Saying ‘yes’ all the time might be the wrong choice when thinking about your future. Maybe being fearless is learning how to say ‘no’ sometimes.
We really can’t be bothered anymore.
“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream” – Julia Child
At some point we’ve all fallen victim to a dodgy diet that promised to shave kilos, increase energy, cure cancer (shame on you, Belle Gibson) and miraculously transform our lives and our bodies. Not so surprisingly the majority of these diets are found online, particularly via social media, with the person/people selling them claiming to be some sort of health guru.
What is surprising – and what I found to be most shocking – is that you don’t necessarily need to be qualified in order to give (and sell) nutritional advice or plans. In fact, according to one of Australia’s leading dietician/nutritionists Susie Burrell, completing an online course of only a few weeks is enough merit to warrant calling yourself a ‘health advisor’ or ‘expert’. A few weeks! That’s like calling yourself a practising doctor after one semester at uni – where is the logic?
Understandably, results speak for themselves, so when we see incredible before and after photos it’s inevitable that we’re going to associate whatever program they’re on with success. What we fail to take into account is where/who the diet came from, if it’s right for OUR body and the implications this might have on our health and mental attitudes in the long-term.
Susie (pictured below) insists that the only profession who is “scientifically trained to give a range of applied nutrition advice,” from sick to healthy people, is a dietician. This means that qualifications such as a diploma in health or an undergraduate degree in health and nutrition don’t cut it, she says.
“A dietician is an accredited profession which requires a minimum of 4 years of university study, along with ongoing education and accreditation to give applied nutrition advice to individuals,” Susie explains.
But with so many popular diets now available at the click of the purchase button, how do we distinguish a dodgy diet from an appropriate one? We put all of our questions to the trusted dietician, who also specialises in customised eating plans, to enlighten us.
What type of ‘health guru’ or certification would you say is the least credible?
At least an undergraduate university degree that includes the study of physiology, metabolism and biochemistry.
What are some red flags to look out for?
If they do not mention their training or qualifications I would be wary – ‘health coach’ or ‘nutritionist’ should instantly encourage you to do more research as anyone can call themselves a health coach or a nutritionist with minimal training, if any.
Ideally, what should a good nutrition program include?
Dietary plans and programs written by someone who is qualified and accountable. Direct access to this professional for specific issues/questions. Dietary changes and plans that are sustainable, have a minimal number of calories and that do not require you to eliminate whole food groups.
Regularly eating clean foods and treats containing ‘healthy sugars’ gets the tick of approval by a lot of ‘experts’, can you clarify this?
If it sounds suspicious, it is usually a sign you need to be careful. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is and it is common sense that food is not ‘dirty’ – and then sugars, no matter which type, are still sugar. Just because the latest guru says differently, be questioning.
What’s the worst fad diet that you’ve come across in the last few years?
Lol, there are so many. I think the idea of quitting sugar but then eating coconut oil, rice malt syrup and dates is ridiculous. I also think that juicing, as even a short term diet option, is dangerous and damaging to metabolic rate long-term.
If you can’t afford to enlist the help of a dietician or nutritionist, what should you do?
You know, there is so much sound dietary advice out there. You can simply purchase a diet/exercise book written by a dietitian or well-known and respected trainer which often contain nutritionally sound meals plans.
After recent backlash, where do you see the health industry going?
As there is more and more interest in health and well being, there will be more and more people out there trying to make money out of it. The key is to go with professionals who are qualified to be giving specific dietary advice.
Go with your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and at the end of the day, weight-loss and weight control takes hard work, commitment and life long focus – it is as simple or complex as that.
Image via Random House
Mudcake has never tasted so good or been so healthy!
This plant-based chocolate mudcake recipe by chef, Cynthia Louise is dairy-free and packed with naturally sweet ingredients including beetroot, coconut and cocoa. The best part is it’s freezer friendly, meaning you can have a perfectly balanced dessert on hand 24/7!
2 medium sized beetroots (unpeeled and grated)
1 carrot (unpeeled and grated)
2 cups shredded coconut
2 tbsp psyllium husk
15 dried dates
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup cocoa powder
200 g soaked almonds (soaked overnight in 2 cups of water, then rinsed well and drained)
1/4 cup chia seeds
pinch of salt
1 cup soaked cashews (soaked overnight in 2 cups of water, then rinsed well and drained)
1/4 cup chia seeds
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
250 g cocoa butter (melted)
- Combine all ingredients for the base in a food processor and process until well combined.
- Transfer into a round spring-form cake tin, pressing down to get an even layer. Set aside in the fridge while you make the icing.
- For the icing combine the first five ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth.
- Once creamy and smooth, turn the blender down to medium speed and pour in the melted cocoa butter. Blend for 5 seconds.
- Pour onto the cake, and set aside in the fridge for the icing to set and the cake to firm up.
As the cold weather creeps back in, so does the diet that we try so hard to avoid over summer. Shorts are swapped for sweats, while salads are swapped for spaghetti as we stock up on warm, comfort food to try and survive through the chilly days and nights.
Comfort food often starts out innocently, with a bit more pasta, and a bit more rice turning into comfort snacks like chocolate and chips during the day, and late night desserts in the evening. During winter, our previously clean diet can turn very, very dirty, but instead of waiting until the end to clean it up, why not feel and look great all year round?
If your diet has started to get a little off track lately, there are a few easy tips that you can follow to start to clean up those eating habits and kick that sluggish feeling through winter.
Make simple swaps
Start to swap back your unhealthy choices for those that will benefit your body. You can switch your morning latte for a peppermint tea to warm you up before work, and/or change your rice for quinoa. Try to add more protein instead of carbohydrates and if you’re feeling cold, try some minestrone soup for comfort instead of a creamy chicken pie.
Another great tip is to switch the chips for a salad if you’re having a night out, to limit the amount of fried foods you’ll be having.
Just because you eat healthy, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat once in a while. The recommended 80 per cent healthy, 20 per cent cheat meals, means that you can have a couple of treats a week. However, try to stick to one day of the weekend to treat yourself to create a habit of eating well for most of the week. It will give you something to look forward to.
Get it out of the house
Get rid of the snacks that are lurking in your cupboard for when you get home from work. And I don’t mean get rid of them by eating them, though it’s not like I haven’t made that mistake before! You really have to control yourself at this point. If you have the strength, put them in a special cupboard, only to be consumed on your cheat day. Alternatively, throw them in the trash and treat yourself by going out for dinner, rather than wasting your special meal on snacks.
It’s all about taking baby steps to get back to being healthy. Small but significant changes, like removing take away from your diet, to then remove chocolates, chips and unhealthy snacks, can make a big difference.
If there’s one thing that is good for you, it’s checking the labels of the foods that you’re going to buy. Instead of taking the benefit of the doubt and assuming that if the label says ‘healthy’, it means it is, check out the nutritional information for yourself. Keeping added sugars and saturated fats to a minimum is ideal for cleaning up your diet.
Image via jmgkids.us
Everyone loves a guilt-free treat, but what about guilt-free treat that’s packed with health benefits? Chef Cynthia Louise’s nutritional spin on carrot cake incorporates turmeric – an anti-inflammatory spice full of antioxidants – plus chia seeds and psyllium husk to deliver exactly what nature requires from you in a cake.
3 large carrots, unpeeled and grated
2 cups shredded coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon powder
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 cups soaked almonds (soaked overnight in 2 cups of water, then rinsed well and drained)
10 dried dates
1/2 cup currants
2 tbsp psyllium husk
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup
30 g turmeric, freshly grated
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups soaked cashews (soaked overnight in 3 cups of water, then rinsed well and drained)
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
- Combine all the ingredients for the base in a food processor and process until well combined.
- Transfer to a round springform cake tin, pressing down to get an even layer.
- Set aside in the fridge while you make the icing.
- To make the icing combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth.
- Once creamy and smooth, pour onto the cake and set.
There’s a lot of hype from leading nutritionists and personal trainers alike right now about the extreme importance of eating clean and raw foods all-year round, but how do we mere mortals battle the bulge – and resist temptation – over the festive season?
Husband-and-wife team Scott and Jodie McKay at Jungle Fit Health and Fitness, based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, via www.facebook.com/JungleFitPT, which services clients both locally and nationally, has this advice for SHESAID readers: there’s no shortcuts, you’ve got to eat clean and exercise regularly to stay trim and healthy over the holidays (bugger).
Jungle Fit Health and Fitness offers personal and group training, massage, health and wellness coaching and nutritional therapies both in person and online. Fuelled by a passion for health and wellness, and each other, the couple is striving to secure clients all over the globe.
Scott (pictured), who’s the PT side of the business, is Australian Institute of Fitness-qualified and brings a unique style of training to Jungle Fit Health and Fitness, which he also co-owns, having served more than eight years in a combat role in the army.
He says remaining active during the festive season is a must, especially if you overindulge. “Get straight back into exercising now. I highly recommend people don’t put it off for the New Year resolution of: ‘I’ll get back into it next year’ because January 1 turns into February 1.
“Keep active. The weather is so good this time of year, so there are no excuses not to train, even if it’s not at the same intensity as you normally would during that Christmas/NY week. Go for a walk, or play in the park with the kids. It’s all about keeping your motivation going so you don’t lose all the gains you’ve made pre-Christmas.”
Meanwhile, Jodie is a health and wellness coach and co-owner at Jungle Fit Health and Fitness, having studied nutritional medicine, remedial massage, nutritional therapies and health and wellness coaching. So, what simple steps can we all take to eat clean? It’s all about small, sustainable steps, says Jodie.
“Look at substituting your favourite things for a cleaner version or recipe,” she says. “There is so much online these days, it is super simple. Start looking at the labels of things you are eating, make sure that you look at the first four ingredients in that label – if its sugar, canola oil, wheat etc., that is what the product has most of.
“Stick to the outer areas of the supermarket. Don’t go into the other aisles (except the health foods). Many people go straight for the “bad” aisles and are eating processed food that’s masquerading as real food.”
And as to why eating raw food/clean is important, especially in the lead-up to Christmas, Jodie says a clean, healthy diet is the key to optimal health and nutrition.
“Wholefoods will always make you feel vibrant and energised. A healthy body can ward off sickness and is less susceptible to certain cancers or obesity-related diseases,” she says. “Processed foods and acidic foods make us feel sluggish and miserable while also bringing on more illness.”
Jodie’s top holiday tip is to eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, unprocessed (lean) meats, fish (salmon), non-homogenized dairy, legumes and eggs. “Clean eating with wholefoods does not have to be boring, there are many recipes easily available that you can whip up, such as our Raw Peppermint Slice (see below).
“And you can replicate the Christmas food for healthier clean recipes – you don’t have to go without. For example, with rum balls you can make a healthier clean version.
“And a lot of people eat seafood at Christmas, so make sure that you fill your plate with it. There are also some amazing mango, avocado, prosciutto salad recipes around, which are all clean.
“So, you can still have nibbles and enjoy the Christmas period, while still remaining nutritious and clean!”
Raw Peppermint Slice
1 cup of almonds and hazelnuts
1/3 cup of cacao powder
3 tblsps melted coconut oil
1 cup of pitted dates (Medjool, if possible)
1 and 1/2 cups raw cashews, preferably soaked
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
Pinch of salt (Himalayan, if possible)
1/2 cup of organic maple syrup
5 drops of peppermint oil
1/2 cup of melted coconut oil
1/2 cup of cacao powder
1/4 cup of organic maple syrup
- To make the base: Add the base ingredients to a food processor and blend until it resembles fine crumbs and sticks together when pressed. Place mixture into a lined slice tin and press down. Place it in the freezer.
- To make the peppermint layer: Add cashews and desiccated coconut to a food processor blend until nice and smooth. Add the remaining peppermint layer ingredients to the mixture and blend until creamy. Add to the base and smooth over with a spatula and place into the freezer.
- To make the chocolate layer: Melt the coconut oil in saucepan or microwave. Once melted, add the maple syrup. Then add the cacao powder, stirring until well mixed through. Pour the chocolate on top of the peppermint layer. Put back into the freezer.
- Yum – it is now ready to slice and eat! Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
First recipe image via plantbasedmunchies.wordpress.com and secondary image via livingonpulse.blogspot.com.