Can the Mediterranean diet provide protection against dementia?

Can the Mediterranean diet provide protection against dementia?

If you’re anything like me, the word ‘dementia’ fills you with fear. I want to spend my retirement years travelling and playing with my grandchildren.  Not relying on someone to take care of me.

Like me, you probably think that there’s nothing you can do to protect yourself from dementia.  That is, until I read some promising new research suggesting the Mediterranean diet may help delay dementia by up to 5 years.

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Packing a healthy school lunch box – that your kids will eat!

Packing a healthy school lunch box – that your kids will eat!

Coming up with a lunch box day after day can do your head in!  A healthy lunch box doesn't need to be full of expensive "super foods" that will get picked at - these ideas can be put together in 10 minutes max. 

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"Mum, I'm hungry!" - primary school edition

"Mum, I'm hungry!" - primary school edition

Recently I was asked to review the afternoon tea menu of a group of Out of School Hours Care Centres. I thought this was a fabulous initiative by the centre because such centres are valuable in promoting healthy eating to children and their families. For busy working parents it would be a godsend to know that when you pick up your kid they have had something decent to eat. But maybe your kids don’t go to after care -what should you be including in afternoon tea at home?

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Boosting your calcium intake on a lactose free diet

Boosting your calcium intake on a lactose free diet

Did you know more than half of Australians adults don't get enough calcium?  Calcium is the major building block for our bones - it's deposited as a crystal onto out bones to give them strength.  Our bones also store calcium so that when we don't get enough calcium in our diets the body will take calcium from our bones.  This is why it is really important to have a daily supply of calcium throughout our lives.   So, how do you get enough calcium on a dairy-free diet?

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Why Women in Their 40s Need to Stay Active

Why Women in Their 40s Need to Stay Active

As a nutritionist I'm concerned with many aspects of your wellness, beyond what you eat, such as stress levels, mental health, sleep and movement.  Today I'd like to welcome a guest post by Brendan McGovern, the Principal Physiotherapist and Director of RedoHealth, a small physiotherapy practice in the heart of Balmain. I’ve asked Brendan to talk about why we need to stay active, the benefits to you and your family, and how to fit it all in!

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Supporting your recovery from injury through nutrition

Supporting your recovery from injury through nutrition

A downside of finding a sport that you love is the inevitable injury that sidelines you.  While you are sidelined - what can you eat to support your recovery to get you back to your sport stronger than ever? No, I'm not talking about eating your feelings via chocolate and red wine but using your diet to support your recovery and get you back to your sport stronger than ever?

Your focus during your recovery should be on fighting inflammation and fuelling repair – loading up anti-inflammatory foods, keeping essential nutrient intake high as well as boosting protein intake. Your focus during your recovery should be on fighting inflammation and fuelling repair – loading up anti-inflammatory foods, keeping essential nutrient intake high as well as boosting protein intake.

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Feeding your pre-schooler

Feeding your pre-schooler

Feeding your 3 or 4 year old can be such a challenging time.  I thought I'd offer some tips which I've learned from my training and also what worked with my kids.  Get to know how much your children should be eating and look at the pattern over a week not a day.  Children have small stomachs so don't expect them to eat adult portions. Your toddler will  have developed food likes and dislikes, and their appetite will differ depending on how active they have been and whether they are going through a growth spurt.  So don't worry if they eat a lot of food some days and little on others.  As long as they are getting a wide range of different foods over the course of a week they will be getting the nutrients they need.

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10 easy snacks for busy women

10 easy snacks for busy women

What do you do when the 3pm energy slump hits?  Do you grab a biscuit from the office stash or ignore the slump and hope it passes?  For me if I don't make the effort to have a small snack at this time I get very hangry and snap at everyone around me. 

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Product Review - Naked Kitchen Black Bean Chilli with Red Quinoa & Paprika

Product Review - Naked Kitchen Black Bean Chilli with Red Quinoa & Paprika

I'm always on the look out for shelf stable products that are healthy and delicious that I can serve up for a quick lunch or dinner.  Since my daughter became vegetarian I've explored some new areas of the supermarket and came across this product in the fridge section which she and I both think is delicious!

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5 Easy Office Lunches

5 Easy Office Lunches

Does this sound like you? Can I guess why? Like a lot of the women I see, you've had a coffee and maybe a slice of toast for breakfast. You've chosen a tuna salad for lunch - because you are trying to be "good". By 3 pm you are all about the easy carbs - picking at the kids’ leftovers and in and out of the kitchen after dinner. That's because you've barely eaten enough to make it from your bed to the sofa let alone provide yourself with enough energy to do all the things you need to do in your day!  Crowd out the junk food by getting your lunch right. 

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Should you consider a low FODMAP diet?

Should you consider a low FODMAP diet?

For some people, a diet high in FODMAPs can cause a range of abdominal symptoms such as bloating, excess wind, distension, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea (or a combination of both). Following a low FODMAP diet can help manage these abdominal symptoms - 75% of people with IBS experience relief from their symptoms with a low FODMAP diet.

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Sports Nutrition for Teenagers

Sports Nutrition for Teenagers

Do you have sporty teenagers?  With the winter sports season kicking off, you might be wondering if your teenagers are eating the right types of food to support healthy growth and development as well as their training and competition. It's not all about protein powder to get "shredded", or litres of sweet sports drinks!

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12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas

I hate to use the term superfoods (eye roll) but I was thinking about all the lovely food we are blessed to be surrounded by this time of year and that I associate with Christmas.  I thought I'd share some of their health benefits as well as recipes that my family enjoy this time of year.  I'd love to hear about your Christmas super foods too!  My favourite part of Christmas is sharing a meal with the people that I love.  Food should be seen as part of the celebration - not something to feel guilty about.  Include plenty of fresh fruit and veggies and some lean protein and use the time off work to schedule in a walk or run.  Consider Mindful Eating  over the Christmas break by making more conscious food choices, paying attention to how you eat, and practicing self-acceptance.   

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Your vegetarian teenager

Your vegetarian teenager

Has your teenager recently announced they are a vegetarian?  Mine has!  The rest of the family eat meat and I'm too busy to be cooking 2 meals every night so here's some ideas for how I cope.  I've also seen quite a few vegetarian clients recently with iron deficiency so I'll outline some common nutrient concerns with a vegetarian teenager and how to avoid them.

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Sports Nutrition for Competitive Adolescent Athletes

Sports Nutrition for Competitive Adolescent Athletes

I was lucky enough recently to be able to work with an athlete preparing for the Australian Schoolboys Rugby Union Tournament.  He was interested in maintaining his work rate, making his tackles and not fatiguing in the second half of the game.  Here's some of the key points we came up with.  Of course, every athlete is different with different food preferences, requirements and backgrounds. What is right for one athlete may not benefit the next - so make sure that your sports nutrition advice is tailored to your goals.  

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Gut Health

Gut Health

The more we learn about the role of gut, the more it seems that the gut  can be thought of as the centre of overall good health. Our gastrointestinal tract runs right through the core of the body and has does a lot more than just digest our food. Our gut is home to lots of bacteria – known as gut flora. A healthy digestive system has a balance of good and bad bacteria. When your gut is not working as it should your energy levels are affected, your mood is affected and your ability to concentrate is affected.  You can help maintain your digestive system by ensuring you consume prebiotics, probiotics and sufficient dietary fibre.

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My favourite yoghurts

My favourite yoghurts

One of the most common questions I get asked is “what yoghurt should I buy”*?  There are so many varieties available with options such as fat free, greek, greek style, pot set – what should you choose? With a group of my colleagues we’ve put together a table of our favourite brands.  What we have considered is taste, protein/fat/sugar content, calcium content and whether the yoghurt contains probiotics. 

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nuun electrolyte tablets

nuun electrolyte tablets

A long overdue post about my most used sports nutrition product - nuun electrolyte tablets.   Nuun tablets are added to water and replenish the electrolytes that are lost in sweat during exercise with only 1g of sugar (dextrose) per serve (compared to 36g of sugar in a sports drink).  Nuun contains the four main electrolytes that are vital in hydration and exercise performance and this year they will be the official hydration partner of the City2Surf

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INTERMITTENT FASTING - WILL IT WORK FOR YOU?

Intermittent Fasting diets have been popular for a few years.  Recently researchers from Austin Health and the University of Melbourne compared the results of the popular 5:2 intermittent fasting diet with a standard kilojoule reduced diet.  The 5:2 diet involves eating only 2,500 kilojoules (or 600 calories) on two non-consecutive days a week and then eating normally on the other five days.  Both diets demonstrated similar weight loss and reduction in body  fat and girth over a 6 month period.  

Often clients ask me whether an Intermittent fasting approach would work for them.  My answer is - it depends.  It works well for some people. If you are like Client A  who has a busy job, not really into food, happy to fast for 2 days because they forget to eat much at work anyway and don't feel the need to "feast" on the non fasting days an intermittent fasting approach might work.  

However for client B who works from home, prepares the family meals, who gets a lot of hedonistic pleasure from planning and enjoying meals (this is me by the way) - going 2 days with only 500 calories ("what does that equate to anyway?!") would find intermittent fasting a challenge.  

Client C might be a  strict "If it fits your macros"  gym-bro who isn't afraid to sacrifice meals, avoids "cheating" when a goal is near, and is used to restrictive eating might be able to persevere with intermittent fasting while they get results and then might move on to the next thing if intermittent fasting non longer works for them.  

Really, any approach that involves eating less and moving more is likely to get results. However with any way of eating before you commence it you need to think about whether you can imagine doing it for the rest of your life because that's ultimately the plan that will work for you.  

I'd prefer people to tune in to mindful eating, where they notice and enjoy food and recognise hunger and fullness cues.  I'd love to see more families cooking at home and eating together  with parents modelling a balanced, healthy approach to food.  You can find out more about mindful eating here and my coaching approach here.  

If you do decide to try intermittent fasting make sure you talk to your GP first. There have been concerns around risks for some people on certain medications or with particular medical conditions – fasting might make some conditions worse. If you're on medication for high blood pressure or type II diabetes, you may need a different medication regime on that day or a whole change of medication. Also in some susceptible people, it can stir up their liver as the fat starts emptying out of it. This can actually make the liver more inflamed and trigger liver disease. A similar thing can happen in the gallbladder, too.

My 3 top tips for eating mindfully

Mindful eating is all about focusing our attention on the act of eating.  It means eating with awareness and using all the senses - sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.  

image source: eatingmindfully.com 

I love this image from the guru of mindful eating - Susan Albers.    Before you start eating take a few deep breathes and truly concentrate on the taste of food.  Savour the flavours.  As you progress in your meal you might notice that the pleasure in eating decreases and the speed at which you are eating increases.  When the food is not giving you pleasure it might be time to put down your knife and fork.  

Here are some of my favorite ways of bringing mindfulness to mealtimes: 

Eat slower

It’s a good idea to remind yourself (and your family) that mealtime isn’t a race.  By eating slower you are more likely to notice when you are full.  S lowing down and chewing food properly helps you digest your food and helps prevent food-baby tummy aches we get from eating too quickly.  

REMOVE the phone.  TURN off the Telly. 

 do you see a spot for your mobile?  I don’t either

Our lives are full of distractions, and often families eat with the TV on or with someone playing with their iPhone. Try making family mealtime an electronics-free zone. I’m not saying you can’t ever eat pizza in front of the TV, but if you do want to do that - make it a deliberate choice. 

Pay attention to flavor

The tartness of lime, the spiciness of chilli flakes, the crunch of a pizza crust — paying attention to your food can be a great way to eat mindfully. When you eat on the go or get through your meal in five minutes, it can be hard to notice what you are actually eating, let alone truly savour all the different sensations of eating. 

 

Mindful eating can be a simple commitment to appreciating and enjoying the food you eat every day. It can be practiced with salad or ice cream, an apple or a piece of chocolate, and you can practice it at home, at work, or even as you snack on the go -though you may find yourself doing this less often.

 

When the focus becomes how you eat, rather than what you eat, you might find what you want to eat changes too.

If you'd like to learn more about MINDFUL EATING and be supported along the way with lessons and recipes click here

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