No, I do not promote a low carb approach


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After we launched our 2 week Kickstart plan a couple of weeks back there was some feedback questioning on why I was supporting a low carb diet so I thought it was important to set the record straight.

When it comes to carbohydrates, things are not always so clearly explained. A low carb diet approach refers to a diet in which most of the carbohydrate rich foods are eliminated, resulting in an intake of just 10-20% of total calories or less than 80-100g of total carbs being consumed per day. In such diets, ketosis may be triggered in which fat is being burnt at the expense of carbohydrate. Such a dietary approach is favoured by a number of diet fans reporting that a low crab approach is the best diet for weight loss, longevity and health. While such an approach will work (as all diets ‘work’ when they are followed, the issue for the average person is that unless they do not want to eat bread, fruit, grains and starchy veges for the rest of their days, it is not a diet favoured by many long term. 

So let it be said, I do not favour, nor promote a low carb approach, although as a dietitian working in clinical practice I may use such an approach if I have a client who wants or may need this diet. Rather, the approach I have always used, and have again used in the Shape Me Kickstart is a lower carbohydrate approach in which 30-40% of total calories are coming via carbs. Not only is this not a ‘low carb’ diet but it still includes carbohydrate rich foods including good quality breads, controlled portions of grains, fruit and starchy vegetables. It is not a ‘detox’, or promoting unsustainable weight loss, it is simply a calorie controlled, carb controlled diet packed full of fresh foods for a 2 week period to help kick start weight loss and remind us how good we feel when we eat the amounts of fresh foods we should be for optimal health. 

Si if you are interested to know how much carbohydrate you are eating, rather than label it low carb it may be best to check exactly how much you are consuming via a calorie monitoring app such as ‘myfitnesspal’. Very rarely is what you think is ‘low carb’, actually low carb at all. 

Why does my diet always fail?


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Chances are you have tried a specific diet at some point in time. You may have been able to follow it for a few weeks or even a few months but chances are at some point it stopped working for you. This is the very reason that there are so many ‘diets’on the market. Most of them, if any are not something you can or would want to stick to for life. And that is what an ideal diet is, one that allows you to achieve your dietary goals; one that supports weight control and one that you actual like doing. So here are the most common reasons diets fail, and what you can do to get of the ‘diet’ bandwagon and find an eating regime that suits you for life.

1. You went too hard, too soon

Diets that are particularly strict and that eliminate a number of food groups; reduce the amount of carbohydrate dramatically and are difficult to sustain long term are rarely successful, primarily because dietary restriction is a recipe for failure long term. While these strict regimes may be useful to kick start a particular regime, they are best followed for short periods only before moving onto something more sustainable.  

2. You do not like the food on it

If you do not like it, chances are you will not continue to do it long term. It is for this reason that special shakes, snacks made with ingredients you have to seek out at several specialty stores and rather bland tasting dishes minus all sauces and often flavour may work for a few days, or for those who are happy to not enjoy want they are eating, but are rarely a sustainable option for the rest of us.

3. It has too little carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for the muscle and for the brain and while diets that dramatically reduce carbohydrates result in weight loss initially, if the body consistently has access to lower amounts of carbohydrates than it requires, over time the muscles will break down to fuel the brain, resulting in a reduction in metabolic rate. Long term this means that you require fewer calories and as such need to eat less, which explains why extreme diets work initially but rarely long term.

4. It has too much good fat

While nuts, avocado and olive oil are good for you, you will need to burn off the calories that come from fat. As fat contains more than double the calories than carbohydrate or protein, too much fat can prevent weight loss if you are still eating more than you burn. The average adult will require just 60-80g of fat each day which is a small handful of nuts, a couple of serves of olive oil and some oily fish.

5. You are eating too little

The body runs little a finely tuned machine and the muscles and the brain require a certain number of calories for it to run. If we give it far fewer calories than it needs, it will basically slow down, burning fewer and fewer calories. As such you may need to check your calories to make sure they are not too low for your body type to function efficiently and allow fat loss. At a minimum you will need 1200 calories and likely an extra 200-300 calories for every hour of exercise that you do. 

Get your healthy eating back on track with my 14-day intensive Shape Me Kickstart plan. Sign up today and see how just 2 weeks of healthy eating can change your focus!

6. You are exercising too much

If you lower your calorie intake as part of a particular dietary regime while simultaneously increasing the number of calories you are burning, overall there may be too great a calorie deficit to allow the body to maintain metabolic rate. For this reason always allow a couple of extra hundred calories in your diet for every 400-500calories that you burn.

7. You are eating too little during the day

Often we find ourselves eating lightly throughout the day when we are most active before binging at night. Shift this pattern by eating more calories throughout the day and keeping your nighttime intake light.

8. You are having treats at night

Another bad dietary habit many of us get ourselves into is rewarding ourselves with high calorie treats after dinner – chocolate, biscuits, ice cream, cheese, wine – all foods that are easy to over consume. If you do choose to enjoy a little something after your evening meal, make a concerted effort to keep it to 100 calories or less.

9. You are drinking too much coffee

While black coffee has minimal calories and may even enhance fat burning, milk based coffees contain a significant number of calories and sugars. For this reason if your goal is weight loss, limit the number of milk based coffees and always order small or piccolo sized serves.

10. You are not treating yourself enough

If you follow a strict calorie controlled diet for long period of time, research has shown that brief interludes of extra calorie consumption can help to prevent a starvation response in the body. In real terms this translates into a meal or two off your strict calorie control each week. 

Read more about how just 2 weeks of healthy eating can have you seeing results on The Huffington Post Australia.

My top supplements


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With literally hundreds to different supplements available on the market to help you look and feel at your best, it can become extremely confusing to select which is the right supplement for you. While a number of supplements including Vitamin B, magnesium and Vitamin C are all extremely popular, there are a few key supplements that I would routinely prescribe to my clients that offer numerous health benefits for most of us. So here are the top supplements I generally prescribe and the reasons I choose these over others.

Fish Oil

When you analyse individual clients diets, one of the key nutrients few of us get in the amounts we ideally need is long chain omega 3 fat. Found naturally in deep sea cold fish such as Atlantic salmon, you would need to eat 200g of fresh salmon every day to get the 1-2g of pure fish oil known to offer a range of health benefits including reduced levels of inflammation and blood pressure in the body. For this reason, a daily dose of fish oil only offers benefits and where possible look for an odourless variety to help reduce fishy breath and reflux.

Rwad about everything you need to know about fish oil here.

Probiotic

Whether you take it as a powder, capsule or a fermented drink, there is more and more evidence building to show that much of our immune function comes through the gut. Yet often our guts are not in overly good shape thanks to the impact of modern life, stress and a poor diet. A daily probiotic is the easiest way to help keep your gut healthy and your immune system pumping.

CO Q10

Known to help benefit individuals with high blood pressure and heart failure, CO Q10 is an antioxidant molecule known for its benefits to cell health and for its benefits to managing blood cholesterol levels. A good general supplement for anyone interested in anti-aging and cell health.

Read my previous post on CO Q10 and anti-aging here.

Vitamin D

A huge number of people have low Vitamin D levels and while you should never take a vitamin or mineral supplement without knowing if you are deficient, if you are feeling tired and a little off, especially during the cooler months of the year and if you work inside, it is worth having your Vitamin D levels checked. Best taken with food, a Vitamin D boost will put the skip back in your step if you have been a little off.

Liver Health Complex

For individuals with a fatty liver, or insulin resistance, there are a number of herbal remedies known to improve liver function. In busy lives where we put our liver under pressure constantly with too much fatty food and wine, a liver supplement may just offer some improvements to your liver function.

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

To learn more about the D&X range including where to purchase, click here.

How hydration affects performance….at home, at work and at play.


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When we hear the words ‘nutrition’ and ‘performance’ our thoughts generally skew to visions of elite athletes and competition. While sports nutrition is a crucial aspect of elite performance, if we consider that each and every day, every single one of us is performing at something, considering our nutrition practices and specifically our hydration habits is a crucial component of peak performance whether we are trying to perform at work; at home; at school or at the gym.

Keeping well hydrated and its link to performance is not always clearly explained. Sure we know that keeping well hydrated helps to keep us looking at feeling our best, but what about the performance related specifics?

At Work

First and foremost, keeping well hydrated ensures a number of cognitive pathways are functioning optimally. Whether you are retrieving information when giving a presentation, making important decisions quickly or developing cognitive pathways to determine strategy, performing when you are dehydrated has been shown to result in slower reaction times, poorer decision making and increased feelings of effort and exertion. All cognitive functions that we may often take for granted but which can be enhanced simply by drinking a little more of the clear stuff.

At Home

A conversation with any busy mum will reveal the full extent of the stress and pressure she is under from the minute she wakes up to the minute those little ones are put to bed each evening. Not only do mums need to be on their game all day, but dealing with the stress of managing little ones for hours and hours each day. Mums generally place the nutrition needs including hydration of the children way before her own, which means while the little ones often have their water bottle with them at all times, mum has barely managed to finish her tea or coffee once each day. Unfortunately for mums this means they are often dehydrated and much less equipped to deal with chronic stress which can result in increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure – all of which can be alleviated by the simple act of keeping well-hydrated.

See how my Zip Hydrotap has changed my life at home here.

Play

Whether you are a recreational athlete, taking your kids to rugby or netball or aiming for a treadmill session at the gym after work each day, chances are you want to be at your best while you are doing it. Chances are, unless you are also focused on drinking at least a couple of litres of filtered water each day, you hit the field or the gym dehydrated. Not only does this mean the game or workout will be much harder, your performance, recovery, perceived exertion and reaction times will all suffer. All of which can be enhanced simply by enjoy a bottle of filtered water before your training, game or gym session. The easiest way to optimize performance on a daily basis.

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

Read how drinking more can also be the easiest way to lose weight in my recent blog post.

Counting carbs


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Forget shakes. Or weighing and measuring your food. And you won’t even have to cut out the wine. One of the easiest ways you can adjust your diet to support weight loss is to count your carbs. Counting carbs is a tried and true method to keep an eye on the total amount of fuel you are supplying the muscles with each day and lets you adjust what and how much of your favourite foods you can eat whilst still losing weight. So how does it work?

Carbohydrate as a nutrient is the primary fuel for the muscle and for the brain As such, the amount of carbohydrate each individual requires differs widely depending on their age, activity level, the amount of muscle mass they have and how well the hormone insulin is working in their body. While there is no set amount of carbohydrate we require, there are though reference ranges known to be particularly low, or high for a person’s age, gender and activity level.

Most importantly, the amount of carbohydrate in different types of food differs widely. For example, a couple of slices of bread can contain as little as 20g of total carbs per 2 slices and up to as much as 80g of carbs depending on the slice size, thickness and density. For this reason, becoming more aware of how much total carbohydrate you are consuming, helps to inform ways in which it can be dramatically reduced in order to support weight loss.

The average adult consuming breakfast cereal, a sandwich as well as carb rich options such as rice or pasta for dinner will consume 200-250g of total carbohydrate per day. With a few simple dietary adjustments – lower carb bread; less cereal and more Greek yoghurt for breakfast and a swap from rice or pasta to a vegetable rich dinner your daily carb intake can be slashed by as much as 50% which in turn reduces the load of fuel the muscle need to be burn through, promoting fat loss.

With weight loss will not be dramatic as is seen with low carb diets, it will be slow and steady, with losses of ½ -1 kg a week. Most importantly, this dietary approach, unlike more extreme weight loss diets does not result in significant muscle loss, helping to preserve metabolic rate. As such it a safe, sustainable way to lose body fat whilst still allowing you to enjoy foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and fruit, albeit the right types and volumes.

An average, active female will lose weight consuming 100-140g of total carbs per day, while a male requires a little more, 140-180g per day. Any less tends to see halted weight loss results as the total amount of fuel is a little low, while too much will again see minimal weight loss.

So if you have not done so before, download an online monitoring program such as ‘myfitnesspal’ and work out exactly how much carb you are consuming each day. Not only will it surprise you, but also show you how easy it may be to cut back and support slow, yet sustainable weight loss.

Shape Me is a calorie and carb controlled weight loss program in which the carbs are counted for you. For more info on Shape Me and how it can help you, click here.

Are bananas a great breakfast choice? Yes!


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When it comes to quick and easy nutrition, it is hard to go past a banana – nutrient rich, sweet and tasty and packed in its own container, a banana is a popular snack option or quick meal on the run. A common misconception about this delicious nutrition boost is that it is high in sugar, and as such, not a great choice nutritionally. While bananas do contain naturally occurring sugars, like all fruit does, this does not mean it is a poor choice. Rather it comes down to what you eat them with, and what your overall nutritional plan looks like.

A medium banana contains 100-120 calories, 2-3g of fibre, 18-20g of total carbohydrate and a good dose of magnesium, potassium and a good dose of resistance starch, the type of fibre particular good for gut health. Compared to other popular breakfast choices including smoothies, juices, toast and muffins, a banana contains about 1/4-1/3 of the calories and 1/3 of the sugars. While bananas are often considered high in sugars, they are actually relatively low compared to other popular breakfast choices.

Grabbing a banana for breakfast rather than skipping the first meal of the day, or grabbing a high fat and high calorie option on the run is only a good thing nutritionally but a banana alone is a light breakfast option. This means that you will need to refuel 2-3 hours later to ensure you are full and satisfied until lunchtime. An even better option is to team a nutrient rich banana will another quick and easy breakfast option that is high in protein – a small milk coffee; tub of Greek style yoghurt; handful of nuts and seeds or a protein shake. This combo of nutrient rich carbs and proteins will help to keep your blood glucose levels controlled through the morning, helping you to keep full and satiated until lunchtime.

Another great way to use a banana as part of your overall nutrition plan is as a quick first breakfast before early morning starts or exercise sessions. Often early in the morning we do not feel like eating anything too substantial. It is though much better to have something small and carb rich early in the morning to get the metabolism going. Once you have eaten this you are then in a position to have a more substantial breakfast an hour or two later.

When it comes to good nutrition, you will never go wrong with fresh, natural foods. While some foods including dairy and fruit do have naturally occurring sugars, when they are consumed as part of an overall balanced diet, they will trump foods purchased away from the home every single time. So no need to stress about eating a nutrient rich banana for breakfast, you may simple need to pair it with something else to keep you fuelled and energised all morning.

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

The eating plan that will change your body – for good


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There is never a shortage of diets that you can choose to follow to help with your weight loss attempts – low carb, high protein, low fat, low calorie plans that promise you the body of your dreams. Unfortunately, deep down we all know that despite the ever increasing number of diets and commercial weight loss programs available, sustainable weight loss eventually comes down to developing a strong eating plan that you can maintain for life. The good news is that these core habits are probably even easier to implement and maintain than you would ever imagine, and are far more likely to help you control your weight, for life than any commercial weight loss program has ever been proven to.

1. Focus on vegetables

If you do not eat 1-2 cups of vegetables or salad at lunch and another 2-3 cups with your dinner, you simply are not eating the volume of low calorie, nutrient dense plant based food in your diet to be at your best. Not only are vegetables important for the key nutrients that they offer, but their low calorie content means that you can literally eat vegetables and salad to your heart’s content without worrying about weight gain. Perhaps more importantly when it comes to weight control, vegetables and salad keep you full so you are far less likely to snack throughout the day. Increase you vege intake by simply adding mushrooms, tomato or spinach to your breakfast, enjoy vegetable juices, always eat a salad or soup with your lunch and aim for ½ of your dinner plate to be filled with salad or vegetables no matter where you are eating your dinner.

2. Remember the golden rule

If there was just one golden rule of nutrition, it would have to be to always eat a carbohydrate rich food with a protein rich food. Combining these two nutrients in your food choices ensures that your blood glucose and energy levels are kept well regulated throughout the day, and teaming carbs with protein also helps to regulate insulin levels which help to regulate appetite and keep you full. Low GI, slowly digested carbs including grain based breads and crackers, oat or bran based cereal or wholegrains are the best choices as are lean proteins including reduced fat dairy, lean meat and fish and nuts and legumes. Examples of meals and snacks that fit this carb and protein combo include grain toast with eggs for breakfast, cheese and wholegrain crackers as a snack and a salad with tuna and beans for lunch – in all of these examples one protein rich food has always been teamed with a low GI carb.

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3. Watch the coffee

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cup or two of coffee each day, but if you regularly sit down to a numerous large milk based lattes or cappuccino with your friends, or drink coffee continually throughout the working day, you may be consuming far too many liquid calories. Unfortunately the body does not compensate well when we consume liquid calories, which means they simply becomes extras that we do not need. For this reason, always order a small based milk coffee and try and limit yourself to just one or two coffees each day. Piccolo serves are a good option as you get ½ of the milk with the same serve of coffee or better still swap to black tea or coffee to reduce your calorie intake from milk.

4. Always carry a protein rich snack with you

Often it is not that we do not know what we should be eating but we find ourselves in situations hungry but without any nutritious snack options available. Get into the habit of always carrying a protein rich snack with you, whether it is a protein or nut bar, some prepackaged cheese and crackers or some roasted chic nuts or broad beans and you will find that you are never forced to go and pick up a high carb, high calorie muffin or cake simply because you were hungry and that was all you could find.

5. Be strict with your eating times

The funny thing about food and weight control is that it is often about the time we are eating as opposed to what we are choosing. Often busy lifestyles means that breakfast is not eaten until after 9am, lunch is pushed back to 2 or 3pm and you are lucky if dinner is on the table by 9pm. As the human body is programmed according to a circadian or 24 hour rhythm and our hormones work to burn food during the day and store at night, this means the more calories we eat during the second half of the day, the more likely is it that they will be stored. For this reason, always aim to eat your breakfast by8am, lunch by 1pm and where possible dinner by 8pm to give your body 10-12 hours without food overnight.

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6. Go light at night

For the vast majority of us, we eat so many calories during the day that we really do not need a heavy meal at night. During the week, when your meals are under your own control, focus on lean protein teamed with plenty of vegetables for your dinner choices. Heavy pasta, noodle and rice based dishes may be needed by active young people or athletes but for most of us who spend far more time sitting than we should be, “go light at night” is a perfect dinner mantra.

For some light recipe ideas, check out my free Shape Me recipes such as my Tomato Soup, Chicken & Pumpkin Stir Fry, Salmon Patties or my Roast Veg Soup.

7. Take a meal off

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a meal out – in fact socialising and enjoying good quality food creates much pleasure for human beings but of course it depends on how often you do this. With the average meal eaten away from the home containing at least 200-300 more calories than a meal you would prepare at home, try and limit your heavy meals eaten away from the home to just once or twice each week so you can keep your calories tight and controlled for the rest of the week.

8. Develop your alcohol rules

Some of us may choose to drink only on weekends, while others may prefer a small glass of wine each night with dinner. While there are no rules about how much you should and should not drink, there are guidelines that suggest we need at least two alcohol free days a week and really should not drink more than 2 standard drinks at any one time. If you know that too much alcohol slips into your week, and that it is negatively impacting on your health and your weight, it may be time to really consider how much you are drinking and whether it is time to cut back.

The foods that support weight control


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Who does not want to know about foods that support weight control? While this is very different to foods that will help you lose weight (there is not one food that will help you lose significant amounts of weight), it can be most useful to know which key foods will help to keep you full; potentially play a small role in fat metabolism and keep you satisfied so you are not tempted to stray too far from a calorie controlled diet. While some of the key foods that made the list may make perfect sense, there may also be a few that surprise you!

Oats

Not only do oats have a low glycaemic index which means they help to keep glucose levels tightly controlled and help to leave you full for several hours after eating them but a single serve of oats each day provides you with a substantial amount of soluble fibre; the type of fibre known to help reduce blood cholesterol levels and support weight control long term.

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Avocado

Avocados are a rich source of Vitamins B for energy and Vitamin E for skin and heart health and are often described as “a healthy alternative to butter”, as they are a rich source of monounsaturated fat, the type of fat shown to enhance heart health. Recently new research has also shown the potential benefits of eating an avocado when it comes to weight loss – dieters who consumed 1/2 an avocado at lunch reported feeling more satiated later in the day than non-avocado eaters in the Journal of Nutrition.

Soup

Soup, particularly vegetable based soups are a great option nutritionally as they combine a high nutrient density with a low energy density – this means that we get lots of key nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories. And this benefit is proven when it comes to weight loss. Studies have repeatedly shown that when diners consume a low calorie vegetable based soup before their main meal that they consume up to 20% fewer calories at a meal. The reason is not complex, basically the bulk of the soup helps to fill us up so we eat less.

Blueberries

Any berries are a great choice nutritionally but blueberries in particular are packed full of antioxidants, Vitamin C and fibre whilst also being relatively low in calories and carbohydrates. It is also thought that the antioxidants catechins found in blueberries help to activate the genes within our abdominal fat cells that stimulate the fat burning cycle.

White fish

If weight loss is your goal, white fish is your superfood. Exceptionally high in protein, low in fat and calories, any type of white fish ranging from dory, perch, barramundi, sole, flounder and whiting served with plenty of vegetables equates to an extremely low calorie meal rich in filling protein and key nutrients.

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Eggs

You will be hard pressed to find a more nutritionally complete, useful food than the humble egg. Packed with protein, key nutrients including zinc as well as 20 other vitamins and minerals, eggs can easily be incorporated into any meal and prepared in minutes. Specifically it is the amino acid leucine found in a serve of eggs that is thought to help bind insulin receptors in the body, helping to keep us fuller for longer after eating them and supporting weight loss.

Greek yoghurt

Greek yoghurt not only contains much less sugar than the average serve of store bought yoghurt but it is much higher in protein which helps to keep your blood glucose levels regulated throughout the day. An added benefit will come if you choose a variety of Greek yoghurt which also contains probiotics, the live bacteria that will help to feed the good bacteria in the gut and is thought to have a powerful role in optimal immune functioning and even weight control long term.

Cottage cheese

Often forgotten, humble cottage cheese is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can enjoy, with minimal calories especially on a low calorie weight loss eating regime. With a serve giving more than 16g of protein per ½ cup along with calcium, magnesium and Vitamin B12, adding a serve of cottage cheese into your day is a great way to bump your intake of essential nutrients for very few calories.

For a 2 week intensive dietary program, designed to give you a safe and supported weight loss program to get that reset you need as we head towards summer, try the Shape Me Kickstart plan for just $15.00 here.

CO Q10 and anti-aging


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

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

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

To learn more about D&X CO Q10 including where to buy or any of the other products in the D&X range, click here.

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

My new partnership with Australian Bananas


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

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

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

1. As a breakfast fibre boost

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

2. As a pre-workout energy boost

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

3. In baking

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

4. As a snack on the run

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

5. Low calorie dessert

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

Recipe: Cacao Banana Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 banana

2 tbsp. LSA powder

1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

1 tbsp. cacao powder

1 tsp. chia seeds

1 cup of ice

Method

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

The latest on your diet & PCOS


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

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

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

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

The easiest way to lose weight


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

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

1. Dehydration can cause us to eat more

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

2. It stops you drinking other high kilojoule drinks

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

3. It keeps your tummy happy

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

4. You will burn more kilojoules

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

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

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

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

Is stress eating making you fat?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burning calories without the gym


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

Passionate kissing

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

Shopping

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

Cooking dinner

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

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

Relaxing in a hot bath

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

Drinking ice cold water

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

Getting sexy

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

Insulin Resistance


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

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

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

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

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

Sign up to my Shape Me Insulin Resistance plan here.

Recipe: Tomato & Basil

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Ingredients

8 large Roma tomatoes, halved crossways

1 red capsicum, quartered lengthways

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. caster sugar

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups reduced-salt chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 cup basil leaves

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

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

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

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

Do you need an immune boost?


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

Iron in food / mg 

200g steak / 7.0

1 cup mince / 5                

1 chicken breast / 2.0        

Fish fillet / 1                

½ cup baked beans / 2.2              

Slice grain bread / 1              

Breakfast cereal with iron / 3                      

6 oysters / 3.5            

½ cup Spinach / 0.6

 Zinc in food / mg  

 Almonds (25) / 1.0

 1 cup baked beans  / 1.4

100g lean beef / 5.3

 1 cup brown rice / 1.6

100g chicken / 1.2

 1 cup muesli / 2.1

30g pumpkin seeds / 1.9

6 oysters / 59

 Can of tuna / 0.9

Nutrition for breastfeeding mothers


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

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

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

Breastfeeding: nutrients required

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

Breastfeeding: snack ideas

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

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

Breastfeeding: milk supply issues 

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

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

Breastfeeding: my experience

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

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

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

Read more about my experience as a new mum here.

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

What Mummy Feeds Us


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

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

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

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

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

Are you getting enough iron?


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

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

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

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

Iron in food / mg iron

200g steak / 7.0

1 cup mince / 5

1 chicken breast / 2.0

Fish fillet / 1

1/2 cup baked beans / 2.2

Slice grain bread / 1

Breakfast cereal with iron / 3

6 oysters / 3.5

1/2 cup Spinach / 0.6

Daily iron requirements / mg/day

Babies (7-12 months) / 11

1-3 years / 9

4-8 years / 10

9-13 years / 8

14-18 years boys / 11

14-18 years girls / 15

>18 years males / 8

18-50 year female / 18

>50 year female / 8

Pregnancy / 27

Breastfeeding / 9

Iron in food / mg | Zinc in food / mg                          

200g steak / 7.0 | Almonds (25) / 1.0

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

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

Fish fillet / 1 | 100g chicken / 1.2

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

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

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

6 oysters / 3.5 | Can of tuna / 0.9

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