EVERYTHING worthwhile in life requires a plan. And, there is nothing more worthwhile in life than your health! After all… not much in life is actually possible without your health!
When it comes to food… we believe having a plan is essential. In fact, we are so passionate about food planning and being organised in the kitchen generally, that we argue it should be a skill taught to young teenagers in school.
There is NO single more important habit to get into for your health than planning your week ahead from a meals perspective. This habit will set you up for success for life.
We TEACH you how too food plan on the Back 2 Basics Program. So if this concept is foreign or overwhelming, jump on the course. After 3 months, it will be as habitual to you as having your morning cup of coffee. To food plan, we recommend each week moving forward, you set aside 5–10 minutes to plan your own (and preferably your family’s) meals and write a shopping list. This will:
Save you a tonne of money as you won’t buy unnecessary ingredients you don’t need
Yes take a little time initially but save you time mid-week when things are crazy
Mean you are less inclined to give up mid week and order take away… you’ve already got a plan for dinner!
Encourage you to eat healthy food… provided healthy food is what’s on your plan!
Ensure you are never stuck pondering the question, “What the heck am I going to cook tonight?” (which is a slippery slope to Uber Eats!)
Meal planning also helps to minimise waste. Each week, you should find that you are emptying out your fridge of all the fresh produce you purchased at the beginning of the week. Staples like spices, dried herbs and even some cheeses can be purchased in bulk, so you only have to shop for these items every couple of weeks. The rest of your food will be fresh perishables, preferably from places like the greengrocer, farmer’s market and butchers, as opposed to big supermarket chains.
There are lots of different ways to meal plan, and how you meal plan will depend on you. Perhaps you’ll simply make notes in your phone or write it out on a scrap of paper each week then pop it on the fridge. Or, you might prefer to use our Meal Planning Template which is a downloadable PDF available to those doing the Back 2 Basics course.
Remember: Don’t over complicate it! Your meal plan doesn’t have to be detailed to a tee if that doesn’t work for you. Find a system that works for you, and stick to it.
We’ve been in this game for a while now. That is… helping people to eat better and therefore be happier and healthier than before. And we see a common thread in most…. Actually all of our clients. We see a strong desire to want to be healthier… but a great deal of confusion about how to be healthier… particularly when it comes to healthy food.
So, we decided we needed a simple visual that could be applied to any meal really, to assist you to make a good choice with minimal stress and fuss. Enter…. The Balanced Plate. Which we moved from concept to finished product with a great deal of assistance from the lovely Deb over at The Layout Place.
Let’s walk through the key elements of The Balanced Plate now:
Adequate protein; At each main meal, your protein should make up ¼ of the plate, be it animal protein or plant-based protein…. It needs to be there.
Lots of green and colourful veggies; half the plate in fact.
A dose of healthy fats; don’t overthink it folks. Cooking with good quality oil or dressing your salad… beautiful wholefood fats like avocados, nuts and seeds and even dairy… these can all count.
Condiments, flavourings and ferments; they should be simple. Bottom line. Let the actual food sing. Use herbs, spices, krauts and a touch of minimally processed condiments only. Don’t empty the sugary sauce bottle all through your stir fry!
Some grains or starchy vegetables (like rice or potatoes); make up the remainder of your plate. I.e. don’t make the entire meal about the pasta…. Or the bread. That’s the ‘on the side’ part. You can also enjoy whole fruits too!
Now… this graphic may not be ‘perfect’ for everyone. If you exercise lots… you may need more carbs, proteins and even more fats. If you are really insulin resistant or diabetic, you may need less carbs. If you are breastfeeding or carrying a baby… things may be different too. But GENERALLY… this is a great place to start. And an awesome graphic to consider when ‘plating up’ your lunch and dinner in particular.
What you DON’T DO when applying the Balanced Plate:
You don’t have to count or weigh or measure or overthink it. We don’t want food to be like that for you. Just… visualize it… and try to apply it when you can. Here’s a basic example applied to a family favourite…..
The Balanced Plate… and Spaghetti Bolognaise.
Say you’re cooking up a family favourite, spaghetti bolognaise. Well, you can easily apply The Balanced Plate to this meal. First, make sure you make your bolognaise sauce with HEAPS of hidden vegetables. Second, make a basic green salad to go on the side and serve this up to cover half your plate with some beautiful extra virgin olive oil as your dressing. Use a serving spoon of pasta and meat sauce over the top. You could even still add a little parmesan cheese. Eat up… chew each mouthful mindfully. Sit for a bit after you have finished your plate. Assess your appetite…take a little more if you are still hungry. Finish off the meal if you like with some fresh berries or seasonal fruit.
This is a VERY different scenario to having a big bowl or pure white pasta with lashings of meat sauce over the top with very little veggies in it.
In our Back 2 Basics course, we cover off the Balanced Plate in week 1 of stage 1. And we’ve even done a little video on how to apply it to common meals. You can find out more about the Back 2 Basics course here and get started on our 3-month course which will change your life for $99.
This could possibly be the most important blog we’ve written here at The Balanced Nutritionist.
It’s a conversation that the entire world needs to hear.
It’s about how we define ‘normal’ these days. And you know we love to keep things positive so we are sorry if this comes across quite ‘firm’ but its critically important.
What do we mean by ‘normal?’
Well, what do we define as ‘normal’ when it comes to:
The way we feel each day in terms of our overall vitality and wellbeing
What we think is ‘normal’ food to feed to our physical bodies
What we think is ‘normal’ in terms of how we move our bodies, what movement we are capable of, and how much movement we should be doing
What we think is ‘normal’ in terms of how we speak to and treat ourselves.
What we think is ‘normal’ in terms of the pace at which we live and the degree of ‘presence’ that we actually experience.
What is ‘Normal…’ these days?
You see…. We think it’s a little bit alarming what ‘normal’ is becoming these days because it is in direct conflict with a lifetime of health and happiness. Let’s consider all of the above aspects and what the majority of society seems to consider is ‘normal’ in relation to each one:
Many, many people don’t feel vital, energetic, or well most days. Instead, they feel tired, sluggish, bloated, heavy, and disconnected from their own bodies.
Many people now just ‘accept’ that ‘food’ comes from packets purchased deep inside the aisles of a supermarket. Or often from a drive-thru. The future of kitchens could possibly be… a microwave. Only! And whilst we believe in balance and the mindful enjoyment of occasional treats…. Chips, chocolate bars, and junk food generally do not have a place in anyone’s diet on a daily basis… in particular, these foods do not belong in the lunchboxes of our little ones – they have always been and should remain ‘occasional treats’ amongst a mostly wholefood intake.
Many people take out gym memberships for a few months here and there… maybe train for an event with some friends for a little while… but then go months in between doing very little. In actual fact, moving is normal. Humans are just like other animals. We should be moving regularly. We should be able to move with ease. We should be moving daily – even if it’s not strenuous. Take the stairs, go out and get some fresh air at lunchtime, stretch your body, and engage in deliberate exercise you enjoy. Moving is normal. Aches, pains, creaks, huffing, and puffing… is not.
It’s not normal to talk to ourselves in a nasty way… call ourselves fat, or lazy or other mean, horrible names. It should be normal to treat yourself well and learn to love your own company. If you want others to love hanging out with you, then you should love hanging out with you!
Finally, it’s not normal to go through life at a million miles per hour. Constantly stressed, constantly haggled… wearing busy like a badge and never being fully present. This leads to burnout. And who wants to live a life… that they can’t even participate in? If this point in particular resonates with you, we recommend you check out the book ‘meditation and mindfulness’ by Andy Puddicome.
We encourage you to Consider Normal as:
Sluggish, tired, flat
Energetic, vital, well
Food from packages
Food from nature; wholefoods
Exercising because you have to
Move because you were born too and it’s a gift
Self hate, self doubt
Loving yourself and being kind to you.
Living on autopilot at 1000 miles/hr
Living in the present.
But What does this have to do with Food?
So you might be wondering why we brought up this topic when some of it is not entirely about food? Because if you know us even a little, you’ll know that we believe health is the whole package. We don’t just focus on food… we also want you to consider your lifestyle, your mindset, your stress levels, your relationship with self, your relationship with food… these are all tied in together. To influence your health and happiness. Intermingled… you wouldn’t have one without the other. When you nourish your body with good food… you will want to nourish your body with positive thoughts, speak nicely to yourself, enjoy physical challenges. And you will want to live in the present, saying no to people and occasions that don’t serve you, rest when you need to, be present in your wonderful life and be productive without being ridiculously busy.
Think about how you define normal.. Or what you accept as normal. Could you raise the bar? Start a ripple effect and create a new normal.
Here at the Balanced Nutritionist and throughout our online Back 2 Basics course, we encourage you to consider an 85/15 approach to health. I.e. 85% of the time we do believe in eating really good, wholesome healthy foods, moving a reasonable amount, getting enough sleep etc. But the other 15% allows for some relaxation. We believe you should be able to enjoy an ice cream in the movies from time to time, have a pizza with some friends or sit in front of Netflix and share a bowl of popcorn…. Guilt-free too. This is where ‘mindful enjoyment’ comes in.
Mindful enjoyment means that you are able to wholeheartedly enjoy the ‘15%’ which is when you don’t eat the ideal foods for you and you include more occasional foods.
–NOT feeling ‘guilty’ because you are doing something indulgent
–NOT feeling anxious or stressed whilst OR after you do enjoy something indulgent
–Consciously choosing to indulge in something outside of your typical foods because you can and because you feel like it.
–NOT ‘overdoing’ things when you are eating more indulgent foods. I.e. you should always choose consciously, eat these foods slowly so you can savour them and stop before they make you feel ill.
Question…. What’s the point of scoffing a whole tub of ice cream only to finish and realise you’ve eaten it so fast you didn’t enjoy it AND you now feel ill? Wouldn’t you be better off enjoying a small bowl of ice cream slowly, tasting each mouthful, and then stopping before it makes you feel sick?
If the following things are happening then you are NOT experiencing mindful enjoyment and there may be some stress and anxiety to resolve when it comes to food…
–Eating sugary or junky food because you are really stressed out (i.e. instead of choosing to do this consciously it’s a knee-jerk reaction to stress and overwhelm).
–Eating occasional foods extremely fast and in big quantities to the point where you feel quite ill… and may not even remember making the decision to start eating them in the first place!
–Feeling extremely guilty for having even the smallest amount of indulgent food.
–Feeling guilty after indulging and turning to vigorous exercise, or very strict restrictions in the days that follow…. E.g. starving yourself, or eating nothing but vegetables, or deciding you need to rapidly detox because you were ‘so bad.’ (which you weren’t of course… you were human!).
Food should not cause stress or anxiety like this. Here are some tips that may help you begin to experience more mindful enjoyment and less guilt. Please be mindful that we are not mental health professionals and you may need to consult with a counselor or psychologist if you continue to feel very overwhelmed when it comes to food.
10 Tips to Help you achieve Mindful Enjoyment
Always remember that what we do occasionally does not matter. It’s what we do most of the time that counts.
Always remember that food is a celebration. Indulgent food can bring family and friends together and be part of important milestones in life to be enjoyed. Not feared.
Always remember that you will not undo everything because of 1 or 2 bad meals!
Try to take control of negative thoughts in your head if you are experiencing negative self-talk during indulgences. Turn any of these internal conversations into positive thoughts / positive affirmations instead. Use phrases that work for you.
If you turn to food when you are stressed, try to actively find other ways to manage stress. This may include listening to meditations, going outside and taking 5 big deep breaths, hugging your dog, journaling, or going for a walk around the block. It may even mean bigger changes like…. Speaking to your boss about your workload OR even checking in and making sure that areas of your life LIKE your work ARE truly fulfilling?
When eating indulgent foods (actually all foods in general), chew slowly, enjoy the texture and the flavours of the food, put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls, and don’t rush. Stop when you have had enough… not when you feel sick or are completely pogged.
Always remember that occasional foods will always be there. You don’t have to eat the entire pizza in 1 hit…. Thinking you will never eat pizza again! Pizza will be there next time if you feel like it 🙂
Always drink plenty of water.
Try not to think of food as ‘good’ and ‘bad.’
If you are experiencing cravings often for sugary or salty foods then take a look at your overall diet. Are you enjoying some carbohydrates each day? Some fresh fruits? Are you having a bit of protein with all of your meals, particularly breakfast? Is there plenty of healthy fats in there? Are you hydrated? Are you exercising more than you used to and perhaps need more food? (refer to lesson 7 in this case). If you need more help fine-tuning things then book in to see us.
We spend an entire lesson going through the concept of Mindful enjoyment in our Back 2 Basics online course… maybe we’re not available to new clients right now, or maybe you’re not ready to see someone face to face? That’s ok… the Back 2 Basics online course will guide you towards a healthy, happy lifestyle over the next few months from the comfort and safety of your own home.
Our relationship with food is just as important as the food we eat. Work on mindful enjoyment… if you can’t mindfully enjoy treats you will forever be in a cycle of punishment and guilt. Be happy. Be healthy. And embrace mindful enjoyment.
Katie and Nicole are still on maternity leave, but we prepared these resources in advance and we hope you find them helpful. For updates on return dates etc. you can check the maternity updates page here.
While we are waiting for the official date as to when Katie will be back for consults, feel free to call or email us so we can put you up on the waitlist to be contacted when Katie opens up her schedule. Our current list is constantly growing and we would highly suggest you put your name on the list so we can prioritize you.You can call our office number (07) 3063 2710 or you can email Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org (she is available between 8 am-4 pm Brisbane time). You can definitely leave a voicemail and she will get back to you as soon as she is available.
We are soooo excited to announce the healthy arrival of both of our babies! Just in case you missed the updates on social media, here’s a little bit about Eliza and Layla below :).
Hi everyone! My name is Eliza Summer King. Eliza because mum and dad love it. Summer as it’s a family name on Dad’s side… plus sunshine is sooo beautiful, I love it on the outside.
Mum had already had enough time off and big bro Karma was getting all the limelight. So on Friday the 7th of August I broke my waters when those 2 were out walking. I was born at 1:35am Sat 8th of the 8th (8 days early!). Strong as the lion I am (Leo). 3.6kg! People thought I’d be tiny but I’m strong thanks to all the good food mumma gave me on the inside!
So far I love being wrapped up like a burrito, love dad’s chest, milkshakes, any cuddles, little licks on my toes from my bro, sleeping and bath time…. and did I already mention mums milkshakes? I eat exactly like her… lots, enthusiastically and quite fast.
From Katie and Carl: the love and wishes we had through pregnancy and beyond were just so touching and we thank you in advance for these continuing thoughts.
Now please meet my roomie. 😎👶.
Hello everyone! My name is Layla Rose. I kept mum and dad (Nicole and Greg) waiting a bit longer than expected but when I was ready I was ready! I could not let Eliza, my roomie from baby land, take all the limelight 😂. I arrived on August 11. I have Mum and Dad wrapped around my finger, they are beyond smitten. Big fur bro Billy…. well he’s not so cool on sharing the attention yet but I’ll win him too. Mum is going really well. Thanks in advance for all your well wishes now and those you sent us when I was still on the inside. Bye for now 😘
We know that it may take time before we get back to business but in the meantime Please remember to check out maternity leave updates page to stay up to date on when we may be back
While we are away you can get on our WAITING LIST!
If you are REALLY keen to see us when we return, you can phone our bookings manager / administration whizz Michelle on (07) 3063 2710. OR you can email her on email@example.com and request to be added to our waiting list.
Note: Upon our return, existing clients requiring follow up appointments and those on the waiting list will be given first preference for available appointments. Please make sure you read ‘what to expect‘ for a list of our fees/private health rebates etc prior to contacting Michelle; so you are in the know. A deposit is NOT required to go on the waiting list but WHEN you are contacted for an appointment then you WILL be required to pay the 40% booking deposit to secure your spot.
Note: to go on the waiting list, you will need to provide your full name, email address, and a contact number, as well as a few sentences, summing up what you would like our assistance with.
Our Blogs and Social Media
Both will remain ACTIVE. You can continue to access our latest blogs here and catch up on all our past ones as well. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram. Our social media is a balance of education, ‘realism,’ food ideas, dog spam, baby spam (once they are born), and fun! We also have our online course available, Back 2 Basics… find out more here!
Well, that is all we can assist you with in our absence from the clinic. Again, Michelle, our bookings manager is just a phone call or email away ((07) 3063 2710/ firstname.lastname@example.org) if we haven’t answered a query here…. Note: our own email addresses will be unattended during our leave.
We hope you are safe, healthy, and well now and always. And we look forward to catching up / meeting you upon our return.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our existing clients for their well wishes, love, patience, and consideration during this special time in our lives.
Cheers to lifelong health and happiness for the adults and the bubs and every age in between!
This is a synopsis of the journey of a 50 year old male client of The Balanced Nutritionist who presented with Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and raised liver enzymes on July 5th 2019. This client wanted to release 25kg of body weight to return to a healthy weight range. In addition, he wanted to minimize his need for medication and better manage his conditions with nutrition and lifestyle. For privacy reasons, this client will be referred to simply as ‘D’ throughout this case study.
The purpose of this report is to draw attention to the power of individualized dietary interventions and professional support in the presence of chronic health conditions. Between the 5th of July and the 12th of October, D released 25kg of body weight, was taken off all diabetes medication (as directed by his GP), significantly lowered his blood pressure medication and improved his overall wellbeing. For the full journey, see below:
Initial consultation July 5th presenting concerns:
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, diagnosed more than 10 years ago. Oral medication (metformin) in use,. Most recent HbA1c* was 11.6
Blood pressure issues for close to 15 years.
Triglycerides were 3.2 on latest blood tests despite cholesterol medication.
Occasional muscle cramping particularly in feet
Uncomfortable with current weight
Unable to exercise due to shoulder and hip issues
Energy not ideal particularly in the afternoon
Family history of blood pressure issues and diabetes type 2
Motivated to change nutrition and lifestyle to release weight and improve blood pressure and diabetes management.
Initial consultation July 5th Medications and stats:
Diabetic medication twice daily / blood pressure managed with 2 separate medications taken twice daily / cholesterol medication
Weight: 124.9kg / waist measurement 114cm
Initial consultation July 5th nutritional and lifestyle habits:
D was not a big drinker; a couple of nights per week
Rarely drank soft drink
Water intake was around 1L
Plenty of protein in the diet, but perhaps a little too much mindless snacking as a habit – this was most likely driving up blood sugar and making weight loss challenging.
Initial consultation July 5th Initial recommendations:
Advised to bring in some low impact exercise
Reduced size of breakfast and asked D to eliminate snacking altogether, focusing on just 3 quality meals
D began logging BSLs* regularly
D began keeping a food diary which generally helps with more mindful eating by default
Second consultation 3rd August Medications and stats:
D had followed recommendations to a tee
BSLs had initially ranged from 8 to 11mmol/L in early July. By the middle of the month they were more often sitting between 5.5 and 7.5mmol/L (readings taken at various times through the day).
Diabetic mediation reduced and evening blood pressure medication reduced as directed by GP
Weight 118kg; a reduction of 6kg.
Waist circumference 110cm; a reduction of 4cm
Second consultation 3rd August Recommendations:
D embarked on structured Metabolic Balance® program*
Foods and quantities matched to D based on extensive blood work, medications, medical conditions and physical statistics.
GP aware and supportive of this dietary approach
Third consultation 23rd August Medications and stats:
Under direction of GP, metformin (oral diabetic medication) was stopped after 10 years of being mediated for diabetes.
Fasting BSLs consistently sitting between 4.8 and 5.
No issues with hypoglycaemia* although blood pressure dipping low at times hence further changes to blood pressure as per below
Evening BP medication no longer used (as directed by GP)
Weight reduced to and waist
Energy fairly consistent, rarely feeling hungry.
Hamstring pulled unfortunately so not much chance of introducing structured exercise into lifestyle at this point
Third consultation 23rd August Recommendations:
Continue with structured food plan, addition of more healthy fats
Keep consulting with GP and keep recording daily blood pressure to ensure medication adjusted accordingly to ensure no low blood pressure episodes.
Fourth consultation 14th September Medications and Stats:
Current medications consisting only of ½ dose of morning blood pressure pills plus cholesterol pill.
Still consistently releasing over 1kg of body weight a week, with minimal loss of lean body mass*
Had introduced a few meals off the plan and noted a fast response to ‘white carbs’ i.e. white rice – a good lesson to learn moving forward*
Fourth consultation 14th September Recommendations:
Advised to start trialling some foods outside of original plan and monitor blood sugar response particularly to other low GI carbohydrates
Avoid ‘white’ cabohydrates and high wheat carbs at all costs due to effect on BSL
Prescribed multi mineral formula to support nutrient status whilst still releasing weight
Fifth consultation 12th October Medications and stats:
Current weight is 100kg, and according to VLA, body fat is now ideal for frame size. An overall loss of 25kg.
Waist measurement down to 97cm*, an overall reduction of 17cm.
D wanting to discuss remaining BP medication and cholesterol medication with GP
Fifth consultation 12th October Recommendations
Relaxing some aspects of the program with a view of maintain wellbeing and blood sugar readings. Review again in 6 weeks.
Bring in some exercise with a view for this to become habitual once received the all clear on injuries.
This synopsis of D’s journey so far has been written based on the CARE case report guidelines to ensure the synopsis is as objective as possible. This summary was prepared in consultation with clinical notes taken during consultations. D has read this report in full and confirms it’s accuracy as well as providing consent for it to be published.
The take home points for the reader of this case study include:
Comprehensive and individualised nutritional prescriptions are a truly powerful solution to chronic and debilitating health conditions
Food groups don’t necessarily have to be excluded. Exclusions of any whole foods should be based on an individual’s reaction to them – not on a societal level.
Professional advice and support is critical particularly where medical conditions and medications are involved. D benefited from the support of Katie King, nutritionist as well as his General Practitioner to monitor his medications closely.
This is not individualised advice. Consult a professional if you want results like this.
These results are proportionate to effort. We can guide, support and advice but ultimately D had the right mindset to make changes to his nutrition and he deserves these results.
*The term ‘diabetes reversal’ is used in medical literature and the exact criteria for reversal is still debated. However, according to the World Health Organisation, most agree that a HbA1c under the diabetic threshold of 6.5% without the use of medication does qualify. More here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520897/
*HbA1c: a test which gives an average of the previous 2-3 months blood sugar results)
*The specific instructions given to this client have been deliberately excluded from this case study as they suited this particular person. The same interventions applied to someone else may not have the same outcome. For safe and effective results, you should work with a suitably qualified practitioner. Book your consultation here.
*BSLs: blood sugar levels
*Metabolic Balance® program is a German medical program that we have received extensive training in and offer at The Balanced Nutritionist. The exact foods and quantities of foods ideal for a person (based on extensive blood work, medications, medical conditions and physical statistics) are prescribed to a person and a structured program follows. Meals are clean, but balanced. Each meal contains protein and fibre rich vegetables as well as fruits and even starch are generally included in a Metabolic Balance® program.
*Hypoglyaemia: low blood sugar (to the extent that it may lead to disturbing symptoms like dizziness, feeling faint, weak or shaky.)
*Lean body mass: the difference between total body weight and fat mass; ideally you always want to preserve lean body mass as it accounts for muscle mass.
*VLA: a scientifically validated test we use in clinic to accurately monitor changes in body fat, lean body mass, hydration and cellular health.
*White carbs: please note that each diabetic is unique. Some, for example may respond fine to fruit others may find it spikes blood sugar. Part of the journey of any diabetic who wants to manage their condition as best as they can through diet, is discovery which foods are most problematic for them. They should then be avoided at all costs.
The metabolism is a fascinating thing. Our bodies have evolved to do all kinds of cool things in order to guarantee our survival. Look after the body optimally, the way its supposed to be nurtured and chances are it will be behave as it should in return. But in this crazy world we live in, with more stress, more food, less movement, more technology and less nature than ever before…. things can get a little confusing.
Metabolism is a very complex concept, but let’s focus on 2 terms only for this blog. These are ‘metabolic flexibility’ and ‘lipolysis.’ These are two terms we speak with our clients about quite regularly so we thought we’d share them on the blog today. Let’s start with ‘metabolic flexibility.’
Our bodies utilize two different forms of fuel for energy and survival and ideally, switch between both as required. The first fuel source is glucose and the second is fatty acids – essentially stored fat. Metabolic flexibility is essentially a fancy way of saying that the body can efficiently and comfortably switch between both as required. Consider that shortly after you eat a meal, carbohydrates will be more readily available thus the body will utilize glucose for energy. However, many hours later or say overnight, provided that meal was not too large, the body may switch into a fat burning mode instead. If we consider the evolution of human life, metabolic flexibility makes a lot of sense. Thousands of years ago, food availability varied with the seasons. There were times of feast and famine. The ability of the body to switch between these two mechanisms would have been a must for survival of the species.
Now a days, things aren’t so. Consume a diet of wholefoods, not in excess and you can loosely recreate a similar pattern – switching the body between fat and carbohydrate burning. However, overeating, the over consumption of highly processed carbohydrates, high cortisol, little or no movement, consistent snacking…. well all of these factors may mean the body is rarely forced into a fat burning state because instead, it has a steady supply of carbohydrates to keep it fueled.
Here at the Balanced Nutritionist, we are ‘pro’ metabolic flexibility. We think it makes sense on many levels – particularly when we consider human evolution. Many engage in debate over whether carbohydrate burning has any validity and instead believe our fat burning pathways should be constantly ‘on’ but we take a more balanced view on this. However, that debate is not the main purpose of this article.
Instead, let’s focus on our second concept, ‘lipolysis.’ Lipolysis is the fancy term to describe the mobilisation and break down of fatty acid cells for energy. Put simply, some degree of lipolysis is important for healthy weight management and certainly for fat loss. Yet, some find it difficult, even when they drastically reduce their food intake, to activate lipolysis, which essentially means they can’t seem to shift body fat.
This brings us to the crux of today’s article. You see there are two main conditions that need to be met in order for lipolysis to take place:
Blood sugar, or glucose levels need to be relatively low. If blood sugar levels are high, the body will continue to use this as a fuel source instead and fat burning will not take place. So if someone has higher than normal blood sugar levels, say because they are prediabetic or insulin resistant, their capacity to burn fat for fuel will be low.
Insulin levels must also be low. Insulin is one smart hormone. It is actually capable of blocking the enzymes responsible for making fat burning happen. Once again, prediabetes or poorly controlled diabetes or anyone with insulin resistance is likely to have high insulin levels fairly consistently, thus posing another challenge to fat burning. (note: fasting blood sugar levels can appear well controlled on blood tests, but corresponding insulin levels may still be elevated. It is possible and sometimes indicated, to have both fasting blood sugar levels and insulin levels tested to obtain a full picture).
Now, these hormones can be elevated for obvious reasons. Overeating, the consumption of junk food, consistent snacking between meals etc. will all drive both blood sugar and therefore insulin levels up as well. But, for those with insulin resistant conditions, these two hormones can be triggered extremely easily, even by seemingly healthy meal choices. Crux of the story? Lipolysis can be incredibly challenging for anyone with blood sugar and insulin regulation issues. You may even consume a seemingly perfect diet and not overeat, but still have difficulty achieving lipolysis and metabolic flexibility.
We wrote this blog because many of our clients find that understanding this concept really helps them understand fat loss better. We hope it brings some clarity to you as well. If you are concerned about your perceived ‘lack of’ metabolic flexibility, here are some tips that we’ll close on:
Make sure your meals contain protein. That they aren’t purely carbohydrates on a plate. E.g. a sandwich with vegemite? Note going to cut it for lunch.
Make sure you eat proper meals, with a break in between of at least 4 hours to allow time to digest and time for blood sugar and insulin levels to decrease.
ensure that breaks are actual breaks; remember anything with flavour (including tea and coffee) has the ability to trigger a hormonal response in the body i.e. stimulate blood sugar levels.
Move more. Exercise does stimulate lipolysis. But its also natural for us to move. We are designed to eat and move not eat and be sedentary.
Don’t eat a really large meal at night especially one with dessert. The overnight ‘fast’ we naturally attain when we sleep is a good opportunity for fat burning.
Drink water. Not sugary crap. Plus, being hydrated increases the efficiency of the body on all levels.
Finally, if you are still struggling with weight management or fat loss to a healthy range, consult a professional as insulin resistant conditions require tailored advice.
Ok. In all seriousness, our initial response was ‘seriously, did we really need a study to prove this but….’
The really interesting thing about the research here was that the subjects receiving the ultra processed foods versus those receiving the minimally processed foods, received the exact SAME number of calories and macronutrients… initially.
Participants were instructed to consume until they were satisfied and what the research found was that those receiving minimally processed foods simply ate less. Those receiving the ultra processed foods ate more – carbohydrates and fat in particular. The ultra processed group gained weight, whilst those receiving minimally processed foods lost it.
Take home points:
-processed food is completely unsatisfying for the body. Its nutrient devoid; you will go looking for more because the body is simply not getting what it needs. We discuss this with clients. All. The. Time. You have to get off the bandwagon of addictive snacks, sauces, sugary cereals and drinks.
-processed food completely highjacks the appetite. You will have not appetite control on a diet of ultraprocessed foods. You will not stop. You know… the pringles saying? Its the truth!
Doesn’t this research prove that resources would be better directed at removing said processed food from kids’ diets because that is a major underlying cause of the childhood obesity crisis. Instead of allowing another generation of humans with eating disorders to evolve?
We are PASSIONATE about simply moving people to a wholefoods program here at The Balanced Nutritionist because even THAT can see some magic happen.
If you are struggling with too much ‘packet’ convenience food creeping in to your diet, feeling sluggish, heavy and yuck as a result book online here because our Back to Basics wholefoods program is perfect for you.
Anyhow, what we would like to see from here in the research world:
-we would have loved to see the result if both groups had to consume exactly the same amount of calories but in 2 different forms still – ultra processed and minimally processed. This would prove the point that its beyond calories and macros. Processed food interferes with the body on a cellular level. It results in vastly different hormonal and neurotransmitter reactions and that is how the damage is done…. providing excess energy is only half the problem.
These principles are exactly why our current wholefoods program is working well – the Back to Basics protocol I mentioned above.
Its a ‘no counting,’ ‘eat to your own appetite’ ‘wholefoods’ based 4 – 8 week program which just takes it back to basics, supporting you with the structure and accountability to do so.
Guess what happens as a result? You gain energy, clarity, happiness, health and released unwanted weight. Without math. Without stress. Without packets. Genius.
We’ve all been there … you walk past the communal lolly jar at work and dip your hand in without thinking, automatically grab a few biscuits from the lunch room while making a cup of tea, or mindlessly eat from the cheese platter at a party.
It’s easy to consume less healthy food when we give in to impulsive eating, by pushing aside conscious decisions and automatically saying “yes” to food, without stopping to consider what we’re actually eating.
On the other hand, when we make deliberate and conscious decisions about food, we’re more likely to choose real, whole foods that nourish our body and make us feel great. This is conscious eating.
“Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body.”
Conscious eating is the practice of thinking about what you put in your body, before you eat it.
Do you eat consciously or on autopilot?
Try this: Whenever you are presented with the option of a less healthy food, give yourself the space to stop and make a conscious decision about whether to eat the food or not.
Before you mindlessly shove it into your mouth, ask yourself these questions:
Do I really want to eat this food right now?
Is it especially delicious?
Will this food nourish me (my body or my soul)?
How will I feel after eating this food?
When we stop to make a conscious decision about food, often we realise that the food we’re about to eat isn’t particularly special or delicious, we’re not really hungry or we don’t really want it right now, and it won’t make us feel great.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t choose to enjoy less healthy foods that we really love on occassion.
When you do choose to indulge, savour the food and enjoy it fully. Don’t eat too fast – really taste what you’re eating. And, be kind to yourself – don’t deprive yourself and don’t feel guilty for enjoying less healthy foods in moderation.
Because when you consciously chose to enjoy less healthy foods occasionally, and you really enjoy it, you are choosing to nourish your soul.
As we close off this week, we say goodbye to the end of Coeliac Awareness Week in Australia so I thought it was fitting to right a post about this misunderstood condition.
According to the Coeliac Australia website, 1 in 70 Australians have coeliac disease… but 4 out of 5 of them are walking around undiagnosed. So far in clinic just this year to date, I’ve have 7 of my clients tested privately for coeliac disease (a cost of about $60) and 6 of these have come back with positive antibodies. You could say I have a good hit rate when spotting this condition and its signs!
Coeliac Disease is an extremely serious condition and early diagnosis is ideal as it can have serious consequences if left untreated. It is very different from gluten intolerance because it is autoimmune in nature, meaning that its a condition where the body essentially turns on itself. In the case of coeliac disease, the body begins attacking its own villi, which are tiny projections lining the small intestine allowing us to absorb nutrients from our food. When these start being destroyed, absorption is severely compromised. For this reason, early signs include a lack of energy (because fuel can’t be extracted efficiently from food), unexplained low iron levels, low B12 levels, depression and a visible lack of vitality. In some cases, bumps or rashes on the body may be present because having coeliac disease is a bit like being allergic to gluten. Gastrointestinal symptoms may range from generalized bloating, to ‘constant pins and needles’ in the gut, to full blown cramps and pain in the belly particularly after ingesting gluten. IBS like bowel motions may also be present. When its left untreated for a long time, the gut can simply become overactive to lots of different foods because its so inflamed.
Coeliac disease can also be silent (symptomless), making it even more tricky to spot!
Long term, if left undiagnosed, we know that bone health will be affected (due to impaired nutrient absorption) and this condition has also been linked with infertility.
Coeliac disease does have a genetic component so anyone who relates to this symptom list who also has a relative with an autoimmune condition should discuss the possibility of coeliac disease with their health professional or book an appointment here.
Gluten free eating has become incredibly trendy in recent years and in part, I do believe this has contributed to less people being properly tested for coeliac disease. Firstly, some people simply remove gluten from their diet without being properly tested. I believe in the importance of diagnosis by your GP / a specialist because it generally equates for a much stricter approach to ‘gluten free’ plus you need to warn relatives as they may also need to be tested.
Secondly, i believe some people aren’t being tested because some health professionals may be a little frustrated with everything being blamed on dairy or gluten! This is sometimes the feedback i get from clients anyway, when they have requested testing. I do think its important we ‘screen’ with lots of symptoms and test genuinely likely cases. I find it fairly easy with a few leading questions to determine if there may be a real problem with gluten or if its simply being avoided for other reasons.
Finally, we all need take ownership over our health by booking in with a health professional to thoroughly discuss any changes in symptoms as opposed to simply relying on Googling information.
There are cases where testing for coeliac disease does come back negative but a person’s health may improve when they remain off gluten and this is typically coined as ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.’
There are also cases when the dietary culprit for health problems, particularly gastrointestinal have nothing to do with gluten at all so again, its critical to seek professional health.
Gluten is not always the devil, but when it is, it can be the stuff of nightmares.
Think you may have a problem with gluten, be a coeliac or just have a really reactive gut and no idea why? Drop me a line and we can organise a time to sort it out.