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Monday, January 31, 2011

Slashing calories - how to do it

Many of us know all too well that we live in an environment in which it is much easier to overeat than it is to cut back. Food is readily available and served in larger than necessary serving sizes and it is served all the time. In fact it is easy to have something in your mouth as often as 20+ times each day when we technically only need to eat 2-3 times each day!

The key to sustainable dietary change and as a result weight control long term is to develop food habits that support you in controlling your calorie intake. So here are some easy ways to slash some calories out of your day; pick and choose which options will suit you best and you will be well on your way to gaining control over your calorie intake and as a result you weight, for good.

To save 100 calorie swaps (420kJ) -
Swap from a regular to small sized coffee
Use spray cooking oil instead of pouring it from a bottle when cooking
Use Vegemite instead of jam on your toast
Eat 10 nuts instead of a handful
Choose flat bread instead of 2 slices of regular bread
Swap sweet potato for pumpkin at dinner
Take out a piece of cheese from your lunchtime sandwich
Choose wafterthin crackers instead of rice crackers
Swap 10 lollies for sugar free mints
Eat ½ cup rice instead of a whole cup

200 calorie swaps (840kJ)
Drink water at the gym instead of sports drink
Enjoy strawberries after dinner instead of 2 chocolate biscuits
Eat 1 slice of Turkish bread instead of 2 at breakfast
Swap your soft drink for a diet variety
Choose a child sized burger instead of a regular burger
1 cup muesli for 2 breakfast biscuits
Large piece of Atlantic salmon for a small piece
Regular chocolate bar for a snack sized one
Choose skim milk instead of light each day
Eat a Paddle Pop instead of a Magnum

300 calorie swaps (1200kJ)
Swap a large caramel latte for a cup of green tea
Eat a piece of fruit for morning tea instead of banana bread
Eat ½ an avocado instead of the whole thing
Skip the fries when ordering a burger
Enjoy a stir fry without the 2 minute noodles
Eat 1 less biscuit each day
Swap your Latte to a cappuccino each day
Choose a skim flat white instead of a full cream
Swap bread at lunch 2 days a week for 2 Rye Crackers
Eat 2 cups of cooked pasta instead of 4

500 calorie swaps (2000kJ)
Drink wine three nights a week instead of seven
Choose stir fry Thai instead of Pad Thai
Choose sushi instead of pizza
Eat ¾ cup breakfast cereal each day instead of a cup
Drink herbal tea with your breakfast instead of fruit juice
Stop taking sugar in 3 cups of tea/coffee a day
Eat 100g packet of potato chips rather than 200g
Indulge with 100g block of chocolate instead of large family block
Drink 4 less stubbies of beer a week
Skip your afternoon coffee in favour of a herbal tea or Jarrah hot chocolate mix

Snacking after dinner
Many people enjoy a light snack after their dinner but the key is to avoid a kilo joule overload to prevent weight gain. The best light options will contain <400kJ such as an individual ice cream on a stick, 2-3 squares of chocolate, a single biscuit or 2 crackers and cheese.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Packing a child friendly, nutritious school lunchbox

The Ultimate School Lunchbox Guide

The start of another school year is a reminder to mums of the pressing need to get back into grind of preparing a tasty, appealing and nutritious school lunch, five days a week for hungry, growing children. Unfortunately, despite the very best intentions, all too often sandwiches and fresh fruit are returned squashed in the bottom of school bags leaving parents in despair and children potentially not getting all of the nutrition they require. The good news is that is very simple lunchbox formula is guaranteed to get the thumbs up from both the kids and nutritionists achieving a great balance between appealing, fun foods for kids and the key nutrients growing children need.

A nutritionally balanced lunchbox can be divided into four core sections: low glycaemic index carbohydrates for energy, proteins for nutrition and fullness, fruit for fibre and vitamins and a snack food that has some nutritional benefit. Most importantly, busy children need plenty of water for optimal hydration, particularly in the warmer months when small children are at high risk of dehydration.

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

Fresh fruit is always preferable to dried, fruit sticks or juice as it contains fewer kilojoules, more fibre and teaches children the importance of eating fresh food.

Protein food
Protein is the nutrient that tends to be missed in school lunchboxes and is often replaced with extra fruit, juice or more snacks. Protein rich foods including low fat dairy provides calcium and a number of other key nutrients including magnesium and phosphorous which all growing children need daily. Great protein rich lunchbox fillers include cheese sticks, yogurt tubes; milk protein based snacks bars and flavoured milk poppers are popular with children and are also low GI, which helps to keep kids fuller for longer after eating them.

Nutritious Snack
Busy, growing bodies do need energy but they need good quality energy and many processed snack and muesli bars available do not contain a lot of nutrition for many kilojoules. While children do not necessarily need packaged snack foods, not providing them may see them start to swap their lunchbox contents for other, more appealing options and hence providing a limited amount of snack food may prevent the swapping issue so, aim to provide just one packaged muesli or snack bar in your child’s lunchbox each day and try and choose options that have < 450kJ. Wholegrain and dairy based snack bars are more nutritious options.

TIP: Snack Food Checklist
<450kJ per serve
Protein – 3-5g per bar
Total carbohydrate - <20g per bar
Contain wholegrains, are low GI or have calcium

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

Lunchbox 1
Ham and cheese wrap on Mountain bread
Tub of frozen grapes
Calci Yum milk popper
Packet of popcorn
Bottle of water

Lunchbox 2
Low GI sandwich with turkey
100g Ski D’Lite yoghurt
Uncle Toby’s Low GI Muesli Bar

Lunchbox 3
8 Vita Weats + vegemite
Cheese Stringa
2 small peaches
Tasti Milkie Bar

Lunchbox 4
Egg, lettuce and mayo on dinner roll
Munchables Light Cheese and Cracker Snack Pack
Packet of Paradise VIVE Cookies

Lunchbox 5
Chicken sandwich on multigrain bread
Tub of Goulburn Valley Fruit
Dairy Pops Bites
2 homemade low fat mini muffins

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To shake or not to shake?

If there is one dietary option that is sure to cause debate and controversy among health and fitness professionals, it is the use of protein or meal replacement shakes. And perhaps this is not surprising given the increasing number of shakes, potions and various weight loss products on the market.

Some avid fitness fans will make loud statements, “use real food”, “stay away from those processed drinks”, “lose weight the natural way”, giving such products a question mark about their appropriateness and effectiveness to use within the context of a healthy diet, to support weight loss or as a general meal or snack option.

My feelings are a little less rigid. In a number of cases, a protein powder or meal replacement drink is simply a mix of the core ingredients in food – carbs, proteins and fats which you could have easily consumed via your regular food choices. Sure you need to be careful that you are choosing a reputable brand and remember that if claims made by any one product sound too good to be true, they usually are but in general well formulated products tend to offer a number of advantages nutritionally.

One, they keep the calories controlled. Two, meal replacements are specially formulated to include all essential nutrients. And three, for some reason still not fully understood they do often give superior weight loss results, at least initially.

What a meal replacement or protein shake also does, is offer a quick and easy meal solution for busy people, or for those who are not all that keen on meal preparation.

There are no rules when it comes to the way we choose to eat. Some of us will find a shake useful; others prefer not to use them. Some of us will love them, others cannot stand them. Shakes are simply one of many dietary tools that may or may not take you towards your health and fitness goals long term. And so, as with all areas of life, feel free to make your choice based on what is the best way to eat, for you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What goes around comes around.......

Inevitably in life there are scenarios or events that unfold and leave us completely void of any understanding as to why or how an event or situation has eventuated. A friend at work back stabs you and causes an inordinate amount of grief; your husband of 30 years leaves you after cleaning out the bank account; you discover that your ex’s new partner is a client of yours, a friend of many years betrays your trust for nothing other than control and power, a project you have worked on for many years comes to fruition only to be surpassed by someone at a pertinent time point (And kind regards to the Winklevoss twins who are in court yet again disputing the Facebook settlement).

And why is it that in these emotionally distressing situations, at least initially, there does not seem to be any ramification for the persons believed to be involved in the deception, betrayal or infliction of pain or hurt?

While challenging life events will occur to varying extents whether we like it or not, some of us will find comfort in the notion of karma – what goes around comes around and if you are lucky, you get to see the result. In fact, some of us will spend the next 5 or 10 years, or even the rest of our lives readily awaiting news of karma, which my older readers will agree, generally does comes back to bite those less thoughtful, kind or considerate, even if it is many years later.

To me though, the very act of waiting for karma is actually detrimental to our natural healing process. Awaiting grief, pain or sadness for someone else is again creating a negative energy force, the exact energy force which resulted in the pain, hurt or betrayal in the first place.

As with all our thoughts, we have a choice when it comes to pain. We can fight it, become bitter, continue to direct anger towards those who have wronged us or we can look towards freeing ourselves for good. Sure, there is nothing wrong with being angry or sad or hurt but there comes a time when these feelings are doing nothing other than fuelling more pain, hurt and anger – giving more energy to the very feeling we are trying to escape. Instead, we can choose to focus solely on the energy that is good for our minds, our hearts and ultimately our soul.

Ultimately only each of us as individuals know when we go to sleep each night if we have put good or bad energy into the universe – if we have purposely or thoughtlessly directed negative energy; caused pain to another or done the “wrong thing” and ultimately we are the ones that have to sit with this, perhaps forever.

Yes, ultimately karma will prevail but if you so choose you will also find yourself free to enjoy a nicer, more pure existance while you observe it unfold naturally, even from a very long distance.