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.

                                                 mindful-eating-less

T2 Diabetes: simple ways to reduce your risks

Diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate, but it’s also one of the most preventable diseases around. According to Diabetes Australia, 280 people are diagnosed with Diabetes every day and more than half the cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable. Maintaining a healthy weight and leading an active lifestyle are integral to preventing T2 diabetes.

This sounds easy in theory but in practice, it’s hard to implement. When most of us think of losing or managing weight, it can seem like a chore. But losing weight doesn’t have to involve munching on carrot sticks and slaving away at the gym for hours on end.  That doesn’t appeal to me…or most people for that matter.  Of course you could choose to turn to one of the countless weight loss gimmicks or fad-diets around, promising you instant weight loss with minimal (if any) effort.  But be warned that more often than not, these gimmicks can produce unsustainable weight loss results and are detrimental to your health in the long run. So if it sounds too good to be true then chances are, it probably is.

Diabetes prevention doesn’t have to be difficult and it certainly doesn’t have to be boring. There are simple ways you can improve your overall health and reduce your risks of developing T2 diabetes so here are some tips:

1. Get Moving!

Being inactive can significantly increase your chances of developing T2. According to studies, every two hours you spend watching TV on the couch could increase your chances of developing T2 diabetes by 14%. Studies have also shown that walking briskly for 30 minutes a day reduces the risk of developing diabetes by up to 30%.

2. Clean up your diet

The general rule is that the less processed food you eat, the better. Try to avoid refined carbohydrates (including white bread, white rice, pasta, donuts, potato chips etc.) and opt for whole grain and high fibre products instead. Also include more fruit and veggies in your diet.

3. Ditch the fast food

Fast food is often high in sugar and fat content which can contribute to excess weight. Most fast food consists of empty calories, having little or no nutritional value and being high in sodium (salt), saturated and trans fats (the stuff that clog your arteries). While the low cost and convenience of fast food might make it appealing, giving into junk food cravings simply isn’t worth it in the long run!

4. Drink coffee

According to this Harvard study, there’s good reason to give-in to your coffee cravings. The study found that coffee drinkers who downed more than 6 cups of coffee a day had a 29% – 54% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

5. Eat blueberries

Now this one is easy. Research shows that eating blueberries can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 26%. So add blueberries to your smoothies, eat some with low-fat yoghurt or on its own. The options are endless so make sure you always have a punnet stored in the fridge just in case those sugar cravings kick in. Tip: Blueberries can be quite expensive so grab a few punnets when they’re on sale and store them in the freezer for later use!

How do you keep your junk-food cravings at bay? Please share in the comments section below.

Until next time, stay safe and be healthy!

                                           Exercise-to-be-fit-FJ-822x1024

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