Top Tips for a Healthier Easter

It's that time of year again. The supermarkets are stocked with mountains of golden alluring bunnies, the easter hat parade was a great success and the you've had a Mexican stand off with that hot cross bun sitting on the middle of the staff table for about the last 2 hours.

Here are some tips from our expert dietitian's to help your healthy behaviours around Easter:

1. Don’t fight your cravings:

Studies have proven that if you go out of your way to deny your cravings there is a good chance you will overindulge. There is no point being in denial, it is Easter! Accept that you will be having a small amount of chocolate or an occasional hot cross bun and that is OK. 

2. Choose quality over quantity (less is more!):

Your food experience should be one of pure pleasure. Smell, observe, hear and taste your chocolate. Is there a scent of vanilla? Does it sound crunchy when you bite into it? Do you notice the taste and flavour vanish after you swallow?

Why are you popping mediocre Easter chocolate into your mouth if you could be slowly and mindfully enjoying a small Lindt bunny? So not worth it!

Make sure you are paying attention whilst you are eating! Gobbling down easter eggs mindlessly isn’t satisfactory, especially if you can’t remember it. 

Too much chocolate on a regular bases can be detrimental to health as it is high in saturated fat and energy. For example a 200g Lindt bunny = 1086 calories, where are the average adult would need about 1500-2000 calories/day to maintain their body weight.

3. Out of sight, out of mind: 

Be honest with yourself: If it’s in your house you are going to eat it. Try to minimise how much you bring home from work or give to family members as a gift. After all, “Sharing is caring". Some of our clients find it useful to freeze their chocolate so they are not tempted to eat it or to put it completely out of sight.

4. Don’t skip meals: 

Only chocolate for breakfast or any other meal is a horrible idea. Chocolate is high GI as it contains much simple processed sugar and spikes your insulin. This does not fill you up for long, which could result in many other consequent binges later on. Remember to eat 5 small healthily spaced meals (this includes small snacks morning and afternoon) with plenty of grains, fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy omega-3 fats throughout the day. 

5. Find healthy alternatives to celebrate Easter: 

We need to remember what Easter is about. 100% it has religious connotations but for most people religious or not it also symbolises family. For my example my friend Steph is Greek and she explained their Christmas involves all attending late night mass, having a homemade 12am feast in the kitchen with family and cracking eggs against eachothers heads! (Sounds fun to me). You can check Steph out on instagram @steph.zervos, she's a sprinter training for the Commonwealth Games and an awesome PT.

Just remember:

  • You don’t have to eat 20 bunnies to feel closer to your family or friends
  • A healthy BBQ, dinner out or another non food based activity with friends or family to celebrate can be just as special

Here are some other healthy ideas

  • Painting eggs with children.
  • Making healthy food into easter bunnies and chicks, get the kids involved here. The more hands on, the better! (See below photos)
  • Making healthy chocolate alternatives: Check Kat's previous blog out for a yummy example: http://bodyfusion.com.au/blog/2016/3/21/choc-almond-easte
  • Home made hot cross buns made with wholemeal, rye or spelt flour. We love Teresa Cutter's recipe. Check her out!
  • Choosing dark chocolate varieties of chocolate, higher in cacao which in small amounts does has positive links to reducing blood pressure and preventing cancer due to polyphenol conten

6.    Adapt a positive attitude: The world isn’t going to ever run out of chocolate

Why do we need to go crazy in one weekend? Reality is, you can still eat chocolate as a part of a healthy diet! Daily in fact. If you do indulge, well tomorrow is another day. Let it go! Get back on the horse or of course check in with a Dietitian if you need some support and direction.

Happy Easter everyone! Enjoy. 

Ash and Kat :)

Do you need a wellness weekend?

You know what it’s like – work consumes the majority of your week, you’re always on the go with family/spouse responsibilities and whether you are aware of it or not you are probably spending most of your energy stressing about what you should have done or what you still have to do. You are asking a lot of your mind and body when you are constantly running on this type of anxious energy. I found myself in the same position recently, so a timely trip away at the Blue Mountains turned out to be the wellness weekend.

The spot: If you have never been before then I recommend you add the Blue Mountains to your must see list. I couldn’t believe I had never visited despite living in Sydney my whole life. The trip up is so quick now, especially with the motorways, our drive only took 1 hr 20 mins.

DAY 1

 Leura: My partner and I began our first day in the mountains with a walk around Leura, a quaint village town. Its main street had splattering of small cafes, bakeries and some finer restaurants. A small community hall sold honey, handmade beanies and scarves and chatting to the locals showed me that time for them was simply something to guide them from one part of the day to the next. This was a wonderful reminder that although we have to live our regular days by ‘clock time’ you don’t need to live out that same clock in your head.

Mind tip: Don’t let time be a problem, don’t let it create stress. You will get there/do that/ see that/ eat that whenever you do. There is no right or wrong time to do it in.

Being the foodie that I am I had already scoped out a vegetarian café called Rubyfruit for lunch. My partner and I are not vegos by any means, but these cafes always seem to serve something a bit different – plus my body always feels better when it’s had a good dose of vegetables.

The café was small and a single waitress greeted all customers and the sole chef delivered each meal to its designated table. I ordered the Dragon Bowl, a deconstructed salad with soba noodles, avocado, an array of vegetables, grilled tempeh (a new favourite of mine) and a ponzu dressing. We also ordered the Moroccan spiced ‘chicken’ burger, which was actually a piece of Seitan. Never heard of it before? I hadn’t either, but it is made of gluten and has a slightly meaty flavour. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, it has a very similar nutrient profile to tofu and a great protein source for vegetarians.

BODY TIP: Trying something new can be challenging and scary. Something simple as a vegetarian dish will give your body a more nutrient dense meal, topping up your micronutrients giving you more energy.

 Katoomba was the next town we visited after our lunch on Day 1. It’s best known for its proximity to the Three Sisters, Scenic World and Echo Point. We took the typical tourist photograph with the mountains in the background – our first realization of how enormous the mountain area actually was. Then we began our first walk of the trip, taking the popular track from Echo Point around to Scenic World and back.

The mountain air was invigorating to say the least. I was a little unprepared for the cool temperatures and couldn’t feel my fingers for most of the afternoon. However the stunning views of distant sandstone cliffs, green carpeted rolling hills and rocky outcrops distracted me from most of my minor complaints.

Mind tip: Complaints are verbal expressions of the negativity of your brain. Why are you letting this mental ‘garbage’ pollute your world and those around you? Acknowledge your negative thought then drop it, like you would anything else that would be causing you pain.

Wentworth Falls is a very small community where we stayed in a roomy studio apartment with a gas fire and giant spa. There isn’t much to see around Wentworth Falls town centre but it wins in terms of location because of its close proximity to the falls and some amazing hiking trails.

Back to Leura.. After a soak in the enormous spa bath and relax by the gas fire we drove 15 minutes back to Leura for dinner at Zest, a modestly priced restaurant that had a modern Australian twist on Mediterranean classics. We shared some spicy prawns for entrée which were on the oily side, a reminder of how rich eating out can be. One Mediterranean tradition they upheld was drizzling olive oil on their bread, two thumbs up from me!

We chased this with their falafel plate that had a small sampling of hummous,  tahini dip, roasted eggplant, mashed pumpkin and a spicy chilli relish as well as one of their specials, which was a vegetable ragout served on spiced sweet potato mash and goats yoghurt. It actually inspired me to trial some new spices in my own home cooking.

Food tip: Sweet potato mash is easy enough to do yourself, so elevate yours by experimenting with cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg.(Sorry no photos this time!)

 Day 2

I started day 2 with my first Iyenga yoga class in Katoomba. The class began with a hindu chant before it launched into handstands, balances and stretches. Not only did it provide my body with a great stretch but settled my noisy mind – a great headspace to be in to start the day.

Body tip: Trying a new version of a normal activity creates new movement patterns in your body. You will recruit different muscle fibres that help you strengthen in areas you didn’t know you had.

 National Pass Walk: After a sneaky coffee and morning tea we headed back to begin the National Pass Walk at Wentworth Falls. To be honest, this was my favourite part of the weekend. The track took us across to Wentworth Falls, where there are plenty of photo opportunities. It descended down a very steep sandstone staircase (yes, you have to climb up more stairs at the other end) and delivered us to an undercliff path. The track weaved its way underneath waterfalls, through pockets of rainforest and lookouts perched along the way. The scenery was just breath taking. The only sounds were those of the birds. It was just serene.

We powered on, climbing the last set of stairs at the other end with ‘just one more step’ approach. I suggested we sing a song to distract ourselves, but I turned out to be the only voice so resorted to humming in my head so not to disturb the wildlife. We reached the end point, Conservtion Hut, in a very timely manner. I think we power walked more than we realized. We rehydrated and peeled off a few layers, of which I was wearing about five – including gloves. The return trip was nowhere near as strenuous, 20 minutes along the ‘short track’ took us back to the starting point at Wentworth Falls carpark, 5 minutes from our apartment.

Mind/ body tip: Use a mind over matter approach whenever you are challenged. Break down whatever ‘problem’ exists (remember this is one you have created in your head) into smaller pieces and tackle it one step at a time.

We stopped back in Katoomba for a refuel at a local café – between us we tried a very filling breakfast plate with homemade baked beans, eggs, tomato and sourdough and a chicken, avocado and haloumi salad. 

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Blackheath: We decided to take a drive further west to Blackheath, another small town by the side of the highway.  There we took it down a notch and walked a paved path to Govett’s Leap Lookout. We called this this grandma and pram walk in comparison to what we had done earlier. The views from the lookout stretched as far as the eye could see – again, putting things into perspective. We legged it back to the main shops for an afternoon coffee at Anonymous. Many friends had recommended the trendy place to us so we simply had to go, safe to say it did not disappoint. We quickly stopped in the historic antique shop where you can play dress ups in some crazy clothes or pick up a piece of jewelry (if you bring your $$) on our way back to the car.

Food tip: Caffeine is always controversial in the food world, however more studies are showing it is helpful in reducing risk of diabetes and possibly Alzheimers, not to mention it helps you feel energized to perform athletically at your peak. Choose your poison, coffee or tea but remember to enjoy it with small amounts of added extras, hold the sugar.

The sunset – Lincoln Rock: With time ticking away we decided to venture back to Wentworth Falls to find a sunset spot that is famous amongst photographers. Lincoln Rock as it is known was hidden down a short dirt path with huge potholes, we weren’t brave enough to take the car. The photos just don’t do this place justice. We stood at the edge of this flat white rock and looked out into the horizon, watching the sun slowly slip below the mountains. The sky turned from a light blue to a dull golden yellowy orange. Taking the time to breath in the fresh air and watch something truly beautiful made me realize how thankful I was for all of the things I had. Something I don’t do on a daily basis.

 

Mind tip: Say thank you for three things in your life every morning. Set yourself up positively in the day and remind yourself of these good things! 

 We treated ourselves that night to some well-deserved R&R with another soak in the tub and a lovely three course dinner at nineteen23. The wait staff were exemplary, taking our coats on arrival and never letting our water glasses go empty. Some of the dishes almost looked too good to eat (see below) and danced on the tastebuds. It was a wonderful indulgent night even though we were secretly looking forward to getting into our trackies!

The last morning – Leura Falls & Megalong Valley Tea Rooms

We woke with tired legs however wanted to squeeze in a couple last sights. We drove to Leura Falls and took a short rainforest walk to the lookout where we say a blanket of clouds over the valley. Shortly after we headed down a very windy road to Megalong Valley Tea Rooms. When we arrived in the valley we drove through the very same clouds of fog we had just seen from the top of the waterfall. Incredible!

he tearoom is quaint and quirky, it had a log fire and served a hearty breakfast with tea brewed in the same pot as ‘grandma’ had over 60 years ago. Unfortunately they don’t sell any leaves so I couldn’t bring any home.

So, that brings us to the end of our short but jam-packed mountains retreat. It reminded me that health is not just about the food you eat and the exercise you do. It is state of mind and state of being. I encourage you to take the time in your own life to check in mentally, take a deep breath and use that energy to make ‘healthful’ decisions each day. I highly recommend a trip to the mountains – just remember to pack your winter woolies this time of year! 

Party Season: Do's and Don'ts

Wow, only 4 weeks until Christmas! All my clients have been a little stressed out about work amping up and trying to get everything done before the holiday period. On top of this it seems that everyone wants to get in a social Christmas event with you BEFORE the big day hits. Food is a big part of celebrating Christmas, but if you just keep mindful about your choices you can come out the other side not too bad off. This year I thought I would list some simple Do’s and Don’ts.

Do (You will get lots of presents)

·      Take a healthy dish to a party. Options include a big plate of sushi, rice paper rolls, home made Thai fish cakes, cherry tomato, bocconcini and basil skewers or a big fruit salad platter.

·      Have a small high protein snack before you go out so that you don’t turn up hungry and devour the first thing in sight (hello sausage rolls!!). Some ideas include a small 95g tin of tuna or salmon, a handful of nuts, a boiled egg or some veggies sticks and hommous.

·      Reduce your alcohol and energy intake by 1) Taking some soda water to drink between alcoholic beverages 2) Drinking reduced alcohol wine, light beer or spirits with soda or diet soft drink (less calories) 3) Stopping your hosts from topping up your glass, how many did you have again?

·      Only say yes to every third canapé offered. Pace yourself. Christmas is like cricket; you’re in for the long haul! Don't get caught out ;)

·      Keep hydrated with water. Christmas can be hot. Water helps to fill us up and prevent us from reaching for food when really we are thirsty

·      Get active with your friends and family. A game of soccer on the beach, lawn bowls or scenic walks are simple and enjoyable.

Don’ts (You are more likely to get coal)

·      Eat out of family size open packets or dive nose first into the crackers and cheeses without a second thought. You are better off putting a small selection on a plate and sticking to just that. 

·      Think you are doing better by drinking cider. Cider is the in thing in Australia at the moment and our intake is increasing. It’s the most energy dense of all alcoholic beverages!

·      Leave your plate on the table. Studies have proven that people (especially men, sorry guys) will eat up to 40% more when they leave their plate on the table. This is because people will pick at more. You don't really need it!

·      Feel obligated to try and eat a big delicious piece or serving of everything. Choose what you really want. Also, a couple of mouthfuls are all you need to get a taste. Sharing is caring. Hand over the other half of that mince pie.

·      Completely switch off in relation to healthy eating with the justification that it’s Christmas. Yes you can indulge a little but don’t make it your excuse to eat 5 mince pies a day and candy cane for the next festive month.

·      Keep temptation in the house if you can’t handle it. Out of mind out of sight. Give it away, throw it out, or get someone in the family to hide it!

·      Feel like if you have fallen off the wagon it’s game over. You will do a lot more damage if you let things snowball!

Good luck :)

I’m sick of being SICK

You’re at work and some one at the desk next to you is sneezing and coughing up a storm. You haven’t seen your best friend all weekend because she’s feeling under the weather and hibernating in her bed.

Is that a sniffle coming on?

Are you feeling exhausted for no apparent reason.

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Should you be taking vitamin C?

Need help?

Lastly, Sleep is also a huge immuno-modulator.

 A recent 2012 Review (Besedovsky et al) concluded:

“Prolonged sleep curtailment and the accompanying stress response invoke a persistent unspecific production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, best described as chronic low-grade inflammation, and also produce immunodeficiency, which both have detrimental effects on health.”

There you go everyone, your dietitian is giving you an excuse to sleep! 7-9 hours is recommended – do your best to get into a healthy regular routine, which involves no stimulants 4 hours before bed (e.g. caffeine). Short naps can be ok too. Research has found that about 20 minutes (the sneaky Spanish siesta) can be beneficial to boost alertness and immunity :)

Stay happy and healthy this coming winter.

 Ash xx

 

Food is a RELATIONSHIP

Are you constantly trying to cut calories or always on a “diet”?

Do you constantly see food as a stress, burden or associated guilt?

Do you announce to your friends restrictions throughout the year – alcohol, chocolate, ice cream?

The reality is that I end up with a lot of people in my clinic that could answer YES to at least one of the questions above. It might be because they are concerned about their health, which is a good thing, however this isn't always the case. And sometimes any psychological drive can become toxic or obsessive.

I see a lot of people who are carrying more weight on their bodies than they need to be. I also see many people with eating disorders. But interestingly I have found the same thing time and time again. THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD IS BROKEN.

Many people are using this relationship as a way to de-stress, as a distraction (boredom), to reward, celebrate, punish or deal with their emotion. What happens if you were to do this in a relationship with a PERSON? Do you think they would appreciate you just using them all the time for the above? Do you think you could do all this without any CONSEQUENCE?

My most successful clients work with me to mend this disconnect. We focus on nourishment and strategies to work with food so that it can be appreciated in a positive light. To be inspired with it’s creativity and variety to enhance our experience with how this food can physiologically affect our bodies.

Many of us are in denial about a broken relationship and ignore it, simply haven’t got the knowledge to improve it or believe it’s too hard to make a change when we are so comfortable.

If you are drowning and looking for a rope. I am your rope. Let me change your life.

Ash x