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In this issue of Wellbeing from your dietitian we bring you:
  • Winter weight gain and popular diets
  • Why you should slow down on fast food
  • A warming, creamy risotto recipe you can enjoy
  • Why almonds are awesome
  • The impact of half an hour per day on your health


Worried about Winter Weight Gain?

It’s here! Winter is upon us and now begins the inevitable battle of the bulge. It’s true, winter can be a tricky time for weight management. And one of the biggest dieting trends around at the moment is a low carb diet. But is this the best approach to prevent winter weight gain, and a healthy and sustainable way to eat long term?

Popular diets have been around for decades. But whether you are trying to keep your weight stable or actively lose weight through winter, it is important NOT to fall for the illusion and false promises of highly restrictive diets that simply target your ‘macros’ (the percentage of calories from fat, carbohydrate or protein). The quality of these macros – or the foods they come from - matters most. This month we take a look at the impact of restricting carbohydrates – should you be cutting them out entirely to prevent winter weight gain?

Why is winter so tricky?
Winter time is trickier for weight loss for three main reasons:

  1. We tend to eat heartier, richer meals through winter
  2.  We tend to eat more to keep ourselves warm (digestion generates heat) and;
  3.  It’s colder outside, so motivation for exercise tends to dwindle

Can anyone say hibernation? Winter will quickly throw energy off balance. Less movement + more eating = more energy (calories) the body has to deal with, which leads to weight gain.

Should you avoid carbs entirely?
Cutting out any macronutrient, whether it be carbs, fat or protein will help create an energy (calorie) deficit needed to achieve weight loss. However, it is worth considering how sustainable this approach is long term – this is really important. Often, when clients who have imposed a restriction on all carbohydrates come to see us, they tell us how they begin to experience food cravings, especially “sugar cravings”. Why do people start to crave sugar if limiting all carbohydrates? Carbohydrates ARE sugar! Such cravings are therefore your body’s way of saying – Hey, you’re not feeding me enough of this!

Another danger in limiting all carbohydrates is that you consume less of the important nutrients that carbohydrate foods can provide in our diet. One of the most vital is dietary fibre. Randomised controlled trials among overweight and obese adults found that short term (4-8 weeks) lower carb diets (approx. 5-35% of energy or calories from carbohydrates) result in potentially adverse changes to faecal metabolites and biomarkers that are associated with healthy colonic function and colonic mucosal health. Simply put, by cutting the fibre we stop feeding our healthy gut bacteria which can lead to increased risk of chronic diseases as well as irregular bowel habits.

Eating less of one macronutrient usually means you will fill up on another. In the case of restricting carbohydrates, this usually means a higher intake of protein or fat. Overeating protein or fat can also come at a cost to your health, particularly when these nutrients come from animal foods or they are highly processed. For example, studies have shown that a high dietary protein intake (from animal foods like meats) can cause kidney hyperfiltration, glomerular injury, and proteinuria (leaking of protein into the urine). Some observational studies such as the Singapore Chinese Health Study have shown a link with animal based protein intake (not protein from plant foods like legumes and nuts) and an increased risk of kidney disease. But it has not (yet) been proven that high protein actually causes kidney disease in healthy people. 

The effect of low carb/high fat diets on heart health risk factors also continues to be controversial. While a few studies have demonstrated an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol with low carb diets, others show negligible changes. Current research shows that the type of fat being consumed (and its food source) is very important. The PREDIMED study on the Mediterranean diet, demonstrated a significantly lower risk of heart disease with a regular and higher intake of fat sourced from extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish, as compared to a healthy lower fat diet. It is noteworthy that this eating pattern also includes carbohydrate foods, such as wholegrains, breads, pasta, fruit and starchy vegetables. On the otherhand, many studies over the years have shown that a high intake of saturated and/or trans fats from animal foods like meat and cheese or highly processed snack foods is harmful. This is why dietary recommendations to decrease the risk of heart disease have focused on reducing the intake of saturated fats for more than 50 years (and more recently of trans fats).

The importance of carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are important players in the diet and influence our health in many positive ways. Foods that supply carbs perform the following functions, they:

  • provide the primary fuel source for energy
  • can provide fibre to feed your gut microbiome (healthy poos!)
  • can help regular insulin and blood sugar
  • break down to glucose - the key energy source for the brain
  • help regulate your appetite
  • influence your mood by helping your brain regulate serotonin
But like fats, not all carbs are created equal.

Make good carbs your friend

So rather than restricting all your carbohydrates this winter (i.e. going super low carb), a better strategy is to eat them in a way that adequately fuels your body without over-feeding it. Here are our tips to get carbs right this winter:

1. Choose low GI carbs
Choose less processed and low GI carbohydrates. Low GI carbohydrate foods digest slower and do not raise blood sugar as high, keeping you fuller for longer. These are the best quality carbs to include at your meals (and snacks, if you need them).

2. Keep portions controlled
Consume moderate portions of carbohydrate foods at meals. This is because even low GI carbohydrate foods can push up your blood sugar and increase your weight if eaten in large amounts! When in doubt about how much to eat, aim for your fist size at a meal.

3. Spread carbs across your meals for the day
A more even balance of carbohydrates throughout the day ensures your energy levels are sustained throughout the day.

4.  Don’t overprocess
The degree of processing (breakdown) a carbohydrate food has been subjected to, whether it has whole grains or seeds added to it, how it is cooked and what it is eaten with can all affect its GI. In short, the more intact the grain, and the less processed, the better the quality of the carb. Of course, we don’t need to tell you that most added sugars (in sugary foods and drinks) are poor quality carbs – you already know that. So, steer clear of them on any diet.


Success is never final and failure never fatal. It's courage that counts.
- George F. Tilton

What’s Cooking: How to Cook Ancient Grains & Legumes + Master the Pressure Cooker with Dr Sue Radd
We’ve been a bit quiet about our in-person cookshops over the last year due to COVID social distancing requirements.
But as soon as we were able to resume and announced our first public event, it got booked out! 
So... we'd like to announce a second event on how to cook ancient grains and legumes. These foods are vitally important to incorporate in any diet for good health. Yet most Australians lack confidence and ‘know how’ to cook these foods from scratch.
Eating more legumes (beans, peas, lentils etc.) and intact wholegrains is highly beneficial to tone down oxidative stress, chronic systemic inflammation and elevated blood sugar/insulin in your body. If you or your loved one has diabetes, heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, any type of arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, autoimmune disorders, constipation, diverticulosis, fatty liver, Parkinson’s disease or is concerned about thinking and memory problems, this event is perfect for you!
At this event you will learn:
  • Why legumes and wholegrains should frequently appear on your menu - what’s in it for you?
  • How these foods can help boost disease busting plant protein intake
  • Why legumes are the perfect swap for meat as they also supply iron, zinc and calcium
  • How these foods supply more fibre per serve than even fruits and vegetables, as well as important phytonutrients to feed your microbiome
Dr Radd will demonstrate delicious winter warming dishes and also show you have to use a pressure cooker to shave 75% off usual cooking times! Bring all your nutrition questions and get inspired to eat a more plant based diet without missing out on taste.
WHEN: 3rd August 2021, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm 
WHERE: Our clinic demo kitchen seminar room, Castle Hill
COST: $110 per ticket (includes tasting plates, recipes & handouts)
As we are not conducting these events on a regular basis, if you are interested in attending, we suggest you call and secure your spot ASAP as we cannot guarantee there will be seats left closer to the time.
Phone 9899 5208 and speak to our friendly receptionist for further information. If the clinic is unattended, please leave your name and number and we will get back to you as soon as we can.


Food Matters – Fooled by Fast Food
Fast food may look like any other ordinary food, but research shows it has different effects on your appetite and health. Read why you should put the brakes on fast food.


Recipe – Creamy Wholegrain Risotto with Spinach
A winter favourite, with a healthy spin! This is a super quick way to make a healthy risotto using a pressure cooker. As there is no cheese added, even people with a dairy allergy and those wanting to lower their cholesterol can eat it to their hearts content.

Food InFocus with Dr Sue Radd – Almonds are Awesome
Nuts have come a long way - from being an esteemed part of ancient diets to being vilified for their fat content in the 1980s. Hear from Dr Sue Radd about the latest research and why you should get more protein from nuts like almonds to swap out some meat.

YouTube Video – 23 and ½ hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?
When it comes to making healthy habits, it can all seem too hard. It’s often difficult to know what to do and where to start.

This creative 9-minute video by Dr Mike Evans shows the impact that just ½ an hour a day can make to your health. If you find yourself starting to lose motivation by trying to do it all – eating right, sleeping well, exercising more - then this may be the motivation you need to get started! It focusses on exercise as medicine.

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