What is coaching anyway?

Let’s play a game. Can you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions?

There’s a gap between where I am now and where I want to be

I can make and keep appointments to work on my goal(s)

I’m committed to do the work required and take action to get to where I want to be

I’m willing to change any self-defeating behaviours and beliefs that limit my success

I am willing to try new things, even if I’m not yet 100% convinced they will work

More than three yes’s? Then coaching is what you need.

So what is coaching anyway?

Essentially, coaching is a future-focused conversation with a trained professional. A conversation that’s 100% about you and helping you think differently about things you’ve previously felt stuck or unclear about. It’s action-oriented. Coaching gets you results.

Why do I need a coach?

Put simply, because it will get you where you want to be faster than if you go it alone.

A good coach will help you to bring out the best of yourself so that you feel confident in your abilities, have clarity on what you want and stay motivated to overcome the tricky patches.

Whatever your challenge, a professional coach can help you unpick the challenge or issue at hand, and define a way to overcome it.

The idea is that the more you learn and understand about yourself, the more equipped you’ll be to navigate your health journey and make choices that will make you happy and fulfilled. Along the way, your coach can help you recognise your strengths, address the habits that are supporting you, or maybe getting in your way, and help you find ways to overcome obstacles. 

How does coaching work?

Whatever the challenge, your coach will ask you lots of questions aimed at raising your own awareness and helping you see things from a new perspective.

Then they’ll work with you to break the issue down, clarify your goals and help you define your own way forward. Importantly, you’ll leave every session with clear actions to take. No fluff here, this is about results and getting you where you want to be, no matter your start point. 

Coaching is most effective over a series of sessions. We say that 90% of the work is done in between sessions because that’s when it’s up to you to use the new insights you’ve gained or take the action you decided on.

Each session is a touchpoint to talk about any challenges or successes since the last time, and decide what you want to do next. 

How do I get the best out of coaching?

Most people find coaching an empowering and liberating experience but, like anything, you get out what you put in, so you need to come prepared with an open mind and it’s helpful to think about what you want to get out of the session before you start. Time, commitment and honesty (with yourself as much as with your coach) are all you really need.

Magnesium – are you getting enough?

Magnesium is a mineral essential for over 300 enzymatic systems in the body, many of which relate to brain and nervous system function. Inadequate intake of magnesium is linked to cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases, skeletal disorders and neurological abnormalities.

Magnesium and mental wellbeing

Magnesium comes up a lot when talking about muscle cramp relief, exercise recovery and sleep. However, magnesium is also a very beneficial mineral when it comes to supporting your body to adapt to stress and promoting mental wellbeing.

Magnesium has been shown to help reduce the release of hormones, which lead to over activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which plays a role in our stress response. Over activation of this axis is associated with increased stress and lower stress tolerance, which can lead to poor mental health such as increased anxiety and low mood.

Magnesium is also an important co-factor necessary to help synthesise neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, a deficiency in either of these can lead to symptoms of depression, nervousness, inability to concentrate and anxiety.

While magnesium is beneficial for stress, being in a state of prolonged stress can lead to depletion of magnesium.

How much magnesium do we need?

The Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand state that the recommended dietary intake for adults is:

Men
19-30 years: 400mg/day
31+ years: 420mg/day

Women
19-30 years: 310mg/day
31+ years: 320mg/day

Food sources of Magnesium

Look at the list I have prepared below – are you consuming enough magnesium?

100g cocoa = 510mg
100g chia seeds = 335mg
100g sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds = 425mg
100g almonds = 260mg
100g cashews = 250mg
100g uncooked oats = 100mg
100g dried figs = 73mg
100g firm tofu = 78mg
100g raw spinach = 68mg
100g cooked quinoa = 56mg
100g cooked black beans = 49mg
100g boiled brown rice = 49mg
100g green or brown cooked lentils = 31mg
100g cooked red kidney bean = 30mg
1 medium banana = 30mg
100g cooked chickpeas = 27mg
100g raw rocket = 23mg
100g cooked salmon = 34mg
100g cooked chicken breast = 27mg
100g cooked beef = 26mg
100g natural yoghurt = 17mg
1 boiled egg = 5mg

Try this Magnesium rich Chocolate Banana Smoothie for a delicious magnesium boost

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Ingredients
1 cup soy milk
1 medium banana
20g avocado
10g baby spinach leaves
20g cocoa/cacao
20g chia seeds
honey to sweeten
ice, optional

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Intermittent Fasting – is it right for me?

Intermittent fasting is the voluntary abstinence from food for a prolonged period of time.

Traditionally many cultures and religions have used fasting in their practises.

Some Christians follow lent.  The Muslim religion has Ramadan where fasting is observed for 29-30 days during the daylight hours.

Buddhist monks and nuns following Vinaya rules commonly do not eat each day after the noon meal, aiding in meditation and good health.

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various eating diet plans that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting over a defined period. Intermittent fasting is under preliminary research to assess if it can produce weight loss comparable to long-term calorie restriction.

Many believe that fasting is the most ancient secret to good health.

There have been many studies on various intermittent fasting diets that show that intermittent fasting can improve health and successfully aid in weight loss.

For the purpose of this paper I would like to further explore:

  • Periodic fasting (where, once every few months you cut your food intake down for 5 days in a row)
  • The 5:2 approach (where you restrict your calories for 2 days a week)
  • Time Restricted Eating (where you restrict your eating to a narrow time window)

Periodic Fasting

Professor Valter Longo, one of the leading experts on human ageing believes in the power of fasting to delay aging. Periodic Fasting claims to activate a process called autophagy which means ‘self eat’. Autophagy acts to eat up dead, diseased, worn out cells. It is triggered by fasting and stops when the fast is broken (https://valterlongo.com/ VAlter Longo Foundation).

Periodic fasting also claims to regenerate cells faster. So, when you fast your system tries to save energy and recycles a lot of the immune cells that are not needed. When the fast is broken it triggers the creation of new more active white blood cells. (Valter Longo).

Short periods of fasting have been shown to regenerate the immune system (Longo, Valter et al 2014)

A 2012 Human trial conducted by Valter Longo of a 4 day fast resulted in IGF1 levels decrease (Insulin like Growth Factor -1) which is a measure of cancer risk.  Valter concluded that regular bouts of short term fasting can reduce your risk of a variety of cancers. And, that fasting could assist with making chemotherapy more effective by slowing down the growth of cells to help protect the healthy cells during treatment.  (https://valterlongo.com)

He also recognised the difficulty of fasting for patients while undertaking chemo therapy and there are current trials on an 800 calorie diet to try to mimic this approach.

5:2 Approach

The general idea behind the 5:2 diet is calorie restriction on the two (non-consecutive) given days. That is, for two of the 7 days in each week, you eat very low calorie (but high in nutrition) foods, while the other 5 days you can eat what you would usually eat. This diet isn’t a full fast, but is a carefully planned eating plan for a couple of days each week.

The two days of fasting requires you to keep your intake below a set number of calories: 500 for women, 600 for men. The normal average calorie intake is 2000.

5:2 Raised blood sugar and heart health

The diet has shown to reduce the HbA1C levels. This haemoglobin is chemically linked to glucose. The formation of the sugar and haemoglobin linkage indicates the presence of excessive sugar in the bloodstream, often indicative of diabetes. A1C is of particular interest as it is easy to detect.

A human study concluded that intermittent fasting can reverse Type 2 Diabetes (Therapeutic use of Intermittent fasting for people with Type 2 diabetes as an Alternative to Insulin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6194375/)

The study was of 3 patients all on medication to manage their diabetes. The most noteworthy outcome from this case series is the complete discontinuation of insulin in all three patients.

It was noted that caloric restriction and weight loss are important factors for remission of T2 diabetes.

The study concludes that therapeutic fasting can provide superior blood glucose reduction compared with standard pharmacological agents.

A 2018 study shows that modest weight loss of 5-10% have been associated with significant improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors (eg decreased HbA1C levels. Reduced blood pressure, increase in HDL cholesterol, decreased plasma triglycerides) in patients with T2 diabetes. The risk factor was reduced even more with a greater body weight percentage weight loss of 10-15% (Antoni R, Johnston KL et al. Intermittent v. Continuous energy restriction: differential effects on postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism following matched weight loss in overweight/obese participants. Br J Nutr., 2018. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29508693)

The 5:2 has also been found to have promising results for Brain disease and Breast cancer

TRE Time Restricted Eating

Time restricted eating is not a new diet but rather an ancient ritual that has been observed by both religious and cultural groups.

The two most popular fasting schedules which have become popular amongst body builders and celebrities is the 12:12 fasting:eating or the 16:8 fasting:eating. There have been some studies indicating that the 16:8 is the most beneficial.

According to Dr Satchin Panda, Professor at the Salk Institute in San Diego, one of the worlds leading research centres for biomedicine in San Diego, most of your body’s fat burning occurs 6-8hours after your last meal.

A human trial of TRE found that after 10 weeks, a group that had gone without food for an additional 3 hours per day had lost more body fat, and had bigger falls in blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

Contradictions

A recent clinical trial with 43 participants conducted comparing Continuing Energy Restriction (CER) and Intermittent Energy Restriction (IER) concluded that reductions in body weight were similar.

Fasting plasma glucose concentrations decreased after CER but not after IER (mean difference CER–IER – 4.8% (0.7, 8.9), P < 0.05) and fasting plasma non-esterified fatty acid concentrations were lower after IER compared to CER (mean difference CER–IER 0.15 mmol/L (0.06, 0.24), P < 0.005). There were no differences in lipids, adipokine/inflammatory markers, ABP or HRV between diets (Pinto et al)

They concluded that short-term CER or IER diets are comparable in their effects on most markers of cardiometabolic risk, although adaptive changes in glucose and fatty acid metabolism occur.

A major assumption that intermittent fasting makes is that the food that is being consumed on the non-fasting days along with the restricted or fasting days will still equal a calorie deficit. Eating healthy on non fasting days does not mean that a calorie deficit will be maintained as eating ‘healthy” can mean a lot of different things to many people.

Another consideration is that on the fasting days or low calorie days are foods from different groups being consumed. If a patient is eating the same foods over and over again there could be risk of nutrient deficiencies.

There is more quality research coming through on intermittent fasting and more human trials that I could cover in this paper.

Many books on how to fast and recipe books for fasting diets have been published creating a small market of products.

If a patients chooses to go on this diet they will need to ensure that they are taking in quality healthy ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein.

There could be a risk associated with grains and fruit being omitted from the diet as these are generally higher in calories.

In conclusion, a wholefoods diet would be favourable over intermittent fasting in the first instance. If a patient is unable to lose weight on a wholefoods diet then calorie restriction or one of the fasting techniques outlined here could assist in restricting calories. Intermittent fasting could add value as a tool to assist calorie restriction and weight loss if other more gentle approaches have not been successful. Intermittent fasting isn’t a ‘magic’ remedy for reversing diabetes or heart health but a valuable tool to help patients lose weight if they haven’t been able to previously.

References

  • https://valterlongo.com/ Valter Longo Foundation/PKA to promote Hematopoietic-Stem-Cell-Based Regeneration and Reverse Immunosuppression. Cell Stem Cell, 2014; 14(6)
  • Valter D. Longo et al. Prolonged Fasting Reduces IGF-1
  • Therapeutic use of Intermittent fasting for people with Type 2 diabetes as an alternative to Insulin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6194375/
  • Antoni R, Johnston KL et al. Intermittent v. Continuous energy restriction: differential effects on postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism following matched weight loss in overweight/obese participants. Br J Nutr., 2018. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29508693
  • Pinto et al (2019) Intermittent Energy Restriction is comparable to Continuous Energy Restriction for Cardiometabolic Health in Adults with central obesity; A randomised controlled trial.

Plant Based Diet

What does “plant-based diet” mean? Is it the same thing as being vegetarian or vegan?

What Does Following a Plant-Based Diet Mean Exactly?

Some people use the term ‘plant-based diet’ as a synonym for the vegan diet. Others may use the term in a broader way that includes all vegetarian diets, and I’ve also seen people use ‘plant-based’ to mean diets which are composed mostly, but not entirely, of plant foods.

The main idea is to make plant-based foods the central part of your meals.

Think vegetables as the main part of your meal, with a little grains or complex carbs and some protein (plant or animal depending on how strict you decide to be).

So, rather than thinking ‘We’re having steak and 3 veg for dinner’ think we’re having veggies and some steak on the side.

A plant-based diet emphasizes foods like fruits, vegetables, and beans, and limits foods like meats, dairy, and eggs. From there, more restrictions could be put in place depending on how strict you want to be. It may completely eliminate foods from animals or just limit intake depending on the individual’s interpretation.

That means meat and seafood don’t necessarily need to be off-limits — you might just decide to cut down on how frequently you eat those items.

In my Plant Based cooking workshops for both adults and kids I use only plant based ingredients to cater for vegans.

https://eatinginmind.com.au/plant-based-cooking-workshop-for-kids/

https://eatinginmind.com.au/plant-based-cooking-workshop-for-adults/

Current Research

Most people who adopt this way of eating do it for the potential health benefits. There have been many cardiac benefits linked to Plant Based diets, like reduced cholesterol. Some studies suggest that eating a plant-based diet may improve fertility, and it also may reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

One study linked diets rich in healthy plant foods (such as nuts, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and oils) with a significantly lower risk of heart disease.

Another study found it can also help prevent and treat type 2 diabetes, and it cites research that suggests this diet may help reduce the risk of other chronic illnesses, including cancer.

What to Eat and Drink

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Lentils

What to Limit (or Avoid Entirely, Depending on How Strict You Decide to Be)

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Meat and poultry (like chicken, beef, and pork)
  • Processed animal meats, such as sausages and hot dogs
  • All animal products (including eggs, dairy, and meat if you’re following a vegan diet)

Scientifically proven benefits of a Plant Based Diet

A diet that promotes whole foods and plant-based ingredients can reduce the likelihood that you’ll need medication, lower your risk of obesity and high blood pressure, and maybe even help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

A plant-based diet can also help you manage your weight and may lead to weight loss if you follow it in a healthy way. Most people also start to feel like they have more energy.

To set yourself up for success your grocery list should mainly list fresh vegetables and fruit, beans, and plant-based proteins to make sure you have plenty of options to reach for when you get hungry.

Are there any potential disadvantages of a Plant Based Diet?

Simply sticking with plant-based foods doesn’t set you up for good health.

Particular attention will need to be paid to the quality of the foods you’re consuming, because there are plenty of unhealthy foods that qualify as plant-based, such as potato chips and french fries. In fact, a visit to the vegan markets can prove this theory as there were plenty of battered and deep fried options!

Choosing unhealthy plant-based foods can increase your risk of weight gain and health conditions such as heart disease.

Also, if you decide to take the plant based diet to the next level and go vegan (completely off all animal products) you will need to keep an eye on your B12 and choline levels. Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal sources, and the two best sources of choline are egg yolks and liver.  

So, instead of a diet centred on meat and dairy, the starring roles are played by vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. It’s an approach to eating and lifestyle that has been shown to have significant health benefits, including weight loss and disease prevention.

How can Food and Nutrition Coaching help you?

Improving your health and changing your health behaviours requires a lot of work and focus.

Research suggests that up to 90 percent of chronic disease is caused by diet and lifestyle factors.

Food and Nutrition coaching along with other allied health professionals that are well trained in these areas can play a significant role—alongside licensed clinicians—in reducing the burden of chronic disease.

Reversing chronic health issues, weight loss, energy, training and performance, whatever your motivation for wanting change the smallest changes over a period of time can be the most lasting ones.

Sometimes learning new habits may be self directed. Sometimes new habits can be formed by joining a community or group of people starting a new program and supporting one another.

Sometimes, finding a coach that you can work with could be the answer. A coach that focuses on you and your achievable goals and helps you unblock any issues you may be having and add value to your health journey.

How can you become more efficient with these changes?

By building new habits.

Create daily goals, make small changes.

The small goals that lead to a successful reversal of unwise habits can have a big and lasting effect on your health.

Changing our behaviour may be the single-most important way you can prevent and reverse chronic disease.

A coach can support you, hold you accountable and at times challenge you – something that can be difficult to do on your own.

Food and Nutrition coaching is designed to support people in changing their behaviour.

Building habits not only helps us cut down on the time it takes to perform behaviours, but it makes those behaviours stick.

Coaching doesn’t follow the typical “expert” model that’s so common in healthcare.

Instead, as a coach I will partner with you to understand your current condition, flesh out your goals, create doable objectives, and hold you accountable.

Small goals will help you achieve seemingly small behavioural changes that add up to big benefits for your health.

Wholegrains – are you getting enough?

Are you consuming enough wholegrains?

Many of us are focussing on low carb, high fat, high protein and are failing to include grains into our daily diets.

With the recent popularity of trendy diets such as paleo and keto, the health benefits and importance of including whole grains in the diet has been over looked. Whole grains provide prebiotic fibre which is  important for gut health and diversity of the microbiome.

Evidence shows regular consumption of whole grains plays a valuable role in reducing the risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

What are whole grains?

All grains such as wheat, rye, oats and rice start life as whole grains. When found in their natural state, whole grains consist of the entire seed of the plant. This seed or “kernel” is made up of three parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm – all of which are edible. This is protected by an inedible husk that protects the kernel from potential damage by sunlight, pests, water, and disease.

Unlike refined grains, whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel. When grains are refined or heavily processed, the bran and the germ are removed leaving only the endosperm. In removing the bran and germ about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, plus valuable nutrients. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are added back to enrich the refined grains.

Whole grains can be milled into flour or used to make breads, cereals and other processed foods. They can be eaten whole, sprouted, cracked and milled. When purchasing food, check that the label on the packaging states that it contains whole grains which means that the “whole grain” part of the food is required to have the same proportions of bran, germ, and endosperm as the harvested kernel does before it is processed.

Whole grains are a far healthier choice providing more protein, more fibre and many important vitamins and minerals such as  B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium and iron. Whole grains contain valuable antioxidants.

Aim to include 3 serves of whole grains a day. Whole grains include buckwheat, oats, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, barley, corn, barley, rye, teff, farro.

Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating

Emotional and stress eating is the reason why so many diets can fail. Emotional hunger is REAL and many of us use food to make ourselves feel better. You might reach for a container of ice cream when you’re feeling down, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or find yourself in a fast food outlet after a long stressful day with the kids or at work.

Unfortunately, emotional hunger cannot be filled with food.

Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed.

Occasionally using food as a pick-me-up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

But, for some of us eating can become our primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.

Did you know that bingeing on a packet of chips is directly linked to stress – that constant chewing on something crispy alleviates our stress. And,  that Japanese researchers claim that chewing on gum for 10 minutes can reduce stress!

No matter how powerless you feel over food and your feelings, it is possible to make a positive change. You can find healthier ways to deal with your emotions, and learn to eat mindfully to regain control of your weight, and finally put a stop to emotional eating.

  • Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
  • Do you eat to feel better (when you’re lonely, sad, bored, anxious,)?
  • Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
  • Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
  • Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

Here are some clues you can look for to help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart.

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly.

Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods.

Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating.

Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full.

Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame.

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and allows you to pause between your triggers and your actions.

I can help you achieve your goal through on-going support and motivation. By being a source of encouragement and accountability I will help set you on your path to health.  

https://eatinginmind.com.au/contact/