With the temperature starting to drop, it’s time to bring out those winter warmers. Why not start at breakfast? This month we dish up a chill-fighting brekkie that’s so easy you can whip it up at work. We will also tell you how a good night’s sleep is great for your waistline and why you should give water chestnuts a crunch. If your eating habits could do with a kick in the right direction, we have a cutting-edge cookshop with gene-smart foods to extinguish the fires of inflammation in your body. And, learn the healthy way to navigate the food aisles in our virtual supermarket tour, where we lift the lid on all the tricks of the trade.
Snooze Your Weight Away
Since the invention of the light bulb, we’ve managed to turn our nights into longer days. But the trouble is that many of us now choose to go to sleep later and spend extra hours in front of the TV, smart phone or internet. This extra stimulation from our night lamps and screens doesn’t give our brains an opportunity to wind down and rest. Instead, the light emitted disrupts our pineal gland’s production of melatonin – an important sleep hormone.
Many of us would agree that lack of sleep contributes to grumpiness and grogginess. However, believe it or not, the amount and quality of sleep you get can also affect your waistline! A recent review of 36 studies found, to put it simply, that “short sleepers are heavier”1]. The US study of 9588 participants showed that if you sleep less than five hours each night, you are twice as likely to become obese after nine years than you are if you slept for seven hours!
Research tells us that the less you sleep, the more insulin-resistant your body becomes, placing you at an increased risk of weight gain and chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
1] Patel, S.R, and F. B. Hu. Short sleep duration and weight gain: a systematic review, Obesity 2008;16(3): 643-653.
What is insulin resistance?
In essence, insulin resistance is when your body doesn’t burn fuels as efficiently as it should. Excess body fat clogs up your cells, stopping insulin from doing its job properly.
The hormone insulin works to keep your blood glucose levels stable on a day-to-day basis, however when insulin resistance sets in, your blood glucose levels remain higher than usual and for longer periods of time. This puts more pressure on your body to secrete even more insulin to get glucose into your body cells so it can be burned as fuel.
Since insulin is also a fat-storing hormone, the more that is secreted and the longer it stays in the body, the more difficult it is for your body to burn fat and for you to lose weight. If you have insulin resistance, you may have noticed it’s not hard to deposit more body fat around your middle and more difficult to shed unwanted kilos.
How do you stop insulin resistance?
With respect to sleep, the best thing you can do is to get enough! Sleep experts advise you should get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Start to develop a sleep routine with calming music, dimmed lights and no TV close to bedtime, so your body knows when to wind down.
It is also recommended you see your dietitian. Your dietitian can help you choose the right types of carbohydrates, fats and portion sizes to significantly improve your insulin resistance.
A gym program that is high in cardiovascular training and light in resistant training is beneficial as well.
Other sleep-less weight blockers
Your hunger hormones change with lack of sleep too. Ghrelin (the ‘hungry’ hormone) increases and leptin (the ‘full’ or ‘satiety’ hormone) decreases when you get less sleep. This can result in more midnight munchies for you and an increased calorie intake throughout the day.
The less you sleep, the less energetic you feel. Lethargy and tiredness may stop you from heading to the gym before or after work. Harvard researchers conducting the Nurses Health Study I and II showed that people tended to drop their physical activity when their sleep duration shortened.
Finally, sleep deprivation can also lower your core body temperature, which can result in a reduced metabolism, meaning the rate at which you burn calories is slowed. Enough sleep on the other hand can help you burn fuels more efficiently and keep your metabolism churning on high!
So, how about an early night tonight? And a more body-friendly bedtime more often?
“Great eaters and great sleepers are incapable of anything else that is great.” – Henry IV of France
What’s Cooking – Gene Smart Foods to Fight Inflammation & Chronic Disease
Almost 10 years ago the emerging scientific findings on chronic inflammation in the body made the front cover of TIME magazine and inflammation was dubbed ‘The Silent Killer’.
Today, inflammation is well recognised to be an insidious process that affects multiple disease pathways, bringing on early death and sickness. If you can find ways to dampen it, you will surely help yourself stay well for longer.
Enter unique foods and nutrients that can talk to your genes and boost your anti-inflammatory defence mechanisms.
How do they work?
Your food choices are even more important than you think, particularly if you already have a family history of heart attack, stroke, diabetes or cancer. They can act as the control switch to turn on and off certain genes involved in the process of inflammation. So, your genes (which you had no say in) don’t have to be your destiny!
Join us at this cutting-edge cookshop to learn about delicious anti-inflammatory wholefoods ranging from omega-3-rich foods to the secret of sour cherries. Discover pro-inflammatory ingredients – like certain fats and spreads you might have lurking in your fridge and pantry – and cooking methods to steer clear of that can result in the formation of chemicals, like AGEs, and promote widespread inflammation in your body.
This cookshop will open your eyes and help you design anti-inflammatory meals for your whole family. It’s perfect if you have weight issues, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, gout, inflammatory bowel disease or heart disease – all of which are conditions fuelled by inflammation. Or perhaps you are proactive and want to help prevent these conditions. There’s something to be gained for everyone!
Learn how small changes in your kitchen can make a big difference to your health.
When: Tuesday, 9th July, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Learn more about our cookshops
Enjoy a delicious 4 course tasting menu, recipes and handouts!
Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place. Bring a friend and make it a date!
What’s Fresh? – Chinese Water Chestnuts
The Chinese water chestnut is a diamond in the rough, muddy waters where it grows. This special vegetable is a top addition to your stir-fries and salads, and is probably one of the easiest of vegetables to grow (even in Sydney!).
Native to Southeast Asia, it is actually an aquatic grass-like plant that cultivates in marshy surroundings. Unlike its cousin that grows on trees, the water chestnut grows underground and has a dark browny-black skin with a white, crisp, semi-sweet flesh inside.
Water chestnuts don’t have an overpowering taste and tend to take on the flavours they are cooked with. They are prized in Asia for their crisp texture and can be eaten raw, steamed, stir-fried or grilled.
If you’re wondering about flavour mixes, water chestnuts are traditionally combined with bamboo shoots, ginger, coriander, sesame oil and snow peas. Mmmm, you can almost taste the exciting flavour combinations!
What is nutritionally good about water chestnuts? For one thing, they are mainly water-based – so they won’t rob the calorie bank, providing only 53 kJ (13 Cal) per half a cup canned! Water chestnuts are also a good source of dietary fibre, which is important for regularity and a healthy gut microflora. And they provide a useful dose of potassium. Potassium is important for good muscle and neurological functions.
When cooking, try not to overcook water chestnuts to help retain their special texture. You can buy fresh, frozen or canned water chestnuts from your grocer or supermarket. If going fresh (do give them a try!) chose firm chestnuts with no wrinkles and be sure to peel before using. Store them in a tightly sealed container or zip-lock bag and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
3 ways to use water chestnuts:
- Drop into a colourful stir-fry
- Use raw in salads or make into a side with freshly steamed asparagus or snow peas
- Add as a crunchy ingredient to rice paper rolls
Virtual Supermarket Tour – Need Some Coaching on Healthy Shopping?
Are you blown away by the ever-increasing choices on your supermarket shelf? In our local Coles supermarket at Castle Hill, there are over 13,500 food and beverage items to consider. Which ones are best for your health?
Get coached by us to become a savvy supermarket shopper! Learn what food psychologists have discovered (and have shared with supermarkets) regarding shop layout and how it increases their sales and manipulates your food choices.
Discover how to read a nutrition information panel, what the ingredients list can tell you and what to make of those dubious marketing claims.
Take home a ‘best brands’ shopping list and handy benchmarks. And take charge of your health!
Our interactive event will build your confidence in selecting the healthiest products for you and your family.
When: Wednesday 24th July, 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
Learn more about the supermarket tour
Call TODAY on (02) 9899 5208 to book. Each attendee will also receive a free pocket shopping guide!
Food Matters with Sue Radd – Vitamin D Alert
How’s your vitamin D level? If you are an Australian resident, you’re about to experience colder, shorter days with less sunshine and vitamin D-making opportunities. “With winter starting, most people’s levels will drop,” says Sue Radd. “So it’s a good idea to learn about dietary sources of this important hormone-like substance and how you can get enough to help you stay well when the sun doesn’t shine.” Read Sue’s column and get informed!
Welcome Lynda Hamilton
Have you met our new dietitian, Lynda? As Monica prepares to take another well-earned maternity break, we are thrilled to have Lynda join our boutique team of lifestyle dietitians who are keen to help you get the most out of your life and diet. You might be interested to learn that in her former life, Lynda worked as a health editor for UK publications targeting those aged over 50. So, if you’re in your middle years (or older), you’ll find Lynda is well informed of the special nutrition issues that are relevant to your health needs.
Food InFocus – Why Nuts Don’t Make You Fat
Still not convinced you can eat nuts and lose weight? Watch this short TV segment with Sue Radd to learn how nibbling on nuts can help your waistline and keep you well at the same time.
Kitchen Tip – Warming Winter Breakfast Idea
A bowl of warm breakfast porridge is tempting on a cold winter’s morning but finding the time to pull it together can be challenging. Instead, many people opt for ‘quick oats’ that take one minute to cook in the microwave. But are these healthy?
While they’re still oats, and better than many refined high-sugar cereals, they provide quick-release carbs, which means you won’t experience the same sustained energy release that traditional oats offer. And they’ll cause your blood sugar to surge higher than the larger bits of oats do.
What can you do?
- If you love oat porridge always buy the traditional rolled oats (not the ones marketed as quick or microwave oats).
- To quicken the process of softening oats without cooking, place ¼ cup of dry traditional rolled oats in a breakfast bowl, boil some water in your kettle and pour over. Cover with a saucer or lid and head off to the shower. By the time you come back, the oats would have swelled and softened, and be ready for you to pour your milk over and add other toppings.
- For some taste variation, add two chopped medjool dates to your porridge mixture, a shake of cinnamon and a sprinkle of chia seeds or ground linseeds.
- Other toppings to try: chopped dried apple or grated fresh apple, chopped dried white figs, vanilla essence, shredded coconut, real maple syrup, toasted nuts or seeds, dark chocolate chips (when feeling decadent!), berries (frozen or fresh) and different milks (e.g. soy or almond).
Instead of living on traditional rolled oats each day, you can also try making your porridge using rolled barley or mixed rolled grains instead, which you can purchase from a health food store. Enjoy!
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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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