Mindful Eating – I’m sure you’ve heard the term, but do you feel like you’ve really grasped the concept? These days the term ‘Mindful Eating’ has somehow found its way into diet and weight loss programs around the world. Yet using mindful eating as as weight loss tool actually goes against what the practice of what mindful eating is truly about. Let’s break this down. So what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about deliberately paying attention, non – judgmentally to your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment. It’is purpose is to help free yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. It is about balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is. Ok, so how does Mindful Eating fit in?
Mindful eating involves the act of non-judgmentally acknowledging your hunger and fullness cues to guide your decisions of when to begin and finish eating foods, and eating with awareness of all of your senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. It helps to develop non-judgemental responses to food (likes, dislikes, neutral) while allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities available through food selection and preparation. It is a tool to learn which foods will best satisfy your hunger. Why is it not for weight loss?
As you can see, the core purpose of mindful eating is to eat without judgement guided by your internal hunger and fullness cues. Practicing mindful eating with the intention to lose weight means that you are entering the eating occasion with expectation and judgement – to lose weight. If those expectations aren’t met, generally feelings of failure arise – which more often than not lead back to partaking in another behaviour for weight loss – which is a classic example of the diet cycle. So how can Mindful eating help?
Eating is a behaviour and behaviour change is hard! You can follow a meal plan or pay someone to dictate to you what to eat until they are blue in the face, but at the end of day you have to learn to eat for YOU. Improving your eating behaviours is not about weighing less for a moment in time, but about learning to eat well for the rest of your life. Mindful eating can assist this in this in a number of ways:
• Reconnecting with internal physical hunger and fullness cues: We were all born with the ability to regulate our hunger and fullness internally, but as we get older and life gets busier these cues get interrupted by our environment (i.e. increased stress, working shift work, designated eating times, being preoccupied with work,). By bringing awareness to your body’s sensations around hunger and fullness, mindful eating can help you reconnect with this innate ability we are all born with.
• Reduce Non – Hungry Eating: As natural cues to hunger and fullness are explored mindful eating can help you to identify any instances of non hungry eating (i.e. eating because you are bored, stressed, depressed, lonely, procrastinating or just because it is there). Recognising these occasions is the first step to behaviour change and allows you to explore other remedies for non-hungry eating than food.
• Reduce Overeating: Awareness during eating is also key to mindfulness practice. Combined with hunger-fullness awareness this allows us to notice when a food ceases to be as palatable or as enjoyable, helping to determine when satisfaction has been reached. This is called the ‘Law of Diminishing Pleasure’.
• Increase confidence around foods we feel powerless around: We all have them, those foods that we don’t keep in the house because we don’t trust ourselves around them. Avoidance is a short term solution but long term it’s important to feel confident that you can be around certain foods without going crazy. When eating for ‘pleasure’ over ‘fuel’ – which is totally ok to do, practicing mindful eating can help us to determine when our pleasure/sensory needs have been fulfilled. For example you may buy a chocolate bar because you genuinely feel like it – in the past you might eat the whole bar because it is there, using mindful eating you may find that just half the bar satisfies you – or you may not! Only you can determine this.
How can I be a more a mindful eater? Here are 5 ways you can start with now:
Write a definition of your hunger as if you were to put it in a dictionary- i.e. I feel… an empty feeling, gnawing and… fatigued, moody.
Keep a hunger diary- Note down times you get hungry and any relevant circumstances around your hunger. Are you hungrier on days you exercise? Or perhaps days you have a larger workload? Less hungry on days you are stressed? Identifying patterns can help you to pack, prepare and choose foods that are more likely to satisfy your hunger.
Give your hunger and fullness a score / 10- this is best practiced around meals you feel your overeat at (See scale below). Try to identify how much you need to stay in the comfort zone (i.e not getting so hungry you bite someone’s head off, and not getting so full that you feel unwell).
Eat without distractions- Turn off the TV and put down the phone. Save your attention for the eating experience!
Be curious with food, even if you have had it a million times- Before taking the first bite, ask yourself; What is the colour, texture and shape of your food like? Does it feel warm, cold or neutral? What does it smell like? Does it smell as you expected? Do different parts of it look, feel or smell different? Take a bite, but don’t chew yet! Is it cold, warm or hot on your tongue? How does the texture feel? Is it soft, smooth, dry or hard? Is it a combination? Chew slowly…How does it taste? Is is sweet, salty, or a mixture of both? Does the texture change as you chew? Does the flavour change as you chew? How does it feel on your tongue as you move it around your mouth? Now swallow…Has the taste changed again? Are there bits in your teeth? What is the aftertaste like? How is it similar or different from your first chew? Do you need more or are you satisfied?
I hope you enjoy these tips on mindful eating and remember – mindful eating is about eating without judgement and is a skill that takes practice. Start small – if you can only practise mindfulness at one meal this week that’s ok, be patient with yourself – remember behaviour change is hard.
For more on mindful eating, why not visit the Centre for Mindful Eating at www.tcme.org
F: Gather Nutrition and Dietetics
2018 is now in full swing – school holidays are officially over, the Australia Day long weekend has passed and everyone is now full steam ahead into the working year. Welcome back to a more consistent routine! With that in mind, now is the time to establish some healthy habits to get you moving towards your health and fitness goals fast. Whilst the following this isn’t rocket science, being on top of these few steps will ensure you are moving forward efficiently. Here are 5 habits to master to transform your body.
1. Moving more outside of your gym sessions
Whilst everyone’s new year goal tends to be to go to the gym more, or to eat better, when it comes to getting back in shape, something that’s often overlooked, but that is so simple to do, is to just move more in general. Aiming for 30-60 minutes of activity each day in addition to your gym or boot camp sessions ensures you are more active more often. This goal is especially beneficial for people who sit down at a desk all day. Options to move more could include going for a walk when you wake up or during your lunch break, parking further away, or simply just taking the stairs. Walking also aids in your recovery and digestion. Taking up a social sport or activity to mix things up with your normal gym routine is beneficial too given you can catch up with friends while being active.
2. Sleeping 7-9 hours per night
Sleeping more is one of the most overlooked aspects of fat loss, muscle gain and improved performance. Your body recovers primarily when sleeping, so getting some shut eye for 7-9 hours each night will give the body time to rebuild the torn muscle tissues which occur during training and ensure you are recovered adequately for whichever physical activities you may do the following day. Lack of sleep causes a drop in certain hormones (leptin) which play a key role in how ‘full’ you feel, making you more likely to consume more calories through snacking and cravings. Remember, quality counts, so limit the phone and Netflix before bedtime!
3. Controlling your portion sizes
Whilst we’ve recommended the approximate counting of calories through apps such as ‘My Fitness Pal’ in the past (which we still maintain is a useful tool to educate people on the macronutrient and calorie breakdown of different foods), calorie counting can be flawed due to the inaccuracy of food labels and the potential negative and obsessive effect it can have on your eating behaviours. So, with that in mind, try measuring portion sizes using the palm of your hand as a simple and flexible guide – this idea stems from our friends at Precision Nutrition. Aim for 80-90% of your diet coming from whole foods, with the remaining 10-20% spent on whatever you like, assuming you are eating adequate amounts of protein.
4. Increasing water intake and limiting liquid calories
Maybe you’ve read that increased water intake assists with fat loss, but it is not water per se that achieves this, but rather the effect that it may have on your drinking habits, in particular, by replacing ‘liquid calories’ you may have – such as juices, soft drinks or alcohol – with water intake. Drinking enough water per day (2-3L per day) has major health benefits. Studies have shown adequate water intake assists in the transfer of nutrients throughout the body, flushes out toxins, lubricates your joints and digestive tract, and regulates your body temperature through sweating. One particular study which was conducted a few years back showed that drinking 500ml of water increases your energy expenditure (calories burnt) by 24% (1). With this in mind, drink plenty of water before exercise and before meals as this is likely to increase your metabolism for the following hour and make you feel more full before eating.
5. Being mindful of recovery and managing stress
Being mindful of recovery is often something that is overlooked when people increase their activity levels. Above we mentioned the importance of sleep for recovery, but don’t forget that stretches and foam rolling maintains and improves your flexibility and mobility (recovery) too. Yoga is an obvious option here given you focus on not only stretching, but also the calmness of your mind through controlled breathing. Yoga also helps you mix up your exercise routine – lower intensity activities such as yoga, walking, pilates and meditation, combined with higher intensity exercises such as resistance training, conditioning and cardio provides a good mix of endorphin releasing and mindfulness exercises. Another very simple technique to help deal with stress is spending time in nature. Whether that is just by eating lunch in a park, or adding more greenery to your household or office, nature helps lower your stress hormones and heart rate, and improves your mood.
1. Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Franke G, Birkenfeld AL, Luft FC, Jordan J. Water drinking induces thermogenesis through osmosensitive mechanisms. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Aug;92(8):3334-7.
Always a winner and makes for one of the easiest of meals to prepare, this San choi bao recipe from karenmartini.com was passed on by a JS-PT client and was immediately a big hit. Try this for your next home cooked meal, or adjust to suit your own tastes.
1 iceberg lettuce (choose a nice heavy one)
2 medium carrots, peeled
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
10cm ginger, julienned
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
350 grams fatty, finely ground pork mince
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
10 fresh shitake mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons light soy
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine
2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons water
2 cups bean sprouts
10 snowpeas, julienned
6 spring onions, finely sliced on the angle
2 large red chillies, cut on the angle
2 generous handfuls coriander sprigs
hoisin sauce, to serve
Before you do anything else, trim the lettuce to create cups and soak the lettuce cups in cold water in the fridge to ensure the crispest leaves.
Next, follow my tip for perfect julienne carrots. Peel them with a vegetable peeler into long strips then cut the strips in half lengthways and finely slice. Set aside.
Heat wok over high heat. Add oil, ginger and garlic, cook for 20 seconds, then add the mince.
Break it up as it fries for 1minute, then add onion and celery.
Cook for 30 seconds then add the carrots and mushroom, then the sugar, soy, oyster sauce, sesame oil and rice wine.
Cook for 30 seconds, then add the cornflour mixture, cook for another 30 seconds, then add the sprouts, snowpeas, half the spring onion, half the chilli and half the coriander.
Pile it into a bowl and garnish with the rest of the spring onion, chilli and coriander.
Serve with the well-drained lettuce cups and serve immediately with hoisin sauce.
With the many diets and portion controlled meal options presented to us in this day and age, too often people are trying to sustain a diet eating far less than what is optimal for their lifestyles.
With the above point in mind, this month we share an article written by Coach Calorie which explains what can happen when you consume too little, and how much you should be eating. Without further ado:
The majority of the time when you’re having a problem losing weight, it’s not because you aren’t making good food choices. The reason why your weight loss has stagnated is because you’re not eating enough calories to lose weight.
What Happens When You’re Not Eating Enough Calories?
When most people start dieting, they slash their calories and add a large amount of exercise to their daily routine. That’s fine, but they usually cut their calories way too low. Add in the extra exercise, and all of a sudden you have an extreme calorie deficit that is working against you.
Not eating enough calories causes many metabolic changes. Your body is a smart machine and senses a large decrease in dietary energy. Your large calorie deficit might work for a few days or even weeks, but eventually your body will wake up and sound alarms that it needs to conserve energy.
It doesn’t want to just waste away. It needs that energy (fat) to survive. So, what does your body do when it senses prolonged energy restriction? Not eating enough calories…
Slows down thyroid production – Your thyroid is responsible for fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism, among other things. Your body has the ability to slow down thyroid output in an effort to maintain energy balance .
1. Decreases muscle mass – Muscle is highly calorie intensive to maintain. In a prolonged extreme calorie deficit, it is one of the first things that your body looks to get rid of, especially if you’re not providing a stimulus to keep it. Your body needs the fat, wants the fat, and the muscle can be spared. It breaks down the muscle tissue and uses it for energy.
2. Lowers testosterone levels – An important hormone for both men and women, testosterone is just one of many hormones that are affected with severe calorie restriction . Testosterone is anabolic to muscle tissue. Without it, it becomes that much harder to maintain, let alone put on muscle mass.
3. Decreases leptin levels – Leptin is one of many energy regulating hormones. More importantly, it’s a “hunger” hormone that tells you whether to eat or not. High leptin levels signal that it’s OK to stop eating, while low leptin levels are a signal to eat more energy. Because of this, leptin levels decrease in calorie restricted environments .
4. Decreases energy levels – There are many physical actions your body takes when you’re not eating enough calories, but there are also some mental ones. Neurotransmitter production is limited, which can lead to a lack of motivation. It’s your body’s way of telling you to “slow down” – conserve your energy.
There is nothing like an Australian beef burger during the summer (or any) months of the year, so we decided to make our own. We included the following:
Scotch Fillet Steak
Spinach and Rocket
Remember no foods or meals should be off limits if you are able to balance out your intake throughout the day. So if it means eating a smaller meal elsewhere so you can enjoy a bigger meal like this with friends or family this summer, then so be it!
Tracking your calories through apps such as My Fitness Pal is a great way to manage your food intake and while this is still my preferred option, this method is not for everyone. The following alternative technique requires only your hand and is explained below in this info-graphic by Precision Nutrition (PN).
Although I am a qualified PN coach, I’m of the opinion that calorie counting still has its place, which differs from PN’s opinion. But whether measuring your food intake with an app or by using the method below, the important thing to remember is tracking your food intake in some capacity will be needed if you want to start seeing results. This strategy of using your hand is a good place to start, or potentially all you need.
If you feel you need more assistance with your nutrition, contact me at email@example.com for further options.
Another gem from taste.com.au, we cooked this earlier this month for a light lunch and it was a real success! Great to add some fibre in the form of legumes to a simple salad dish like this.
1. Place chicken in a pan and add enough water to cover. Bring the to boil over medium-high heat, then cover and remove from heat. Stand for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Drain, then shred chicken into bite-sized pieces.
2.Toss beans, chickpeas, coriander and oil together, then season and divide among 4 plates. Drain apricots and chop into small pieces, then scatter over salad with chicken and almonds.
3. Swirl the harissa, honey, cinnamon and cumin through the yoghurt, then spoon over the salad. Dust with paprika to serve.
“Increasingly common, yet poorly understood. Felt intensely by the sufferer, yet often invisible to the outside world.”
The above is a direct quote from an article I read recently by a former sufferer of depression, and considering an estimated 3 million Australians are living with depression and anxiety, chances are someone you know may be experiencing these feelings without you realising. There is no one proven way to help people recover from depression and anxiety, however there are a range of effective treatments, one of which is exercise.
Exercise is so much more to the human body than how you look. The profound effects of how physical activity improves your mental state should not be forgotten.
How exercise helps:
1. You are probably aware that exercise helps boost endorphins in the body, which are neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain which help diminish pain while triggering positive thoughts; this is often that feeling you have after you finish exercising. Exercise may also boost other neurotransmitter chemicals such as serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood and some cognitive function, and is a chemical that is sometimes low in depressed people.
2.Stress has been linked to depression and anxiety, and exercise is very much considered an antidote to stress. Exercise encourages you to move more, which is immediately forcing your brain to concentrate on the physical tasks at hand, and is then followed by the release of endorphins which will trigger positive thoughts. Consistent exercise also has positive effects on your quality of sleep, something which lacks in someone suffering from depression or anxiety. Studies have shown (including this one with over 110,000 participants) that sedentary behaviour increases your risk of suffering from depression, so try to move and move often.
3. Your self esteem takes a real battering when you’re depressed, so doing something which improves you mentally as well as physically will increase your self esteem and self worth. A healthy body is first and foremost one which feels great mentally.
As was mentioned earlier, there is no one proven way to help people recover from depression and anxiety, however with the proven effects exercise has on the human body such as supporting neurotransmitters and relieving stress, consistent exercise on any level should be strongly considered as a mainstay in your lifestyle if you are suffering from the lows depression and anxiety bring.
While exercise is a very effective form of treatment in dealing with depression, sometimes people need more. If you are feeling as though you need to talk to someone, immediate support is available at Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, and plenty of other organisations which are listed here.
Improving your health requires changes that are sustainable for the long term. As a Precision Nutrition coach, we often provide guidance to our clients that are interested in fat loss on how to master certain food habits which will naturally lead to improved calorie control and food selection. These habits are:
1. Eat slowly and stop at 80% full
Most people (including myself) can often tend to eat their meals far too quickly, which lessens our ability to feel our hunger and appetite cues. Did you know it takes 20 minutes for our satiety mechanisms to kick in? The communication between our stomach and our brain is slow, and because of this, if we eat quickly we are far more likely to eat too much before our brain notifies us that we’re content. An excellent goal would be to aim to spend 15-20 minutes each meal. I realise this may be difficult for some so slowing down by even a few minutes will still have it’s benefits. This way, you will be able to properly gauge your fullness, which will enable you to eat until you’re ‘80% full’ which is defined as eating until you are no longer hungry, rather than eating until you’re full. This may take some practice but overall will be beneficial for your digestion, performance during your exercise, and better sleep if you’re eating before bed.
2. Eat protein dense foods with each meal
Research has shown that not only is a diet higher in protein completely safe, it may actually be important for achieving the best health, body composition (body fat % and muscle mass), and performance. The fact of the matter is, it’s hard to achieve these things with a suboptimal protein intake. By incorporating decent amounts of protein (20-30g for women, 40-60g for men) per meal, you will not only ensure you consume an adequate amount of protein, but you’ll also stimulate your metabolism, improve your muscle mass and recovery, and reduce body fat.
3. Eat vegetables with each meal
Science has demonstrated that in addition to the fibre and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) packed into vegetables, there are also important plant chemicals called phytochemicals which are essential for optimal functioning inside our bodies. Unfortunately an inadequate vegetable intake is something I see all too often, which was reflected in Australia’s new food pyramid released earlier this year which placed vegetables (as well as fruit and legumes) as the food group we should consume the most. Given only an estimated 7% of all Australians reach their recommended intake of vegetables per day, it is something we should all aim to improve on. Including two servings of vegetables/and or fruit during each meal, not only will you regulate your overall food intake but you will also be receiving the many disease fighting benefits that vegetables provide.
4. Eat healthy fats daily
As a general rule of thumb, about 30% of your diet should come from fat, although this can change between each individual. Whilst you should focus on adding monounsaturated (extra virgin olive oil, some nuts, avocados, red meats, eggs) and polyunsaturated (some nuts, some vegetable oils, fish/fish oil) fats, including some saturated fats is ok too as a balance of all 3 types of fat is optimal. The benefits of dietary fat include the balancing of hormones, increased brain and nervous system health, and improved metabolism.
Mastering these four habits are simple and sustainable ways to improve your overall health, body composition, and performance, as your calorie control and food selection will be greatly improved.
(Inspired by the Precision Nutrition Certification Manual)
A fungus that grows underground due to a relationship with hazelnut or oak trees and soil, which is found by the keen smell of a trained dog, and can cost as much as $3000 per kilo. What?
Lucky enough for us, we can buy truffles by the gram for $2 at Superior Fruit in Graceville, but what do we do with them?
Truffles are used mostly to enhance and intensify foods by shaving as thinly as possible, to cover a wider area of food to help create a greater aroma. Best used over simple foods such as eggs, mushrooms, chicken, pasta, and potatoes, while some chefs may challenge the status quo and surprise in a delicious way with their use of truffles.
Given the small amounts of shaved truffle you would use to flavour a dish, the nutritional benefits are limited, but they are known to be a good source of protein given they are from the mushroom family.
Health is our greatest asset – we’ve all heard it before, and deep down we all know it. Taking care of ourselves physically and mentally through exercise should be one of our highest priorities given all the health benefits it brings, but often prioritising exercise can be a challenging one when the calendar is full. Sure, we all have businesses to run, children to pick up, meetings to attend, but I guarantee you someone who is much busier than you is still scheduling time to exercise. As Arnie says below, if Barrack Obama and The Pope can make time, so can you!
Finding that optimal work/life balance can be challenging, but if you follow the following few tips, that balance may be easier to find than you think.
Schedule time to exercise. Enter it in your calendar and make time rather than find time to exercise. Schedule 30 minutes for a workout and some time to shower and change afterwards. Everyone is busy, but let’s face it, if your child needed picking up because no one else could, you could get out of the office. If you had a dinner you needed to attend to which meant you had to leave work by a certain time, you’d make it happen. That same commitment should be made to meeting your exercise needs.
Work out efficiently. You don’t need to spend hours on an activity to see results or to receive the health benefits that exercise delivers. You can do plenty in 30 minutes. Pick something you can do at home, when traveling, or in the gym. High intensity interval training, bodyweight exercises, running, and cycling are all good options. Hire a personal trainer if you need help with consistency and intensity, and therefore the time you do spend exercising is beneficial.
Enjoy what you do. One of the most important points – find something that fits your lifestyle and personal preference, because you are more likely to make time for something you enjoy. Not everyone is a runner or a yoga enthusiast, so don’t do it because you feel as though you have to. If you’re not sure of what you may or may not enjoy, experiment with different activities until you find something. This could mean social sporting competitions, boxing for fitness, dance classes; there’s no right or wrong.
Make it social. Don’t want to exercise alone? Get together a group of friends or work colleagues and join a group activity. Whether it be organising fitness boot camp for your workplace, starting a yoga or pilates class, or joining a social sporting competition such as TRL (touch rugby league) or indoor football, there are plenty of group activities out there to try. Training with friends means you are held accountable if you don’t show, and you won’t want to let the team down will you?
Choose something over nothing. Even if you start by doing the minimum, if it’s more than what you were doing initially, it’s a start. Starting small on little things such as going for walks, or catching public transport every so often is better than doing nothing at all. From there you can build to any of the suggestions in this post .
Once you prioritise your health and start making time to exercise each week, not only will you improve your energy and physique, but you are greatly decreasing the risk of a number of health conditions such as heart disease/stroke, certain cancers, and depression/anxiety. Despite everything that we face each day, it’s easy to forget what our biggest asset is, and that is living a life with good health, because without that we can’t achieve much!
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Straight from the ‘Coles Feed Your Family’ online page, this steak recipe is by former Masterchef contestant Michael Weldon. An easy variation of a simple meal with some added flavours while being high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients (serves 4):
4Scotch Fillet steaks
250 gGravox Traditional Gravy Single Tub
1tbspred wine vinegar
500gkale, stalks removed (or
1 1/2tbsplemon juice
800gbaby washed potatoes, chopped, steamed, to serve
Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Brush with half the oil. Heat a frying pan over high heat until very hot. Add the steaks and cook for 2 minutes. Turn and add the butter, thyme and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes for medium rare or until cooked to your liking. Baste the steak with pan juices. Transfer to a plate. Cover with foil and set aside for 5 minutes to rest.
Meanwhile, combine the red wine and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Cook until the liquid reduces by 2/3 and the mixture is slightly syrupy. Add the Gravox and red wine vinegar. Stir over low heat to warm through. Remove from heat. Cover to keep warm.
Heat the remaining oil and kale in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir until kale has wilted. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
To serve, place the wilted kale on the plate. Top with steak and drizzle with the red wine sauce. Serve with steamed potatoes