Category Archives: WEIGHT LOSS

Categories WEIGHT LOSS

Finding a Healthy Weight Range

Here at The Balanced Nutritionist, we see a variety of clients with many different health conditions. These range from conditions characterized by pain and inflammation, digestive disorders, mental health conditions, fatigue, and of course, reaching a healthy weight. Whilst many of our clients will come in and see us with a multitude of symptoms that they would like to see improve, the one that most place the most weight on (pardon the pun)… is their actual WEIGHT. In fact, even when there is a multitude of other symptoms that are having a very negative effect on quality of life… it still comes back to that one number on the scales….

Our Goal

Nicole and I, as the nutritionists here at The Balanced Nutritionist have spoken about the issue of ‘weight’ and what we, as a society, think it means, at length. Working in weight loss is hard…. Its like walking on a tightrope. We want to make it clear that our goal at The Balanced Nutritionist is to help people be as healthy and as happy as they can possibly be by choosing great, healthy whole foods that are good for their body most of the time. However, because some of what we do comes down to weight AND because it’s a big issue to many of our clients, we want to make it clear that: 

  1. We do not want to create or contribute to any fear that may surround food. 
  2. We do not want people to think that perfection, when it comes to food is the only path moving forward because this is certainly not what we advocate
  3. And we certainly don’t want people to have an unhealthy relationship with their bodies. 

For us, the weight conversation can be a tricky one. What we really want to help people with is ‘reaching a healthy weight range’, and this is a term that we often use during clinical consultations. We are NOT about having that thigh gap… or that six pack. In fact, its common for us to ask clients to remove influences that promote this thinking from their lives… as it can be unhelpful. We are however aware that weight and health are intricately linked. You can not ignore one and acknowledge the other. 

Sometimes clients sit across from us and tell us that they need to lose weight or that they feel uncomfortable with their bodies. From a professional perspective, we know that in all honesty, their weight isn’t a problem at all. They may already be at a healthy weight range.. But fixated on becoming a particular shape or size, that perhaps they just aren’t meant to be. Sometimes, we focus on a magic number that perhaps just isn’t right for our own bodies. Some of us will naturally be leaner than others and that is ok. Sometimes, reaching the ‘magic number’ might actually cause ill health. Sometimes, it would require such rigid and unreasonable eating / exercise habits that it would be extremely detrimental. So for us, we always come back to the ‘healthy weight range’ and focus our support on helping our clients reach and accept this. It is the place where health will be good… both physical and mental! 

What IS a ‘healthy weight range’

  • It is NOT about being a size eight, with 20% body fat, or having visible abs, a thigh gap or fitting into a little black dress. 
  • It IS a place where you minimize your risk factors for certain metabolic conditions. 
  • It IS where can move freely without pain and exercise without struggling
  • It IS a place where you feel comfortable in your own skin
  • It IS a place that you can maintain by choosing good, healthy wholefoods, eaten consciously with the occasional treat without guilt. 

Our preferred tool to assist clients to achieve a healthy weight is the Metabolic Balance® program.

We really need to change the conversation and make sure that we are striving for a healthy weight range as opposed to the so-called “perfect body” that is sometimes portrayed as ideal. Let me tell you that the so-called “perfect body” that is portrayed at times is FAR from perfect. There is, as we talk about without clients such a thing as being too lean. 

If you reduce your body fat too much:

  • You will compromise your hormonal health
  • You may compromise your aspects like your fertility
  • You may even compromise your muscle mass and your bone density particularly later in life. 
  • And it’s likely mentally, that you won’t be in a good place. 

It is so important to us that our clients have a balanced relationship with food. That eating healthy doesn’t become stressful or mean there is no room for variation or occasional indulgences. 

When the motivation or the mechanism to become healthy becomes too stressful, then the benefits are outweighed by the additional stress that this causes. 

Sometimes people come into our clinic, thinking that we will help them attain the perfect body. Or build the ideal booty. This is NOT what we are about. Having developed quite a reputation as a ‘weight loss clinic’ (even though we have never labelled ourselves as this) we walk a delicate line…. We believe that health is absolutely linked to a healthy weight… but that the concept of a healthy weight needs to be redefined.

Thanks for reading. It’s difficult to express our thoughts clearly on this topic, but we feel it’s critical we communicate our stance on this issue. And its critical everyone knows…. you are so much more than a number of a scale!


Why Am I Gaining Weight but Barely Eating?

Firstly. Let’s just say that writing a blog that is so blatantly about ‘weight loss’ isn’t really our cup of tea. We prefer to focus on ‘health’ because weight release will naturally follow ‘health’ but this precise question is quite literally coming at us from many new clients of late.
The answer is probably going to vary from person to person, but here are a few things to consider in the journey to a healthy weight.
Firstly, weight loss is not easy. Please don’t be fooled by reality television shows that make us believe losing weight just ‘happens’ overnight because it doesn’t.
Second, you need to change your thinking. Stop. Re read the third line of this post again. Know that ‘health’ comes before ‘weight.’ You just can’t have a long list of symptoms and health concerns but only want to ‘lose weight.’ You have to tackle the whole package. A healthy body will find its natural, healthy weight. And maintain it. Is a ‘starving body’ a healthy body? Unlikely.
In addition to not eating much food, some or all of the following might be part of the problem.
1. You could be incredibly stressed. Which could mean very high levels of stress hormones and not a lot of sleep. Both of these are going to make releasing weight a lot more difficult.
2. You are possibly drinking a lot coffee… and / or not a lot of water. This is a recipe for dehydration. The metabolic process of ‘burning fat’  (lipolysis) is much harder for a dehydrated body. In addition, dehydration puts extra strain on the kidneys, which means its harder for the kidneys to do their job – essentially, too eliminate waste. And weight loss is essentially… the elimination of a lot of waste. So you really want your elimination pathways to be working really well.
3. Not eating enough food=probably not getting enough fibre from plant based sources like whole fruits and vegies. This, along with dehydration will probably block the pipes… not the water pipes, the other ones! Then you’ve got a situation where all that ‘solid’ waste hasn’t got anywhere to go either. Translation: healthy poos help with weight release.
4. Less ‘excretion’ of waste products as well as less fibre means those friendlies in your gut are going to suffer. We’ve linked just about everything to the health of our guts and guess what? That includes weight! Having a healthy gut is part of the picture when it comes to finding a healthy weight range. This does not mean you should go out and buy a probiotic and all of your problems will be fixed by the way… its just part of the picture and it can be altered without a pill.
5. Food is so much more than just macronutrients. The micronutrients i.e. vitamins and minerals that are found in healthy foods are critical for so many processes in our bodies. Like enzyme production for digestion, maintaining the thyroid health, neurotransmitter synthesis for happy, balanced moods and building our hormones… and lots more. So good food keeps… all of the parts of our bodies working really well. This leads to health which leads to a healthy weight.
6. When you are eating… the choices might not be great. Food is confusing right now. Far more confusing than it should be. And our addiction to ‘diets’ leads to some pretty crazy eating styles. Like only eating meat or fat but no vegetables… or going for something really processed like a ‘diet bar.’ Sorry. But we just don’t believe in that rubbish. Have you looked at the ingredients on those things? If you can’t pronounce it… your body ain’t going to know what to do with it, we guarantee!
7. Starving all day but then eating anything and everything by the afternoon. Because you are just. so. hungry. Wouldn’t it be easier to just eat well, giving your body

what it needs from the morning onwards… and watch as things fall into place over time?

We could go on… but this is a blog not a book. We just like to help people get healthy, reduce their requirements for medication, eat without stress, learn to love healthy nutritious foods, get comfortable preparing quick, wholefood meals…. and feel great as a result for a lifetime. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
Our favourite tool to use to achieve the former is personalised nutrition using the Metabolic Balance® program. It means we work with our client long term, they get to know the foods that will nourish not punish their bodies and we have the best chance of long term success.
Book online if you need us in your life. 🙂
Categories Uncategorized, WEIGHT LOSS

Do You Eat Consciously? Or on Autopilot?

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.

Written by Nicole Bence. You can book with Nicole here


What is the REAL answer to weight loss? Food!

You literally can not walk out your front door these days without the latest pill, potion, supplement, spray, exercise tool, exercise program, drug or surgery being pushed your way for ‘health’ or weight loss. But despite this, weight-related chronic health problems continue to climb, as do the statistics for obesity in Australia.

I’m starting to feel rather lonely over here in my own corner, because I’m not pushing the next miracle solution… instead, I still believe that the real answer to weight loss and overall health is food! Well specifically, nutrition.

With all of the products and programs now being marketed for weight loss and health, I’m genuinely scared that we are going to forget ‘food’ is the main part of the picture here.

When I see people who have digestive complaints, it may have taken decades for them to end up in my office. Sometimes they haven’t even considered that the food they put into their mouth is connected to the digestive symptoms that they are experiencing. Can we pause and consider the irony in this?

I’m not at all saying it’s their fault or they’re silly for not realising this… there’s a lot of noise out there that stops us from seeing the obvious. We are sadly becoming such a ‘band-aid’ society that having to pause and think that what we put into our mouth multiple times a day (which literally becomes part of us) is becoming somewhat of a low priority.

It’s honestly my hope that we don’t get this way with weight loss and health. That we don’t bury the importance of ‘the right food’ underneath all the other quick-fix options that are out there.

Let’s take weight loss surgery as an example. There is currently a lot of Government money going into this option as a solution for obesity. But as a stand-alone treatment, it’s not going to work. People still need to learn how to prepare healthy meals and choose the right foods for them and their families beyond surgical intervention. Otherwise:

  • Metabolic health will continue to worsen after surgery, so even though calories in may be restricted, rebound weight gain may result or weight loss may simply stall before a healthy range is reached
  • Nutrient deficiencies will prevail. Fact: Nutrient deficiencies can lead to depression, anxiety, fatigue, osteoporosis and other chronic diseases. Drugs may resolve symptoms associated with these things, but they aren’t a solution. Aren’t we trying to solve the obesity crisis to further prevent chronic disease?
  • Digestion and absorption problems will either continue to prevail or become a major issue. Again, only eating the right foods and eating consciously will help to combat this.

That’s just three reasons, and I could go on about some of the other health ‘solutions’ and how we still have to bring the ‘food conversation’ into those as well. Like the fact that people are still being prescribed Duramine. This drug is also supposed to be co-prescribed with a nutritional and lifestyle program alongside it, as per all of the drug information that accompanies it, it in itself is not the solution.

Please don’t think I’m naive about the fact that changing your diet is really hard! Eating well and living a healthy lifestyle is not like flicking a switch. And it’s not like ‘healthy people’ make good choices every day. We ALL have up and down days… up and downtimes. But the important thing is that we all need to use as many tools as required in order to make good food and positive lifestyle choice as often as we can.

This is the only, true, long-term solution to living a happy, healthy life. And it’s common sense. I don’t know about you, but I’m NOT okay with surgery and injections being the new normal and what we eat continuing to be based on unconscious decisions with no thought for their consequences.

Note: Please read this article carefully and note that I’m not disagreeing that surgical or drug interventions may be a viable option for some people. However, it’s important that these options are accompanied by support and education around adopting an appropriate nutrition and lifestyle plan to support the intervention and to minimise long term side effects. It’s only then that the intervention becomes a true solution as opposed to a short-term fix.

If you have tried every diet under the sun to attain health and find a healthy weight, with no avail, Metabolic Balance® – our signature weight management program – is for you. Read more about Metabolic Balance® here



This is a continuation of Alice’s journey on Metabolic Balance®. If you haven’t read part 1 catch up on that first here.

1 week into the program now, it was time for me to touch base with this lovely young lady again today. This second touch point, shortly into the plan is an important one. The first week can be a bit of a harrowing journey for some, especially if they are coming from a high sugar diet. This was not the case for Alice (her diet was fairly good before, just a bit inconsistent… due to life really), but it’s always good to reflect on the first week regardless. It’s also important to look at what symptoms have changed and check on body composition as well – it’s about celebrating the little wins.

Metabolic Balance® kicks off with a 2 day ‘cleanse’ and Alice was kind to herself the first day, mainly resting and doing a bit of computer work at home. The second day was a little bit more brutal with a stubborn headache, a foggy brain and a general feeling of exhaustion. These are typical detoxy type symptoms, which most people experience to some degree.  By dinner time, Alice said she had gotten through it so it did pass quickly.

By Sunday, Alice started on her official food plan. She was a little shocked with her portion of vegetables in particular, thinking that it didn’t look like a lot. However, when married with her protein, she was surprised that it did indeed satisfy her. Monday was back into routine and a full day out of the house, and keeping up with hydration was tough (water intake is individually assigned on Metabolic Balance®). By Tuesday, there was a big turnaround and Alice said she felt a little bit ‘euphoric.’ One of the biggest wins on that day was noting the absence of consistent aches in the fingers and hands – a symptom that had bothered her for some time. This seemed to have disappeared and still today (Friday) had not been noted again at all. This is a good sign that systemic inflammation is beginning to correct itself with the right foods for the individual. Obviously, its not going to happen overnight, but it will slowly dissipate over many months. Symptoms improvement and weight release are signs that this is the case.

Alice had reported consistent bloating in her first consult and this came good pretty quickly into the plan. Usually, chickpeas are a major trigger for this, but even following a chickpea meal, the bloating wasn’t near as severe as usual. Alice thinks a big part of this comes down to meeting her actual hydration requirements. I believe as a practitioner a big reason for digestion improving is  ‘uncomplicated food’ and simple protein choices for the body.

Despite feeling less ‘fluidy’ and less ‘blah’ (we can all relate to those feelings can’t we), Alice said she had no expectations when it came to measuring. She knew things were going to take time and didn’t expect a huge change. A nice surprise when the scales reflected a weight loss of 2.0kg and a scan confirmed a loss of 1.63kg in body fat (the remainder was water weight). Her waist measurement was 2.5cm lower, directly over the belly button. Think about what this might mean to someone who has felt out of control of their body and their health for some time, not knowing what to do or how to help themselves, yet trying to do ‘all of the right things.’

One of the most significant and rewarding changes at this point would be quite a fast turnaround in Alice’s mood. Over the previous month she’d had some time off and she realised she’d stayed at home almost the entire time. Really hadn’t wanted to see anyone and had avoided doing anything…. Just felt blue. She said that she was feeling more like herself already and wished she had the time off all over again – to catch up with some loved ones and do some fun things. It’s so nice that some zest for life is coming back and obviously such an important aspect of health to monitor. Another clinical example of why nutrition is such an important consideration for mental health.

The foods Alice stuck with were really basic this week. Having to juggle this program, alongside a large family and full time study commitments, she didn’t get too adventurous. Creating some new meals and bringing in some other proteins will be the focus for week 2.

A good start to a journey. Everyone’s being unique.



I was recently contacted by a young lady (who we will call Alice from this point forward) directly interested in Metabolic Balance. She has decided to move forward with the program and I am going to be sharing a bit about her story and her results (as they happen-no fabrication here) so you can follow her journey.
Alice presented to me in clinic like a lot of other clients do, although that’s not to diminish the significance of her struggles in any way. Quite tired consistently and slow, but consistent weight gain over the past 5 years. Some of her symptoms absolutely screamed low thyroid function including low mood, periods of alarming hair loss, low mood and digestive disturbances. Despite this, all of her blood tests had come back ‘normal’ and despite trying quite a few different approaches, she had not felt well for a long time. Nor had she felt in control of her body or her weight.

Alice’s journey will be unique in that she is in the health industry herself. So she does have good awareness of her own body and a very proactive approach to her health. This attitude is one of the key’s to success not only on Metabolic Balance but any health journey. One must value their own health and be open to making changes to achieve the result they want.
When I asked Alice how she was feeling she simply said ‘really inflamed. I feel like things just aren’t right and I’m at a loss as to what to do to improve them.’
We did decide pretty quickly that MB would be the most comprehensive option as far as her food was concerned moving forward. In addition, I made some adjustments to Alice’s supplements because although she had some really good quality options in her pantry, she wasn’t taking them at the correct time or dosage or consistency.
Fast forward a few days and we received Alice’s blood results back from the lab. These are used, along with age, medical conditions, medication and measurements, to formulate the Metabolic Balance food plan. The blood tests are fairly comprehensive and sure enough, a number of inflammatory markers were well outside of normal range, and suspected iron deficiency was confirmed.

Fast forward a few more days and I received Alice’s Metabolic Balance plan back from head office in Germany. Alice is not a fussy eater (which is great – the less fussy, the more ‘ideal’ the plan will be) and at first I was really excited. I had a quick scan and saw a few things I had never seen come up on a plan before! Yay for Alice, I thought. Meanwhile, I was also considering the extra recipes I could add to me Metabolic Balance recipe book. But then on closer inspection….. ‘augh’ was the sound that came out of my mouth. This is REALLY restrictive. There weren’t a whole lot of fish options and overall the protein types were a bit limited… so was the vegetable list. I had about 30 minutes up my sleeve before my next appointment with Alice and so I pulled a few recipes out that would be suitable to help her along and did a bit of brainstorming around meals she could create.
So how did Alice take the news and the plan? Firstly, she was feeling marginally better with the new supplement routine but looking forward to nailing the food side of things. And after an hour together, reviewing her bloods, going through the preparation phase (first 2 days) and then discussing the food plan, we both found lots of positives to focus on. As Alice said, if it was the same old thing than she would simply get the same result, right? 3 meals a day, adequate water for her size and exactly the right foods…. time to get creative and let the journey begin.

In general, I find the ‘worst’ the blood tests are and the more ‘chronic’ someone’s health state is, the more restrictive a Metabolic Balance plan may be. In saying that, many people go through life basically eating the exact same thing everyday, and even Alice’s list can be turned into lots of different fast, healthy meals. We will be reviewing progress and symptoms after 2 weeks and introducing a few more items to the allowed food list. At 4 weeks, its possible things may get more exciting again, but we will wait and see how Alice responds to her Metabolic Balance plan.

I’ll update you on Alice’s journey in a week, when I next see her. The purpose of this blog series is to take you on a journey… because Metabolic Balance is ‘a journey.’ It’s also to show you first hand what kind of improvements and changes to someone’s health we can gain through nutritional medicine. My personal opinion, based on my professional knowledge is that there is no better example of ‘healing through nutrition’ than Metabolic Balance. You will see that truly regaining health isn’t always easy… but regaining ‘life’ along the way certainly makes it worth it!

Categories WEIGHT LOSS

The secret life of fat

Have you ever actually thought about what fat is? Maybe you thought it was just a storage depot, where excess energy hangs out? Like a garage? Just dead tissue? The truth is, fat cells really do have a secret life of their own.

Blubber, a spare tyre, love handles, chub… we give it funny names and we don’t like too much of it hanging around but, beyond that, most people don’t know a lot about fat cells.

Let’s talk about the secret life of fat… 

The scientific term for fat cells is ‘adipose tissue’. You may have read about different types of adipose tissue: white and brown, which are not the same. Brown adipose tissue cells have more capillaries (tiny blood vessels), more mitochondria (the powerhouse part of a cell) and contain more iron, resulting in a darker pigmentation.

When we are born, we have a greater proportion of brown to white adipose tissue but, as we age, we develop more of the white stuff. Generally, brown adipose tissue is accepted as ‘good fat.’

White fat has fewer mitochondria and blood vessels than brown fat, thus resulting in its lighter white or yellow appearance. White fat is the predominant form of fat in the body, originating from connective tissue. Its main job is to provide energy reserve in the body. Where there is adipose tissue there are also lots of adipokines or adipocytokines being produced by the fat tissue.

Adipocytokines are hormones and cytokines (or cell signalling proteins) secreted by adipose tissue (adipo = fat, cytos = cell and kinos = movement). Adipocytokines are a bit like messengers delivering information.

Here are five examples of  different types of adipocytokines that fat cells ‘spit out’ on a regular basis and a bit about how they affect us:

  1. Resistin: This is a hormone. An aptly named hormone because it literally means ‘resistance to insulin’. In basic terms, resistin reduces the ability of other cells to respond to insulin, therefore resulting in higher blood glucose levels and potentially contributing to the development of insulin-resistant conditions, like type 2 diabetes (1).
  2. Plasminogen activator inhibitor–1: This is a protein that inhibits other substances in the body that help in the process of breaking down blood clots. So, therefore, when its overproduced in the body (due to an excess of fat cells) there is a higher risk of thrombosis (that’s blood clots in our blood vessels) and more risk of cardiovascular events (2).
  3. Pro-inflammatory molecules (such as TNF-alpha and interleukin 6): Research indicates that the adipocytokines secreted by fat cells in lean individuals are more likely to be anti-inflammatory in nature(3), whilst those produced in overweight people are more likely to be pro-inflammatory. Inflammation is associated with poor health and all chronic disease, so it’s definitely not a state we want to be promoting in the body.
  4. Sex hormones: Some sex hormones can be produced by adipose tissue, in particular, oestrogen. Again, there are a number of chronic health conditions linked to higher oestrogen levels and/or high oestrogen to progesterone ratios (e.g. breast cancer). In overweight men, circulating oestrogen levels are also notably higher than in leaner men, while testosterone levels are lower than average (4). Low testosterone can lead to low mood, low libido, low muscle mass and a host of other symptoms in males.
  5. Leptin: Leptin is a protein that communicates with the brain, signalling ‘fullness’, therefore plays a critical role in appetite control. Increased circulating levels in overweight people due to the higher amount of fat tissue producing leptin, has raised the concept of ‘leptin resistance.’ This is similar to insulin resistance in that the body may stop responding to the messages that leptin is trying to send the brain. This may be why some people struggle with appetite control and may rarely feel ‘full’ or ‘satisfied’ after meals.

We often hear about the risks associated with being overweight, but we rarely discuss why this is the case. It’s not just the stress on the body from carrying some extra weight – its far more complex than that, as you can see.

I know there were a lot of complicated names in that list above, but the message is simply this: being overweight is more complicated than just being overweight. And, I mean that in the kindest way possible.

In research studies, fat is generally referred to as an endocrine organ (hormone-producing organ) in its own right and scientists have isolated over 50 substances that are ‘spat out’ by fat cells. That’s 50 substances capable of talking to, interacting with and having an effect over the other cells in our body. And, as you can see, they definitely have some pretty significant effects!

I really believe this highlights the need to look at weight loss from a holistic viewpoint. It can not be about ‘eating less and simply exercising more’. In fact, this approach will probably serve to heighten inflammation even further! We really want to reduce inflammation, achieve hormone balance, improve insulin sensitivity, address the psychology of weight loss, incorporate appropriate movement and eat the right foods for the body, of course. Please consider all of this if you are looking for the right weight loss approach for you.

Meanwhile, we stand behind the personalized, research-backed program, Metabolic Balance, because we know it addresses all of these factors and more. And that is really the key to losing fat and keeping it off.



  1. Resistin: Functional Roles and Therapeutic Considerations for Cardiovascular Disease
  2. Biochemistry of Adipose Tissue: An Endocrine Organ
  3. Adipose Tissue in Obesity-Related Inflammation and Insulin Resistance: Cells, Cytokines and Chemokines
  4. The Impact of Obesity on Male Fertility
  5. Obesity and Leptin Resistance: Distinguishing Cause from Effect

Nutrition And Mental Health

A few months ago I was introduced to a psychologist by the name of Carolyn Rogers and as a result of our mutual professional interests, we became friends quickly. You may be thinking what do nutrition and mental health have to do with each other?  Well actually quite a lot and Carolyn has both an interest and a broad knowledge of nutrition and its application in her particular field. This article is based on the conversations we shared when we recently caught up for lunch (at Paw Paw Café, Woolloongabba for those interested and yes it was tasty.)

Firstly, a bit about Carolyn. She has been a Psychologist for 16 ½ years and she has over 14 years’ experience working with clients to help them manage their weight. She was the Senior Consulting Psychologist for the Wesley Weight Management Clinic for five years and she continues to consult for a Bariatric Surgeon.  Bariatric surgery includes a variety of procedures that reduce the size of the stomach (or remove a portion of the stomach) including lap bands, gastric sleeves and gastric bypassing in order to prompt rapid weight loss by reducing appetite and portion sizes. I will add that prior to studying Psychology, Carolyn was a Registered Nurse for many years so her experience and involvement in healthcare and the medical community is extensive. From her many years of experience working with patients who are overweight, Carolyn has made some interesting observations.

Firstly, Carolyn feels very strongly that weight problems are usually physiological as opposed to psychological. She certainly does not take the viewpoint that her clients should simply exercise greater willpower by eating less and moving more. This realisation was founded many years ago when Carolyn was counselling clients who were placed on a low calorie, liquid diet. She observed that whilst many did lose weight initially they were mostly unable to keep it off. Others, despite following the program accurately, plateaued quickly and weight loss stalled. This prompted Carolyn to look into the work of Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat which opened up a whole new perspective on weight management. These books in a nutshell, attempt to bury the low fat, high carbohydrate message for weight management and good health. They closely examine the role that insulin plays in the regulation of fat storage and the addictive effects of excessive carbohydrate. Carolyn has immersed herself into books and research articles about this topic ever since. She is particularly interested in the capabilities of sugar (fructose in particular) as a highjacker of the appetite suppressing hormones as well as the role that insulin resistance plays in obesity. She believes that the inclusion of good fats and protein and some degree of carbohydrate restriction is critical for long term weight management. In her experience, both binge eating and emotional eating is easier to overcome on a lower carbohydrate high fat diet, which is in fact the opposite of what most weight loss plans and shakes revolve around.

Further to this, Carolyn has an in depth knowledge of specific nutrients and the role these play in behaviour and emotion. In Nutritional Medicine studies, we are very concerned with the role of specific nutrients and the affect that deficiencies may have so it’s always great to meet other allied health professionals who recognise this. Some of the nutrients and herbs that Carolyn is particularly passionate about are outlined below:

  • Magnesium: we are aware that magnesium is involved in over 300 chemical reactions within the human body. Nutritionists will use magnesium in therapeutic combinations and dosages to treat irregular sleep patterns, stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and muscle pain to name just a few. Carolyn encourages all of her clients to take magnesium, particularly those that are highly stressed with poor sleep patterns.
  • Rhodiola: this is a herb that’s available in concentrated capsule form and studies have shown that it may be effective for stress management, mental fatigue and even exercise endurance. This article here discussed the merits of Rhodiola compared with the anti-depressant Zoloft for mild depressive disorder.
  • Zinc: studies have revealed that serum zinc levels tend to be much lower in subjects with mild to moderate depression as discussed by this psychologist here. Zinc together with B6 are essential supplements for those who suffer from Pyroluria, a condition where there is an abnormality in haemoglobin synthesis resulting in mood swings, anxiety and depression.
  • Vitamin D: the oh so important but too often overlooked vitamin D. Adequate vitamin D is critical for mental health. Carolyn prescribes ‘adequate sleep, moderate play in the sunshine and a healthy diet’ to maintain D levels and encourages supplementation to obtain optimal levels if necessary.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly Carolyn is passionate about gut health and the gut / brain connection. The gut is where everything happens. Even a perfect diet is useless if the gut is not healthy because unhealthy microbiome cannot synthesise nutrients. Fact: there is more serotonin produced in the gut than in the brain. Read more about our ‘second brain’ here.

On a final note, Carolyn states that mental health is about looking at the entire person and treating all aspects of the body, mind and the environment. Much the same as our outlook in Nutritional Medicine. It is important that no one point in this article is taken out of context and you must realise that this is general information only, not individual prescription. You need to work with suitably qualified health professionals in order to ascertain a treatment path for you, specific to your condition and your own body. This article was produced by me to once again emphasise the importance that nutrition plays as the foundation of good health and the true power of food especially in concentrated and complementary formulas.  This article is not intended to simplify any 1 health issue or provide a blanket solution. Refining diet and addressing nutritional deficiencies, just like psychology is a long term strategy and requires commitment from both practitioner and client. If you would like to discuss your needs please book in here. You can find out more about Carolyn Rogers at her website and I am sure I will share more about her in future articles.


Treating The Drivers Of A Condition

Last week I wrote an article about Dietary Fat, Cholesterol and Your Heart Health, if you missed it, catch up here. Coincidentally, the last practitioner seminar I attended (Sunday afternoon the 12th of July 2015) was about Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic conditions (seeing as these 2 go hand in hand). Firstly, I am happy to say that the key concepts I discussed in last week’s article were reiterated at the seminar with extensive research to back these concepts up. There was a great deal of time spent focusing on the following important points:

1. Dietary fat does not cause CVD (cardiovascular disease):“From the original Farmingham study to the Women’s Health Initiative, as well as more than a dozen additional studies, have failed to show an association between dietary lipids and risk of CVD. The very strong recommendations from health agencies predicted that none of these trials should fail. In fact, almost all of them have failed.” (Fienman RD et. al. Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: critical review and evidence based Nutrition. 2015 Jan 31st (1) 1-13)

2. Cholesterol levels are not raised by diet: A study over 3 months compared 2 groups of individuals, about 70 individuals in each group. 1 group consumed in excess of 2 eggs per day, the other group consumed less than 2 eggs per week. No between-group differences were shown for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides or glycemic control. This is certainly not the first and only study of its kind.

3. Inflammation as a key driver for high cholesterol: this was by far the most interesting part of the seminar. As I mentioned last week in my article, cholesterol has protective properties against inflammation and infection. One of the most common infectious drivers that may elevate cholesterol is dental infection, making oral hygiene of the utmost importance. Hence I ask clients with sudden elevation in cholesterol levels, ‘when did you last see a dentist!?’

I believe, along with many other health professionals (hence why there are many books published on this topic) it’s very important to share this information. Why? Because I think we are doing a great job at treating symptoms (extremely important!) but we are not looking at the key drivers of a condition. For example, drugs and supplements can bring down dangerously elevated cholesterol. Great. BUT how often are we stopping and thinking ‘why has that actually occurred in the first place?’ If we don’t treat the driver of the condition, it will manifest as another symptom and the overall health of that particular client will continue to decline. I see this in clinic a lot… if a client has elevated blood cholesterol, this has always been accompanied by at least 2 other complications as well, such as high blood pressure, thyroid imbalances etc.

This article does not replace medication or whatever other precautions you may currently be prescribed for whatever symptom you may have. However, symptomatic treatment needs to come hand in hand with a long term strategy to firstly ascertain the actual cause and secondly correct the cause. Some long term correctional strategies may include looking at diet, specific nutritional deficiencies (e.g. magnesium is a big one), stress, sleep disturbances, bacterial infections, fitness, muscle / fat ratio and dental health. I would say long term term wellness would be my ultimate goal with all of my clients. Sometimes, they don’t come to me with the goal of ‘near perfect health’ it may be 1 simple symptom they want to fix, but I have other ideas ;). It’s a ‘1 step at a time’ process but if they stick with me, we get there in the end! I will add that I don’t buy into the whole ‘you’re just getting old’ thing and so its inevitable that your health will decline. No, this is NOT acceptable.

Again, please do not take this article as individual advice because its not. Instead if it applies to you, ask yourself what long term lifestyle, nutritional, stress management and exercise strategies you may be putting in place to improve your markers in the long run because these are some of things you may be able to look at incorporating on your own. If you are stuck or its more complex, then book in with mefor consultations please. Investing in your own long term health NOW could save you a LOT of issues down the track.

In closing, let’s return to that point around inflammation as a driver of cholesterol and in particular the idea that periodontal disease may drive up biomarkers. If this is the first time you have heard of this and you are thinking ‘whaaaattt?’ check out the link to this medical article here. And now you need to start to realise that we are all just one big jigsaw puzzle. If you make a mistake with one piece of the puzzle, then its impossible to get the whole puzzle complete, correct? Same with the body. It’s INTERCONNECTED. It’s 1 SYSTEM. You can not just throw a band aid over 1 problem and hope it goes away because it’s going to manifest somewhere else and that may be physical and emotional. FIX it. Strive for the BEST version of YOU. Do what you can every single day to make good choices for a long, happy and healthy life.

Puzzle human


Debunking Fats (Part 2): Dietary Fat, Cholesterol And Your Heart Health

Every client I have ever seen does have some degree of ‘fat phobia’ going on. Totally understandable. After all, Big Food has profited from selling us low fat, sugar and preservative laden products for the last 40 years and through clever advertising & manipulation of data, they have convinced us that this is the way to true health. Enough ranting on that one. Please keep in mind that this information has now well and truly been put in its rightful place and fats are being recognised for their importance in the diet. Remember the latest statement from the American association of Nutrition and Dietetics included this point: “It is also noteworthy that not a single study included in the review for cardiovascular disease is reported to have identified saturated fat as having an unfavourable association with cardiovascular disease.”
One of the concerns that that comes up often is around cholesterol, specifically that serum cholesterol will rise with more dietary cholesterol ineggs the diet. This topic really warrants a longer explanation, but I begin by reminding clients that cholesterol is critical in the body. If we had none of it, we would be dead. It has protective properties, it is involved with immunity, it fights off infections, its essential for all our hormones, we need it to create vitamin D and it even assists with serotonin levels in the brain. Too much of anything of course can always be a bad thing, but first let’s acknowledge that we need it and it doesn’t deserve to be completely vilified. Secondly, it is really important to understand that we have inbuilt mechanisms within our body to regulate our own cholesterol levels; we have mechanisms like this to regulate all essential nutrients and processes. Each and every one of us is able to make cholesterol within the body when it is needed. The other way we can get cholesterol is of course through diet. However, eating dietary cholesterol doesn’t necessarily drive up cholesterol markers, it simply gives the body a bit of a break because it doesn’t have to produce as much on its own. Here’s a direct quote extracted from one of my favourite nutrition books ‘Cholesterol Clarity, (p30).’

“We have a certain need for cholesterol and we regulate that need fairly tightly. So if we eat a lot of cholesterol, our bodies make less of it; if we eat less cholesterol, our bodies make more of it. In most people, the majority of cholesterol that is circulating in their blood is made by their own bodies. The amount of cholesterol containing foods they eat isn’t going to have a big impact on their blood cholesterol levels. It can vary from person to person, but in general cholesterol in your diet is never the major determinant of cholesterol levels in the blood or in the body.” Dr Chris Masterjon

There are a couple of ways to manipulate diet in order to bring down dangerously high triglyceride levels and elevated small dense LDL cholesterol. However, reducing natural and anti-inflammatory fats in the diet is not one of them. In my experience treating clients, dietary changes that include eating more fat but less highly refined carbohydrates,  their cholesterol markers have shown improvement. I see this on paper in front of me, in black and white when they bring in their blood tests and their levels are down. In addition, please remember that the most dangerous state of health is high inflammation within the body. Inflammation leads to heart disease, arterial plaque build up and is now even being linked with mood disorders and depression. Persistent inflammation results from  ‘yo yoing’ sugar levels in the body. This sugar roller-coaster effect is precisely what occurs on a low fat diet rich in starchy and sugary carbohydrates and artificial trans fats. You may need to catch up on my article on Fats and Oils if I just lost you.
Elevated cholesterol happens for a reason. It might not be your diet, it may be the sign of an infection. One of the most common types of infection that can elevate cholesterol levels is in the mouth, so have your teeth checked regularly and ensure your dental hygiene is up to scratch. In addition, treat the high cholesterol of course, but find out the reason for it and always aim to treat the cause in addition to the symptom. The natural way of the body is to be in balance. If something is not being self regulated there is a reason for that and we need to determine it and change our environment in some way accordingly.

Please consult with a Medical Doctor as well as a Nutritionist or similar who can manipulate diet and lifestyle in a healthy way to achieve optimal results.