We know that food provides nutrients for growth, general wellbeing and even sports performance. But did you know you can improve your energy and ability to focus at work with some similar food choices? In a time when caffeinated beverages and high sugar options are common ‘pick me ups’, buck the trend and consider some of the below!
Brain food- foods containing omega 3 fatty acids are essential for optimal brain function. Theses healthy fats have been linked to cognitive performance and memory. They are also anti inflammatory and can potentially help prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
The best sources of omega 3 fatty acids are oil fish; tuna, salmon and mackerel. 150g of these fish three times per week will provider you with the recommended amount of omega 3s. Plant sources include canola oil, linseed, flaxseed, chia seeds and soy beans.
Energy food- once we have flooded our brains with the powerful omega 3s, we can make sure that the energy we get from food is the long lasting kind. Carbohydrates are our brains prefered source of energy. High GI (glyceamic index) foods such as white bread, biscuits, cakes and soft drinks are digested very quickly and give us a spike in energy (and blood sugar levels) followed by a crash. This can lead to fluctuating moods and cravings. Low GI foods such as whole grains, fruit, legumes and yoghurt release their energy gradually and help sustain focus and concentration at work. They also keep us full for longer and reduce cravings.
Putting it all together- some great choices for busy work days include;
Tuna, rocket and beetroot salad
Salmon, avocado and ricotta on ryvitas
3 bean salad with corn, capsicum and balsamic vinegar
Hummus and carrots/snow peas and vita wheats
Greek yoghurt, berries and crushed hazelnuts
Smoothie with banana, chia seeds, and peanut butter
Been working hard at the gym? Don’t feel like you are getting any stronger? Not seeing the results you are after? Maybe you need some nutrition advice to help with gaining lean mass?
We have all heard that fitness is 30% exercise or training, and 70% nutrition. And that is 100% right. You can train as hard as you are physically able to, though won’t see physical results if you do not fuel or re fuel your body appropriately. So here are out top tips for gaining lean mass!
Eat at least 4-6 meals/snacks per day – you need to take in more kilojoules from food and drink than you expend or burn.
Include some protein at each meal and snack to assist muscle maintenance and growth.
Before any training session, have a carbohydrate based snack.
After completing every training session, you need carbohydrates for recovery, plus protein to provide amino acids for growth and repair.
A great option for immediately after a strength/resistance session would be 20-25g of whey protein (fast absorbing). Carbohydrate to complement this could come from adding milk to the whey protein or by including a carbohydrate food as a snack or within your meal.
Have a big glass of milk (400ml) before bed to help build muscle overnight – this provides a slow release source of protein.
Make use of all your fluids – instead of drinking only water, maybe have an extra milk drink.
Make sure that your diet is still not too high in saturated fat, so that you don’t gain extra body fat. But you certainly don’t need to be on a ‘no fat’ diet! Healthy fats (good oils, avocado, nuts and seeds etc) may be included to add extra kilojoules as well other important nutrients.
Last but not least…. unfortunately you have to ensure you are training hard!!!!
If you need any help with designing a nutrition program to suit your training goals, contact an Eat Smart Dietitian!
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder characterised by an excess of the androgen hormones and affects approximately 5-10% of pre-menopausal women. This results in disruptions to a woman’s normal menstrual cycle and the failure to ovulate normally.
Women with PCOS may experience a range of symptoms, including acne, difficulty managing body weight (especially abdominal fat), insulin resistance, menstrual disturbances (irregular, light or absent periods) or symptoms associated with menstruation such as cramps and abdominal bloating, and excess growth of body hairs. Those with PCOS also have symptoms of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Due to the insulin resistance, women with PCOS have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Those with PCOS also increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dietary management of PCOS is important, with studies pointing towards the importance of eating a lower carbohydrate diet (40-43%) and replacing these carbohydrates with monounsaturated fat. Now, when we say ‘lower’, it does not mean NO carbohydrate. Wholegrains are an important component to the diet, as they provide us with fibre, antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals. They improve our gut health and help prevent conditions such as diverticulitis and cancer. But carbohydrate should be portion controlled and ideally consuming carbohydrates which are of a low glycaemic index. Examples of low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates include sweet potato, lentils, legumes, wholegrain bread, oats and pasta.
Studies have also shown that weight loss improves the presentation of PCOS. A weight loss of 5-10% of body weight can drastically improve insulin sensitivity by 70% (or in less technical terms, improves how well you can process carbohydrate in the body and therefore will store LESS carbohydrate as fat). “Healthy fats” are also seen as very important in the diet. Substituting excess carbohydrate with foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, olive oil, canola oil and nuts. Additionally adding ‘omega 3s’ foods to the diet, helps decrease cardiovascular risk. You can do this by adding chia seeds or flaxseeds to your cereal or yoghurt or aim to consume at least 3 serves of 90g fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring, per week).
So what can you take away from this? Portion controlling your carbohydrate, eating low GI carbohydrates as well as including some good fats in your diet can help improve your symptoms of PCOS. To help tailor a plan to suit your individual needs and preferences, consult one of our dietitians for a nutritional plan.
One of the hardest meals to work out what to eat when you’re pregnant is lunch. Concern of listeria and food poisoning risk means that your usual ham and cheese sandwich is not as safe as it once was! Some suggestions which will hopefully inspire a more interesting lunch are;
Tuna on rice: Don’t be scared to have fish during your pregnancy due to mercury concerns! It is important to have fish during your pregnancy, just chose those lower in mercury. Fish such as tuna and salmon are high in omega 3s and are lower in mercury so can be eaten 3 x/week (150g serve). Tinned tuna or salmon is so quick and easy and if you are low in time, mix with microwave brown rice or quinoa. Throw in either some left-over vegies, frozen vegies or dice up tomato, capsicum and cucumber and wallah, you have an easy, healthy lunch!
Toasted wrap or sandwich with left-over chicken and salad. As long as you have cooked the chicken fresh the day before and stored it correctly (below 5°), there is no reason you cannot have a toasted chicken wrap or sandwich with the left-overs. Food safety guidelines recommend you reheat food to at least 60° so that it is steaming hot.
Egg salad. Eggs are high in protein and a good source of vitamin D. Chop up your salad ingredients of choice and add a boiled egg as your source of protein. Why not add some tinned beans such as chickpeas or cannellini beans to bump up the protein and fibre content!
Mini pizzas: Use a wholegrain wrap, a sprinkle of cheese, vegies of your choice and either some meat/chicken or try chickpeas/beans for extra fibre.
Left-overs: Left-over pasta, stirfry or other dishes as long as stored correctly and reheated to at least 60°.
Quick and easy at work: Avocado + tomato + hard cheese on 2 slices of multigrain or sour dough toast. This has been a go to for many of our Eat Smart dietitian during pregnancy!
A hearty soup with a slice of grainy bread or a roll
Omlettes or frittatas: omelettes and frittatas are a great way of getting some protein and a good whack of vegetables in a delicious meal. Pop in some corn or sweet potato or serve with a slice of grainy bread. Just make sure you eat straight after cooking.
Sushi and rice paper rolls. Once again, there is no reason you could not have these, just make it yourself and DON’T use raw meat of course!
Another quick and easy, Baked beans on toast. They are great for breaky but also make a good emergency lunch when you are running low on food.
As we enter spring and recognise Women’s Health Week, Eat Smart would like to share our support in providing recipe inspiration designed at improving women health!
These recipes are enriched with plenty of dietary fibre for bowel health and weight management; omega 3 for joint health, heart health and brain function; and phytoestrogens to help reduce menopause symptoms.
Healthy Toasted Muesli Serves 20 approx 60g per serve
500g raw oats
150mL apple juice
2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ cup coconut flakes
150g dried blueberries
Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Mix all ingredients except the blueberries in a bowl.
Spread over a large baking tray and bake for 30 mins, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
Allow to cool and then mix through blueberries.
Store in a dry container.
Dukkah Pumpkin, Fruit & Seed Salad Serves 4 for lunch, or 6-8 as a side dish
750g pumpkin, seeded and cut into 1cm wedges
2 tsp Dukkah (spice & seed mix), plus extra for presentation
¾ cup quinoa, rinsed
400mL vegetable stock
350g frozen broad beans
2 sticks celery, thinly sliced
4 small radishes, thinly sliced
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tblsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1 bag baby rocket
1 tblsp lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan forced. Place pumpkin on a lined baking tray in a single layer. Spray with oil and sprinkle with dukkah. Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender.
2. Meanwhile, place the quinoa and stock in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the quinoa is just tender. Set aside to cool.
3. Cook broad beans in a saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes until tender. Refresh with cold water. Drain. Peel skins and discard.
4. Place cooled quinoa, broad beans, celery, radish, cranberries, pepitas and rocket in a large bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice. Season. Toss to combine.
5. Place pumpkin on plates, top with quinoa mixture and crumble over marinated feta. Sprinkle with a little extra dukkah.
Spicy Chickpeas with Eggplant and Cous Cous
60mls lemon juice
1 med. brown onion, cut in thin wedges
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 (about 480g) baby eggplant, sliced
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
250mls (1 cup) vegetable stock
1 400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
380g (2 cups) couscous
250mls (1 cup) fresh orange juice
75g (1/2 cup) currants
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp Moroccan seasoning (Masterfoods brand)
*(for a higher dietary fibre option, choose quinoa instead of cous cous)
Heat 2 tbsp of the lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic. Cover and cook for 3 minutes or until slightly softened.
Add eggplant and spice mix and stir to coat well. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas.
Prepare the couscous according to packet directions replacing 250mls (1 cup) of water with the orange juice. Stir in currants and olive oil and stand for 2 minutes.
Serve with the chickpea curry.
½ cup ground linseed/flaxseed
2 cups ground almonds
½ cup pumpkin seed or sunflower seed
1 cup walnuts
½ cup dried cranberries or goji berries
½ cup macadamia nut oil
½ cup honey or organic maple syrup
1 tspn vanilla essence
1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
2. Combine linseed, almond meal, pumpkin seed, walnuts and cranberries
3. Add oil, honey and vanilla and mix through until combined
4. Divide into 30 balls, place onto a baking tray lined with bake paper and flatten slightly.
5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden and cooked through.
6. Rest on tray until cool and store up to 2 weeks.
Whether you are choosing vegan or plant based eating for religious, economic, ethical, environmental, human or health reasons. Plant based diets can provide your body with all of the required nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats) but a little more planning and care is often required. If you have made the decision to become vegan,then you should also make the commitment to ensure that your diet is nutritionally adequate.
If you are following a vegetarian diet, it is important to take extra care to ensure that adequate sources of protein are provided in your diet.
Protein is required for growth, repair and maintenance of body tissue and the immune system. When protein is digested it is broken down into amino acids. There are 23 amino acids provided by foods, of these eight are considered essential as they cannot be manufactured by the body.
Whole plant foods contain all the essential amino acids. Soy protein in particular is high in all the amino acids and should be included in the plant based diet regularly. Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, soy), quinoa, amaranth, pistachios and pumpkin seeds are high in an amino acid called lysine which is the amino acid most at risk in a plant based diet. Include lysine rich proteins in your diet daily.
Special Vegetarian Products
TVP or textured vegetable protein is a plant protein derived from the soybean. It can be used as a meat substitute and comes mainly in the dehydrated form. There are other products available also such as nutmeat, vegetarian sausages and ‘vegie’ burgers. These products are not essential in the vegetarian diet and are more expensive than legumes. Despite this, they provide quick and tasty meals for those times when you don’t feel like preparing a meal from scratch and should be relatively well-accepted by the non-vegetarians in your household (if there are any). Quorn products (in the frozen section of the supermarket) are made from extracted protein from corn and may also provide a convenience protein source (Quorn does contain egg white so may not be suitable for Vegan eaters).
Getting Enough Protein Each Day
Adults need about 40-100g of protein a day. Vegetarian and vegan foods containing protein include milk alternatives and soymilk, soy cheese & yoghurt, legumes (e.g. chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and other beans), tofu and other soy products, nuts and seeds. In order to consume the required amount of protein each day, vegans should eat at least 3 serves of dairy alternatives as well as at least 1 serve of meat alternatives at least twice per day.
One serve of meat alternatives provides about 12g protein and is equal to:
- ¾ cup cooked legumes/beans (e.g. ½ can baked beans)
- 50g nuts/seeds
- 100g Tofu
If you have recently turned towards a plant based diet, and aren’t quite sure if your diet is adequate, come and see an Eatsmart dietitian at one of our 11 locations.
How many times have you made a roast dinner, had heaps of left over veg, put it all into a container and then a few weeks later peered into the back of the fridge and found that those delicious roast veg that you took time and care to prepare have been overlooked and forgotten? Well, if you have, you wouldn’t be alone. The average Australian household throws away around 20% of the food they purchase, thats for every 5 bags of groceries you buy, you throw away 1 entire bag!
We are all guilty of throwing out delicious food, which could easily be made into something else delicious! One easy way to use up your roast veg after Sunday night roast, is to make mini quiches! They are full of protein, fibre and calcium! Perfect for the kids, or big kids lunch boxes for the week! With zero waste!
2-3 cups of left over roast veg – we used beetroot, sweet potato, onion, carrot and steamed zucchini and broccoli.
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup grated cheese.
1. Chop all roast veg into small pieces and put into lined muffin tins ( ensuring there is a good mix of all different veg in each tin)
2. Whisk together milk and eggs
3. Pour milk evenly over the veg mix
4. Sprinkle with grated cheese (this can be left out if desired)
Does this sound familiar to you? As children these phrases are just the beginning of listening to external sources to help us decide when, what and how much to eat. Fast forward to adulthood and now we eat because of advertising, the clock, our peers, our emotions or even our dietitians! But our body has a very clever system in place to help us to eat the right amount of food for health and happiness; many of us have just stopped listening to it.
How does it work? Over simplified, sensors in your mouth, nose, stomach and intestinal track activate in the presence of food and send a message to your brain about how much and what type of food has been eaten. Your brain then stops looking for food. The reverse also happens in the absence of food in the gastro-intestinal tract. The real situation is more complex and involves many other environmental and internal factors.
Young children are a perfect example of this system working. Babies and toddlers who are offered regular nutritious food are experts at eating the exact amount for their optimal development. This is because they haven’t (yet) been exposed to years of external messages regarding food choices. Some messages are well intended, such as our parents concern we are getting enough nutrition. Some are less so, such as marketing for junk food.
So what can we do about it? Despite many factors being out of our control, one activity that helps get us back in touch with these body signals in a huger-fullness scale. Scan your body before and after meals and try to bring awareness to internal cues. Does my stomach feel empty, full or bloated? Is it moving or growling? Am I light headed, nauseas or irritated? Is my mouth dry? Am I thirsty? Then rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, 1 being starving, 5 being neutral and 10 being completely stuffed full. If we can stay at all times between 3-5 we can better regulate our energy intake and metabolism. Keep in mind it can take about 20 minutes for your brain to realise your stomach is full so if we stop eating at a 5 we will be comfortably full shortly after.
So what do you do if you have decided you are not actually hungry but still craving food? Use your new awareness skill and consider why. Are you bored? Excited? Sad? Lonely? Have you seen something yummy on TV or in the cupboard? Try to tailor your cravings plan to the real need you are feeling instead of using food.
If you would like more information on non-hungry eating, the hunger scale, cravings plans or anything nutrition related contact Eat Smart Nutrition!
Picture provided by www.fullplateliving.org
Accredited Practising Dietitian and Sports Dietitian Casey James on 0439745689 or
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