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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Please don't pretend that you are doing us any favours

Food industry and large companies have much control over what we eat. They control what we can buy, what price products are sold at, where they put products on the shelves and in an increasing number of instances, they are encouraging us to eat more and more. Consider for a moment the last time that you went to the petrol station - did someone offer you a discount if you spent some extra cash in there? Or did they offer you 2 for 1 chocolate bars? Did the fast food chain offer an upgrade? Or did you get a better deal at the supermarket if you purchased more? Other examples of this push for consumers to consume more and more include larger companies advertising the unhealthiest burger and breakfast cereal options the most; or heavily discounting the cheaper, poorer quality food items rather than the healthiest before claiming to be holier than thou simply because they offer them on the menu.

All of these are examples of ways in which major companies who claim to be helping Australians eat better with health initiatives are actually making a complete joke of us and laughing all the way to the shareholders meeting. Instead of claiming to market responsibly perhaps it is time to actually do it? So next time the service attendant at the Coles servo offers you 2 for 1 chocolate bars, the McDonalds or Events cinema attendant offers an upgrade perhaps we need to start telling them to stick it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to not get fat this Christmas

The time has arrived when we need to be really mindful of our food choices to avoid an extra 5+ kilograms to kick off 2010. Here are the must follows tips for success;
1) Do not skip your training sessions, no matter what. Being “too busy” is a poor excuse
2) Eat a snack an hour before you go to a party
3) Drink vodka, lime and soda
4) Avoid all pastry until Christmas Day
5) If you do overindulge, choose salad or soup for your next meal
6) Snack on Summer fruit
7) Don’t keep extra lollies or chocolates at home
8) Give away as much leftover food as you can
9) Don’t waste your calories on poor quality chocolates, nibbles and pastry
10) Avoid all dips and chips

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving them the attention they do not deserve

Over the past week there has been much media interest about a new mega burger released by one of the major fast food chains; a burger which contains over 5000mg of sodium (2 1/2 x the recommended daily amount) as well as 26g of saturated fat. The very fact that the major fast food chains are still developing these mega fat and calorie options is evidence enough to show that despite much talk of producing "healthier" options, at the end of the day, their interest is in money making and making high fat products, not improving the health of the country in any way.

The irony is that as the media and health professionals express their fury at such food items, the fast food chains are getting exactly the attention they had hoped for - free advertising. Enough said.......

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The big food masquerade

For me, honesty is one of the most important character traits one can have and hence when food companies market certain varieties of food as healthy options, when there is much evidence to suggest otherwise, it frustrates me immensely. Here are the top food masqueraders, quite a few of which are regularly marketed as “healthy options”.
1)Arnott’s Shapes – no biscuit made using palm oil is ever going to be healthy
2)Kellogg Nutra Grain – breakfast cereal should contain fibre, not iron or protein; we get those nutrients from meat
3)Dried fruit – doubles the sugar of regular fruit
4)Cordial – still just sugar and water
5)Fruche – not a true yoghurt
6)Frozen yoghurt - more sugar and less protein than regular yoghurt
7)Rice crackers – at least choose wholegrain if you must have them
8)All Natural Confectionery – lollies are lollies
9)Chicken nuggets – anything crumbed and fried is never going to be good for you or your kids
10)Cadbury Brunch Bars – just another muesli bar even thought they look healthy

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The bread uproar - is white really that bad?

For such a simple story, even I was surprised how much interest the recent bread story generated. I guess I just assumed that most people knew that Turkish bread really isn't that good for you! In case you missed it, here is the Updates information that generated the media frenzy last week:

I know that the labels on the packet say that it is low GI and high in fibre but processing a food and then putting all the good stuff back in is never going to make it as good nutritionally as the unprocessed variety. Grains consumed whole, in their natural state contain a wide range of nutrients including Vitamin E, zinc and long chain fats which will always make them nutritionally superior than processed grains. In fact, as a dietitian I look at white bread and think that you may as well choose confectionery for the metabolic impact the food has on our body long term. Here are the commonly eaten white bread varieties and their relative carbohydrate and fibre contents for you to consider;
Bread Type Cal Carbs Fibre
Plain white 146 28.2 1.8
Wonder White 157 26.7 4.2
Helga’s 208 36.6 2.4
Lawson’s 302 53.0 3.4
Turkish 560 110.0 5.5
Sourdough 526 99.6 5.8
Mountain 144 27.5 2.1

Monday, November 2, 2009

Act like a woman, eat like a man

One of the most common food habits that brings a diet undone is the tendency to over do things at social gatherings. Potato chips, pesto dips, cheese and other nibbles contain plenty of calories and are exceptionally easy to overeat. An observation I have made is that men treat these foods very differently than women do. Men rarely plan their social engagements around their food choices, nor do they crowd around the kitchen stuffing their faces with non filling, high fat foods. On the other hand, women can spend hours planning the menu, preparing the food and making a distinct effort to make sure that they get to eat some of the delicious treats they have prepared!

Over the next few weeks as the end of year party season kicks off, practice being exceptionally mindful when it comes to party food behaviours. Try and avoid the same high calorie nibbles that you have eaten a million times before by having a filling snack before you go and if you must indulge, determine how many snacks you will have before you begin eating. Stand away from the food, preferably with skinny people who seem to not eat much and pay particular attention to how much better you feel the next day when you have not subjected yourself to a complete calorie blow out. And if that is not convincing enough, here are your favourite pre-dinner snacks and the calories you will ingest if you eat them.

10 rice crackers + chunky pesto and cashew dip = 2000kJ
5 Jatz and Mersey Valley Cheese = 1100kJ
Large Bag Red Rock Deli Chips = 3500kJ
Large bag of Grain Waves = 3400kJ
½ Brie and 6 water crackers = 1700kJ
30 peanuts = 700kJ

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why “healthy” is a misleading word

For those of you who take an interest in what you eat, and your health in general, new product releases that claim to be the latest and greatest for health and fitness catch our attention In the past few weeks alone we have seen a new high calcium breakfast cereal, no added sugar yoghurt and the product which particularly grabbed my attention, pizza with the Heart Foundation TICK. All of these products claim to be “healthy” choices, based on their individual nutritional characteristics which have a potential selling point with consumers.

Unfortunately from a dietetic perspective, my definition of what is healthy is often very different from a high GI cereal that has calcium added; a yoghurt that contains artificial sweetener or a brand of pizza which may have a TICK but which also contains >90g of total carbohydrate which is the carbohydrate equivalent to 6+ slices of bread.

Another more general example of this can be demonstrated if we consider the nutritional profile of ice cream versus yoghurt. Ice cream is generally thought of as a product that is far less healthy than yoghurt but if you consider that a tub of yoghurt can contain up to 30g of total carbohydrate and >200 calories compared to an ice cream such as Paddle Pop MOO which contains <100 calories and just 20g of total carbohydrate, you can again see that it can be easy to be mislead by products that are routinely put into a “healthy” category.

What is healthy or not for an individual comes down to how many calories the food has; the type of carbohydrate and fat it contains and what else it offers nutritionally, not just one of these characteristics. And like everything in life, if a food seems and tastes too good to still be low in calories and carbohydrates, it usually is.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is McDonalds really that bad?

The perception of what is healthy is often very different to what the science would suggest. In fact you may be surprised to hear that the fried foods from McDonalds are actually much better nutritionally than fried foods found at the other major fast food chains. Can you believe it?

Fast food; whether it is pizza, burgers, chips or wraps contains a significant amount of fat, and the majority of the fast food chains use palm oil or other hydrogenated vegetable oils to cook their food in. Not only are these oils a nightmare nutritionally, but the growing of the crops used to make these oils can be linked to the destruction of vast areas of forests in countries including Malaysia, which has put significant pressure on a number of endangered species including tigers and orangutans.

A few years back, McDonalds committed to using vegetable oils that have much more favourable nutritional profiles, which means that even though your burgers and fries are still high in fat, the fat is not as saturated, making it better for the heart. Now, this does not mean you have permission to indulge in high fat foods more than once a week, but it does mean that choosing Macca’s will be better than the other popular pizza, chicken and burger options.

Is McDonalds really that bad?

The perception of what is healthy is often very different to what the science would suggest. In fact you may be surprised to hear that the fried foods from McDonalds are actually much better nutritionally than fried foods found at the other major fast food chains. Can you believe it?

Fast food; whether it is pizza, burgers, chips or wraps contains a significant amount of fat, and the majority of the fast food chains use palm oil or other hydrogenated vegetable oils to cook their food in. Not only are these oils a nightmare nutritionally, but the growing of the crops used to make these oils can be linked to the destruction of vast areas of forests in countries including Malaysia, which has put significant pressure on a number of endangered species including tigers and orangutans.

A few years back, McDonalds committed to using vegetable oils that have much more favourable nutritional profiles, which means that even though your burgers and fries are still high in fat, the fat is not as saturated, making it better for the heart. Now, this does not mean you have permission to indulge in high fat foods more than once a week, but it does mean that choosing Macca’s will be better than the other popular pizza, chicken and burger options.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Theme park outrage

As an Australian, it is highly likely that you have been to Dream World or Sea World at some point in your lives. It is also highly likely that you mum, or girlfriend or wife packed some food to take with you for the day. Sure, you enjoyed a treat of ice cream or hot chips at some point during the day but you saved money and looked after your health by taking some decent food with you. No more is this the case.

Over the last week Warner Village Theme Parks has decided that we can no longer take our own food into the parks. No, it is to not protect wildlife or because they are implementing a brand new healthy menu, it is simply because they want to make sure you are buying your food there.

The decision of Warner Village Theme Parks to ban patrons from taking their own food provisions to the family focused locations is both disappointing, and quite possibly irresponsible given the current health climate in Australia which indicates that 25% of Australian children and 60% of Australian adults have significant weight issues. History indicates that the most foods available at event venues are high fat, energy dense food choices including pies, hot dogs and soft drinks. Given this decision, is Warner Village able to confirm that meal options available for families to purchase on site will be both nutritious and affordable?

We think this stage anyway....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is reduced sugar confectionery a good thing?

A media release issued by food industry giant Nestle detailing the company's plans to reduce the sugar content of its confectionery was met with mixed reviews from nutrition spokespeople last week. The main feeling was that improving a product that is 100% bad still makes the product bad.

While confectionery is never going to be on a list of healthy food options, the reality is that confectionery is not going anywhere either. If you consider that when a company the size of Nestle decides to change the nutrient composition of their products, it ultimately has an impact on the health of millions of people.

There is also a growing body of scientific evidence to show that the human brain can become primed to want increasingly sweeter food items. So, based on this reducing the sweetness of confectionery will be of benefit from population health perspective.

No one is saying that confectionery is good but at least a changed formulation may result in confectionery that is lower in calories than previously.

Now, if food companies then advertise the confectionery more in order to increase consumption; then we have a problem :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The best meals

I am lucky to regularly eat in great restaurants all in the name of research. In the past week I have visited Glass at the Hilton, Fratelli Fresh at Potts Point and North Bondi Italian, from each of which I enjoyed scrumptious meals. But as they say, the simple meals are often the best and last night I enjoyed one of the best meals I have had in a long time. A visit to my old school saw the principal, who was my year 10 maths teacher way back in the early 1990's take myself and an old classmate who now teaches at the school to the local Italian prior to a nutrition presentation the school hosted for the parents.

The local features is your typical plastic chair, plastic flower 1980's fit out but the veal scallopine I had was one of the best I have ever tasted. So, if you are anywhere near Georges Hall, stop in and visit the crew at Lascala Italian Seafood Ristorante - you will not regret it :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Foods that are not healthy for kids

If you have seen the new McDonald's ad on TV you could be mistaken for thinking that taking the family out for a play in the park followed by a trip to the local burger joint is a healthy thing to do. Unfortunately, while physical activity is great for kids, a high fat meal of burgers and fries is probably not the best choice to follow a family play session.

There are a number of advertisements currently been shown that send pretty mixed messages about healthy eating for kids. Take the Nutella ad for example; Nutella has a low GI because it is high in fat. A breakfast of 2 slices of toast with Nutella, milk and a piece of fruit is about double the total amount of energy a child requires for breakfast and 2 tablespoons of Nutella contains almost half a child's daily requirement of fat - so no, it is not a good breakfast choice for children.

Another example is seen in the Uncle Toby's Fruit sticks currently being plugged by none less than a sports dietitian. Each serve is packed with 16g of sugar which also means it is not such a good snack choice for children either.

It is time for food industry to stand up and take food marketing to children, directly or indirectly seriously. Featuring less than nutritionally sound food products in commercials that promote physical activity make things even more confusing for parents. Just becuase it sounds, and is made to look healthy, doesn't mean that it is.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

When things are quiet......

Every Dec/Jan, SG (my coaching psych guru buddy) and I head for a Summer holiday to drink lots of French champagne and plan out our goals for the year ahead. We love this holiday; the thought of a new year full of unlimited possibilities doesn't get much better for two highly driven, self employed, over stimulated scientists. Each year we return with a crisp new journal full of ideas, dreams and goals, completely inspired and raring to go.

Unfortunately 2009 has been less than satisfying; a slower than normal business year, laughable liaisons with disappointing men, ever increasing PAGY tax installments and business expenses, frustrating work experiences and not much on the horizon has left a pretty empty hole where my energy and inspiration is usually sitting.

So, what do you do? You can say fu*k you all and move to Queensland where there are no tolls, parking costs and a general vibe of, 'none of it really matters anyway so have another beer at the beach' - or you can take the time to turn inward and focus on what personal changes you would like to make to try and turn the need for external stimulation and gratification into something personally meaningful so you feel satisfied no matter what life, love and work throws at you.

So, I am trying and trust me, it is not easy for my ever frantic mind to take some time off. Last week I went to a farm and even had a good time with the animals, F6 and night filled with roasts, wine and a film festival and this weekend I have managed to refrain from any form of solicited social or work liaisons in an attempt to just be.

Periods of ebb after frantic flow can be challenging to deal with but are ultimately inevitable in the cycle of life and like everything how we deal with them is ultimately what will predict our individual sense of well being and happiness. And if all else fails, can I suggest you take advantage of the Jetstar savings on airfares and head to Hawaii for a couple of weeks like I am planning to because apparently a good dose of Vitamin D is also pretty good for mood.

When things are quiet......

Monday, June 1, 2009

Should we be upset that Mars Bars are smaller?

I have to admit that when I ducked out in the rain on Friday night to pick up Thai food and a block of Cadbury's chocolate that I was pretty devastated to see that the regular 250g block of chocolate had been downsized to a mere 220g, and perhaps the worst thing repackaged into some sort of box :) Then of course there were the media reports in yesterday's newspaper about the new downsized Mars Bars. How could they do it to us?

If you take a step back though, and get rid of your emotional attachment to a chunky Mars Bar snugly sitting in your tightly wrapped hand; or the memories of the family block of chocolate divided up exactly evenly between all family members, the truth is that we get plenty of food. In fact, we get way too much food.

Numerous pieces of research have shown that we will eat the serving size of food that is given to us. If we get 25-g of chocolate we will eat it, same as we will the 500g. So, all in all, reducing the sizes of our favourite treats is probably not a bad thing, especially since most of us could do with losing a few kgs!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book Update

I hope that you enjoy some of these titles as much as I did!

Recent reads

1) Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson - the most recent research findings in the field of Positive Psychology

2) The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama - an amazingly well written piece by the inspirational leader

3) Act like a lady, think like a man by Steve Harvey - a funny view of the workings of the male mind

4) The Seven Principles for making marriage work by Dr John Gottman - this man can predict marriage success 91% of the time; a must read for anyone contemplating the commitment of marriage

5) How to Love by Gordon Livingston - my favourite; a beautifully written observation of the best characteristics to look for in friendship, love and in the partners we choose

6) Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra - for all the health nuts - a must read outlining the power of the body and mind in self healing

7) Never Say Die by Dr Chris O'Brien - a specialist doctors experience battling terminal cancer and what he has learnt in the process

8) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - a fascinating piece that explains success in life is not determined by luck but opportunity, chance and your birthday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Footy scandal

Having worked in the NRL for the past 9 years with several different teams both directly and indirectly, I feel as if I have reasonably good insight into the antics of high level rugby league players. And I, like many an avid fan of the footy have woken up today with pretty mixed feelings after watching last nights report on the Cronulla 2002 road trip in which the behaviour of one particular player has been highlighted by the media.

After listening to the punishing voice of the reporter extract tacky details of the liaison for what seemed like hours; in addition to the graphic description of sex with high level athletes from a notorious football groupie just after I had eatene dinner, I have two questions. "What on earth was a 19 year old doing in the team hotel room of a senior rugby league team?" and "Why, out of 12 or 13 players that were participating or watching, why would she name just one, and the highest profile person there?"

No one is saying the behaviour was appropriate but to date the story has been pretty one sided. Footy players do not go out cruising bars to pick up girls. Footy players go out to gamble, drink and hang out with their footy mates. Unlike movie stars and other highly coveted men, footy players generally spend times in packs and are easily recognisable in the small cities and suburbs in which they play and party. Girls flock to these characters and the locations they spend their time in and are obsessed with both current and ex players as well as the support staff. If such variables came together for rock or movie stars, celebrity chefs or television identities, similar situations would arise. At some point the women too need to hold themselves accountable for their actions just as much as the footy players do.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is Crust pizza healthy?

While 6 of the CRUST range of pizzas have been given the Heart Foundation Tick, with 3000kJ and 80+ grams of total carbohydrate (7 slices of bread) per serve, no I would not say that CRUST is a healthy option. While they may be healthier than the standard range, or any pizza that you purchase at a take away joint, it does not mean they are a good choice overall. The issue with pizza is that it contains small mounts of protein and vegetables relative to the total carbohydrate content. Enjoy pizza occasionally from an authentic Italian place, or better still make your own delicious version on thin Mountain bread bases at home, but don’t think you are a saint simply because the one you choose a variety that has the TICK.

Get the kids lunchboxes right

Lunchbox 1:
Mountain bread wrap with ham and lettuce, Aktavite milk popper, Uncle Toby's Low GI Crunchy muesli bar and 2 mandarins

Lunchbox 2:
Multigrain sandwich with egg and mayo, Munchables Light Cheese and Cracker Snack Pack, apple and a sesame snap

Lunchbox 3:
4 Vita Weats, small tin tuna, small banana, Big M flavoured milk popper, Baby Bel cheese

Lunchbox 4:
Small wholemeal bread roll with chicken and lettuce, small tub of yoghurt, Milo snack bar and Goulburn Valley Tub of fruit

Lunchbox 5:
Up & Go popper, Tasti Nut Bar, Vege chips, cut up carrot and celery

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pomegranate Juice – Is it all it’s cracked up to be?

The health promoting benefits of drinking pomegranate juice have received much attention in recent months after it was claimed that the juice had significantly higher levels of antioxidants than other juice and fruit options. While pomegranate juice is packed with antioxidants, to date the only research to support its use in slowing cancer cell growth has been found in suffers of prostate cancer. There is also some evidence to show that regular consumption of the juice helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels. So, if you have the extra cash to spend $5.00 on 500mls of juice and you have high cholesterol +/- history of prostate cancer give it a go. If not, simply eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and juicing your own mix of carrot, beetroot and orange juice is likely to be just as nutritious.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What's the matter with LOL drinks?

LOL drinks made by Golden Circle are 250ml can of fruit based drink which look very much like the energy drinks V and Red Bull. Per can, each drink contains 26g + of total carbohydrate which is slightly more than that of the equivalent sized can of Coca Cola. While fruit based sugars may appear to be a healthier choice than a regular soft drink, at the end of the day any beverage based on sugar; be it fruit sugar or sucrose (table sugar) represent empty calories that we, and in particular our children do not need. Furthermore, the can style of product also poses a number of issues from a dental health perspective. LOL is a disappointing release from Golden Circle given the statistics that indicate that at least 1 in 4 children in Australia is overweight or obese, and sweetened beverages are implicated in contributing to excessive weight gain in children. In fact, a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that children consume no more than 2 sweetened drinks per week. The obesity team at The Children's Hospital Westmead feels extremely strongly that this drink is highly inappropriate for children and we will continue to liase with the company and the NSW School Canteen Association to have its inclusion as a "Healthy Beverage Choice" for children reevaluated.

Your thoughts on sugar

Regarding the sugar, I am definately a victim of craving more sugary foods once I have a tiny amount, especially with lollies which are my all time favourite, I have to really watch my portions as I can eat a lot more than I need. I tend to stick to having some lollies at the movies as my treat (I don't go to the movies that often for it to be a problem) and that way I can put a small amount of my faves (pineapples and strawberries and cream) into the bag to enjoy. I never buy too many as the lollies at the cinema are too expensive! But it is better than buying a whole bag and eating the lot, which I could very easily do! (1 square of chocolate is enough for me - but lollies is another story

Sunday, March 29, 2009

You are not the only one who wants to lose 5kgs.....

You may be somewhat relieved to hear that weight loss is hard for everyone, even if you are a dietitian. This weekend I have been reluctantly forced to admit that somewhere between the ages of 30 and 31 I have managed to gain a very unattractive tyre of fat around my middle that has never been there before.

Now, my delusional brain likes to believe that this addition to my body is a result of finally admitting that my body does not like running at all and swapping this extremely effective method of training to the more relaxed walk has caused this gradual, insipid weight gain - as opposed to my rational brain which tells me that the tyre could in fact be the result of much cheese, champagne, chocolate shared with SG; who coincidentally also has been complaining about her new found tyre or possibly it is the evil chicken liver pate from Fratelli which I cannot get enough of.

Whatever the reason, I now have just 3 weeks to rid myself of this repulsive excess in time for the FILEX conference, in which I have to get up and lecture in front of hundreds of lean, fit and generally intimidating fitness leaders.

So, for the next 3 weeks, like you know you need to, I too will be swapping my dinner of Pinot and pate for fish and salad and riding that horrible exercise bike after dinner as I try and distract my mind from the pain with tacky television series like In Treatment and Entourage.

So you can all breathe a sigh of relief, it happens to the best of us and yes it is awful:)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Your thoughts on sugar

have come to agree with your conclusion that sugar - particularly, in my own case and in the experience of several of my clients - does often increase one's desire for more sugar. In fact, for me, that is its greatest danger. A small amount of sugar seems to do the general population little harm, and as someone with a long-term "sweet tooth", I find it sometimes more productive to have a small dessert than to feel deprived and unsatisfied. The trouble is, very few people seem to be able to consume a small amount of sugar.
I have also come to the conclusion that the "danger time" for sugar consumption seems to be late in the afternoon, when many people want (some would say need) a "pick me up", and when it is a sugary one, they then crave more sugar, so the two biscuits with a cup of tea becomes 4 biscuits, and the tea often has added sugar etc etc. Sometimes the craving remains, and people find they keep picking and snacking while they make dinner.
What I advise people, and I have tried this myself with good results, is to try to replace the afternoon snack with lower GI carbohydrate and protein. 9 Grain Vita Weets with a cube of cheese; yogurt with berries etc (yes, it has sugar, but it seems more satisfying than the biscuits that seem to be in every office, every kitchen, every school and most hospital staff rooms!) To advise people, as some diet books do, to quell their hunger with carrots and celery just seems to be unsatisfying - I certainly find it so.
Having decided that although I was not overweight at 60.5 kg and 166 cm, that I would like to lose a couple of kilos while I train for a marathon, I have found this technique to help, and am now almost my ideal of 58-59 kg with no feelings of hunger or deprivation, and good energy levels except on those days of very early starts, when I am sometimes lucky enough to be able to have a "power nap". I also find, and advise others, that what I have for lunch also affects how I feel mid-afternoon; individuals vary with what works best to keep them feeling alert, but obviuosly, higher GI foods are more likely to lead to a slump.
Having said all that, i still do enjoy the occasional sugar treat, but I try to keep it small and consume it in the evening. I eat a dessert once or twice a week but if I am really feeling the urge for something sweet, I happily consume one chocolate (ferrero rochers are a favourite) or one to two small biscuits. FOr some reason, by evening, I have no trouble limiting the amount; having one does not lead to a craving for more.

Thoughts on sugar......

YES! I 100% believe that eating sugar makes you crave it more. I am walking, talking, living proof of that theory. As you know, before I went to Golden Door for the first time in 2007 I was completely addicted to sugar. I would have at least one cake a day, sometimes two plus at least one chocolate bar. I couldn't get enough sweet things. I would have an apple juice with my lunch and then as soon as I'd eaten lunch I would be craving a chocolate or cake. As soon as I'd finished eating my mountain of pasta for dinner everynight I would be craving a chocolate. Then I went to Golden Door and didn't eat any sugar for 7 days. I came home, read a book called "stop the sugar cravings" or something like that and since then I have pretty much stopped eating lots of sugar. I'm constantly amazed now when I finish lunch or dinner that I have absolutely no desire whatsoever for sweet treats. I eat more protein and feel happy and full at the end of a meal. I still love a cake or chocolate now or then but only have it as a special treat about once a week. I did notice over Christmas that I started wanting more sweet treats because I'd been eating more cakes etc than usual. It was a real "aha" moment. I also think this craving thing applies to alcohol. Now I haven't been drinking since Jan I don't crave alcohol at all. I used to have a big fight with myself every Sunday night (because I used to drink on Fri and Sat) to not have a glass of wine, I would be really craving it. Now I couldn't care less if I never had another drink again!

Your thoughts on sugar......

Just to let you know that I found last weeks update – about sweet tasting food triggering more craving for sweet tasting food – confirmation of probably what I already knew – the more sugary foods I eat the more I want – and if I start eating sweet food early in the day, I continue to crave that sweetness all day!

Now my challenge is to rid of most of the sweet foods from my diet.

Interestingly, I do however find that a drink of Pepsi Max around 5pm in the afternoon, seems to quell the hunger and sugar cravings quite well – whereas If I eat something sweet at this time, I just tend to crave more!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saving time

Do you know anyone who is not busy? Any one of your friends who says that they have 2 hours each day to spare and are more than happy to donate it to more shopping, self care and exercise? The reality is though, that each and every one of us has exactly the same amount of time in our day, yet some of us do a lot more with it than others. Working in a department of women I notice this often; while we all work the same number of hours, some of us have far more to show for it than others. And so onto the topic of effective time management. Here are my top 10 tips to get more done as a result of eliminating the most common time wasters that can become a routine part of the day if we are not careful-
1) Scan your email, delete anything not directly relevant including all SPAM, group emails, jokes and forwards. If it is that important it will always reappear.
2) Put your phone on voice mail or silent. This lets you concentrate on the task you are doing without interuption so you can return calls at the best time for you, like in the car.
3) Avoid the office chat. My collegues can spend 30 minutes chatting about their weekends before they even start work. Get in, get started and catch up over lunch.
4) Print minutes, research papers and any other documentation that requires reading and set it aside to read on planes, at the park, cafe, train or while waiting for appointments.
5) Handle emails once only - read it, answer it, file or delete it. Aim to keep your screen with just 6-10 emails so you do not get distracted and keep focused on the task at hand.
6) Change your hours to avoid traffic. You many need to start early or late but you can add an hour to your day.
7) Exercise at lunchtime. Driving to a packed gym at 7am or 6pm wastes another 30-60 minutes. Get out each lunchtime and then yet another thing on your to do list is checked off.
8) Run errands at lunchtime. The bank, doctor, anything you can get out of the way during work hours means more recreational time for you and your family.
9) Be strict with meetings. Meetings can sometimes be an excuse for professionals to look busy and important with no outcome other than a booking for another meeting. Keep them brief, outcome based and post pone or cancel if actions have not been completed.
10) Clean your desk and write a to do list each week. Having weekly goals keeps you on trcak while the clear out makes sure you are regularly filing and reminding yourself of projects that are outstanding.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Conflict of interest?

Earlier this week I received an email questioning my product recommendations and the potential for "conflicts of interest' as I do consult to some industry groups.

In the past I have consulted to a number of industry groups including Meat and Livestock Australia and Fonterra on products and nutrition themes which I believe, based on my independent clinical experience from over 10 years of working in the area of paediatric nutrition and weight loss, that offer superior nutritional properties for consumers.

At present, I am regularly approached by various food industry groups to act as a spokesperson on behalf of their products or to consult on product development. In such circumstances I have very clear guidelines about which products I will and will not consult on and only ever represent products which I truly believe offer superior nutritional properties, and ones which I myself routinely recommend for my clients.

Currently I consult to Aldi supermarkets and to Unilever on the Streets Paddle Pop MOO project and I am proud to represent both groups as they develop products which offer wider consumer ranges of nutritional sound products. You can decide for yourself if that is a "conflict of interest".

Saturday, January 24, 2009

School Lunchboxes

1. Ham and cheese wrap – made with Oat or Wholeweat Mountain bread, Munchables Cheese and Cracker Snack Pack, chopped up rockmelon or container of grapes + bottle of frozen water.

2. 4 wholegrain crackers (either Paradise Vives, Vita Weat 9 grains) with 2 slices of a reduced fat cheese, popper of Aktavite milk + 2 Paradise Light Cookies or 2 homemade mini muffins + 1 nectarine.

3. Wholegrain bread roll with chicken and avocado, 3 large strawberries, frozen Smackers OR Gogurt tube + Mainland Light Cheese and Cracker Snack Pack

4. Pita pocket filled with tuna and mayonnaise, frozen grapes, Carman’s Breakfast Bar and Stringa Cheese stick

5. 1 slice Wholemeal Lebanese bread with Vegemite OR Light cream cheese, Big M popper, Crunchola breakfast bar and Goulburn Valley Fruit tub

6. Ham and Cheese wrap, Frozen grapes, Aktavite Milk, Packet of Vita Weat Grain Snacks

7. Baker’s Delight Low GI Turkey and Light Cheese cheese sandwich, Banana, 100g tub Ski D’Lite yoghurt – frozen OR Streets Paddle Pop MOO (canteen) Uncle Toby’s Low GI Muesli Bar

8. 6 Vita Weats + Vegemite, 2 small peaches, Bega Cheese Stringa, Tasti Rice Bubble Bar

9. Egg, lettuce and mayo wrap, Apple, Munchables Light Cheese and Cracker Snack Pack, Hip Hop Bar

10. Small whole meal roll with cheese and vegemite, Packet of Mini sultanas, Big M popper, Packet of popcorn

11. John West Tuna To Go, Cut up melon, Tub of Vaalia Yoghurt, Packet of Vege chips

12. Chicken sandwich on grain bread, Tub of Goulburn Valley Fruit, KRAFT Dairybites Cheesy Pops, 2 homemade mini muffins

13. 4 corn thins + spread, Cut up carrots/celery, Mini Babybel Light, Pitos Premium Pita Chips

14. Pita Pocket, 10 dried apricots, Munch Bunch Yoghurt Tub, Tasti Milkies Bar

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Whats's the matter with my new diet?

You would have had to have your head under a rock the past hew weeks to not notice the new wave of whizz bang diet programs being advertised as the ultimate answers to weight loss. Even I am shocked at the number of these programs being flogged on TV and in print media. The reason that dietitians get so frustrated with these money making weight loss programs is that we are often the ones who have to see the clients after they have tried nearly all of them but are still fat. And there is nothing harder than trying to get a persons metabolism on track again after they have tried numerous low carb, low calorie shake, soup and water based diets (think lemon detox!).

Generally speaking all of these diets are low calorie (<5000kJ per day) and low in carbohydrate (<100g each day). Yes, they will work but few are sustainable, and fewer teach any of the lifestyle skills necessary for long term habit and behaviour change which are ultimately the variables which result in long term weight control. So, if you want to spend more of your hard earned $ on these programs, go right ahead but basically you can do one yourself if you want to eat this way for a week or for as long as you like.

For example, if you would like to try the Lemon Detox Diet, all you need to do it add a teaspoon of sugar to a glass of water and drink one of these 6-8 times a day (see for more info on this one. Or if you prefer a low carb plan just eat an omelet for breakfast, tuna and salad for lunch and 100g steak and green veges for dinner and you have your own low carb diet for free.

So, this year, stop making money hungry businessmen richer and don't be sucked into paying more money on expensive and generally unsuccessful weight loss programs. Instead, get serious, change the way you think about food, your body and your health and simply start to make some positive changes to your lifestyle. Eat less, eat more vegetables, cut out the alcohol for a few weeks and walk each day. You may not lose as much weight as you would on a low carb diet but these are habits you can maintain and build on to get your weight off slowly, but for good.

Remember the truth is that:

"Diets aim at the wrong target - the belly, not the brain. They focus on a symptom rather than the underlying causes. the key to permanent weight loss is changing the attitudes and habits that determine what, why, when, how much and how often you eat" (Parade Magazine, 2005)