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In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective.

The ketogenic diet, also known as the ‘keto’ or low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet, is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet in which one’s consumption of carbohydrates is reduced to 50-20, ideally 20, grams per day. When carbohydrate consumption is substantially reduced, the body’s supply of glucose is depleted, forcing it to turn to fat as an alternative source of energy. This metabolic state is known as ketosis. Ketosis leads to the production of ketones, which are stored in the liver and can provide energy to the brain.

In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long-term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective. The keto diet has been linked to the reduction of the hormone ghrelin; the body’s main ‘hunger hormone’. The reduction of hunger signals can lead to a lower calorie intake and less food cravings, resulting in weight loss.

Following a keto diet

The rule of the keto diet is to consume a high amount of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and small amounts of carbohydrates. Generally, a person following a keto diet should obtain:

  • 70-80% of their calories from fat
  • 20-25% of their calories from protein
  • 5–10% of their calories from carbohydrates

Ideal foods

  • Meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Cheese Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Low carb vegetables (e.g. lettuce, kale, broccoli, avocado, asparagus, and mushrooms)
  • Berries (especially raspberries and strawberries)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Black coffee
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Healthy oils (e.g. olive and coconut oil)
An iPhone photographing avocado and broccoli

Foods to avoid

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans and legumes
  • High carb fruits (e.g. bananas)
  • Starchy vegetables (e.g. Potatoes and sweet potatoes)
  • Sugary foods
  • Fruit juices
  • Most milks, with the exception of unsweetened almond milk
  • Sweetened yoghurts
  • Chips and crackers
Bagels and cream cheese

Other uses and benefits

Epilepsy Treatment

The keto diet was originally used as a medical diet to assist in the treatment of Epilepsy, primarily in children.

Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder. It is characterised by a variety of unpredictable seizures, ranging from sudden unresponsiveness, confusion, abnormal behaviour, and loss of memory, to convulsions and complete loss of consciousness. A person is diagnosed with Epilepsy if they experience two episodes of unprovoked seizures (occurring more than 24 hours apart), that are not caused by another medical condition such as low blood sugar, alcohol withdrawal, or drug overdose.

Keto diets are traditionally used to treat and manage seizures in children when anticonvulsant medication has not worked. Higher ketone levels in the blood often lead to improved seizure control.

Fatty Liver

Studies have shown that the keto diet is effective in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver. In the past, fatty liver was attributed to those who consumed excess amounts of alcohol. However, today, it is more likely to be caused by other factors, such as obesity and insulin resistance.

A keto diet can assist in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by:

  • Reducing fat stored in the liver.
  • Decreasing insulin levels.
  • Suppressing appetite.
  • Promoting weight loss.

Other Neurological Issues

man eating vegetable in bowl
A little boy eating avocado

Due to extensive evidence that the keto diet effectively reduces seizures in children with Epilepsy, it has been suggested that the diet may assist in the treatment of other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and even brain cancer. However, there is currently not enough evidence to support these claims, and more human studies are required.

Risks and side effects

The ‘Keto Flu’

A sudden decrease in carbohydrate intake can come as a shock to the body, which may cause a variety of flu-like symptoms. For most people, the ‘Keto Flu’ is a group of short-term side effects that will resolve within a few weeks. These symptoms may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Bad Breath

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

As the majority of fruits and vegetables contain high levels of carbohydrates, they are often not consumed while following a keto diet. This increases risk of deficiencies in nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B, and vitamin C.

 Lowered Bone Density

Ketosis can have negative effects on bone health. Though there have been only a few studies regarding the keto diet and bone health, results have showed depleted bone density and an increase in fracture risk.

Kidney Stones

High fat animal products, such as meat and eggs, contain little to no carbohydrates (for example, one boiled egg contains approximately 0.6 grams of carbs) and are therefore staple food items in a keto diet. Eating a lot of these foods leads to a higher risk of kidney problems, such as kidney stones.

Heightened Risk of Chronic Illnesses

Medical evidence suggests that following a ketogenic diet increases the likelihood of chronic, potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

Who shouldn’t follow a keto diet?

Those with impaired kidney function

As mentioned earlier, those who consume high quantities of animal products, such as meat, eggs, and cheese, are more likely to develop kidney problems. Because of this, those with pre-existing kidney issues should not follow a keto diet.

Pregnant women

When it comes to the keto diet and pregnancy, there is little research, mainly due to ethical issues regarding studies performed on pregnant mothers. However, the main consensus between doctors is that following a keto diet is not safe during pregnancy and can lead to a higher risk of developmental delays and issues with organ growth. Following a keto diet during pregnancy may also be linked to organ dysfunction and behavioural changes after pregnancy.

Those who are underweight

Though the keto diet involves consuming high amounts of fat, it often leads to, sometimes rapid, weight loss. For this reason, it is not recommended for those who are underweight.

Those who suffer from, or have a history of, eating disorders

Without the advice of a dietician, it is not recommended for individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating behaviours to follow restrictive diets. There is a ‘slippery slope’ when it comes to eating disorders and dieting. Obsessing about the nutritional content in food may trigger eating disorder sufferers to fall back into dangerous behaviours. What’s more, those with a history of eating disorders or under eating may already be suffering from nutrient deficiencies, and these may be exacerbated while following a keto diet.

closeup photography of pregnant woman wearing blue panty
A pregnant woman

Keto and diabetes

There are two main types of Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas is unable to produce an adequate amount insulin, which is vital in converting glucose to energy. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition where the pancreas slowly loses its ability to produce insulin.

There is no simple answer as to whether a keto diet is safe for those with diabetes. In some, following a keto diet may be possible and beneficial, provided they are closely monitored by a medical professional. As many with type 2 diabetes are overweight, the weight loss benefits of a keto diet may be helpful. A keto diet also lowers blood sugar levels, which may also be beneficial. Monitoring carbohydrate consumption is recommended in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, as large consumption can cause blood sugar spikes.

However, there are numerous risks involved. Firstly, a keto diet may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Secondly, following a keto diet puts sufferers at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when ketone bodies produce a dangerous amount of acid in the bloodstream. The kidneys then begin to excrete ketones in the urine, which can result in fluid loss. Cases of diabetic ketoacidosis usually occur in those with type 1 diabetes, due to their inability to produce insulin, which prevents the body from producing too many ketones. However, in rare cases, it has been observed in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Always remember

three avocado fruit desserts
Avocado filled with tomato and feta

Before making any changes to your diet, it is vital that you seek advice from your doctor or dietician, monitor your health closely, and report any concerning symptoms. If you are taking any medications, it is also important to talk to your doctor about any effects a keto diet may have on them. All in all, trust your body. If you don’t feel well while following a keto diet, speak to a professional about whether or not the diet it is right for you, and discuss alternatives.

After only two months in lockdown, I was horrified to jump on the scales to find I had gained 15kg.

I found myself to be eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and too much of it and because I
wasn’t exercising regularly (thanks to the gym being closed down), the weight piled on.

I’ve never been someone who diets. I’ve tried shakes, cookies, all protein and Keto, but I could never stick to them and even if I lost weight, I put it back on again. Knowing this, I used intuitive eating and I got creative with the meals I made. They were still my ‘naughty’ foods, but they were much healthier for me. Lesser in carbs, fats, sodium and sugars. Before I knew it, I started to lose weight.

Intuitive eating is making smarter decisions but not banning myself from the foods I loved. If I
wanted chocolate – I ate the chocolate, but I was intuitive in how much I ate. I listened to my body
when it told me I was full and didn’t binge eat because I wasn’t restricting myself from the foods I
loved.

Within 2 months I had dropped 10kg by staying within my calorie deficit, but I didn’t count any
calories. I dropped carbs and sugar, and increased my protein intake. Combined with my averaged
day of activity, half an hour walks and household cleaning, it was able to lose 10 kilos the weight I
had put on.

One of the main ways that I managed to lose weight was by swapping out my favourite foods with
low carb and vegetable alternatives. These are the foods I used:

Pasta

Pulse Pasta Rotini Red Lentils - San Remo - US

6x Edamame Bean Organic Fettuccine - Slendier

 

Instead of whole grain pasta, I used red lentil pasta or edamame fettuccine as an alternative, which
are available at Coles, Woolworths and online.
I also used zucchini or sweet potato spaghetti. Coles has these already pre-cut and packaged ready
to eat, but I also made these using a vegetable spiralizer. This helped me increase my daily vegetable
intake.

I followed the packet serving instructions and paired it with my choice of sauce (usually bolognaise).
I used the same sauces as previously but whole grain spaghetti changed.

Spaghetti Squash is also a popular alternative. I cooked the squash in the oven for 40 minutes and
used a fork to scrape it out.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash - Recipes by Love and Lemons

Rice

Birds Eye Frozen Cauliflower Rice | Coles Online

Sweet Potato Rice 500g | Carb Alternatives | Frozen Vegetables ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I swapped white rice with cauliflower or sweet potato rice, which are available in the freezer section
of Coles or Woolworths. Similar to the approach with the pasta, I paired it with anything I
traditionally ate. People often boil cauliflower rice, but it goes gluggy, so instead I fried this for 5 to
10 minutes and it tastes much better. My favourite meal with this is curried sausages.

Wraps and bread

High Protein Low Carb Bread - Aldi Mum

Mission Low Carb Wraps 6 pack | Coles Online

I swapped bread or wraps that I loved for lower carb alternatives and I could barely taste the
difference. If anything, I preferred these lower carb options. I avoided cereals or muesli as much as
possible because of their high sugar. Instead, I found a slice of toast with an egg would be perfect. I
would also make myself a ‘McDonald’s’ brekkie wrap with scrambled eggs, fried bacon and BBQ
sauce (lower salt).

Ice-cream

Aldi finally dupes Halo Top - $4.99 Kenny's Frozen Dessert in ...

Halo Top Birthday Cake Ice Cream Tub | Coles Online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies are slowly becoming much more friendly to low-calorie options when it comes to sweets.
I found Halo Top’s ice cream fantastic for curbing my cravings for sugar. Each tub has 360 calories or
less so I didn’t feel guilty about eating it. They’re stocked at both Woolworths and Coles, but Aldi has
a cheaper version called Kenny’s 360. Keep an eye out for these products because more variety are

Here are a few of my favourite recipes:

Raw Caramel Bites

photo of how the raw caramel slice bites will look like when you have finished making them

Ingredients

Base layer

  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 6 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Caramel layer

  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 7 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate layer

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder

Instructions

  1. To make the base layer, add the ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor and blend until it resembles fine crumbs and sticks together when pressed. Spoon mixture into a 24 mini muffin pan (see note below) and press down with the back of a teaspoon. Place it in the freezer.
  2. To make the caramel layer, add the ingredients to a high speed blender and process until completely combined and smooth. Spoon the mixture onto the bases and smooth over with the back of a teaspoon (see note below) and place back into the freezer for at least 1 hour to set.
  3. To make the chocolate layer, melt the coconut oil in saucepan on low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add the sweetener. Whisk briskly until well combined. Then add the cacao powder, stirring until well mixed through. Pour the chocolate on top of the caramel layer and place back into the freezer and let it set completely, approximately 3-4 hours. Once frozen, they are much easier to remove.
  4. I keep mine store in the freezer in an air tight container and remove them a few minutes before serving/eating.

 

Chaffles

Chaffles! What they are, how to make them, and all your FAQs answered about these low carb waffles that are taking the internet by storm! #lowcarb #keto #chaffles

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella

Instructions

  1. Plug in the waffle maker to heat.
  2. Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Add the mozzarella and stir to combine.
  3. Spray the waffle iron with non-stick spray.
  4. Pour half of the egg mixture into the heated waffle iron and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove waffle carefully and cook remaining batter.
  6. Serve warm with butter and sugar-free syrup.

2 Ingredient Pancakes

Banana Egg Pancakes | hurrythefoodup.com

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs

Instructions 

  • Mash up bananas in a large bowl.
  • Whisk eggs (using a fork is just fine!) and add to banana paste.
  • Fry gently in a pan on low-medium heat with a little heated oil or butter.

We rely on health advice from an industry that simply promotes the latest fad, designed to exploit the vulnerable out of their money. Diet culture wants us to feel bad about our bodies, leading us down a dangerous path of disordered eating behaviours and exercise misuse, inevitably, only profiting those who fool us.

Weight loss TV shows, stick thin celebrities, the ‘obesity epidemic’, Body Mass Index (BMI), bad foods and ‘skinny’ jeans. As a millennial, these were terms and images I was heavily exposed to throughout my childhood and teenage years.

I was a 15 year old girl, eagerly jogging on my treadmill in front of the TV while watching The Biggest Loser. I would dream of living a life like the contestants, exercising for hours on end and following strict eating regimes to ‘transform’ my body.

At school we learnt about BMI, and were required to calculate our own measurements; an activity becoming a petri dish of comparisons and judgment.

The influences that I grew up with were seen as normal, and even healthy, but have resulted in detrimental and dangerous outcomes. I am not alone in my history of disordered eating.

Close to 1 million Australians are living with an eating disorder, with less than one quarter of those receiving treatment or support. A 2012 report commissioned by The Butterfly Foundation, found that females make up 64% of the total.

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a mental illness which can be identified as an unhealthy preoccupation with exercise, body weight or shape, and eating habits. Eating disorder behaviours can include restricting, bingeing, compulsive overeating and purging. Purging can extend to vomiting, laxative abuse and excessive exercising.

There are also secondary eating disorder behaviours, which can often fly under the radar due to the influence of diet culture, which creates a sense of normalcy when it comes to obsessing over wellness.

Secondary Eating Disorder Behaviours

Carolyn Costin is a clinician, author and speaker, well-known for her expertise in the eating disorder field. In her book 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder, she discusses food rules, food rituals and exercise dependance.

Food rules:
  • Being unable to trust internal hunger and fullness cues without a ‘rule’ or ‘guide’.
  • Limiting choices of foods or food groups based on rules.
  • Measuring foods based on numbers such as calories or time.
  • Feeling a sense of control over food, and therefore out of control when food rules cannot be followed.
Food rituals:
  • Participating in food behaviours that create a sense of ‘safety’ around food.
  • Preparing food in a specific way.
  • Consuming foods at the same time every day.
  • Eating foods in a particular order.
  • A feeling of anxiety if the food ritual cannot be followed.
Exercise misuse:
  • Compulsive exercise is a commonly justified behaviour.
  • Exercise is no longer a choice, but an obligation.
  • Exercise is linked to self worth.
  • Exercise is continued through injury and illness.
  • Social engagements are cancelled for exercise.
  • Exercise is used to compensate for eating.

Diet Culture

Diet culture has a long history, and its roots are embedded in the media, science, medicine, religion and racism today. The anti-diet movement has been established to fight back against an industry that we are conditioned to believe has our best interests at heart.

Christy Harrison is an intuitive eating coach, anti-diet dietitian, and author of Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating.

She describes diet culture as a system that:

  • “Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue, which means you can spend your whole life thinking you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like the impossibly thin “ideal”.
  • Promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, which means you feel compelled to spend a massive amount of time, energy, and money trying to shrink your body, even though the research is very clear that almost no one can sustain intentional weight loss for more than a few years.
  • Demonizes certain foods while elevating others, which means you’re forced to be hyper-vigilant about your eating, ashamed of your food choices, and distracted from your pleasure, your purpose, and your power.
  • And oppresses people who don’t match up with its supposed picture of “health,” which means you experience internalized stigma and shame—and perhaps external stigma and discrimination as well—for all the ways in which you don’t meet diet culture’s impossible standards.”

Diet culture is cunning and clever, we may not even realise when it is meddling with our lives. The identifying trends and behaviours are so normalised in society today, that it sneaks up on us in workplace lunch rooms, at social events, even through our internal voice, which may echo the food rules from our dieting pasts. Diet culture is inescapable.

“The implication is clear: eating anything other than the correct diaita made people less than fully human. The term diet, then, was bound up from the start with ideas about morality, restriction, the renunciation of pleasure, and the superiority of certain races.”

The Anti-Diet Approach

Anti-diet is anti-diet culture. The approach has a focus on overall wellbeing, rather than weight loss, and it shows us how the foods we eat and what our bodies look like, are not tied to moral virtue or social status.

Diet culture makes us believe that we have to ‘beat’ our hunger and change our bodies in order to find happiness and self worth.

Christy says, “Diet culture is a form of oppression, and dismantling it is essential for creating a world that’s just and peaceful for people in ALL bodies.”

Research supports this notion and confirms that diet’s don’t work. A 2019 study concludes: “The increases in BMI and WC were greater in dieters than in non‐dieters, suggesting dieting attempts to be non‐functional in the long term in the general population.”

To adopt the anti-diet approach, we need to keep our wits about us. Organisations know that diets don’t work, and have been moving away from language such as ‘diet’ and ‘weight loss’, instead, changing their language to terms like ‘wellness’. The diets have not ceased, they have just changed forms.

Diets are often disguised through buzz words such as ‘protocol’, ‘clean eating’, ‘health reset’, ‘nutrition challenge’ or ’lifestyle change’.

How can we adopt the anti-diet approach and fight back against diet culture? We can keep an eye out for diet culture red flags.

Diet Culture Red Flags

  • Wellness programs with a weight loss focus.
  • The use of before and after photos.
  • A program that gives food a moral value such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, including ‘traffic light’ systems and the like, that categorise foods.
  • Eliminating foods or food groups, without a medical reason.
  • Focusing on numbers such as calories, percentages, or time.
  • Buzz words like ‘cleansing’ or ‘detoxing’.
  • Tracking of calories, exercise or steps.

What can we do now to start adopting the anti-diet approach? We can identify diet culture through it’s red flags, notice our own internal dialogue when it comes to food, say no to fad and perfectionistic diets, and unfollow social media accounts that make us feel bad about our bodies or food choices. When we stop engaging in diet culture, diet culture loses its power.

“Weight loss doesn’t heal people from their internalised weight stigma. Bad body image is not cured by weight loss.” – Lisa DuBreuil in Anti-Diet.

You know that what you put into your body affects how you look, but do you know how the foods you eat can benefit or hinder your overall health? With modern nutritional science, dieticians and other experts know precisely how and why different foods cause changes in the human body and what an optimal diet looks like.

However, just because science has discovered the facts about healthy eating doesn’t mean everyone is going to adopt the best possible diet necessarily. As humans, we tend to poison ourselves with things that give us short-term happiness but contribute to long-term health issues (such as smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol), but healthy eating will have a long-term positive impact on your happiness.

If you want to live as long as possible and avoid chronic health conditions later in life, you should switch to a healthy diet. The following will examine some common dietary lifestyle behaviours and how they affect your health.

Leaning on takeaway meals

One trend that’s becoming more noticeable with younger generations is a lack of ability and will to cook at home. Even people who rent apartments or buy houses with lovely kitchens will never touch them other than to use the microwave or prepare something simple like scrambled eggs.

This is because spending a little extra money to avoid cooking and have a pizza delivered or go through a drive-thru is more convenient than learning to cook. This is especially true for people who may be overworked and find it too difficult to prepare food from scratch every evening when they feel exhausted.

If you want to cook healthier recipes at home and still enjoy the convenience of home delivery, then a meal-kit delivery service could be the perfect answer. This involves having fresh ingredients delivered to your front door along with easy instructions that remove a lot of the often frustrating and dull parts of cooking that might have preciously dissuaded you from giving it a go.

Consuming too much sugar

Too much of a good thing never turns out well, and our relationship with sugar over the decades has become one of the leading causes of issues like obesity in modern society. In our quest to make food taste better we have become accustomed to seasoning all our food, even savoury dishes that you wouldn’t typically classify as being sweet.

It can be hard to avoid the consumption of sugar when it seems to be everywhere that we go and prevalent in so many social activities. For example, going to the cinemas with friends often mean stopping by the snack bar and buying sweets to snack on while you enjoy the film together, and you might feel like you are missing out on the full experience if you refrain.

You should try to make a commitment to consume less sugar and let your friends and loved ones know about it, so they don’t pressure you or put you in situations where consuming sugar is encouraged. Doing this won’t just help you, but it will also inspire others to follow suit and enjoy the health benefits of reducing sugar from their diets by making the switch to low sugar alternatives or simply not consuming as many sweetened products.

Eating too much red meat

Over the last few years, the vegan movement has caused millions to swear off the consumption of animal products to promote a more sustainable and ethical relationship between humans and animals. While the choice to become vegan or not is still a personal one for many people, you should be aware of the net negative effect that overconsumption of red meat can have.

While there is still a lot of debate around red meat, with biases that inform opinions on both sides, there’s no doubt that it is possible to consume too much of it. Studies have shown that many types of red meat are high in saturated fats that can contribute towards issues like cholesterol, which is notorious for clogging arteries and stressing the heart, potentially leading to heart failure. Also, the cooking of red meat (especially on smoky grills), can produce carcinogens in the meat, which are known to contribute to the development of some cancers.

Summary

After your genetics, your diet is the primary determining factor in your health and well-being. Proper nutrition is the basis from which healthy and long-lived people operate, so if you want to enjoy the benefits then you might need to think about changing some of your eating habits.

I’ve tried my luck at a fair few diets, including when I stuck it out with a popular shake diet and lost almost 20 kg, which hardly lasted when I put it all back on again plus more. But I’ve also gone down the doctor recommended path of seeing a dietitian and wasn’t hugely successful either.

Most of us have tried our luck at some sort of diet, whether it’s a juice cleanse, the shake diet, intermittent fasting or the cigarette diet (ok, maybe that one’s a far stretch). We’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and news articles telling us which diets are best for us. There’s always Jenny Craig ads on TV where Sharon parades around town showing off her 32kg weight loss, all while you’re on the couch polishing of your eighth taco. Thanks a lot Sharon.

Fitness guru and former Bachelor star, Sam Wood, told A Current Affair, “Your shake diets, your fat burning pills, all this kind of stuff, it’s really not good for you.”

“Typically, you’re not losing fat. These short-term quick fixes are designed to help you drop water and often muscle.”

“It’s a vicious cycle that goes around and around and before you know it, you’ve actually put on more weight than you’ve lost in the first place.”

This is partly my experience with shake dieting. In 2017, I lost 17kg from using Optifast shakes and then, only a few months later all the kilograms piled back on, and more. These are just some of the diets I’ve tried in my time…

In a Facebook post in one of the support groups recently, somebody asked, “Has anybody actually sustained weight loss for more than two years?” nobody responded.

Lite n’ Easy
I still receive (love) letters in the mail from Lite n’ Easy and no I will not ever go on it again. To me it was paying more for eating less. Plus living at home with a fridge full of groceries, there was no space for the over packaged food. I had to plug in the Engel and put all my Lite n’ Easy stuff in there.

The mornings were good, I remember I would get a piece of toast, maybe two, I was always full. The lunches were pretty hit and miss. I remember I got this awful vegetable salad that I had to heat up in the microwave and was soggy and revolting. I do remember making what I would call a mini burger for lunch, it was so tiny and I inhaled it less then 30 seconds.

But there was no snack with dinner. I would force myself to wait until 6pm and eat at a reasonable time but then I was still so hungry. Anyway, I did walk every day, I was determined and I did lose four kilos over about four weeks, but that was as long as I could take it.

I was at my friend Georgia’s house and she offered me a piece of chocolate and I straight out refused because I didn’t want to slip up on my diet.

Vita Weat or ‘Birdseed’ Diet

When I was in high school I became passionate about fitness and weight loss. I developed a fitness routine and diet plan for myself and I was so dedicated to stick to it. Looking back, I was on a very low calorie diet and I remember feeling light headed and found it difficult to concentrate sometimes. Just about every day I would run 4km and I was also on the running team and the rowing team at school.

As for my diet, I can’t remember who it was who called what I was eating birdseed, referring to the Vita Weats, I think it was my aunty, I laugh now when I think about it.  I was at my friend Georgia’s house and she offered me a piece of chocolate and I straight out refused because I didn’t want to slip up on my diet. My meal plan every day was:

Breakfast
¼ cup muesli for with plain Greek yogurt
Morning tea
Plain almonds and dried apricots for morning tea or an apple
Lunch
Carrots and celery sticks and 4 Vita Weat crackers with vegemite and cheese
Dinner
Something light

My sister did this diet with me too and we both lost some weight. I remember getting lots of compliments on my figure at the time but I definitely don’t suggest eating like this as it was not healthy.

I would force myself to wait until 6pm and eat at a reasonable time but then I was still so hungry.

Optifast Diet
As mentioned before, I lost 17kg in several weeks, but then I put it all back on again plus more so, take from that what you will. Someone once said to me “shake diets are good if you have a wedding to go to”. I think they summarized it quite perfectly, if you have a date set, and you need to shed the kilos fast, a shake diet can be a quick fix. But beware that the weight can come back.

But if you want to go down this road and a lot of people do, there are some benefits.

I actually started my own Instagram page for my weight loss journey which I shared with my close family and friends which I found helped me stay motivated. There are plenty of hashtags where you can find other Optifast dieters and follow their journeys.

There are various support groups on Facebook including Optifast Support, OPTIFAST SUPPORT for Aussies, Optifast Recipes – Intensive Phase and Opti Cook. In a Facebook post in one of the support groups recently, somebody asked, “Has anybody actually sustained weight loss for more than two years?” nobody responded. I think that example speaks volumes about this diet in that there’s hardly any evidence to suggest that weight loss is sustained post diet.

After trying a few diets and not really getting anywhere, the doctor suggested I see a dietitian.
Seeing a Dietitian – The long hard road
After trying a few diets and not really getting anywhere, the doctor suggested I see a dietitian. I went to see a dietitian and she gave me a meal plan to follow, it was mostly what you’d expect – eat more veggies, less carbs and a small amount of protein with every meal and I was told to ditch fruit juice. Everything had to be measured from now on. I basically had to go out and buy a whole bunch of Chobani yogurt and tiny cans of baked beans. Initially nothing was happening in terms of weight loss, because I wasn’t really following the dietitians plan at all. But then I had a sudden motivation and I lost 10kg following exactly her plan and it worked. And I was actually able to sustain that weight loss for a long period of over a year.

Veganism is a hotly contested diet and way of life. Many argue that the absence of dairy and meat from a child’s diet is a recipe for disaster, however, science has continually proven the health benefits of a balanced and well-planned vegan diet.

Fad diets have come and gone but veganism continues to take over the world as scientific evidence behind the health trend has changed the eating habits of millions of people. To be vegan is to maintain a diet without the consumption of animal products. This means no meat, dairy, cheese or eggs. For those who have enjoyed an omnivorous diet throughout their life, eating cake and a hearty steak without a care, this diet may seem extreme and overwhelming.

Why should I eat vegan?
A well-balanced vegan diet has shown to provide health benefits, such as the reduced risk of chronic diseases associated with high-sugar and high-preservative diets. This includes:

  • Obesity
  • Coronary artery disease (damage or disease to the heart’s
    major blood vessels)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Some types of cancer, specifically bowel cancer which can be
    caused by a high consumption of red or processed meat.

How?
The livestock industry produces 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in farming, not to mention the global acidification of ocean water, and the impacts of eutrophication which is the build up of nutrients in water bodies that destroys wildlife.

Researchers estimated a vegan world would produce 49 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions from food, 50 per cent less acidification, and would reduce water use by 19 per cent.

Oxford University researcher Joseph Poore says that going vegan “is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth.”

NEED TO KNOW!
Ensure a balanced diet so that children still receive adequate amounts of vitamin D, calcium, iron and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is hard to find in a vegan diet so a B12 supplement is recommended.

Can we get all the same nutrients on a vegan diet?
Yes, of course! However, it is recommended that vegans eat legumes and nuts every day to ensure enough daily nutrient intake.

Iron in a vegan diet is surprisingly, not hard to come by. The best sources of iron include cereals fortified with iron such as Weet-Bix and All-Bran, legumes, tofu, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and dried fruits. The most crucial times for a child raised on a vegan diet is under the age of five, and when girls hit puberty as that is when iron levels drop.

Zinc allows for the development of our immune system and so
they are vital in a healthy vegan diet. Zinc is commonly found in
nuts, miso, tofu, legumes and wholegrain foods. A lack of zinc can
make your child more susceptible to disease and illness.

Calcium is needed for a child to build strong bones and teeth.
It can be found in cereals fortified with calcium including Corn
Flakes and Raisin Bran, soymilk, Asian green vegetables, almonds
and Brazil nuts.

Protein is important for building bones, muscles, repairing
skin and blood. It is found in tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas,
seeds, oats, soymilk and vegetables such as peas, sweet potatoes,
broccoli, potatoes and asparagus.

What goes into my child’s vegan lunchbox?
Dietitian Amber Sewell-Green, who specialises in plant-based
nutrition, suggests:

  • Wholegrain wraps with fillings such as hummus, avocado, tofu
    or tempeh
  •  Lentil or quinoa salads
  • Enchiladas with beany fillings
  • Homemade bliss balls
  • Homemade popcorn
  • Snack packs of crunchy fava beans.

While ensuring your child is attaining the necessary vitamins and nutrients that are essential for their healthy development, a vegan diet can be cleansing and even strengthening for a growing child. As a diet that separates itself from preserved meats and cheeses, a vegan diet can reduce the chances of several life-threatening illnesses while also having a positive impact on the environment.

The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ supports the idea that without the foundations of a good diet you are wasting your time and money trying to balance your health. Shannon Burford, a naturopath based in Claremont, firmly believes a correct diet, herbal medicine and nutritional balance can make an enormous impact on an individual’s health even for those dealing with allergies, asthma, Autism, ADHD, infertility or cancer.

Meeting Shannon at his clinic, aptly named Cura Integrative Medicine, you become instantly aware of the aroma from the herbs and tonics on his shelves with names and labels not found in any commercial advertisement or local pharmacy. 

Over a pot of freshly brewed herbal tea, Shannon describes his own healing journey after contracting Dysentery and Typhoid while travelling through India and Cambodia in his early 20s. Already holding a degree in Science from Curtin University, Shannon realised the impact of nutrition on his health and while he appreciated the need for antibiotics, he knew working on prevention and building his strength from good food and herbs would see him on a better path for the future. 

His impressive resume now covers a Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Science and a Bachelor in Health Science (Naturopathy), he is also a Master herbalist and nutritionist, a lecturer in nutritional medicine, naturopathic philosophy and author in a variety of health topics, including cancer and men’s health. He is also a father of two. 

“The relationship between good food and behaviour now seems so clear,” he muses. “There is a need, a real urgency to understand the impact of what we put into our bodies. I want to educate as many people as I can and fuel the growing awareness that nutrition is a huge contributor to health. 

“You have no doubt heard people say ‘wholefood, wholefood, eat more wholefood because it is healthier’, right? Why exactly? It is all about the full package. With processing comes removal of the valuable nutrients. That is why brown rice is a better choice than white rice.” 

Another turning point in his life was the birth of his son, and realising the impact toxicity, allergies and ADHD behaviours have on children. Shannon said it was then that a passion in children’s health was awakened.

Naturopathy holds the core philosophy that the body can heal itself and everyone is an individual.
We live in a polluted world and eat processed food, with processing methods drastically reducing nutritional content.

Shannon describes his experiences as a parent of a child with terrible reactive eczema determined by allergy tests as fuelled by an exhaustive list of triggers such as egg, dairy, food colouring and sugar. His son was also diagnosed with asthma and prescribed ventolin.  

He recalls the day his son, then aged two and a half, ate a brightly coloured iced donut as a special treat and the transformation that followed, which he describes as nothing short of the Incredible Hulk, as his young son began wild screaming and hurtling furniture across the floor, an episode that lasted about an hour. Once older, and able to communicate clearly, his son described the headaches and other symptoms he suffered once exposed to sugar and food colouring. 

Today, his son has none of these issues. 

” HMA (Hair Mineral Analysis) is an invaluable screening tool to assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and preventative health care”

Shannon says whilst his primary passion is in evidence-based nutrition, he combines this with the power of herbs lifestyle changes. He explores his patient’s health like an iceberg, depicted by the small visible peak being the symptoms, yet his work is to discover what lies beneath the surface, hidden in our diet, environment and toxicity within. 

His diagnostic process is thorough, with calls for blood, saliva, stool, allergy and hair analysis as required, as well as diet, sleep, energy and behavioural discussions and observing the eye lids, tongue and fingernails among other things, to get the full picture on a patient’s health and tailor a precise treatment plan to suit.   

Naturopathy holds the core philosophy that the body can heal itself and everyone is an individual. One size does not fit everyone! A tailored diet and certain herbs can create an optimum environment for health,” he says. 

He is a strong advocate for Hair Mineral Analysis (HMA), especially for children due to its comprehensive results without the invasiveness of a blood test. The test is simply cutting a collection of hair from the back of the head, yet it can detect an excess or deficiency of vital nutrient minerals such as calcium, selenium, zinc and iron. It can also identify over-exposure to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic or aluminium.  

“HMA is an invaluable screening tool to assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and preventative health care,” Shannon boasts. 

The results of the test have become quicker of late with a diagnostic laboratory now based in Perth rather than overseas. 

His HMA testing has confirmed Shannon’s belief that zinc deficiencies exists across the population of Western Australians, young, old, male and female, primarily attributed to our soils that fail to retain nutrients coupled with the growth of crops in the same soil over and over. So while foods like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, oysters, beef, wholegrains, egg yolks and seafood contain high levels of zinc, the very nature of the way those foods are grown may very well mean we still need something extra to keep our bodies balanced.  

People with zinc deficiencies demonstrate poor wound healing, prolonged infections, low appetite and kids may experience recurrent ear infections, sleep disturbance and anxiety.

“In an ideal world, we shouldn’t need a nutritional supplement or a herbal medicine mix if we were eating all living and whole foods. The reality is though, we live in a polluted world and eat processed food, with processing methods drastically reducing nutritional content. The body is also burdened with chemical preservatives and additives.” 

People with zinc deficiencies demonstrate poor wound healing, prolonged infections, low appetite and kids may experience recurrent ear infections, sleep disturbance and anxiety. Yet the physical signs may be as small as white marks on fingers nails.  

“A balance of the vital nutrients is important for optimal health and zinc is tremendously important for people of all ages, it supports a healthy immune system and the growth and development of the body during adolescence, childhood and pregnancy and is essential for men’s prostate and productive health. Lack of zinc has also been shown to have a clear link to anorexia and bulimia too. 

Get your kids eating oats for breakfast and start their day on the right foot. Shannon’s tip is to try making a pot of chamomile tea and use the tea to cook your oats. It will reduce anxiety and is good for the gut!

Shannon explains that good nutrition can also impact the severity of disorders such as ADHD and Autism in children, however he said for some parents it is hard to make the dietary changes in a society so busy and so focused on instant gratification with medications so readily available that offer noticeable and immediate behavioural modifications. He describes some parents returning to his clinic, sometimes years later, deciding to try the slower but longer lasting naturopathic and nutrition path, after becoming frustrated with the cycle of medications and behavioural management which left their child ‘under a cloud’ or ‘void of themselves’.  

Whilst it is unfortunate that the majority of people turn to Shannon after they have exhausted conventional medicine avenues, he still holds high hopes that one day preventative medicine will reach the forefront of his clientele. 

When faced with resistance or uncertainty from his exhausted and time poor patients about what their kids will eat, what they can afford or what changes they are willing to make permanently to their pantries, Shannon says it’s all about tailoring a plan for the individual. People will only make changes when they are truly ready, a small change for better health is better than no change, so slow substitution and reducing the sugar load is key. Obviously some families have reached the end of the line when they arrive at the spiral staircase which leads to Shannon’s quaint office and are willing to forgo all bad habits in search of better health. 

His best advice is to set your kids up for success by teaching them early on to make good food choices. Shannon explains eating healthy isn’t about restrictions, it’s about creating new habits. 

“The small changes you make to your child’s diet will ripple through their entire life,” he says. 

And yes, he does practice what he preaches, and so do his children. 

“I aim to eat as pure as possible, organic where I can to obtain the best quality. If the food comes from a box, I would say don’t eat it,” he says. 

“For breakfast my kids and I will eat oats with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, psyllium husk, a sprinkle of pro-biotic and maybe some frozen berries, with soy or rice milk. 

“But I understand that kids go to birthday parties and they love cheesy pizza and pasta, my kids are like most kids, we don’t live in a cave, but we don’t eat gluten or sugar and we don’t have the bad choices available in our home. My kids have grown aware of the ingredients in products and how food makes them feel and as such they aren’t interested in the coloured cakes or the lolly bags, apart from the bubble blowers.” 

For any food that does happen to come cloaked in cardboard, he is a big advocate for label reading.  

“The most important thing on the box is the ingredients list,” he said. “Check out the details of what it contains more than the standard breakdown of fat, sugar, carbohydrates and look at the placement of the ingredients on the list. Where is the sugar? If it is listed first, it means the product contains mostly sugar.”  

For more information contact Shannon at Cura Integrative Medicine 08 9284 4644, wellness@curamedicine.com.au, www.curamedicine.com.au