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Monday, November 28, 2011

Alcohol management

It is likely that you have already noticed an increase in your alcohol intake as we head towards the warmer months and whether this is a few extra beers over the weekend, or a couple of cocktails as you catch up with friends at the end of the day it does mean more calories, and ultimately more calories = weight gain. So here is how you manage your alcohol intake over the party season and prevent unwanted weight gain in the process.

1) Be firm and do not look as Christmas as an excuse to drink too much. Remember that 1 alcoholic drink = 1 slice of bread in calories so count your drinks and know your limits.

2) Know that spirits served in a tall glass, with lots of ice and a low calorie mixer such as soda or diet soft drinks are your lowest calorie option with 80 calories per glass. This is compared with a large glass of wine or beer which contain between 120-140 calories.

3) Eat something an hour before you head out and drink 500mls of water as you will drink far less if you are not hungry and hydrated.

4) Differentiate special parties from everyday drinks and catch ups after work and indulge for special occasions but be strict with day to day catch ups.

5) Remember that for every “big” night you are looking at 2hr the gym to burn the calories off and do extras where you can to compensate.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Christmas rules

It may seem a little early but the reality is that many of us will start the Christmas party season very soon, and hence we need to be on top of things if we are going to prevent weight gain over the next 5-6 weeks. So, here are the rules, guaranteed to keep your weight under control if you want it to be.

1) No mince pies until Christmas Eve. With more than 250 calories and at least 10g of fat per pie, these Christmas treats need to be consumed sparingly.

2) Under no circumstances are you to skip training – in fact, if you can afford to you should be doing extras to compensate for the extra calories you will be consuming.

3) Eat light if you are going out – this means soup or salad for the other meal of the day.

4) Always eat a snack before you go – a Body for Women protein shake or bar, nut bar + 1 vegetable will ensure you do not arrive at any function starving.

5) The 5 canapĂ© rule – 5 canapĂ©s equates to a meal worth of calories so make sure you are counting.

6) An alcohol limit – it may be just on weekends or for the very special Christmas parties but create your own rule and stick to it.

7) Christmas foods at Christmas only – this means all the extra chocolates, nuts and other Christmas foods be kept until…..Christmas.

8) Quality over quantity – commit to enjoying it if it is very good quality but don’t waste calories on poor quality party snacks, chocolates and lollies.

9) The extra walk – for any big parties, commit to an extra walk the next day to compensate.

10) the 2 vegetable rule – this is not just a Christmas rule but munching on 2 vegetables a day will help to keep you full so you are less likely to overindulge in rubbish.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why adding salad is futile

Whenever I am woken by the telephone at 6am usually it is the radio calling for an early morning interview, inevitably because one of the fast food chains has promoted a new initiative and yesterday it was McDonalds starting to offer salad as well as fries when you order a burger.

There are so many things that run through my dietitian’s brain as I contemplate this to decide if it is indeed a good idea. Surely any promotion or initiative that encourages the consumption of more salad and / or vegetables is a good thing, ultimately giving consumers the option to make a healthier choice should they want to? Hmmmm, maybe but offering one small good thing as part of a much bigger bad thing ie eating a fast food meal, does not make the fast food meal any better. In fact, it could actually make people feel better about eating the fast food meal, which is not a good thing.

Then, while having the option available to choose salad instead of fries may result in some people ditching the fries in favour of salad, I would be more inclined to think that the majority of people who are going to a fast food chain are not looking to swap their order of fries for a salad. If in real terms this means that McDonalds sell 1 salad for every 50 serves of fries, it would suggest that such a tactic from McDonalds is merely ticking a box of ‘looking like” they are trying to do go by the health of all Australians as opposed to actually doing any good at all – there is a big difference.

And then we have the issue of quality. If you have seen a healthy choice at a fast food chain recently, you may have noticed they do not tend to be the most desirable looking menu options. A minuscule serve of soggy lettuce and chopped tomato costing more than $3 hardly appetizing compared to sizzling meat patties, melt in your mouth burger buns, sugar twists of fat known as a McFlurry and the far more affordable $2 lunch deals. I am a dietitian and I would not pay the money for the salads that are served in McDonalds.

So while another marketing executive is likely to be patting themselves on the back this afternoon as McDonalds has again grabbed the headlines with its “salad offering”, here are some things to consider next time they really want to grab a health headline properly. McDonalds sell 1 million meals a day in Australia. All that would be needed to improve the nutritional quality of the current McDonalds menu items and indirectly the health of all Australians would be to add more salad to all the burgers on the current menu, improve the quality of the bread the burgers are served on and for the fifteen year old servers to stop asking everyone to upsize their order and buy more the high fat, high carbohydrate foods they do not need. It is not rocket science McDonalds and you are also likely to save a whole lot of salad that no one is going to eat in the process.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why am I not losing weight?

Why am I not losing weight? - Perhaps the most common question from clients who appear to be doing everything they can to support weight loss. They are going to the gym, cutting back on carbs and not drinking during the week and yet the kg won’t seem to budge. Here are the most common reasons that you may not be losing weight with the good news is that all of these factors are very easy to adjust and get things moving the right way on the scales.

You are eating breakfast too late in the day
One of the most important things you can remember when it comes to weight loss is “the earlier you eat breakfast, the better”. Waiting until you get to the office to enjoy the first meal of the day is a little late when you consider that breakfast fires up the metabolism for the day ahead. So if you are waiting until 8 or 9 to enjoy your eggs, oats or shake, shift it forward an hour or two and get that metabolism firing.

You are training inefficiently
It may sound harsh but the longer you have trained, the more you are going to have to push yourself in order to achieve the same calorie burn you did initially. Change things around with your training as much as you can and focus on working out intensely for just 20-30 minutes burning 200-300 calories in this time. Change the settings on the machines, swap the order in which you do your cardio and/or weights and swap between different machines and classes. When you have trained for many years, sometimes all you need to do is change the type of training and intensity to get things moving again.

You are having too many extras
An extra coffee or two here, a biscuit there and there you have the difference between losing weight and not. If you doubt what is really going in your mouth spend a day keeping a record of everything you eat or drink. Sometimes the simple act of becoming more mindful is the difference between a few extra hundred calories a day or not.

You are sitting down too much
While it is great to commit to regular training, if you then spend the remaining 14 hours of your day sitting, you are completely negating the benefits of training completely. Start to wear a pedometer and become more aware of how much (or how little) you really are moving. Try and avoid hours sent lying in front of the television at night and get outside at lunchtime and move around because the more you move, the more you burn.

You are overdoing the coffee.
There is nothing wrong with a coffee or two each day but if you find yourself constantly sipping on a latte for most of the day, therein lies the problem. Not only are liquid calories a nightmare when it comes to insulin release and weight gain, but we rarely compensate for them, which means they become extras that many of us do not need. Enjoy your milk based coffee with your meals or as a snack and drink only water or herbal tea inbetween.