5 Monday morning habits to ensure a successful week


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Mondays: The way you begin your week, is the way you will live your week

At the start of the official working week, Mondays are the day when we get a fresh start. The time of the week when our good health and fitness intentions can be used to our advantage if and how we know the right way to implement healthy lifestyle changes and maintain them. A well organised and planned Monday can ultimately mean that 3 to 4 days of our week are on track and when you translate that into calorie intake, meal planning and exercise sessions, 3 to 4 good days ultimately means weight loss over the course of a week.

Unfortunately for many of us, Monday mornings start in a rushed and frazzled state, in which we are happy to have simply made it to work as opposed to starting the week fresh, organised and on track with your diet and weight loss goals. If you adhere to the mantra, ‘the way you start your day is the way you live your day’, there is much to be said for making a concerted effort to start each Monday on the right foot, especially when it comes to having your food and exercise plans ready to help you keep focused and make positive progress, especially if your goal is weight loss.

While starting Monday’s right will largely depend on how much time you have dedicated to getting organised over the weekend, if you consider that Mondays are an opportunity to reboot, recharge and kick-start your week after the weekend is a great way to take control of your diet again. There is some evidence to show that including low calorie food days as part of your overall calorie intake is a great way to give the metabolism boost and also a way to compensate when things have gone off track over the weekend. Knowing that Monday has been reserved for light foods and low calorie eating will help to get rid of the extra fluid and bloating that accompanies a weekend filled with alcohol and high fat, high salt foods. Eating lightly reminds us of how good we feel when we eat lightly and get back in touch with our hunger and satiety signals and it also helps us to drop the couple of kg that tend to be gained after a weekend filled with social engagements.

Learning to start Monday beautifully

There is more and more evidence to show that seeking out simple pleasures in our day to day lives is an important determinant of well-being. With so many of juggling so many balls and constantly working toward the big goals of houses, careers, children and even retirement, it can be easy to get so caught up in working and planning for the future that we forget to enjoy the here and now- taking the time on a daily and weekly basis to savour and thoroughly enjoy life’s simple pleasure such as eating, relaxing and enjoying the company of those important to us. This means being mindful and aware of the small aspects of each of our days that come together to determine how much we are enjoying our experience of living and how much we are simply getting through each day.

When it comes to starting a new week, this means that somehow we need to learn to love our Mondays and start them beautifully. It means sitting an enjoying breakfast; it means taking time out to plan the week ahead and outline what you are keen to achieve, it means being grateful that you are here at all to enjoy a brand new week, rather than cursing the very fact that yet another week is about to start. For some of us this may come naturally with a new week signally a new start but others may need to do some work to learn to appreciate Mondays rather than hate them.

Get up early

Successful people generally get up early and make the most of their time. They understand that all of us are generally playing a time game, with time being one of our precious resources that we simply cannot get back. If you consider that getting out of bed an hour earlier during the week days,w ill give you a an extra two whole days each year, imaging if you could get up even earlier.

Whether an early morning start helps to get extra chores completed, allows time for your to exercise or simply represents an hour or two when you enjoy some peace and quiet, the feeling of starting your day gently without rushing is a sure fire way to start your week in the right frame of mind.

Start off on the right foot

For many people looking to start the week right, this means starting with some exercise and there is no better way to kick start a Monday than with a brisk walk or run to kick start the metabolism and get you in the right frame of mind for eating well and maintaining your exercise program.

 One of the biggest issues when it comes to making a concerted effort to factor regular exercise into your lifestyle is the belief patterns that accompany the thought of regular training. Exercise does not need to mean numerous hours spent at the gym in an uncomfortable and sweaty state – it can simply mean walking to work or getting off the bus or train a stop earlier. Simply committing to small but regular exercise on a daily basis is often the difference between weight control or not.

Make your lists

Another Monday habit that is likely to serve you well over many years is to start each week with a clear, write to do list. Operating in the same way as goals help to direct and guide behaviour, writing a to do list helps to keep us on track with the bigger picture plans we have for ourselves and helps to keep our behaviours and choices on track especially during times in which it is easy to get distracted and also get to the end of week feeling as if we have not achieved anything. Get into the habit of sitting for 5 minutes each Monday morning and making a note of the key things you want to have achieved by the end of the week. You will be surprised how much easier it is to keep focused when you know what you are supposed to be concentrating on.

Put the kettle on

Another powerful Monday morning habit is to start the day with a cup of herbal tea. Not only does drink tea or even water help to rehydrate you but the simple habit of starting the day with the kettle on acts as a constant reminder of your commitment to health and well-being for the week ahead.

Easy ways to manage your stress each day


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This is a sponsored post.

Do you know anyone who is not stressed? The frantic pace of modern life coupled with the fact that most people spend the day battling the clock means that even getting out of the house each morning can be stressful. And the truth is that while we can dream of a stress free existence, the reality is that the stress is unlikely to go away anytime soon. As such, we have to get better at managing it if we are to feel and perform at our best. The good news is that there are a number of easy ways you can manage and reduce the stress in your life, with simple strategies like keeping well hydrated.

The close link between stress and dehydration is not frequently discussed but results from a recent trial commission by Zip Water clearly demonstrated the link. In this study, busy mums hosting the ever stressful kid’s birthday party had their markers of stress such as blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels measured when they were and were not dehydrated. The results clearly showed that the mum who took on the party well hydrated thanks to her trusty Zip HydroTap had lower blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels. What this basically means is that drinking enough water is the least we can do to help protect our bodies from stress –and who does not want to do that? Read more about the study here.

So if you are keen to take control and manage your day-to-day stress better in 2018, here are some simple steps you can take.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 6.17.10 PM1. Drink more water

With 70% of adults walking around dehydrated, and dehydration closely linked to an exaggerated experience of stress, drinking more water is the simplest thing you can do to help with day-to-day stress management. Always carry a water bottle with you, aim to drink at least 2 bottles of water each day and if you have not got one at work and home already, consider installing a Zip HydroTap to help all of your family and colleagues drink more instantly chilled, filtered water. 

2. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, at least 7-8hrs a night

This means no TV in the bedroom, no mobile phones next to the bed and ideally getting into bed by 11pm each night. Not only does hormonal regulation improve when you are getting the rest that you need, the more you sleep, the less likely you are to eat. 

3. Learn to meditate – even for just 5-10 minutes a day

Meditation is another proven psychological technique to help calm the mind, deepen breathing and gain perspective. If the idea of meditation completely freaks you out, start slow with just a 5-10 minute session to kick start your day. There are also some great mobile apps available so you can grab 5 minutes to meditate anywhere, anytime. 

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 10.24.27 AM4. Get out into nature without technology at least once each week

A proven psychological strategy to improve health and wellbeing is to escape the rush of modern life and be reunited with the wonder of nature. Whether it is a bush walk, swim in the ocean or drive to the country, you will feel reinvigorated as a result. 

5. Actively engage in a hobby you enjoy once each week

The rush of life means that we can easily forget how much we enjoy the simple things – a coffee at your favourite café or a new magazine. Start to bring more joy into your daily life by actively adding more simple things that you enjoy into your life on a daily basis. 

6. Make sure your Vitamin D is not low, and get some sunlight each day

Up to 25% of Australian adults have low Vitamin D, which can basically leave you feeling dreadful. If you have not been feeling at your best, have your Vitamin D levels checked at your GP and make a concerted effort to get out into the sunlight as often as you can. 

7. Get your heart rate up for 20 minutes each day through movement

The harder your heart beats, the more blood you have pumping around your body and the better you will feel, well, at least 20 minutes later anyway. Whether it is via exercise, walking or even dancing, getting your heart pumping is the most simple and natural antidepressant you can find.

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

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

5 ways to boost your energy levels


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Energy management

Hands up if you are feeling tired? Overwhelmed? Struggling to make it through each day? Unfortunately these feelings are pretty common in this day and age. We pack so much into our days and lives that we literally have nothing let at the end of each day and each week. We know that we are not feeling, looking or performing at our best, and we simply do not have the energy to do anything about it. You are not alone.

Energy is a simple yet exceptionally complex thing. On one hand it can simply refer to if we are able to get all the things done we need to and feel like we are physically capable of doing so. Yet it can also refer to complex metabolic pathways, the foods we choose to eat as well and then it can exist as a marker of our emotional health and how we self-regulate our behaviours. As such when we seek to regulate our energy levels more effectively, it is not as simple as grabbing an energy drink and pushing on, rather it is about creating a lifestyle that is conducive to optimal energy management. So if you are feeling like your energy regulation can do with some fine tuning, here are some simple steps to take to get back in control of your daily energy experience.

1. Set the platform with the right diet

It goes without saying that what we eat and drink each day has a powerful influence over our baseline energy levels. Poor glucose regulation impacts our attention and concentration, while weight gain, irregular meals and dehydration are just some of the nutritional factors that heavily impact our experience of energy each day. So if you do not have your own personal diet plan to follow that you know helps you to be at your best, it is time to invest in one so you have an idea of the best way you should be eating to also perform at your best.

2. Just move

Our inactive lifestyles create havoc for our metabolism and our overall health. Not only does inactivity mean that our cells become less efficient at burning calories, but it impacts our blood glucose control, leads to gradual weight gain and results in us feeling tired and sluggish a lot of the time. For this reason, the simplest prescription to improve your daily energy experience is to simply move – get up more, get a standing desk at work and stop with the excuses and commit to moving at least 10000 steps every single day. It is the least you need to be doing to maintain your body.

3. Be strict with your energy usage

Like time, humans are very good at wasting their precious energy on things that do not really matter – social media, relationships that do not have a lot of meaning, doing things we really do not want to be doing. Now in real life sometimes we do have to do things we don’t want to do (like go to work) but other things, like catching up with people we do not like, or going to events when we would rather be home conversing our energy are often tough decisions that make a big difference when it comes to our overall health and wellbeing.

4. Cut the screen time

Whenever we are watching TV and scrolling on Instagram or FB we are basically watching other people lives their lives. Now here is nothing wrong with this if you are happy with your own life. But when you are not feeling your best, or feeling tired and run down, these pastimes will not energise and inspire you, rather they will make you feel a whole lot worse about yourself and your life. For this reason, limiting screen time in favour of more meaningful interactions – a coffee with a friend, playing with the kids or reading a fab book are much better ways to help you find your natural energy.

5. Nourish your soul

When was the last time you did something when you felt like you were your best self? Chances are it was a while ago. Finding our own natural energy is also about reminding ourselves of who we really are, and when we feel and perform at our best. When you are regularly doing things you really love, you will find the rest of life becomes a whole lot easier as you have balance between responsibilities and enjoyment. This may be a massage once a week, or a trip to the beach each weekend. It may be a weekend away each month or a date night every week but carving out this regular time when you can feel your best is a key step in getting your life energy balance on track.  

Does your workplace need an energy reboot? Susie is available to speak about energy management as one of her corporate talk options. For more information, to request Susie’s Speaking Pack or to contact Susie about speaking at your next event, click here.

Eating for fullness


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This is a sponsored post.

We are often given information on eating for good health or for optimal energy and even about ways to lose weight, but far less often do we hear foods discussed in terms of their fullness factor. There are specific properties in particular foods that mean they are especially filling choices, not only are these foods great options when it comes to energy regulation and weight control, but for anyone who often feels unsatisfied after a meal, they are great options to base your diet around.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 5.02.21 AMBananas

Unlike some fruits which have a high water content, bananas combine the nutrition of natural carbohydrates along with plenty of fibre and texture which means that they are one of the top ranking foods when it comes to their fullness factor. Even better, team your banana with some Greek yoghurt and a few nuts for an extra filling meal or snack.

Potatoes

Poor old potatoes took a beating when the carb police came to power in dieting circles, but the reality is that it’s the way we consume most of our potatoes (think fried versions in general!) which is the issue. A humble potato contains just 20g of carbs, is a rich source of fibre and key nutrients, and studies have ranked potatoes at the top of the fullness factor index.

Oats

It is the low glycaemic index of oats and their high fibre content that makes them one of the most filling cereal choices around. Not only are oats nutrient powerhouses when it comes to general nutrition but they can be easily incorporated into many meals including baked goods and smoothies, or can be teamed with banana for a particularly filling breakfast option that will keep you going until lunchtime.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 4.05.27 PMEggs

With an extremely high nutrient content including high quality protein, Vitamin A, omega 3 fats and antioxidants, when teamed with vegetables and wholegrain bread, you have another meal that will last you for several hours. And remember, you do not have to limit your egg consumption to breakfast; they also make a great lunch addition to salads or sandwiches, or a quick and easy omelette for dinner.

Yoghurt

Yoghurt is naturally filling thanks to its high protein content and low GI, but even better are Greek yoghurt varieties in which their processing ensures their protein content is higher than regular yoghurt. If you find traditional yoghurt a little tough to handle, team it with a naturally sweet food like a banana to get all the health benefits with a little more flavour. 

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

Does your diet need a kickstart this February?


Shape Me February Kickstart - Recipes 2

We all know that it can be tough to follow a diet – the demands of a busy schedule as well as regular social activities that feature food can make it almost impossible to follow any particular diet program for an extended period of time. It is for this reason that we have developed a new range of Shape Me plans that help you to kickstart your diet over just a 2 week period. Specifically this month our kickstart is focused on lunch – while we are often told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, in fact it can actually be lunch that determines your overall calorie load for the remainder of the day. So if you know that your diet needs some work, here are a few more reasons why there are some benefits in kickstarting our diet a focused 2 week period.

1. You can manage 2 weeks of focus

Often diets fail as they require us to be perfect all the time, which in modern life simply does not work. On the other hand, just 2 weeks of dietary focus is a short enough period of time to see some results on the scales while still allowing you to juggle your social demands and the eating that comes with that. 

iMacHomepage-large-v22. You will get some results

Research suggests that achieving initial weight loss success helps to predict long term weight loss, this means that seeing a drop of a kilo or two on the scales over a 2 week period is motivating in itself to keep going. The Shape Me Kickstart has been designed to help you drop a couple of kilos quickly, but doing it in the right way, via a calorie controlled plan that is packed full of fresh food. 

3. It will help to build strong habits

Long term weight control comes down to building some strong, sustainable lifestyle habits. The Shape Me Kickstart focuses on simple daily habits, such as packing a healthy lunch and preparing some healthy meals each week that are habits you can build and sustain long term.

4. You will feel better within a couple of days

Just a couple of days of nutrient rich eating is all you need to help you feel lighter and more energised. The Shape Me Kickstart is designed to boost your nutrition within a day or 2 of starting the program so you feel energised and motivated to keep eating well.

5. You can start at any time

Unlike a number of weight loss programs, the Shape Me Kickstarts are designed to be started at any time – this means you can follow them for 2 weeks straight or choose a few days at a time that fit in with your schedule. Flexibility is the key with any successful diet program and the Shape Me Kickstart offers maximal flexibility. 

Get started now with your Kickstart program by clicking here.

Losing the last 5kg


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Losing The Last 5kg CVR 3DDo you know anyone who would not like to drop 5kg?! Unlike larger amounts of weight, losing just a few kilos can actually be quite tough, and you often have to get quite specific with your macro-nutrients, calorie load, meal timing and exercise. The other important aspect is to allocate the time and focus to doing so – you will need at least 4 weeks of pretty focused eating to get some initial weight loss and then successive  1/2 – 1kg losses each week. So taking tips from the new edition of my book, Losing the Last 5kg, here are my best tips on how to get there!

It may come as a surprise to hear that it can actually be harder to lose a couple of kilos than it is to lose 20 or 30. Indeed this can explain why some people seem able to be able to lose multiple kilos quickly when they decide to lose weight, compared to those of us who always seem to struggle that that extra one or two. There are a number of reasons why weight loss becomes more difficult the smaller the amount of weight you want to lose. Firstly and most importantly if you only need to lose 3-5kg, it is likely that you are already eating well and exercising. To then lean up further, it will then require additional diet and exercise changes that help to increase metabolic rate and promote further fat loss. The second issue that is of particular relevance when you are looking to drop a couple of kg is that the body simply does not like to be lean, which means that sometimes we need to resort to various diet and exercise tricks that will help to boost fat burning in the quest to achieve the specific weight loss and body shape we are looking for.

Commit and follow through 

To set yourself up for sustainable fat loss, particularly when the desired weight loss is relatively small, you need to aim for a number of days each week of tightly controlled eating. Many people fail with their fat loss attempts as they let the little extras slip in on a daily basis; the couple of hundred calories from wine at dinner or from an extra row of chocolate are all it can take to complete derail your weight loss attempts. To commit to fat loss you need a period of at least of 5-6 days of tightly controlled eating to adequately deplete your fuel stores, effectively burn body fat and see that 1-2kg drop on the scales over a course of a week. 

Get organised

In order to eat well you need to have the food you need readily available – planning is the key to dietary success. Each week set aside some time to plan all of your weekday meals and snacks and then make time to visit the supermarket to stock up on all the foods that you need to ensure that you eat well. People who eat well are organised and keep the foods on hand that they need to keep on track with their diet, no matter what situation they find themselves in. If you are serious about losing body fat, your nutrition needs to become a priority for at least a month, which is also a perfect amount of time to lose 5kg.

Bump up the protein at breakfast

Protein is a super nutrient when it comes to weight loss as it is digested more slowly than carbs and hence helps to keep the hormonal systems that control our appetite and fat burning hormones well regulated. Aiming to consume 15-20g of protein at breakfast via a couple of eggs, a protein shake, some baked beans or some thick natural yogurt will help to kick start metabolic rate for the day, and keep us full and satisfied for at least 3-4 hours so that we are less tempted by high fat treats and snacks throughout the morning.

Eat more vegetables

Once you aim to include vegetables and salad at every meal and snack, whether this is via some mushrooms and tomatoes in your morning omelette, a large salad at lunch and some vegetable soup for dinner, you are kept so nicely full that you eat far less of the other calorie containing foods. Aim for at least 2-3 cups of vegetables or salad at lunch and dinner as well as snacking on some vegetables throughout the day.

Watch the liquid calories

It does not matter whether the calories come from wine, juice, coffee or a smoothie, the body does not compensate well when we consume liquid calories. This means that we do not adjust our food intake to eat less when we drink fluids other than water or clear tea. For many of us, our daily coffee habit, or a couple of wines with dinner are habits that have gradually crept into our lives, along with an extra couple of kg. Take a break from your milk coffee, alcohol and extra juices and swap to water or herbal tea and you are likely to see a drop in weight as well.

Change things around

If you only have 5kg to lose, chances are you are already exercising regularly, but it may also be time to change your workout around a little. The body gets used to exercising in a certain way, just as it gets used to eating a certain way very quickly. For this reason, altering your workout type, timing and intensity is often all you need to do to kick-start fat burning again when things have been stable. Choose a different type of gym class, start training intervals rather than sitting on the treadmill or bike at the same speed or go to the gym at a different time of the day to mix things up a little and challenge the metabolism.

Top 10 tips for losing 5kgs

1. Make breakfast your largest meal of the day.

2. Drink a green tea after each meal.

3. Make sure that your dinner and lunch include half a plate of salad or vegetables.

4. Go alcohol free for at least 5 days each week.

5. Drink tea and coffee with meals only.

6. Take the edge of your hunger on the way home from work with a filling snack such as apple, carrot or nuts.

7. Move your body for an hour each day.

8. Keep your dinner small, with salad, soup, vegetables and a small piece of meat.

9. Have a meal off your diet each week.

10. Get lots of sleep, at least 9 hours each night.

In the new addition of my book, Losing the Last 5kg learn all the latest tricks and tips on ways to drop that frustrating last 5kg for good. Purchase your copy through Booktopia or Amazon.

How to make the perfect smoothie


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This is a sponsored post.

If there was one type of drink that was synonymous with summer, a delicious fruit smoothie would have to go close to being the top pick. Not only does a colourful fruit and vegie based smoothie provide the perfect vibrant image for social media, but with the right mix of ingredients it can be a nutritious, filling breakfast option. So here are the most important steps to take to blend the perfect smoothie every time you feel like getting your smoothie on.

1. Protein for fullness

Your preference may be skim milk, Greek yoghurt or protein powder, but basing your smoothie around a protein rich ingredient that offers at least 10g of protein per serve will ensure that you stay full throughout the morning. Greek yoghurt is a particularly good choice as it contains close to 20g of protein per serve with minimal sugar, while if your preference is to go dairy free, a vegan rice or pea based protein powder is your best bet. It’s important to be mindful that almond milk is particularly low in protein while coconut yoghurt is low in protein and high in fat.

2. Fresh fruit for fibre

Not only will fruit add plenty of nutrients to your smoothie but fresh fruits including bananas, berries, kiwi fruit and mango will add much more fibre and natural sweetness. It is also easy to keep fruits like banana in the freezer so that you don’t have to worry about always having fresh fruit on hand, and blending frozen fruit gives a delicious taste and texture to any cool drink.

3. Some vegetables for extra nutrition

For anyone who needs to eat more fresh produce (all of us), the great thing about breakfast smoothies is that you can actually add in a serve or two of nutrient rich vegetables and you will not even notice. Think spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, carrots – they all blend well and the sweetness of the smoothie will naturally reduce any of the bitterness uncooked vegetables may add. 

4. Serve of good fats

The perfect smoothie mix is made up of a serve of good fats – some avocado, chia, nuts or seeds will add taste, texture and crunch to your favourite smoothie and keeping these portion controlled is key to keeping the calories controlled. About one third avocado, a tablespoon of seeds or 8-10 nuts is the perfect serving size for these additions. 

Here is a recipe for one of my favourite smoothies

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 9.48.27 PMSunshine smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients

Handful of kale

1 small banana

½ cup mixed berries

1 cup of any type of milk

1 tbsp. chia seeds

Method

1. Blend all ingredients together and top with chia seeds.

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

What breakfast do you do?


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Long gone are the days when a family would sit down together bright and early to enjoy their cornflakes together. Rather the breakfast occasion is likely to be rushed, varied and often lacking the nutritional balance we need to keep us optimally fuelled throughout the morning. What we eat at breakfast nowadays largely depends on where we are when we are eating our breakfast. So, once you identify what is your general breakfast style, it is easy to identify ways to improve the nutritional profile of what you are eating.

On the run

Despite the best of intentions, there are few of us who manage to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before we leave the house each morning. Instead we are often fighting the alarm and lucky to grab a slice of toast before running out the door. If breakfast always seems to be consumed in a rush at your house, the key is to know your quick and easy options that also contain protein, as protein rich foods will help to keep you fuller for longer after eating them. Some options include a tub of Greek yoghurt, a small tin of baked beans or if you have an extra minute or two, a toasted sandwich with ham, cheese and tomato.

Daily café treat

Just as a daily stop at the local coffee shop or café has become a ritual for many, so too has picking up a quick breakfast deal whether this be banana bread, a muffin or Turkish toast with peanut butter, Unfortunately, many of the popular breakfast choices typically found at cafes are high in carbs and calories and lacking in protein. The result is general overeating that will also leave you vulnerable to hunger and cravings mid-morning. So, if you are a café regular, keep in mind that a small milk based coffee is equivalent to at least 1/3 of your breakfast and a slice of toast with avocado or cheese is likely all you need to complete your breakfast. Better still a small breakfast wrap, omelette or an egg with a single slice of toast will offer you a good balance of carbs and nutrient rich proteins.

At work

One of the biggest issues with waiting until you get to work to eat breakfast is that it means breakfast may not be until after 9am. After the overnight fast, one of the best things you can do is eat the first meal of the day as early as possible to help give the metabolism a boost and kick start calorie burning. So, if a breakfast at your desk is not likely to occur until after 9am, try starting the day with half a breakfast at home, such as a milk coffee or a slice of toast with cheese or nut spread, and follow it up with another small second breakfast at 9 or 10am of another slice of toast, a small serve of cereal or some Greek yoghurt and fruit.

Post gym

If you have an early morning workout scheduled that is less than 40 minutes duration or before 7am, you may not need to eat anything before your session. On the other hand, if you are committed to intense X-Fit or personal training you may find that you can train more effectively with a small amount of fuel on board before your session, as you will burn body fat more efficiently with a small amount of carbohydrate present. Good choices include a piece of fruit, a couple of crackers and a slice of cheese or a small energy bar. Once you complete your workout, protein and slowly digested carbs are your best breakfast choices. A toasted sandwich, omelette with a coffee, smoothie with protein powder, milk and fruit or a Bircher muesli with Greek yoghurt are all good choices.

How to stop eating too much


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It’s one of the main reasons that people can’t lose weight and one of the most difficult habits to rein in – overeating.

We eat more than we need to for many reasons – boredom; access to large volumes of tasty food and not having the ability to identify real hunger.

If we overate only on special occasions and celebrations it would not be an issue.

But far too many of us overeat on a daily basis thanks to easy access to food, routinely large serving sizes and more concentrated food tastes and textures which appear to stimulate the brain to seek our more and more food. So, if you regularly go to bed bursting with food, or have had to undo your pants button after eating too much again, it may be time to take a closer look at what’s going on.

Comfort eating

Overeating is strongly linked to our mood. Sadness, frustration, anger or any unresolved emotion can see us turn to food for comfort. We can learn this behavioural response from parents or carers who offer food, usually sweet foods, to soothe crying babies, injured infants or hurt teens. Or it can be self-taught as we seek out this sensation of pleasure of eating to ease emotional pain. Unfortunately the food only fills the emotional void temporarily, so the habit of overeating can continue for years.

While it is useful to understand why overeating may occur, much more useful are the behavioural strategies to help manage and take control of overeating, in a number of different scenarios.

Mindless Eating

Behavioural research from the journal Appetite has shown dieters who consumed lunch while watching television consumed significantly more calories at their next meal. The reason? Failing to be present and mindful about what they has eaten at lunch. Keep present at meal times and give your full attention to your meal. Not only are you likely to savour and enjoy what you are eating more, but research would suggest you will also eat less.

Know your high risk situations

Identify the times when you are most likely to overeat. Is it socially? In the office? Or when you get home at night time? Once you’ve done this, you can develop strategies to manage these times. The simple act of going for a walk when experiencing a chocolate craving has been shown to significantly reduce cravings. Whilst standing away from the buffet or biscuit jar has been shown to significantly reduce mindless eating.

Consider the ease of eating

Sweet drinks, soft textures that require minimal amounts of chewing and energy dense foods such as chocolate, potato chips and snack foods are consumed very quickly yet can fail to trigger the satiation that more bulky foods that require much more effort to eat such as salads, meat and even dense chewy breads do. Make a concerted effort to ditch the soft white breads and cakes, noodles and rice and any type of sugar based drink and focus on good quality meals and snacks that take time to eat.

Learn to feel hungry

When was the last time you felt really, truly hungry? For many of us, it’s not a familiar feeling as we snack all day. Learn to quantify your hunger levels out of 10, and aim to only eat when you are up at 8 or 9.

Eat until you’re not quite full

Pay closer attention to the point in which you actually start to feel full. In general, it is a mouthful or two prior to the actual ‘full’ feeling. Serve yourself less at meals than you usually would and then prolong the eating occasion by chewing each mouthful slowly and placing your knife and fork down in between mouthfuls. This process of not eating until you feel ‘stuffed’ is crucial. And it is important – research again published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that slow eaters consumed significantly fewer calories and drank more water at a meal simply than eaters who routinely consumed their meals quickly.

Get familiar with portion sizes

Whether you start to track your calorie intake using a monitoring system, or start to measure and weigh your foods for a period to learn what a normal portion is, keeping a close eye on volumes is crucial as most people will eat what is served as opposed to what they are hungry for. A dietitian can help you to identify the right portion sizes for you based on your dietary goals, age, exercise level and gender.

Remove temptation

If packets of biscuits and blocks of chocolate are kept at home, you will eat them. It’s as simple as that – especially if you are bored, tired or emotional.

And when celebratory cakes and slices that colleagues bring to work are waved under your nose regularly, it’s hard to resist.  

You’ll need to speak to family members, colleagues and other ‘feeders’ to ensure you have their support in keeping these indulgence foods out of your way.

Learn to compensate

It’s no use wallowing in guilt when you do demolish three pieces of chocolate cake. That leads to the mentality of “well I may as well have a fourth”. Instead, learn to compensate for overeating. A day of simple salad and soups and some extra exercise will not only help you to feel physically better when you have overeaten but it will help teach you to balance your intake with your output.

How I spend less at the supermarket


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When I was younger, I didn’t pay much attention at all to how much I spent at the supermarket. I would only purchase mainstream brands; bought whatever I liked and never worried about what was on sale. Fast-forward 10 years; 2 kids and a mortgage and now more than ever before I am exceptionally mindful about how much I am spending; I intentionally shop looking for the cheapest options and am finding I am spending less than I ever have at the supermarket. So how do I do it and still keep my nutrition on track? It is so easy.

1. Go to the supermarket less often

Each and every time you ‘duck’ into the supermarket you are guaranteed to spend at least $50 if not $100. It is the same as keeping food at home – if it is there, you will eat it and if you go to the supermarket you will see appealing options and buy more than you need. For this reason I go to Aldi once a fortnight and stock up on all the crucial supplies – toilet paper, nappies, wipes, cleaning products, frozen vegetables (a frozen vegetable is a frozen vegetable), baking products and long life milk. This shop rarely costs me more than $100. I then try and go to your local supermarket just once or twice each week to purchase anything else we need like the products Aldi do not stock, a couple of serves of fish, meat or chicken depending on what we are cooking and fresh fruit for the twins.

2. Get to the markets

Each week my Dad goes to the markets for the family. Now he is retired BUT you save so much money on fresh vegetables that I would now make time to go even if he couldn’t. For $20 a week I pick up a whole pumpkin, several zucchinis, sweet potato, spinach and tomatoes and that is more than enough fresh veges for the entire week! $20 I am serious. Get out there or form a coop and take turns going. You will save a fortune.

3. Cook less but make more

In busy lives who has time to cook every night. Generally speaking I cook 2-3 times each week but make a big serve of lean mince or various pies that work as leftovers and lunches a couple of times each week. The other nights I simply make a quick fish or cutlets with vegetables. Quick and easy and mince and pie dishes are extremely cost effective.

4. Make your lists

When I do find myself at the supermarket I generally spend 5-10 minutes in there, quickly racing for the products I am looking for. Perusing means buying more, and generally more foods we do not need. In stating that I do buy treats, a packet of chips here and there, sometimes biscuits but these are one off purchases, never routine buys that push the bill up and when I do buy them, they are always on sale eg ½ price biscuits or chocolate.

5. Forget the name brands

As a dietitian I am fussy with certain brands – I prefer the best types of bread, cereal, condiments but when it comes to foods like cheese, or milk or oats or flour, I never waste money on the name brands because I know the actual product is the same just in different packaging. Why spend $3.00 on peas when you can spend $1 or $5 on oats when you can $1? There is a coffee paid for right there in savings!

The new edition of Losing the Last 5kg is now available!


Losing The Last 5kg CVR 3D

Writing a book is a big thing. It is kind of like having a baby. You think about it for years beforehand. The process of writing it is slow and arduous and then when it is finally released it is great but also sometimes not what you expect. When I wrote my first book, Losing the Last 5kg 7 years ago it was bittersweet. Yes I was proud of the book but it was hard to find in bookshops, someone else wrote a book with a similar name and the whole process was not what I hoped it would be. In saying that, Losing the Last 5kg sold quite a few copies and as such my publishers approached me last year with the idea to republish it. I was keen but wanted it updated to reflect the changes in diets we have seen over the past few years.

So now, as we release the new edition of Losing the Last 5kg I am pretty proud. The manuscript is much stronger than the first book. I have literally rewritten 30000 words and I am really proud of the final product. With updated sections on intermittent fasting, eating with others, diet detoxes and meal timing, Losing the Last 5kg is a great daily manual for everyone who simply wants to control their weight in busy modern life. 

So if you liked the first edition, still want to lean up but avoid strict diets and fads, check out the new and revised Losing the Last 5kg, I am sure there will be something in there for you. 

Losing the Last 5kg is available to purchase now on Booktopia and Amazon.

School lunchboxes


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It is that time of year again…….schools back! And with the annual stationery and new shoe run too comes the influx of ideas for busy parents on how to pack a nutritious and appealing lunchbox for small children, which should be said is no easy feat. Considering though that growing children do consume up to 30% of their total calories while they are at school, what we pack them each day is important. So here are the easiest steps to take to pack a healthy yet child friendly lunchbox, and the best packaged snacks out there if you are looking for some guidance. 

The easiest way to pack a nutritionally balanced lunchbox is to think of it in terms of compartments or sections. This way you will ensure you have enough items in the lunch but also the right nutritional balance. 

A well balanced lunchbox will include:

1. Sandwich, wrap or crackers

Remember that wholegrain and whole meal varieties of breads and crisp breads are best. Try to also include a protein rich filling such as ham, tuna, chicken breast or egg on sandwiches as the protein helps to keep kids full throughout the afternoon.

2. Piece of fruit

Fresh fruit is always best as dried fruit, fruit juice, fruit sticks and straps are high in sugar and digested quickly. Remember that grapes should be sliced for children under the age of 5.

3. Dairy food

Dairy foods including milk, cheese, yoghurt and dairy snacks provide both calcium and protein for healthy bones, teeth and growth. Look for the very few yogurts that do not contain added sugar where possible. 

4. Snack

Aim for snacks to contain <400kJ or 100cal per serve and options that are made from whole grains – see list detailed below. Naturally homemade snacks such as banana bread or mini muffins are better options nutritionally if you do have time to make them 

5. Water 

Water should always be the drink of choice for children. Fruit juice, cordial and flavoured waters are high in sugar and not consumed regularly.

Research on Australian children’s lunchboxes has found that on average children are consuming three packaged snacks such as muesli bars, cheese and dip packs, fruit twists, potato chips and snack bars, which is too many. Snack foods are often highly processed food choices that offer little nutritionally. For this reason it is suggested that at most children consume one packaged snack food each day. Good snack food choices contain dietary fibre, whole grains and/or protein and contain <400kJ or 100 calories per serve. 

If you are worried that you child’s lunchbox does not contain enough “fun” foods, consider letting your child choose his/her snacks once each week and negotiate healthy choices for the remainder of the week. 

To keep lunchboxes at the right temperature, look for freezer style cooler packs or try freezing an ice block or tetra style drink and pack with the lunch to keep it fresh. 

One of the biggest issues in relation to children’s lunchbox choices is that they have too much choice. Limit your child’s choice to just one or two food items to avoid starting a never ending negotiation about all the different type of food that you can include in the lunchbox.

The better packaged snack food options 

Messy MonkeysMessy Monkeys

Found in the health food section, these wholegrain snacks are gluten free, contain just 90 calories per serve and the kids will actually eat them.

Kids Roasted Fav-va Beans 

A great choice nutritionally thanks to the high protein content – with 3g of protein, 1g of fibre, no sugar for just 70cal this product is a great balance of a naturally flavoured packaged snack food that kids will actually enjoy eating. 

Sunbites Air Popped Popcorn

With <80 calories per serve, 2g of fibre and no added sugars, popcorn is a great lunchbox filler.

Milo Energy Snack Bars

With <5g of added sugars (about the lowest you can find in a kids snack), just 80calories and almost 2g of fibre, this popular brand combines some nutrition with a child friendly product. 

ARI Bars

In the health food section, a low sugar, gluten free bar option for <100calories.

Cobb’s Popcorn

Another popcorn option.

Milo Starz

If you can find them, these are a good choice with just 80 calories and a relatively low amount of sugar compared to traditional biscuit style snacks for kids.

Freedom XO Crunchers

With just 4g of sugars per pack and fewer than 80 calories these gluten free snacks are child friendly, nut free and taste great

PetitMiamPetitMiam Plain Yoghurt Pouch

One of the only yoghurt tubes for kids that does not contain ANY added sugar

Are you ready to commit to the Zip Water Challenge?


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This is a sponsored post.

When it comes to health and lifestyle change, we are often told what we should and should not be doing, cutting back on or reducing to achieve success. Much less frequently do we focus on the strategies and techniques that will generate positive health outcomes minus the feelings of guilt and deprivation. As such, there is growing interest in focusing on the benefits of building positive health habits as opposed to breaking the bad ones. 

Habits are formed when we repeat a certain behaviour over time until it becomes automatic. In the case of drinking water, a habitual behaviour could be filling up your water bottle when you arrive at work. We may always have this intention, however when we are distracted, busy or overwhelmed we may not have the cognitive capacity to focus on our specific health goal. This somewhat explains why we often do not meet our daily water goals, or return to poor eating habits quickly even with the best of intentions. 

With the help of a Zip HydroTap, keeping well hydrated is one of the easiest ways to optimise your health, yet so few of us manage to achieve our fluid targets in our busy lives. The average adult needs at least 1-1.5L of water each day, plus extra for any high intensity training that you do. In the warm summer months, this means that some of us may need as much as 2-3L of water each day, which can be challenging to say the least. Drinking enough water ensures that our digestive system works optimally; that we are able to maintain energy, concentration, focus – helping to prevent feelings of fatigue.. Drinking enough is one of the simplest things we can do each day to look and feel at our best. 

So as we move into a brand new year with many of us needing to drink more water on a daily basis to look, feel and perform at our best, we are encouraging you to commit to our 21 Day Zip Water Challenge. We know from research that this is the minimum amount of time it takes to establish a new habit and it is not too overwhelming a time frame for us to keep focused and motivated. 21 days throughout January and February, the warmest time of the year is also a perfect time to focus on our hydration. 

With a daily tip and suggestion to help remind you of easy ways to increase your water consumption, not only will drinking more water become a natural part of your daily routine, you will feel a whole lot better as a result. 

If you are one of the many who knows that your hydration needs a little more attention, or want to commit to building some strong new daily health habits, look for our daily #zipwaterchallenge tip. 

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

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

Think healthy


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While nutrition is a science, eating is a behaviour, a behaviour that often occurs in a social context. For this reason, while specific diets may come and go, understanding and learning how to control our eating behaviours in different environments is a crucial aspect of long term weight control. Here are some of the deeply entrenched behavioural habits that are common in individuals who do manage to control their weight, not just in the short term, but for life.

1. They self-monitor

Whether it is keeping track of your food intake, daily step number or your weight, keeping mindful of our day to day food and activity habits and incremental changes in body size is a crucial aspect of long term weight control. This makes sense for a number of reasons. Documenting food intake, whether via an old fashioned food diary or an advanced electronic monitoring system helps to prevent the mindless munchies that sees little extras slip into mouths on a daily basis. Activity monitors help prompt us to move more after we have sat down for many hours each day and most simply of all, keeping an eye on our weight via regular check in’s with the scales reminds us to pull back when we see those numbers start to creep up. Indeed self-monitoring is proven to work – data from the US Weight Control Registry, which tracks a group of people who have lost 15kg or more and kept it off, found that reduced rates of self-weighing are associated with greater weight gain over time.

2. They limit not restrict

You know the old dieting story, you cut out everything from your diet and then after a few hours, days or weeks you can no longer maintain the restriction and binge at the first opportunity. There are numerous reasons why extreme dietary restriction does not work – people like to eat tasty foods; tempting food is around us all the time and perhaps most importantly, psychological food restriction appears to impact blood glucose regulation, which in turn may drive appetite and the drive for sweet foods. For this reason, more moderate dietary approaches in which controlled amounts of foods that we like to eat can be consumed without guilt and negative emotion are much more likely to be sustainable long term. This means including an occasional glass of wine, or dessert or whatever your vice is should not be frowned upon, rather encouraged.  

3. They control the environment

It may sound ridiculous but I could not tell you how many weight loss clients claim to want to lose weight but who still purchase high fat cakes, biscuits, chocolates and desserts as part of their weekly shop, and then get cranky at themselves when they succumb and eat them. Behavioural food researcher Brian Wansink has repeatedly shown in research studies that human beings will eat more when food is readily available. If we can see the lollies, we will eat double the amount we would if we could not see them. The larger the plate, the more we will eat. Working backwards this simply means if you do not want to eat it, do not buy it, and simply serving yourself less is a powerful weight control technique that we have 100% control over.

4. They plan their food

Planning is the key to dietary success – simply having the foods on hand that you need to avoid becoming a victim of your food environment. How many times do you travel, go to a conference or to a social function and find yourself eating poor quality, high calorie food because you have nothing else on hand and are hungry? Avoid this scenario entirely by always keeping a backup supply of nutritious foods on hand; eat before you head to social functions so you are not starving and forced to eat whatever is served and pack your food when you know the choices available will not compliment your dietary goals.

5. They keep things consistent

It does not matter if it is Christmas, a birthday or if they have been ‘good’ in the week, individuals who control their weight keep their basic dietary intake consistent. In real life this means always eating breakfast, and always drinking water and even though an occasional extra or treat may slip in, rather than completely throwing their dietary rules out the window, they get straight back onto their program. Just as exercise consistency is the key to success so too is dietary consistency. So no more taking the weekend off, or starting again Monday, just start now, with your very next meal or snack choice.

Foods to ditch in 2018.


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Forget the typical New Year’s Resolutions that see you follow a strict regime for a few days before reverting to your old lifestyle habits. Instead consider ditching a few of the worst foods nutritionally from your diet, for good. Not only is this black and white approach clear and simple, but long term your diet and your health will only benefit.

Turkish toast

It may taste like the best thing teamed with a coffee on the way to work, especially when served dripping in butter and vegemite but the harsh truth is that a typical serve of Turkish toast from the local café has a similar amount of carbohydrate as at least four slices of regular bread. You can thank the relatively heavy slices which are packed full of refined white flour giving a particularly heavy slice compared to regular sliced bread. Turkish bread is also surprisingly high in salt which is another reason to get rid of it from your diet, for good.

Banana bread

You know it’s really cake right? With up to 80g of carbs, 20g of sugar and 30g of fat in a single slice, banana bread has much more in common with cake than it does bread. The problem with banana bread is that it often becomes part of our daily food habit as we order it along with a coffee on the go at our favourite coffee haunt. This means often we are consuming an extra 300-400 calories we do not really need, simply because we get used to enjoying banana bread we our coffee. Do yourself a favour and ditch the banana bread and save your cake for times you really, really feel like it.

Margarine

When you examine the nutrient requirements of the body, it is debatable as to the role margarine plays. Ideally we will get our good fats via the natural oils – seeds, nuts, olive oil and avocado, and we get plenty of saturated fat thanks to meat, dairy foods and our treats, which really does not leave much space for processed vegetable oil which is the base of the majority of margarines. While some types may claim to reduce cholesterol, it could be argued that there is no point adding in refined oils to the diet to achieve a relatively small outcomes when you could get the same outcome by eating well, losing a few kilos and avoiding refined vegetable oils altogether.

Fruit yoghurt

With even the heathiest of fruit yoghurts containing close to 4 teaspoons of sugar, if your goal is to reduce your total intake of sugar, you are best to choose natural or Greek yoghurt and enjoy it with fresh fruit. More importantly, check the ingredient list and look for varieties that do not contain added sugar to help lower your overall sugar intake on a daily basis.

White rice

We often add a scoop or two of rice to our favourite Asian dish without a second thought, or order a sushi pack for a quick and easy lunch without considering that a single cup of white rice contains 45g of refined carbohydrate (a slice of bread contains 12-15g), and the type of carbohydrate that sends blood glucose levels soaring. As white rice is a filler food minus the fibre and protein of the more nutritious brown rice, the less you add into your diet, the better.

French fries

How often do you remember eating the fries on the plate not because they tasted particularly good, but simply because they were there? The issue with thin French fries is that they absorb more oil than fatter chips and are extremely easy to overeat. A single serve or roughly a cupful also contains at least 300 calories which is the equivalent of a small meal. So if you can be strong, and ditch the fries you will save yourself plenty of fat and calories.

Sweet biscuits

They may stand innocently near the coffee at work, but a simple plain sweet biscuit is made of sugar, vegetable oil and refined white flour and offers nothing positive nutritionally. They also tend to be one of the key foods we munch mindlessly at work, or when waiting for things and in modern life few of us have extra calories to waste on mindless munching. A blanket rule of saying no too offers to plain sweet biscuits is an easy way to cut some of these nonnutritive, mindless calories on a regular basis. 

Keeping hydrated this Summer


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This is a sponsored post.

While we give plenty of attention to what we are or are not eating, we often don’t take time to consider what we are drinking, or more specifically, are we drinking enough? As the temperatures rise to give way to another scorching Australian summer, it is a good reminder to take some time to consider how you can keep well hydrated no matter how hot it gets outside. 

Dehydration, even mild dehydration, can leave us feeling tired and lethargic, and also prone to eating extra calories. It impacts our digestive system, skin health and overall energy levels and it’s just as, if not more important, to pay attention to the amount of fluids we need to drink each day to help us be at our best. So, as we move into the festive season, here are some easy ways to ensure you are well-hydrated right through summer. 

1. Always carry a water bottle with you

Availability is generally the key – whether you have filtered, chilled or sparking water within easy reach, you will drink more. Commit to keeping a bottle in your handbag, workbag and car to ensure you always have water on hand and aim to get through at least two to three bottles every day. 

2. Serve water with meals

Have you ever noticed that you drink a lot more water when it is served to you without asking at restaurants? Get into the habit of always serving a jug of ice cold still or sparking water at meal times and notice how much more you drink. 

3. Add extra where you need

If you are exercising regularly, make a concerted effort to add an extra 500-600 ml of water into your day to ensure you are compensating for the extra losses, even if you are not sweating or feeling thirsty. If you are a particularly salty sweater and prone to cramping, you may also benefit from adding an electrolyte solution such as Hydralyte to your workout water. 

4. Go for water first

Whenever you arrive home and reach for a glass of wine, or arrive at a function and pick up an alcoholic drink, simply swap this to reaching for a water first. Not only will this help to control the effects of alcohol, but it will go a long way in preventing dehydration when you are enjoying a few alcoholic drinks.

5. Don’t forget your minerals

Salty foods such as Asian sauces, processed meats and snack foods can contribute to dehydration as they draw fluid out of the body’s cells. When you are enjoying meals out and know you will be consuming salty foods, an easy way to help prevent dehydration is to bump up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. The high amounts of potassium found in fruits such as bananas and also vegetables will help to buffer the impact of extra salt in the diet as well as adding plenty of extra water from the fresh foods themselves. 

Recipe: Banana Breakfast Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients

½ avocado

1 banana

250ml milk (skim or unsweetened almond milk as desired)

½ cup Greek yoghurt

Handful of spinach leaves

Drizzle of honey

Method

1. Blend together for a filling and high potassium breakfast drink that will keep you full until lunchtime. 

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

Festive drinks


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This is a sponsored post.

Good hydration is crucial at this time of year and the warmer weather means we need to drink more. With celebratory end of year drinks frequenting your social diary, it can be challenging to drink enough fluids. So if you want to enjoy the festive season, here are some healthier versions of your favourite sparkling summer drinks to help keep you looking and feeling your best no matter how busy you are with the help of the versatile Zip HydroTap. 

Cucumber Cooler

Serves 1

Ingredients

½ lime

2 Lebanese cucumbers, skin removed 

500ml sparkling water

Method

1. Blend cucumber with a small amount of water. Then strain juice away from the pulp.

2. Mix cucumber juice with sparkling water and serve with a squeeze of lime. 

Sparkling Iced Tea

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

4 herbal tea bags (mixed berry)

4 cups boiling water

4-6 mint leaves

2 tsp. honey

2 cups sparkling water

Method

1. Place tea bags in boiling water and allow to sit and cool for 40-60 minutes. 

2. Remove tea bags and add mint leaves and honey and stir.

3. Mix ½ glass sparkling water with iced tea mix to serve. 

Berry Punch

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 punnets of whole strawberries (or mixed berries if preferred)

2 punnets of mashed berries

1L of sparkling water

6 cups crushed ice

½ bunch mint, finely chopped

100-200ml Vodka (if desired and adjust based on required strength)

Method

1. Place berries (both whole and mashed) in a bowl with vodka for 60-90mins.

2. Add sparkling water and crushed iced and serve with mint leaf garnish.

Christmas Cocktail

Serves 1

Ingredients

100ml Ocean Spray Light Cranberry Juice

1 nip vodka (if desired)

250ml sparkling water

1 tbsp. pomegranate seeds

2-3 mint leaves

Method

1. Mix and garnish with mint leaves and pomegranate seeds

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Passionfruit Mojito

Serves 1

Ingredients

4 passionfruit, seeds removed

¼ cup passionfruit nectar or pureed pulp

1 nip Barcardi White Rum (if desired)

250ml sparkling water

Mint leaves to serve

Ice to serve

Method

1. Mix sparkling water with rum and passionfruit pulp.

2. Add in extra passionfruit seeds, and ice and garnish with mint leaves.

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

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

Are you getting enough protein?


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Are you getting enough protein?

We regularly hear that protein is good for us, and we know that it is crucial for muscle growth and repair, fullness and that protein rich foods including meal meat, fish and dairy are rich sources of iron, calcium and zinc yet new research from the Australian Health Survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown that 7 out of 8 Australians do not get the recommended amounts of good quality protein on a daily basis. And while we tend to get our protein right at night, it is our breakfast and lunch that can often do with a boost when we are considering if we are getting enough protein rich food on a daily basis. 

Protein is one of the three main nutrients found in food. The body requires protein to build skin, hair, blood and muscle cells and protein also has an important role in immune functioning.  As protein is not the primary fuel for the muscle (unlike carbohydrate), protein is digested more slowly than carbohydrate and is hence likely to keep you fuller for longer after eating it. Protein rich foods including dairy and lean meats are also nutrient rich foods contain a number of other key nutrients including iron, zinc and calcium which are crucial for optimal metabolic functioning. 

Most importantly when it comes to weight and appetite control, as protein is not the primary fuel for the muscle (unlike carbohydrate), protein is digested more slowly than carbohydrate and is hence likely to keep you fuller for longer after eating it. Protein rich foods including dairy and lean meats are also nutrient rich foods contain a number of other key nutrients including iron, zinc and calcium which are crucial for optimal metabolic functioning.

When I am working with clients, in general Aussie adults are very good at eating protein at dinner with hearty serves of salmon, steak, chicken and meat but often our breakfast and lunch choices are meals we pick up on the go and they can be carb heavy at the expense of protein. Large serves of Turkish bread, muffins, banana bread, sushi, and noodle based dishes and wraps tend to be carb heavy, which appears to be leaving us a little low on daily protein serves. This recent survey data has found that on average Aussies are getting just 1.7 serves of lean protein rich foods, where the actual recommendation is 2.5 protein rich food serves each day.  

The issue with this style of eating is that carb rich meals can leave us feeling unsatisfied and less likely to remain full and satiated for several hours after eating. In turn this can lead to poor appetite control and overeating. Take a classic Aussie breakfast of Vegemite on toast, this simple meal is only likely to keep you full for an hour or two, as opposed to a protein rich breakfast such as eggs on toast which is likely to keep up full for several hours. 

The answer to this protein dilemma is simple, all you need to do is aim for at least one protein rich food such as eggs at each meal is the key to reaching daily protein targets. For example, adding lean meat, egg or tofu to stir-fries, a slice of cheese to crackers or snacking on nuts or a hard-boiled egg rather than cakes and biscuits. As a general rule of thumb, aim for 20-30g of protein at meal times and 10-20g at mid meals.

So, if you have been wondering how much protein you are actually eating at each meal and snack or need some ideas on how to make sure your diet has enough protein, check out these tips below. 

1. Start the day with a protein rich breakfast to help control appetite through the morning. Good options that contain 20g of high quality protein include 2 eggs on wholegrain toast, Greek yoghurt with fruit or a protein based smoothie.

2. Keep your protein rich snacks on hand to grab in between meals when you are busy – good options include a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg or some Greek yoghurt and berries.

3. Bump up your protein intake at lunch by basing your meal around fish, chicken or eggs such as a frittata, tuna salad or chicken stir fry.

4. Keep a good quality protein powder at home to add to your favourite baked goods or smoothies.

5. Aim for your last meal of the day to include a palm sized serve of lean protein and lots of vegetables to support weight control

Sample Protein Serves

200g tofu

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup beans

½ cup beans + 1 slice cheese

Tub of Chobani Greek yoghurt

2 eggs

1 serve Sanitarium Vegetarian Replacement

100g meat / chicken / tuna

How much sugar is in your alcohol?


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With the festive season well and truly upon us, chances are that your alcohol intake has been on the rise. While it is commonly thought that alcoholic drinks including beer and wine are packed full of sugars this is not quite true. Rather it is the sugars found in fruits or various alcoholic bases that are fermented and converted into alcohol. Alcohol per gram contains 27kJ or almost 7 calories, almost as many as a gram of fat, and alcohol calories are metabolised in the liver before the other three nutrients we consume are. In real life terms this means that while you are busy burning off the alcohol in your drinks, any calories consumed in food such as potato chips, pre-dinner snacks, fried food or heavy restaurant meals is more likely to be stored. For many of us this is the cycle which links drinking to weight gain over time.

Now while not all alcoholic drinks are high in sugars, there are some types that do contain added sugars, such as spirits served with mixers and ciders. These drinks then offer the double whammy of alcohol and as well as energy dense calories which can equate to as many calories as an entire small meal in a single drink.

So if your goal is to not gain weight over the next few weeks, the key is to balance your overall calorie intake – that is watch what you are eating when you are enjoying a few drinks AND make the best alcohol choices you can. As a general rule of thumb plain spirits such as vodka and soda and a small glass of champagne are the lowest calorie choices and the key is to drink slowly, and alternate with as much water as you can so that you do not suffer the effects of severe dehydration and / or a massive hangover the next day.

So here are your favourite drinks, and the calories and sugars they contain.

Drink | Cal | Sugars (g) | Alcohol (g)

Glass of champagne | 89 | 2 | 11.4

Small glass wine (120ml) | 82 | 0 | 11.5

Large glass wine (240ml) | 163 | 0 | 23

Cider (355ml) | 178 | 12.8 | 14.2

Nip of spirit | 67 | 0 | 9.6

Vodka Lime and Soda | 80 | 3-5 | 10

Schooner of beer (450ml) | 162 | <1 | 17.6

Schooner of light beer | 113 | <1 | 9.5

Schooner of low carb beer | 132 | 0 | 15.5

Nip of Baileys | 120 |  7.4 | 5.0

Gin & Tonic | 110 | 10.8 | 10

Martini | 124 | 0 | 18

Mojito | 170 | 9 | 19

Bourbon and Coke | 120 | 13 | 10

Pre-Mix Bourbon & Cola | 229 | 33.4 | 13.9

Margarita | 120 | 1 | 15

Mai Tai | 257 | 17      

UPDATED: Which dip should you choose? A dip review.


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Whenever we think about parties and social occasions, we also tend to think about finger food, canapes and salty snacks – the dips, crackers, cheese and chips that we munch on as we enjoy a few drinks. While we may be aware that fried snacks and pastries are not that good for us, often we think that because a number of our favourite dips are made with vegetables, they are healthy options. Unfortunately this is not always the case, rather dips can be packed full of fat, salt and calories, as can the crackers we serve them with. For example, just a few Jatz crackers and pesto dip can contain more than 300 calories, or that of a small meal.

The biggest issue with dips is that they are not portion controlled – we keep dipping and dipping and before we know it we have eaten a meal worth of calories via dip and chips. For this reason, always portion out your dips before serving them; where possible look for 100% vegetable options that are low in fat such as Chris’s Egyptian Beetroot Dip and serve them with vegetables, not crackers.

*Dips choosen are a random mix from a Woolworths supermarket

** I am not paid by any of these companies.

Chris’ Tzatziki

Tzatziki is traditionally one of the best dip choices thanks to its relatively low fat content and high protein content thanks to yoghurt being its primary ingredient.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.):  89kJ (20cal), 1g protein, 1.2g fat and 1.6g carbs

Philadelphia Sweet Chilli Philly

Not as bad as some may think but the issue with Philly is that it is hard to keep portions small as it chunks when you dip it so spread it instead if you can.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 190kJ (45cal), 1.5g protein, 2.6g fat, 3.6g carbs.

Black Swan Fresh Guacamole

Often considered a ‘healthy’ choice, check your labels as avo dips as opposed to avocado may contain as little as 50% avocado and are bulked up with plenty of cream cheese and other additives.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 52kJ (13cal), 0.2g protein, 0.8g fat, 1.0g carbs

Bulla Cottage Cheese Onion and Chives

If you like cottage cheese, this is the dip for you as it is one of the few low calorie, high protein options

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 75kJ (18cal), 2g protein, 0.4g fat, 1g carbs.

Black Swan Skinny Hommus

Lower in calories and fat than regular hommus, one would argue that you are better to make your own or go for a natural hommus made from just chick peas, olive oil, lemon and sesame to avoid the additives and preservatives.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 97kJ (23cal), 0.5g protein, 1.6g fat, 1.8g carbs.

Chris’s Avocado

More cream cheese than avocado, with just 11% avocado – make your own with a fresh avo, lemon and a little olive oil and blend for a thinner consistency

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 217kJ (52cal), 1.0g protein, 4.9g fat, <1g carbs.

Macro Avocado Dip

With the primary ingredient listed as mayonnaise and 40% avocado, again make your own and get rid of the unnecessary extras.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 391kJ (93cal), <1g protein, 9.9g fat, 1.1g carbs.

Chris’ Egyptian Beetroot

My current market favourite with relatively clean ingredients and a low calorie load – you could make your own too but if you need to pick up something this is a good choice.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 82kJ (20cal), <1g protein, <1 g fat, 3.5g carbs

Philadelphia Mexican Salsa Philly

A new flavour to the market that does contain additives but is relatively low in calories and fat.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 176kJ (42cal), 1.6g protein, 2.6g fat, 3.1g carbs.

Wattle Valley Chunky Basil with Cashew and Parmesan

Who does not love this dip but it is packed with calories and fat so it is much better used occasionally as a spread because you will demolish that entire container before you even realise it.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 426kJ (102cal), 2.0g protein, 8.3g fat, 4.0 g carbs.

*** http://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/health/saltier-than-sea-water-hidden-nasties-in-christmas-party-snacks/news-story/b4945c1c6de66e2a1ce15930fdebc39b

Image source: helloglow.co