We all need water to live, but how much do we really need?
Do the words “bikini season” strike fear and angst into your heart? It doesn’t have to be that way, says Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell.
Susie (pictured), who’s pregnant with twins due in early 2016, says you can develop better body confidence via a healthy spring diet plan which will not only see you look and feel better, but you’ll lose kilos fast in the process. And if, like me, you’re looking at dropping winter weight in the lead-up to Christmas, Susie says you can do it simply and effectively. The secret? Delicious and nutritious salads are your summer diet go-to.
Susie has just released a new Shape Me Salads e-book via her new program, Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, via shapeme.com.au which now includes a new free trial offer. Here, Susie dispenses her usual wise and pragmatic diet and weight-loss advice as the warmer weather approaches.
What are your top spring diet and weight loss tips?
The key is to pace yourself, there is still plenty of time to lose 5-10kg before Christmas – but you must do it the right way without resorting to unrealistic fads and extreme diets. The first rule of thumb is to look for diet options which are sustainable. This way, you will not waste your time and money on short-term programs and options. Next, look for options you like – if you do not like the food, you will not continue it. Finally, simply focus on eating less and more vegetables: smaller dinners, more salad and vegetables at lunch and dinner and exercise most days, it really is that simple.
What are some quick and easy food hacks to lose a few winter kilos?
Have an early protein-rich breakfast, for example: an omelette, Greek yogurt, protein shake by 8am. Next, have a salad-based lunch by 1pm. Then, schedule a protein-rich afternoon snack of nuts or cheese and crackers mid afternoon and then a light early dinner. Simply leaving 12 hours without food overnight is often all we need to reset our appetite and wake up hungry, so we end up eating more during the day and less at night.
What salad pitfalls do people fall prey to?
It’s usually going too strict too early and then feel hungry and deprived and falling off the rails. A lot of people mistakenly eliminate whole food groups such as dairy or carbs and then crave them. Other common mistakes include people eating well for two-to-three days then binging all weekend, or not eating enough during the day and then overeating at night.
What are the best spring salads or meals to eat?
The perfect salad balance will include one carb, one source of protein, two-to-three cups of salad or vegetables and one source of good fat, such as olive oil or avocado. Chicken quinoa salad with avocado is a perfect mix, but just make sure your salad base is always 2-3 cups of salad/vegetables.
Is the warmer weather a prime time to cut out heavy carbs?
One cup of cooked rice or pasta is equal to three slices of bread, so an easy way to reduce your fuel load at night is to stick to a hand-size serve of protein and plenty of vegetables.
What are your golden rules of spring eating?
- Focus on light meals of fish, salad and vegetables.
- Make the most of warmer temperatures and longer days and commit to regular training, especially if you can prepare for an upcoming event.
- Limit alcohol to two glasses per week.
- Drink more water – at least 1.5-2litres in total each day.
- Use the next three months to get your body in great shape by committing to healthy eating and plenty of exercise so you can enjoy the summer and feel great, both mentally and physically.
Images via Cleo, walesonline.co.uk
No one is currently better qualified to give pregnant women nutrition advice than Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell, who’s pregnant with twins.
Safely into her second trimester at 15-weeks-pregnant and expecting her twins early in 2016, Susie, 37, Susie and her radio host fiancee Chris Smith (pictured below) are currently enjoying a holiday in Hawaii while they process their baby news, recently revealed at a scan.
Susie, who specialises in treating people with hormonal disorders and who recently launched her new program, Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, says twins are a double blessing, but it still came as a shock despite her family history of multiples, thanks to her maternal grandmother.
“My family, including my mum who is a midwife, had joked about it being twins and the thing I said to my sister before my scan was: ‘I’ll be fine as long as there is not 2!’. Then I was in the scan, and Chris was outside, and the lady said: “Hmm you had better get your husband.’ “And since I could still see one heartbeat I just knew! She said: ‘Oh, there’s another in the back, let me make sure there are not three.’ I said: ‘Oh, c’mon!
“Chris’s mouth dropped to the floor and trust me, he is never speechless. I saw my sister straight after she was like: ‘No way?!’ What can you do? You have to laugh at the irony for a control freak like me and the wonders of nature. We think we are in control, but really have no control. And now we realise how lucky we are and are really excited!”
So, how does a top dietitian and nutritionist adjust her own eating habits when pregnant? Here, Susie dispels some popular pregnancy eating myths and answers everything you’ve ever wanted to know and more about eating for two, or three, as in her case.
How has your own nutrition changed with two babies on the way?
I am finding it so interesting after seeing pregnant women for years myself in practice and giving them advice to need to turn it around on myself. I felt quite nauseous in the mornings until about two weeks ago which actually helped me a lot managing my appetite. Instead of feeling hungry all the time, I went off most things, even my coffee, so was eating quite lightly – definitely not anything sweet, which was a nice change, instead anything salty like cheese and Vegemite crackers and salmon sandwiches.
Luckily, that nauseous feeling has now largely gone, but I definitely have far less room for food than before and instead have to eat regularly: oranges, crackers, wraps and then something small at night so I don’t feel sick, like soup, vegetables or seafood. I’m also not feeling like anything heavy and even my chocolate cravings have disappeared! My specialist has told me I can only gain 10-12kg so I am pretty motivated by that because I know if you really control things early it makes it much easier later. Especially for me, as I am only short and probably started the pregnancy 5kg heavier than would have been ideal so I only have a little buffer there.
What are the most common pregnancy food myths?
That you need to eat for two (or three), and eating makes you feel better so you should do more of it. When you feel sick, you will feel sick regardless so it does still help to control the food a little and not let all your control go out the window; that is where we see 20kg plus weight gains which can be really challenging to lose.
What’s the best and healthiest eating habits to adopt when pregnant?
Nutrient-rich foods are best – try not to waste your calories on poor choices such as juices, snack foods, toast and starchy foods will make you feel better temporarily, but pack on the kilos quickly if you get into a habit of eating only these. Pregnant women should also try to find a few foods which are nutrient-rich, but still settle your tummy, for example: soda water, plain crackers and cheese and fresh fruit. Try concentrating on these foods instead of calorie-laden ones.
Will any specific foods help curb pregnancy cravings and mood swings?
Eating regularly is important to keep on top of morning sickness as low-blood glucose can increase nausea. I find herbal tea helps, as does icy, cold water. And if you are craving, watch your portions; there is a big difference between a single ice-cream and a tub of Cookies and Cream. If you get into the habit of overindulging early, it will continue and that is when a 10kg weight gain will become 20kg when you let yourself eat things you never usually would just because your are pregnant.
I ate a LOT of Magnums towards the end of my first pregnancy because I was so anxious. Is emotional eating a big problem for pregnant women?
My observation is that we are more likely to give ourselves permission to eat foods we never usually would because of the pregnancy. Like anything, if you eat it in moderation it is not a big deal. For example: eat one mini Magnum per day compared to the whole box. Keeping busy is a big one. And focusing on your baseline nutrition is another; learning to tame cravings with a small treat rather than a binge is a key strategy.
Do you have any other top nutrition tips for preggos?
Keep a close eye on your weight, this will help you track whether you are overdoing things early. And most importantly, keep active in line with what your specialist recommends. I see so many women who literally stop moving the minute that stick turns pink. Initially, it’s because they are tired and then they never start again. You are tired regardless so at least keep walking! Not only does it help to keep your weight and glucose levels under control, but exercise helps keep the baby and aids birth. You at least want to be walking for 30 minutes a day for as long as you can.
As I have twins, the specialist has told me after 28-30 weeks I have to keep off my feet to try and keep them in there as long as possible, which will be very hard for me because I have always exercised for at least an hour a day. So, my plan is to continue gym until late October and do as much walking as I can and then I will swap to swimming. I will also start Pilates as recommended by my doctor, as already I am getting some aches and pains thanks to sitting down so much and things changing in my body.
Images via healthable.org, dailytelegraph.com.au
Are you PMS-ing so badly your husband is afraid to make eye contact as though you’re a wild animal, you hurt all over and look four-months pregnant from the bloating, your moods are more dysfunctional than Christian Grey in Fifty Shades Of Grey, and even your beloved dog is hiding away from you?
When your PMS terror threat level is severe, crazy sugar and/or savoury cravings can be incredibly hard to fight. But are there actually certain foods we can all eat to relieve the physical and emotional horror of PMS?
Research suggests up to 80 per cent of women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), previously known as premenstrual tension (PMT). It occurs after the ovulation stage and lead-up to your period. And its oh-so-pleasant symptoms can include irritability, swollen and sore breasts, bloating, cramps, moodiness, acne, mood swings, migraines, food cravings, depression, fatigue, digestive upset and more. The struggle is real, ladies. Very real.
What on earth should we eat at this heinous time of the month? Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell, who specialises in treating people with hormonal disorders, says it’s true – hallelujah – there is some evidence some foods may lesson PMS symptoms.
“Herbal teas may reduce bloating; carb-rich foods such as sweet potato, brown rice, pasta and bananas may help to produce serotonin in the brain which may help with mood; and magnesium-rich foods, including nuts, leafy greens, avocados and legumes such as kidney beans appear to help in stress management and help reduce headaches,” Susie says.
So, should we all be on a special PMS diet? Yes and no, Susie says – it’s all about fuelling our bodies the right way.
“Most importantly, it comes down to eating really well at that time each month – whole foods, plenty of grains, seeds, nuts, leafy greens and fish to tick the nutritional boxes thought to help prevent and manage some of the symptoms of PMS,” she says.
“One of the most powerful things that can be done is limiting the intake of salty foods around this time as most women will gain 1-2kg of water weight which is why we often describe feeling bloated and puffy. High-salt foods such as pizza, Asian dishes, soy sauce, processed meats and fast food will only increase this fluid retention.”
Why do we crave just nutritional nasties with a bad bout of PMS? And is PMS a legit excuse to smash down a block of chocolate?
“The interesting thing about the menstrual cycle is that women actually need about 250-300 extra calories each day about a week before a period is due, which may somewhat explain the cravings for sweet, carb-rich foods that are experienced,” Susie says.
“Knowing this, we can then try and limit ourselves to one extra sweet treat or snack rather than a whole day’s worth. For example, if you are craving chocolate, rather than buy a whole block, buy a snack size and feel comfortable that you can eat a little more when your period is due. The key message here is manage your cravings rather than let them manage you.”
What do you think about the PMS diet? Or does eating your bodyweight in pasta help alleviate your PMS?
Images via www.popsugar.com; www.girltalkhome.com
Are you struggling to shift that stubborn body fat despite eating well and exercising like a demon? There could be an underlying hormonal reason at play: you may have a clinical condition called insulin resistance, says leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell.
Insulin resistance (IR) means insulin – the hormone secreted by the pancreas to control blood glucose levels in the body – is no longer working as efficiently as it should. And Susie (pictured) believes it’s an incredibly common condition, estimating up to 20 per cent of adults are walking around with IR.
“Over time, numerous factors including a diet high in processed carbohydrates, relatively inactive lifestyle, and often genetics, insulin becomes less and less efficient at processing the glucose we consume in carbohydrate-based foods such as bread, cereals, fruit and sugars,” she says.
“When insulin is not working properly, the body is forced to produce more and more to process the same amount of glucose that we consume in food to fuel the muscles and the brain. The unfortunate thing when it comes to weight control is that the higher the amount of insulin that you have circulating in the body, the harder it becomes to burn body fat.
“This means that if you have insulin resistance, you can be eating an extremely healthy diet, exercising as recommended and actually physically unable to lose weight. In fact, as insulin is the central regulator of both glucose and fat metabolism in the body, when it is not working, the basic energy balance equation when it comes to weight loss – calories in vs calories out – simply does not hold true.”
Susie, who specialises in treating people with hormonal disorders, says up to 30-40 per cent of her female clientele present with both polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – a health condition which affects a woman’s hormone levels, periods, and ovulation – and/or IR. And, left untreated, it can lead to Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.
So, what are the signs and symptoms of IR? Fatigue and sugar cravings are red flags, Susie says, but the most significant giveaway that a degree of insulin resistance may be present is in the way that fat is deposited on our bodies.
“Insulin likes to deposit fat around the abdominal area, which is why women (and men) with severe insulin resistance have a large belly, and the reason that a waist measurement greater than 80cm for a female too may be a sign that insulin resistance is present,” she says.
The dietitian/nutritionist, who recently launched her new program, Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, says an IR diagnosis requires specific blood testing such as a glucose tolerance test via an experienced GP and/or endocrinologist. In addition, it often requires medication to help lower insulin levels and diet and exercise management are crucial.
“Shape Me has developed a specific dietary model which allows individuals with IR to get the right mix of carbs, proteins and good fats to allow them to lose weight,” she says. “Shape Me is the first online program to offer such specific dietary requirements and users also have ongoing access to me for any other specific questions about their IR.”
So, ladies, if you’re concerned you have IR, get your health checked out, stat. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
What do you think? Could IR be the reason you can’t lose weight?
Images via eatohealth.com, snbbloggingacademy.com, rehabprimalway.com
You don’t have to employ the services of a top personal trainer, chef and nutritionist, ala Hollywood A-listers – although it’d sure help sometimes – in order to drop a few kilos.
Rejoice, sister, for there are quick and easy non-diet steps you can take at home which will see you get into those fave skinny jeans or LBD a little easier, says leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured). It’s all about eating smarter and banishing our bad food habits.
“It is interesting to consider that much of our food-related behaviour is habitual patterns which develop over time and leave us prone to overeating on a daily basis,” Susie says.
And while the following healthy eating tips don’t involve sweaty exercise, this doesn’t mean you can skip it altogether, sorry (sad face). For any sound lifestyle program will incorporate both basic healthy diet principles and regular activity, Susie says.
Susie’s top 5 simple, non-diet-and-exercise ways to lose weight:
- Take control of mindless eating habits by chewing your food for longer.
- Put your knife and fork down in between each mouthful; this is proven to cut calorie intake by up to 20 per cent.
- Use smaller plates for food serving to control your portion size.
- Start meals with a soup or salad so you fill up fast on healthy, low-fat options.
- Only eat at a table with no distractions aside from classical music, which has been shown to improve our mood and make us take our time to eat slowly and really enjoy our food.
So, why is a non-diet approach the answer? “While many of us do require some degree of calorie control, for many the word diet means restriction and extreme regimes that are impossible to maintain long-term,” Susie says. “For this reason, the best approach to calorie control long-term is to focus on the what you should be doing, for example: eating more vegetables; cutting back on snacking; and limiting treats, rather than what we should not be eating, which only tends to drive our behaviours in the opposite direction to what we want.”
It’s also Susie’s long-held belief that the latest diets which make big claims are rarely sustainable – think paleo and no-sugar diets. “We all need to be mindful of the calories we consume and the quality of the foods we are eating on a daily basis, but this does not have to mean restriction rather than self-control, which are two very different things,” she says.
“Dietary patterns which promote the consumption of vegetables, legumes, grains and nuts as suggested by both the DASH and Mediterranean diets are best linked to longevity and health long-term.”
Images via eatthis.com, 1nothingbutfood.blogspot.com, 123rf.com
It’s bitterly cold outside, baby, and if you’re eschewing the gym in favour of comfort food and more doona time, you’re not alone. Guilty, as charged!
So, is there a way we can somehow enjoy our favourite winter comfort foods without stacking on the kilos? Rejoice, dear readers, for the answer is yes, according to leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured) – but there’s a catch. Here, Susie – who recently launched her new program: Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan – advises us to carefully watch our carb intake; eat plenty of nutrient-rich veggies and use low-fat options.
What’s more, Susie has even helpfully provided SHESAID readers with one of her awesome recipes for Low-Fat Burgers (see below) in order to help us do just that – winning!
“Traditionally it is the months that follow the Easter holiday period which see many of us go off track when it comes to our diet and lifestyle resolutions,” Susie says. “Too much chocolate, training sessions skipped in favour of more doona time and plenty of comfort food can mean one thing – winter weight gain.”
Here are Susie’s top diet and nutrition tips for these popular, delicious and comforting winter warmers – without the extra kilos to match:
Love this winter superfood? Studies show that adding a soup to our evening meal can help us consume up to 100 fewer calories in a single meal. The diet trick here is to avoid the creamy soups in favour of clear broth and vegetable-based soups. And, to keep it uber healthy, we also have to substitute the thick, carb-heavy slices of toast and butter for a few tasty croutons or wholegrain crackers for the crunch.
Interestingly, Susie says the beloved burger can actually be a relatively good option when dining out, or when we want to prepare a tasty, treat-style meal at home. The trick is to choose lean beef or chicken breast as our burger base along with plenty of salad. The catch? We have to ditch the yummy, calorie-laden extras such as cheese, mayo, bacon and egg and – gasp – the chips. Another great option is a low-carb burger, whereby we use a mushroom or lettuce leaves as a bun for a tasty, filling meal with significantly less carbs.
The main problem with yummy curries is that the coconut cream, rice, potatoes and fatty meats all combine to give a complete calorie and fat overload, Susie says. Sad face! However, we can lighten our curries by choosing vegetarian options; ditching the rice in favour of extra vegetables; and if making a curry at home, we should all be using a light evaporated milk with a little coconut essence as a lower fat alternative to coconut milk and cream.
Twenty years ago, toast slices were small and carbs were far less of a focus in our diets, Susie says. Nowadays, we regularly smash down massive slabs of sourdough or Turkish slices which also means that our carb and calorie intake have skyrocketed. The key to enjoying our breakfast toast is to choose small slices – a slice of sourdough served at bakeries is often the equivalent of two regular slices of bread! Opt for multigrain or rye bread and look for nutrient-rich toppings such as avocado, cottage cheese, smoked salmon or eggs for a nutritionally balanced meal.
I love me a roast; the trick to enjoying this hearty, winter favourite is the more vegetables we can add in, the better. The extra calories from a roast generally come from fatty serves of meat and the gravy. So, if preparing a roast at home, Susie says to choose the leaner cuts of meat; load up with plenty of the lighter, nutrient-rich vegetables, including pumpkin, carrots and greens; and ask for our gravy to be served on the side so we can control your portions.
If you’re anything like me, you can devour bowls and bowls of this glorious comfort dish. And, add some fresh parmesan to the equation and it’s food porn, baby! But alas, pasta is the undoing of many a lass at winter, not to mention today’s popular low-carb diets. Susie advises us Italiano-lovers to control our portion size by enjoying just an entrée-size bowl of good quality pasta and/or swapping traditional pasta for a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta.. With next to no calories, and chock-full of nutrients and fibre, zucchini pasta can be freely enjoyed with our favourite pasta sauces, without the weight gain.
One of my favourite things to do in winter is to make the family-favourite Carrington Pie, with chicken, mushrooms and red wine – yum! What’s more, pies are popular everywhere we look – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pub which does not offer a winter pie on its menu. Unfortunately, pies made with plenty of high-fat puff pastry can contain as much as 50g of fat per serve, much of which is saturated. A much better option nutritionally is to swap to a pie made with filo pastry which contains just 5-10g of fat per 5-10 slices, Susie says. Another option is to make our pies with just a single sheet of puff pastry on top.
While nachos, burritos and quesadillas can be packed with fat and calories from rice, flat bread, corn chips and cheese, the humble taco can be a relatively good choice, Susie advises. Hurray! With a single taco shell containing just 6g of carbs and 2g of fat, a couple of tacos filled with lean meat and plenty of salad can be a great choice nutritionally, she says.
Winter is synonymous with calorie-rich puddings, pastries and pies, oh the sweet, delicious agony! The key thing to remember here is that a single cream or pastry-based dessert will usually contain more calories than a meal, so sharing or tasting is always the best option, Susie says. You’ve been warned, sob. Baked fruit; small individual puddings with just a spoon or two per serving; or a hot drink can be just as satisfying low-cal options, she advises.
Low-Carb Burgers from Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan
- 500g pack of lean beef burgers such as peppercorn extra
- Lean beef burgers
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- 1 small avocado, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp sweet chilli or Dijon mustard
- 8 large romaine lettuce leaves
- Grill or pan fry burgers with a little oil. Allow to cook, turning for 15-20 minutes on medium heat until cooked through.
- Mix mayo with sweet chilli or mustard. Set aside.
- Assemble burgers inside each lettuce leaf. Top with salad and avo. Drizzle with sauce then serve.
Susie Burrell’s new e-book Change Your Mindset And Lose Weight Fast: The Motivation You Need To Lose Weight is out now.
Images via srjohannes.com, beanafoodie.com
Mood rhymes with food and stressed is “desserts” spelled backwards, as the saying goes, but emotional eating is no joke; in fact, it’s a big problem for many of us.
How often do you find yourself, when stressed, tired, upset and/or angry, reaching for that chocolate bar, slice of cake or packet of chips? I’m certainly guilty of this when feeling super anxious – add it in a bottle of wine and it’s a pity party for one!
There’s surely not a woman (or man) alive who hasn’t fallen prey to emotional/comfort eating. So, how do we stop eating our emotions? Are there practical ways we can actually fight the urge to eat our feelings this winter?
Even my GP says she has to fight the urge to comfort eat. And her best advice on how to do this is to get out of the kitchen; distract yourself with a task which involves using your hands; do something which makes you feel good, such as a pampering hair or face mask and/or painting your nails; and/or eat nutritious, regular meals to combat emotional eating and overeating.
Meanwhile, leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured) says emotional eating is, by definition, “periods of abnormal eating behaviour which have been triggered in response to a particular mood state such as sadness, loneliness or anger.”
In addition, she says sufferers find their emotional discomfort is then temporarily lessened once they eat; with super sweet or salty food the common modus operandi.
So, why is emotional eating bad for us? Obviously, the sweet relief, pardon the pun, is all too fleeting, but Susie says there are serious health risks at play too.
“Weight gain is a problem if excessive calories are consumed, but more importantly in the case of emotional eating the underlying emotional distress is not being identified and managed appropriately. Long-term depressed mood and distress, left unmanaged, can develop into significant health issues,” she says.
“And other dangers can include low mood and energy levels; fatigue, inability to concentrate; and long-term nutrient deficiencies and girls at risk of developing a clinical eating disorder.”
So, what’s a healthy food relationship? Susie’s top tips to stop comfort/emotional eating include:
- Eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Eating regular meals and snacks every 3-4 hours.
- Not being obsessed with eating and food.
- If you really do not want to eat it, do not keep it in the house.
What do you think? Do you eat to ease emotional pain and distress?
Images via blog.aarp.org, blisstree.com