It’s Time To Drop The Egos!

egoNow, usually I would do an informative post, perhaps verging on opinion piece, but blogs are generally based upon opinions, (although some opinions are more informed than others). The post that I am going to put up today, is purely based upon opinion, as I feel it is something that needs to be said.

Working towards the goal of becoming a Dietitian in the fitness industry has not always been an easy road. I am certainly not immune to having butting heads in the past, but I would like to believe that, that is a thing of the past as I come to realise how much energy you waste, and how little progress you make.

There are a lot of ego’s floating around this industry, and even more so there are plenty of people trying to make a buck. However, in saying that, there are also plenty of people that are genuinely searching to make a difference to someone’s life, and not manipulate a situation, such as is the case in the weight loss industry.

journeyI am sorry to say this, but the truth is, there is no quick fix. Often weight gain is through a process of psychological based mechanisms (such as coping mechanisms) and cannot be undone through a simple weight loss pill, fad diet or diet shakes. Herein lies the issue with such, and failure of these “promises” and products to work, can lead to further weight gain as a result of emotional eating, retardation of metabolism and too much restriction, leading to over-eating (binge eating), which can also be tied into emotional eating.

One thing that people need to realise is that weight loss is a process (or journey) which has a central component of support. Beyond that however, it requires a lifestyle change (as arduous as this seems it really is not provided that you do it sensibly). Now, I often see a meme going around the internet stating that diet accounts for 80% of results, whilst exercise only accounts for 20%, and I really hate when it gets simplified as such. As I said the central component is support and engaging in exercise, using that as a social support base, whilst helping to expend is just as important as eating well. The culmination of all three components facilitate weight loss, and not just one component on its own.

Work togetherSo, now getting to my point. As health professionals, seemingly with the same goal, should we not be attempting to provide support (which means that we have to get along), as well as utilise our skills to enable results? I think it is time to stop the ego battle of who is wrong, and who is right and work together to help people, which is more rewarding than simply proving a point.

 

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Ten Hints To Assist You in Obtaining and Maintaining The Body You Want!

One: Learn to love yourself.wooden.toy_.with.heart_.small_

I know that it is somewhat cliche, but it is by far THE most important part of obtaining and maintaining the body that you want, even before diet and exercise. You are unique and so is your body, and whilst it is fine to look to others for inspiration, you have to realise that your body is your own and you should never attempt to measure up to anyone else. Recognise the parts of your body that you love (including your smile) and wear them like a trophy. After all confidence is the most sexy attribute that a person can have!

Two: Work with your body.

Like I mentioned above, your body is unique and therefore you shouldn’t expect it to look like anyone else’s but your own… Work with it and not against it, this will only cause distress and promote negative self image.  Once you’ve learnt to love your body and work with it you might find that you progress much quicker and maintain the  motivation to keep going.

Three: Treat your body with respect.keep-calm-and-respect-yourself-49

Once you’ve learnt to love yourself and work with your body and not against it, you have already started treating it with respect. Why not continue this by “treating it like a temple”?: cut out the junk food and rely more on whole foods: grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy and lean meat. When you rely on good foods and eat correctly you will feel better, which may lead to changes, just by cutting out the junk! You will have more energy, you will crave less junk food, and you will probably want to keep feeling this way.

Four: Eat regularly.

The trick is to get that metabolism working to its best ability: by eating regularly (including breakfast) it means that your body has to continue to work to break down and process food, this will help to ensure that your metabolism keeps ticking over. However, ensure that you are mindful of portion sizes, five to six large meals will probably equate to too many calories, so keep the meals small- moderate in size, and nutrient dense (not calorie dense).

Five: Eat well.

Ensure that you are eating an inclusive diet providing the body with all of the nutrients that it needs in order to work efficiently and effectively. The nutrients that we consume through food all have varying roles, such as iron for carrying oxygen around the body (including  to working muscles when exercising), B vitamins to assist in converting food to energy, calcium for muscle contraction and so on… Provide it will ALL of the tools it needs through consuming a varied diet.

Six: Don’t yo- yo “diet”!

This is a big no no as it can actually lead to a slowing of the metabolism. It can also lead to binge eating and an overconsumption of calories as our bodies search for energy dense foods. It is quite interesting to know that a lot of overweight and obesity stems from restrictive eating, and I have certainly seen first hand occasions where individuals are simply not eating enough, and it isn’t until they consume adequate calories that they start to lose weight.

Seven: Exercise.

I think exercise is so important, not just because it is difficult to see significant changes within the body just through diet alone, but it also aids in motivation. Through combining diet and exercise you can see amazing results, and this is for any goal from hypertrophy (building muscles) to weight loss. Whilst cardio is great for expending energy whilst exercising, weight training is great for expending energy when at rest.

Eight: Consume dairy.

Dairy is a fantastic source of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Not only is it essential for bone health (calcium is quite difficult to obtain through plant sources alone), it can also help with satiety, that is, keep you full for longer. Try having it with breakfast, for snacks and at bed-time to help assist with muscle repair, satiation, bone strength and even aid sleep.

Nine: Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates.

Poor little carbohydrates tend to have a bad wrap these days, especially thanks to the refined type, which are low in fibre, often consumed in large amounts and therefore contribute a substantial amount to energy intake. However, good whole grain carbohydrates can assist in weight loss, maintaining blood sugars and energy levels, controlling cravings, provide energy for a good exercise session (which will in turn assist in meeting your goals) as well as help to protect against bowel cancer (a pretty good selling point if you ask me). The fibre in wholegrain carbohydrates can also aid in satiety and assist in meeting your recommended daily intake (25-30 grams per day). The trick here is to be sensible (i.e. don’t run off and eat a huge bowl of pasta as it probably won’t do much for the waistline).

iStock_000020521316XSmall-DietitianTen: If all else fails, enlist in the help of a professional.

I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet here (or that of other Dietitians), but if you are finding that what you are doing isn’t working then perhaps it might be advisable to get some help. Not only do Dietitians have the training behind them (based on factual science) to work with you as an individual (instead of palming off some generic “one-size fits all” meal plan), they can also be a great source of motivation. Personal trainers are also good for this point, that is motivation, whether it be through attending a boot camp, or obtaining personal training.

 

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Lean Chicken and Vegetable San Choi Bao

I love recipes that you can alter and San Choi Bao is one such recipe! I added extra vegetables and lean chicken mince to alter a recipe I found on taste.com.au. You could also omit the vermicelli noodles and add in extra veggies if you like 🙂

Here’s the recipe I created…

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Ingredients
500 grams lean chicken mince
1 tblsp sesame oil
100 grams vermicelli noodles
1 carrot, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 stick celery, diced
225 gram can of water chestnuts
1 red chilli, diced
1/4 cup coriander, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sweet soy sauce ketcap manis
Iceberg lettuce

Method
Brown chicken mince with sesame oil in fry pan. Meanwhile, soak vermicelli noodles in boiling water until soft, drain and dice.

Once chicken is browned add remaining ingredients and stir through, cook until vegetables are tender.

Carefully peel off whole lettuce leaves, rinse and fill with chicken/ noodle mix (or chicken/veggie mix if you choose to omit the noodles). Roll up and eat (trying not to get food all over your face)

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Butter vs. Margarine: Does Butter Really Make It Better?

The age old debate rears its ugly head again, particularly thanks to the misinformation of unqualified individuals putting in their two cents. The problem is that individuals who do not have a background in studying nutrition and its effect on the body, or the “ins and outs” of the food industry in Australia give a misinformed opinion about what they “think” they know.
A perfect example of this is that margarine is “bad”, and butter is “good”. Surely, this thought process that butter is more “natural” (and I use inverted commas here for a reason) means that it is better for us is right?!

I hear it again and again, the argument that margarine is man- made and thus less natural, and in turn less healthy than butter. The man-made fat, known as trans-fat, can indeed have pretty worrying consequences as it increases plasma levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) responsible for depositing plaque on the artery walls, and decreases HDL (the “good” cholesterol) responsible for transporting cholesterol out of the body is, in Australia, very strictly regulated!

According to the Australian Heart Foundation [we] “began challenging manufacturers to remove trans-fats to the lowest possible levels many years ago”, and as such, the “trans fats found in foods in Australia are amongst the lowest levels in the world” (some foods do contain small, naturally occurring levels of trans-fats).

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The issue here is not trans-fat, particularly as we are in Australia, and not America (where it isn’t well regulated, which you should consider when “googling” information on the topic) but the saturated fat content. Saturated fat is the type of fat responsible for increasing LDL cholesterol, and therefore contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Butter has over half the amount of saturated fat of margarine. In fact, switching from butter to margarine can decrease your intake of saturated fat by up to 3kg per year according to the Heart Foundation.

While butter is a significant source of saturated fat, margarine is a good source of poly and mono unsaturated fats (the plant based fats responsible for lowering cholesterol), and therefore in place of butter may help to decrease your cholesterol. More recently, there have been margarines produced that contain plant sterols and stanols which can decrease blood cholesterol by up to 10-15%, and Dietitians will often recommend these for individuals with hypercholesterolemia (though they can be expensive).

Of note, there has been some controversy of late surrounding saturated fat and its effect on health, which was largely brought about by a BBC program where a doctor put forth an opinion with a claim that the British Heart foundation agreed with him. They did nothing of the sort, and later the BBC had to retract their statements. Both the British Heart Foundation, and the Australian Heart foundation still maintain that it is recommended to consume a diet low in saturated fat, as this is where the evidence still points.

http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/fats/Pages/butter-margarine.aspx

http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/healthy-eating/fats-explained.aspx

If you wish to read more about the BBC program, there is a very good piece put together by Bill Shrapnel (an Australian Dietitian) on the topic which can be found here:
http://scepticalnutritionist.com.au/?p=1389

In summary:

  1. Unqualified individuals who do not have a thorough knowledge of nutrition science often given unwarranted advice, which is wrought with misinformation (often based on information not applicable to Australia, or studies that provide inconclusive evidence).
  2. Margarine in Australia contains very minimal amounts of trans-fats due to strict regulations.
  3. Butter is a significant source of saturated fat, which is responsible for increasing LDL (the “bad” cholesterol). Switching butter to margarine can decrease plasma levels of cholesterol, and those containing plant sterols and stanols can decrease cholesterol by up to 10-15%
  4.  The Australian and British heart foundation still maintain that we should decrease our intake of saturated fats.

Please note, if you do enjoy the taste of butter over margarine and only consume it in small amounts every so often, I can’t see this to be a problem, particularly if you maintain a healthy diet and exercise.

A very last point to make, fat of any kind is a high source of energy (37KJ per gram), and therefore if eaten in excess can contribute to weight gain, which is turn may result in obesity, and obesity is a risk factor for several chronic diseases. Therefore, it is still essential that we consume an energy appropriate diet relevant to our requirements and activity levels.

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References and further reading:
British Heart Foundation. Fats Explained. Retrieved from http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/healthy-eating/fats-explained.aspx

Dietitians Association of Australia. Plant Sterols and Stanols. Retrieved from http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/plant-sterols/

Mozaffarian D., Aro A., Willett, WC. (2009). Health effects of trans-fatty acids: experimental and observational evidence. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2. S5-21. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19424218

Mozaffarian D, Micha R, Wallace S (2010) Effects on Coronary Heart Disease of Increasing Polyunsaturated Fat in Place of Saturated Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. PLoS Med 7. 3. Retrieved from http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000252#pmed-1000252-g003

The Heart Foundation. Butter vs. Margarine. Retrieved from http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/fats/Pages/butter-margarine.aspx