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    News — weight management

    10 Practical Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

     

    Holidays are usually a busy time of the year, with lots of family gatherings, Christmas get-togethers and holiday traditions. Just because your schedule might seem a little more “full” than usual and your routine may be out of whack, it doesn’t mean that you have to kiss your healthy lifestyle goodbye! Sure, being surrounded by yummy holiday sweets and treats for a whole month can make it easy for your healthy habits to slip, but keeping your goals on track during the holidays is doable (with a little flexibility, which is absolute key. Click here to read our latest article on 3 healthy mindset changes to make during the holidays).

    We’ve put together 10 practical tips that will help to keep your healthy habits on track this Christmas season. 

    1. Be prepared. Prep ahead of the holiday season so that your house is filled with yummy wonderful healthy options. If you’re strapped for time, order a box of freezer-friendly Wholesomeness meals to set you up for success before the busy holiday season starts.

    2. Eat before you go. This is a great tip to avoid turning up to a celebration ravenously starving, ready to devour anything in sight. Make a quick smoothie at home beforehand or grab a Wholesomeness snack from your freezer for a nutritious pick-me-up.

    3. Be a great guest. Be a great party guest and bring a plate of something yummy and healthy that you made at home (like a huge salad or a delicious grazing plate with homemade dip and veggie sticks). That way, you’ll know for sure that there will something healthy to eat while you’re there.

    4. Load up on greens. If you see a salad or veggies at your holiday party, go for it. There will be probably be lots of other yummy things that you want to conquer first but eating a salad or veggies first will be best for your digestion and you’ll fill yourself up a little bit before going for everything else!

    5. Avoid fried foods. Skip the high-fat fried foods and go for the lighter options.

    6. Avoid heavy and creamy sauces. Avoid the heavy sauces and opt for the lighter options on offer – it will be better for your digestion and you’ll feel better after the meal too.

    7. Hydrate properly. Opt for a drink of water first, to support your digestion and prevent the dreaded “post-Christmas dinner” headache.

    8. Chew your food slowly and carefully. Use your senses to enjoy your food (taste, smell, touch, sight). Break your food down slowly with your teeth. When we eat fast there’s no time for our stomach to signal our brain that we are full, so try to pace yourself, chew your food and give enough time for your body to send you those hunger/fullness signals.

    9. Add a side of berries to your plate. Adding a cup of antioxidant-rich berries (e.g. strawberries or blueberries) to your meal helps to maintain a healthy oxidative balance, which helps counteract the negative effects of an unhealthy meal (check out our article on this here).

    10. Create your own gym wherever you are. This is especially relevant during the current Covid times, so many of you may already be pros at this! Even just walking up and down your stairs a few more times every day, picking up things/squatting, or dancing to some holiday music can be beneficial!

    How do you stay healthy during the holidays?

    3 Healthy Mindset Shifts to Embrace These Holidays (manage holiday temptations, eliminate food guilt and enjoy the festive season)

     

    For anyone working on health or weight loss goals, the beginning of a new holiday season can sometimes feel a little bit stressful. There’s usually lots of parties and socialising with friends and family, and decadent holiday foods play a huge part in the festivities.

    The thought of the approaching holiday season can sometimes spark fear of overindulging or gaining weight, so we thought it would be beneficial to put together 3 healthy mindset changes that you can make this festive period, so that you can enjoy holiday eating, and have more time for celebration, family and friends.

    One: Be flexible

    Be flexible, aim for improvement, not perfection (especially during the holidays). Striving for perfection with the “all or nothing” mentality with no middle ground or compromise will let you down. Goals and intentions are amazing to set up, but make sure that they’re realistic and achievable. If you have made a plan for yourself for the holidays, make sure that it’s not going to make you feel restricted and deprived. Having realistic goals in place will make you feel more empowered around your food choices and you’ll be less likely to overindulge, compared to if you had set up rigid goals that were unattainable.

    Take home: Create goals that you know you can achieve  

     

    Two: Enjoy what you love (and leave the rest)

    The holidays always involve amazing selections of delicious foods, from appetizers and cocktails to beautiful roasts, cookies and desserts. You know yourself better than anyone, so you know what foods you absolutely love and have been looking forward to all year. When you arrive at your holiday party, ask yourself “what would I enjoy here?” and then fill your plate with those things, and leave the rest. This will help to avoid the mindless “eat everything in the room” mentality, which is often prompted by strict expectations that you may have first put on yourself (not always, but often).

    Take home: Take the time to choose the foods you want to enjoy

     

    Three: Give yourself permission to enjoy

    Holiday foods are known to be super indulgent and yummy, and are usually “special” unhealthy foods that we only eat on celebratory occasions. These foods have the purpose of bringing us pleasure, because they taste amazing and someone we love usually made the food for us. When we are eating food that is meant to bring us pleasure, it’s hard to receive that pleasure if we have feelings of guilt, or we’re checking ourselves out from the eating experience. Being present while eating and using our senses to smell, taste, chew and enjoy the food allows us to really receive the pleasure that the food is giving us. When we make pleasure the priority during eating, it becomes harder to overeat because we’re more in check with ourselves during the eating process (and overeating is also not very pleasurable!).

    Take home: stay present with your food choices throughout the holiday season

    We hope that you found this short list of holiday mindset-change tips helpful. As December creeps up on us remember to keep your health goals in mind, but stay mindful and stay open…maybe even let the holidays guide you a little bit! 

    New Study: Can Mushrooms Create Vitamin D from Sunlight?

     

    You may know of vitamin D as the “sunshine vitamin”, and for good reason. When we are exposed to the suns (UV) ultraviolet rays, our skin creates its own vitamin D, which then travels to the liver and then to your kidneys to be turned into active vitamin D.

    While Vitamin D is also naturally found in some foods such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, cod liver oil), eggs yolks, mushrooms and some fortified foods (cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, cereals), the sun remains to be the best and most efficient source of this vitamin.

    Even though it can be quite easy to get your daily Vitamin D intake from sunlight (especially here in sunny Queensland, Australia), figures from Osteoporosis Australia state that over 30% of Australian adults have a mild, moderate or severe Vitamin D deficiency, which is about 1 in 4!

    There are a number of factors that can contribute to a deficiency in Vitamin D, including those who are housebound, the elderly, darker skinned people, medical conditions that can affect your ability to absorb/process vitamin D, and the issue of being able to be sun smart while also getting enough daily sunshine on exposed skin. Many of us have also been in isolation for the past few months, which has made it even more difficult to get our daily sunshine vitamin.

    A brand new systematic review by Blumfield et al., has found that eating just five UV exposed mushrooms can give you your daily required dose of vitamin D.

    According to the review, in order to boost the vitamin D levels in your mushrooms, you need to have them sitting in direct sunlight for 15-60 minutes. After exposing them to sunlight, you can store them in the refrigerator where they will remain vitamin D boosted for up to 8 days. Blumfield et al., states that “UVB-exposed mushrooms increase and maintain serum 25(OH)D levels to a similar degree as vitamin D supplements.” This was tested on individuals with and without a vitamin D deficiency.

    The study also highlights the other health benefits of mushrooms, including the ability to improve markers of metabolic syndrome, improve gastrointestinal health, and reduce risk of ovarian and prostate cancers.

    Now with the potential to provide us with our daily dose of vitamin D, there’s just so many reasons to love mushrooms! They are so nutritionally unique and can make such a powerful addition to your diet. Grill them, roast them, stuff them, add them to pizzas or risottos, soups or pastas. Get creative with them on #MeatlessMondays by using grilled portabella mushrooms on burgers, or making grilled shiitake skewers. There are so many ways to spice up your cooking with mushrooms! How do you like to eat mushrooms? 

    Reference: Blumfield et al. (2020). Examining the health effects and bioactive components in Agarius bisporus mushrooms: a scoping review. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 84.

    5 ‘Healthy Foods’ That Are Actually Packed with Added Sugar

    There are certain foods that we all know are loaded with added sugars – ice cream, lollies, baked sweet treats and soft drinks. We’re often conscious of the amount of sugar we’re taking in when we eat these things, even managing our portions by selecting smaller desserts when we can. But the truth is that sugar is hiding everywhere - from yoghurts to pasta sauces, even salads and trail mixes!

    In fact, there has been research conducted in supermarkets to show that the majority of food items found in a grocery store contain added sugars (over 80% of foods in some American supermarkets, and we're pretty sure when we looked at the list that it's the same in Aus!).

    Sugar is lurking everywhere and not just in the obvious places like ice cream and cookies. Here is an inside scoop on some popular ‘healthy’ foods that are actually loaded with sugar and additives:

    1. Flavoured and non-fat yoghurts
    In general, yoghurts are quite healthy as they contain lots of beneficial probiotics and protein. However, the fruit flavoured and non-fat yoghurts are often laden with added sugars – just take a look at the nutrition panel next time you are at the grocery store. One serving of fruit yoghurt can even contain more sugar than a shortbread cookie. If you like fruit yoghurts, try unsweetened Greek yoghurt instead and mix in your own chopped up fruits. It's not the fruit that is the issue, it's the sweeteners or concentration that is.

    2. Pasta marinara sauces
    Most mainstream manufacturers add sugar to spaghetti sauces to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Of course it does depend on the brand, but it is quite hard these days to find a tomato-based pasta sauce that is free of added sugars. The best option is to just make your own using fresh red-ripe tomatoes… or even use canned chopped tomato but add fresh herbs, olive oil, and some sauteed garlic, chopped celery, onion and grated carrot to create a delicious sauce that will be even tastier than the store bought sauces! (Chef tip, saute the onion first, let them caramelise but not burn, add the garlic at the end, burnt garlic is very bitter, stir in the carrots and let the sauce simmer for a long time, add extra olive oil at the end... and simmer away on a low heat.  Stir your herbs in mid way so they don't become bitter and maintain their flavour kick.)

    3. Granola
    Try sifting through the various granola options at your local supermarket and you will see how little options there are that are free of added sugars. Many varieties contain sugar in the form of brown or white sugar, or corn syrup or glucose syrup, while others are coated in "chocolate" or "yoghurt". If you’re looking for a healthier breakfast cereal option, why not try our breakfast packs? We make our own cereal blend from scratch, using premium ingredients (and no added refined sugars in sight!). We keep our dried fruit content low, occasionally we might add xylitol, honey or maple syrup, but it's rare and it's minimal.  Check out our breakfast packs here.  Breakfast is one of the most important nourishing opportunities of the day.  Make it count. 

    4. Peanut butter
    Yes, peanut butter can be healthy in small amounts and when it’s just peanuts (peanuts that have literally been blended into a smooth and creamy peanut butter). Many peanut butters available in the shops have added sugar, salt and oil to create a ‘better’ and creamier taste. Fortunately, there are healthier options available and they are not too hard to find – look for peanut butter that is 100% peanuts (that is, peanuts are the only listed ingredient).  Better still go for a nut blend (one of our favourites is almond, cashew and flaxseed).

    5. Breads (even gluten free breads)
    A lot of breads are actually sweetened with refined white sugar or corn syrup, even the whole wheat and gluten free varieties. It’s also good to remember that just because a bread is organic, it doesn’t mean that it’s sugar free, and just because it is gluten free, doesn't make it healthy. Make sure to check your bread labels and look out for sugar as a main ingredient.

    We make our meals from scratch and we use ingredients as naturally as we can so that we can maximise the taste without compromising the health.  Many manufacturers rely on a formula of salt:sugar:fat to create a taste that keeps you eating and eating.  Great for your tongue, terrible for the rest of you.  Our meals are designed to achieve: sensory specific satiety and satiety.  That means, they are designed so that you are nourished, you enjoy it, but it is complex and natural enough that it doesn't trick your tastebuds into overeating. 

    Save your sugar eating for your treats, it has no real place in your meals.

    You can trust us with your meals, we've got you, healthy foods that really are healthy (and they taste great... without needing to add sugar, or heaps of other additives for that matter).

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma

    Creative Ways to Include Movement in Your Day Without Having to Schedule Special Workout Time

     

    Too busy to hit the gym or schedule a structured workout into your day? Don’t sweat, because there’s lots of easy things you can do during the day to boost your movement and activity levels, without even realising it!

    GO FOR A WALK WITH A FRIEND. Instead of meeting at a coffee shop to sit down and catch up, get your coffees to go and hit the local neighbourhood for a walk. If you have a beach nearby, taking a walk with a friend along the beach boardwalk is a nice thing to do as well.

    WEEKEND FAMILY BIKE RIDE. Dust off the bikes, lace up your shoes and head outside for a weekend bike ride with the family! You’ll be getting active, getting some sunshine and keeping your family connected all at the same time.

    RUN UP THE STAIRS INSTEAD OF WALK. Running up a flight of stairs is an awesome way to burn calories (ever seen those stair climbing machines at the gym?).

    JUMP ON THE TRAMPOLINE WITH YOUR KIDS. You may not believe it, but trampoline jumping actually works out your entire body. A 2019 study on the effectiveness of a mini-trampoline jumping program for people with osteopenia (low bone density) found that trampoline jumping helps to improve balance, strength and functional mobility. Jumping is for everyone!  

    HAVE A DANCE PARTY. Make exercising fun again! Make sure to include moves that get you down low, jumping up high and moving your arms.

    PARK IN THE FURTHEST PARKING LOT AWAY FROM THE SHOPS. Okay, so this might not be the most fun idea to do all the time, but have you ever tried to steer a full shopping trolley full of groceries around the parking lot, while attempting not to smash your trolley into someone or get yourself run over? It requires a lot of muscle strength and body movements!

    GIVE YOUR KIDS PIGGY BACK RIDES. If your kids are young, they most likely love to get piggy back rides. If you start thinking about it as a way to get some more exercise into your day, you might enjoy it and want to do it a lot more!

    LET YOUR DOG MOTIVATE YOU. Grab the leash and your dog and head outside. Your body and your pooch will thank you later! 

    BE CREATIVE ABOUT ADDING MOVEMENT INTO YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES. For example, you could do hand and wrist stretches while waiting at stop lights, squats while you watch your kiddies bath, or even star jumps while you wait for the microwave to ding.

    Getting movement into your day doesn’t have to involve intense HIIT sessions or specific “scheduled” workout time. Remember that every step counts!

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma