2015 November 9 by Julie
Looking for a natural sweetener to use as a sugar substitute? Stevia comes from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana. It has a long history of use in South America where it has grown wild for centuries and been used to sweeten drinks, food & in traditional medicine. Stevia extract can be 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. Nature has given us a powerful combination of a zero calorie sweetener with a plant-based origin.
Stevia extract has some unique properties:
- It is a non-carbohydrate glycoside compound that is calorie free
- It sweetens without triggering a rise in blood sugar
- It won’t cause a sugar rush & crash typical of sugar addiction
- It will increase energy and aid digestion
- It does not cause tooth decay
- It has a long shelf life, can tolerate high temperatures (ideal for cooking/baking) and is non-fermentative
- It passes safety tests for human consumption with flying colours
- It is ideal for people with blood sugar, blood pressure or weight problems
Stevia has a bright future as it becomes accepted as a natural alternative to sugar and the sweetener of the future. It is making a greater appearance in supermarkets and is being widely used in the food & beverage industry.
2015 November 2 by Julie
Want to lose weight and improve your health? Cutting your sugar intake is a good place to start. The human body is not designed to consume excessive amounts of sugar. Unfortunately it is so abundant in our everyday diet. Foods that are high in added sugar are often not high in nutrition. They contain a whole lot of calories with no essential nutrients. It adds empty calories to your diet and replaces the more nutritious foods you should be eating. Are you ready to say goodbye to sugar? Here’s why you need to make a commitment to give up the sweet stuff.
- A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates will cause weight gain and might ultimately lead to obesity. Be warned – sugar can make you FAT!
- Sugar can become addictive as it causes a large release of dopamine in the brain. The more you eat, the more you will crave. This ‘feel-good’ fix can turn you into a sugar junkie. The sugar fuelled highs and lows will leave you feeling constantly tired and desperate to reach for your next sugar loaded boost to renew poor energy levels. Your sugar rush will become a sugar crash.
- When you eat a lot of sugar, it can cause resistance to the hormone insulin, which can contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.
- Your body will still feel hungry even when you are overeating because chronic fructose consumption can cause leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite by signalling when you are full. Cravings occur because the body never becomes fully satisfied.
- Consuming large amounts of sugar in your diet can raise cholesterol and is a major risk factor for heart disease.
- Sugar is a big contributor to mood disorders.
- Sugar can wreak havoc on your skin.
- Sugar is bad for the teeth and causes cavities & tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed on simple sugars, creating acid that destroys enamel.
- Large amounts of fructose from added sugars get turned into fat in the liver, overloading and damaging the liver. This could lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Your immune system is your defence mechanism for fighting infections. A sugar loaded diet will compromise the ability of your immune system to fight illness.
- Chronic disease development (Cancer & Alzheimer’s) is also being linked to too much sugar consumption.
Warning bells should be ringing. Sugar can be toxic, addictive and deadly if consumed in excessive amounts.
As a general recommendation, keep your intake of added sugars to a maximum of 25-30 grams for adults per day. This equates to about 6-7 teaspoons of sugar which will be about 100-120 calories.
Learn to read packaging. Look on the nutrition label for “Carbohydrates (of which sugars)”. Anything over. Below 5g is low. Some sugar words to look for are sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, corn syrup, invert sugar. Make sure the product you are buying has the sugar listed low on the list. If it appears at the top, avoid it!
Think before you eat sugar-laden foods and gulp down sugary drinks. Your body has no need for all that added sugar. Give your body nutritious, fresh home-made meals instead.
2015 October 19 by Julie
Believe it or not, diet plays a huge part in how we feel and behave. Give your body the right nutrition and you will be helping to alleviate emotional & behavioural difficulties. Your diet is your body’s fuel. Fill up with poor quality fuel and expect a bumpy ride. Consider this plan of action which includes super foods for better moods and improved concentration:
Avoid foods with additives or loaded with sugar. Get into the habit of checking labels. Too much sugar can contribute to erratic behaviour and mood changes. Additives to avoid are artificial colourings (eg.tartrazine), sweeteners, preservatives & flavourings. Processed foods should be replaced by fresh, natural, sugar-free alternatives. If you are looking for a sweet treat or “comfort food”, choose dark chocolate as this can give you a mood boost without sending your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.
Fill up on whole, nutritious foods that encourage healthy digestion. Replace junk food with a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables that will provide vitamins & minerals essential to support health. Seek out foods rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid (seafood is a must!) and eat selenium-rich foods every day (brazil nuts are No.1!).
Essential fats must be included in your diet. The brain & nervous system need a good supply of fat to function and develop effectively. Make sure you boost the right fats and only cut out the saturated fats that are bad for health. Feast on oily fish (eg. salmon), seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, linseed), nuts (walnuts), olive oil, green leafy vegetables like spinach. Supplement with Omega 3 & 6 if your diet doesn’t include enough of these essential fats. Omega-3 is a key mood-boosting nutrient and one our bodies don’t produce. Omega-3’s alter brain chemicals linked with mood—specifically dopamine and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are linked with depression, aggression and suicidal tendencies, while dopamine is a “reward” chemical that the brain releases in response to pleasurable experiences.
Identify foods that trigger unwanted behaviour/symptoms of anxiety and eliminate these allergens from your diet. Common culprits are wheat, gluten, eggs, dairy, and caffeine stimulants.
Get enough vitamin D. The best source is to get outside into the sunshine for your daily dose.
It is quite a task making sure that from meal-to-meal and day-to-day you have good glycaemic control and your GI tract is operating smoothly. Good moods and focus will be the result, so it is definitely worth making the effort to get it right.
Make sure your diet is rich in these foods to experience some feel-good benefits. Satisfy your hunger and ward off feelings of doom and gloom. Your body will be satisfied and your mind will be calm & focussed. Eating the right foods can improve your memory, lift your mood and help you concentrate for longer.
2015 September 21 by Julie
We’ve all heard the old saying “you are what you eat.” It’s true. Stick to a healthy diet and your body will reflect it by feeling healthy and energized. A poor diet with excess junk foods will prevent your body from thriving and the result will be fatigue, low energy and illness. It is important to understand the connection between your health and your diet and make better dietary choices.
Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy. A balanced diet means consuming from all the different good food groups in the right quantities – whole grains, fruit and vegetables, protein, dairy, and fat & sugar. The majority of your daily calories should come from fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. The things to limit and avoid are the fatty, sugary, salty and processed foods.
Understand calories. Calories are a measurement, like a cm or a tablespoon. They indicate how much energy is released when your body breaks down food. The more calories a food has, the more energy it can provide to the body. Remember this simple equation – calories in vs. calories out. Eat more calories than you burn, and you gain weight as your body stores the extra calories as fat. Eat fewer calories than you burn and you lose weight.
Within a healthy, balanced diet, a man would need about 2500-3000 calories and a woman 2000-2200 to maintain weight. The amount of energy you need will depend on age, lifestyle (active/sedentary), metabolism and your body size. You will need the help of a qualified dietician/medical professional to determine your specific recommended daily calorie intake.
Become an attentive eater. Pay attention to portion control. Try to make sure half your plate is filled with vegetables and the other 2 quarters is for proteins and starch. Vary your food choices, know what you are eating and then enjoy every mouthful. Notice the smell, taste, texture and colours of the foods you eat. Take the time to chew and digest your food properly. Stop eating when you feel satisfied but before you feel uncomfortably full.
Poor diet and inactivity are the silent killers. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity must not be ignored. Don’t neglect to take this recommended dose:
Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Muscle-strengthening and flexibility training should be done at least twice a week.
2015 September 1 by Julie
Being overweight can not only hurt your confidence, but it can be the root cause of many health problems including some chronic diseases. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can seem like a never-ending challenge but it is one you have to tackle. You must have a long-term plan to reach and stay at a healthy weight. This plan must include gradual, realistic changes to your lifestyle and eating habits.
If you are wondering what your healthy weight should be, consider the following:Your body mass index (BMI) should be less than 25. A BMI between 18.6 and 24.9 indicates you are at a healthy weight. This is a measure of weight relative to height. BMI is your weight (in kg) divided by your height squared (in cm).Your waist circumference (WC) should be less than 102cm for men and less than 88cm for women.If you are overweight, your aim should be to lose 5-10% of your current weight. A healthy goal is 1-2kg’s per month.
Boost your chances for success by making an achievable weight loss plan that can become a healthy daily routine.
- Get the advice of a dietician to determine the ideal calorie intake for your body.
- Control the size of your portions. Take notice of how much you are putting on your plate and skip those second helpings.
- Plan meals to have the right mix of fresh, nutritious foods – get the right balance of low-glycaemic carbs, fats, high protein & fibre. Don’t forget to drink lots of water.
- Never skip meals. Have about 6 mini meals a day instead of the usual 3 big meals. Breakfast is the most important, so don’t miss it.
- Beware of being an emotional eater – emotions can negatively affect what, when and how much you eat. Eat when you are hungry, not in response to an emotional need
- Increase physical activity. A walk a day will keep the fat away!
- Make sure you have a support network for advice and to keep you motivated.