It’s all too easy in winter, when it’s freezing cold and you’re craving comfort food, to carb-load for Australia. What’s more, it’s snuggle weather, cold and flu season, and you’re wearing a mountain of layers – eating light meals and stripping off and heading to the gym can seem like insurmountable tasks.
But is putting on winter weight in manner of a woolly mammoth inevitable, or can it actually be prevented? Highly regarded, qualified and practicing nutritionist and passionate foodie, Jessica Cox, 38, (pictured) says it’s the latter; winter doesn’t have to spell doom and gloom for our waistlines and/or our digestive health.
Jessica, who’s armed with a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition) and more than eight years of clinical experience, is also the founder and business owner of Brisbane’s Jessica Cox Nutritionist Clinic (JCNC). She treats all health conditions, but specialises in ongoing digestive issues and food intolerances.
Here, the nutritionist says instead of hibernating on the couch with a bowl of pasta bigger than your head, with a bit of nutritional planning, you can boost your energy and stay svelte in the colder months.
“As a nutritionist, it’s a big part of my job at this time of the year to ensure my clients are provided with the best nutritional tools to breeze through winter and bounce straight into spring,” Jessica says. “This primarily involves keeping daily food intake ‘on point’ regarding macronutrient balance, while ensuring that more heavier comfort foods do not become overly dominant on a day-to-day basis.”
So, fellow carb-lovers, I’m sorry to break it to you, but we’ve got work to do in cleaning up our diets this winter. For Jessica says learning to balance the meals we naturally crave in winter, such as stews, braises, mashes, pasta, rice, breads and polenta, is key to maintaining our weight.
“I don’t think you need to watch your calories more, from summer through to winter, it should relatively be the same if your exercising habits remain unchanged – it’s more about watching how you put together your meals,” she says. “So when it gets cooler, we start to crave those carb-dominant comfort foods. It’s not that carbs are bad, it’s just that our portions start to get a bit skewed in the cooler months.”
Jessica’s other top tip is to eat a nutrionally balanced diet during the day to help us fight those sweet cravings during the afternoon slump. “Go for a snack that’s going to have some sweetness, but combine it with protein, so a good option would be a handful of nuts, but add dried apricots to that too. Alternatively, have a square of 70-80 per cent cacao dark chocolate, but have it with a handful of nuts so it’s more filling and there’s more protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Sugar on its own gives you that little boost but drops you down again.”
And ladies, watch your comfort and/or emotional eating behaviours – which often go hand-in-hand – in winter, Jessica says. “In the cooler weather we want that more fuller filling to create warmth in the body – you can get addicted to that – again, it’s about teaching people that the more balanced intake you have during the day, you don’t get those cravings for such large, heavy meals as you won’t be as ravenous.”
A sweet-tooth tip I personally love, is Jessica’s advice to forsake a block of milk chocolate for a yummy, but healthier alternative such as a piece of 80 per cent cacao dark chocolate in a cup, melted with some boiling water, topped with frothy milk. Yum!
And the nutritionist says alcohol is another top healthy diet-killer; she advises alcohol-free days from Monday-Thursday, then ideally only one-to-two drinks on the remaining days. “If someone wants to lose weight, wine consumption most nights can be a real issue; your body will use alcohol as a preferential fuel to burn and it’s more inclined to store your meal as excess.”
Jessica’s top 10 tips on how to avoid winter weight gain:
- Start your day right: Ensure your breakfast and lunches contain a combination of your macronutrients, this being carbohydrates, protein and fats. This will provide you with long lasting satiety and reduce cravings for sugar between meals. An example of this would be a brown rice, veggie, chicken and cashew stir fry, or a toasted rye wrap with avocado, spinach, grated beetroot and smoked salmon.
- Don’t skip breakfast: Eating breakfast really does amp up your metabolism for the day. When it’s chilly it can be tempting to spend a few more minutes (or ten) under the blankets, causing you to be late and run out the door without breakfast. A good rule of thumb is to eat your breakfast within half an hour of waking.
- Snack regularly: Include a morning and afternoon snack with protein to keep your metabolism charging along and to avoid energy slumps (leading to chocolate cravings in the afternoon). A good tip is to include some sweetness with your protein snack, like a handful of pistachios with some raisons or a few dried apricots.
- Watch the carbs: Keep your complex carbohydrate (or grain) portion of your main meals to just roughly one-third of your meal. For example, if you have the above stir-fry, ensure only one-third of the meal is brown rice.
- Smash the veggies: Aim to make half of your meal vegetables. These vegetables could be roasted, stir-fried, braised and stewed.
- Watch your portions: When it’s cold, we often want to eat more for that ‘full’ feeling. Overeating is one of the most common bad habits we have which leads to weight gain, especially through winter. Eat till you are comfortable, not bursting full.
- Don’t overeat: Wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds. Nine times out of 10, you will not want it and that craving will have passed.
- Turn up the heat: Include warming and metabolism-boosting ingredients in your meals such as chilli, cayenne pepper and ginger, along with drinking green tea.
- Get fresh, baby: Keep some fresh, lively food in your diet with all those cooked vegetables. Add a handful of baby spinach or rocket to a braise as you serve, or a generous handful of herbs. This will keep your digestive tract filled with a variety of fibre sources, and in turn keep your transit time (stool movements) on track. A healthy digestive tract always results in a healthier metabolism!
- Get expert help: Unsure about what’s right for your body and your needs, especially with exercise involved? See a nutritionist: an expert can help you gain critical education to enable you to achieve your personal health and weight-loss goals.
Images via Womens Health, Get Your Fit Together, Paleo Recipes
Are you lacking in energy, after juggling work/kids/home-life/personal commitments? Does your life feel like a marathon, from start to finish, each day?
If you answered yes, and you’re struggling to achieve a home/life balance, as I am, then it might be high time you looked at fine-tuning your diet. Never fear, help is at hand dear readers, thanks to well-regarded qualified, practicing nutritionist and passionate foodie, Jessica Cox (pictured).
Jessica is armed with a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition) and more than eight years of clinical experience. She is also the founder and business owner of the successful Jessica Cox Nutritionist Clinic (JCNC), based in Brisbane. She treats all health conditions, but specialises in ongoing digestive issues and food intolerances. And here, Jessica reveals her top tips on how we can all lead a healthier, more energised and balanced life.
Q: What are the easiest and best ways women can boost their energy?
The best possible way to boost your energy is to eat regular meals throughout the day which contain a balance of your macronutrients: this being carbohydrates, protein and fats. Most importantly, starting the day with a breakfast within the first 30 minutes of rising is ideal. If this is not possible, then grab a small snack (such as a banana) to see you through to your breakfast meal, in an hour’s time at the latest.
When you start the day with a well-balanced breakfast, it ensures that your blood-sugar levels remain stable instead of dropping quite low from the get-go. By following this breakfast with regular meals and snacks through your day, you continue to keep your blood-sugar levels stable and your cells sufficiently fuelled to keep you energised.
An example of a balanced meal for breakfast would be a piece of rye toast or a sweet potato rosti (starchy, slow release carbs), plus some baby spinach (non-starchy carbs full of nutrients, though not enough slow release energy on its own), a poached egg or some smoked salmon (protein and a little fat) and some avocado (more fats).
A sweet version may be oats (starchy, slow-release carbs) plus some chia seeds, almond meal and nut butter (protein and fats) and some fresh strawberries to top (non-starchy carbs full of nutrients, though not enough slow release energy on its own). If you would like more of a breakdown of what carbohydrates, protein and fat foods are you can check out my f.a.q section on my website.
What are the top 10, best energy-boosting foods and why?
Fundamentally, the best way to boost your energy is by adhering to the above. You can eat foods rich in B vitamins and magnesium to fuel your energy levels, yet if they are not combined with enough protein or quality fats to keep you going you will still end up feeling tired. That being said, some foods quite nutrient-dense that will facilitate quality energy levels when combined with a balanced diet are:
- Brazil nuts: Rich in selenium and an important nutrient for thyroid health.
- Pumpkin seeds: Rich in the mineral zinc which is vital for hundreds of enzyme functions within the body.
- Sardines: The fishy food everyone hates! Sardines are a powerhouse of essential fatty acids, protein, calcium and zinc. Try them in my artichoke and lemon sardine smash recipe, on my website!
- Oats: These contain slow-release carbohydrates which keep us going for hours, while being a plentiful supply of B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.
- Barley: Similar to oats, Barley is ideal coming into the colder weather and can be added to soups and stews. It contains plant-based iron for supporting red blood cells along with selenium.
- Red meat: Many of us are too afraid of red meat! Good-quality red meat is an abundant source of B12, Iron and B vitamins integral for red blood cell development.
- Avocado: Packed with B5 for supporting your adrenal glands and also plenty of quality fats for keeping your cell membranes healthy, avocados are a great superfood.
- Rainbow trout: Similar to salmon, trout is quite rich in omega fats, which helps keep your brain firing on all cylinders, while also being an abundant source of protein and B12.
- Sprouts: Think alfalfa, mung beans and broccoli sprouts; these little guys are jam-packed with nutrients and are an easy addition to any salad. They are also fantastic on top of peanut butter on toast!
- Tahini: What’s not to like about it? Filled with essential fats, protein and loads of calcium, this favourite spread of mine will nurture your nervous system and add a punch of creamy flavour to everything.
Bonus food – Eggs: Nature’s gift of perfection (unless you are intolerant, of course). Eggs are packed with lecithin to help support your nervous system and plenty of protein to keep you charged.
What do you think about restrictive diets? What diet is best for optimum health and energy?
Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook knows I am 100 per cent against restrictive diets, inclusive of fad diets, no matter how healthy they appear on the surface. Any restrictive diet leads to an imbalance of macronutrient intake and often results in “falling off the wagon” as a result; people usually give in to their cravings for carbs, in most cases.
Even more worrying is the destructive food relationship that goes hand-in-hand with restrictive diets. They create anxiety and fear around food and a very unhealthy relationship with eating in general. Restrictive diets can also damage our metabolism and make it even harder to shift weight as we age.
Regular, balanced eating with meals containing your macronutrientsis, by far, the best diet for optimal health and energy. A very general rule of thumb (and please keep in mind that this changes depending on your personal needs) is to fill half your plate with fresh vegetables, 1/3 with protein, the other 1/3 with a complex carbohydrate and then add a few tablespoons of a fat (Try 1/4 avocado, or some lovely oil and/or some nuts and seeds). Then, make sure your morning tea and afternoon tea snacks have some protein within them, such as some nuts and seeds (or nut/seed butters), or cheese, yoghurt or even some fish or an egg.
Images via Pixabay
We all know the type: the super-thin girl who refuses to ever eat cake, pasta, and/or bread and who never raises a glass of alcohol to her lips.
This same poor lass will rigidly order the same salad for lunch and exercise for more than two hours daily, obsessively watching her weight and food intake.
This clean eating obsession, or orthorexia, is a proposed, new eating disorder that’s increasingly common in young women and teenage girls, says leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured). Yet, it’s still not medically recognised as a bona fide eating disorder, Susie says.
“The classification for clinical disorders is clearly defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) – the official manual used by the American Psychiatric Association to classify psychological disorders, but as for any scientific definitions, there are outliers, and this is the case with this increasingly commonly seen condition – orthorexia,” she says.
Sufferers are so obsessed with clean eating they will only consume foods which are “pure” and “healthy”, and subsequently favour extremely low-calorie, unprocessed foods, which in turn kept their body weight extremely low. And while they are not malnourished, young girls and women with orthorexia customarily suffer from anxiety, low moods and depression.
So, is there a cure? Orthorexia sufferers need a more balanced and nutritious diet, plus good therapy to help them to identify and manage their emotions, rather than using food and exercise as an escape from them, Susie says.
And Christine Morgan, CEO of the Butterfly Foundation and national director of The National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) concurs. “Orthorexia is a recognised illness and is being treated by eating disorders specialists in Australia,” Christine says. “However, it is not as yet officially recognised as a specific eating disorder.
“Anyone who obsessively manages the consumption of whole food groups is at risk of nutritional deprivation.” So, when does healthy eating go too far?
Top Warning Signs Of Orthorexia
- You skip social occasions for fear of having to eat food you have not prepared.
- Your skin is dull and your hair is falling out.
- You have lost your period.
- You feel constantly tired.
- You have been experiencing recurrent injuries.
- You will only eat a very limited range of foods, like fruit and vegetables, and are inordinately obsessed with these foods.
- You never eat cake or enjoy an alcoholic drink.
- You exercise for more than two hours a day.
- People are constantly commenting that you look too thin.
- You are still not happy with your body no matter what you eat or how much you exercise.
- You feel guilty when not following strict rules about meals and, conversely, virtuous when eating “correctly”.
- You experience social isolation in group-dining settings.
- You avoid situations that might involve “processed” foods.
If you need help and support, phone the Butterfly Foundation National Supportline on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or visit their website.
Images via panosplatritis.com, healthology.com.au, howcast.com
Emma Sutherland is not only a naturopath, nutritionist, and busy mum, but she is also the co-author of 50 Foods that Will Change your Life and the expert Nutritionist for Wagner’s Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract. It is Emma’s mission to encourage and inspire women to take control of their lives through advocating healthy eating and making positive lifestyle choices – she is such an inspiration for all of us who feel like we need that little extra motivation.
Emma recently had the chance to visit Japan, the home of Aged Garlic Extract, and experienced first hand the garlic aging process and the research behind its benefits. Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract is the only aged garlic product in the world and recent studies have shown that taking Aged Garlic Extract supports healthy immunity and maintains healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is fast becoming the secret super unique extract that everyone should be taking.
Recently, SheSaid had the opportunity to catch up with Emma to get her advice on healthy eating, her time in Japan and the benefits of taking Aged Garlic Extract.
You’ve just released your book, the ultimate guide to healthy eating, 50 Foods that Will Change You Life. What have been the key foods that have changed your life?
Avocado would be the number one food that has changed my life. As a child I didn’t like it but once I hit puberty I couldn’t get enough. Full of beautiful monounsaturated fats, avocado supports optimal hormone health for women. Avocado also contains high levels of vitamin E, vitamin B6 and fibre.
Fennel is another favourite due to its ability to reduce bloating. The essential oil anethole combats digestive complaints such as IBS and works beautifully to alleviate painful menstrual cramps. I love fennel finely sliced with orange, walnuts and rocket.
What are your top 3 tips for maintaining a balanced and healthy diet and lifestyle?
1. Avoid chemicals in any form and eat clean, fresh wholefoods instead of packaged, processed foods. A book called The Chemical Maze is a great user friendly guide to avoiding chemicals.
2. Practice mindful eating – take 5 deep breathes before each meal, avoid multi tasking and put your utensils down between mouthfuls.
3. Have a huge side splitting belly laugh at least once a day.
You are the expert nutritionist and naturopath for Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract and recently had the opportunity to go to Japan. What did you take from the Japanese lifestyle and their approach to health?
Japanese people have a completely different approach to health – it’s hugely preventative and they are very proactive about preserving good health rather than waiting until they are sick to take action. They walk instead of drive, eat small portions of a wide variety of foods, practice regular tai chi and they really take the time to care for their health. Its no wonder Japan has the lowest rate of cardiovascular disease in the world!
What did you learn about the ageing process behind Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract?
First of all the 20-month ageing process takes away the strong odour that raw garlic has. Harsh compounds found in raw garlic that cause nausea and stomach upsets are eliminated. The antioxidant properties are boosted which results in AGE having more antioxidant capacity than vitamin C! The process also produces new compounds that are incredibly beneficial – S-allylcysteine is a great example which is responsible for the blood pressure lowering effect of AGE.
What are the key health benefits of taking Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract?
Research from over 700 scientific papers shows that AGE will boost immunity, increase your antioxidant levels, reduce stress, reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
Who would you recommend to take Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract?
I thing everyone would benefit enormously from taking AGE. It has so many proven benefits that it will not only support your immediate health by improving immunity and resilience to stress but also lower your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, Australia’s number one killer. Personally I have been taking it every day for nearly two years as I have a young child and need to boost my immunity and avoid getting infections.
Nutritionist and author of 10-days to a Healthier You Kathleen Alleaume gives us the low-down on raw cacao, how to eat it and why it’s better than chocolate – and shares her raw cacao protein balls recipe.
We all have experienced the positive feelings associated with eating chocolate, but have you tried unprocessed chocolate in the form of raw cacao (pronounced ka·cow) – which essentially is the same bean as cocoa, but in its raw state.
Compared to traditional cocoa found in traditional store-bought chocolate, raw cacao has very little sugar or additives making it a great way to consume something nutritious while still feeling decadent.
Due to its minimal processing, raw cacao retains a potent mineral content and nutrient dense properties, including a rich source of chromium (to help balance blood sugar), magnesium (to help maintain normal muscle and nerve function), and contains nearly twice the antioxidant content of red wine and up to three times the antioxidant content of green tea. Research also shows that cacao promotes cardiovascular health by helping reduce blood clotting, improve circulation, regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart attacks or stroke.
Too much of a good thing
Cacao is very powerful on the central nervous system and over-indulging can inhibit calcium absorption. The recommendation is to have no more than 40g (or four to six heaped teaspoons) of raw cacao a day.
How to eat it
Good quality raw cacao powder is available in most supermarkets and health food shops. Although the taste is very bitter, it’s advised to add a sweetener to it such as honey, stevia or agave. Add 1 tablespoon of cacao to your morning smoothie, make decadent desserts using avocado, or enjoy cacao protein balls as a guilt-free energy-boosting snack.
Recipe: Raw Cacao Protein Balls
Makes about 10 balls
½ cup LSA (linseed, almond and sunflower) meal
¼ cup chia seeds
2 tbsp raw cacao
½ cup tahini
6 dried dates, pitted
1 tbsp honey
1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor and process until well combined and in a crumbly, paste-type consistency. Add a splash of water to make a smoother consistency (optional).
2. These delicious bite size pieces of heaven surely hit the spot. Not only are they jammed packed in protein and good fats, they’re a fantastic grab and go snack that will satisfy that longing for something sweet.
For more nutritious meal ideas, shopping lists and lifestyle tips to help you look feel great and look beter, download a free 3-day sample plan at www.therightbalance.com.au.