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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Are you watching or living?

I rarely watch the news, but just by chance last week I was at the gym when it was on and since my ipod had run out of battery I tuned in to Peter Overton sharing with us the day that was – what a mistake. Every news story ranging from a promiscuous circus performer to a desperate ex duchess was just depressing. There was no doubt I felt much, much worse about life after listening to the news, and since I still manage to function reasonably well without it, I decided to actively avoid tuning in again anytime soon.

Time management guru Timothy Ferris who wrote the actively preaches about the psychological benefits of following a “low information” diet in a world in which we have constant access to information and stimulation, arguing that becoming too entrenched in watching everyone else live, means that we leave far less time for us to live ourselves.

Each and every day we subject ourselves to far more information than we need. We listen to boring colleagues at lunchtime, we routinely watch or listen to the news when we could be listening or watching something that really stimulates our soul and we commit to social experiences we would rather not because we are too passive to really say what we want. If you find yourself regularly feeling overwhelmed and lacking meaning in your day to day world it may be time to consider if you tend to observe rather than live life.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The perfect lunch

How difficult can it be to get lunch right? A couple of slices of bread with a tin of tuna and some tomato and all should be good? What you choose to eat for lunch can have a huge impact on your mood, energy and appetite for the remainer of the day. In fact, choosing the right lunch may even help to protect you from the dreaded 3pm munchies so it is well worth knowing how to get the balance exactly right.

A nutritionally balanced lunch should include some low glycaemic index carbs such as wholegrain bread, beans, crackers or pasta, teamed with a good serve of lean protein such as tuna, chicken breast or egg as well as plenty of salad vegetables. For those of you who routinely ditch the carbs in favour of tuna and salad therein lies the problem. Denying the body of carbohydrates during the day, when both your brain and your muscles require them for energy leaves you prone to sugar cravings and low energy levels later in the afternoon when your brain finally realizes that it does not have enough readily available fuel to function optimally. Including a small serve of nutritious carbohydrates such as 1-2 slices of grain bread, a few wholegrain crackers or a small tin of beans or corn is all the carbohydrate you will need to avoid this scenario.

The most common component of lunch that we get wrong is not including enough bulky salad or vegetables with our standard choices. Plain sandwiches, sushi, noodle dishes and soups may all be healthy lunch choices but they do not contain the bulk to keep you full throughout the afternoon. Ideally lunch will include at least 1 cup of salad or vegetables. Great options include adding a salad or vegetable based soup to your regular sandwich or sushi, or simply taking an extra carrot, cucumber or capsicum to cut up and enjoy with your lunch.

It may also be useful to know that high carbohydrate lunch choices including heavy noodle and rice dishes, Turkish bread sandwiches and smoothies can contain the equivalent of 3-4 slices of regular bread in full, which can leave you prone to sugar high’s and low’s. Instead choosing lighter carbohydrate options such as brown rich sushi, wrap breads or salads made with beans and corn teamed with a palm size serve of lean protein will give you an optimal nutritional balance and a tasty lunch to match.

Top lunch choices Total kJ Total fat (g)
2 Tuna Sushi Rolls 1400 6
Chicken and salad wrap 1200 6
Frittata and salad 1200 7
Tuna, beans and salad 1000 7
Wholegrain crackers with salmon 1200 6
Leftover pasta with meat and vegetable sauce 1400 7

Worst lunch choices
Chicken and avocado on Turkish 3200 54
Pad Thai 3400 46
Burger and fries 3700 40
Quiche 2000 30
Stir fry chicken and rice 2000 30
Pesto chicken salad 2000 35

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Your Life: Are you a ‘me for me’ person, or a “me for you” person?

Surprisingly enough, much of my diet consult time with patients is spent on “life coaching” – putting food choices and weight control in the context of leading a more balanced, healthier and happier life. Some individuals are already very good at achieving this balance. They are easily able to put their own needs ahead of others and tend be happier and better functioning individuals as a result. On the other hand, there are the people, especially the mothers who put everyone else’s needs or requests before their own. As a result they often feel exhausted, drained, resentful and just plain cranky that they are not leading the life they would like, ultimately because of their own poor choices or perceived inability to prioritise self.

The irony is, they while putting self first can be perceived as being “selfish”, failing to place ones basic needs such as health, self care, exercising and time alone before that of the needs of others actually tends to make individuals function at a level which is far below their best. As a result of this, those closest of most important to us, whether it is our family, friends, clients or associates do not get to interact with us when we are at our best, so no one wins really.

A wise colleague of mine told me last week that he refers to people as either “me for me” people – those happy to self care first because they know that they are at their best for others if they put self first as opposed to “me for you” people who are constantly chasing their own tails. Which category do you fall into?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The most patronising email ever?

Thanks for your email. Glad to see you're still reading *****! ;)

I understand your confusion - let me see if I can un-muddy the waters for you.

Every time we commission any contributor, ****** has a policy of buying the copyright to whatever it is we're commissioning outright, so that we can reuse/reproduce the content as we see fit. It's a procedure we've been following for many a moon now - since long before my time, in fact. (You might have come across something similar before in your dealings with other publications - I'm not au fait with all their requirements but I do recall from my time of freelancing, that ACP asked me to sign something similar.) According to my records, you were sent a copy of our conditions to sign and return back in *****, by the editor back then . I've attached the form for you to have another look at.

With regards to not crediting you - that was a disappointing oversight on our part, and a real shame. I wish we had; it would have made us all look better to have had your name attached! Would you be interested in appearing in our next issue, with your top tips for *******? Naturally, we'd be more than happy to shamelessly promote you as an expert in paediatric nutrition!

Luckily I have an appointment with my solicitor next week :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Give yourself a break!

Go easy on yourself, life is tough enough

As a dietitian working in private practice you get to speak to many, many people each week. People who are sad, happy, unhappy, unhappy because of their weight, tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, unfulfilled, driven, just about every feeling and emotion there is to be had. The married people are miserable, the unmarried ones are miserable, the fat people are unhappy and the thin people are as well. What stands out most of all for me, after listening to literally hundreds of conversations is that for all of us, in some way or another, life is tough and at the end of the day we do our best to get through it.

In general, people do the best they can at the time, with the resources they have, and few things warrant the harshness many of us beat ourselves up with on a daily basis. Carrying excessive weight is a common reason that women in particular feel bad about themselves, believing that there is some magical ideal way to eat that they have somehow failed to achieve. In the big scheme of things though, and the really important things that matter like family, relationships and making a decent contribution to this world, whether or not you stuck to your diet last week suddenly becomes irrelevant.

So next time you go to beat yourself up over what you should or should not be eating, try thinking of where looking after your body fits in the big picture of your life and not only will your decision to eat well be far easier, you will be giving yourself a break, which is likely to be sorely needed.