health

5 Tips That Will Change Your Diet Forever

If you give your body what it needs, that’s what it will crave.

These 5 simple steps will help you to build a diet plan you’ll love that works for you.

Tip # 1 - Base Each Meal around a Protein

This will help you build lean muscle - which helps to burn fat. Eggs or yoghurt, lean meat. You want a portion size about as big as your fist. And if you’re vegetarian make sure you’re getting your protein from legumes or tofu.

Tip # 2 - Your Carbs should be Low GI

When in doubt, go dark: sweet potato, brown rice, wholemeal or rye bread and whole oats. If you are eating a gluten-free diet, buckwheat is the best alternative for bread and cereal.

Tip # 3 – Mum was Right: Eat Your Veggies

Don’t forget you 5 and 2. This is essential for fibre and nutrients.

Tip # 4 – Eat Smaller Portions, More Often

Try to have a medium-sized nutritious meal 5 times a day. This will keep your metabolism humming.

Tip # 5 - Treats Shouldn’t be in place of Meals.

Have a small, sweet treat once a day as a reward for your healthy eating. Take my word for it some coconut protein balls on the market taste even better than a Bounty bar!

The #1 Thing You Need To Know To Maximise Your Diet Results

It’s seemingly obvious, but you’d be surprise how many people forget it.

The number one thing you need to get into shape to maximize your diet results is your mind.

Before you begin a diet plan, here’s 3 important tips you should know.

Tip #1 - Set Realistic Goals

If you set the bar too high, you risk getting burnt out, disappointed and giving up on healthy eating entirely. You then risk eating junk food in order to make yourself feel better. Be realistic. Don’t deny yourself anything; there are plenty of delicious, nourishing and healthy recipes out there – and even within the Diet section of this blog!

Tip #2 - Good Dieting is about the Process, not the Result

Whilst it’s great to take inspiration from other people, remember that your diet should be about vitality and giving your body exactly what it needs. How you look on the outside should be a bonus. Enjoy the process of cooking and looking after yourself.

Tip #3 - Be Prepared and Get Organised

Do you research. Read fitness magazines & blogs for food inspiration. Chat to a dietitian. Don't just rely on what you’ve heard form friends, as they may only know what’s right for their body. And remember: plan your meals for the week ahead and do you research for healthy takeout options so that you don’t make poor choices in a panic.

3 Best High Protein Foods to Eat on the Go

There are many health benefits to be gained from laying the foundations of your summer fitness goals in winter.

It’s entirely possible to 10X your fitness results by changing your winter diet. These 3 super easy diet hacks will keep you eating right in a rush.

Remember: eat ‘little and often’ to keeping your metabolism humming throughout the cooler months.

Tip # 1 – Eggs

Eggs are a cheap, quality protein, chock full of nine amino acids vitamin D and choline, which improves muscle movement and liver function. If you’re struggling to eat healthy on the go, an all-day breakfast menu can give your body what it needs.

Tip # 2 – Lean Meats

Lean meats like chicken breast is another easily accessible food staple. When I’m on the run, I’ll grab half a roast chicken and ditch the skin.

Lean beef, like a good quality pub steak (hold the chips) has the added benefit of iron, zinc, and B-vitamins, which are some of the most important blocks in building successful muscle growth.

Tip #3 - Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese does wonders for the body as it’s almost entirely made-up of casein, a slow digesting protein, which is perfect for muscle growth throughout the day. You can eat it like yoghurt, load up a crisp-bread, bulk up your tuna, or cover it with honey & muesli.

Here’s Why These 3 Winter Comfort Foods Cause Harm

Are you falling for the comfort food trap in winter and saying yes to heavier meals you would NEVER consider eating in summer?

These three winter comfort foods could be doing more harm than good.

Summer bodies are made in winter – so don’t wait until the warmer months to get your diet in-check.

TIP# 1 - Avoid Processed & Pre-Packaged Food

These guys are packed full of preservatives, sugars, salt, flavour enhancers and bad fats to keep you craving them. Remember that even if you are oven-baking something at home (e.g. frozen pizza), it doesn’t mean the food item wasn’t previously fried in a factory.

Instead, always stick to fresh ingredients. A simple trick is to avoid buying anything that comes out of a box – time to #banthebox.

TIP # 2 –  Hot Chips

Hot chips are certainly delicious, but are they nutritious? Not so much.

Hot chips are essentially congealed starch and saturated fats that your body can’t do anything with.

If you’re craving this winter staple, opt for baked sweet potato instead. It’s low GI, which will keep you fuller for longer.

TIP # 3 – Sweet Drinks

Your body needs 2 litres of water a day, but what it doesn’t need is the sugar in soda, juice or sweetened milk or energy drinks - which can have up to 20 teaspoons of sugar!

If you do crave drinking something sweet, opt for coconut water as a treat. For every other drink, stick to water – your body will thank you for it in the long run!

Gluten Busters: Top 3 Wheat-Free Diet Hacks

If you have tested positive for a wheat allergy, one of the hardest parts is adjusting to this new way of eating. Here are my top 3 delicious wheat-free replacements for patients who have been diagnosed with Coeliac’s – or those of you interested in mixing up your diet.

TIP # 1 - BUCKWHEAT

Don’t let the name fool you, this is great wheat-free grain that is dense and will keep you feeling full. Buckwheat bread is a hearty replacement for rye, and the flour is perfect for baking.

TIP # 2 - ZOODLES

When it comes to pasta the most common replacement is corn - yet this so processed that many people with sensitive gut claim this can be as painful as the real thing. For a lighter alternative, try cooking strips of zucchini - or 'zoodles' as they're commonly known - or look out for pasta made from soya or back-beans.

TIP # 3 - FlOURLESS CAKE

Gluten free pastries are an oxymoron, as it is gluten that gives dough its elasticity. Instead of the usual spongecake fanfare, you’ll have to make do with flourless cakes and friands which have an almond-meal base.

It's important to keep in mind...

As Coeliac’s disease is life-threatening, the danger of cross contamination can still be pretty real.

If you are Coeliac, don’t be afraid to ask restaurants if the oil that they are frying in is contaminant free.

If you're ever in doubt about the status of your allergy, chat to you GP and get tested.

Gluten Busters: Why Gluten Intolerance Does Not Exist

In recent years, the words ‘gluten intolerance’ have become as ubiquitous as ‘skinny soy decaf latte’.

But here’s the truth about gluten intolerance from a medical perspective, which could shock you somewhat: it simply does not exist.

Mounting interest in health and wellness in the last few years has lead to increasing numbers of people incorrectly diagnosing themselves as Coeliac or as being gluten intolerant.

'Gluten intolerance’ is what many people who experience symptoms like bloating and constipation from wheat claim to have.

In most cases, it may not be the protein known ‘gluten’ that is giving you a reaction, but some other part of the grain – like the bran, germ or endosperm.

By cutting wheat entirely out of your diet, you might be missing out on the benefits of a balanced diet that includes some high quality wheat elements like wholegrain like spelt.

If you are experiencing allergy symptoms, the only way to know is to chat to your GP about seeing an immunologist to work out exactly what you are allergic to.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and avoid an entire category of nutrition in order to skip one small part of it.

Gluten Busters: The Truth About Coeliac’s Disease

Is Coeliac’s disease one of the biggest wellbeing hoaxes of our time?

Coeliac's disease is an audio immune disorder that means the lining of your small intestine is susceptible to attack from gluten - a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

Although it’s been a buzzword in recent years, the symptoms of Coeliac’s has been written about as far back at the first century AD by a Greek physician named Aretaeus of Cappadocia.

As many people as there are who are claiming to be Coeliac, only 1% of the population has this auto-immune disease.

As this allergy is life-threatening - and the only way to know is to be tested - if you suffer any form of allergic reaction like swelling or pain in your gut or joints when eating wheat, chat to your GP right away who will recommend a blood test by an immunologist.

For patients who aren’t Coeliac but experience similar symptoms, learn more about gluten intolerance (and how it is often misdiagnosed) here.

#Superfoods: Nuts For Nuts

When it comes to snacking in-between meals, you really can’t go past #bustinganut.

Nuts are an incredible source of vitamins and minerals and are super tasty to boot. Check out the snapshot of health benefits below:

  • Cashews: non haem (plant based) iron and a low GI rating
  • Almonds: protein, calcium and vitamin E
  • Pistachios: protein, potassium, plant sterols and the antioxidant resveratrol
  • Chestnuts: low GI, fibre and vitamin C (although much vitamin C is lost during cooking)
  • Hazelnuts: fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin E
  • Macadamias: highest in monounsaturated fats, thiamin and manganese
  • Pecans: fibre and antioxidants
  • Walnuts: alpha linoleic acid: plant omega 3 and antioxidant
  • Pine nuts: vitamin E and the arginine amino acid
  • Brazil nuts: fibre and selenium: just two brazil nuts a day provides 100% RDI for selenium for an adult

If you’re not nuts about nuts already (not going to ease up on the Dad jokes anytime soon), here are 3 tips to get you started!

Tip #1 - Always Carry A Bag Of Nuts In Your Bag. Although I recommend pre-preparing your meals according to a weekly meal plan, sometimes life gets in the way and the urge to Pad Thai is strong. The next day, when you have that cheeky 3pm hunger craving, there are no pre-prepared leftovers to snack on. Enter the cheeky handbag stash of nuts. This way, you’ll always have something delicious and nutritious on hand.

 

Tip #2 - Eating one or two nuts before a meal decreases the GI of your food. This means you’ll stay fuller for longer, without peaks and troughs in energy. A great tip to keep in mind if you’re conscious about food portion sizes, or maintaining your energy levels at the office.

 

Tip #3 - Looking for something to #spreadonyourbread? There’s nothing better than walking into a health food store and getting some freshly ground nut butter.  This ain’t the same pasty, sticky stuff you grew up eating at recess in between slices of sugary white bread. It’s infinitely more tasty, with a richer, buttery flavour that refined nut butter can’t get close to. Look for peanut, almond or cashew nut butter and go #bustanut all over your bread.

#Superfoods: Super Fats & Oils

Healthy fats & oils? Sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true: your body needs fats and oils for a number of important reasons. 

Unsaturated fatty acids are integral to overall health and wellbeing because they provide energy and nutrients for our organs and cells, maintain healthy skin and other tissues, help our nervous system and brains to function and store much-needed energy we use on a daily basis to #keepontruckin’.

The trick is to substitute naughty fats & oils with healthier alternatives. The best part is these alternatives also taste fantastic and are mega easy to cook with!

Read on to learn about these key superfoods and how they can become your new pantry besties.

AVOCADO

In 2016, avocado was wrongly blamed for the great generation Y real estate problem; but what the Sydney Morning Herald didn’t report is the avocado’s high levels of oleic acid, an essential fatty acid that reduces inflammation and benefits the cardiovascular system.

Think bananas are your numero uno source of potassium? Think again. Avocados contains more potassium than bananas. Moreso, they are chockablock full of fibre.

Avocados are a rich source of vitamin C, an important antioxidant contributing to cell protection from free radical damage. Vitamin C helps your skin build collagen, which keeps your skin strong and elastic. Notably, if you are vegetarian then vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron from plant foods. 
  
So don’t just wait for Taco Tuesday – chuck avocado into your salads, quinoa dishes and even in smoothies to get the full hog of avocado’s health benefits

COCONUT OIL

Next time you’re at the frying pan and reach for olive oil, think again. There’s a new oil in town that proves #oilsaintoils - with good reason.

When oil is heated, it reaches its smoking point, which is the highest temperature it can reach before the natural impurities in the oil begin to burn.

The lower the smoking point, the lower the temperature can be heated before oil starts to smoke as a result of burning impurities.

Unrefined coconut oil has a smoking point of 177 degrees celcius.  That’s the lowest of all the oil gang – including olive, sunflower and canola oil. 

In the US, studies have shown that even after 8 hours of continuous deep-frying at 180 degrees celcius, the quality of coconut oil does not deteriorate – especially compared with olive oil, which can’t handle the heat.

Besides aiding digestion and inflammation, coconut oil also tastes fantastic, adding a delicious tropical vibe to all your tried-and-tested recipes. Especially thai curries and indian dahl - yum!

Give this superfood a go. You’ll go, erm, nuts for it! 
 

Totes Protes: How To Get More Protein Into Your Diet

The health benefits of protein are a no-brainer when it comes to increasing overall body nutrition.

Protein is a component of every cell in the human body. You need protein to make enzymes, hormones, bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, blood and other vital body chemicals.

Unlike our old frenemies carbohydrates and fats, the body does not store protein; so it effectively has no reservoir to draw from when protein levels are low.

A common misconception is that you can easily get more protein into your diet by adding protein powder to shakes or snacking on protein bars. It’s not a bad way - but the most effective way is to change your diet in the first place!

Switching the carbohydrate/protein ratio on your plate is a simple and effective way to immediately your protein intake. By building your meals around protein-rich foods – rather than the other way around – you will make a big difference.

By pre-preparing your meals at home in bulk, you’ll also resist the temptation to choose high-carb options for the working week. Try the following protein-focused meal ideas that are both simple, fast to cook, make excellent lunchbox-friendly leftovers and lunches…and are absolutely delish!

Breakfast

Burrito with eggs and beans

Quinoa with chai-spiced almond milk & cinnamon

Oatmeal blueberry yoghurt pancakes 

Lunch

Amaranth and avocado Israeli-style salad

Quinoa chickpea power burger

Chicken, capsicum and almond bake

Dinner

Barramundi with vine-ripened tomatoes and baby spinach salad

Chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and fetta

Lentil dahl with kale and coconut milk 

The Sweet Truth About Sugar

With so much talk about sugar and quitting sugar (thanks to Sarah Wilson) since there have been a number of diet, fat free low fat options constantly being promoted but being filled with sugar, as doctors we see a lot of dis-ease coming from patients who maybe don’t have a high fat diet but they treat their taste buds with so much sugar which is even more easily stored as fat.

Because of this increased awareness, people are sourcing out many different substitutes for their sugar cravings. Here's the lowdown on different types of sugar substitutes and their benefits and drawbacks.

ASPARTAME

Aspartame is a common artificial sweetener branded under the name Nutrasweet and Equal. Aspartame is made by joining together the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine.

Benefits: Low in calories; doesn't promote tooth decay; helpful for diabetes sufferers.

Drawbacks: A known carcinogen and its carcinogenic effects are increased when exposure begins in the womb. There are better sugar substitutes below!

STEVIA

Stevia is a plant that is part of the species of herbs and shrubs belonging to the sunflower family, also known as Sweatleaf or Sugarleaf. Stevia originates from sub-tropical areas in Latin America and has been used for centuries in places like Paraguay and Brazil.

Benefits: Does not affect blood sugar levels, so Stevia is great for diabetics; up to 300 times sweeter than sugar; no calories; non-toxic; non-carcinogenic; contains Vitamin C, calcium, beta-carotene, chromium, fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, protein and silicon; doesn't convert to glucose so has a glycemi index of 0.

Drawbacks: No conclusive drawback at the time of writing.  

HONEY

If you haven't eaten honey before, get thee to the shops right this second and grab a jar of Manuka honey. It's divine on fruit and plain yoghurt as a healthy alternative to ice-cream.

Benefits: Sweeter than white sugar; assimilated directly into the bloodstream very quickly; contains high number of minerals and enzymes if consumed raw (without being treated with heat; great hangover cure; contains strong pro-biotic properties; contains sleep-inducing, sedative and tranquilizing properties; nutrients are believed to assist in caner, heart and other diseases; Buckwheat honey and darker honey is generally considered to have more nutrients; honey also has the same disease-resistant nutrients as fruits.

Drawbacks: A number of people eat honey because they think its healthy: but they are not consuming raw honey which is better for the body. The healthy enzymes in processed honey are lost due to the heating process, so switch to raw honey from your health food store.

Is your diet REALLY 'Balanced'?

A common word thrown around when discussing a healthy diet is the word 'balanced'. Within this context, having a 'balanced diet' denotes eating 'good' foods (meats, vegetables, fruits and grains) and 'bad' foods (fats, oils & sugars) in moderation. 

What we are slowly understanding about a balanced diet is that it is not just about what we consume - or how much - but rather, it is important to consider both the positive and negative attributes of the food we are consuming. This can create a lot of confusion as to what exactly merits food as being either naughty or nice. 

Take cheese for example. Cheese is high in calories and fat, but also happens to be high in bone and teeth-strengthening calcium. Recent reports have demonstrated that cheese has cancer-fighting properties, as the menaquinones (a type of vitamin K) it contains may activate genes that kill diseased cells. Cheese is equally a 'good' and 'bad' food rolled into one mass of dairy deliciousness. How much of a good thing is too much (or too little)?

Vanilla ice cream (minus the sugary toppings) is slightly higher in fat than frozen yoghurt. Sounds like a get-out-of-jail-free pass to stock up on tubs of Bulla; alas vanilla ice-cream is also soaked in shiteloads more sugar. 

You might hear the phrase 'balanced diet' touted on everything from product labels to TV advertising, but in reality, the truth of what constitutes true 'balance' lies somewhere in between. 

Putting the 'Super' in Superfoods

It’s no wonder there is so much confusion surrounding this well-touted marketing term.  What are super-foods really?

As I’ve gone further and further into researching the trend, it’s been interesting to see the hype and money used to promote different food groups. I wonder who is actually making the money and who are reaping the nutritional benefits.  Whilst there is no official definition of what makes a food a ‘super-food’, there is general consensus that it must contain high levels of nutrients and must be rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants….but what the heck does that mean?

ANTI-OXIDANTS...AUNTY WHO?

Antioxidants are known for their ability to fight against the harmful oxidative effect of free radicals, hence their name anti-oxidants.  Oxidative free radicals are all around us.  We have oxidative stress when we walk, talk, eat and drink.  These little buggers are what ages us, decreases the collagen in our skin and bodies thereby making us look and feel old, they damage our DNA and contribute to the development of heart disease, cancer and dementia.  So if we believe what’s in the literature and advertisements I can whip up a cocktail of super-foods to counter all these things. A piece of broccoli for dinner, a handful of blueberries, two cartwheels in an anti-clockwise direction and douse all greens with as much extra, extra double virgin olive oil as is possible…and can I have extra virgins with that please?

No, this is obviously not going to provide you with the well-rounded ‘super’ diet that you or I need to go about our normal life let alone turn us into a more fabulous version of Mr Incredible or Popeye.  Becoming too fixated on any food group is where I believe the problems occur and especially those not grown locally as many foods become alarmingly less ‘super’ when they’re frozen, crushed, mashed and processed, let alone poor storage and handling hygiene.

Here are some foods that are at the top of the list, some I hope will be a pleasant surprise as one doesn’t need to spend a lot or any more to have a full well rounded super diet.  The foods have been chosen as you will see on their merit of…….cost, high anti-oxidants, taste, phytochemicals, ease of use, satiating, and some other health benefits.  Thing to take note of are that many foods that are otherwise very good for you often have their nutritional value lowered as a result of us mixing in inferior products, poor production, heat, cold, and many other things.  Moving foods can decrease their amazingness.

OATS

Not only are these cheap, readily available and easy to use but they also contain large amounts of both soluble (good for feeling full) and insoluble (good for reducing cholesterol) fibre.  Along with this high levels of beta-glucan which as considerable evidence would suggest can also assist to lower high levels of cholesterol including some blood thinning qualities it’s no wonder oats are a great way to kick-start your day.

BEANS

With their low GI (glycaemic index – the speed at which you get the sugar spike following food), high levels of vitamins and trace minerals, ability to significantly reduce your LDL cholesterol as well as improving your bowel health, beans are a great morning or lunchtime snack to keep you focused and satiated throughout the day.

SALMON, SARDINES & MACKEREL

Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce heart disease and stroke through reduction in triglyceride levels studies have shown.  Whilst there is some controversy around the amount of some heavy metals such as mercury in many fish the benefits sure do outweigh the negatives.

GINGER

What a great root! Ginger has a long history in many ancient cultures for having medicinal qualities that can help with reflux, bloating, fatigue, malaise, rheumatism and much more.  Whilst recent studies have only shown that it can help to protect against some types of cancer (especially bowel) and boosting our immunity it is good to note that all things in moderation as there are many cases of people becoming unwell from too much.

BROCCOLI & TOMATO

The health-promoting properties of broccoli are attributed to its isothiocyanates compounds, which are thought to have potent disease and cancer prevention capabilities.  One of the interesting things about many vegetables, including broccoli and tomato, is that they’re better for you together than eaten alone with these two magnifying their anti-cancer properties.  This is due to many foods aiding the absorption and digestion of others such as vitamin C containing foods increasing the absorption of iron.

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AVOCADO

Avocado added to most salads is delicious and nutritious helping to increase absorption of many foods as well. Be sure to eat as many of your vegetables including your broccoli and other leafy greens like kale, spinach, cabbage and other dark vegetables raw occasionally as cooking or steaming can destroy many of their super qualities, though as we see with tomato its anti-cancer anti-oxidant qualities of lycopene levels are heightened with cooking though this also ruins much of its vitamin C.

SWEET POTATO & SQUASH

Sweet potato and squash are great due to their high levels of fiber, vitamin A and they’re so naturally delicious that they can be eaten without any sweeteners.

YOGHURT

Yoghurt is a great source of calcium, protein, vitamin B12 and riboflavin along with providing many pro-biotics that help with your gut.  Why not combine this with some blueberries (which always seem to rate incredibly high in their ‘super’ content though only more accessible than actually better than many other berries), which are high in phytochemicals and great for brain function and decreasing neuro-degeneration and Alzheimer’s Disease.