How many different plant foods do you eat in a week? The American Gut project recently found that found that people regularly eating 30+ different types of plant foods per week had a more diverse microbiome than those eating 10 or fewer different plant foods a week. Recent research has shown the richer and more diverse the community of gut microbes are, the lower your risk of disease. Can you add a couple of different plants this week?Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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!Read More
A tin of tuna is a popular lunch choice as it is a good source of protein, cheap and shelf stable. A lot of people eat tuna for lunch assuming they are getting a serve of omega 3s – essential fatty acids. However tinned tuna is very low in omega3s - tinned salmon or sardines provide much more.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
We are entering into exam season and you might have a stressed-out teenager on your hands. As I'm sure you remember from toddler days, what they eat can have a big impact on mood. Here’s my tips for the foods to include in your teenager’s diet.Read More
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.Read More
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 City2SurfRead More
My Facebook feed at the moment of tips and tricks of how to "survive" the holiday season as if celebrating with friends and family is something to be dreaded. I love a party and I'd hate to think of people depriving themselves but it's worth knowing some tricks and tips so you can enjoy the party without that stuffed full feeling.
Here's my 6 top tips to enjoy 6 weeks of the silly season.
Try not to turn up to the party ravenous - make sure you've had a really good lunch with plenty of veggies and protein. If you're still hungry mid afternoon have a snack - say an apple and some nuts with some chopped up veggies. You'll feel much more in control and not dive straight into the bowl of chips and dip
Choose the food & drink you really love. I love a beautiful french champagne and some rich creamy St Agur cheese. But I can leave cheap Sauvignon Blanc and deep fried canapés. Savour the experience of eating good quality food rather than high fat snacks that leave you feeling bloated and heavy afterwards.
Practice your mindful eating "gap" by asking yourself "do I really feel like eating this?" - this simple question is often enough to help you control the amount of food you are eating. Another simple trick is to limit yourself to just 3-5 canapés at any one event and say it out loud to yourself before you go into the party.
Count your drinks - Try to have at least two alcohol-free days each week to give your liver a break and make every second drink at the party water. You can offer to drive sometimes too.
Christmas is one day not two months - you don't need a mince pie in November. Try to differentiate “special” occasions from run of the mill drinks and parties with work colleagues and acquaintances. This way you can indulge when there is a truly special occasion but keep on track with healthy habits the rest of the time.
Offer to bring a plate. Everyone loves it if you go to the effort of providing a whole lot of veggie sticks and homemade dips, and they are always eaten, after all we're all grownups and most people don't really want the deep fried food. Here are some of my favourite plates to share.
Do you need help getting your healthy eating back on track? My 6 week customised nutrition program was specially designed to help you establish healthy eating habits, lose weight, or recover from the diet cycle. Find out more here.
Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain. She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers private consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks.
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.
Could you have insulin resistance or pre-diabetes? Insulin Resistance is a silent condition which occurs when cells in your body stop responding to insulin. Insulin is produced in response to blood sugar sugar - it tells the cells to metabolise the sugar by burning out for energy or storing. Insulin helps keep your blood sugar levels stable so that sugar can be used as a fuel source in your muscles and liver.
People with insulin resistance have normal blood glucose levels, which is why it is hard to diagnose. However although the blood sugar levels are being controlled, more and more insulin is required. The presence of all this excess insulin in the body is thought to be linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, fatty liver and even some cancers as well as type 2 diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and CVD, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
A new client of mine came to see as she had a health scare. Her blood sugars were on the high side. She was sent for a fasting glucose test which found Impaired Glucose Intolerance with a level of 8.3 (normal range is 3.6-7.7). My client saw a diabetic consultant who was helpful but was still confused about an eating plan that would suit her and her lifestyle. Here's what my client said:
"What I love most about Rachel is she is very positive and encouraging. She kept telling me that there is nothing I cannot eat, but just to watch the amounts. Rachel had me keep a diary of the meals I had everyday for a few weeks. InitiallyI did have my doubts and worried about keeping to a diary. But it is not difficult. My family and I even took a holiday to Spain and Singapore in June and I was worried about the foods but it was no problem.
2 weeks ago, I had another blood test for the sugar level and it is now only 4.9, with fasting. Am overjoyed and knew that the plan on the right foods worked. My specialist told me if I stick to this, I will never be diabetic. Anyone can do this.
I highly recommend Rachel Eagleton."
I was overjoyed with my client's results. While weight loss, glowing skin or extra energy might be a measure we can see on the outside I believe it is far more important to invest in your internal health and do everything you can to reduce the risk lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Want to know more about designing a way of eating that works for you to manage your goals? Read more here
Are you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Take this test and talk to your GP
Read more about insulin resistance and pre-diabetes here:
It's the early days of winter here in Sydney and the chemists are full of pills and potions designed to help you avoid catching winter colds.
Can you boost immunity - and would you want to?
The idea of boosting your immunity is appealing, however the immune system works as a whole. There are many cells in the immune system that respond to different microbes in different ways. Which cells should you boost and in which number? Athletes that engage in blood doping to increase their number of blood cells run the risk of stroke.
That said maintaining a healthy immune system is always important, especially during colder months when we’re often indoors in closer contact with germs. The link between strong immunity and nutritional intake is clear - more whole foods, fewer processed foods, and a balanced intake of essential vitamins and minerals can keep you, and the people around you, from getting sick.
What you can include in your diet
Why: A powerful antioxidant that aids in the production and function of white blood cells, helps prevent cell damage, and is needed for the function of essential enzymes.
Where to find it: Citrus fruits and drinks, and vegetables like red capsicum
Did You know? Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient, meaning it is not stored in cells. Excess amounts pass through the body, so vitamin C can be consumed throughout the day. It is pretty easy to meet your Vitamin C RDI of 45mg if you eat fruit and veggies, for example, one medium kiwi fruit contains about 64mg vitamin C or ½ a cup of broccoli will give you 40mg.
Why: A mineral required for essential proteins and antioxidants that play a major role in maintaining immunity. Zinc also enhances the function of T cells, which detect and eliminate infectious and abnormal cells in the body.
Where to find it: The best sources include red meat, poultry, seafood and smaller amounts in nuts and seeds
Did you know? The recommended daily intake for Australian adult men and women is 8 and 14mg respectively. 100g lean red meat will give you approximately 12mg of zinc or 30g pumpkin seeds provides 3mg. A 2012 systematic review suggested that "zinc formulations may shorten the duration of symptoms of the common cold", but that further research was needed and that possible adverse effects needed to be studied.
Why: Bacteria for your digestive tract that stimulate the production of antibodies and T cells and help cells communicate as they fight off infections.
Where to find it: Yogurt. Check labels for “contains active/live cultures.” Also raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and other fermented foods.
Did you know? In contrast to antibiotics, which means “life-killing” in the Greek etymology, probiotics means “for life” because they are organisms that stimulate growth.
Instead of wasting your money on random immunity supplements at the chemist - which are not clinically proven to enhance immunity - spend that money on seasonal fruit & veg, some yoghurt and soap to wash your hands.
I often get asked about which oil is "best" for cooking. Personally I use Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) pretty much for everything.
EVOO is the highest quality olive oil, made by mechanically pressing olives and applying centrifugal force to separate the oil from water. With its vivid colours and rich flavours it's ideal for salad dressings, eating with bread and drizzling over dishes. High quality EVOO can reach smoke points at temperatures of between 200-215 degrees , making it a healthy option for most types of cooking, including oven baking. EVOO contains natural antioxidants and vitamins A, D, E and K. Research has shown good quality EVOO reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. I use Australian EVOO as I've just seen too many reports of european olive oils that aren't 100% EVOO (or even 100% olive oil).
This article provides an excellent summary of which oil to use, when in your cooking.
Although the coconut oil brigade would have you believe otherwise, extra virgin olive oil can be used for frying, roasting and baking. Frying food in EVOO has been shown to transfer the antioxidant phenols from the EVOO to the veggies, improving the quality of the raw foods.
Remember that all forms of fat (whether EVOO, butter or coconut oil) contain the highest number of calories of any macronutrient, and if you eat more calories than your body needs you will gain weight. Being overweight is a leading cause of chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and some cancers. Coconut oil is often held up as a nutritionally superior oil, even being promoted for weight loss, however the study this weight loss claim was based on used very small sample size of 30 women. Don't be under the illusion that coconut oil is a superfood with superpowers. It’s an oil.