Thursday, 29 May 2014

Health news from the net 29 May 2014

Health news 29 May, 2014.
Do you enjoy reading about health as much as I do?
Here are links to a few health and nutrition related articles I was reading today. Click on the links for the full article and to read them from the source. Hope you find them interesting.

Lyndal @ Lean Green and Healthy

More than two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese
This article was originally published in The Conversation Australia.
An new analysis of world population data shows the number of people across the world who are overweight or obese has grown by 28% in adults and 47% in children in the last 33 years.
Among high-income countries, Australia and New Zealand have seen the greatest increases in obesity. It shows the highest increase in the prevalence of adult obesity has been in the United States (33%), Australia (28% of men and 30% of women) and the United Kingdom (25%).
To read the full article and view the interactive map click -> read full article


Couch potato Australia: only 19% of children get enough exercise each day
This article was originally published in The Guardian Australia.
Australia is raising a generation of couch potatoes, according to a new study which has found that only 19% of children get the recommended amount of exercise each day.
The study by Active Healthy Kids also found that despite Australia’s love of sport, the level of participation among kids in organised sport is not enough, with children still spending too much time in front of screens.
The study used a Canadian-developed international ranking tool to match Australian school children against those from 14 other countries and released the results in the first of an intended annual report card.
To read the full article click and find out more -> read full article 

Reduce wasting food by managing it better every day
This article was originally published on
Many cultures place huge importance on the rituals of food and entertaining, which can lead to over-catering as we display our generosity to guests. Accurate catering for large events and even our households is always difficult, but you can try to hone your estimating skills to limit waste, and if you are using professional caterers talk to them about preventing wastage or reusing leftovers (for example, is there a charitable group they deliver food to after events).
To read the full article click and find out more -> read full article 

Eating lunch away from your desk could be the best thing you do for your health today
This article was originally published in The Daily Telegraph 
“Who has a lunch hour anymore?” lamented a friend recently, confessing she regularly wolfs down a sandwich while sitting in front of her computer.
A quick look around the office confirms many of us eat at our desk because we are too busy to stop work.
Macquarie University’s Yvette Blount, research co-ordinator of the Australian Anywhere Working Research Network says because technology is keeping us connected 24/7, most people are suffering “work intensification”.
“You have more work than you can physically get through in the hours allocated,” she explains.
A survey last year by The Australian Institute and beyondblue found 3.8 million Aussies routinely don’t break for lunch.
To read the full article click and find out more -> read full article 


To snack or not to snack - that is the question!

There seems to lots of conflicting evidence out there on the internet about whether we should snacking between meals or not snacking. Are six small meals better than three big ones?  Will it helps me lose weight or not?  Well I guess the answer is "it depends". Just like there is no one simple diet rule that suits everyone, there is no one simple answer about snacks that suits everyone. Lets explore it in a bit more detail.

What are the benefits of having snacks?

  • Research has shown that people who eat small healthy meals regularly have less spikes of blood sugar and therefore less corresponding insulin rise, which leads to less insulin resistance and better control of (or prevention of) diabetes. This is more noticeable if the snacks are a combination of low GI carbohydrate and protein.
  • People who have healthy snacks regularly have improved blood cholesterol and decreased risk of heart disease as the smaller meals do not stimulate liver production of cholesterol to such an extent as larger meals.
  • People who eat healthy snacks when they feel hungry, will overall eat almost 30% less at their next main meal. Over time, regularly eating smaller meals trains us to want and be satisfied with smaller meals.
But what are the downsides of eating snacks?
  • Very few processed and commercially available snacks are healthy. There are a plethora of snack foods on the market that are high calorie junk foods pretending to be healthy. The snack food industry is worth over $60 billion a year. Snacks are an opportunity for people to add unnecessary processed food to their diet without realising it.
  • The evidence of snacks preventing overeating at the next meal only applies if a person is truly hungry when they have the snack. If they are snacking "because  its afternoon tea time" or because they are bored, they will not eat less at the next meal and are simply adding extra calories. 
  • If people are adding snacks that are not hungry for and do not need, they can feel lethargic and sluggish and be less likely to exercise.
  • The metabolic advantage of eating snacks (lower cholesterol and better blood glucose levels) only applies if the person is not gaining weight from their snacking. Obviously if the snacking makes you fatter, then those benefits are no longer clear.
The bottom line...
Firstly, you should avoid overeating at your main meal times - eating until you are uncomfortably full not only spikes blood sugar but will over time cause you to habitually eat bigger meals and obviously more calories. You should avoid skipping meals - eating large infrequent meals dramatically increases the risk of overweight and obesity and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The cycle of "starving and stuffing" is detrimental to health as it increases the craving for high calorie foods at your next meal and makes good choices more difficult. You should be focusing your efforts on eating three balanced meals a day, and making those meals as nutritious as possible with healthy unprocessed food, lean protein, good fats and lots of low calorie high fibre vegetables to give you energy,  slow digestion and fill you up. With this as your basis you probably won't need snacks on a regular basis... but some days you will feel like it, and some people burn faster than others so you might just need a snack!

Am I really hungry?
But if it is a few hours until your next meal and you are feeling hungry, what should you do? Well the obvious thing is to go grab a healthy snack. But first you need to ask yourself some of the principles of mindful eating:
  • Am I just thirsty? I usually grab a glass of water or make a cup of tea and see if that makes the feeling go away
  • Am I just bored?  going for a walk, or simply getting up to make that cup of tea usually solves that
Tips for healthy snacking
If I'm still hungry after my cup of green tea, then I know I'm genuinely hungry and I should definitely have a snack to keep my blood sugar stable and avoid overeating at the next meal. Here's some points to remember:
  • Treat your snack as you would a meal - plan it, put it on a plate, remember your portion sizes, balance is key
  • Balance low GI carbohydrates and fibre with good fats and proteins - eg some fruit with cheese, vegetables with hummus, fruit with unsalted nuts or nut butters. Have ingredients handy so you avoid grabbing a less healthy option. if you are away from home its a good idea to have these on hand just in case - I try to never leave the house without an apple, some almonds and a bottle of water in my purse- my healthy food emergency kit! 
  • Avoid junk food - unless its a special treat, there is no point in eating high calorie low nutrient foods like chips, sweets, biscuits, cake, or "snack bars" - they won't fill you up and you'll be just as hungry when your next meal is due but with a whole lot more calories on board. These are treat foods, have them when you wish to have a special treat and enjoy every mouthful, but they should not be in your everyday diet.
  • Don't fall victim to the "open bag syndrome" - whether you're eating a healthy snack like nuts or having a treat like chips, portion sizes are important. Whatever you are eating, put it on a plate and get out of the kitchen - picking at an open pack is an easy way to lose track of just how much you have eaten.
  • If you have snack foods that you can't resist and are your personal dietary "kryptonite" (shortbread anyone?) then it may be easier for you not to keep them in the house at all! If your choices are all healthy unprocessed foods, then of course you will make healthy choices!
  • Add lots of vegetables to every meal and you will decrease your hunger in between meals.
So I hope that's helpful. You can be a "snacker" or a "non-snacker" and still be healthy and lose weight if you need to, providing you consider these principles. I snack most days, with lots of green tea, fruit vegetables, nuts and occasionally cheese between meals, and it certainly hasn't hampered my weight loss as I take it all into account. 

In summary? 
Eat when you're hungry, don't skip meals, and stop before you're too full. 
Eat healthy foods, mostly plants. 
And just eat real food. 

Lyndal @ Lean Green and Healthy

Any more tips for healthy snacking?  Tell me in the comments below.

Create healthy habits, not restrictions.

Making healthy choices should not be negative or miserable Changing your life to be more healthy shouldn't make you feel deprived. If you focus on the things you "can't" or "shouldn't" be eating, this will not be a positive experience.  

Instead, try to focus on the everyday positive habits you can ADD to make your life healthier. Focus on the powerful choices you are making. Be positive and proud.
Here's some ideas.... 

Today I will go for a walk.
Today I will drink a glass of water every time I pass the kitchen.
Today I will eat two pieces of fruit.
Today I will add a serve of vegetables to every meal.
Today I will start drinking green tea.
Today I will look at myself in the mirror, smile, and think something positive about myself.
Today I will start getting healthier.

Create healthy habits, not restrictions. 

Lyndal @ Lean Green and Healthy