Tag Archives: Complete Consumer Confusion!

Monday’s Musings: Dodgy Diet Foods!

The article below has just been released in Australian Food News. Food manufactures (OK most..) are on a never ending journey to put “food like products” on our supermarket shelves that are meant to be a healthier option! Consumers expect that will be the case, often with no questions asked.  Not so….

CHOICE says “dodgy” diet foods may be contributing to weight gain

  • July 22, 2013 . 
  • Sophie Langley

Consumer group CHOICE has conducted a review of ‘diet’ foods, which it says shows that “hundreds of products on our supermarket shelves” that claim to help consumers lose weight might actually be higher in kilojoules than the regular products.

According to CHOICE, Australian consumers spent $827 million on weight loss products in 2012.

“Food companies attract would-be dieters with terms such as ‘guilt-free’, ‘lean’, ‘balanced’, ‘healthy’, ‘less’ and ‘stay in shape’, but unfortunately this marketing jargon is meaningless if you are trying to count kilojoules,” said Tom Godfrey, Head of Media at CHOICE.

CHOICE said it compared a range of diet products including cottage cheese, fries, chips, ice cream, breakfast cereal and rice cakes. The consumer group said another concern was the “premium price” that often came with ‘diet’ foods.

“The first thing you notice when you look at diet products is that many tend to be highly processed, salty, sugary treat foods with little nutritional value,” Mr Godfrey said. “From jams and biscuits to salad dressings, they’re foods you’d assume a dieter should avoid, even with reduced kilojoules,” he said.

“With 80 per cent of weight-loss products purchased by women, they should be aware that ‘simply less’ could well mean more kilojoules, so it’s vital that if you want to watch your weight you need to read the nutritional panel on the pack,” Mr Godfrey said.

And the moral of the story is……. buy, grow, eat, real food. Food with one ingredient.. apples, almonds, avocado, sweet potatoe, yoghurt, grass fed beef, free range chicken etc etc etc. You know the drill……

Market in Paris!  (shot mine!!)

Market in Paris! (shot mine!)

Be Healthy & Happy!


Foods that Accelerate Aging …and perhaps De-accelerate Your Weight Loss Efforts!?!

Your body, besides many other things, is one great big chemistry lab! Every food we eat results in chemical reactions occurring throughout our body – many to the benefit of our overall health, some however, to our health’s detriment! If your diet is full of clean, fresh, unprocessed foods you will auger well, if your diet leans towards overly processed and the wrong type of foods you may not.

Eating the wrong foods on a regular basis, not only affects how you feel, it also affect how you look. In some cases you can look up to ten years older than your real age!! Let me explain…….

There are processes that go on inside your body that have an enormous impact on the rate which you age. Three processes in particular – glycation, inflammation and oxidation.

When you think of aging most people think of the superficial stuff – what the eye can see –  your face, your wrinkles, your hair loss, your deteriorating eyesight, your increasing waistline. There are however so many things that you cannot see – that lie beneath your skins’ surface. The state of your organs and how efficiently they function, the condition of your joints and bones and the rate of which they are are degrading and so, so much more.

When you glycate something you combine it with sugar. In the body, sugar combines with proteins and with fats. Glycation is a normal process and your body has it’s own way to deal with it.  If however there is too much sugar over a constant period, the glycation process damages body proteins, producing a nasty by-product called Advanced Glycation End Products (ironically -or not – referred to as AGEs). So can you see the connection? Your diet – the type of foods you eat – contributes to this process – high blood sugar levels over time dramatically increase AGEs in your body. And, AGEs accelerate the ageing process.

You may be surprised at the food groups that contribute to the aging process and in turn hinder your weight loss efforts. Over the coming posts I will discuss a few in detail.

1. Wheat – including whole wheat.

Modern wheat (compared with ancient wheat) is about 70% carbohydrate and lower in protein. The carbohydrate is made up of 75% amylopectinA and 25% amylose. AmylopectinA raises your blood sugar more than any other carbohydrate source on earth based on blood sugar response testing. One piece of bread is the equivalent of eating 3 tablespoons of sugar!!

This means that wheat-based foods such as breads, bagels, cereals, pastas, muffins, and other baked goods often cause much higher blood sugar levels than most other carbohydrate sources. The higher your average blood sugar levels are over time, the more AGEs are produced, the faster you age.

If weight loss is your thing – you know that one of the most important things is to ensure that you must keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel.  Increased insulin increases inflammation and the storage of your fat. The increased amount of gluten in bread (up 50% compared with ancient wheat) is also inflammatory and for some, highly inflammatory.  Internal inflammation, among many of the other damaging things it does, turns ON your fat programs by contributing to both insulin and leptin resistance. You see what I mean… are you confused yet..? If so I apologise.. but in short and in conclusion…modern wheat is not really working for you …it’s working against you.

Maybe consider consuming a little less?? I have!

Be Healthy & Happy!






All Sugars Are Created Equal? Mmmmm… Me Thinks Not!

I am now 17 days into my “quitting sugar” experiment and it is time I gave you some of the scientific facts about why too much sugar in your diets is not a good thing!!

When we (me, you, the media, doctors, health professionals etc etc) talk about sugar, usually, all sugars are dumped into the one sugar bowl. There are however, many different type of sugars in our diets and each play different roles nutritionally.

The important thing to understand is that not all sugars are created equal!!

Here are some quick (& hopefully easily understood) facts!

Ó   There are two types of carbohydrates  – simple and complex.

Ó   Simpler forms of carbs are called sugars and the complex forms are often referred to as starches or dietary fibres. They have of course far more scientific names but no need to go into that now!

Ó   The common simple sugars are – glucose/galactose/fructose.

Ó   Glucose (also called dextrose and blood sugar)  is the principal sugar used in the body.

Ó   Fructose (also called levulose) is found in fruit, honey and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Ó   Galactose – for the purpose of this blog, gets a ‘don’t go there’ pass, we are not going to talk about- it is not the one doing the damage!!

Ó   Fructose my friends is the bad guy – he is the one  getting the bad wrap! Does he deserve to you may ask?…well yes and …no! But the yes in our fast moving, convenient society that we live in, outweighs the no!

Ó   Fructose of all the natural occurring sugars, is sweeter – 1.73 times more sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and sucrose is 30% sweeter than glucose.

Ó   Food manufacturers now use fructose  (converted into high fructose corn syrup), because of its sweetness and low manufacturing costs as a food sweetener.

Ó   When we consume carbohydrates, proteins and fats – appetite hormones are used to regulate our intake and keep us in balance.

Ó   When we consume fructose, no appetite hormones are switched on and as a result we can consume way too much of it. The general consensus is, this goes back to our cave men relatives who rarely came across a berry bush ..but when they did they ate the entire bush because who knows how many  months would pass before they saw one again!

Ó   Nearly all fructose metabolization unlike glucose, takes place in the liver. It is then stored as glycogen for future energy needs. The problem is often our stores are at capacity..so then what? Answer: the fructose is converted to triglycerides…which are taken up in our blood stream then stored as FAT!

And there it is..why fructose gets the bad wrap. Remember as mentioned earlier, (due to its low production cost and high sweetness), we are now consuming, often unknowingly, too much fructose and all of its derivatives in our diet. Unfortunately… and a lot of it is ending up in a place where we don’t particularly want it…our fat stores. So next blog I will give you an idea of all the places fructose is hiding.

If you have had enough of this sugar talk tell  me to shut up  let me know and we will chat about something else!!


Be Healthy & Happy !





Monday’s Momentum Message – Don’t Miss Breakfast!!

Kraft Foods released this week their ‘Aussie Breakfast Report’ a paper researching the breakfast eating habits of Australians. The study found that despite 42 per cent of Australians acknowledging that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, more than half  are missing out on their morning meal at least once a week, and almost a third are skipping as many as three times per week.

The reports reveals a number of reasons why people sometimes skip breakfast:-

  • 65% don’t feel like eating first thing in the morning
  • 49% said being disorganised
  • 40% are sleeping in
  • 36% are short of time.

Breakfast is “breaking the fast” that your body has been in over night. You have not eaten for up to 8-12 hours,  your metabolism has slowed down,  and eating breakfast turns your metabolism back on. Food in the morning is the fuel your body needs to start the fire – to get your engines burning. Skipping breakfast leaves your body sluggish and though your  brain will be switched on, it won’t be to it’s full capacity. You know the TV ad for  Sultana Bran and students having the “fuzzies” in class? Well that is relevant to everyone – no matter what age!

Missing breakfast or any meal for that matter will not help your weight loss goals, despite what you may read. Your body is an unbelievably fined tuned machine – not to mention extremely smart. If you miss a meal, your body will question what is going on and slow down your metabolism to conserve energy until it is refuelled with your next meal. It is not worth missing any meal – particularly breakfast.

So if you are like those 65% who don’t feel like eating first thing in the morning – aim to eat something small -1/2 a banana, a couple  of mouthfuls of yoghurt first thing and then aim to eat something more substantial within two hours of waking.  At that time eat mindfully – eat what you truly feel like, eat slowly and only till you are 80% full. Then get on with your day, live life and have fun. 


Be Healthy & Happy!


“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!””

It may have been how things were done  when Mary Poppins was in charge but we have probably taken our addiction to sugar just one spoonful too far!


Our consumption of sugar is now not only from the sugar jar but it  has found its way into too many foods on our supermarket shelves. And I am not talking about the obvious ones like sweets, biscuits, cakes, cordials and soft drinks. In Australia, the consumption of soft drinks alone,  has increased by 30 per cent in 10 years! Sugar is hidden in so many others foods you just would not expect – canned vegetables, soups and fruit, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, peanut butter,  breakfast cereals, flavoured oatmeal, breads, dry biscuits, yoghurt’s, muffins, muesli bars, salad dressings, iced teas, pasta sauces and syrups, protein bars and sports drinks. Low fat items are more often than not loaded with extra sugar to compensate the taste for the reduction in fat.

The average Australian currently consumes more than 40 kilograms (90 pounds) of sugar per year, which is equivalent to around 22 teaspoons and equals 1840 Kilojoules / 440 calories per day.

Manufacturers have become very savvy and use many different names for sugars on their labels. Whether their intention is to fool the consumer or not,  it is worth being aware of some of these ‘other’ names for sugar. Often on an ingredient list the word sugar will be close to the top, then a a few ingredients later you might find maltose, followed further down the list by corn syrup – all just different names for sugar!


  • Brown sugar                                                        
  • Corn syrup
  • Demerara Sugar                                                 
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose                                                                 
  • Galactose
  • Glucose                                                                   
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Honey                                                                      
  • Invert Sugar
  • Lactose                                                                    
  • Malt 
  • Maltodextrin                                                      
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup                                                          
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado or Barbados Sugar                 
  • Powdered sugar
  • confectioner’s sugar                                       
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sucrose                                                                   
  • Sugar (granulated)
  • Treacle                                                                   
  • Turbinado sugar

Say no to too much sugar…You are all sweet


Be Healthy & Happy!


Super foods! Are they or are they not?

I am reading a plethora (love that word) of stuff out there in the market place about superfoods. Everyone seems to have an opinion of what they are, how good they are for you, how you should include them in your diet and not to mention the list of their favourite top ten!

So what are superfoods? Basically it is a term describing foods with a very high nutrient content – they pack a lot of nutritional punch!  Super foods are considered to have extra health benefits (compared with a ‘common’ food) because of their rich levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals – (wont go into to a nutrition 101 lesson but, high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals are extremely beneficial in your diet!) As science allows us to learn more and more about  the roles these foods play nutritionally, the more it seems particular foods reach superfood status.

No doubt you have all heard about how fabulous Goji berries, Kale, linseed, Acai berries, flaxseed and soy are to name a few, and, how you should include them in your diet. The information the puclic often does not hear about however, is how much of that certain type of food you need to eat on a daily basis to achieve the associated health benefits. Did you know (according to some studies) that you need to eat 4 cloves of garlic per day to lower cholesterol??

I do not disagree with the concept of superfoods (there is by the way no official definition of the word superfoods). What I suppose does not sit comfortably with me is the misguided message that we reap the health benefits from one single food.

We achieve sound nutritional health when our diet consists of a large variety of whole foods.  A whole food being a food that is as close as possible to its natural state – potatoes as opposed to French Fries. A combination of whole foods in your diet work together to provide a vast range of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, phytochemicals etc etc. They work together, in synergy – not individually.

We should aim to eat a wide variety of colourful fruit and vegetables, (remember the 2+5 rule), whole grains, a variety of legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, lean meat, and low fat dairy for a well balanced and nutritionally sound and super diet.

So the question is do I have a top ten list of superfoods? No I don’t!  However I do have a list of many foods which I think are nutritionally superb! And I will let you know my list very soon!!

In the meantime what are some for your favourite foods? Super or not so super?  

Be Healthy & Happy!


(photo: French Market Garlic Stall – Paris xx)

To eat carbs or not to eat carbs that is the question………..

The other morning I was ordering my take away soy latte, when a young mum in front of me ordered an egg white omelette with mushrooms, spinach, tomato and hold the toast!!  The thought naturally crossed my mind – is she on a low fat (hold the yolk) low carb (hold the toast) diet??  She could have just been very particular with her food choices but I suspect she probably is weight watching – but of course I will never know.

I love a good omelette, I love mine however, made with the whole egg (preferably 2 eggs) used in the cooking process, then served on a delicious piece of multigrain sourdough or rye!! Now that is a yummy breakfast.

There exists today a very large problem – and I am not talking about obesity! I am talking about the amount of mixed messages that exist out there in the marketplace that lead to what I will now coin The Three C’sComplete Consumer Confusion!

Today I did a quick survey in the news agency while purchasing Gourmet Traveller – The French issue – I couldn’t help myself!  There on the front covers of many of the weekly and major monthly magazines was a headline about some sort of diet or weight loss or magnificent new exercise regime

These were just some of the delightful (not) headlines: –

  • Lose weight or you wont be my bridesmaid!
  • My best body ever at age 58
  • Shock new bikini bodies
  • Fastest Diet on Earth
  • Drop 10 kilos with Power Nutrients
  • Food fallacies and Fat Free
  • 10 Flat Belly Super Foods…

And the piece de resistance while I was standing there doing my quick survey, was on the overhead TV – an infomercial – lose 5 kilos in 7 days and you wont have to pay a thing!!

You can see the problem? How can anyone know (unless qualified) if there is any truth in what is being said or what is the right way to go about losing weight? Almost weekly, a new piece of research hits newsprint telling us we can or cannot or should or should not be eating this food but that food or consume more of this drink but not that …confused?

…If diets worked we would not have the multi million-dollar weight loss industry that exists today.

…If diets worked we would not have 65% of the Australian adult population overweight or obese.

…If diets worked there would only be one diet – the one that worked!!

Not the lemon detox diet, not the cabbage soup diet, not the no carbs after 4pm diet, not the lose 5 kilos in 2 day diets, not the no fat at all diet  …not the … not the…not the!

Can you see my frustration?

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are the three macronutrients vital to our good nutrition and health.

Here are some simple basic physiological facts.

  • Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for cells such as those in the central nervous system and red blood cells.
  • Essential fatty acids store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.
  • Protein – thousands of substances in the body are made of proteins – they form the major part of lean body tissue and are crucial to the regulation and maintenance of the body.

Many reputable chapters, articles and books are devoted to the essential roles these nutrients play. They cannot just be randomly removed from your dietary intake because the cover of a magazine tells you to!

They ARE essential. So why would we want to mess with them and mess with what makes our bodies tick?

Are you confused?

Do you have a specific food related question I can help you with?

Be Healthy & Happy!