Why you are not losing weight when you are trying to.


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Dietitians reveal why you are not losing weight.

When you see clients each and every day for weight loss you become pretty familiar with the common reasons individuals are not reach their weight loss goals. So if you are constantly struggling to take off that extra 5-10kg, here are the most common reasons you may be sabotaging yourself. 

You are on or off your diet

The most common dietary pattern is that we are ‘good’ for 2-3 days each week before overindulging in treats, alcohol and meals out Thursday through to Monday morning. One of the most significant predictors of weight loss is consistency which means giving yourself a meal or two off a calorie controlled plan each week, not 3-4 days. 

You are eating more than you realise

On a daily basis, calories tend to slip without us realising fairly easily – an extra coffee here, a biscuit there and a few mouthfuls of your toddlers dinner and before you realise it you have consumed an extra 300-400 calories a day, the difference between losing weight and not. One of the most powerful things you can do to take control of your food intake is to keep a food diary for a day or two to gain insight into how much you are really eating each day, you may be surprised. 

Too much good fat

Some fat is good for us, in fact the average adult requires 60-80g of predominately good fats from extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish each day but this does not mean demolishing an entire bag of cashew nuts or multiple avocados on a daily basis. Like anything, too much of a good thing when it comes to good fats holds true. The key is keeping an eye on your portions and sticking to a couple of tablespoons of oil, a handful of nuts and just 1/3 – ½ an avocado.

Not enough sleep

The less you sleep, the more you eat and the more you are likely to want to eat. This means aiming for at least 7-8 hours of shut eye each night and factoring in a food cut of at 7 or 8pm to give yourself at least 10-12 hours overnight without food. 

You are not moving enough

Many clients exercise regularly but then spend the remainder of their day sitting down. The human body is designed to move, and if you sit down most of the day the structured 30-60 minutes of exercise will not be enough to compensate for the prolonged periods of sitting. Ideally we need at least 10000-12000 steps every day plus structured exercise at least every second day if the goal is weight loss. 

Your meal timing is off

Timing is important when it comes to fat loss – either aiming to consume all your calories in a an 8 hour period eg 10am -6pm or starting the day early with a substantial breakfast to give the metabolism a boost but then making sure you finishing eating by 8pm at the latest. If you work long hours this may mean eating your main meal during the day and having a light meal of soup, sashimi or salad later in the day. 

Your carbs are too low

While low carb diets can be extremely effective in supporting rapid weight loss, if you skip the carbs throughout the first half of the day only to binge on crackers, chocolate and treats later in the day the benefit is negated. For this reason if you are unable to stick to a low carb approach often you are better to eat small amounts of carbs throughout the day to avoid binging on sweet food come 3 or 4pm. A carb intake of 80-120g per day will still result in good weight loss results if you time your carbohydrates to be consumed throughout the day rather than the afternoon and evening and if you are relatively active. 

The issue with high protein yoghurts for kids


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The issue with high protein yoghurts for kids

Yoghurt is a nutrient rich food – packed full of protein, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus, it is a great choice for growing children who need 2-3 serves of dairy each day in order to get the calcium they need for optimal bone development. 

The growing range of high protein yoghurts including Chobani and YoPro has been a great addition to the yoghurt aisle for adults. With almost 20g of high quality protein per serve, these lower sugar, higher protein options have revolutionised the yoghurt aisle of the supermarket and are generally my yoghurt recommendation of choice for adults. 

The only issue with these products is that it has not been mentioned that these products are not appropriate for children, especially toddlers and even primary school aged children. 

When it comes to protein intake, It is recommended that we get between 0.75-1g of protein per kilo of body weight. For a teenager or adult this means we have 60-100g of protein on average to play with each day and as such as tub of yoghurt that offers 20g of high quality protein is no issue. On the other hand, feeding a 15kg toddler a tub of yoghurt with 20g of protein, or even a 35g school aged child ½ their daily protein requirements in a small snack is not ideal. It would suggest that at times their protein intake is well over the recommended intakes of just 20-40g in total each day which they will easily receive via a daily serve of meat, chicken or fish, milk and wholegrain breads and cereals.

This is not by any means to say that yoghurt is a poor choice for children. Regular natural yoghurt is a great choice for growing children, especially when served with fresh fruit. There are a number of kid’s yoghurts also available, and a number of these are also good options as they contain protein levels ranging from 5-8g of protein per serve. The issue with these can be that they can contain a fair amount of added sugar, with some varieties containing up to 20g of sugars per serve. For this reason it always pays to check the sugar content of any yoghurt you are giving to the kids and aim for <5-6 of added sugars per serve where possible. Based on this, these are my favourite options for kids.

Cal | Protein (g) | Carbs (g) | Sugars | Calcium (mg)

Petit Miam Tubes | 51 | 2.4 | 6.7 | 5.4 | 145

Vaalia Natural | 83 | 6 | 9.6 | 7.4 | 200

Tamar Valley Kids | 100 | 4 | 4.2 | 3.5 | 155

Brookfarm Squishy | 54 | 2.7 | 7.5 | 5.5 | 179

Brookfarm Lactose Free | 39 | 2.4 | 5.0 | 4.9 | 84

Vaalia My First Yoghurt | 71 | 4.2 | 7.2 | 6.0 | 136

Rafferty’s No Sugar | 48 | 3.3 | 1.6 | 1.6 | 103

Rafferty’s Banana 50 | 3.0 | 3.2 | 2.8 | 90

The best breakfasts to kick start the day


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

The best breakfasts to kick start the day

Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day for a number of reasons. Not only does enjoying a nutritionally balanced meal first thing in the morning give the metabolism a kick start, but it has been proven that those who enjoy the right breakfast have higher levels of concentration and are less likely to snack on high calorie foods throughout the day. Unfortunately breakfast skipping is still relatively common in Australia with the 2011 Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey finding that between 12-15% of children and teens skipping breakfast on any one day. So, what does a nutritionally balanced breakfast that will keep you energised and satisfied all morning, look like? Here are some of the best breakfast options –  

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 9.48.27 PMA banana smoothie

The biggest issue with some smoothies is that they tend to be particularly heavy on the carbohydrates, if honey and sweet yoghurt are used to create a sweet blend. On the other hand, if you get your smoothie mix right, with a hearty serve of 20g of protein via a protein powder or Greek yoghurt, one piece of a fibre rich fruit such as a banana, some vegetables like spinach, kale or cucumber, and light almond or skim milk; your smoothie will have the right mix of nutrients to keep your calories controlled, while keeping you full and satisfied for several hours. 

Mushroom Omelette

Eggs are known for their high protein content, which as a nutrient, helps to control blood glucose levels, but less often do we remember to add in the vegetable bulk known to significantly increase the fibre and nutrient content of any meal. In particular, mushrooms have been shown to bulk up a meal to the same extent as mince, minus the extra calories. For this reason, adding plenty of your favourite vegetables such as spinach, mushroom, tomato and capsicum is an easy way to get more mileage out of your regular omelette each day. A side of potato or sweet potato will also offer a little carbohydrate to this popular breakie choice – which is common in the US. 

Egg Wraps

Toast is one of the simplest and most popular breakfast choices but eaten alone with just a spread means that it offers little for weight loss. On the other hand, swapping to a lower carb wrap which can contain as little as a 1/3 of the carbohydrates as Turkish bread, served with plenty of protein via eggs, smoked salmon or lean turkey and cheese, means you have a light, filling breakfast with the 20g of protein known to help regulate insulin levels and as such appetite through the morning. 

Protein Bread with nut spread and banana

There are a number of high protein breads that offer all the nutritional benefits of grains and seeds, with a fraction of the carbs. Teaming this dense grain and seed bread with some 100% nut spread and a little sweet fruit like sliced banana, will give you the perfect balance of carbs, proteins and good fats in a yummy sweet breakfast that literally takes 3 minutes to make! 

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 2.22.04 PMGreek yoghurt and fruit

When we think of yoghurt, we generally tend to think of the sugary fruit varieties we find at food courts and in delis, and while these are scrumptious they are also extremely high in sugars. On the other hand, a single tub of high protein Greek yoghurt can offer more protein than 2 eggs in a single 170g serve, and can easily be enjoyed with a piece of fruit for a quick breakfast option. If you are time poor, simply add wholegrain cereal and banana to a cup of Greek yoghurt, sprinkle with cinnamon, and leave to soak in the fridge overnight for a delicious breakfast bowl you can enjoy on the way to work. 

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

How much water do you really need to drink?


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

How much water do you really need to drink?

Keeping well hydrated is the most powerful thing we can do to be at our best each day, yet with the time demands and pressures of modern life is it any wonder it is the one area of nutrition that often falls by the way side? It can also be hard to know exactly how much fluid we should be drinking. Do we all need the same amount of fluid? How much is too much? And what about if you exercise? Everything you need to know is right here…..

What is the minimum amount of fluid we need?

From a physiological perspective, an adult requires between 35-45 ml per kilo of body weight – if we take this at an average of 40ml / kg, all you need to do is multiply your weight by 40ml to get a rough idea of your baseline requirements. So if you weigh 60kg, you need a total of 2400ml or 2.4L of fluid each day. Now this may seem like an awful lot, but it does also include what we get from our food which equates to at least 500ml of this, hence the recommendation for roughly 2L a day of fluid for a small female and about 3L for an average male. 

Does it always have to be water?

Water, still or sparkling is always the best choice of fluid but you can also include tea in this. Unfortunately you cannot include coffee as it is often smaller volumes of fluid in total. If you have particularly high fluid requirements you may also find sugar free waters or electrolyte mixes also help you to drink more fluid in total. 

What about if I exercise?

Naturally if you are losing fluid when you exercise you need to drink extra to compensate for the losses. This means if you go for a light walk you are not likely to need a lot more than your baseline 2L but if you are sweating it up in a cycle class you will need an extra 500-1000ml for every hour of hard physical training you are doing. For a more exact figure the best thing to do is weigh yourself before and after an exercise session to work out exactly how much fluid you are losing. You will need to drink an extra 1.5x the amount of weight on the scales you lose. So if you lose 1kg of weight after a training session you will need to drink an extra 1.5L of fluid to re-hydrate properly. 

Can I drink too much water?

Absolutely. While keeping well hydrated is the goal, over-hydrating can be dangerous. While it is hard to do, it can happen, especially for small females drinking upwards of 4-5L each day. The average person will be drinking more than enough if they are managing 2-3L/day unless they are a large male undertaking large volumes of training and as such may be needing 3-4L of total fluid each day. 

How do I manage drinking this much?

For some these fluid targets may seem enormous, and the key to hydration success is to get into good drinking habits. Set a goal of drinking one bottle or a couple of glasses of water throughout the morning, afternoon and evening and add an extra bottle if you train hard regularly. Then you will find you hit your targets easily every single day. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here OR read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

A banana a day keeps the heart doctor away. It’s World Heart Day


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

September 29th marks a very important day around the world – it’s World Heart Day, a day dedicated to making a promise to do what we can, no matter who we are, to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia with more than 4.2 million Australians effected by the condition, with the disease causing more than 43,000 deaths in 2016 alone. Most alarming of all, is that in many cases, these deaths could have been prevented if small healthy lifestyle changes had been adopted.

So, this World Heart Day, it’s all about making a promise to yourself, to do what you can, to help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It could be diet related, or a commitment to exercise more, or to even stop smoking – every small change helps to keep you healthier and reduce your own risk of developing heart disease.

If you need some inspiration, here are some easy lifestyle changes that will help to keep your heart healthier every day.

1. More fresh fruit and vegetables

The more fresh fruit and vegetables we consume, the higher our overall nutrient and antioxidant intake is, and the healthier are our cells. Fruits and vegetables like bananas, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato and cucumbers are all packed full of potassium and a diet rich in potassium is linked to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of developing heart disease. At a minimum, aim to eat a couple of pieces of fruit and 2-3 servings of vegetables every single day.

2. Add in a handful of nuts

Nuts are a rich dietary source of essential fats and walnuts in particular are rich in omega 3 fat, which is particularly good for the heart. The key is to stop at just one handful and consuming a serve of nuts each day is linked to reduced heart disease risk, thanks to healthier arteries and better blood fat ratios.

3. Don’t forget the fibre

With a gradual reduction in carbohydrates, our fibre intake has taken a bit of a beating but dietary fibre plays an important role in regulating the fats in our blood. Soluble fibre in particular, which is found in oats, beans and fruits including apples and bananas, is known to help lower LDL cholesterol or the ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood stream. For this reason, getting your fibre by including wholegrains, legumes and fruit in your daily diet is an easy option to help improve heart health.

4. Keep your fats natural

When you are getting most of your dietary fat from good quality olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado, and keeping your intake of processed fats from fried foods and snack foods low, you will be well on your way to promoting the right fat balance in the body! This naturally acts to reduce inflammation in the body which in turn lowers heart disease risk.

5. Seek out fish

Very few Aussies get enough long chain omega 3 fat – the type of fat known for its heart health benefits. While all fish is good for us, only salmon, fresh tuna and sardines contain relatively high amounts of omega 3 fats. For this reason, bumping up your intake of these types of fish is one of the easiest ways to increase your omega 3 intake and get the heart health benefits associated with a high intake of omega 3 rich fish.

Banana & Ricotta Pancakes

Serves 1 – per serve: 400 cals | 24g fat | 11g protein | 44g carbs | 2g fibre

Ingredients:

1 egg

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 1/2 banana mashed (1/2 for serving)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla essence

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. maple syrup or honey for serving

Preparation Method

1. Mix egg, ricotta cheese, banana, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl.

2. Heat a small amount of the olive oil in a frypan and in 2 tbsp. Batches, spoon mixture into the pan.

3. Cook until mixture starts bubbling then flip.

4. After 1 2 minutes, serve with slices of banana and a drizzle of maple syrup/honey.

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

The top Spring foods for weight loss


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Weight loss foods for Spring

Spring has finally arrived and for many of us the warmer weather is a stark reminder of the need to bare flesh very soon. So if you have gained a few kilos over the last few months, here are the key foods to base your diet around to get rid of those kilos ASAP. 

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. Enjoy with some oats for breakfast, as a filling snack, as a light dessert option, add to smoothies and protein shakes or even as a dressing option with vegetables for a daily calcium boost. .

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. Add to sandwiches or crackers for a protein rich filling, serve with cereal and fruit for breakfast or even use to help add flavour to salads and vegetables.

Prawns

Prawns are an extremely nutritious type of seafood, packed full of protein, calcium, iodine and zinc with little fat and particularly low in calories. The biggest issue with prawns is what we eat them with. Served grilled or marinated and with salad is fine, but if they are deep fried, or served with creamy sauces and dressings, the fat content will be significantly increased, so try and enjoy these tasty treats in as natural a state as possible to reap all the health benefits without extra calories.

Lemons

Not only are lemons a rich source of Vitamin C, but they are a handy addition to juices and smoothies to help neutralize the earthy taste of green vegetables such as kale and spinach. Lemon juice is also a low calorie salad dressing; it helps to lower the GI of carb based meals and for some it can be a great ritual when teamed with a glass of water to start the day by rehydrating. 

Blueberries

Any berries are fab but blueberries in particular are packed full of antioxidants, Vitamin C, fibre whilst also being relatively low in calories and carbohydrates. Enjoy as a light snack in between meals; as a fibre boost to smoothies and juices or as a sweet treat after dinner with a little Greek yoghurt and seeds or nuts. 

Apples

An apple a day (or two) keeps the calories at bay it seems with research growing to show that the polyphenol content of apple skin plays a role in fat metabolism, and that a fibre rich, low calorie apple is one of the most filling foods out there, especially when enjoyed whole. All fruit is good for us, but apples in particular are one of the best fruits we can choose when it comes to weight control. 

Spinach

One of most versatile leaves, fresh baby spinach leaves make a delicious salad base; can be added to green juices and is delicious stir fried with a little olive oil and nutrient rich garlic and teamed with light fish meals or as a vege base for omelettes. The dark green leaves of spinach gives some insight into its rich nutrient content; spinach leaves are a rich source of Vitamin C, E, K beta carotene and folate and cooking spinach in a little olive oil will help to enhance nutrient absorption. 

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 is a superfood when it comes to weight loss. Served grilled, BBQ’d or even fried in a little olive oil, fish is a perfect base to light meals served with plenty of brightly coloured, nutrient rich veges. 

Cucumber

Consisting of more than 96% water, an entire cucumber contains just 60 calories and is good source of fibre and potassium, which helps to rid the body of extra fluid. Simply munching on a cucumber a day and adding it to green juices and smoothies gives you the benefit of one of nature’s most powerful diuretics, especially if you feel bloated and heavy. 

Eggs

Nutritionally eggs are among the most nutrient dense foods available not only offering high biological value protein but also more than 20 other essential nutrients including iron, zinc, selenium, iodine, Vitamin A, folate, the brain boosting nutrient choline. Perhaps the greatest benefit associated with eating eggs, in particular eggs for breakfast is the direct and indirect impact they have been shown to have on weight control. A couple of eggs contains close to 20g of protein, the amount of animal based protein which provides the body with plenty of leucine, the amino acid directly involved in regulating insulin levels in the body. The more tightly we control our insulin levels, the better it is for weight control and appetite regulation.

Green tea

If you are looking for a fat burning boost, adding in a couple of cups of green tea to your day is the way to go. Not only is green tea a rich source of powerful antioxidants that help to prevent cell related damage but there is also some evidence to show that green tea may increase fat metabolism. Any variety is a good choice, matcha even better and a great addition after meals to help neutralise sugar cravings. 

My brand new 2 week Shape Me Spring Kickstart meal plan is designed to get your diet back on track this Spring; to help you drop a few extra kilos the right way and to help you to take control of your nutrition. So if you have been feeling less than your best and know your diet needs some work, this Kickstart is for you! Join and get your meal plan here

Drink more water to reset your diet this Spring.


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

Drink more water to reset your diet this Spring

The long cold Winter is over and it is time to get out, get active and get our diet back on track after a number of weeks spent indoors, watching Netflix and indulging in comfort food. Resetting your diet does not have to be labour intensive or difficult, rather it is about reminding ourselves how much better we feel when we are eating well, focusing on our hydration an taking time out each week to preparing healthy nourishing foods for our body. So if your body is in need of a Spring clean out, here are the easy steps to take towards a healthier, lighter Spring!

1. Focus on hydration

If your skin is dry and lifeless it is time for some water therapy – giving the cells the fluid they need each day is imperative for optimising metabolism; controlling appetite; helping the digestive system to operate efficiently and to keep our eyes and skin clear and bright. At a minimum we need 1.5-2L of fluid each day and that is not taking into account the fact we will need more fluid if we are also training regularly. So make sure you take your water bottles everywhere filled with some still or sparking water and sip throughout the day to keep on top of your hydration.

2. Go for bucketloads of fresh produce

Forget 2 & 5 if we really want to take control of our nutrition we need at least 7-10 serves of fresh fruit and vegetables every single day to get the nutrients we need such as fibre for optimal health and well-being. This means fruit or veges at breakfast; salads and vegetables for both lunch and dinner, veg juices, cut up veges as snacks and a sweet hit from fresh fruit. The added benefit of eating this volume of fresh fruit and veg is that you will also increase your overall water intake considerably which will in turn aid in keeping you well-hydrated. 

3. Get your timing right

Shifting our first intake to the first half of the day plus allowing 10-14 hours overnight without food goes a long way in keeping our food intake on track. This means eating an earlier breakfast along with an early dinner, or adopting a fasting regime in which you limit your eating to just 8 hours each day. As soon as you restrict the number of hours each day that you eat, you automatically limit calorie intake without any strict diets or calorie counting. 

4. Plan for 3-4pm

3-4pm is the time that things often go downhill with our diets. A relatively strict day of eating is followed by extreme hunger and cravings late afternoon which inevitably leads to binge eating and sugar cravings if not well managed. Avoid this scenario after an early lunch by planning for a substantial filling snack between 3-4pm. Options that have a good balance of carbs and protein include a Mountain Bread Wrap with cheese, nut spread or lean meat; Wholegrain crackers with cottage or goats cheese and some cucumber or tomato or a meal replacement or protein shake with fruit and seed mix. 

5. Build new habits

When it comes to our health one of the most powerful things we can do is to focus on building positive habits so drinking enough water and eating well become second nature. Simple positive health habits that will help to build your own positive nutrition platform this Spring include starting each day with some boiled filtered water and lemon; packing your healthy lunch the night before; always carrying a bottle of still or sparking water from your Zip Hydrotap and keeping a supply of healthy snacks on hand. When eating and drinking the right thing is the easiest choice, our health improves without us even noticing. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here OR read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

Can you eat as much fruit as you like?


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How much fruit is too much?

Mixed messages about sugar in recent years has caused some confusion about where fruit fits as part of a healthy diet. Some diets ban it altogether, while others remind us that naturally occurring sugars such as fructose (found naturally in fruit) and lactose (found naturally in dairy foods) are very different to the added refined sugars found in processed foods. So can you eat as much fruit as you like, and how much is too much?

Fruit, depending on the type provides a wide range of different nutrients including Vitamin C, beta carotene, Vitamin K as well as carbohydrates for energy and dietary fibre. The average piece of fruit contains 80-120 calories which is equivalent to a slice of bread. Some varieties of fruit have slighter higher amounts of sugars than others, but overall the differences are relatively small. For example a large banana may have 5-10g more natural sugar than a small peach or apple but in the diet overall these differences are not significant. 

The same can be said for the glycaemic index of different types of fruit. While some types of fruit including watermelon and bananas have a higher glycaemic index than others, meaning they release their sugar more quickly into the bloodstream than fruit that has a lower GI, the calorie content of all types of fruit is relatively low. This means that all fruit is a good choice, whether it has a high GI or not. 

The two exceptions to this rule are dried fruit and fruit juice. Both of these forms of fruit result in the energy content of the fruit being concentrated. For example, an average box of sultanas contains as much carbohydrate or sugar as two pieces of regular fruit. While juicing fruit, again results in you getting a much more concentrated source of energy, without the fibre and bulk that actually eating the fruit provides. For this reason, fresh fruit is always much better than any processed varieties. 

From a weight control perspective, if you model different diets to determine how much of each food group we need to not only satisfy our nutrient requirements but to avoid taking in too many calories, the average Australian adult needs at most two to three pieces of fruit each day. Naturally this quantity can be increased for extremely active people, but if you consider that up to 60% of Australian adults are overweight, many of us need less food and two to three pieces of fruit is more than enough.

When it comes to choosing better different types of fruit, generally speaking all types of fresh fruit are good choices. Eat the types you enjoy and perhaps target different types of fruit for different reasons as part of your overall healthy diet. For example choosing a banana when you need an energy boost, and a daily serve of berries for an antioxidant hit. Fruit is one of nature’s superfoods, and two to three pieces each day forms part of a balanced, healthy diet so you can feel free to enjoy its natural sweetness minus the food guilt. 

Fruit | Total cal | Total carbohydrate (g) 

Banana | 100 | 20

Mango | 120 | 25

2 peaches | 100 | 18

Cup of grapes | 115 | 25

1 cup strawberries | 35 | 5

Box of sultanas | 75 | 17

6 dried apricots | 100 | 19

250mls fruit juice | 120 | 19

The most common dietary mistakes to avoid this Spring


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How to keep your weight loss on track this Spring

When you see clients for weight loss on a regular basis there are a number of common dietary habits and patterns that arise time and time again. Here are the most common dietary mistakes many of us make on a daily basis, and mistakes that are preventing us from reaching the weight and health related goals we have set for ourselves. 

Overdoing the coffee

It does not matter if it is a flat white, latte or cappuccino, any coffee that contains a significant amount of milk, is also likely to contain a significant number of kilojoules, especially if it is ordered in a large or Grande size. There are several issues with large, milk based coffee. First of all humans do not tend to compensate for liquid calories, which means we do not eat less simply because we have drunk an extra liquid kilojoules. Coffee can also mean that we have a few small breakfasts, especially when we begin the day with a coffee, add to that some extra toast or cereal and then have another coffee on arrival at work an hour or two later. And then for some of us, breakfast has become coffee which can interfere with our natural hunger and fullness signals through the morning. 

Solution – if you enjoy a coffee, enjoy a small sized serve with your breakfast and then wait at least 2-3 hours before you eat again. You can enjoy black tea or coffee without worry.

Eating too much, too late

A typical dietary pattern sees busy people grabbing a quick breakfast or coffee on the run, followed by a light, late lunch and then a series of afternoon snacks and relatively heavy dinner. Unfortunately this eating pattern is linked to weight gain simply as we tend to move much less during the second half of the day and are also less likely to wake up hungry for a good breakfast the next day. For many of us a shift to this schedule is unlikely to happen anytime soon which means some subtle shifts to our food intake patterns will help to reverse the daily cycle of higher calorie eating towards the second half of the day.

Solution – commit to making both breakfast and a good lunch a priority and if dinner will be enjoyed after 8pm each night, keep your portions small and choose lighter options such as salad, grilled fish and vegetables. For some, enjoying a heavier meal at lunchtime is great solution.  

Mindless munching

You know what I am talking about here – picking at the kids leftovers; the slice of cake a colleague offers you at work or the few handful of nuts you munch on throughout the day. Eating you may not necessarily remember doing but the high kilojoule extras that seem to slip in most days. Mindless munching is a habit that tends to gradually creep up on us over time, is often situation dependent and a habit many of us are in complete denial about. If you wonder why you are not losing weight despite eating relatively well simply keep a track of every morsel you put into your mouth over a 24 hour period. You may be surprised how many extras slip in. 

Solution – aim to eat just 4-5 times each day with 2-3 hours in between meals and only water, herbal or black tea or coffee in between. 

Adopting an ‘all or nothing’ diet mindset

Chances are at some point you have started an incredibly strict diet one Monday only to run out of steam by Wednesday afternoon as the hunger pangs and feelings of restriction got the better of you. As soon as any diet feels restrictive, whether it is or not, the brain will respond by focusing on what you are psychologically missing out on. If you are overly restrictive with calories, hunger and cravings will make it very difficult to maintain the restriction for a prolonged period of time. These are just some of the reasons strict diets do not work.

Solution – make positive dietary changes gradually, one at a time. For example, one week focus on eating more vegetables. The next on reducing portions. Here the focus is not on what you can’t do, rather what you can to get results.

Not checking labels

Just because a particular product looks healthy, does not mean that it is and an abundance of food labels telling us about the benefits of packaged foods rather than the cons means we often get sucked into buying foods that are not particularly healthy. 

Solution – a quick scan of an ingredient list will tell you much of what you need to know what processed and packaged foods. The longer the ingredient list, the more processed a food is and as soon as you see extra fats, sugars and additives it is a sign to leave the product on the shelf.

5 reasons I love bananas for myself and for my clients!


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

As the world’s most popular fruit, there are plenty of things to love about bananas, especially in relation to the key nutritional benefits that they offer. So if you need one more reason to love bananas, here are the five reasons I love them so much, for myself and my clients!

1. Bananas are a natural energy food

Forget special bars, gels, drinks and supplements, when you are fit and active and need an energy boost to help you power on through your day or fuel your workout, a banana has all the natural fuel you need. With 25-30g of carbs in a single serve, bananas are the most convenient energy food you can grab when you are on the run.

2. They are ready to go

No need for knives, cutting, chopping or finding a container they fit into, bananas come with their own packaging which mean they can be taken anywhere at any time making them the most convenient snack of choice.  And just as important, bananas are available all year round so you always have easy access to them at affordable prices.

3. They are the best healthy baking ingredient

Whenever there is the desire to make healthy snack foods at home, one of the biggest issues is what to use in place of added sugar when baking bars, bites and fruit breads. When you keep a couple of frozen bananas in the freezer you can add to baked goods to give the sweetness fruit breads, muffins and bites need minus the added sugars found in many bars and bites. 

4. Frozen banana is like ice-cream

Of course bananas are yummy fresh, but you never have to throw bananas out because even soft bananas can be put in the freezer and then used in baking (see Number 3) but if you want to freeze your fresh banana you will find that eating it is literally like eating ice-cream, minus the fat and calories. Blended into a smoothie, added to smoothie bowls or yoghurt or blended whole will literally give you 100% banana ice-cream which the whole family will love.

5. They can help to heal your gut

We hear a lot about foods that are good for our gut, including prebiotics but before you rush out and spend a fortune on kombucha did you know that un-ripened green bananas are one of the richest natural sources of resistant starch, which is a super nutrient for our gut. So if your tummy is giving you troubles, add a little unripe banana into your yoghurt or smoothie for a natural dose of prebiotics. 

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

Is sushi really healthy?


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Is sushi really healthy?

One of the most common lunches my clients enjoy is sushi – now the description of ‘sushi’ can mean anything from a few California rolls to a full sashimi plate or even a Bento box. Just as all these foods are different so too is their nutritional profiles and while some types of sushi can be exceptionally healthy, others are simply a mix of rice, soy sauce and fried fillings. So if sushi is your go to lunch, here are the best options, and a run down on how often you can enjoy your favourite sushi without fear of taking in too much mercury.

Mercury is a heavy metal that can be found in small amounts in some types of fish, namely larger fish that have spent some time eating small varieties of fish such as swordfish, tuna and sea bass. As mercury is unable to be removed from the body, ingesting too much over time can cause mercury poisoning which can lead to headaches, development delays and long term brain damage and organ failure. It is for this reason that if sashimi is your number one choice of sushi you do need to be mindful of how often you are consuming it. For this reason it is suggested that sashimi not be consumed more than a couple of times each week. 

When it comes to California rolls which are generally made with sushi rice, fillings ranging from avocado, to fish to fried chicken and some seaweed. As the rice used to make sushi often contains added sugars to help it stick, the combination of rice and high fat fillings such as avocado, fried meat and mayonnaise can mean that a single hand roll can contain as much as 170 calories and as much carbohydrate as 2 slices of bread. Or a small lunch pack of 6 rolls, up to 300 calories and 50g of carbohydrates. For this reason, sticking to a small number of rolls, and brown rice options will help to improve the nutritional profile of the average sushi roll. 

On the other hand, when it comes to other popular Japanese foods including Edamame, miso and fermented veges, you cannot go wrong. Specifically edamame is one of the best options on a Japanese menu, edamame is a protein and fibre rich option which adds much bulk to your favourite Japanese meal, minus the calories. With just 60 calories per pot of beans, adding a serve to your meal will significantly improve its nutritional profile. Seaweed salad is another nutrient rich addition, seaweed is a superfood in the world of nutrition as it added much needed iodine into our diet which is crucial to help our thyroid function optimally. It also contains next to no calories with a ½ cup serve adding just 20 calories to your meal. And miso soup, a Japanese staple is especially rich in nutrients, offering a range of vitamins and minerals as well as probiotics known to be particularly important for gut health. While miso is relatively high in sodium, containing up to 1000mg per serve, it is also low in calories with less than 100 calories per serve, and the health benefits associated with consuming it as part of a balanced Japanese meal outweigh any of the negatives. 

While we do need to be aware of the volume of sushi and sashimi we are eating, we also need to be aware of the less than healthy options too. Tempura for example, the Americanised version of Japanese, is relatively high in fat compared to traditional Japanese cuisine. In the case of a California roll, the addition of tempura will almost double the calories, while a single serve of tempura prawns and vegetables will contain at least 20g of fat, most likely coming via a blended vegetable oil. Noodle dishes too can be a calorie bomb in disguise. For example, a small cup sized serve of noodles will contain at least the same amount of carbohydrates as two slices of bread and in many cases they will be cooked using extra oil so go easy on your portions. 

Menu Item | kJ | Carbs (g) | Fat (g)

Tuna Sushi Roll | 240 | 7 |  1.5          

California Roll | 170 | 7 | <1

Miso Soup | 150 | 5 | 1

Sushi Pack (12) | 1100 | 45 | 3

Teriyaki Chicken | 1100 | 7 | 9

Edamame Beans | 670 | 12 | 7

Sushi Hand Roll | 490 | 18 | 2

Udon Noodles & Beef  | 2340 | 20 | <1

Sashimi Piece | 500 | 1 | <1

5 easy ways to stick to your diet


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The easy ways to stick to your diet

While many of us may have the goal of weight loss, far fewer of us are successful when it comes to losing a few kilos and keeping them off. The reasons for this are varied and complex – often life gets in the way; we are stressed, bored and tired and some of us simply do not like being told what to do and tend to rebel at the mere thought of restricting our food intake. 

So if you are constantly trying to diet without success, here are some easy steps to take to try and increase your chances of success.

1. Choose the diet that is right for you

You may like to fast each week; or buy calorie controlled meals or Paleo might be your thing but the key to achieving success with any diet is simply sticking to it. This means the more you like your diet and they easier you find sticking to it, the more likely you are to get results. 

2. Give yourself time

All of us want instant results but even the strictest diet is likely to only see a 2-3kg weight loss over the course of a week and that is if you have plenty of kilos to lose. This means that you need to allow at least 1 month to lose 5kg. Committing this time will in turn allow you to lose weight slowly and sustainably. 

3. Factor in meals off

Life will inevitably see you engage in social occasions in which high calorie foods and alcohol are served. This means that dietary success needs to allow for a couple of eating occasions each week in which you do not have to be strict. 

4. Do it with someone

Support during the diet process is crucial which means if you are committing to a new regime with someone else – a friend, partner, sibling you will be much more likely to stay on track.

5. Get rid of the food

Often we buy tempting foods and keep them in the house and expect not to eat it. Human beings will eat whatever food is readily available to them which means keeping your environment free from tempting foods is a crucial part of success.

How to be healthier at work


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

How to be healthier at work

With many of us spending at least 10 hours at work each day, and with much of that spent sitting, is it any wonder that many of us are feeling a little tired, lethargic and run down? So if you are feeling less than your best and know your workday health routines could do with a little Spring clean, here are some easy ways to be healthier while you are at work. 

1. Have set meal and snack times

Mindless munching brings many of us undone when it comes to excessive calorie consumption, especially when we get into bad habits of eating in front of the computer. Keep your food intake limited to set meal and snack times which will not only help to control your total calorie intake but also ensure you take breaks from the screen every 2-3 hours.

2. Prioritise your hydration

Considering that at least 70% of us are chronically dehydrated at any one time is it any wonder many of us are feeling mentally fatigued while we are at work? If you do not have a water bottle within easy reach, it is highly likely you are not drinking enough. While we can count the fluid we get from cups of tea, in reality this means we still need at least a litre of extra water each day to keep moderately hydrated. So get into the habit of always keeping cold water close by and aim to get through at least 1200mls during the working day – which looks like two full servings of your reusable water bottle – one through the morning and one throughout the afternoon. 

3. Take your food to work with you

The foods we routinely purchase from a food court contain double the calories of the meal we prepare at home. For this reason not only is taking a sandwich, salad or leftovers for lunch smart from a calorie perspective but it will also save you plenty of cash a week. 

4. Take your lunch break

It could be argued that as part of a long working day, lunch is actually the most important meal of the day. Failing to take your lunch break is likely to leave you craving carbs and sugars come 4pm, and the wrong choice at the food court will leave you with a lunch choice that contains double the calories you need. The simple act of prioritizing a 400-500 calorie lunch that includes lean proteins and vegetables by 1pm each day is one of the key things you can do to keep your nutrition on track. Good options include a large salad with some wholegrain crackers; leftovers or a plain stir fry with vegetables. Most importantly including 500-600ml of still or sparking water with your lunch will keep your hydration on track. 

5. Make your workplace healthier

Healthy workplaces have healthier employees. This means putting the biscuit tin and fundraising chocolates away. Having the option of stand up desks to increase the amount of activity in the office and having a clean kitchen and fridge with healthy appliances such as a Zip HydroTap to encourage water consumption throughout the day. It is well documented in the literature that we become like the people we spend our time when it comes to our weight and our health. This means if you are in a healthy office environment it is going to be much easier to control your weight compared to an unhealthy environment of little activity and overeating. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here OR read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

What are macros and what do I need to know about them?


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What are macros and what do I need to know about them?

In dieting circles, the word ‘macros’ comes up reasonably frequently. So what on earth are macros and what do you need to know about them?

The word macronutrients refers to the 4 energy giving nutrients, carbs, proteins, fats and alcohol – each of these macronutrients combine to give us the profile of our overall calorie intake. Most foods are a mixture of macros, for example bread contains most carbs but also a small amount of protein and fat, which is why all of these are listed on the nutritional panel. Other foods may contain just one nutrient, for example fruit which only contains carbohydrate. Each of these nutrients contains a different amount of calories per gram. Carbohydrate contain 4 calories per gram, protein also 4 calories per gram while alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and fat 9 calories per gram. 

The different proportion of macros in your diet determines your overall macronutrient profile. A typical diet that contains a few serves of breads, cereals and fruit will contain 50-60% carbohydrates while a low carb or ketogenic diet can contain as little as 10% carbohydrates as protein and fat rich foods take up most of the diet. The different proportions of macronutrients will also largely determine if you are likely to burn extra body fat. Diets that are relatively high in carbohydrates or 50-60% of overall intake are unlikely to see fat stores being burnt unless coupled with a number of hours of physical activity each day. On the other hand, a moderate carbohydrate diet or 30-40% of total energy coming from carbohydrates will generally see a 1-2kg loss of fat each month. On the other hand extremely low carb diets where 10-20% of calories are coming from fat are likely to induce ketosis, in which fat stores are preferentially burnt. While these diets are an effective way to drop kilos quickly they can be difficult to sustain. 

So if you are unsure of your macros, all you need to do is to enter a day or two worth of food into a calorie monitoring package such as ‘myfitnesspal’. Often we are consuming far more carbohydrate then we realise and this is the reason we are not getting the weight loss results we are expecting.

The most common foods we overeat


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The foods we overeat

Over many years of talking to clients and discussing their daily food habits it becomes apparent that there are is a small group of foods that many of us overeat regularly. While we may enjoy pizza or hot chips or a pasta meal occasionally these are not the foods we overeat on a daily basis. Rather it is the chocolate, cheese, biscuits and cake that tend to dominate the diet histories of those wanting to shift a few kilos, even though their diets are relatively healthy. So if you fall victim to these foods too often as well, here is how to take control.

Cheese

Cheese is a tough one simply because there are so many different types and ways we can consume it on a daily basis. Cheese is a nutritious food – it contains protein, calcium and magnesium and while it does contain some fat a serve or two of cheese each day, or 30g (size of a matchbox) is no issue. On the other hand if you down 1/2 a block of Mersey Valley with a few wines before dinner, add feta to your salad and snack on cheese throughout the day you may be overdoing it. In general white cheese including cottage cheese, goats cheese and feta are lower in fat than cheddar cheese while haloumi, Brie and Camembert are high in fat. If you aim for 1-2 cheese serves each day, cut your portions in advance so you don’t eat an entire block and use grated or shaved where possible you will keep your portions under control. And perhaps leave the Brie and haloumi for occasional treats.

Chocolate

The high fat and high sugar vice of many, it is the portions of chocolate we consume regularly that get us into trouble when it comes to our weight. A 20-30g serve of chocolate equates to an extra 100-120 calories and is a reasonable portion if you enjoy chocolate regularly. Dark chocolate is slightly better but it is still relatively high in fat and calories. The biggest issue with chocolate is that we tend to buy it in blocks, which means we also tend to eat blocks so if you do like to treat yourself, the smaller the portions you buy the better. And watch the little extras like the fundraising chocolates or a few individual Favourites that can slip into our day, especially if you work in an office environment.

Biscuits

Plain sweet biscuits are made with white flour, sugar and vegetable oil and offer few if no positive nutritional properties. The issue with regular biscuit consumption, especially if they are served at work is that we consume them mindlessly and before you know it you are eating 3-4 plain biscuits a day and adding a couple of hundred extra calories into your day. The best advice for regular biscuit munchers is to go cold turkey and instead enjoy a good quality homemade biscuit occasionally because once you start with the biscuit tin it is hard to stop. If you must indulge, keep in mind that biscotti is a better choice if you can find it at the local cafe.

Cake

Your daily cake may mean banana bread, muffins or the treats others offer you are work but with the average serve of cake containing close to 300 calories and 10g of fat, cake really is a special occasion food. You know deep down that banana bread and muffins are also just cake which means once you ditch your weekly banana bread habit you will rid your diet of a significant amount of fat and calories. A much better sweet option is a macaroon or friand, both much lower in fat and calories or if you must have a muffin or banana bread occasionally, at least try and share with a friend. And when it comes to the weekly work birthday cake, aim to taste not eat the treat to again keep in control of your overall calorie intake.

A guide to healthy school lunch boxes


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This is a sponsored post.

A guide to healthy school lunch boxes

As a busy parent you can be forgiven for running short of ideas of what to pack each day to give your kids a healthy yet appealing lunchbox. Ideally, a healthy lunchbox will be a mix of nutritious fibre and protein rich foods so young growing bodies get all the energy they need for the busy school day, as well as child friendly options that you will not find at the bottom of their school bag. So if you are in need of some lunchbox inspiration here is an easy guide  that will help you achieve lunchbox success with foods they will look forward to eating!

1. Wholegrain sandwich or wrap 

Where possible, choose grain or brown bread or you may find that wraps are a preferred option as they are easier to eat and less likely to go soggy. Always try and add a protein rich filling to your child’s sandwich – egg, lean meat or cheese are some good options. Protein rich fillings offer a number of important nutrients including iron, zinc and Vitamin B12. Light salads such as lettuce can also be added, or alternatively try packing some carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes in small containers to be munched on throughout the day. If you are worried about the freshness, pack an ice block or make the sandwiches fresh the night before. 

2. Fruit & at least one vegetable

Fresh fruit is always preferable to dried, fruit sticks or juice, as it contains fewer kilojoules, more fibre and teaches children the importance of eating fresh food. While fruit does contain natural sugars, the overall lunchbox balance will ensure that this amount is kept controlled. Good options include; bananas since they have their own natural packaging, small apples, pears or mandarins, or some berries in a small container. Adding a vegetable in addition to a piece of fruit helps to get children used to eating lower sugar, nutrient rich vegetables so always add some cut up carrot, cucumber, baby tomatoes, snow peas or red capsicum to your child’s lunch, whether they eat it or not. 

3. Protein snack

Protein is the nutrient that tends to be missed in school lunchboxes and is often replaced with extra fruit, juice or more snacks. Protein rich foods including milk and cheese offer calcium and a number of other key nutrients including magnesium and phosphorous, which all growing children need daily. Great protein rich lunchbox fillers include cheese sticks, yogurt tubes, milk protein based snack bars, and milk poppers! These options are popular with children and are also low GI, which helps to keep kids fuller for longer. Cheese in particular is a great lunchbox snack for kids as consuming it after eating carbohydrate rich foods, such as bread and fruit, will help to prevent tooth decay by helping to neutralize the acid in the mouth that can come from juice drinks and refined sugars. 

4. Nutritious Snack

Busy, growing bodies do need energy, but they need good quality energy, and many processed snack and muesli bars available do not contain a lot of nutrition for many kilojoules. While children do not necessarily need packaged snack foods, not providing them may see kids swapping their lunchbox contents for other, more appealing options! Aim to provide just one packaged muesli or snack bar in your child’s lunchbox each day and try and choose options that have < 400kJ (100 calories). An even better option (if you can find time) is to bake a batch of healthy banana muffins or banana bread each weekend so you have a yummy, healthy, homemade lunchbox filler for the week ahead. 

5. Fluid

Water should always be the drink of choice for children. Fruit juice, soft drinks, sports drinks, and cordials are high in sugar and are not appropriate everyday drinks for children. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 1.26.51 pmBanana Bread

Ingredients 

2 cups self-raising flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 cup low fat milk

2 eggs

1 tablespoon light olive oil

2 bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

Method 

1. Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar in a bowl with mashed banana, vanilla essence, eggs, milk and oil.

2. Spoon mixture into loaf tin 

3. Bake at 180°C for ~50-60 minutes, or until cooked through

Oaty Carrot & Banana Muffins

Makes 12 muffins or 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups oats

1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour

1/2 cup raw sugar

1 cup carrot, grated

1/2 cup zucchini, grated

1 egg, beaten

2 bananas, mashed

1/3 cup olive oil or butter

1 cup milk

Method 

1. Mix muesli, flour, sugar, carrot, and zucchini into a bowl

2. Combine egg, oil and milk and add to dry ingredients

3. Spoon mixture into muffin tins

4. Bake at 190°C for 20 minutes, or until cooked through

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

Have you tried Halo Top?


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This is a sponsored post.

Have you tried Halo Top, the new ice-cream on the market?

Who doesn’t love a sweet treat after dinner? Ice-cream would be close if not the winner when it comes to our choice of favourite after dinner treats, and let’s be honest, we have all demolished a lot more of the 1L tub than we had planned to at some point. Unfortunately a tub of our favourite ice-cream is likely to set us back more than 1000 calories, 70g of fat and 80g or 16 plus teaspoons of sugar which makes our after dinner treat look a whole lot more like an after dinner binge. So when Halo Top came to Australia more than 2 years ago, so many of our ice-cream issues were solved. Not only did we have a great tasting dessert treat that clocked in at 360 calories or less for an entire tub, but it came in great tasting flavours like Birthday Cake………..life is pretty good when this happens hey?

Now generally speaking ice-cream is made from cream and sugar, which makes it relatively high in both fat and sugar which is why that tub of Cookies and Cream tastes so amazing, and why you can eat an entire tub in one sitting – it is the combination of fat and sugars that stimulate a number of brain centres which in turn encourages us to eat more and more. Unfortunately for our waistline this is not such a good thing. When we take a closer look at Halo Top on the other hand, the unique recipe that combines organic stevia with egg white, prebiotic fibres and skim milk result in a great tasting dairy based dessert with a ¼ of the calories, fat and sugars. Is it any wonder that Halo Top is the number one dessert brand in the US and fast on its way to making this kind of mark in Australia?

DAIRY-FREE+CARAMAEL+MACCHIATOAnd for those dairy sensitive among us, the new Halo Top Dairy free range including caramel macchiato, sea salt caramel and peanut butter cup mean that a great tasting dessert can suit those following a plant based lifestyle or those who struggle with dairy. And if you needed further convincing, here is how Halo Top stacks up compared to other popular ice-cream varieties in Australia.

Halo Top Chocolate | Sara Lee  Chocolate | Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy

Per 100g | Per 100g | Per 100g

125cal (523kJ) | 233cal (937kJ) | 254cal (1062cal)

8g protein | 3.8g protein | 4.3g protein

4g fat | 14.4g fat | 14g fat

9g sugars | 21.2g sugars | 23.7g sugars

Susie has officially partnered with Halo Top to help share the Halo Top message

What we can learn from the Italians


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What we can learn from the Italians

A week spent in Italy recently was a stark reminder of how much we can still learn from the Italian when it comes to food and nutrition. No, I am not talking about the amazing pasta, gelato and pizza which we already do pretty well but rather the way they enjoy their food and the way food fits into their everyday lives. Here were my key take home messages. 

1. Time to eat and time not too

Forget the potato chips, chocolate bars and cakes and muffins paraded at every café, corner store and coffee shop. Italians focus on their main meals. They sit down to eat them and they are proper meals, rather than quick snacks of wraps and sushi on the run. When you sit down and enjoy real meals at the table you naturally have a more nutritious diet. 

2. Coffee is simple

Forget a double shot almond milk caramel Latte, coffee is consumed in small cups, at the café (not slurped walking to work) and it is basic – espresso, cappuccino and even their Lattes have a lot less milk. The less milk we consume, the less of the natural sugar lactose we consume which adds up for many of us when we down a couple of large milky lattes each day. 

3. Forget the snacks

Unlike us who take every single opportunity to eat each day, snacking in Italy plays a much smaller role. There is less snack food available in generally, no banana bread or muffins in sight and the snack food aisle in supermarkets is half the size of ours. Overall this means less eating in generally and a much bigger focus on the main meals. 

4. Shop daily

In a number of the cities we visited we actually struggled to find a supermarket. Forget a block size shop filled with processed foods, rather most towns had small stores for life’s necessities and rather the market stalls played a much bigger role when it came to buying the daily bread, fish and fruits and vegetables needed for that night’s meal. The smaller the shops, the less we buy and the less we eat. It is very simple. 

5. Portion control

We may serve ourselves massive plates of pasta and risotto but traditional serves in Italy are small. A thin pizza with a couple of toppings or an entrée sized pasta is all that is serves so while they do eat their carbs, they do it in the right quantities.

How to enjoy your Winter comfort foods


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It is the time of year when food thoughts turn to pies, pastry, pasta and puddings – warm, tempting treats that we give ourselves permission to eat simple because it is Winter. Unfortunately the kilo creep that tends to accompany these high calorie, high fat foods is not all that appealing so here are some ways to enjoy your favourite Winter comfort foods minus the fat and calories. 

Hearty pies

The biggest issue nutritionally with pies and pasties is the massive wad of pastry that accompanies them which can add 20-30g of fat to any meal. A much healthier alternative that still offers plenty of bulk and taste is to switch to making pies with filo pastry which contains just 5-10g of fat per 5-10 sheets compared to puff pastry which can contain three times this amount. Or, simply mashing your favourite vegetables including pumpkin, potato, zucchini and sweet potato and adding a little cheese creates a tasty, filling, fibre rich vegetable topping for any pie or baked mince dish.

Pasta

We all know there are few things as tasty as a fresh bowl of pasta with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan but for those keen to keep their carb intake controlled pasta can be taboo on many a Paleo or low carb diet. Like any one food, enjoying an entrée sized bowl of good quality pasta every so often is no issue but many people who have swapped their traditional pasta for a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta have not looked back. With next to no calories, and full of nutrients and fibre, zucchini pasta can be freely enjoyed with your favourite pasta sauce.

Burgers minus the bread

It may surprise you to hear that a burger can actually be a relatively good option when dining out, or when preparing a tasty treat style meal at home. The trick is to choose lean beef or chicken breast as your burger base along with plenty of salad. Ditch the extras such as cheese, mayo, bacon and egg and if you can, say no to the chips. If you are super keen you can also opt for a low carb burger, using a mushroom or lettuce leaves as your bun for a tasty, filling meal with significantly fewer carbs. 

Spicy curries

The biggest issue nutritionally with a curry is a large load of both fat from coconut cream and heavy carbs thanks to the rice and potato base many popular curries are served with. The good news is that it is relatively easy to lighten the calorie load of your curry by choosing vegetarian options; ditching the rice in favour of extra vegetables and if you are making curry at home, use a light evaporated milk with a little coconut essence as a lower fat alternative to coconut milk and cream. 

Sunday roasts

When it comes to enjoying a hearty Winter roast; the more vegetables you can add the better. With a roast the extra fat and calories generally come from fatty serves of meat and the gravy so if preparing your roast at home, choose the leaner cuts of meat; load up with plenty of the lighter, nutrient rich vegetables including pumpkin, carrots and greens and ask for your gravy to be served on the side so you can control your portions. 

Mexican

Whilst nachos, burritos and quesadillas can be packed with fat and calories from rice, flat bread, corn chips and cheese the humble taco can be a relatively good choice. With a single taco shell containing just 6g of carbs and 2g of fat, a couple of tacos filled with lean meat and plenty of salad can be a great choice nutritionally. Just watch the portion sizes of avocado, cheese and sour cream which can bump up the fat content of your Mexican significantly.  

Desserts

Winter is synonymous with puddings, pastries and pies seeing us eat desserts and treats we never usually would. The key thing to remember is that a single cream or pastry based dessert will contain more calories than a meal so sharing or tasting is always the key. Baked fruit, small individual puddings with just a spoon or two per serving or a hot drink made with a little milk and cacao can be just as satisfying, with significantly fewer calories. Another option is to limit the number of times you indulge in dessert to just once every week or two, this way you can enjoying whichever dessert you like and the occasional nature in which you are having it means that you do not need to be overly worried about fat or calories. 

How much plastic are you drinking?


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

How much plastic are you drinking?

Do you have a re-usable water bottle that you carry with you everywhere you go? Or do you often find yourself resorting to buying bottled water when you are out and about to help keep you hydrated throughout the day? You are not alone, in fact Australians buy more than 118,000 tones of plastic drink bottles a year. Alarming new research suggests that there is much more to worry about than just the environmental impact of human beings using so many plastic bottles considering that we actually ingest at least some of the plastic we are drinking from. 

A recent study undertaken by The University of New York in collaboration with Orb Media, US-based non-profit organization has recently identified that there is widespread micro plastics contamination in more than 90% of bottled water. This means that we end up actually drinking plastic. These alarming results has already seen the World Health Organisation announce a review into the potential risks associated with drinking water bottled in plastic. 

The study analysed 259 bottled water samples from nine countries across 11 different water brands. An average of 10.4 micro plastic particles about the width of a human hair per litre was found in bottled water, almost twice the level of contamination discovered in a previous study of plastic in tap water. Red dyes were used to identify trace particles of plastics in the bottled waters and the plastic particles found included nylon, polythene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene, used to make bottle caps.

One of the reasons why WHO have acted so quickly in response to these findings is that the science relating to the ingestion of micro plastics is only in its early stages, meaning we really do not know a lot about the health consequences of ingesting micro plastics and as such more research is urgently required. 

For frequent bottled water consumers, these findings are a major cause for concern. Frequently ingesting plastic is likely to be identified as a significant health issue and these new findings are another strong reminder for many of us of the need to minimise our use of bottled water wherever we can. And the solution is simple. Use reusable water bottles – at the gym; at work and at home, if not for the environment, for you and your family’s health. We now know that tap water has much lower levels of micro plastics than bottled water, and better yet the best type of tap water is filtered tap water. The coveted Zip HydroTap for example, has advanced filtration with their very own Micropurity system which combines activated carbon and a 0.2 micron sediment removal system. This not only removes taste, odour and dirt – it also removes contaminants and heavy metals such as lead. In addition to this, it removes up to 97% of chlorine and 99.9% of microbiological cysts (if present in the water). The HydroTap is one of the most simple, yet powerful investments you can make for your family’s health. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here OR read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.