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This issue get clued up on healthier fast foods, see a video on how the size of your plate and spoon may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts, book into a cookshop to learn how nutrients in your food can talk to your genes, and discover a way to slash half the calories from your Lebanese bread.

Healthier Fast Foods – What Should You Chose?

In today’s fast-paced world, many people succumb to frequent takeaway meals – after all, they’re quick and convenient. But can they be healthy and good for your figure? 

Fast Food Chains Not So Healthy 

Most fast foods are loaded with fat (particularly the baddie saturated fat and the super baddie trans fat) as well as being raised in salt, which is not ideal for your wellbeing. Highly processed re-assembled foods can also lack protective nutrition elements from vegetables and wholegrains.

With a third of the Australian food dollar now spent on foods purchased and consumed away from home, it is inevitable that you may occasionally find yourself stuck with a fast food meal – perhaps on Thursday nights when you are doing some late night shopping. If you do choose to eat takeaways on some occasions, here are a few suggestions to help you pick healthier options so you are more likely to stay within your health goals.

Lighter Choices 

  • Asian (e.g. Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Indian, Vietnamese). Choose fresh items such as vegetable rolls, steamed dim sims or dumplings and avoid fried entrees and mains. Swap your coconut milk-based soups and curries for fresh tofu, fish, chicken or meat stir-fries bulked up with vegetables. Finally trade your fried rice or noodles for steamed rice (wholegrain or basmati if you can get it), which has a lower GI and will keep you feeling fuller for longer. There’s usually plenty out the back, sitting in a rice cooker – you just need to ask.
  • Bakery (e.g. pies, pasties, sausage rolls). Swap high fat pastry items for lighter vege filo pastry parcels. Ditch high GI white rolls stuffed with bacon and cheese for fresh wholegrain or seeded bread sandwiches. They usually taste better anyway, if freshly made.
  • Burgers (e.g. café-style, McDonalds, Hungry Jack’s). Avoid burgers from fast food chains and opt for made to order café-style burgers with more fresh ingredients minus the high fat extras such as cheese, egg, bacon and rich sauces/mayonnaise. Ask for extra salad fillings to create your own works burger and so you avoid the temptation of high fat sides like hot chips, cookies and desserts.
  • Chicken (e.g. KFC, Nando’s, Oporto, Red Rooster). Choose chicken wraps or fresh salads with vinaigrette and rip off the skin from BBQ chicken instead of surrendering to deep fried or crumbed chicken, hot chips and salads with creamy dressings and later paying the consequences.
  • Fish & Chips. Pick grilled/baked fish or fresh seafood and a mixed salad with a lemon wedge. Avoid high fat sauces such as mayonnaise and tartare as well as fried, battered and crumbed fish, prawns or calamari – they absorb the re-used oil into your food like a sponge.
  • Pizza (e.g. Pizza Hut, Dominos, Eagle Boys). Choose pizzas with a thin base and crust – don’t get sucked into any special deals - and remember to ask for extra vegetable topping and little or no cheese (unlike traditional pizzas in Italy, many fast food pizzas in Australia can arrive drowned in cheese). Avoid thick, cheese stuffed or pan style pizza bases and processed meats, the latter which are now strongly linked with bowel cancer. Go for healthy sides such as fresh salads or entrée sized tomato pasta dishes in place of garlic bread (usually smothered in butter or margarine), deep fried potato wedges or BBQ spare ribs.
  • Salad Bars (e.g. Sumo Salad, Wellbeing). Opt for salads loaded with legumes – think lentils and chickpeas – or some tuna/salmon or lean chicken and meat.  Chose low GI carbohydrate options such as sweet potato, pasta, couscous and barley and a little bit of lower fat cheese, including ricotta, cottage and fetta. Avoid salads topped with bacon, ham, crumbed schnitzel, lots of hard yellow cheese and rich dressings such as mayonnaise, sour cream and Caesar.
  • Sandwiches and Kebabs (e.g. Subway, Ali Baba, Ala Turko). Replace fatty fillings like salami, fried egg, chicken with skin and processed chicken, ham, bacon, rissoles, schnitzel and full fat cheese with healthier options such as canned tuna or salmon, boiled egg, skinless chicken or turkey, falafel, lean roast beef and lower fat cheeses. Ask for high fibre, low GI breads such as soy and linseed, dark rye, wholemeal sourdough, mixed grain or wholemeal mountain bread instead of white bread, including Turkish bread, focaccia and bagels. If enough people request good quality bread – they will get it in for you. Opt for wholefood spreads that can also deliver antioxidants, such as avocado, hommus, tzatziki and peanut butter in place of butter, margarine or mayonnaise. If particularly hungry, order an extra side of salad or roasted vegetables and bottle of water in place of a sugary drink.
  • Sushi/Japanese (e.g. Sushi Train, Hokka Hokka). Try edamame (delicious green soybeans) or seaweed salad for something different and delicious. Select fresh sashimi and sushi (e.g. California rolls) or fresh rice paper rolls with lots of herbs and salad.  Avoid tempura vegetables and deep fried spring rolls or sushi made with fried prawn or crumbed chicken.

Nutrition Information in Store

You may have noticed many quick service restaurants in Australia are now displaying some nutritional information on their products. Why the bold move? New laws introduced by the NSW Food Authority in February 2012 have made it mandatory for larger fast food and snack food chains to share this information at the point of sale. Food outlets in NSW now need to display the energy content of each standard food item (expressed in kilojoules ‘kJ’) as well as the reference statement, ‘The average adult daily energy intake is 8700 kJ’ to help you put things into perspective.

What does this mean for you? While the requirement for labelling fast food is not yet national, some of the biggest chains like McDonalds have decided to declare this information in all their stores across Australia. With more nutritional information available at your fingertips you will be in a better position to judge what you really want to eat and how much to have.  However, many people may remain confused, as simply seeing the figures won’t mean they can understand how to interpret them.

For one-on-one coaching on how to choose from multiple fast food menus and interpret nutrition information panels for your specific health needs, book an appointment with one of our friendly dietitians.  You can also learn how to compile healthy fast food at home!

Health Quote

"Those who have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness." – Edward Stanley

What’s Cooking in June – Gene Smart Foods to Fight Inflammation & Chronic Disease

Did you know that foods you eat can affect the action of your genes by either switching them on or turning them off? Your food choices are more important than you think, particularly if you have a family history of heart attack, stroke, diabetes or cancer.

New research in nutrigenomics shows phytonutrients from colourful vegetables, legumes and wholegrains can talk to your genes and exert powerful influences to prevent the onset of medical conditions or reduce their impact if you have already been diagnosed.  Foods that fight low grade inflammation in your body can stem the starting process of many diseases, just like a fire extinguisher can be used to extinguish many small fires.

Join us to learn how you can easily make delicious gene-smart meals at home to prevent the onset or better manage your diabetes, overweight, arthritis and reduce your risk of cancer.  Learn how small changes in your kitchen can make a big difference to your health.

Date: Tuesday, 12th June

Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm             

Learn more about this cookshop

Call TODAY on (02) 9899 5208 to get a foodie introduction to the exciting new field of nutrigenomics and discover how powerful your diet can really be!

What’s Your Ideal Figure? – NEW ‘8700’ website + app

Wondering how you can better understand your daily energy requirement and the contribution of various foods? In conjunction with new food labelling laws for quick service restaurants introduced in February 2012, the NSW Food Authority has recently launched the ‘8700’ website.  This will be a valuable guide to help Australian’s learn more about the kilojoule content of foods and how they stack up against the average daily kilojoule requirement of 8700 kJ. The website is interactive, easy to navigate and includes information on ways to balance ‘energy in’ with ‘energy out’ for weight maintenance.  It can even calculate your ideal daily kilojoule intake.

Available also is a free app (great if you have an iPhone) that contains a database of many common foods and displays the total kilojoule content and percentage of daily energy that the food contributes. Find out more about the 8700 initiative

What’s Fresh – Rocket

Rocket (also known as arugula) is a highly nutritious green leafy vegetable of Mediterranean origin. Known for its rich, peppery taste this vegetable is exceptionally flavoured for a leafy green making it the perfect accompaniment to almost any dish requiring a lift of flavour. The young plant has mildly sweet, less peppery leaves with the spiciness intensifying as the plant ages.

In addition to being a great side to many main meals, rocket is also a dieters dream containing a mere 25 calories per 100 g serve! It’s packed full of folate (a type of B vitamin) which is important for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in newborns. It’s also a good source of vitamin A, other B-group vitamins, vitamin K as well as vitamin C and contains many phytonutrients that will provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in your body.

The Australian climate is optimal for growing rocket making it available all year round with a growing period from March to November. When buying fresh rocket, look for crispy green coloured young leaves and discard any bruised leaves and stems before storage. For maximum freshness, store your rocket in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator set at high relative humidity.

Rocket generally shines in salads but you can also add it to pasta, when making pesto or meat dishes. In addition to the leaves, the flowers (used in salads as an edible garnish), young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible.

3 ways with rocket:

1. Add a splash of green colour and boost the flavour of lasagne

2. Make yourself a restaurant quality, rocket, pear and parmesan salad – a classic combination.

3. Add some rocket to your favourite soup recipe towards the end of cooking for a peppery twist!

Food InFocus with Sue Radd – What Size is Your Plate?

Plates are getting bigger and serving sizes are increasing along with them. It's not just what you eat, it's also how much. Check out this 4 minute video with Nutritionist Sue Radd who explains the psychology behind portion distortion and what you can do to prevent this.

Kitchen Tip – Split Your Bread and Half the Calories

When enjoying Lebanese bread as a wrap many people eat the entire round.  But did you know this is equivalent to four thin slices of bread? 

Here’s a Lebanese trick that gives more thought to your waistline. Hold up your dinner sized Lebanese round and simply pull apart at the seam, going all the way round, so you end up with two thinner wraps.  Now go ahead and make your falafel roll or kebab with a grin as you’ve just saved yourself around 550 kJ (130 Cal)!

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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2012.

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

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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