Morgan Higgins APD
In today’s fast moving society everyone feels short of time and it can be very easy to skip or miss breakfast. As well as this some people may believe that skipping breakfast will mean that you are eating less or are able to eat more later in the day, or that it is a good weight loss technique, but unfortunately this is not the case. The old wives tale of breakfast being the most important meal of the day is actually very true and for more reasons than ‘because mum said’.
Breaking the Fast! When we look at the word ‘breakfast’ it literally means to ‘break the fast’. Our bodies are accustomed to eating or being fueled every few hours. When we are sleeping our bodies can go as long as ten hours without food, essentially going into a fasting state. That is one of the many reasons it is so important to re-fuel when you wake. So without going into nitty gritty details, having breakfast will provide your body with essential energy which has been used up while you have been sleeping and prepare you to take on the day.
Glucose! It’s what our bodies get from food and use for energy. Glucose gets broken down and stored in your muscles and tissues as glycogen and while you sleep the glycogen is released from these stores to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. This means that when we wake up our glycogen and glucose stores are low. One of the major reasons breakfast is so important is that it helps to restore these glycogen levels. Restoring the glycogen that we have used during the night will help your body to regulate its blood sugar throughout the day. It will also help with concentration and focus.
But I don’t feel hungry in the morning and then I’m starving! Yes this may be the truth but that is because the first meal of the day will kick start your metabolism into gear. If you start with a solid balanced meal early in the morning you will not be starving and will be able to better control your portions, cravings and snacking as the day progresses.
Start strong!! It is well known that we are most in control of cravings and inhibitions when we first wake up. Have you ever found that your healthy eating tends to be great and on-track early in the day but can fall off the wagon as the day goes on? For this reason having a balanced and healthy breakfast will not only fuel you but it will keep you feeling fuller for longer and lower the chance of you making less healthy, knee jerk food choices which are driven by your hunger and not mindful. It has also been discovered that people who skip breakfast tend to snack more, this snacking usually results in less nutritious options (quick sugar hits). Most importantly, eating breakfast leads to healthier food choices at other meals. It will also get your body into a regular eating pattern, and we all know we do better with routine.
Vitamins, Minerals and essential Nutrients: Just in case you weren’t convinced yet, Breakfast is also a quick and easy way to get a lot of essential vitamins and minerals into your diet. If you make sure you are getting all the necessary nutrients first thing when you wake, you already start ahead by setting yourself up to do the same throughout the day. By skipping breakfast, you may also have a difficult time consuming the essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy such as iron, folate, fiber and vitamin C and D. The negative of missing these nutrients at breakfast time is that even when eating larger meals later in the day to ‘compensate’ for missing breakfast these essential nutrients can rarely be replenished or made up.
Breakfast is easy to get right! Breakfast meals are very easy to make healthy and nutritious they usual consist of low GI grains, lean protein, dairy products, fruit and often vegetables whish are all essential sources of iron, folate, fiber and vitamin C and D. So by skipping breakfast you are missing an easy opportunity to include all of these goodies in your diet.
Don’t be scared! You do not have to sit down to a gourmet hot breakfast each and every morning. As long as you have a lean protein source, some low GI carbohydrates and plenty of plant foods you will be putting your best foot forward each and every morning.
Pic Credit: Well-Being Secrets
Why did you choose to be a dietitian?
I often tell people that dietetics found me! I was happily working as a school teacher when I was diagnosed with a kidney condition, coeliac disease and lactose intolerance. Although a healthy eater, all of a sudden I didn’t know what was left for me to eat. I became a nutrition book worm and loved reading about food. My body recovered and I felt incredible! I wanted to help others like me. So, despite loving my career as a school teacher, I decided this was my calling and that I was meant to teach people about food.
Could you tell us a little about FEEDinc - who you work with, what clients you see and what do you find most rewarding?
FEEDinc stands for FITNESS – EDUCATION – ENERGY - DIET. I was also a fitness instructor when I opened my practice, so I wanted to name my practice something that encompassed all that I could offer my clients. FEEDinc is now a team of 3 dietitians – I am very lucky to have Jenelle Croatto and Morgan Higgins working alongside me. The majority of clients we see have gastrointestinal issues or weightloss needs, but we also work with athletes as Jenelle and I are both trained Sports Dietitians. We love going into schools, gyms and workplaces and present group seminars and interactive workshops.
Can you tell us about The Food Detective? - Where did you get the idea?
The Food Detective has actually been a work in progress for many years. As someone who loved teaching school children for a decade, I wanted to be able to reach children again, but this time as a dietitian. I used to go into schools dressed in a lab coat with my magnifying glass to do ‘food investigations’ with little ones. It was always great fun but I wanted to extend this idea further. So, I contacted my musical friend ‘Mr Tim’ and we created an album of music (Takes Ten Tastes) and a stage show for kids (Mr Tim and the Food Detective) all about healthy eating. Thanks to ACT Health’s Fresh Tastes Program, we’ve just finished a pilot program of ten shows around the ACT performing to thousands of children here in Canberra. My ‘big, hairy, audacious goal’ is to get The Food Detective on television!
Who do you most admire as a leader and why?
For 2.5 years I had the privilege of working with Dr Joanna McMillan in Sydney. I would travel from Canberra to Sydney each week and to this day, I think about that experience as being the most wonderful time in my dietetic career. Not only did we have a lot of fun, but I was able to see her magic in front of the camera. I learnt how to deliver complex scientific messages in a simple way for the general public – I am grateful for those experiences as I am now the DAA Spokesperson here in the ACT. During that time, I also started working for Michelle Bridges who is a powerhouse with a huge heart and boundless gratitude. I admire both of these ladies enormously. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with two incredible leaders in health and fitness who genuinely want to help others be their best.
- Favourite / most inspirational quote: “Make life happen” – everything I have ever achieved is because I have put myself out there and taken a chance.
- In my work life I cannot live without: My iPhone – it feels like my little Personal Assistant. Away from my desk I can email people, take photos, take notes and set reminders. I love my iPhone. Away from work, I try and turn it OFF!
- Highest priority on your to-do-list: I juggle so many different things every day… but my son always comes first. I always work ahead of schedules and timeframes in case he is unwell or needs me. As soon as something crosses my desk, I try and turn it around quickly and never leave anything to the last minute.
Lisa Donaldson APD
We’ve seen the rise and fall of many diets. The low fat, the gluten free, the 5:2, the Atkins and the Paleo… According to Google Trends, most popular kid on the dieting block is currently the Ketogenic Diet. As a dietitian I need to be across the science and what this diet can do for my clients. If we look at macros (protein, carbs, fat) in the Ketogenic Diet fat is the king. Like many current diets the Ketogenic Diet is another low carb approach, but protein is consumed in moderation and fat is the dominant macro.
WHY IS FAT THE KING?
When we consume fat as the primary fuel source the body must learn to break it down and use it as the main source of fuel. The conversion of fat to energy creates by-products that are referred to as ‘ketone bodies’. These ketone bodies are made by the liver from fatty acids and this process is called ketosis and provides energy for the body. When the carbohydrate intake is reduced to below 10% of total energy, the body will enter ketosis.
WILL IT HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?
Like most diets that are adhered to correctly, the Ketogenic Diet can result in weightloss. Interestingly, this diet will lead to a reduced appetite, which is both a side effect of metabolising ketones and the ‘filling factor’ of fat and protein. Any initial weightloss is a result of depleted muscle and liver glycogen stores, a water loss that is coupled with the glycogen stores and in most cases, a lower energy intake.
Unpleasant side effects of ketosis can include fatigue, bad breath, nausea, constipation, and headache.
IS IT SUSTAINABLE?
A Ketogenic Diet is extremely difficult to adhere to and you will be drastically reducing valuable and nourishing foods from your diet – fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains are all limited. Sticking to 20-50g of carbohydrates is not easy and eating large amounts of fats can be tricky for some people. You need to understand fat intricately and know which fats are best for your body.
Strictly limiting certain foods makes it near impossible to meet nutrient and fibre requirements without supplementation. The fibre in wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes keep our gut and bowel healthy. We need to consume at least 25g of fibre for women and 30g for men – and being on a Ketogenic Diet will make it hard to meet these targets. Cue constipation and irregular bowel habits.
For health and desired results, the Ketogenic Diet means calculating and keeping track of everything you eat… and for most people, calculating and keep track of requirements is too hard.
IS IT FOR ME?
Unless you love keeping track of everything you eat and have a solid understanding of nutrition (the role of macronutrients and micronutrients), it’s not for you. I would not recommend this diet to someone who does not have a healthy relationship with food nor a deep understanding of nutrition. Long term efficacy and safety of the diet are unknown, having only been studied in the short-term.
Sure you can try reducing your intake of refined carbs and boosting your fat intake to help you feel fuller for longer, but this is something that should be guided by an Accredited Practising Dietitian who can ensure you are clear about how to approach a diet like this (ideally a modified version) in a safe and sustainable way.
Image Credit: Goodfon
Lisa Donaldson APD
Feeding children can be tough. They can be fussy about textures, flavours and the way a meal looks. If a meal is not what they ‘want’, flat out refusal before a taste can come into play. As a mother I have battled with my own frustration, as meals that were once ‘loved’ suddenly get refused. In spite of my own internal frustration, I never let mealtime become a battleground, but I do insist on at least one taste. After all, it can take ten tastes before a new flavour becomes accepted. Here are my tips for healthy eating for our children.
Everyone eats the same meal
It’s important that everyone eats and enjoys the same meal at dinner time. This not only saves the ‘home chef’ from preparing different meals, but it also ensures that parents are leading by example and enjoying the same foods.
Integrate vegetables into dishes
I integrate (hide!) vegetables and legumes into any meal I can. Lentils and grated vege into bolognaise, grated vege into pancake snacks and meatballs, I also blitz steamed cauliflower with pesto to make white sauce in lasagne. For especially fussy little people, white vegetables can be the easiest to start with. Grated potato into meatballs, grated cauliflower amongst grains, peeled and grated zucchini into pancakes (peeled to remove the refusal of ‘GREEN BITS’). This is not ideal, but it’s a starting point for those parents who need to start somewhere!
Pick and mix
Putting forward a selection of foods that a child can select from, is a terrific way to expose children to different flavours. Build-your-own healthy pizzas, borritos and tacos is great for older children to have some ‘control’ over their meal and a muffin tray can be a great way to serve new foods to little ones. I use a 6 hole muffin tray to present 3 foods I know my son likes alongside 3 NEW foods. Repeated exposure is a great way to get little ones to accept and perhaps taste new foods.
Flat out refusal is not acceptable in my home. A single taste is all I request. If a child is hungry, they will eat. Don’t cave and give them what they are demanding - this is hard, but if you stick to your guns you will have greater success long term. Hold strong… and most importantly, keep calm.
Combinations of raw and cooked
Combinations of raw and cooked foods may work best for children who don’t like certain textures. Plate up something crunchy (e.g. carrot, snowpeas, capsicum), something cooked (e.g. broccoili, corn) and something mashed/soft (e.g. avocado, potato, pumpkin). Notice what they prefer. My son currently devours raw carrot sticks and fresh baby spinach but will not go near cooked carrot or spinach!
Keep flavours separate
For little ones, keeping flavours separate and on a divider plate can minimise meltdowns. A bit like the muffin tray concept, provide a few options that are familiar and at least one new or previously refused food. It takes a few minutes to ‘unpack’ a stirfry onto my son’s plate - but when I separate the vegetables, he is more likely to eat something than when it is all mixed up. Do what works for your child. It is worth that minute of plating in my house!
Bottom line is, foods from time to time will get refused, but don’t give up! Try some of these strategies and make mealtimes a pleasant experience for all. Be consistent in your approach and you will eventually succeed… Good luck!
Lisa Donaldson APD
Ever get home, look in your fridge and pantry and think… ‘there’s nothing to eat?!?’ This is a common occurrence in households who have given no time to planning meals for the week. Meal Planning might sound time consuming and/or a hassle, but it doesn’t need to be. Let me help you get on top of your week some simple tips!
BREAKFAST - Choose two options and alternate:
If you are not too bright in the morning, keep things simple so you can cruise through your morning without getting frazzled. My hot tip – choose one option that can be prepped ahead of time.
CHOICE 1: a breakfast like a bircher muesli, berry and oat smoothie or a chia pudding can be in the fridge ready to go ahead of time. Pack into a transportable container and breakfast can be consumed at work or after morning gym workout. CHOICE 2: a warm breakfast like scrambled eggs with some spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes, or some hot oats can be enjoyed on days when you have a little extra time.
WORK LUNCH – Soup or leftovers:
In the winter months I love trading salad for soup. I recommend doing a soup cook-up and freezing individual portions for lunch at work. I can grab one out of the freezer and dash with little fuss in the morning. I also recommend cooking a double batch of dinner in the evenings to ensure a balanced lunch is on hand for the next day.
DINNERS – Introduce routine and 1 new recipe each week
Think about meals you can cook without too much stress, those auto pilot meals that you can do without following a recipe. These meals should take up the majority of the week. Next, think about choosing one meal each week that is new. If you like it, cook it again the following week and build it into your repertoire. If you are completely clueless in the kitchen, perhaps try a cooking class and get some meals under the belt that can be part of your weekly routine. Here are some ideas:
Lisa’s Top Auto-Pilot Meals
Don’t forget to try a new recipe each week, but those ideas should get you started on a more organised week. Plan and prep and you will feel like there is ALWAYS something to eat.
Until next time…
Eat well, be well. x
Jenelle Croatto APD
Whether it’s quinoa or goji berries, so called ‘superfoods’ are touted as the ultra-healthy natural foods choice, with extraordinary health benefits!
Health enthusiasts declare these foods as your best choice in the fight against disease and premature ageing, helping your health soar to new heights. The question is, do ‘superfoods’ lead to super-health, or are they just… super-expensive?
In truth, the term ‘superfoods’ holds no scientific meaning, as it is simply a marketing term used to describe foods with a high concentration of antioxidants and nutrients. While there is no question so-called ‘superfoods’ contain an impressive nutritional profile, there are many every-day foods that also pack a nutritional punch.
Here are my favourite ‘superfood’ swaps - that don’t come with a hefty price tag.
Swap kale for… SPINACH:
Getting down to the nitty gritty, there isn’t much of a nutritional difference between the two. I reckon if Popeye had a say in this one, spinach would win hands down!
Swap quinoa for… CHICKPEAS:
Both options make for a great low GI carb choice, but chickpeas are much kinder on the budget. They work beautifully scattered over a salad or tossed into a casserole.
Swap acai berries for… ALL BERRIES
Frozen, fresh or dried – all berries are a fabulous source of powerful nutrients.
Swap Ancient Grains for… BROWN RICE:
While fancy grains may be making an appearance in salad bars Australia wide, more commonplace grains like brown rice will always get a nutritional thumbs-up.
Swap coconut oil for… EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Unlike coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil is brimming with heart healthy phytonutrients and has an abundance of scientific evidence to support its superfood claim.
Swap kombucha for… NATURAL YOGHURT
If effervescent, bacteria rich fermented tea just isn’t your thing – reap the same benefits by sticking to green tea and natural yoghurt.
Fitness, Energy, Education & Diet