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Planning a long haul trip any time soon?  Then you won’t want to miss our tried and tested travel tips this issue to help reduce jet lag and give you back your holiday bounce.  You will also read about our special plant-based cookshop that puts the emphasis on weight loss without the calorie counting.  Sue steps into the TV studio to discuss some inspiring ideas for cooking dry beans from scratch and, if you’re looking to update your kitchen, we get you up to speed with the pros and cons of induction cooktops.  And finally, if you find yourself popping a daily supplement, could you be doing yourself more harm than good? We look at the facts.

Don’t let jet lag drag you down

So, you’re excited to be heading off overseas but dread the toll jet leg might take on your body.  Feelings of grogginess, fatigue and even digestive upsets can send you scurrying to your hotel room, resting your heavy head on the pillow and missing out on valuable work or holiday time.

Is there a cure for jet lag?  Well… no.  And jet lag can be better or worse depending on the direction of travel, how many time zones your cross and the length of your stay. But we do have some practical tips that frequent flyer Sue Radd has put to the test over many years, with plenty of business trips to the UK, Canada, US to name just a few. Sue used to take up to 10 such trips per year and once flew from Sydney to London for just two days of meetings with an advertising agency!  

Here are some of her key tips to minimise your side effects.  Give them a try next time you fly! 

Before you fly 

  1. Get a good night’s sleep.  This is one of the most important things you can do before you take a work trip from Sydney to LAX or return home from Heathrow to Melbourne after seeing the relatives.  Many people leave packing to the last minute and are frantic at work, so they burn the candle at both ends just before take off.  Whatever you do, don’t start your trip with a sleep deficit!  This will make it harder to bridle your body clock, which is already being sent into a spin due to time zone differences, and will compound your jet lag.
  2. Hydrate well even before you board that plane.  Drink about 1-2 litres of water in the six hours preceding your flight.  Think of it as though you are preparing for an ultrasound test – you need to water load.  Avoid all caffeinated drinks and alcohol, including coffee, tea and energy drinks.
  3. Pre-order a plant-based meal by calling your carrier (or do this at the time of booking your ticket).  You can try vegetarian, vegan or Asian vegetarian options.  Apart from the perk of being served first, such meals will supply you with more antioxidants and, usually, less saturated fat.  For example, while others get a stodgy cream-based cake for dessert, you will receive refreshing cut fruit of the season.  While few people think about this, and just eat what’s on offer, your dietary intake can help protect you from the cosmic radiation exposure during flights at high altitudes.  While all possible precautions are taken, one long haul flight from Australia has been estimated to expose you to as much radiation as having a chest x-ray.

  On the plane 

  1. Immediately reset your watch to the destination time zone and re-think your moves for the duration of the flight.  Plan your naps, meals and entertainment times in line with the new time zone, regardless of what you see out the window.  While you may find it challenging to achieve sleep in a single long block, a succession of naps during the flight totalling, say, around six hours for a 13-hour long haul flight, will have you feeling more energised at the other end.  Don’t forget to use the eyeshades provided to block out annoying reading lights from your neighbours while you are trying to sleep.  As your eyelids are not light-proof, the shades can make a big difference to how much shut eye you manage.  Try them and see the difference.  Ear plugs or a headset with soft tranquil music can also block out background noise from those friendly passengers who just can’t stop talking – even when it seems dark and most people are trying to sleep!  Eating more fruits and vegetables at your meal, and avoiding ice cream, cookies and crisps offered as snacks throughout the flight, will help you rest better on the plane and appease your digestive system once you land – good thing you pre-ordered that special plant-based meal!  If you still struggle to get a wink of sleep and do decide to succumb to a movie marathon instead, just be prepared for more severe jet lag upon arrival.
  2. Drink at least one cup of water per hour of flight time as cabin air dehydrates much more than normal air does.  Tip – take an empty, disposable water bottle on board (they usually won’t let you take it on full) and fill it up from the dispenser near the galley so it’s easier to sip regularly rather than waiting for drink service, which can be unpredictable and irregular.  While you may find it somewhat annoying getting up to go to the toilet more frequently, this little side effect will actually be beneficial as it will force you to move around, reducing your risk of DVTs.
  3. Stay away from alcohol, coffee and tea.  While these may be unrestricted and flowing, such drinks tend to dehydrate and will interrupt your overall sleep pattern.  Sue sometimes takes herbal tea bags such as camomile or peppermint (naturally without caffeine) in her handbag and simply asks for boiled water. 

Upon arrival 

  1. Unless it is night time, whatever you do, don’t take a nap.  This is a mistake many people make, thinking they’ll just sleep for a couple of hours and feel better.  The truth is that if you have a lie down and it’s day time at your destination, when you rise you’ll feel even more groggy and find it much more difficult to sync with your new time zone.  Instead, put on your walking shoes and plan to have an active day, preferably in sunlight (weather and season permitting).  Expose your skin to as much light as possible (even artificial light) as this is key to re-setting your biological clock to a new time zone.  Ideally, plan to be on ‘light duties’ for your first day.  Going shopping or visiting museums to keep you on the move and awake until early evening eventually comes is the trick to switching sooner to a new time zone.
  2. Drink more water throughout the day until your urine is almost clear or very light yellow.  If it is bright yellow, this is an indicator that you are still dehydrated and need to top up!
  3. If you arrive early in the morning and have the whole day ahead of you, this is the time to have that cup of coffee if desired – for medicinal purposes!  Especially if you are driving, as you don’t want to drive onto the wrong side of the road!  The jolt of caffeine will help you better survive till the evening when you should go to bed.  Note – try not to have successive cups of coffee during the day, as caffeine can hang around in the body for long periods in some people and prevent you from falling asleep.
  4. Plan for three nutritious meals and avoid snacking all day long, except on fresh fruit if you feel hungry.  (On the first day, Sue usually seeks out the closest green grocer, supermarket or health food store and buys a bagful of fresh fruit and some nuts, plus water bottles for the hotel room, to cover her stay if it’s short.  This beats relying on hotel room mini bars!  For longer trips you can top up as required).  You will find your hunger and digestion a lot easier to manage if you have avoided multiple junk food snacks on the plane.
  5. Before bed, dim the lights and take a relaxing bath or shower.  Importantly, avoid TV or computer stimulation for the 90 minutes before your head hits the pillow.  The blue light from the screens impairs the natural slow-down of your brain waves and can keep you up when you should be dropping off.

While some people use sleeping medication or melatonin, we don’t recommend these measures as they are not universally agreeable and won’t help if you need to be alert in case of an emergency.  Also, they can interact with your medication.  Sticking to the simple, natural measures outlined above can facilitate a significant improvement in how you tolerate jet lag, with only positive side effects to be gained.

Finally, as authorities agree that flying in a westward direction is usually better tolerated than going eastwards, discuss with your travel agent if it’s possible to alter your routing to take this into account.  Happy travels!


“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

What’s Cooking? – Going Vego: Powerful Plant Foods for Weight Loss and Better Health

Did you know that by simply adopting a total plant-based diet you could weigh 15-20 kg less without counting calories or fat grams?  It might sound too good to be true, but new research proves it.  And eating as much as you want of meals based on plants can be easier to stick to than counting your way through a calorie-restricted diet.

Plus, your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and premature death, including from kidney problems and diabetes, can be slashed! 

Whether you’re looking to become vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or to just sneak more vegies into the family diet and still get rave reviews, this cookshop is for you!

You will learn to design delicious, meatless meals without missing out on vital nutrients.  We will show you easy plant protein sources that vegetarians use to save time, and how to cook legumes and wholegrains using a pressure cooker. 

Perfect if you need to incorporate more wholefoods into your diet to better manage existing medical conditions.

When: Tuesday 7th May 2013

Time: 6.30 pm – 8:30 pm

Learn more about our cookshops

Join us and enjoy a delicious four-course tasting meal, recipes and handouts!

Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place.  Bring a date and make it an evening out!

What’s Fresh? – Brussels Sprouts

Do you cringe at the sound or smell of Brussels sprouts?

Well it’s a good time to re-visit those infamous childhood veggies because research shows they are highly protective against cancer!  Especially, if you carry gene variants that put you at higher cancer risk.

Brussels sprouts are a member of the Brassica family and they look like cute baby cabbages.  Having been first cultivated in the 16th century near the city of Brussels in Belgium, they got to earn their special name.

They provide a rich source of phytonutrients, including glucosinolates, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds. Some of these ‘up-regulate’ detox enzymes in your liver to help eliminate cancer causing substances.  They are good sources of vitamin C, folate and fibre, and also provide B group vitamins and vitamin E.  In addition, Brussels sprouts provide small but significant amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorus.

When choosing your Brussels sprouts, make sure they have bright green, tightly closed leaves with no tinges of yellow.  Aim to use them within two days, and keep them in a plastic bag in your crisper to maintain freshness.

Brussels sprouts can be steamed, boiled or shredded.  And, if you only cook them lightly, you’ll find they really don’t smell bad after all!

4 ways with Brussels sprouts:

  • Chop in quarters (length-ways) and toss them through a stir-fry
  • Slice finely and add to stews or soups
  • Steam with some carrots, capsicum, broccoli and beetroot, and eat as a side with some grilled fish
  • Slice finely and use raw, or lightly blanch and use whole or halved in salads.

New Gluten Free Eating Directory App

Looking to grab a bite without gluten nearby?  Or do you want to source an online supplier of gluten-free products and services?  This new app could help, although other suitable options could also exist that don’t advertise here.

Visit www.glutenfreeeatingdirectory.com.au to choose a category or state online or download the app without charge for your iPhone or Android device.  It’s helpful for when you’re travelling (especially within Australia) or even when staying close to home.

Food Matters with Sue Radd – Are Supplements Risky?

Are you taking high doses of dietary supplements in the hope of avoiding disease?  Think calcium for brittle bones, as just one example.  An increasing number of studies warn that high-dose supplements could be doing more harm than good.  Yet eating a nutrient-rich diet is highly protective.  Read Sue’s column to get informed! 

Food InFocus – The Awesome Power of Beans: Where to Buy, How to Cook & Reduce the Flatulence Factor!

So, you know you want to eat more beans, peas and lentils.  And you’re already tossing a few cans of baked beans into your supermarket trolley.  But how do you prepare those hard dry varieties?  And what about the risk of gas?  Watch this short TV segment with Sue Radd to learn the tips and tricks of the trade to expand your bean repertoire and boost health benefits.

Kitchen Tip – Induction Cooktops: the New Way to Cook

What’s induction cooking?  It’s a flat surface stovetop that looks like an electric ceramic cooktop but doesn’t stay hot for a long period after you remove the pot!  The stovetop uses new ferromagnetic technology that heats the pot and its contents but not the cooking surface.

Induction cooking fits well with busy lifestyles.  Cooking temperatures respond quickly, and your water will boil 15-20% faster than with gas or electric stove top methods.  Also, induction cooking is very energy efficient and saves 12% (when compared to an electrical stovetop) of energy for the same amount of heat produced.

We have an induction cookshop in our demo kitchen and love the flat surface, which makes it very quick and easy to clean.  You don’t need to use your ear buds anymore to get the grime out beneath those grooves or knobs.   Simply spray and wipe!

Another cooking feature is that the stovetop cools very rapidly once the pot is removed, reducing the risk of burns or accidents.  The residual heat is there simply from the heat of the pot.  So you’ll have less worries about little Tommy placing his hands on a burning stovetop!

FlexInduction.  Some newer induction cooktops have a flexible induction option, which ‘connects’ two plates to form one big cooking zone!  This is ideal for a large roasting dish and allows you to arrange your pots and pans however you wish!

While the induction stovetop sounds like a delight and is increasingly being used by chefs, there are a few downsides to consider:

  • For those who enjoy adjusting the flame of a gas burner, it may take some time to get familiar with using digital numbers for different heat settings.  Some induction stovetops have 17 power levels, which can give you instant control over the cooking heat.  However, with a little practise you soon get the hang of it and will love the fine tuning that is possible.
  • Doing a stir-fry over a flame wok burner is definitely more exciting, but there are induction cooktops that now offer the convenience of both!
  • Induction cooktops can be a bit pricey.  They range from anywhere between $2000-$4000.
  • It’s important to note that not all cookware can be used on an induction cooktop. Glass, ceramics, solid copper and aluminium cookware are not compatible with induction heating but materials like stainless steel and cast iron work fine.  It’s also important that your cookware has a flat bottom, since the magnetic field decreases with distance from the surface.

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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2013.

Suite 10, 80 Cecil Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154 Ph: +61 2 9899 5208 Fx: +61 2 9899 2848 www.nwbc.com.au

We are a boutique Dietitians clinic in Sydney, Australia, offering one-on-one consultations, culinary medicine cooking workshops, motivational health seminars and nutrition advisory services to businesses in the local and global area.

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