Why you should rethink your drink:

Would you consume 16 teaspoons of sugar in one sitting? Most of us would answer this question with a flat out ‘NO’ but we wouldn’t hesitate to guzzle down an iced cold bottle of soft drink on a hot summer day. Well, 16 TEASPOONS is the amount of sugar in a regular bottle of soft drink (Yes, you read that right). I have to admit that I was once a soft-drink addict and while I knew soft drinks were bad, I would never have imagined that one bottle contained SO MUCH sugar.

This is where many of us go wrong. While we focus on eating healthier, we tend to forget to keep track of the amount of sugar we consume through the beverages we drink on a regular basis. Even the drinks that many of us consider “healthier” options like flavoured water, sports drinks and fruit juices (yep, even freshly squeezed) contain high amounts of sugar.

So if you want to drink yourself fat, then sugary drinks are definitely the way to go. They lack nutritional value, are full of empty calories and don’t really quench your thirst (which drinking is essentially about, right?). What’s more concerning is that overconsumption of sugary drinks can lead to obesity, and increases your risks of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Consuming sugary soft-drinks has also been linked to tooth decay and erosion, as well as premature ageing. Alarmingly, Australians are one of the biggest consumers of sweetened beverages and in 2006, Australia was among the top 10 countries for per capita consumption of soft drinks.

So if you have a weakness for sweetened beverages, I’d say now is the right time to give up your sweet poison. Remember that consuming excessive amounts of sugar in any form can wreak havoc for your health and if you are looking to quench your thirst, water is best.

TIP: If you can’t resist the urge to drink sweetened beverages, try mixing a splash of 100%fruit juice with sparkling water. That way you can significantly reduce the amount of sugar in your drink and keep the calorie count low.

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Confused about diet and nutrition?

Eating healthy can be confusing. There are a million and one diets out there and there is a new study on diet and health released nearly every day.  Not to mention, everyone you ask seems to have a different opinion on what foods are healthy or not. With so much conflicting information out there, it’s no wonder a lot of us are perplexed about what to eat for better health. So if you’re confused about food and nutrition, then I highly recommend that you watch a recent Tedx talk given by health guru and nutritionist, Dr Joanna McMillan, who clears up a few common diet myths.

Let me know your thoughts!

Working with Dietitians and Diabetes

Bittersweet Diagnosis

As someone living with diabetes and being on social media, I hear many stories from other people living with diabetes. The kind of stories that only people with diabetes will ‘get’. We share the laughter and humour or irony, but more often than not, we shake our heads at the things we see or hear. Spending much of our time with specialists and our diabetes healthcare team, it’s unsurprising to hear stories around their diabetes healthcare professionals that just don’t get it. Being a dietitian specialising in diabetes myself and having gone through the training and study that other dietitians would have been required to undergo, this disappoints me more than people think. I think part of this breakdown is due to varied expectations from both people with diabetes and healthcare professionals. So I’ll try to share some advice from my experiences living on both sides of the fence.

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Why you shouldn’t skip breakfast this morning

I am not a morning person and to be honest, I’d rather get an extra 15 minutes of sleep than prepare and eat breakfast in the mornings. But on the days I don’t have breakfast, there is a noticeable difference in my mood and eating patterns compared to the days I do have breakfast. For starters, I am grumpier and hungrier throughout the day and by mid-morning those sugar cravings really start to kick in. Suddenly, that almond croissant doesn’t seem like such a bad idea when I’m ordering my morning coffee.

While skipping breakfast in exchange for a sleep-in often seems like a good idea, the reality is that ditching brekkie may mean that you are compromising on your health in the long run. Remember when you were a kid and your mother used to tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well, it turns out she was right. Research has shown that eating a nutritious breakfast helps to fend off junk-food cravings and helps to control weight. Eating breakfast could also cut several risks associated with heart disease and diabetes.

According to a study conducted by Harvard researchers, men who routinely skipped breakfast increased their chances of developing T2 diabetes by up to 21%. Researchers in the UK have also found that children who skip breakfast are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in adulthood than children who regularly have nutritious breakfasts.

So why is skipping breakfast so bad?

Well, if you skip meals you’re more likely to snack throughout the day or even worse, binge later on in the day-which over time can lead to weight gain. Skipping meals also slows your metabolism, leads to unbalanced blood sugar levels and increases your chances of making poor food choices throughout the day. So unless you want to sabotage your weight loss efforts, skipping breakfast is a definite no-no.

Liquid breakfasts:

Don’t feel like eating in the mornings? Then a liquid breakfast (and no I don’t mean coffee) is a great option for those of us who are time poor and have little or no appetite in the mornings.

For a quick and easy brekkie, get your blender out of the cupboard and blitz your favourite fruit and veggies for a nutritious start to your day. To get started, try the Blueberry Delight (recipe below) and then experiment with other greens, fruits, herbs and even spices.

Blueberry Delight smoothie

Ingredients:

2 cups spinach, fresh

1 cup water

1 chopped kiwifruit

1 cup strawberries

1 punnet of blueberries

2 chopped bananas

1 handful of almonds

fresh mint leaves

Method:

Process the spinach, kiwifruit, strawberries, blueberries, banana, almonds and 1 cup of water in a blender until smooth. Divide between glasses and garnish with mint leaves.

Remember that the extra sleep-in might not be worth it after all!

smoothie

Food for thought: mindful eating

How often do you take time out to think about the food you’re eating and why you’re eating it? Let’s face it, most of the time we chow down on food without thinking much at all.

Meal time should be a natural, healthy and pleasurable activity to satisfy hunger. However, in a fast-paced society where we have an abundance of food available and little time at our disposal, most of us tend to consume food without thinking through our food choices or enjoying what we’re eating. This can lead to overindulging, overconsumption and an unhealthy relationship with food in general. Junk food is not only easily available (just look around you) but it is cheap, fast and tasty so why not settle for the easy option? Well, because that guilty feeling you have after you’ve mindlessly downed a packet of Tim Tams might slowly subside but that spare tyre around your waist probably won’t.

The problem here is that we often focus too much on what we eat, rather than how we eat. Instead of focusing on counting calories or restricting ourselves, mindful eating teaches that your undivided attention should be given to the food you’re eating.  According to psychologist and Food Addiction Therapy author Kellee Waters, one of the worst things for weight control is multi-tasking while eating. Think about it: when was the last time you ate food without checking emails, reading a newspaper or engaging in conversation?

More often than not, our eating practices are driven by emotional cues rather physical ones- such as our bodies’ hunger signals. We may use food for comfort when we’re feeling sad, stressed or even bored even if we’re not actually hungry. This can be best described as eating mindlessly.

However, you can change your attitudes and practices around meals for the better by implementing mindful eating or consciously thinking about the food you are consuming. Simply put, mindful eating is about being aware of what you’re putting into your mouth and considering why you’re eating in the first place. Mindful or intuitive eating stems from Buddhist teachings and aims to reconnect us on a deeper level with the practice of eating -and enjoying-food. Mindful eating allows you to better appreciate the food you are eating and listen to your body’s cues so here are some tips for meal time:

1. Eat slower:

Take the time to enjoy your food and your body’s cues. Eating is not a race.

2. Enjoy the silence: 

While complete silence is virtually impossible, try and implement ‘quiet time’ during meal times to reflect on the food you are eating.

3. Switch off:

Now this one is extremely important. Turn off your electronic devices ( mobile, PC and TV)  while you’re eating because these are unnecessary distractions that interfere with quality family time and your body’s hunger signals, leading you to eat too much and contributing to weight gain.

4. Savour the taste:

Mindful eating is all about enjoying the flavour of your food. You should take the time to taste the tartness of the lemon, the spiciness of the paprika and the crunchiness of the pastry.

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T2 Diabetes: lifestyle matters

                                                    type 2

We- millennials- usually don’t worry too much about how lifestyle choices can affect our health in the long run. We binge drink, we eat A LOT of crap, we spend multiple hours a day sitting in front of screens and we don’t get nearly enough daily exercise (that’s if you believe all the media reports out there). So it’s no wonder we’re developing chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes much younger.

While a lot of us might think that we are immune to chronic illnesses and invincible in general, we are not. The choices we make might be leading us to premature aging and early death. Yes, this is a gloomy outlook but it might become a reality if we do not change the lifestyle choices we make.

According to studies, obesity rates in Australia are climbing faster than anywhere else in the world. As a country, we are spending way too much on take-away and are becoming a fast-food nation. We even have McDelivery available so you can get McGoodies delivered to your front door, getting your junk-food fix with no effort whatsoever. To top it all off, diabetes is becoming the fastest growing chronic illness in the country and type 2 diabetes is estimated to be costing us $10.3 billion a year. I repeat, $10.3 BILLION. A YEAR!

The economic burden of diabetes, however, doesn’t compare to the burden of the disease on a person’s health. Diabetes-related complications include kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, nerve problems and foot problems. I can’t emphasise enough that diabetes is a serious condition that can have long-term effects if not managed well.

Surprisingly, many of us have little understanding of diabetes and awareness about the differences between type 1 and type 2 is very limited. Simply put, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own immune system and healthy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 1 is more likely to be diagnosed in children and young adults where as type 2 diabetes is the form of diabetes that is related to ageing, family history and lifestyle factors (being overweight and inactivity). FYI: both types of diabetes are characterized by having higher than normal blood sugar levels (BSL).

The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be managed and in most cases, prevented through simple lifestyle changes (healthy-eating, exercise etc). While type 2 diabetes can be prevented, it cannot be cured so it is crucial that we alter our lifestyle choices to minimize the risks of developing T2.

Until next time, stay safe and be healthy!

The lowdown on Type 2 Diabetes

Approximately 1.7 million people have diabetes in Australia. This figure includes all types of diagnosed diabetes as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Australia estimates that 280 people Australians are diagnosed with diabetes every single day. What’s even more alarming is that many Australians aren’t aware that they have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While these numbers are staggering, the good news is that type 2 diabetes is manageable and with a few lifestyle changes you can prevent or even delay the onset of the disease.

So what is diabetes?

Basically, diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (a kind of sugar) in the blood. Glucose is used as the body’s main source of energy and comes from foods that contain carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, pasta, fruit, starchy vegetables and milk. Once food is digested, glucose is released and absorbed into the bloodstream.

In order for our bodies to function properly, we need to convert glucose from food into energy. A hormone called insulin is needed in order to properly convert glucose into energy. Unfortunately, people with diabetes do not produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy and, have higher than normal blood sugar levels.

About Type 2:

Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 85% of people with diabetes. While T2 Diabetes is most common in older people, more and more young people are being diagnosed with the condition, including children. Unlike Type 1 Diabetes, people with T2 Diabetes still produce some insulin and usually do not need insulin injections to manage their condition. The most important thing to remember about T2 Diabetes is that it is preventable in most cases and easily managed with the right lifestyle choices.

 Are you at risk?

While there is no one cause for T2 Diabetes, there are well established risk factors- some which can be changed and others that cannot.

You are at a higher risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes if you:

  • have a family history of diabetes
  • are over the age of 45- the risk increases as we age.
  • are overweight- if you have a BMI greater than 25 and lead a sedentary lifestyle, you are at greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
  • are from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background OR,  from a Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background
  • have a history of gestational diabetes- women who develop diabetes during pregnancy or deliver a baby over 4.5 kgs are at a greater risk of developing diabetes.

Check your risks by completing the AUSDRISK Assessment.diabetes-type-1-and-2-differences