern, spend some time thinking about what foods you really enjoy eating and make sure you have those included in your meal plan. Practice eating out at new places and making decisions on regular menu items. And most importantly, remember that food is meant to nourish your body and eating is meant to be a pleasurable experience. If you do not find this is the case, you may need to speak to a professional on issues relating to control in your life.

These are the foods to keep on hand to help support your weight control. Ensure they are on the shopping list every week!

Be wary of office feeders

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

We become like the people we spend our time with. This means that if you spend 8+ hours at work 5 or 6 days a week with colleagues who have less than ideal lifestyle habits, chances are over time that it is going to affect you too.

A couple of years back a landmark finding from a long term study published in the New England Journal of Medicine alarmingly found a powerful link between peoples weight and the weight of those close to them. The Framingham Heart Study, which has followed more than 15 000 Framingham residents since 1948 has not only provided huge amounts of data relating to heart disease risk factors but the data has also been used to track social connections and health variables of the participants. When researchers looked at these social connections in terms of participants who gained or lost weight, it was clear that individuals did not become obese randomly, rather groups of people would become obese together over even lose weight together. So significant were these findings that the study showed that when a Framingham resident became obese, his or her friends were 57 percent more likely to become obese too.

Coffee. We all love it but which coffee order is better for you? Find out here.

If we translate these findings into useful recommendations and tips to move forward with our own health and fitness, basically we all need to be exceptionally mindful of how powerful the influence of those around us actually is – the work colleague who likes to bake; the boss who funds pizza Fridays or the receptionist who is always selling fund raising chocolates. As an occasional treat or occurrence no harm is done but when such tendencies become the ‘norm’, within a workplace habits form and it is these habits that in turn ultimately determine our weight and health long term.

Unfortunately when it comes to people and human nature, it is rarely the ‘good’ habits that dominate. Overeating is far more common than under eating; drinking too much alcohol tends to override abstaining and dieting is frowned upon by those who know they too need to lose weight but are currently making the choice not to. In each of these daily scenarios that confront us, to say ‘no’ and be strong to continue with your own goals and focus is challenging, as challenging as it was to say no to a smoke in the playground with the ‘cool kids’.

Could you be getting your lunch wrong? Here are 5 ways you might be missing the mark with your lunch and how to fix it! 

In particular the workplace environment is perhaps one of the most challenging environments in which to engineer if one is to avoid weight gain and stay on track with their health and fitness goals. Not only is long periods of inactivity encouraged but is considered the norm; lunch breaks are nothing short of a privilege and then there are the office feeders – those office mates who love nothing more than to feed everyone high fat, high calorie foods.

So knowing this, what can you do to help your quest for weight control, health and fitness? One option is to seek out those within a workplace who are committed to healthier lifestyle habits or be the role model within an organisation to encourage others to make healthy choices the default option at work. Most importantly, when it comes to those around us who continually sabotage our efforts and actively throw our lifestyle choice off track it may be time to be a little more honest in your approach. It may be time to say that you find it difficult to keep on track with your diet when they continually offer you cakes and ask if they could stop. It may not seem that nice or socially acceptable but the calories you save will be worth it.

For some easy to prepare breakfast and lunch options, try our free Shape Me recipes here.

Sugar and kids; is your child eating too much sugar?

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*This is a sponsored post*

Your child is eating way too much sugar

For some time there has been much discussion in the media about the amounts of sugar the average adult eats on a daily basis. Unfortunately we have heard far less about the enormous amounts of sugar our children are consuming and the huge impact this can have on their weight, metabolism and dental health long term. So how much sugar is your child eating? You may be surprised where it is slipping into their diets.

The funny thing about sugar is that it is naturally occurring in a number of foods. For example, fruits contain the natural sugar fructose while dairy contains the natural sugar lactose. Indeed small amounts (20-30g) of natural sugars consumed each day as part of a healthy diet poses no health issues.

The issue in modern diets is that we are very good at concentrating these sugars – turning fresh fruit into juice with 2-3x the amount of sugars you would get from a piece of fruit, or consuming milk in a smoothie that also has honey and fruit added which gives you another 20-30g of sugars without us realizing it. It is these concentrated sources of sugar, as well as the huge amounts of added sugars found in many processed foods that tips our, and our kids intake of added sugars over the edge.

When it comes to kids diets it is actually quite challenging to keep their daily sugar intake low, simply because so many of the popular kid’s foods contain added sugars. Over the past 5-10 years, food manufacturers have been working to significantly reduce the sugar content of popular kid’s foods including muesli bars, breakfast cereals and snack foods. While this is a step in the right direction, there are still plenty of fruit snacks, drinks, flavoured yoghurts and biscuits that are packed full of added sugars.

High sugar foods increase blood glucose levels over time, increase the desire we have for sweet foods and leave our teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. For this reason, the less of these sugars we expose our kids to on a daily basis, the better.

While there is no set amount of sugar we need, the less added sugar we consume in our diet the better. As a general rule of thumb, choosing packaged foods that do not list sugar on the ingredient list is a step in the right direction, and looking for products that contain less than 10g of sugars per 100g, or less than 5g per serve. When it comes to added sugars, the less we consume the better, and less than 20-30g of added sugars per day for children is ideal.

Typical Kids Diet v Low Sugar Diet

Sugars (g)


Weetbix + Sugar 10g v Eggs on toast 0g


Muesli Bar 5g v Roasted Broadbeans 0g

Fruit Juice 20g v Water 0g

Sandwich 0g v Sandwich 0g

Fruit 10g v Fruit 10g

After School

Muffin or Banana Bread 25g v Sushi Roll 5g

Milkshake or smoothie 30g v Small flavoured milk 20g


Meat + tomato sauce 5g v Meat and low sugar sauce 2g

Potato 0g v Potato 0g

Peas 0g v Peas 0g


Ice Cream 20g v Greek Yoghurt and berries 10g

Total = 125g v Total = 47g

Please note this includes natural and added sugars. 

Susie is currently working as a spokesperson for the Philips Sonicare For Kids range. All thoughts and opinions included in this article her own.

Philips Sonicare For Kids is an electric power toothbrush for kids aged 4 or older. It offers maximum plaque removal, sonic technology, customisable stickers and educational tools to help make proper brushing fun for a lifetime. To read more about the benefits and to purchase a Sonicare For Kids today, click here.

5 ways you are getting your lunch wrong

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For some time breakfast has been considered the most important meal of the day. While there is no doubt that starting the day with something nutritious is a great way to give your metabolism the kick start it needs after the overnight fast, there are plenty of reasons why lunch could also claim the honours. Not only does what we choose for lunch dictate how we eat for the remainder of the afternoon, but a nutritionally balanced lunch is the key to optimal mental performance and energy regulation for the remainder of the day. So here are the most common reasons your lunch is failing you and the easy ways you can alter your lunch to help you be your best productive self all afternoon. 

1. You are eating lunch too late

In busy lives, lunch is often pushed or forgotten until 2 or 3pm each day. If you consider that for many of us breakfast was before 8am, it is likely you need to refuel by 1pm at the latest to ensure your blood glucose levels are restored and you are at your best cognitively. For both the metabolic benefits and the performance edge, aim to eat lunch as early as possible. In fact it is better to enjoy an early lunch at 11am than it is to resist the hunger, snack and then eat your next substantial meal late in the afternoon.

2. It does not contain enough vegetables

A sandwich, stir fry, leftovers or soup will only fill you for a couple of hours unless you have the 2-3 cups of salad or vegetable bulk that will also offer the fibre to help keep you full for several hours after lunch. Remember you can add a low calorie soup, salad or serve of vegetable to virtually any lunch choice without worrying about calories.

See my top 5 tips for avoiding office weight gain here.

3. It has far more calories than you think it does

Cafe and food court lunches can have double the calories of a similar lunch you have prepared at home thanks to the extra sauces, fats and extras that comes with prepared and fried lunch choices. Even popular salads can contain more than 800 calories and 40-60g of fat per serve. To keep your lunchtime calories controlled and between 350-500 calories, where possible bring your lunch from home or check nutrition information that is available at popular outlets 

4. It has no carbs

Often we think that cutting the carbs is the way to go when it comes to fat loss and weight control but too few carbs in the day can leave you feeling tired and craving sugars late in the day. Even if your goal is weight loss including a serve (1/2 cup) or two of good quality carbs such as legumes, sweet potato, wholegrain bread or brown rice will help to keep you full and satisfied throughout the afternoon.

Have you considered buying your groceries online? Here are 5 reasons why buying groceries online may help your weight control.

5. You eat it at your desk

Inactivity as well as mindlessness are both linked to weight gain. In fact, a study found that individuals who ate their lunch in front of the TV ate more calories at afternoon tea. Even if you can only manage a 20 minute lunch break, use the time to get some sunlight and steps and some much needed time away from a screen to mindfully enjoy eating your lunch. 

How to get enough vegetables in your day

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While we know that we need to eat more veggies and that a minimum of 5 serves each day is what we need for good health, far fewer of us know that when it comes to optimal health and well-being we need a lot more than the minimum of 5 serves of vegies a day that is recommended by public health agencies. In fact, when we look at the data from countries who have the healthiest diets, they are on average consuming 7-10 serves of fresh fruit and veggies every single day. So how can possibly eat this many veggies each day? Follow these simple steps and you will hit your veggie target with ease, every single day.

Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 4.06.41 PM1. Include them at breakfast

Veggies are no longer a dinner food – get into the habit of adding either some sort of salad to your eggs or toast such as mushies or tomato or simply add them to your favourite smoothies are juices. Vegetable juices are much lower in sugars than fruit based juices and will easy give you at least 1-2 serves of nutrient rich vegetables. And if you are not a juice fan, green veggies including spinach, kale and cucumber will easily mix into your favourite breakfast smoothie.

2. Take at least 1 vegetable to snack on a day

Our default is often a piece of fruit which is naturally a great choice but in addition start to consider veggies as nutrient dense, low calorie snacks. A punnet of baby tomatoes; a cucumber; carrot; handful of snow peas or cut up capsicum are not only tasty snacks especially teamed with cottage cheese, hommus or nut spreads but surprisingly convenient. Many supermarkets are not also stocking snack style veggies so you don’t even need to cut them up yourself.

Read about the foods to have on hand to help support your weight control here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 4.19.55 PM3. Add a lunch side

The great thing about veggies is that you can literally add them to any dish or meal as a low calorie side. At lunchtime think side salad, soup or leftover vegetables from dinner that can bulk up your regular sandwich, sushi or leftovers. Not only will you notice feeling more satisfied all afternoon but you will then be well on your way to your 7-10 serves of veggies each day.

4. Eat them while you prepare dinner

Chances are you snack on crackers, dip and chips before dinner but simply adding some cut up vegetables to the mix when you are tired, bored and hungry means you will not only eat significantly fewer calories at dinner but will easily eat at least a serve of vegetables before the meal itself.

Hungry all the time? Susie shares the top reasons that your hunger may be getting the better of you and how to overcome it here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 4.30.57 PM5. Aim for ½ a plate at dinner

The mistake we make in Australia is loading our dinner plates up with extra protein at the expense of our veggies. Ideally we need at least 2 cups of vegetables or salad at dinner time or at least ½ of the plate. Using a spiralizer to make zucchini or pumpkin noodles; or cauliflower rice are two easy ways to replace out some carbs for extra vegetables in stir fries and pastas (see Woolworths new Simply Steam Zucchini Spaghetti and Cauliflower Rice for those times you need a quick option on hand), while a side salad or roasted vegetables go a long way in complimenting many different meals. Most importantly, don’t be scared to make your vegetables taste good – feel free to use oils, sauces and cheese to flavour them up as you will eat a lot more when your veggies and salads taste good. 

5 things to know about toddler milk

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For many parents, the toddler years can prove challenging when it comes to dietary patterns and food preferences. Small children are notoriously fussy and often parents relent and feed them whatever they will eat, which is not always ideal nutritionally. Busy parents need convenient yet nutritious and child friendly options to help strike a balance between nutrition and the reality of what small children will eat.

Toddler milk is a product that has become increasingly popular in recent years as a supplement or alternative to cow’s milk. And although toddler milks are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they have been openly criticised by health professionals, with many arguing it is simply not necessary to use a special milk for toddlers. Many say toddlers can get all the nutrients they require in a normal healthy diet, which includes regular cow’s milk.

Yet — the market for toddler milk continues to grow. So, do you need toddler milk? And, should you choose to use toddler milk with your family, how should it be incorporated?

While a balanced diet will give toddlers the nutrients they require, it can be argued that very few toddlers are actually eating the range of foods needed to obtain the optimal intake of essential nutrients.

Sure, they may be getting plenty of calories via carbohydrate-rich meals and snacks like bread, rice crackers, snack bars, fruit, sweet yogurt and milk. But the data shows toddlers are rarely consuming the amounts of lean meat, fish and vegetables they require to get the optimal amount of iron, zinc, iodine, fibre and Omega 3 required.

When you consider the ideal toddler food intake compared to what the average toddler actually eats, there is a place for toddler milk as part of a balanced dietary pattern.

I am not saying toddler milk is a necessity. But in the diets of toddlers, it can be a nutrient rich addition — especially for toddlers who are particularly fussy and likely to be missing out on key nutrients. Other benefits of including a serve of toddler milk each day in the diet of your toddler include:

1. Toddler milk ticks the box of a number of key vitamins and minerals

Unlike cow’s milk, toddler milk offers a significant proportion of a number of essential vitamins and minerals toddlers need for growth and development including iron, zinc, calcium and iodine. For poor meat and vegetable eaters, this means toddlers still get the nutrients they would ideally be getting via fresh foods.

2. Toddler milk contains iodine

Iodine is a key nutrient that is notoriously low in the diets of Australians. Iodine is essential for brain development and metabolism — and low levels in pregnancy and early childhood are linked to reduced cognitive function. Toddler milk offers the added benefit of iodine, which is found in few other foods.

3. Toddler milk contains Omega 3 fats

It can be really hard to get toddlers and small children to eat the amounts of fresh fish they require to get an optimal amount of omega 3 fat. Toddler milks offer the added benefit of long chain omega 3 fats.

4. Toddler milk may contain added extras such as prebiotics

As we learn more about nutrition, we learn more about the importance of gut health. Prebiotics are important in helping feed the good bacteria in the gut, as well as helping to reduce constipation.

5. Toddler milk is a back-up meal option

When toddlers are tired, reluctant to eat a typical meal, or simply off their food, toddler milk is a convenient meal replacement option that can give you peace of mind that your little one has received the nutrients they require.

Susie is a consultant to Bellamy’s Organic. Bellamy’s do manufacture toddler milk. These are though her own views on the use of toddler milk as both a paediatric dietitian and as a mum. After working with Bellamy’s and through her own research, she has come to appreciate the benefits of toddler milk drinks and the role they can play in a toddler’s diet, particularly toddlers who are fussy eaters. This is not to say that toddler milk is for everyone, it is simply one nutrient rich options that can play a role in the diets of toddlers.