S&P, to season
how: mix together, drizzle on cooked vegetables
Goes with: asparagus, spinach, silver beet, cauliflower, green salad,
broccoli, green beans, squash, zucchini
Why do I need to avoid cheese and deli meats?
Despite my own mother not excluding these foods whilst pregnant with me, many of us know now that during pregnancy it is recommended to avoid soft cheeses, deli meats (ham, salami, cooked chicken), salad bars, raw egg and soft serve ice cream - but why?
The main reason for avoiding these types of food is due to the high risk of food poisoning. Listeria is a bacteria that is found in some foods and can be passed onto the baby and cause premature birth, miscarriage or damage as the baby’s immune system is not strong enough to fight off the infection. The risk remains throughout the whole pregnancy so its important to be strict about this.
On top of this, safe food handling is also so, so important. Make sure foods are stored, thawed, cooked (above 60℃ for hot foods, less than 5℃ for cold foods) and reheated appropriately (above 74℃ for more than 2 minutes) and hands and utensils are washed thoroughly to avoid cross contamination.
Click here if you want to know more about the in’s and out’s of food handling.
Sugar Sweet; 26 week screening for diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a condition very much like Type 2 Diabetes, however is caused due to hormone changes during pregnancy. Many women I see say that they are terrified of being diagnosed or even getting the test done, however it is vital to find out especially if there is a history within your family. Gestational diabetes that is not picked up or poorly managed will result in a bigger baby that can lead to a complicated delivery for mum. All women should be screened at 26 weeks with a glucose tolerance test to ensure they don’t have high blood sugar levels and if a diagnosis is made, there is lots of support available from your GP, midwife, dietitian and Endocrinologist to keep both mother and baby fit and healthy.
Do I avoid all fish?
Fish is a really lean source of protein and aiming to eat two servings of fish per week can be healthy for mum and baby. Coldwater fish in particular contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which help with your baby's brain development and vision.
What you need to avoid is fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, deep sea perch and king mackerel as high levels of mercury can cross the placenta and inhibit the development of baby’s nervous system. Salmon, shrimp, and canned tuna are better choices but not everyday.
Make sure you also skip any raw fish too, including sushi or sashimi as raw fish is more likely than cooked fish to contain parasites and bacteria that can be harmful to baby’s growth and wellbeing.
Eating for Two
Are you helping yourself to seconds of potato salad or giving into that ice cream craving EVERY night? Not so fast. Yes, you are eating for two -- but that doesn't mean two adult-sized servings are necessary.
The average woman with a normal weight pre-pregnancy needs only about 720 kilojoules (or 300 calories) extra per day to promote her baby's growth, according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE). That's roughly the equivalent to a glass of skim milk and a piece of fruit! The table below provides a guideline to how much weight women should gain during their whole pregnancy, based on pre-pregnancy weight status.
If your pre-pregnancy BMI* was... | You should gain…..
Less than BMI 18.5 kg/m2 | 12.5-18 kg
BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 | 11.5-16 kg
BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2 | 7-11.5 kg
BMI more than 30 kg/m2 | 7-9 kg
Reference: Queensland Health “Healthy Eating during Pregnancy”
* BMI is calculated by dividing your weight by your height squared (in metres)
Boosting iron and iodine
During pregnancy, both iron and iodine requirements increase to help the body ensure it has enough for both mum and bub. Iron is necessary for making red cells in both mum and baby and helps to carry oxygen in the blood. Many women can become anaemic in the first trimester so its essential iron rich sources such as lean red meat, leafy green vegetables, legumes and fortified cereals are eaten regularly. Adding a source of vitamin C whilst consuming high iron foods can boost the absorption but avoid pairing caffeine and high calcium sources with iron foods as this blocks iron absorption.
Iodine requirements also increase during pregnancy as this is a vital nutrient for baby’s growth and brain development. Iodine is found in fruit and vegetables, seafood, eggs and iodised salt as well as bread (as it is now mandatory to use iodised salt in bread production). If you think you may not be getting enough, speak to your GP or dietitian to check.
For more information, check out the AGHE for pregnancy.
** With all medical and health issues, it's imperative to consult your doctor or dietitian for tailored advice regarding your personal situation before commencing any changes. This article is written to inform and like anything, a balanced diet and regular activity is important to maintain health and well being.
how: toss vegetables in oil and sprinkle with fennel seeds and chilli flakes. bake.
Goes with: potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, parsnip, carrot
how: heat oil and garlic in pan, add sambal and almonds and sauté briefly. add blanched vegetables and toss to coat.
Goes with: green beans, broccoli, asparagus, capsicum, zucchini
CLOUDS OF MUSTARD
S&P, to season
how: mix all together and drizzle over cooked vegetables
Goes with: spinach, green beans, broccoli, broccolini, asparagus, snow peas, zucchini, squash
SWEET 'N' TANG
how: melt honey, add vinegar and mix. drizzle over cooked vegetables and toss through with almonds.
Goes with: carrots, pumpkin, roast capsicum, sweet potato, green salad
When I told people I was trialling the Optifast program, many looked at me with horror followed by the words “but you don’t need to lose weight!”. And yes, that was true. However in order to truly understand what my clients go through, I thought I’d walk in my client’s shoes and see how tough sticking to a very low calorie diet (VLCD) is.
The truth is, I’ve never dieted before in my life - like, seriously committed to a diet AND stuck with it for more than 2 meals. I’m also a huge carb fan (that’s the Italian in me) and a strong believer that we need wholesome sources, in small amounts throughout the day. So not only was I embarking on learning to ‘stick’ with the rules, but this was also going to challenge my beliefs and judge for myself whether the testimonials of going low carb provided the “amazing clarity and lightness” that so many say.
Disclaimer: I only recommend Optifast products to my clients who meet the guidelines for a VLCD program, and in no way do I get any kickbacks from using this product or writing this article.
Goal: To complete 5 days of Optifast Transition Phase
NB: Usually the program suggests starting in the intensive phase (3 meal replacements per day) however I tend to start my clients on the Transition Phase as it’s more achievable. I also felt that because I’m within a healthy weight range, it would be more appropriate to start here too.
I had bought the coffee flavoured Optifast shakes as I felt this would be more palatable than a sweeter option like chocolate or strawberry. I hadn’t given it much thought prior to this experiment and suddenly Sunday night I was dreading the shake the following morning. How pleasantly surprised I was! It tasted delicious except the texture was a bit strange and I found that you had to drink it down fairly quickly as the longer it sat, the thicker it got. Boom - first shake done and dusted. Off to work.
The satisfaction didn’t last long and by 11am, I was feeling flat as a tack. I decided to have my piece of fruit then which picked me up until lunchtime. Except I had forgotten that it was a colleagues farewell lunch and I was suddenly faced with my first challenge. I had to sit there with my bowl of carrot, celery, capsicum and lettuce and coffee flavoured shake whilst everyone else lunched on hot cheese scones, fruit scones, chocolate sponge cake, blue cheese and crackers, frankfurts, date cacao balls and greek salad. That killed me there and then… but I held strong and it was in that moment that I decide it was on like Donkey Kong - no turning back now.
On my 45 minute drive home, the headache and fatigue set in and I was so hungry that all I could think of was the meal I was going to cook for dinner; 150g eye fillet and vegetable ratatouille. To prove how hungry I was, I forgot to take a photograph!!! Despite my veggie packed dinner, it didn’t help that Tom, my partner pulled out the cheese and biscuits and a Connoisseur ice cream and so I went to bed feeling really unsatisfied and still hungry. I woke up at 3:33am with a growling stomach, and after several glasses of water and salivating thoughts of toast and scones, I fell back to sleep 2 hours later (withdrawals symptoms much?!?). That feeling of emptiness is probably the lowest point I’ve felt provided a good glimpse into how strong it drives your thought to food, and only food. It also made me realise that there are many people out there that feel like this daily; a bleak moment.
Reflection: The realisations of:1. I’m stronger than I thought when it comes to making a food commitment and 2. Understanding the true feeling of physical hunger (as opposed to emotional hunger) and 3. The devastating fact that so many people go through this agony and distraction on a daily basis.
I woke up on Tuesday hankering for my morning shake - they say anything tastes good when you’re hungry.
It was a cray-cray day full of meetings and I thought that being busy would help distract the hunger. Turns out it doesn’t and the headaches worsened. During a handover I had a colleague of mine tell me I looked ‘overwhelmed’ with information… Hmmm no, I thought, I’m was just completely carb-deprived and struggling to stay focused. No doubt I looked like a Whitewalker from Game of Thrones
Dinner was a repeat of the night before (steak and ratatouille) but I could only eat ⅓ of what I usually would have. The stomach shrinking had begun! The headache still lingered and drained me so bad, I didn’t make it to Pilates that night. Instead I crawled in bed super early and called it a night.
Reflection: No matter how busy you are, starvation still wins.
The shake was starting to haunt me so Wednesday morning I bypassed it and opted for my fruit and yoghurt for breakfast. Knowing lunch was going to be late, I panicked and drank it anyway. The last thing I wanted to be doing was driving past a golden arch and losing your mind over your next meal. The other amazing thing was the headache had gone! I felt normal, clearer (hello!) and happier that the numbing pressure across my hairline had disappeared. They say that it takes three days before the side effects of ketosis subsides and the experts were spot on. Except the hunger still persisted and never really went away.
It was this day that really opened my eyes to those pesky habits you do, without knowing you do it. Those subconscious, throw away actions you barely register you’re doing but ultimately can make all the difference when its comes to health. And I’m talking about non-hungry eating. At my private practice, after I finish my clients I always go down and see the receptionists who always has a stash of cakes/biscuits/slice/crackers sitting in their office. Like clockwork, I would always walk in and head straight to the desk, pinch a chocolate cupcake and catch up on the weekly news. Except for this day when it hit me like a two tonne brick. How often do I do this in a week? Probably a lot - and it took the power of mindfulness (and Optifast) to become aware of this type of sneaky behaviours. Debriefing to Deb the receptionist, she stated that they’re faced with that situation day after day and needing to overcome the umpteenth reasons we blindlessly eat; to make the day go faster, bad mood, cold weather - because it’s there.
Reflection: Most people resent having restrictions put on them when it comes to food, however for me it highlighted how much extra crap I had been consuming just for the sake of it. Pow - mindfulness wins again!
Day 4 & 5:
These couple of days were definitely more manageable. The routine was set and physically I was feeling alright. There was, however one occasional that showed me how important it is to keep your guard up. I was at the local pub after work for a colleagues farewell drinks and hadn’t expected to stay as late as I did. I hadn’t made time for my afternoon snack which meant I then sat and stared at a bowl of hot chips and garlic bread for two and a half hours, drinking my soda water and feeling very very hungry. The drive home was again almost unbearable and I actually ended up buying a quarter charcoal chicken (no skin of course) and whipping up a very basic salad - not the best choice but that’s what happens when you’re not prepared as you should be.
By Friday night I was ready to move back to my old patterns of eating and was quite glad to wake up to my usual two slices of toast for breakfast on Saturday morning.
Reflection: Be prepared. Be always prepared.
I know I really only experienced a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to implement a VLCD, I do feel I gained an insight into what it takes to commit and ‘stick’ to a prescribed diet.
Dieting principles has never been my line of intervention and as my mission statement reflects, I truly believe “its about eating well and not necessarily less.” Put unprocessed, whole foods into your body and you’ll not only give it everything it needs but also satisfy the social and emotional side we crave so much. In regards to the low carb theory, it didn’t work for me and that awful, nagging feeling of emptiness was just not worth it when I want to pack so much into my day. I can see how it may work for some people and if they feel that amazing reducing their carbs, then I wholeheartedly support it. But if it eats you up (excuse the pun) like it did to me, then I think it’s not worth it in the long run. Life’s too short and we have too much good food to put yourself through that. Dish up a smaller amount on your plate and then everyone’s happy.
THE BIG DAY
Christmas only comes round once a year and is a day to be celebrated with good food and drinks. Be mindful that although it is only one day, it can be the little things that add up.
Tips and Tricks
- Start the day with a decent, solid breakfast. Try some eggs on toast, raisin toast, muesli or porridge with fresh seasonal fruit
- Downsize your dishware and choose a small dinner plate when you serve your meal. Extensive research shows that people eat what's put on their plates, even if it's more than they need to satisfy their hunger
- Fill your plate with lots of salad and vegetable sides to help you fill up. It’s still important to get your vegetable serves, even on Christmas day!
- Offer to bring a healthy dish. Your hostess will welcome the contribution, and you’ll know you have a go-to option
- If you love desserts and you know you won’t be able to pass up that piece of plum pudding, don’t deprive yourself. Balance it out by passing on the bread roll with butter and have a small piece of pudding. Then you get to enjoy it guilt-free and not feel like you’re missing out
Have a Game Plan
- Think about how you can keep routine; plan around your Christmas events to ensure your exercise routine continues right up until Santa arrives!
- Get outside and play with your kids on Christmas Day. Everyone loves a rival game of backyard cricket or test out the new toys given for Christmas
- Enjoy a family walk after your meal. It’s a great way to stretch the legs and help digest your food
This year, when your social schedule begins to expand during the holidays, your waistline doesn't have to. The average Australian gains 0.8-1kg over the Christmas period, however this is rarely lost again. So aim for weight maintenance rather than weight loss (or gain!)
It is inevitable that you’ll be going to at least a few festive gatherings, whether it’s the work Christmas party or the neighbours for a casual BBQ, here’s a few tips to navigate through.
Think Balance and Go Steady
- Try to stand on the other side of the room from where the food arrives from; no one likes a food stalker! This will help you to eat mindfully if you have to cross the room to get to the food
- Aim to be picky about the things you eat. Pretend to be vegetarian for the night, so your choices are higher fibre and more nutritious
- Fill up on something before you hit the party scene; try a tub of yoghurt, small bowl of soup or some cheese and crackers
- Choose lower kilojoule options such as low joule wines or spirits mixed with soda water or diet soft drinks and sip slowly
- Be designated driver to some of your parties to reduce to frequency of alcohol consumed in the festive period
- Go one for one; have an alcoholic beverage followed by a water. This keeps you hydrated as well as reduces your kilojoule intake
The way to Carla's heart is all things food. Follow her thoughts and opinions on the latest food news and myths.