Wednesday, July 24, 2013

13 "Healthy" Foods that Sabotage Your Weight Loss

Sometimes we find little calories sneaking into our diets that wreck havoc and we have no idea where they are coming from. Hunting out the sneaky calories and making a few small changes can make a big difference to your diet for a small amount of effort. Here are my 13 healthy foods that make you fat:

1. Fruit Juice
Even 'all-natural organic' fruit juice is chock full of sugar and the juicing process removes the bulk of the fibre so you're doing yourself out of the fruit's full potential. Try a whole piece of fruit or mix your fruit juice 50/50 with soda water or still water and halve the sugar content instantly.

2. Olive Oil
We're told olive oil has a host of health benefits, which it does but olive oil is still a fat. By all means slosh it on your skin but use it sparingly like you would with any fat. This also goes for Oilve Oil margarine. A little is great, lots is a disaster for the hips!

3. Honey
How often have you bought an herbal tea when trying to give up coffee and filled it with honey because it's 'natural' and a 'healthy' alternative to sugar. While avoiding refined sugar is a good idea, honey is still sugar. I find if I have white sugar to hand I only use half a teaspoon at a time where honey gets used a tablespoon full at a time. If you have just 5 cups of herbal tea with tablespoonful (or a heaped teaspoon) honey a day that's an extra 3 kilos of sugar a month!

4. Greek Yoghurt
Yoghurt is fantastic for the body as it provides beneficial bacteria for your digestive system. Ideally the less sugar in the yoghurt the better so many people turn to fruit-free, unsweetened greek yoghurt.  Where most fruit yoghurts have a fat content of around 1-3% Greek Yoghurt can have 10-15% fat content so a 150g standard size tub will have 15 grams of fat in it! Look for a low fat unsweetened yoghurt instead.

5. Muesli Bars
Muesli bars are a mixed bag. Many so-called 'healthy' and 'natural' muesli bars are packed with cheap filler ingredients like peanuts, sugar, oils and fats not to mention chocolate toppings! Even some of the 'diet' brands of muesli bar contain a surprising amount of fats, sugars and carbs. Either really read the labels or just don't bother; many those so called 'natural' muesli bars are no better for you than a chocolate bar

6. Frozen Yoghurt
Somehow we think that if it's called yoghurt instead of ice-cream it's magically healthier but unfortunately not all yoghurts or ice creams are made equal. Read your labels and you may find a low fat ice cream will have less fat and sugar than a full-fat frozen yoghurt.

7. "Diet" Foods
I'm amazed when I compare the labels of some so-called diet foods with 'regular' foods how often the diet foods come out last! Just because it has a "diet" or "lite" label doesn't mean it's the healthiest option. Be aware to that whichever one of the unholy trinity of fat, sugar or carbs a product is claiming to be low in it will inevitably be high in the rest.

8. Artificial Sugar:
This seems like a lifesaver to anyone counting carbs but the more I research artificial sugar the more bad news I learn. Most recently, studies have shown that artificial sugar consumption increases weight gain - defeats the purpose of it then doesn't it?

9. Diet Soda
How often have you slugged back a diet soda thinking "It's guilt free because it's only got one calorie". See the artifiicial sugar comment above.

10. "Fat free" Lollies
At last! Fat free jelly beans! The fact that they've always been fat free evades you and you end up eating more than you intented because it's a "guilt free" snack. Be aware of sneaky packaging and guilt free hype - just because it's fat free doesn't mean it's sugar free or low calorie.

11. Skinny lattes
It's so easy to think that because it's liqid and low fat it must be a free pass for the weight watcher. It's worth noting a grande non-fat latte (from Starbucks) has 168 calories and 24g of carbohydrate. That's the equivalent of a two slice of white bread and tomato sandwich. When you go to order that third skinny latte maybe it's worth asking yourself if you'd eat three sandwiches in one sitting for a snack?

12. Soup
Not all soups are equal. So often when I look at a restaurant menu and see a list of meals with massive hunks of meat and fries I turn to the soup thinking it's the best alternative. Soups can be made with ingredients sauteed in butter and oil, extra bits of meat and high fat cheeses and finished with full cream. Add a couple pieces of garlic butter toast on the side and maybe you were better off with the steak and a salad. Ask the staff what's in their soup or go for a simpler meal like steak and a salad (dressing on the side) so you know what you're eating.

13. Salad
It seems a healthy option but bear in mind your dressing and sneaky calorie-laden extras like cheese, nuts, croutons. Always get your dressing on the side and generally go for a vinegraitte over a mayonaise or ranch dressing. A sachet of McDonald's ranch dressing has 13 grams of fat in it - the same amount of fat as a small bag of fries!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Don't Think About Chocolate

You're not thinking about chocolate are you? Don't think about chocolate. Stop right now! Eliminate all thoughts of chocolate cake, moccachinos, ice-cream, Mars bars and Tim Tams. What do you mean it's not working?

Right now the chocolate is the last thing on my mind...


Friday, July 19, 2013

Is Hunger Bad for You?

A few times lately the issue of losing weight and hunger has come up. It amazes me how often we see ads for miracle diet programmes where "No food is a sin!" (Food never was a sin; check your bible!) or "Never feel hungry again!". Why is feeling hungry bad? When did we suddenly move into a society where hunger is baaad, in fact, it's probably down right dangerous! Oh no! I'm hungry! Help! Recuse me prepackaged chocolate-coated chemical bar!


Monday, July 15, 2013

When Weight Loss Goes Out The Window

Weight loss is easy once you get into a routine. I have my porridge for breakfast and treat myself to a mini chocolate bar when I need a treat. I keep my fruit bowl well stocked and have containers of vege sticks and hummus in the fridge for snack attacks. I schedule exercise into my diary first and little, by little, I build a successful framework to stay healthy. When I'm at home that is...

Pack those sneakers first!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

My 15 Favourite Fat Burning Foods

These are my top 15 foods I keep handy to help me win the battle of the Muffin-Top...


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Omega 3 Benefits

I learnt some new facts about Omega 3 which I thought I'd share with you guys because I believe the best way to long term health is from the inside out. I've known for some years that the best thing to help my crippling and chronic migraines is eating tuna - unfortunately lots and lots of tuna! About one large tin a day gave me enough Omega 3 to reduce my migraines by about 80%.

What I've also learnt is that Omega 3 also has many other health benefits. Recent research published in the Journal of Obesity has shown that participants in a weight loss programme lost more weight when they took Omega 3 supplements than those who took Omega 6 or no supplements at all.

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid for brain development and it's recommended pregnant women take Omega 3 to help prevent post natal depression. It can take up to six years after your child is born to restock your Omega 3 levels; considering Omega 3 is essential for brain function there's a good medical reason for 'baby brain'!

Omega 3 is essential for children too and many studies have shown a link between Omega 3 and a child's concentration levels at school; if you want your wee one to be the next Einstein they are going to need Omega 3! Children with ADHD or other hyperactivity disorders have shown to respond well to Omega 3 supplementation too.

Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties unlike Omega 6 which has inflammatory properties so an imbalance between the two can create havoc in your body.

Omega 6 gets a lot of attention too and you can buy expensive bottles of flaxseed oil to sprinkle on your salads and meals but what I didn't know was that the average Kiwi gets about 20 times as much Omega 6 as they need from everyday wheat products like bread, cereals, muesli bars, crackers, donuts, cakes, tortillas, commercial sauces...the list goes on!

Most people, however, lack Omega 3 for several reasons. Firstly, you'd have to eat a lot of tuna like I did to get enough! Because so many of our sources of seafood are contaminated with mercury this is not the best option for your long term health either. Secondly, Omega 3 is very difficult to process into a supplement form. Most of the Omega 3 supplements you buy at the supermarket or pharmacy only have a limited spectrum of Omega 3 lipids because the rest are too difficult or expensive to preserve properly. So even if you take an Omega 3 supplement it may not do you any good. This is what I discovered when I tried to switch from eating tuna to taking Omega 3 capsules - they weren't very effective at all!Look for an Omega 3 supplement that contains the full range of Omega 3 lipids which have been processed to remove all mecury content (phew!) and preserved to prevent the oils going rancid or degrading - yay!

Monday, July 1, 2013

At Home Weight Loss

At home weight loss is the option most of us go for. When I started to lose weight I had the luxury of a cheap gym membership at Uni, cheap pool membership and I was so busy studying full time and working full time I was never home to sit by the fridge! I'd keep tins of tuna and bags of apples in the car and eat on the run. Now that my budget has been rearranged and I'm working at home all day I'm faced with trying to cobble together a weight loss programme from home; DIY weight loss if you will.

When putting together your at home weight loss system you need to look at the following:

1. What is my budget? How much money per week have I got to put towards my goals and what do I want to spend the money on?

It's worth bearing in mind that the majority of people who pay for an expensive gym membership never use it. Considering a gym membership can cost between $500-$1500 a year this could be a very expensive investment - especially if you only go once! Perhaps your money would be better spent on well fitted  running or walking shoes, a bike or a tramping pack and boots.

2. How much time do I have to devote to me?

Sit down and schedule in 'me time' every day and put aside time for exercise. Start out small but bigger than where you are now. If you manage a 15 minute walk every day upsize yourself to a 15 minute run or a 30 minute walk and gradually add a few more minutes every couple days. Don't think you have to exercise at a certain time of day - the time of day you get around to it is the best. Do make it the same time every day if you can because once it's a habit you won't even think about it. Also make time to do what you love whether its hiding in the bath with a book or going out for a massage or a facial. Taking time out to look after your brain and body will help you stay on track.

3. Why am I doing this?

Hopefully you've already addressed this but if you haven't sit down and look deep inside yourself. If you're trying to diet until you look like Victoria Beckham then give up now because you're not going to. If you're interested in improving your health, gaining more energy, feeling better about yourself and un-wobbling your wobbly bits then you've got a far more realistic view of where you can go and how it's going to make you feel when you get there. Perhaps you have health problems in your family you want to prevent or you want to be fit enough to keep up with your kids - or grandkids. What ever your reason for your goals write it down and look at them every day. I stick mine to the inside of my wardrobe door so I can read them each morning when I get ready.

4. Now how do I put it all together?

Start with a food diary. Write down everything you eat over a period of two weeks. Write down when you eat, why you eat, how you feel before you eat and after and how much you ate. This is harder than it seems because you will be so tempted to fudge (pardon the pun) the details but YOU MUST BE 110% HONEST. How you feel before and after you eat is going to be an important part of this because, over a period of two weeks, you wil start to unravel the real reasons why you eat - and why you shouldn't. For me, for example, I discovered that I'd eat healthy all day and then two hours after dinner it would all fall apart. First it would be dessert...then a cup of tea and some biscuits...then supper....then Hayden would get chocolate cravings and head out to the I rush to brush my teeth after dinner so Im lees tempted to graze my way through the evening.

Now you've prepared the foundations you can put together your tailor-made at home weight loss plan - more about next week,

Kia kaha