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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.

Be aware of these three health symptoms you should never ignore…

Most of us follow the rule that if we eat well, exercise regularly, avoid smoking, manage our stress levels and only indulge in moderation, we should be able to maintain generally good health and avoid major illnesses. However, knowing when you should and shouldn’t ignore a health symptom is also key to maintaining good health well into the future.

While none of us want to rush to the doctors’ office every time we feel a slight niggle or pain, there are a few health symptoms that often go ignored that should warrant a little more investigation.

Suspicious moles

In Australia, getting outdoors and soaking up the sun is simply part of our culture. Starting from childhood most of us can recall spending long days at the beach, playing outdoor sports or simply being outside enjoying nature, also continually exposing ourselves to potentially harmful UV radiation. As a result, almost all of us have at least some moles on our body.

Caused by an overproduction in melanin, while most moles are completely harmless, some may not be. Usually occurring in parts of the body that have been overexposed to the sun, melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in Australia, with one in 13 men and one in 22 women being diagnosed with the cancer which can be deadly if left unnoticed and untreated.

If you have a suspicious mole that you think could be cancerous, the warning signs to look for usually include a change in size, colour or shape, or if they begin to ooze, bleed or weep. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.

If caught early, most people can have the mole removed and continue to live a long and healthy life, making having a regular mole check very important. If you do need to have a mole removed, the procedure is usually relatively straightforward, with places like this mole removal clinic in Melbourne able to remove the mole very quickly with almost no recovery time.

Major toothache

Have you’ve had a toothache for a while but haven’t got around to getting to the dentist to have it checked out? Don’t delay any longer. While there can be a range of causes of a major toothache, if the pain is being caused by gum disease or tooth decay, the longer you leave it untreated, the worse your condition will get.

When the bacteria, acid and food debris in our mouths combine, it forms plaque which can then lead to a range of problems. Dentists can usually find cavities during a regular check-up and treat them relatively easily by removing the decayed portion of the tooth with a drill, before repairing the hole with an amalgam, resin, alloy or porcelain filling.

However, if a cavity is left untreated for too long, it could reach the root or pulp of the tooth (which may have already happened if you’re experiencing pain) and require more major root canal treatment to also remove the nerve, blood vessels and tissue. You may also need a crown to replace the missing portion of the tooth.

Not only is a root canal procedure likely to cause a lot more pain and require a longer recovery period than a simple filling but it’s also likely to cost a lot more, so it’s well worth making an appointment with your dentist sooner rather than later.

Unexplained weight loss

If you’ve recently increased the amount of exercise you do or started paying more attention to what you’re eating, weight loss can be a sign that you’re making some great progress. However, if you haven’t made any major changes to your diet or exercise regime lately but have noticed you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, it could be a sign that something in your body’s not functioning as it should.

Unexplained weight loss could occur because of things like a thyroid issue, gut disease, rheumatoid arthritis or depression, or in some cases could be a sign of diabetes or even cancer. While you shouldn’t jump to any conclusions, it’s important that you see a doctor to try to identify what could be behind your weight loss so you can address any underlying health issues you may not have been aware of.

There’s a health revolution occurring globally centred around Green Smoothies. The word is spreading and our ears are opening to the “Popeye” effect of leafy greens and the Green Smoothie, which is a convenient, tasty and simple way to consume significant amounts of greens.

Leafy greens are the most deficient of food in today’s diets.  A Green Smoothie can be the perfect way to increase your consumption of daily greens. Most of us wouldn’t have the time, patience or fortitude to eat a very large amount of leafy greens on a plate. However, if we blend the same amount into a smoothie, the perceived intake seems minimal, it is far more palatable and it can be consumed relatively quickly. Even our children are participating and loving the “green monster” revolution.

Here are some of the many health benefits that can be attributed to having Green Smoothies:

  • WEIGHT LOSS: The fibre and water consumed in a Smoothie provides perfect sustenance to maintaining fullness and hydration.
  • REDUCED CRAVINGS: Nourishing Green Smoothies will naturally crowd out desire for junk food.
  • ENERGISED: They provide a powerful boost of nutrition, loaded with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.
  • IMMUNE BOOSTING: Blending leafy green vegetables and fruit makes digestion easier and nutrients more accessible, while providing an antioxidant-rich meal that provides the body with the best defence against disease.
  • CLEAR SKIN: They’re high in fibre which is essential for good colon health. This allows the elimination of toxins the right way instead of through the skin.
  • ALKALISE: They have an alkalising effect on the body. In modern diets people consume large quantities of meat, dairy, refined sugar and grains, thus creating a more acidic disease-thriving environment in the body.
  • DETOX: Greens are rich in chlorophyll, providing oxygen to the body’s cells. Chlorophyll is known as a blood purifier and detoxifier.

To make a Green Smoothie the only thing you need is a good blender and some fresh produce – leafy greens like spinach, kale and silverbeet blended up with some fruit and water. Here’s how you too can try out the Green Smoothie.

  1. Use your favourite fruit such as a banana, avocado or mango as the base
  2. Select a leafy green vegetable – start off with a light tasting one such as spinach
  3. Avoid dairy products
  4. Try adding Chia or Flax seeds which are rich in omega 3 and high in protein
  5. Keep your blender countertop so you’re not reaching into the cupboard everyday.

Tip: As you become accustomed to the taste reduce the amount of fruit keeping in mind you want to enjoy the taste and look forward to the next one!

The following smoothie recipe has been a regular feature on my breakfast menu!

Dandelion’s Daily Special 

  • 4 silverbeet leaves
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 2 banana frozen
  • 2 Tablespoon flaxseeds
  • 3 cupsl filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon Macca not essential
  • 1 cup ice
  • Blend until desired consistency is reached and serve

So why not jump on board, get those blenders out and start making green smoothies!  Do it for a week and see how you feel.  You won’t want to miss a day!