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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The smart way to eat out

The smart way to eat out

Increasingly busy lifestyles, long working hours and numerous daily commitments mean that eating out has become a routine part of modern life. Unfortunately for those who enjoy a restaurant meal, it is likely to mean extra kilojoules thanks to the mix of larger portion sizes, the heavy use of oil, butter and heavy sauces as well as numerous courses. Here are my top tips for eating out without weight gain.

Choose your cuisines carefully
Indian, Chinese and Thai foods in particular tend to be extremely high in fat, due to their overt use of high fat sauces such as coconut milk and batters, as well as the large volumes of oil used for frying a range of menu options. When high fat curries and fried foods are then eaten in conjunction with large amounts of white rice, noodles and breads, it is easy to see how a kilo joule overload can result. Ideally such high fat cuisines need to be consumed sparingly, just once or twice a month.

Look for the light options
Japanese, Greek and even Modern Australian cuisines as these options tend to have a much wider range of menu items that will allow you to make healthier choices. Any sort of raw fish, grilled meat or seafood will be a great choice, especially when teamed with a large portion of vegetables or salad.

Size is everything
The truth be known, if we simply ate smaller portions of everything, far fewer of us would have a weight problems. Few of us really need both an entrée as well as a main course and for most of us an entrée sized portion of heavier foods such as pasta or risotto will be more than sufficient. If the serves of pasta, rice or meat are far larger than you need, before you start your meal, visualize how much of the portion you have been served you will eat and then take the excess off your plate and share with your fellow diners.

When it comes to desserts, no one is saying that you have to avoid them completely, but remember that the most pleasure of a dessert is gained in the first few mouthfuls, so if you really spot something you love on the menu, share with as many people as possible.

Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables
One the biggest issues with meals consumed away from the home is that they rarely contain the amounts of vegetables or salad that we need for good health and to help us feel full and satisfied. Even though they can be expensive when ordered as sides, it is worth ordering extras to help bulk up your meal so you are not tempted by extra chips or bread.

Top Tips for Eating Out
Never go to a restaurant starving; have a small snack 1-2 hours to take the edge off your hunger

Be directive with friends when they are making restaurant choices – remember that both Indian and Thai foods are exceptionally high in fat.

If you love eating bread, try doing what the Italians do and take the middle out and just enjoy the crust.

Order as much extra salad and vegetables as you can afford to bulk your plate up

Aim to be the last diner to finish your meal, eating slowly, placing your knife and fork down in between each mouthful and chewing everything well.

Be mindful that restaurant foods are likely to be very salty, so drink at least 3 glasses of water throughout the course of the meal to help flush

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to have your cake and eat it too!

At times, most of us will indulge and eat something that has far more calories than we need. A sweet treat with a cup of coffee and a chat with a favourite friend can be one of life’s simple pleasures but also one of life’s calorie overloads if we are not careful. Here are the best and worst sweet treats to enjoy with your coffee, so you can keep the calories as controlled as you need to.
Sweet Treat Fat per serve Carbs per serve Calories per serve
Banana bread 25g 70g 580
Choc Brownie 22g 25g 300
Muffin 34g 90g 700
Cheesecake 25g 30g 400
Friand 10g 17g 160
Subway Cookie 10g 30g 210
Small Cupcake 6g 20g 150
Large Cupcake 20g 40g 350
Biscotti 1g 5g 30
2 Paradise VIVES 2g 17g 90

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Getting your recovery right for City to Surf

Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to be an elite athlete to benefit from recovering with the right fuel mix after training. In fact, if you are training several times each week as you prepare for the City to Surf, in addition to balancing work and family commitments, a good recovery program is exactly what you need to ensure you have enough energy to maintain your hectic schedule over the next few weeks.

The benefits of optimal recovery practices for elite athletes are well documented; improved recovery times, reduced muscle soreness, improved follow up sessions and lower levels of fatigue which can be demonstrated in the investment most elite sporting clubs give to optimal hydration, nutritional and supplementation strategies post training and competition. The physiology of recreational athletes is no different and hence optimal nutritional practices to promote muscle recovery are also likely to benefit any athlete who is running training for an hour or more on most days of the week.

Societal trends towards a lower carbohydrate style of eating, especially throughout the second half of the day, can represent a high risk situation for any runner who is clocking up the kilometres. While you may feel that you are burning few calories at work in front of the computer, or watching television later in the day, if your schedule also includes an hour or two of training on most days of the week, you will still be depleting your muscles of glycogen. Failing to then replenish these stores, particularly overnight after late afternoon or early evening after a late afternoon run or treadmill session, means that not only are you likely to be starting the next day with inadequate muscle stores of fuel but you are leaving the body in an energy depleted state hence potentially compromising both immune function and athletic performance.

Research has repeatedly shown that there is a key window of opportunity when it comes to muscle recovery. It is known that muscle glycogen restoration is significantly enhanced when a mixture of both carbohydrates and a small amount of protein is consumed within 30 minutes of finishing a session. From a practical perspective this means that waiting until you return home to a carb free dinner of meat and vegetables may not be the best thing to do by your body. Instead, taking a compact, nutritionally balanced snack that contains both carbohydrates and proteins such as dairy snacks or bread with a protein rich filling such as peanut butter, tuna or cheese and consuming it immediately after your session will not only ensure that your muscles have the best opportunity to recover prior to your next session but allow you to keep your dinner light if you choose.

Recreational athletes wanting to shift body fat but who have cutting carbohydrates at been night may also find that including a controlled portion of low GI carbs such as pasta or sweet potato may actually enhance fat burning – remember, active people do need some carbohydrate to promote optimal fat metabolism.

While high GI supplementary sports products including get shots, sports drinks and bars are regularly promoted to be the best choice when it comes to recovery, for recreational athletes, the high carbohydrate loads of these products, without the extra recovery benefit of protein mean that although you get a bit of sugar, you get a whole lot of extra kilojoules that you may not need. For example, a bottle of sports drink contains 30+ grams of carbohydrates per bottle without protein and >1000kJ as opposed to a liquid meal drink which contains a similar amount of carbohydrates with the added benefit of protein for far fewer kilojoules. So, choose such concentrated gels and sports drinks for long, endurance events such as the marathon and leave the more nutritious options as your daily recovery food options of choice.

The second important component of optimal recovery is ensuring you drink enough fluid once your session is finished to fully re-hydrate. While many of us are in the good habit of drinking plenty of fluid when training, the importance of hydrating for a number of hours after finishing training is often overlooked. Get into the habit of weighing yourself before and after long sessions to determine how much fluid you are losing. Remember, you will then need to drink 1 ½ times the amount of weight you have lost to fully replace your fluid losses and optimally re-hydrate to be ready for your next session.

Top recovery snacks
½ Peanut butter sandwich on grain bread
Low fat chocolate milk
Tub of yoghurt
Eggs on wholegrain toast
Protein/Carbohydrate snack bar
Skim milk coffee
Liquid meal drink such as Sustagen or Up & Go
Dried fruit and nut mix
Fruit salad and yoghurt
Sushi Roll

Recovery Shake
Recovery shake
250mls skim milk
3 teaspoons Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
1 cup frozen berries

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The best oil?

A few years back we were all told to cook with vegetable oil, then we switched to olive oil and now there is an entire range of oils to choose from including rice bran, avocado and macadamia oils all reported to have various health benefits. So, which oil should you use, when should you use it and most importantly, how much should you be having for good health long term?

If you model different diets, and are aiming to include just 40-60g of good fat in your diet a day, with equal amounts coming from saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats it becomes easy to choose the right oil. Generally speaking, if we eat avocado, nuts and olive oil already, we tend to get more than enough of the monounsaturated fat. We tend though to be a little low on the polys – and the polys have numerous benefits for the health of our cells. For this reason, only using olive oil means that unless you are eating walnuts every day, you are unlikely to be getting enough polyunsaturated fat. As you can see from the counter below, simply using sunflower, rice bran or canola oil occasionally will help to bump up your intake of these fats, and give you a better fat intake profile for your health long term.

Oil (per 20g serve) Sat Fat (g) Mono Fat (g) Poly fat (g)

Olive Oil 1.8 10 1.2

Canola Oil 0.9 8.2 4.1

Sunflower Oil 1.4 2.7 8.9

Peanut Oil 2.3 6.3 4.3

Rice Bran Oil 3.0 9.0 7.0

Avocado Oil 3.0 12 1.5

Monday, July 11, 2011

What do dietitians eat?

I am often asked what I eat and as much as I would love to be a diet purist I do really like to eat, especially savoury sancks like cheese and pate. On a daily basis though, I do try and make sure I eat as many vegetables as I can, and also support good Australian companies where I can by buying products that contain as few additives as possible, and which give superior nutritional properites than products that tend to come from larger multinationals.

So, here are the products you will always find in my cupboard

1) Lipton jasmine green tea bags

Green tea can be a little harsh but these Jasmine tea bags are my favourite – I drink a cup of green tea after each meal and while I am up at night writing.

2) Rye Cruskits

One of the lightest crackers available in terms of both carbohydrate and calories and a lighter alternative to bread when I am seeing clients all day.

3) Burgen Soy & Linseed bread –

The best bread on the market and eaten daily with an egg for breakfast

4) Go Natural Nut Delight Bars

The best nuts bars on the market with a perfect mix of carbs, protein and good fat.

5) Body for Women Protein Powder

I helped formulate this product and am very proud of it – a great way to bump up your protein intake throughout the day

6) Light Jarlsberg Cheese

The tastiest cheese, with the lowest fat content, eaten with Vegemite on toast regularly.

7) Partner Foods Roasted Broadbeans

I love these tasty snacks and try and et them instead of Grain Waves when drinking wine.

8) Maggie Beer Pate

I have loved pate since I was a little girl and this is as close to my mums as I can find and rich in iron (let’s not talk about the fat).

9) John West Smoked Oysters

Another love since childhood, rich in zinc and we snack on them before we go dancing.

10) South Cape Marinated Feta

Another love with sliced cucumber on Rye Cruskits

11) Multigrain Weetbix

High in soluble fibre which keeps you feeling amazing inside, I always take a box when I go travelling.

12) Jalna Natural Yoghurt

The best yoghurt on the market and best teamed with berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

13) Wafterthin Crackers

The best thin cracker for cheese with the lowest calorie and carb levels.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Getting your diet right for the City to Surf

Despite the Winter gloom, it has been great to hear that many people have committed to training for the upcoming running events around Australia. Not only is running one of the biggest calorie burners, there are also fantastic benefits associated with getting out and about, having a regular schedule and eating well to support your training regime.

Naturally, the more you train, the hungrier you are also likely to get and hence getting your diet right is imperative if you are to shift a couple of kg whilst ensuring you have enough energy for your increased training load. Here are my top tips to keep you on track with your diet as you prepare for the upcoming running festival.

1) Try not to cut out too many carbs
You need a little more carb if you are training more than an hour each day or you will find yourself craving sugar. Try recovering with 10-20g of carbs along with protein within 30 min of every run. Good options include yoghurt, a skim milk coffee or protein/carb bar.

2) If you train before breakfast you need carbs at night
Many runners prefer to run on an empty stomach which is fine unless you have not eaten any carbs since lunchtime the day before. Add just 20-30g with 1 potato, ½ cup pasta or rice or some sweet potato and notice how much better you feel during your morning run.

3) Manage the cravings
We get sugar cravings when we have not eaten the right mix of carbs and protein. Manage your post run appetite with a meal replacement shake, protein shake made with skim milk or crackers and cheese with a vegetable – the bulk will keep you full while the mix of carbs and protein will help to regulate your blood glucose levels.

4) Try to not use your running as an excuse to eat more
Sure, running or any exercise can make you a little hungrier but in more cases than not, women in particular use their running as an excuse to eat more. “I went for a run this morning so I deserve a treat” among the common justifications for the extra dessert, cake or sweet treat. Limit your sweet treats to just once or twice a week to gain maximal benefit from your running commitment and tame your appetite with protein rich meal and snack options.

5) Watch the drinks
Vitamin water, sports drinks and juices are a recipe for disaster when it comes to weight control, and very few athletes really NEED them on a daily basis. Stick to water and if you cramp, try adding some salts such as Hydralyte to your water bottle for the anti-cramping effects minus the calories.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When are you coming to Hawaii?

In life, for us to truly embrace the “joie de vibre” or the “joy of life” we need to have great loves and one of my great loves is an annual trip to Hawaii.

Some people love to chill in a Balinese shack, others to ski in Japan or Aspen and then there are the campers who are happy on the Gold Coast but I have never felt such affinity to a place as I do to Hawaii. I am not sure whether it is the crystal clear water of the pristine island paradise, the unbelievably friendly locals, the truly spectacular scenery or the overall serenity that has me hooked but there is nothing in my life I look forward to more than spending a number of weeks there each year. It is as if all the toil, stress and intensity of a jam packed career are worth it, if just for a few work free weeks amidst this tropical oasis.

If you have not visited Hawaii before, a quick glance of a picture taken of the well snapped shoreline will immediately take you back to a scene from the 1970’s - unsightly steel and concrete buildings shooting out of the ground next to an overpopulated beachfront as seen in any popular holiday destination around the world. A closer look though reveals a truly spectacular natural landscape enveloping this space - mystical volcanic parks, perfectly clear aqua coloured water and the balmy steam of the tropics against a shadowy backdrop which has remained virtually untouched for hundreds of years.

My first trip to Hawaii was far from an ideal initial encounter, riddled with the reality of a rapidly crumbling friendship. The second was too markedly damaged as I dealt with the acute pain of a badly broken heart but the soulful landscape has repeatedly acted as a natural therapist, the island’s breathtaking beauty rendering the intricacies of an ego driven world irrelevant within such an intense display of nature, ultimately helping to ground, calm, soothe.

So much visual stimulus can only be described as a feast for the senses with pink and orange skies slowly disappearing at the end of each glorious day, the elegant palms swaying in the breeze, lush greenery and blooming tropical flowers alongside charcoal mountains. At night the light disappears behind the volcanic hills, leaving only a sapphire sky and full moon blasting light across the calm shoreline; a scene from an expensive Hollywood movie set which is now your reality for as long as you are able to stay in this island paradise, removed, protected, alive. Such visual intensity quickly puts our modern life attachments into perspective, reminding us that we are merely a small spot in a vast universe forever vulnerable to the true force of nature.

Hawaii has something for everyone – there are volcanoes to climb, crystal clear waters to explore, flame lit streets to wander late into the evening, fine white sand to squelch through your toes and the shopping; shopping some would argue is the best in the world. So you can relax, consume, explore or reflect to your heart’s content. Hawaii has no expectations; it is there to nourish you no matter what your appetite.

Perhaps the thing I love more than anything, and actually miss when home is the eclectic mix of people – the sun kissed island natives, hardworking migrants and the whites who have escaped to the island wonder to live and work. Their lives are blessed and they know it, able to share their carefree spirit and hospitality with those visitors who are momentarily touched by the island spirit every time they visit.

I have now been to Hawaii on three trips, and there is no sign of my love abating. I can imagine being married here, in a quiet ocean front ceremony with a few close friends and family and bringing my children here for family holidays for many years to come. And most of all, I can imagine writing here, in many, many years from now, when my heart is filled with much more joy, experience and wisdom.

In a life that can be too much – too busy, too exciting, too overwhelming, Hawaii is my refuge, a place to regroup, refocus and reignite my energy, even when things are tough. I have now recruited a group of friends who also share my love for this annual pilgrimage and they too are drawn by this mecca of intense energy and spirit. We are already on the countdown for our return to paradise, and we hope to see you there sometime soon too.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Should you be counting carbs?

If you constantly struggle with getting the right balance in your diet and cannot give any more energy to counting calories, sometimes the simple act of checking how many carbs you are eating per meal and snack is enough to keep you on the right track. Ideally we are aiming for 20-30g of total carbs per meal (including the sugars) and just 15-20g per snack. To monitor your carbs regularly, grab a carbohydrate counter from the newsagent and pop it in your bag for a quick check whenever you need. Here are some popular carb based foods and the most common areas people can overdo the carbs in their diet.

Food Serving Size Carb Content (grams)
White rice 1 cup 45
Turkish bread 2 toast slices 80
Yoghurt 200g 30
Lebanese Bread 1 slice 80
Banana bread 1 thick slice 60
Grapes Large bunch 60
Tin corn soup 500g 35
Chocolate brownie Small 30
Vita Weat Crackers 8 40
Caramel Coffee Large 30

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Winter Weight Gain

With 8 weeks left of Winter, we actually have a great opportunity to get organized, get fit and get ready to take on the second half of 2011. So of you have been struggling over the past few weeks, here are the steps you need to take to get back on track, today.

1) Shift your mindset
If you have been whining about the cold since Easter, it is time to stop. The truth be known, it is not overly cold in Australia and most of us are surviving with a light jacket and scarf. Start to view the Winter months as a time to get organized and fit rather than a period of self-imposed hibernation and excuses.

2) Make a list
You have 8 good weeks to get on track with your life. What needs to be done at home? What projects have been sitting around unfinished for weeks if not months? What exercise should you be doing? If you consider that we often gain weight simply because we eat more when are at home not doing anything, it makes sense to get busy and stop eating.

3) Get out
Sitting at home feeling sorry for your self is a recipe for disaster. Not only are you likely to eat more as mentioned above, you are also more likely to sleep more and suffer low mood. Make regular contact out of the house with friends and family so you are busier, happier and less likely to be focused on the short days and chilly days of Winter.

4) Commit to a training program
Like many things in life, we are simply more likely to do them once we have a plan. With the Sydney Marathon, City to Surf and a number of other big events on the horizon, it makes perfect sense to start a regular training program that ties in with an upcoming event to give you direction and motivate you to make it to 3-4 training sessions every single week.

5) Get some sunlight
I cannot tell you how many clients I see who are low in Vitamin D simply because they NEVER leave the office during the day. Make it a priority to get out during the day, every day and especially on weekends. Not only will you burn more calories by being active, the sunlight will do wonders for your skin and mood.

6) Concentrate on nutrient rich eating
If you are struggling with coughs and runny noses, quite simply you probably have not been eating that well. Fried foods, high fat snacks and plenty of alcohol at this time of year often take the place of brightly coloured vegetables, warming soups and fresh fruit so make it a priority to cook a couple of healthy meals each week and include oily fish, lean red meat and nuts and oils in your diet on a daily basis.

7) Check your fluids
If coffee, hot chocolate and chai lattes have taken place of your regular water and fresh juice; remember that it is just as important you keep well hydrated in Winter as it is in Summer. Swap coffee for warm water with lemon or herbal tea and still aim for at least a litre of water every single day.

8) Walk, walk, walk
No, you will not die if you take a walk in the cold. Walking early in the morning or after dinner even though it may seem a little chilly is one of the best things you can do to control your weight over Winter.

9) Choose 1 light meal each dayIf dropping a few kg is your Winter ideal, simply replacing one meal with a light alternative whether it be a meal replacement drink, soup or salad, you will find that this drops the kg without too much effort at all.

10) Go heavy once a week
We all like to eat out and we all like to eat chocolate, dessert, pastry, cakes…we are human. Eating them too regularly though, for the average inactive individual with only lead to weight gain, or be preventing weight loss so make sure you enjoy heavy options just once a week and you will find you stay on top of your weight without feeling too deprived at all.