Jenelle Croatto APD
We all know that nourishing, wholefoods are great for our physical health, but have you ever stopped to wonder what you should eat for a healthy brain?
The brain, like all organs in the body needs the right balance of nutrients to function at its best – and to boot, nutrition science has consistently shown a link between the foods we eat, how we feel and even our mood.
Highly processed foods, rich in refined sugars and saturated fat, have been associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety; whereas nutrient dense diets based on real, wholefoods (akin to the Mediterranean diet) have shown a reduced risk.
While it’s far reaching to say diet can cure a low mood, it can certainly help you feel more vibrant and to be your most healthy self.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with depression, and with the sun being a major source of this nutrient; it’s thought that reduced sunlight exposure over the winter months may contribute to the winter blues.
Dietary sources of vitamin D are scare, but two rich sources include oily fish e.g. salmon and sardines, and (this will surely surprise you) mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight! Just 100g that have been left in the sun for an hour will give you 100% of your vitamin D needs. Amazing!
Omega 3 Fats
Great for heart health and also your brain! Fish is the number one dietary source, with smaller amounts found in eggs, lean red meats, walnuts and chia seeds.
No one will argue that your greens are great for your health, but did you know they can help lift your mood? Leafy greens are rich in folate, which can support good mood by boosting levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy.
Our brain is fuelled by blood glucose, and it functions at its best when there is a slow and steady supply. Opt for low GI carbohydrates e.g. sweet potato, wholegrains and quinoa to give you sustained energy throughout the day and pass on refined, processed carbs which only lead to big peaks and troughs in blood glucose levels, affecting both your mood and energy levels.
Jenelle Croatto APD
There is no need to give up your social life when following a Low FODMAP Diet.
With a few handy tips up your sleeve, you can still socialise over food and say “yes” to that dinner invite.
CHECK THE MENU AHEAD OF TIME
Many restaurants display their menus on their website and/or they can often be found on various restaurant rating websites or apps. If you can, peruse the menu beforehand so you can look for meals that contain low FODMAP ingredients.
If it’s not possible to find the menu, try calling the restaurant ahead of time. Being organised and prepared can also reduce stress, which is another common cause of IBS.
LOOK OUT FOR SAUCES, DIPS & DRESSINGS
Garlic and onion often sneak their way into various meals through sauces, dips and dressings. If it’s not possible to order these without the added garlic or onion, ask if you can have these to be provided on the side.
WHEN IN DOUBT – GO FOR SIMPLE
If your FODMAP detective skills find no suitable option, try ordering a few side dishes or ask for a serve of meat (or plant protein) and steamed vegetables or salad.
REDUCE YOUR FODMAP LOAD
If you have plans to eat out, lower your total FODMAP load by eating lower FODMAP meals/snacks before going out to eat. This way, if you happen to mistakenly (or by no fault of your own) eat higher FODMAP foods you may not exceed you personal FODMAP threshold.
REMEMBER – A Low FODMAP Diet is not a NO FODMAP Diet. Do your best to eat lower FODMAP foods and remember to also enjoy the experience of eating out.
By Georgia Houston
Low-fat vs high-fat diets are a hotly debated topic right now and understandably can be a confusing one!
For years fat was a dirty three letter word. We were urged to banish it from our diets and instead switch to low-fat foods. But this didn’t make us any healthier, in fact it did the opposite.
Of course there are many other contributing factors, such as a move towards sedentary lifestyles and overeating on discretionary foods (junk food), but don’t you think it is odd that ever since the low-fat craze in, the obesity epidemic has simultaneously sky-rocketed? One reason for this is that often the fat that is taken out of things such as dairy products, is usually replaced with added sugar and ingredients you and I could never pronounce! All in effort to maintain it’s taste and have you coming back for more!
So is fat good or bad for us?
Well unfortunately it is not as simple as a yes or no answer. However I hope to clear up your confusion right hear, right now.
Our bodies need a certain amount of fat from food. It is a major source of energy and also assists with the absorption of many important vitamins and minerals. The important thing we need to be aware of for our long-term health is the type and amount of fat eaten.
Do not be afraid of good fats, they will not make you fat. Classified as either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, these types of fats come primarily from foods such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables and egg yolks and are nourishing not only for our insides but also our outsides. Eating a wholesome diet filled with good fats has just some of the following benefits: keeps us fuller for longer, fights off cravings, healthy brain function, reduced risk of heart disease, improved mood, increased energy and glowing skin and hair.
As the name suggests, these are the bad guys we need to stay away from. Known as trans fats, this type of fat is found primarily in discretionary foods and can appear in anything from muffins and cakes to pastries, pies and hot chips from fast-food restaurants. Eating excessive amounts of this type of fat can increase the amount of bad LDL cholesterol in our blood and reduce the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Trans fats can also cause inflammation in the body, which can be linked to heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Known as saturated fats, these types of fats are good in moderation and are commonly found in food sources such as red meat, full fat milk and dairy products, coconut oil and many pre-made baked goods. When eaten in excess, saturated fats can drive up total cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
If you are used to a lower fat diet and the idea of incorporating fat scares you, start by incorporating at least one good fat source in your meal. Whether it be what your cooking with (olive oil) or a component of the meal (oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocado), incorporating good fats into your diet, along with a healthy and balanced diet, is a surefire way to ensure you are doing the best for your health.
By Georgia Houston
It’s 3pm. You can barely keep your eyes open at your desk at work. You need something sweet to tie you over for the rest of the day, so you lean over to your draw and grab that chocolate bar. However, not even fifteen minutes later, you beat yourself up for falling off the wagon and are left feeling unsatisfied and hungry. Sound familiar?
Fighting 3:30 it is is a common but avoidable problem in today’s stressed out and caffeinated society. Below are my 5 top tips for beating the 3pm energy slump!
1) Eat a nourishing breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It improves your energy levels, your metabolism, stabilises your blood sugar levels and reduces your chances of over-consuming sugary, high kilojoule foods later in the day.
2) Include some form of good fat at each main meal, especially at the meal before your cravings usually start to kick in. Good fats include foods like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds and oily fish. The reason for this is that good fats are satiating, meaning they will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
3) Have healthier sweet options available (this is a game changer when you feel like someone has taken over your body). My favourite is bliss balls. Bliss balls are a great snack option for those with a sweet tooth as they are sweet, however still include a source of good fats, meaning you won’t need to eat a lot before feeling satisfied.
4) Add more green veggies into your day! Green veggies have a bitter taste, meaning they will help minimise our desire for something sweet.
5) Get some fresh air! Remove yourself from your desk and take a walk.
Recipe for these Choc-Cranberry Bliss Balls (pictured):
WHAT YOU NEED:
Our lovely Georgia has more great recipes on her Blog. Check them out HERE.
Lisa Donaldson APD
You’ve been really focused on eating nutritiously and training regularly, your weight is finally shifting in the right direction and then, boom!!! You’ve been invited to 6 Christmas parties and you know they will include your favourite sparkling cocktails, sumptuous desserts and all sorts of dreamy deliciousness that you cannot refuse… What do you do?!
Firstly, congratulations on making healthy changes to your life. You should be proud! It’s certainly not an easy thing to do. But let me put this forward, if your life is now so restrictive that you need to avoid social engagements, dinner parties and celebrations, then is that the life you really want to live?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not wise to drink alcohol regularly or revert back to those stodgy meals that made you unhealthy or uncomfortable to start with… but rather, take a look at what you are doing consistently and focus on that. If the majority of your week is nutritious, you certainly have room to go to your parties.
So, as you RSVP ‘yes’ to your invitations, take a moment to read some of these tips for the dinner party ahead.
DRINKS – decide before you arrive how many drinks you are going to have and commit to that. Alternate one alcoholic beverage with a sparkling mineral water to remain hydrated and to avoid drinking too much. If you don’t want to drink, offer to be the designated driver.
AVOID THE NIBBLES – if the room is laden with crisps, lollies and salted nuts, avoid delving into those moreish little bowls and wait for actual meal instead.
PERFECT YOUR PORTIONS – load up ½ your plate with salad or steamed vege, have a palm sized serve of protein (meat) and no more than a scoop of carbs (yes, you can have a little of that desired potato bake). Perhaps offer to bring a salad so you know that you can have half of that on your plate.
SLOW DOWN – there is no need to inhale your meal. Time to start savouring what you eat. Put your cutlery down between bites, sip water and chat to the other guests. It takes 20 mins to register fullness, so take your time!
SAVOUR THE DECADENT – whether you’re a cheese lover or a cake lover, the indulgences that come with special occasions need to be savoured and enjoyed. Have a little and eat those delicious morsels with mindfulness and pleasure.
PLAN AHEAD – make sure that special occasions like dinner parties are noted on your calendar. Remind yourself that your special night is coming up, so be consistent with your healthy eating and training in the lead up to the event.
A wise friend of mine regularly says, “Food is more than the nutrients it contains”. Which simply means that food is also there to be savoured and enjoyed. Remember, you’re never going to get lean by eating ONE healthy meal each week, in the same way that you’re not going to slide ‘out of control’ if you have one indulgent meal each week. Get the idea? CONSISTENCY IS KING.
So, do not shun the invitations, rather attend with a plan and live a nutritious week leading up to the events… and enjoy. No guilt allowed.
Jenelle Croatto APD
Despite our disbelief…Christmas is almost here! While there still may be a few weeks before we officially go on holiday leave, the opportunity to indulge in gastronomic delights is just around the corner – and I can’t wait to tuck in!
Now before you think this dietitian has gone a little mad, I want you to ponder the concept that the food and lifestyle choices you make between New Years and Christmas, far out weigh those choices you make between Christmas and New Years.
Christmas, and indeed any festive occasion, is certainly a time when we can simply enjoy food for no other reason than pure joy – (isn’t that refreshing to hear!). That said, this is no excuse for an all out food frenzy.
This ‘silly season’, embrace the festivities with a healthy amount of holiday cheer, and a game-plan that won’t see you derail your health goals – here are my 5 Top Tips!
Make a Commitment
Rather than surrendering to all manner of seasonal treats, selectively choose a few occasions to relax the way you eat – and then outside of these times, reel it back in. Whether it be an extra bevvie at your office party or a generous helping of pudding with Christmas lunch… make a plan and stick to it.
Don’t Go Hungry
“Saving your appetite” never works. Never. Forgoing brekkie and lunch, only to arrive at your Christmas party with the appetite of grizzly bear emerging from hibernation, will quickly see you dodge the small talk pleasantries and make a beeline for the buffet. Your best bet is to eat balanced meals throughout the day and sensibly enjoy the food or nibblies on offer.
Go for Quality
Rather than grazing on Cheezels, just because they’re there… make a solid choice to only eat food that brings you joy. You have nothing to gain from mindlessly eating food that makes you feel like blah - AND robs your appetite of what you truly desire. Food is delicious! So make it worth your while and tune into the full experience of eating.
No to ‘Top-ups’
While you watch what you eat, don’t forget about the booze. Did you know that the average bar serve of wine or full strength beer contains as much energy found in a tablespoon of butter! Yikes! Saying “yes” to top-ups can quickly see those pesky kilos creep on, so make it a rule to finish your glass before accepting another.
The Opportunity to Move!
What if, instead of seeing the holidays as a time to indulge, we viewed it as a time to focus on our wellbeing and to move more! One of the reasons we struggle with growing waistlines is because we’re busy, run down and can’t always find the time to move. With a simple change in perspective, the holidays can actually be the perfect time to make your life more active. Whether it be a game of backyard cricket, a swim at the pool or a balmy evening walk – it all counts.
Jenelle Croatto APD
It’s a question I’m sure you’ve pondered! Just flick through any glossy health magazine or social media news feed, and I’m sure you’ll come across different theories on how often you should eat. From six-meals-a-day, to the latest dietary craze of ‘intermittent fasting’ (more on this another time), it’s no wonder we’ve all become a little bamboozled over something as simple as eating food.
The six-meals-a-day approach may work for some, but in practice it means you’ll need some pretty impressive organization skills – and let’s face it, sometimes just getting dinner on the table in a timely fashion is a win for the day! Perhaps the greatest difficultly I see in this approach lies in the need to reduce meal size. While the intent may be to have six small meals, what I usually see is people eating three regular sized meals, plus the three snacks! So, unless you’re an elite athlete or are actively trying to gain weight, this approach certainly has its challenges when it comes to weight loss or maintenance.
Whilst there are no hard and fast rules as to when we should eat, I am a fan of sticking to the time-honored tradition of three meals a day. This style of eating is deeply entrenched in our culture, and for the most part I think it works well - particularly if you attend school or spend your day at work.
While children certainly need snacks in between meals to support growth and meet nutritional needs, most adults will do just fine with three main meals, spread throughout day. By eating wholesome balanced meals, the aim is to comfortably fill you up and get your mind off food – which is just what we need in todays world of growing waistlines. I typically find it’s those who graze all day, are the ones who constantly think about what and when they’ll next eat. Current research also shows, that ‘grazers’ usually end up eating more by the days end, than those who focus on eating three balanced meals.
What about snacks? …
If you feel like eating in-between your meals, just do a quick body-scan before snacking to see if you’re truly hungry or are perhaps eating for others reasons such as boredom, procrastination or even thirst. Try also assess how hungry you really are as I often see people reach for a snack at the first pang of hunger, to then only eat their next meal shortly after. Keep in mind that a little bit of hunger is not a bad thing – it actually means your body will turn to using stored energy, rather than utilising the energy coming in from that snack you had at close reach.
If your day requires you to have long gaps between meals, a snack may just help see you through to your next meal. The aim is to start your meal feeling hungry, not ravenous – as only leads to overconsumption and you feeling sluggish, rather than refueled.
The bottom line is to be smart with your snacks. Have healthy wholefood options such as yoghurt, fruit, nuts or wholegrain muesli bar on hand, to eat if you have more than 2 hours before your next meal, and have real, rather than perceived hunger.
Lisa Donaldson APD
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and you are like an untamed animal, sniffing around for something sweet to eat. Despite your best efforts to prepare a healthy snack box, those vege sticks and hummus are not going to tame that inner niggle and you are starting to feel irritated… WHY?
This might seem like a lack of self control, but what you are battling with during these times are some very powerful hormones and not enough SLEEP.
HUNGER HORMONES - We have two hormones in our body that control our appetite, they are called leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin is a bit of a gremlin - he’s our appetite INCREASER. Ghrelin levels go up in times of hunger and stays down for about 3 hours after a meal. Leptin however, is our hormonal ‘appetite suppressor’ and researchers state that leptin can help keep the ‘ghrelin’ under control. The problem is, the power of leptin is hindered when we are sleep deprived… So, if you have a rotten night of sleep, be prepared for your appetite and hunger to be elevated.
GIVE ME SUGAR NOW!!!! - A lack of sleep can disrupt our adrenal glands and make us feel very exhausted. When this happens we tend to look for energy to pick us up, and that energy is often the sugary kind! It is true that sugar gives us a fast boost, but it is shortly followed by a fast crash… So be prepared and instead of reaching for the jelly beans, opt for a protein based snack like nuts or yoghurt.
WARM UP WITH CAFFEINE & COOL DOWN WITH WINE? If you have a daily affair with both caffeine and wine, be prepared for a rocky night in bed. According to the Sleep Health Foundation the effects of caffeine can last from four to six hours, but your body needs about 24 hours to completely eliminate it. Many people who consume a lot of caffeine think that it no longer stops them from being able to go to sleep, because they have become immune to this effect. However, research shows that, even if they think otherwise, sleep is impaired and they would sleep much better if they abstained from it in the afternoons. As for alcohol, it may help you nod off quickly but that means you can bypass the first stage of REM sleep. As the alcohol wears off, you’ll go back into REM sleep and you’ll be more likely to have a disrupted sleep overall.
So, if you are battling with cravings, it may be because your sleep isn’t quite right. So, try and set up some sleep routines so you can start to normalise your sleep patterns and rein in those hangry feelings.
LISA DONALDSON APD
Making change is not easy. There is literature, scientific studies and research around the complexities and mental challenges involved in making change. Many find that they embrace a new goal or a shift in their life with determination and gusto for about 2 weeks… and then, ‘road blocks’, excuses and ‘relaxing the reins’ starts to slow people down. I have put together some hot tips for staying on track and sticking with your plan.
Without question, being organised and diarising your exercise, shopping, cooking and prepping is the number one step towards success. There is no way you can succeed without a plan. So grab your calendar and focus on penciling in everything from meal prep to training sessions. Make a plan and watch it happen!
All meals are important, but for most people lunches can be the most challenging because you are away from home and surrounded by temptation. Packing a lunch every single day will ensure you will have nourishing food with you throughout the work day and this will minimise the allure of the charity chocolate box down the hallway.
Find people who are interested in health and wellbeing. Perhaps someone at work, a neighbour, a family member or an old friend who lives and breathes a healthy lifestyle. These supporters will become motivators and will promote consistency and perhaps some friendly competition.
Join an exercise group/team
Committing to a team or meeting a friend for a run on a regular basis will help you stay on track. Companionship and/or team mates will be there for you, even when you don’t feel like moving! Plus, they will rely on you too and you don’t want to let anyone down, right?
Make water your friend
This may seem a little odd, but having a bottle of water with you at all times can be hugely beneficial. Keeping hydrated has a number of benefits, but it will also ensure that thirst and hunger are not confused. Keep a bottle on your desk and in your bag.
Master some 15 min meals
You will have days where you feel exhausted and cannot be bothered cooking. Nailing a few 15 min meals will ensure that you can pull together a decent meal fast, without dialling up for pizza. My go to is a vege packed omelette - makes for a nourishing meal in no time.
Have an emergency stash at work
There will be times where you are extra hungry or (heavens forbid) you leave your lunchbox on the kitchen bench. Foods like tinned legumes, tuna and corn, packets of rice cakes and grainy crackers, nuts and dried fruits can be kept in a desk draw without turning bad. Non perishable items may save you from getting hangry in times of need!
Make excuses to move
Learn to take the stairs, park further away and be the person who runs errands at work. Find ways to make exercise part of your every day and reap the ‘incidental’ rewards.
Lisa Donaldson APD
If fresh job aspirations and work goals are at the forefront of your mind, what you eat could become a defining factor between getting there or not. The fuel we consume not only sparks our vitality but also drives our mental capacity. Without adequate nutrition it’s not possible to be firing on all cylinders or achieving our best!
It’s important to realize that what you have for breakfast and pack for lunch may contribute to how well you manage to stay ‘switched on’ throughout a long day at work. ‘Brain powering’ fuel won’t suddenly make you a genius, but by consuming an appropriate diet you will remain alert and satisfied throughout the day. There is nothing worse than feeling hungry or sleepy whilst trying to focus on learning something new or write a complex paper.
Carbs = Brain Fuel
The preferred source of fuel for our brain is carbohydrates. When the body consumes wholegrain breads and cereals the body breaks these down to glucose for the body and brain to use. Packed with fibre, wholegrains and carb rich vegetables are the way to go as they are absorbed slowly and ensure a steady stream of energy is provided across the course of the day. Enjoy oats for breakfast, a wholegrain sandwich for lunch and perhaps some sweet potato mash for dinner and you are on the right track.
Eggs = Memory Boosting
Eggs contain choline, a nutrient beneficial for brain development and memory. They are also a really satisfying breakfast choice that will keep you fuller for longer. A great source of protein and packed full of nutrition, eggs are a great choice any time of the day. Served softly boiled at breakfast with some wholegrain toast and grilled tomato, or hard-boiled for a snack or sandwich; eggs are a definite pleaser. For those unable to eat eggs, yoghurt, tofu and buckwheat are also great sources of choline for brain development.
Omega 3s = Brain Development
Omega 3 fatty acids go to the top of the class for brain and eye development, as well as stabilizing mood. Found in foods like walnuts, linseeds, eggs and salmon, there are loads of different ways to maximize your intake of these high performing fatty acids. Tuck some salmon and salad into a soy & linseed pita pocket for lunch or create a ‘brain-power’ trail mix of dried fruit, walnuts, blueberries and yoghurt bites for a delicious desk snack.
Along with these suggestions, consume loads of fresh fruit and vegetables so your brain will be switched on and powered up for the day. Think minimally processed foods when you are preparing all meals.
A ‘clever’ day on a plate:
Breakfast: 2 soft boiled eggs with a slice of soy & linseed bread and some grilled tomato/baby spinach/mushrooms
Morning Tea: a small yoghurt with ¼ cup blueberries
Lunch: a wholegrain pita pocket with salmon and salad
Afternoon Tea: Fresh and dried fruit with walnuts and yoghurt bites
Dinner: Grilled steak with sweet potato mash and mixed greens
Eating well not only keeps you in great shape but helps keep your brain sharp! So power up your brain the right way… and as always, eat close to nature!
Fitness, Energy, Education & Diet