What’s your tummy telling you?


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

Bloating

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

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

Wind

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

Loose stools

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

Constipation

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

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

Everything you need to know about fish oil


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A strong nutrition platform for good health


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

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

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

1. Eat more fresh food

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

2. Keep hydrated

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

3. Sit down and enjoy your meals

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

4. Get your good fats

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

5. Plan ahead

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

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

My top 5 products from Aldi


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

ALC6674_PRODUCTS__PD__30Baker’s Life Wholegrain Wraps

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

Hillcrest Nut Bars

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

AWARDS_PD_61_7astirfryvegtables500gMarket Fare Stir Fry Vegetables

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

AWARDS_PD_Dairy_26_65a610d145Westacre Lite Cottage Cheese

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

ALC6887_PD_GROCERY_AWARDS_UPDATE_388x314_1Slim and Trim Meal Replacements

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

What’s wrong with your breakfast


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

Eating breakfast too late

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

Not getting enough protein

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

Not counting the coffee

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

Enjoying a café breakfast

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

The health and fitness benefits of Pokemon Go


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

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

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

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

Here are our top tips when playing Pokemon Go:

Hatch eggs

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

Don’t walk and stare down

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

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

Go catching with the kids

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

Keep it updated

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

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

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

5 things to know if you are eating dairy free


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There are a range of reasons why individuals may not eat dairy – they may be lactose intolerant; they may prefer to avoid dairy as it does against the principles of a specific dietary regime such as a Paleo approach; they may not like the idea of consuming dairy or they may think dairy contributes to weight gain. Whatever the reason you choose not to eat dairy, here are some things to be aware of.

1. Dairy free diets are notoriously low in calcium. As dairy foods including yoghurt, cheese and milk are exceptionally high in calcium, suddenly eliminating this as a dietary source can result in a much lower intake of dietary calcium. For this reason, making sure you are getting the 1000mg per day required for optimal bone health from other sources such as leafy greens, nuts and tinned fish is imperative. It is too late once you have a bone fracture or brittle bones.

2. Often nut and rice milks are chosen as an alternative to dairy milk but these tend to be relatively low in calcium compared to dairy milk and they also can contain added sugars and oils so check your labels carefully.

3. Often individuals skip dairy altogether when they are lactose intolerant rather than seek out calcium rich lactose free dairy foods including various milks, yoghurts and hard cheeses.

4. You would need to eat 4 cups of greens to even come close to getting a decent serve of calcium with an entire cup of cooked spinach containing as much calcium a a single glass of milk. It is also important to remember that these dietary sources of calcium are not overly well absorbed.

5. Dairy foods do not lead to weight gain as is commonly thought. Rather dairy foods are associated with weight control and smaller waist measurements when they are consumed as part of a calorie controlled diet. 

Try some of my favourite dairy free recipes here.

What’s really in ready-prepared baby food?


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It is commonly thought that ready-prepared baby food is highly processed and full of additives and preservatives. The truth is that the majority of ready-prepared baby foods available in supermarkets are relatively nutritious. The differentiating factor which determines quality of what you are paying for can be found on the ingredient list as well as looking at the source of ingredients.

Generally speaking, the higher the content of real ingredients such as vegetables and meats, the better.

When looking at the nutritional table keep an eye out for products with less than 2-3g of sugar per 100g serve. Another factor can be the use of white over brown rice. Many ready-prepared baby foods contain rice as a natural ingredient to carry the flavour. Rice can be a great first food for baby, but white rice contains higher levels of natural sugar than brown rice. Look for products that use brown rice opposed to the white alternative.

Below is a snap shot of some of the common supermarket brands and exactly what you will find in them.01 Bellamy’s Organic Chicken, Sweet Potato & Cous Cous

Bellamy’s Organic Chicken, Sweet Potato & Cous Cous

No added salts or sugars and a goodchicken content of 15 per cent. Less than one gram of sugar. Certified organic and Australian made.

Nutritional figures: 69 calories | 2.6g protein | 10.3g carbohydrates | 1g sugar | 9mg sodium

Ingredients: Organic Sweet Potato (23%), Organic Chicken (15%), Organic Brown Rice (14%), Water (14%), Organic Onion (13%), Organic Cous Cous (10%), Organic Spinach (7%), Organic Vegetable Oil (2%), Organic Garlic, Caraway, Thyme & Rosemary (2%)

02 Bellamy’s Organic Pumpkin & Tomato RisottoBellamy’s Organic Pumpkin & Tomato Risotto

No added salts or sugars, minimal added water and high vegetable content (75%). Certified organic and Australian made.

Nutritional figures: 59 calories | 1.3g protein | 10.1g carbohydrates | 1.8g sugars | 4mg sodium

Ingredients: Organic Pumpkin (22%), Organic Sweet Potato (22%), Organic Tomato (20%), Organic Brown Rice (17%), Organic Onion (9%), Water (4%), Organic Spinach (2%), Organic Vegetable Oil (2%), Organic Paprika & Garlic (2%)

03 Rafferty’s Garden Beef with Vegetables and Basmati RiceRafferty’s Garden Beef with Vegetables and Basmati Rice

Added yeast, high starchy vegetable content and added water. Made in Australia.

Nutritional figures: 88 calories | 4.5g protein | 10.7g carbs | 2g sugars | 22mg sodium

Ingredients: Vegetables (43%) (Potato, Onion, Carrot, Cabbage, Parsnip), Cooking Water, Beef (8%), Basmati Rice (3.5%), Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Paprika, Yeast Extract, Parsley.

04 Heinz Organic Beef, Pumpkin, Spinach and RiceHeinz Organic Beef, Pumpkin, Spinach and Rice

Relatively low vegetable and meat content. Heinz is a U.S. owned company. 

Nutritional figures: 80 calories | 4.1g protein | 10.6g carbohydrates | 2.5g sugars | 11mg sodium

Ingredients: Pumpkin (39%), Water, Rice (17%), Beef (10%), Ground Rice (2.5%), Spinach (2%).

05 Bellamy’s Organic Sweet Potato Carrot & AppleBellamy’s Organic Sweet Potato Carrot & Apple

No fillers or water added. No added sugars or salt. High vegetable content (63%) resulting in a relatively lower sugar content. Certified organic and Australian made. 

Nutritional figures: 38 calories | 0.6g protein | 7.6g carbohydrates | 3.2g sugars | 8mg sodium

Ingredients: Organic Sweet Potato (39%), Organic Apple (25%), Organic Carrot (24%), Organic Brown Rice (12%). Total organic ingredients = 100%.

06 Rafferty’s Garden Sweet Potato, Carrot & AppleRafferty’s Garden Sweet Potato, Carrot & Apple 

No added sugar or salt. Much higher fruit content than vegetable content – resulting in a sweeter product with more sugars. Made in Australia.

Nutritional figures: 67 calories | 0.7g protein | 16.3g carbohydrates | 9.8g sugars | 18mg sodium

Ingredients: Apple (60%), Sweet Potato (25%), Carrot (15%).

07 Only Organic Sweet Potato & AppleOnly Organic Sweet Potato & Apple

Much higher fruit content than vegetable content – making a sweet product that is relatively high in sugars. Made in New Zealand. 

Nutritional figures: 77 calories | 0.6g protein | 17.4g carbohydrates | 12.5g sugars | 12mg sodium

Ingredients: Apple (60%), Sweet Potato (40%), Antioxidant (Vitamin C), Food Acid (Citric Acid).

08 Rafferty’s Garden Baby’s BologneseRafferty’s Garden Baby’s Bolognese

No added salt or sugar, relatively low meat content and water added. Made in Australia.

Nutritional figures: 109 calories | 5.5g protein | 13.3g carbohydrates | 4.8g sugars | 39mg sodium

Ingredients: Tomato Puree (41%), Vegetables (24%) (Carrot, Onion, Tomato), Water, Beef (9%), Pasta (5%), Herbs, Garlic.

09 Only Organic Vegetable Macaroni and CheeseOnly Organic Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese

High in sodium for small children. New Zealand made. 

Nutritional figures: 168 calories | 6.7g protein | 21.8g carbohydrates | 4.8g sugars | 276mg sodium

Ingredients: Cheese Sauce (Water, Cheese, Milk (6%), Rice Flour, Whole Milk Powder, Vegetable Gums (Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum), Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg, Vegetables (20%) (Sweet Potato, Cauliflower, Onion, Broccoli), Pasta (5%), Emulsifier (Soy Lethicin).

10 Heinz Little Kids Ravioli BologneseHeinz Little Kids Ravioli Bolognese

Relatively high in sodium for small children and has added starches. 

Nutritional figures: 171 calories | 8.8g protein | 22.6g carbohydrates | 5.4g sugars | 230mg sodium

Ingredients: Vegetables (48%) (Tomato (35%), Onion, Red Capsicum, Carrot), Ravioli (39%) (Durum Wheat, Eggs, Water, Breadcrumbs, Cheese Powder, Vegetable Oil, Pumpkin, Salt), Beef (11%), Cornflour, Potato Starch, Canola Oil, Parmesan Cheese, Beef Extract, Herbs, Natural Flavours.

11 Only Organic Vegetable Chicken RisottoOnly Organic Vegetable Chicken Risotto

Relatively low chicken content. Contains organic ingredients and New Zealand made. 

Nutritional figures: 120 calories | 4.8g protein | 20g carbohydrates | 6.8g sugars | 154mg sodium

Ingredients: Vegetables (46%) (Carrot, Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Peas, Onion, Capsicum), Water, Chicken (5%), Tomato Puree, Rice (6%), Quinoa, Olive Oil, Salt, Parsley, Garlic, Pepper, Paprika.

12 Baby Macro Organic Pear, Banana & Berries with Greek Style YoghurtBaby Macro Organic Pear, Banana & Berries with Greek Style Yoghurt  

Relatively sweet food for a small baby and contains added starch. High in sugars for baby food.   Woolworths brand with some organic ingredients.

Nutritional figures: 72 calories | 13.8g carbohydrates | 9g sugars | 8mg sodium

Ingredients: Organic fruit (Pear (58%), Banana (10%), Raspberries (8%), Blueberries (4%)), Water, Organic Greek Yoghurt (7%), Cornflour, Organic Cream.

13 Rafferty’s Garden Mango, Pear, Banana & MilkRafferty’s Garden Mango, Pear, Banana & Milk

High water content, particularly high in calcium and added starches. High in sugars for small children.  Australia made.

Nutritional figures: 111 calories | 4.8g protein | 21g carbohydrates | 17g sugars | 254mg calcium

Ingredients: Skim Milk (51%), Water, Banana Puree (17%), Pear Juice Concentrate (9%), Yoghurt Powder, Modified Maize Starch, Whole Milk Powder (1%), Calcium, Prebiotic Fibres, Food Acids.

Superfoods for busy mums


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You may be one of the supermums who has time to ferment your own vegetables and bake your own sugar free banana bread, but if you are anything like me, good nutrition has to be quick and easy. So for all the other busy mums out there, here are my favourite foods that I grab and cook on the go to make good nutrition the quick and easy option no matter how busy you are.

thumbTassal Salmon & Beans Salads

One of the only Australian varieties of salmon available and this quick and easy lunch or snack option is protein and fibre rich, tasty and filling and most importantly does not require any preparation.

178137Peppercorn Lean Burgers

Available at Woolworths and IGA, these extra lean burgers mean that dinner can be prepared in literally 5 minutes and the burgers teamed with vegetables make a great low carb dinner for mum, and can also be made into hamburgers for a kid friendly meal.

01421BESteamFreshLemonParsley360g jpgBirds Eye Steam Fresh Fish

Do you know you need to eat more fish but never seem to be able to get the fresh stuff. Frozen fish can be a nutritious quick and easy meal and these tasty options can mean dinner on the table in 15 minutes.

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Steam Fresh Frozen Vegetables

There is nothing wrong with frozen vegetables as long as you do not overcook them and these options can be added to grilled, stir fries or tuna at lunchtime to ensure you get the 2-3 cups of veges you need at both lunch and dinner.

pouch_kalequinoaveg_570x683pxLa Zuppa Fresh Soups

When you do not have time to cook, remember soup can be a low cal, nutrient rich option and much better than toast or cereal (or wine). These are the best packaged soups on the market. 

What Mummy Feeds Us


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The twins are now up to Week 3 of their solids journey and are powering through their vege journey. So far we have had purple carrots, pumpkin, peas, spinach and pear all of which have IMG_4699been gobbled up quickly. The focus for me at this point in time is around veges and blander tastes primarily because nutritionally they have much to offer (the brighter the colour of the vegetable, the higher the nutrient content tends to be. The other thing on my mind is that baby’s have a natural preference for sweet tastes. Indeed breast milk itself is sweet. My observation is that if too many sweet tastes are offered early such as particularly sweet fruits, custards and yoghurts, small children will look for these flavours in place of the nutrient rich yet blander tasting meats and vegetables. For this reason I focus most of the twins foods around veges at this stage and when I do offer fruits, such as pear or banana I mix it with the vegetables.

IMG_4711While individual foods are encouraged to be the first offering to baby’s don’t be scared of mixing flavours once you have offered the first initial foods. This way baby’s get used to a range of flavours. Early and not used to just one food at a time. Some example of mixtures I use include pumpkin and pear; pumpkin and spinach, purple carrots and pear and avocado and carrots. Usually I pair one sweeter tasting vegetable with a more intense flavour such as spinach with pumpkin, or purple carrots and pear. One thing to be aware of, particularly for all the health nuts like me is that you do need to be careful of how much fibre you are offering small baby’s. Too much from fibre rich foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, apples and pears can give them excessive gas which can make nighttime’s very disruptive. For this reason just a tablespoon or two will be more than enough for young baby’s (5-7 months).

The other food I have started to focus on is lean meat. Of all the nutrients small baby’s need once they get to 6 months it is iron, and for meat eaters there is no richer source of iron than lean red meat. If your baby is eating vegetable purees, they are absolutely no reason why they cannot tolerate pureed meat. I simply get a fillet steak, cook it lightly and mix it with a vegetable at least 3 times a week. Small baby’s do not need a lot of meat but they do need a small amount (1-2 teaspoons) regularly to get much needed, well absorbed iron.

Finally, I have had a couple of questions about baby led weaning. I absolutely agree that the more exposure small children get to whole foods the better but the truth is that developmentally this approach is better suited to >8 months when baby’s can sit up and have the coordination to hold foods and bring them to the mouth. For this reason I will not adopt this approach until the twins are older and can sit up. For now it is about safe and controlled food exposures of a range of tastes and nutrient rich foods with the right textures. And next we move onto to fish and more mixed foods!

What you need to do now to stop Winter weight gain


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A month into Winter and if your clothes are feeling a little tight, or if the mere thought of baring flesh sends you into a tailspin it is time to take action. Many of us use Winter as an excuse to eat more and move a while lot less which generally means a few extra kilos come Spring. So if you would rather this is not the case, these are the steps to take now to take control and put a stop to Winter weight gain.

Stop eating foods you would never usually eat

You know the foods I am talking about – meat pies at the footy, hot chips at the pub, chocolate biscuits after dinner. The fat heavy, stodgy foods that we only consume as we give ourselves permission to do so, just because it is Winter. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a meat pie if you really feel like it occasionally, but allowing yourself to down an entire packet of Tim Tams in the spirit of Winter is only going to end badly.

Train more, not less

Yes the days are slightly shorter, and yes the temperature is slightly lower but as Winter often features fewer social engagements, surely this means we have more time to train, not less? If you need a little more motivation to commit to an extra gym class in these cooler months, pop your swimming costume on every few weeks and take a few selfies in the mirror to help act as a reminder that it really not that long until you will be baring bare flesh again.

Be smart with soups and vegetables

Sure, there may be more television advertisements featuring chocolate biscuits and apple pies at this time of year, but there are also plenty of opportunities to focus on Winter foods that can actually support weight control. Soups, roasted vegetables, roasted meats and even baked fruit desserts are not going to pile on the kg unless you team them with plenty of bread, cream, sauces and custard. All you need to do is put your focus on Winter foods that will help rather than hinder you.

Keep busy and active

With fewer social commitments which can also mean more down time, Winter is the perfect opportunity to focus your energy on something you have wanted to achieve for a while. It may be a house renovation; committing to a new training program, studying or a big clean out but once you have something specific to be working on in your down time, you will find that there is less time for mindless munching and much more active, directed action.

Commit to some clear goals

Experience has shown that it is not knowledge or motivation that determines those who achieve their weight loss goals and those who do not. Rather it is the simple ability to accept what we need to do to lose weight and commit to doing it. This Winter, if your goal is weight loss or at least weight control, if you really, really want this, it is time to accept the limitations that Winter may pose for you and commit to working around them. This means no skipping training sessions, or eating more, rather seeing Winter and the time it creates as an opportunity to do more, eat better and take control. Once you decide this, weight control is easy.

And if you are looking for some calorie controlled Winter recipe inspiration, check out my online program Shape Me, by Susie Burrell.

Why I create simple recipes.


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It may surprise you to hear that the meals I generally put together for my family contain 5 or less ingredients and literally take 10 minutes to prepare and that is why I have developed Shape Me Cooks.

Few would disagree that on some nights the thought of whipping up another appealing and nutritious meal for the family simply seems too hard. So is there anything you can prepare from scratch, in less than ten minutes with minimal ingredients that will still tick a number of nutritional boxes? The good news is that once your pantry is stocked with a few food staples, it is far easier to put together a quick, nutritious meal than you think.

Nutritionally the two main things that tends to be missing in meals prepared on the go is a good source of protein and vegetables as these are foods less likely to be on hand when you have not had much time to get to the shops. Simply keeping a supply of tinned fish, ham or a few eggs on hand will ensure that you always have a couple of protein rich options ready to go while tinned or frozen vegetables will keep for many months and can be incorporated into many dishes.

Once you have these ingredients as well as some stock, tomato pasta sauce, pasta or rice and some potatoes you will be able to throw together at least ten nutritious meals. Use pasta sauce and mix with tuna or salmon, as a base for pizza or mix with pasta and beans and a few frozen vegetables. Top a jacket potato with tuna or salmon; add corn and a few cut up vegetables or use frozen vegetables and mix with tuna or leftover mince.

One of the main reasons that some individuals manage to eat well no matter how short of time they are, it that they actively make time to get to the supermarket each week and stock up on the dietary staples they need to be able to prepare meals quickly. If you are one of the many who actually detests shopping, maybe it is time to shop online. Convenient and time effective, online shopping not only means you are ready to eat well each week, but also means you avoid the temptation of buying extra foods you see when you find yourself at the supermarket late at night.

Try some of my quick and easy Shape Me recipes today.

Top 10 quick and easy meals

Jacket potato topped with salmon, cottage cheese and tomato

Pasta with tuna and frozen vegetables

Chili Con Carne

Frittata

Omelette

Mountain bread pizza

Frozen vegetables stir fried with prawns

Quick cook brown rice with ham or tuna

Vegetable soup

Frozen fish and frozen vegetables

Sign up to Shape Me Cooks for access to over 650 of my most popular quick and easy recipes here.

5 things to know about eating for insulin resistance


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Insulin resistance is a challenging condition when it comes to weight loss. Basically if you are insulin resistant your body is producing high levels of insulin in response to carbohydrate consumption (no matter what type of carbs) and when insulin levels are high, fat metabolism will be blocked metabolically. For this reason the right balance of macro nutrients, along with medication in many cases is required to achieve successful weight loss. So, if you are insulin resistant and have been struggling to get the weight loss results you are after, here are some things to consider.

1. The traditional energy balance equation does not apply when you have insulin resistance. As your cells are processing carbohydrates less efficiently you are likely to need fewer calories and carbohydrates at certain times to induce weight loss. Most importantly this is not an absolute amount of calories or carbs, the amount you need will change as you lose weight, become fitter and become more insulin sensitive.

2. Meal timing is incredibly important when you have insulin resistance. Ideally you want at least 3-4 hours in between eating experiences and more meals during the first half of the day.

3. You can consume too few carbohydrates if you have insulin resistance. While low carb diets will give you immediate results, unless you continue to follow a low carb diet long term, eating more carbs when you are still insulin resistance will lead to rapid weight gain. For this reason gradually reducing carbs to support weight loss will give you good results long term.

4. When you eat fewer carbs, it will mean that you eat more good fats and proteins. Ideally we need a 20-30g serve of protein at each meal and 60-80g good fats each day.

5. Hunger is a good sign that your body is starting to burn your food. If you are not hungry every 3-4 hours, it is a sign your macro nutrients and / or calories may need adjusting. 

A New Series: What Mummy Feeds Us.


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IMG_4577I have a new baby…..now I know you are thinking, ‘whats wrong with this chick, she just had 2 baby’s’ but those 2 bubbas are just not giving me enough to do so I have a new Facebook site to share with you that will run via a regularly featured theme to this blog - ‘What Mummy Feeds Us‘. What Mummy Feeds Us will be dedicated to detail the food journey of Baby Harry and Baby Gus as they transition to solid food. IMG_4597As a paediatric dietitian I feel pretty passionately about the importance of small children developing sound eating habits early in life. Working in this area for a number of years, I have some pretty firm opinions based on scientific evidence and my own clinical experience about what kids should and shouldn’t be eating. So what better way than to share these thoughts as I transition my own 5 month twins to solids over the next 6 months than to blog about my processes and practices?

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And hence this first blog post. So, the twins are now 5 months old but just 4 months and 1 week corrected. I wanted to wait until they were fully 4 months before starting any solid foods despite little Gussy constantly staring down everyone eating in his path and stuffing his hands or anything he can find for that matter into his mouth. Now often the first food people will reach for is the rice cereal. Now it is interesting that rice cereal has been used as one of the first infant foods thanks to its fortified iron content and low allergy risk. For me rice cereal is a high GI grain which does not offer a huge amount of nutrients and as I plan to get the boys eating red meat for their iron pretty quickly I decided to go with oats. Now the oats I have used this week are Bellamy’s because even though I had the best off intentions in grinding my own and pureeing them, time got away from me and the Bellamy’s oats are already such a good consistency for a first foods I went with those and ta da, we have eating!

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Both of the twins liked their oats which do have a tad of pear through them. As you can see both got their hands involved in the process and spent plenty of time slurping and playing with the spoon which is exactly what you want to be happening at this stage. GusI choose to feed the boys after their morning bottle at about 10am, before their second feed so they were a little hungry and will offer them about 1-2 tablespoons each day for a couple of days until we move onto vegetables. My baby phase is officially on the way out and I am just going to go and cry a little about that right now. Next bring on the veges!

A new supplement partnership with D&X


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An exciting announcement today – I am thrilled to announce that I have joined the team at D&X and come on board as an official ambassador for the health, well-being and lifestyle brand.

D&X is an Australian conglomerate manufacturing dietary supplements here in Australia. With a commitment to natural, Australian made products D&X products have the goal of supporting optimal health, vitality and well-being.

Watch an introduction to D&X from CEO Rick Chapman see inside the 2016 Global Launch on Sky News Business.

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My role with D&X is to communicate the scientific evidence with D&X’s global R&D team for specific supplements and how they may compliment your diet and lifestyle goals. With products ranging from high strength fish oil, to cranberry relief for urinary health and glucosamine for joint health, D&X is committed to much product development over the next few years.

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If you are in Sydney, check out the flagship store in Haymarket (389-391 Sussex Street, Sydney) and look for special offers we will be running through my website. Each couple of weeks we will also be showcasing a D&X product and outlining the ways in which they may compliment your healthy lifestyle choices and I will be blogging regularly on the role of supplements and how to use them the right way in your diet. So stay tuned for exciting developments with this new brand!

Don’t forget to jump across to the D&X Facebook page to keep up to date on all their announcements too.

The natural cold and flu flighters


Colds and flu

Proven remedies

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

Probiotics

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

Garlic

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

Chicken soup

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

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

Olive leaf extract

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

Medicinal mushrooms

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

Introducing Shape Me Cooks.


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Today I have another exciting development from Shape Me to share with you all. For those of you who are not familiar with Shape Me, Shape me is an online weight loss program that offers direct access to a dietitian and caters to a number of key dietary requirements including gluten free, PCOS, low FODMAPS and insulin resistance meal plans. Shape Me has now helped thousands of Australians achieve their weight loss goals. Shape Me is popular as it features personalised meal plans plus the support of a dietitian literally making it your own personal dietitian. One of the other major strengths of Shape Me is that it has hundreds of calorie controlled recipes, recipes that Shape Me users are often keen to continue using after their program finishes. It is for this reason that we have now launched Shape Me Cooks – a recipe subscription that allows you to access the Shape Me recipes for just $19.95 a month – that’s less than 72c a day!

Sign up to Shape Me Cooks today!

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When it comes to recipes, my mantra is simple, literally keep it simple. As soon as I see complicated recipes with numerous ingredients, I simply tune out because I have no time to make elaborate meals, especially during the week. As such as of the Shape Me recipes are simple, primarily using mainstream supermarket brands and can bee made within just 10-20 minutes suiting families and busy people in general.

Want to try some of our Shape Me recipes out first? Try our most popular recipes for free, here!

So if you are looking for some recipe inspiration and are also keen for your recipes to be nutritionally balanced and calorie controlled, check out Shape Me Cooks. Recipes are added weekly and we cater for all major dietary requirements. It could not be easier than having your healthy recipes at the touch of a button 24 hours a day!

Sign up to Shape Me Cooks today here.

My top Winter soups


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With soup season finally upon us, while it may be on your weekly to do list to make yourself a homemade batch, it is always good to know which the best are pre-prepared options should you need a quick option on the go. So here are my top Winter soups which make great low calorie lunch options teamed with ½ a sandwich or crackers or as a low calorie dinner option.

La Zuppa SoupLa Zuppa Kale, Quinoa and Vegetables

The pick of the bunch when it comes to pre–made soups. Clean ingredient lists, literally no sugars and packed full of vegetables plus they taste great.

Pitango

With a massive 16g of fibre per serve, this vege option has a clean ingredient list and makes a filling, low calorie meal.

Darikay Chicken Noodle Soup

A number of the Darikay fresh soups are low calorie, vege rich options.

Campbells SoupCampbell’s Healthy Green with Kale

A new variety of soup that is packed full of vegetables, is relatively low in salt for a packet soup and in a handy non messy container.

Woolworths Home Style Fresh Soups

You do need to check the labels of these fresh soups as they are not all good options but the vege and chicken varieties are relatively low in carbs and calories. 

Get motivated…..NOW!


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One of the most common questions I am asked by clients is about motivation – how to find it, how to keep it and what the secret is to keeping it going. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. Motivation is complicated. Ultimately it is about finding a reason to do something because you really want to and because you even like doing it. This means that no one can give it to you, nor are you likely to wake up with it randomly one morning. Rather it will come when something is really important to you and you start to make positive food decisions and move your body because you want to, not because you have to; think you should or are doing it for someone else. Personally I feel motivated to eat well, control my weight and move my body every day as I know I am at my best when I am lean, fit and energised. I never feel good when I am not eating well, or when I am feeling heavy. When I look in the mirror and feel good I know I am at my best to deal with whatever life is throwing at me. So when I am feeling down or over life, always the easiest thing for me to do to feel better is prepare some healthy food and go for a big walk. Nothing makes me feel as good as this does. So if you are looking for that elusive dose of motivation, here are some things you can actually DO to move you forward.  

1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself

No one is blessed with a big hit of motivation. Individuals who are motivated work at it, constantly and consider what they need to do to be at their best, not what someone else can do for them.

2. Do something positive

The simple act of thinking positive and even more of doing something that makes you feel positive – going for a walk, buying some flowers, catching up with a friend can be the easiest way to help you open your mind to opportunities. In the case of diet and exercise motivation this can mean just getting started as the positive feelings that come from that are likely to help you keep motivated and press on.

3. Accept

Keeping motivated to eat well and exercise has a lot to do with accepting this is something most of us need to do on most days for the rest of our lives. The beliefs that things are easy for some or that it is not fair are ultimately just excuses that give us a reason for not doing anything, yet they are not really true.

4. Stop thinking

Motivation to do has a lot to do with putting a stop to the self-talk that keeps holding you back and commit to action only. Simple acts such as cooking a healthy meal or catching up with a friend over a talk are small but powerful actions that will help to move your forward with minimal commitment.

5. Do things you like

One of the biggest mistakes we make when it comes to lifestyle change is that we try and make ourselves do things we don’t want to do. We join a gym even though we hate it; or follow a diet that includes foods that we do not like eating. Motivation will come a lot more readily when you actually like your diet and exercise regime.

If you are struggling with your motivation and would like to take control today, try Shape Me by Susie Burrell for easy to follow meal plans, recipe ideas and diet, motivation and exercise tips to help you feel your best. Sign up today here.

Let’s talk about the snacks marketed to young children.


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As a parent, chances are you are keen to give your children the best nutritionally. The issue with this when it comes to foods marketed for children is that there are plenty that are far less healthy than you would think. Here are a few popular kids’ foods and what you will find in them.

Weetbix Go Breakfast Biscuits

With more than 8g of sugars in a single serve, a biscuit is a biscuit is a biscuit and biscuits are not a healthy choice for breakfast.

Heinz Little Kids Oat Bikkies

With butter and sugar listed within the first three ingredients, these are not a good choice for small children especially who are best to have no added sugars in their diet.

Aribar

Marketed as organic and with 25% less sugar, ARI bars still contain sugars, agave and rice syrup which are all sugars meaning that each bar contains a teaspoon or ¼ sugar.

Wholekids Organic Fruit Bar

Another product with multiple sources of added sugars via dried fruit, honey and sugar, a single bar contains almost 15g of sugars, or 3 teaspoons in a single bar!

Uncle Toby’s Roll Ups

These is nothing healthy about pressed fruit and sugar and your child’s dentist would agree. Each roll up contains almost a teaspoon of sugar.

Rafferty’s Garden Fruit Snack Bar

The second and third ingredient on this product is sugar giving each bar 6g.

Whole Kids Organic Farm Biscuits

With sugar and vegetable oil as the second and third ingredients, again there is nothing healthy about feeding small children sweet biscuits.

Sakata Paws

While rice crackers may seem to be a healthy option, a closer look at the ingredient list reveals added sugar, vegetable oil and a highly processed snack option.

Fantastic Rice Crackers

Not only do many varieties of flavoured rice crackers contain added MSG (621) but vegetable oil, sugar and salt as well – no good for small tummy’s or taste buds.

5AM Organic Yoghurt Tubes

With sugar listed on the ingredient list and 14g of sugars or more than 3 teaspoons in a 120g pouch there are much better yoghurts available for children.

Milk Arrowroot Biscuits

Plain sweet biscuits remain a popular choice for mums but when you consider that this biscuit is made up of palm oil, sugar and white flour giving 5g of sugars per 3 biscuits, again there are much better teethers for children.

My Yummy Lunchbox Sesame Sticks

With added rice syrup, sweetened condensed milk and sugar or three different sugars, these vegan, gluten free bars also contain a teaspoon of sugar which is ¼ of the 18g bar.

Yoplait Petit Miam Squeezie Yoghurt

With sugar as the second ingredient and 12g of sugar per 70g tube, the negatives of this product for small children outweigh any potential nutritional benefits.

Vaalia Kids Yoghurt

Sugar is another core ingredient in this yoghurt which contains 15g or more than 3 teaspoons of sugar per 140g serve.

Only Organic Apple Custard

Added sugar translates into 11g of sugars per 120g tube of this dessert marketed for babies.