Categories GENERAL HEALTH, Uncategorized

What is ‘Mindful Enjoyment’ and why are we passionate about it?

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.

‘Enjoying’ means:

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

  1. Always remember that what we do occasionally does not matter. It’s what we do most of the time that counts. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Always remember that you will not undo everything because of 1 or 2 bad meals!
  4. 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. 
  5. 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?
  6. 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. 
  7. 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 🙂 
  8. Always drink plenty of water. 
  9. Try not to think of food as ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ 
  10. 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 appointments@thebalancednutritionist.com.au (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.

Have a lovely day folks!- Katie 🙂


Tips for staying healthy whilst working from home

On the weekend, we provided comments for an article in the Courier-Mail, on this very topic ‘staying healthy whilst working from home’. Since your working environment may have changed dramatically recently, here are some tips for staying healthy despite the change to routine:

  1. If you’re used to packing a healthy lunch each day continue to do this every morning before you actually start work. If you don’t prepare something healthy in advance, you’ll go to the fridge mindlessly at lunchtime and be more inclined to choose something less healthy… or even Uber eats instead!
  2. Keep a large glass of water at your desk and continually sip throughout the day. Topping up gives you a chance to stretch your legs, gets the blood pumping and gives you a moment to refocus. If you don’t stay hydrated you may mistake hunger for thirst. Plus you’ll feel lethargic and might even get a headache.
  3. If you’re in an exercise pattern already, keep it the same! Don’t promise yourself you will ‘just do it later’ because chances are you won’t. Slot it in as normal. And if it’s not part of your routine, then with all the extra time you have minus commuting… Why not make it a habit from now?
  4. Stock on up fresh veggies to use as a base for salads or lunchtime wraps and fruit for snacking. There are amply supplies of fresh products at your local fruit and veg markets. It’s the supermarkets that have been cleaned out. Support the little guys. And stocking up on pasta and confectionery has no benefits right now or ever for that matter. 
  5. As the weather cools, consider popping something rich in nutrients into a slow cooker first thing in the morning. It will be ready in time for lunch. vegetable-rich dishes with either pulses or some form of meat protein are a great, healthy and filling option. Keep an eye on our Facebook page as we will be sharing heaps of recipe ideas over the coming weeks. 
  6. Actually, eat proper meals. If you get into the habit of skipping lunch altogether, you will be hungry and you’ll go for quick snack foods high in sugar continuously for fast pick me ups and you’ll only come crashing down again. 

From personal experience (keeping it real as always) the hardest part about working from home is avoiding mindless eating as a result of procrastination. To avoid this, it’s best to make sure you don’t have temptations lying around – like chocolates, chips, and biscuits. Apps that boost productivity are really handy as well. For example, the Pomodoro app is a free download on your computer that encourages you to focus for 25 minutes at a time and then allows you a 5-minute break. Psychologically it works! It’s like having a robot boss on your computer keeping you accountable to your work and stopping you from mindlessly walking to the kitchen!

We hope that helps. If it’s business as usual for you (but from home instead) and you’d like to seize this opportunity to work on your general health, reach out and book an appointment here – we are still operating by Skype / in clinic 6 days a week.


Updates regarding appointments during the Coronavirus period- as of March 20, 2020

Hi everyone,

We hope that you and your families are safe and well during this unprecedented time that we are all facing right now.
We wanted to assure you that we are here to help support you as best as we can. This is our first mass communication in relation to Coronavirus; essentially because there has been so much information from everywhere at all angles, I (Katie) felt it better to hold off and communicate more personally to each of you as your appointments arose. However, the time has come to put out some assurances and options for you moving forward regarding any upcoming appointments you may have with me or Nicole here at The Balanced Nutritionist:
  • Firstly, Nicole will only be seeing her clients via Skype, Zoom or phone effective from now until the foreseeable future. If you are a client of Nicole’s, but you’d prefer to see someone face to face, I can take over your care for now. Otherwise, Nicole can still care for you just as effectively by any of these methods and you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your lounge room.
  • I will continue to provide consults in clinic OR by Skype / Zoom/phone depending on your preference. There is mass communication already circulating in relation to best practice when it comes to face to face interactions; I won’t add to this as I trust that we have had this drilled into us from all angles.
  • Roughly 40% of our current client base is from other states including Victoria, NSW, WA and even NZ. So please rest assured; we are well set up and experienced at providing our consulting services via Skype / Zoom or phone and assure you that the effectiveness of treatment will not be compromised.
  • Should you wish to move your upcoming appointment to Skype / Zoom or phone, you can either phone ((07) 3063 2710) or email us (hit reply) now OR inform Michelle when she contacts you for confirmation. Confirmations will be done 4 days in advance from this point forward to allow for scheduling changes etc.
  • We are able to post orders for supplements via express postal services should you prefer an online appointment or simply need to restock and don’t want to call into the clinic.
  • On a final note, if you are experiencing financial hardship due to a sudden change in employment or similar, BUT you really require our services please reach out so we can see what we can offer you during these times.
A few general words from a professional, nutritional perspective…..
Over the last few weeks, I’ve witnessed some fantastic ideas relating to health and natural immunity support, from fellow colleagues being communicated via social media etc. Sometimes, this sort of advice gets shut down very quickly and dismissed as quackery. None of these colleagues (or us here for that matter) are laying claim to being able to cure viruses or anything outrageous like that. I believe the message is simply… if you have the capacity to continue working on your overall health, then you should continue to do so during this time. By strengthening our overall wellbeing, we will help our own immune systems, reducing our risk of contracting viruses in the first place (and colds – it is the season for it). Furthermore, if faced with an unfortunate diagnosis, if we are as ‘generally healthy’ as can be, it’s likely we will suffer less severely. So for this reason, we do encourage you to continue eating well, staying well hydrated (water that is) and moving where you can. This will also contribute to better mental health during these periods of increased self-isolation. Overall, we offer the following tips:
  • Local fruit and vegetable stores and even IGAs seem to be really well stocked with beautiful fresh produce as do local butchers. I can personally vouch for Lorenti’s fruit market, Greenslopes IGA, and England and Allsop Butcher Coorparoo. The supermarkets are being wiped clean so support these little guys; less crowded and better quality, fresh food. This is the food that will support you right now; not the pasta and confectionery being wiped out of the bigger stores.
  • Please drink your 2L (minimum) of pure water daily. Please. Even though it is getting cooler, you still need it!
  • Fresh air helps. Even if it’s just from your own backyard. I’ve upped the length of my dog walks to well over an hour a day to enjoy the sunshine, capture some vitamin D and keep moving generally. If gyms are forced to close you can continue with bodyweight strength exercises and even yoga/pilates via computer apps from home.
  • You can generally support your immune system naturally with nutrients like vitamin C, zinc and even some herbal products. Please ask for individual advice at your next consult. We will be suggesting immune support to all our clients at the end of consultations from this point forward; as a professional duty of care. Note that some herbs are contraindicated in certain health conditions and immune support for pregnancy is particularly specialized so do ask. No, these products won’t cure Coronavirus – but they could reduce your susceptibility to catching things in the first place.
Finally, I buy toilet paper in bulk yearly from Who Gives a Crap, an awesome organization if you don’t know them – check them out! Anyhow, I have about 60 rolls in the clinic so should you find yourself low on supplies, just ask and I’ll give you a roll or 2:).
That’s all we have for now folks. Things are changing rapidly though, therefore some of this information may change by the time you read this, but we shall do our best to keep you informed.
Take care of yourself and others.
Categories THYROID


I hear the same stories over and over again. This doesn’t make it any less saddening (for me) or any less frustrating (for you) but you should know that you aren’t alone.

That tiny little thyroid gland can cause oh so much trouble. You’re tired all the time. Constipated. Maybe you can’t ever remember feeling so blue. Your periods all over the place. It’s so darn cold all the time and what’s with my hair coming out in clumps? Meanwhile, the weight just keeps creeping on… and on… and on…. Not quickly, but still… no matter what you do, which gym you join, what diet you try…. next season, those jeans just don’t fit anymore.

So, this is a worst case scenario and one would hope you’d have found some help before all of these symptoms presented at once. But chances are,  if you’ve been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid gland you will relate to one or all of these presentations.

Like so many conditions, the important role of nutrition in both prevention and treatment, is overlooked. That’s ironic, considering some of the following key points:

  • The building blocks for your thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are iodine and tyrosine. Iodine is a mineral we get from some foods (via the soil and food fortification) and tyrosine is an amino acid found in proteins, mainly animal proteins. And when I say these are the building blocks, I mean that quite literally. T3 has 3 iodine molecules and T4 has 4 iodine molecules. So what you eat…. Directly impacts your thyroid hormones. Actually what you eat MAKES your thyroid hormones (again, ironic that we ignore the role of nutrition here….?)
  • Adequate zinc (also found in many protein rich foods) is needed because the enzyme converting T4 to T3 is a zinc dependent enzyme. Note that this HAS to happen. T4 on its own doesn’t do a whole lot in the body…. T3 is the ‘active’ thyroid hormone responsible for action. So if the conversion can’t happen… well the party aren’t starting!
  • Likewise selenium (also a mineral, found in nuts and seeds especially) is required for the conversion of T4 to T3 and finally
  • Other ‘co-factors’ like vitamin C and magnesium are necessary for the whole party to happen. And yes, we get these nutrients from food. Simple, whole foods.

I hope that this basic biochemistry lesson demonstrates how important it is to think about your nutrition in any hypothyroid journey. Even on medication, ensuring you have the right nutrients is important, especially if you still have some of the above symptoms. Having optimal levels of key nutrients may help the medication work much more effectively. Finally, if detected early enough, getting the raw ingredients right for the thyroid may mean avoiding a full blown hypothyroid diagnosis if left to struggle unsupported. And that’s definitely a win!

Think about your thyroid like a little engine. The right vitamins, minerals and amino acids are the premium engine oil. What would you throw in a BMW? Only the best so do the same for your own engine!

(Disclaimer: please do not self-prescribe supplements for thyroid health, in particular iodine. Always speak to your GP and consult a qualified Nutritionist for advice before supplementing).

When we throw in the whole ‘antibody’ angle, food becomes even more important. Some people with hypothyroidism will have antibodies i.e. autoimmune hypothyroidism like Hashimoto’s. Other’s won’t. In the case of autoimmune hypothyroidism the thyroid isn’t working properly because the immune system is going a little bit crazy and turning on its own self, in this case, its own thyroid gland. Research around food and antibody production in autoimmune conditions is extensive. Misinformation is even more extensive! If you believed everything you read about what ‘not’ to eat with autoimmune hypothyroidism… you’d be eating nothing! In allll seriousness!

The truth is, everyone’s going to be slightly different as far as what’s causing inflammation and what foods may be contributing to confusing the immune system. And food will only be a part of it, but definitely getting the diet right will make a significant difference. It can significantly reduce antibodies and make any autoimmune condition, particularly a thyroid autoimmune condition all that more manageable. It can definitely mean the difference between consistent weight gain and consistent weight loss. The beauty of Metabolic Balance® shines here, drilling down to the level of an individual to determine their perfect diet. This is where that story ‘I’ve tried everything and nothing works’ ends with relief.

“Metabolic Balance was by far the best thing I ever did for myself and my body. I had struggled for a year to try and drop weight and nothing worked, I also had a thyroid condition which left me feeling constantly run-down and sick. There was nothing more disheartening than doing everything ‘right’ and seeing no results and feeling like my body was working against me.

Within the first month of MB I noticed changes, I had started to lose weight, but more importantly I began to feel good about myself again. Doing the MB program has taught me so much, I no longer deprive my body of food to lose weight, or view exercise as something I ‘have’ to do. I now have a healthy relationship with food where I view it as something that fuels and nourishes my body. And I have learnt to appreciate exercise and working out, I am so lucky that I am able to work out! My only regret is that I didn’t contact Katie sooner and start my Metabolic Balance journey earlier!”

Katherine (thanks for sharing your story)

Categories THYROID


Thyroid Conditions

This may sound like a very ‘specific’ blog post and that’s because it is. It’s inspired by a few recent client cases who share similar pathology results, namely sub-optimal thyroid performance, compromised iron levels and undesirable cholesterol profiles. The relationship between these 3 markers is actually intertwined. Fixing one can not be done completely without fixing the others, so let’s take a ‘whole-istic’ look at how they interrelate. 

The Thyroid and Cardiovascular Health

Studies demonstrating the correlation between sub optimal thyroid function and poor cardiovascular health markers go back decades. A recent paper published in 2014 (1), compared 31 people with hypothyroidism and 58 controls (i.e. 58 people with healthy thyroids). 82% of those with hypothyroidism had metabolic syndrome* compared with 27% of those in the control group. Waist circumference, BMI and fasting triglycerides* were also higher in those with poor thyroid function. From studies like this, we can conclude that poor thyroid function can and does alter cardiovascular functions including:

  • blood pressure regulation
  • blood sugar regulation
  • serum triglycerides
  • HDL cholesterol (those with hypothyroidism tend to have significantly lower levels of HDL cholesterol – often referred to as ‘the good’ cholesterol.)


We don’t understand all of the intricacies between the thyroid and the cardiovascular system as yet. However, remember that the thyroid influences every cell in the body and essentially dictates the metabolism. With this in mind, it’s not difficult to imagine how thyroid health and cardiovascular health depend on each other to maintain normality.

[*Metabolic syndrome: a cluster of conditions that often go together indicating the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Includes high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, insulin resistance, low HDL and higher than healthy waist circumference. A ‘wake up’ call to change the diet and lifestyle before more serious conditions arise. Triglycerides: level of ‘free fats’ floating around the blood essentially. Higher than normal levels indicate a higher risk of atherosclerosis i.e. plaque building up in the arteries raising the risk of stroke and heart attack]

Thyroid Function and Iron Levels

This relationship is a like the ‘chicken or the egg’ situation. Is it a sluggish thyroid that leads to poor iron levels or is it the other way round? I don’t see how we will ever know for sure and it most likely differs from person to person, however the two commonly present together. Here’s the deal.

  • Poor thyroid function can reduce the secretion of gastric acid and compromise digestion overall. This means mineral absorption including iron will be compromised which will lead to low iron levels and eventually anemia.
  • Iron is required as a co-factor for the production of thyroid hormones including T4 and T3. What this means essentially is that without optimal iron levels, T3 and T4 levels will not be adequate and TSH levels will rise above normal. This IS hypothyroidism.

So you can see how suboptimal thyroid performance can lead to iron deficiency and you can also see how iron deficiency may lead to hypothyroidism.

[My research for this article led me to an interesting study (2) examining Nepalese children. The paper showed a much higher (5 fold) risk of hypothyroidism in children with iron deficiency than those with normal iron levels. This highlights the importance of maternal nutrition during and after pregnancy as well as pediatric nutrition – a topic to be ‘parked’ for now as it would lead to far too many tangents.]

Iron and Cardiovascular Health

Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, which are the cells that carry oxygen around to other tissues in the body. Generally, when iron levels are sub optimal hemoglobin levels are also low. Can you imagine that your heart will need to work quite a bit harder in order to oxygenate your body without adequate hemoglobin levels? Consider the corresponding impact of this on your blood pressure too. This is the tip of the iceberg, simply to give you some indication of the relationship between iron and your ticker. The effects of low iron on cardiovascular health are much more extensive than this and well documented (3).

This Clinical Picture

Hopefully now, you can begin to understand why this picture presents itself so often in the one person. They are not separate problems to be dealt with singularly or one at a time. The ‘whole-istic’ approach acknowledges that they are intertwined and so must be the treatment.

You can imagine how this picture would feel in a person. Both low iron and sub-optimal thyroid leads to fatigue and even depression… add to this a stressed heart and poor blood oxygen levels and you can understand why getting out of bed everyday is equal to running a marathon. The weight can stack on (thanks to the thyroid) and this will further compromise cardiovascular health, raising triglyceride levels, increasing blood pressure and further compromising blood sugar control. The stress was bad before; its now insurmountable. Not to mention the colds and infections that hit every other week (low iron = compromised immune health).

So it’s probably not a picture one wants to ignore for long. It will get worst if it’s left untreated.

Who do you know that may fit this presentation? Pass this along to a loved one if you think it might help them in some way. Read more about nutrients and thyroid conditions here.

Nutrition hey? Who knew we were more than just the sum of a whole heap of parts? And who knew nutrients had anything to do with health?

[Note: a general pathology test is unlikely to cover full thyroid, iron and cardiovascular studies. One of these markers may be detected as abnormal, but it does not necessarily mean that more thorough testing will be run automatically. Most often this case presentation is ‘uncovered’ because the person is certain there is ‘something more’ as a result of the symptoms they are experiencing. ]

  1. R Haque, S Ferdousi, SS Ferdousi, W Rahman, MN Uddin, MM Hoque, (2014). ‘Metabolic Syndrome in Hypothyroid Patients’ Bangladesh Journal of Medical Biochemistry.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3329/bjmb.v7i2.22414
  2. Saroj Khatiwada, Basanta GelalNirmal Baraland Madhab Lamsal. (2016). ‘Association between iron status and thyroid function in Nepalese children.’ Thyroid Research. DOI: 10.1186/s13044-016-0031-0
  3. Nikita Hegde, MD, Michael W. Rich, MD, and Charina Gayomali, MD. (2006).  ‘The Cardiomyopathy of Iron Deficiency.’ Texas Heart Institute Journal. Availablehere: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1592266/