If you have read anything online in the past 4 years you will probably believe that sugar is evil and honey, maple syrup, rice malt syrup and dates are the god send. They are the healthy alternative. Look I don’t blame you for believing this. I believed it before I actually studied nutrition and found out exactly how our body digests it all.
I spent a good year ignoring the caster sugar and brown sugar in my cupboard and replaced it with coconut sugar, medjool dates and honey (you name the replacement, I tried it!) to make the perfect ‘healthy baked treats’.
But guess what. All of these ‘replacements’ are all still forms of sugar. We are told they are healthier because they are natural or unrefined.
This statement is completely flawed.
Caster sugar and brown sugar comes from a plant!!! – aka natural
Coconut sugar and rice malt syrup are also all refined and processed!!!
You don’t find them like that in nature. They have to have something done to them to allow them to sit on our shelf.
You could claim that honey, maple syrup and medjool dates are quite natural, they are all found as is in nature. But just like sugar they contain sucrose and fructose. While honey contains slightly less fructose and glucose than white sugar it is actually worse for weight loss. Why? Because honey actually contains more calories than white sugar.
It is true that white sugar has a higher glycaemic index than honey meaning it will increase your blood sugar levels faster. However, when have you ever eaten white sugar alone?
Generally, it is added to baking or a beverage which can reduced the glycaemic index and slow down the absorption.
All of these products contain either glucose or fructose or both.
So how is sugar (Sucrose, glucose and fructose) broken down by the body?
I am going to try and keep this as simple as possible.
Glucose and fructose bind together to form sucrose. So, the first thing the body does is break that bond to individually break down glucose and fructose. Once they are broken down into these single molecules, they are free to be absorbed across the intestinal lining into the blood stream to be taken to the liver for further processing (another reason you don’t need to detox).
Glucose is then moved to cells around the body where it is broken down through a process called glycolysis where glucose is broken down into two carbon molecules called pyruvate before then converting to ATP which can be used by our cells to power our muscles and organs.
The breakdown of fructose is similar to this, however can generally only occurs in the liver.
Any glucose that isn’t required immediately for energy use is converted to glycogen and stored for later use. Fructose on the other hand can’t be stored, so is instead converted to glucose like molecules and stored as glycogen.
When the body reaches it glycogen storing capacity that is when glucose is converted to fat. But don’t get confused by the use of glucose in the previous sentence, remembering that both fructose is also converted to glucose like molecules and treated by the body in the exact same way.
So when professionals say that all sugars are treated the same way by the body, that’s because they are.
Whether a product contains glucose or fructose they are both types of sugars and broken down by the body in near exact processes. Remembering again that all the ‘sugar’ replacements do still in fact contain at least one of either glucose or fructose.
The slight different that these alternatives or replacements contain are micronutrients, but that makes next to no difference to how the sugar is actually broken down.
Overall the best advice I can give when talking about sugar (and by sugar, I mean any form of it!) is to try and reduce your overall amount. If you currently like 2 tsp of sugar or honey in your coffee reduce it by ¼ tsp each week and within a month you will have halved your sugar intake. The small incremental changes are the best way to reduce sugar intake and slowly adapt your taste buds.
The facts in the article are the reason I still use brown and white sugar in so many of the recipes you will find on my website. Where I can I reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe, but if it’s still quite high, enjoy it for what it is. A TREAT. Because whether a recipe has 1 cup of sugar or 10 medjool dates it isn’t something that we should be eating in high quantities.
I do still use maple syrup and honey in baking, but I do this for the flavour profiles they lend to a recipe, not the ‘health benefits.
Myth: You need to follow food combining principles for optimal digestion
Fad diets are everywhere, I don’t need to tell you that again. But is food combining a fad diet? Or is there some truth to the rumours.
Advocates for the food combining principles claim that it is necessary for optimal digestion. They claim, as different enzymes in the body are used to digest different foods, eating protein and carbohydrates together for example will cause digestive issues.
They claim that eating foods together will leave you with partially digested food that sits in your gut, basically claiming the body is unable to digest two different things at once.
Fact: Your digestive system is more complex than this ‘diet’ suggests
While this ‘diet’ doesn’t lead to the elimination of any food, just focusing on eating one food group at a time. It is still a diet, leading to obsession over food and well I think we all know my opinion of diets….
But my bias aside, lets dig into the actual facts so you can determine what works for you.
Food Combining principles suggest that the digestion system is very black and white. While one type of food is being digested, nothing else can be digested because it requires different enzymes.
For example, the enzyme amylase works to digest carbohydrates meanwhile proteases are needed to break down proteins. And while carbohydrates are being digested it means that protein sits around in the digestive system waiting its turn, causing it to ferment and create issues for your body.
However, the digestion system is not a sack as this theory might suggest, it is a track or a process. Digestion happens over multiple hours after consuming a food, starting with enzymes and chewing in the mouth going down to the acid in the stomach and enzymes within the small and large intestines which continue the digestion process.
The body is an amazing thing, it runs multiple, even thousands of processes at once. It allows you to breathe, pump blood through your arteries, move muscles in your hands as you type, run messages allow neural pathways from your brain all around your body and digest the food you ate a few hours ago.
Your digestive system alone has the ability to digest carbohydrates, fats and protein all at the same time. It is true that the process of all of these takes different lengths of time, but eating them separately will not make this process faster.
So whilst the basis of why people food combine is important – to increase your optimal digestion, eating different foods at different times is not going to do this. Instead to look after your digestive system is it more beneficial to focus on mindful eating, allowing yourself to chew food properly, eating slowing and eating lots of fibre rich and prebiotic rich foods for a healthy digestive track.
Myth: Healthy Foods are expensive
Yes, I agree. ‘Healthy’ food is expensive. Or more specifically fad dieting super foods that are cleverly marketed are expensive.
But those foods are not what you really need. They make up an elitist form of health or nutrition.
This perception that following a diet made up of expensive food is the only way to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle has become a barrier for a lot of people.
However, a study run in 2015/2016 by the Queensland university of technology actually showed that a healthy diet is cheaper than an unhealthy diet, when following the Australian national dietary guidelines.
Fact: Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank.
In 2017 alone nearly 46% of Australians were actively trying to lose weight and half of them spent money on a particular program or specific diet. All of these diets are pushing costly ingredients, powders and supplements that are nutritionally similar or inferior to healthy everyday options.
Let’s look at my weekly shop for a start. I shop for my partner and myself. I do a lot of baking, cooking and can never pass up a good cheese platter. We spend between $150-$200 a week on our grocery bill. This includes everything from toilet paper to dog food and well Jackson eats a lot!!
$150-$200 might seem like a lot, but an average meal at a fast food joint for the two of us would cost $30. So that’s only 5-6 meals in total, however that grocery bill feeds us for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 6-7 days.
It is about stripping it back to what is actually healthy and keeping it simple, especially when on a tight budget! Some of the ways I do this is through batch cooking for my freezer, eating in season and stocking up when things are on sale.
Last night I made a big batch of Bolognese sauce – enough to freeze 8 meals worth and dinner last night. We had it with traditional pasta (aka white pasta) cheese and a little side salad. The ingredients for the whole thing cost me $31.50 and will cater for 9 meals between us so $3.50 a meal or in other terms 1.75 per serve.
That is nuts. $1.75 per serve for a balanced meal of good protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats that is loaded with vegetables and well absolutely delicious!
The trick to eating healthy, or starting to eat healthy when on a strict budget is to start to incorporate small changes. Try to focus on including more fresh or frozen vegetables in your meals.
Don’t stress it. Eating healthy, or following a healthy lifestyle should cause stress. If it is, check in with yourself and see where that pressure is coming from? It is from trying to fit into a certain diet program, or making sure you have the exact right about of calories and nutrients you need in the day?
There is nothing exact that you can follow, as everyone is different. Do what feels right to you, and fits within your budget. Ignoring the marketing out there that is trying to get you to spend your $$$ on supplements and that latest fad diet ingredients.
Reply to this email if you need cheap and delicious recipe suggestions or tips on navigating the grocery store to fit your budget!
Top Food Hacks
Its summer, its hot, so who could be bothered standing around in the kitchen fussing over food. These are my five fabulous summer food hacks to stay cool calm and collected this summer:
Skinning a mango
- Mangoes are God’s gift to earth. If you don’t agree I am not sure we can be friends. Ok too harsh, but I will definitely question your life choices.
- But the best things in life never come easy. There is that pesky skin to get through, so depending on if you are eating it as a snack, or topping your favourite dessert or salad, there are two best ways to cut a mango
- Turn the mango upside down and rest on the flatter edge. Take a sharp knife and slice the cheeks off. Then resting the bottom of the cheek on the edge of a glass put down to remove the cheek from the skin – the glass does all the pesky work for you! Slice the cheek up and top your favourite dessert or salad.
- To eat as a snack, slice the cheeks of with a knife and then with a small sharp knife carefully cut four lines one way in the cheek of the mango and then turn it around 90 degrees and cut four lines again. Using both hands use your fingers to push upwards on the skin side – enjoy!
This super fast and easy tip will have you devouring mangoes in no time 🙂
When it’s hot, you have no aircon – or want to avoid the high electricity bill sometimes it feels like there is nothing that will save you. Enter frozen grapes. Suck on this and you will feel cool instantly, and trust me you will love the sweet snack. All you have to do is remove the grapes from the bunch, pop them in a zip lock container and freeze for 2hours. Keep them in the freezer for up to 3 weeks – but I highly doubt they will last that long.
Pimp your ice cubes
Add flavour to your water, or cocktails whilst also cooling it down in the heat of summer. Add your favourite herbs, berries and my favourite: passion fruit to ice cube trays and then top them up with water.
Make coffee ice cubes
I LOVE coffee but as soon as the thermometer tips 30C, which it does very easily here in Australia I can’t drink hot coffee. Enter the ice coffee, I love it with just coffee, ice and milk (add in some ice-cream and its Jackson’s favourite drink). But if you don’t drink it straight away it can get super watery – and lets face it I am the worst forgotten tea offender.
I am constantly leaving it and coming back, especially when I am in the middle of a shoot. So this is easily one of my favourite summer food hacks. I love to make a big batch of coffee, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Then when I want an iced coffee all I need to do is pour milk over a couple of ice cubes and I have a super delicious drink. If you like sugar or sweetener in your coffee dissolve it into the hot coffee before freezing.
Freeze your excess smoothies
We all know it can be impossible to make the perfect size smoothie. I for one always seem to make way to much and end up overfilling my glass. But something I have come to love doing is freezing the excess smoothie for later. If there isn’t much put it in a ice cube tray and add to your next smoothie, or if like me you always seem to make enough for your imaginary friend as well, pour it into a ice block mold and enjoy it for dessert on those hot nights! Why not try it on some of my favourite summer smoothie recipes here: Green Smoothie, Blueberry Mango Smoothie, Date and Caramel Smoothie and the Minty Watermelon Crush.
Ok you will probably find that ice cube trays are your best friend for all summer food hacks! Well I will let you discover that one, they really are so versatile so stock up!! I am always interested to learn new food hacks… so what are your favourite hacks? Tell me in the comments below!
Top tips for relaxing with a type A personality
Do you constantly feel like you are on the go? Like you can’t just sit still. Even when it comes to taking time off work or your side hustle is still constantly on your mind? Do you struggle to just sit still and watch a movie? Does meditation feel completely impossible?
Definition of a Type A personality: ‘a Type A individual is ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence. ‘
Well that is me. Until I read this definition I admit I felt a little alone in the way I was. But then I realized it wasn’t just me. The problem with Type A personalities is we hate to admit defeat; we aim for perfection and don’t let anyone see otherwise. We want to please everyone so are almost physically impossible of saying no.
We are so driven and passionate, that sometimes it comes as a downfall. Because when you are so focused on something you are passionate about, it is easy to forget the things that don’t move you forward in your career like your friends, your family and prioritizing time to relax.
This came as a big life lesson to me. I was working full time, working my but off in every other waking moment to make something of my side hustle. I couldn’t seem to stop my mind and I would get caught up that even when I ‘relaxed’ I would be on my phone checking emails, Instagram, Facebook – the lot. I would be working on my side hustle. But I soon found out this was in no way sustainable.
Don’t get me wrong, I often still fall into the trap and struggle to relax, but releasing my personality makes me check in with my self regularly and just see how I am going.
The key to relaxing with a Type A personality is finding the things that completely take your mind of work/life etc – for a lot of people this seems to be meditation.
- For me meditation is the last thing that works, give me weights in a gym, a path to run along, cookies to bake or a good book to read
- Make a rule to have an 1hour a day with your phone in a different room. Whether this be when you are eating dinner, watching tv after work, or just chilling out with friends – remove the distraction, because we all know that sometime the impulse to check it is just too strong.
- Keep a note pad next to your bed, in your purse, in your car – everywhere! The best way to stop thinking about something is to get it down on paper. The act of writing your task/idea/thought bubble down tells your brain it no longer needs to store that information because it is now safely jotted down to come back to later.
- Schedule a day off to spend with people you love every week – when I was working full time, I would come home and work at night and then work both days of the weekend to get things moving with my business. Sure it worked, I have created something that to me is so amazing. But it came at a cost. I didn’t make time to make friends in a new city, catch-up with work colleagues or even spend quality time with my sister. In fact I used to think it was almost a good thing I was doing long distance with my boyfriend, because it meant that every few months I would take a weekend off – but during my normal weeks I wouldn’t have to make too much time other than a phone call. But I quickly realized, that I needed to take a day off a week. Working 7 days a week takes a toll. So I would schedule my photography work on either Saturday or Sunday and take the other day off. I hated it at first, but soon found to love it. I would have time to go and explore new cafes in Melbourne, spend time with my sister, go out for a wine when I felt like it!
- I have mentioned this next point already, but it deserves more recognition – exercise. The key to a healthy life and in particular a healthy mind is exercise. Find some form of exercise that you love and move your body every day, even if only for 15-30min. I go to the gym most week day mornings, and then on the weekends take myself on big walks along the beach or through the quite streets in the surrounding suburbs.
If I don’t.. I see a notable change in my mood, the way I react to certain situations. It is the easiest way to take some time for you – and who could look at their phone, or worry about work when you are puffing through a run or struggling to lift the dumbbells in a gym?
I quit my DREAM JOB and have never been HAPPIER…
This international women’s day I am taking the time to reflect on the big changes I have made in my life. AND take time notice that only when I take a major leap out of my comfort zone, do I achieve great things.
I studied for nearly 6 years and worked by butt off to make myself a good applicant for that job, I volunteered, I developed my own initiatives, I worked to pay my way through uni. I still remember getting the call back, I was in my tiny little office at uni finalizing my research paper, and when I saw that number light up on my phone I was shaking.
I couldn’t believe after all the hard work I had put in it was finally paying off. It was my dream job. Working in the community, with the community to educate and empower to help improve their health outcomes.
I quickly moved to Melbourne to start my job just a few days after I completed my Masters. This is a job that a lot of my fellow students were still struggling to find, jobs in health promotion are few and far between. I don’t want to stay I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones, because I know the work I put in to get here.
But when I moved to Melbourne, I also found I finally had time on the weekends to cook and shoot more for my blog – I always struggled to keep up with it at uni. Then I started to reach out to brands, and more and more brands started to reach out to me to develop recipes and shoot products for them. My weekends got consumed.
I started to resent going to work during the week, as I wanted to be back in the kitchen, or in my make shift studio or behind my computer editing. I quickly realized that what I thought was my dream job, really never was.
What I thought was my dream job, was actually just a crutch that prevented me from the creative side of my life that I had grown so much through uni. It was the job I got because after you study for 6 years you don’t go out on your own, you go and work for a big organization. This is not to saying health promotion is not my passion, it whole-heartedly is. Nutrition, Health Promotion, cooking and photography – that is my jam! What wasn’t my passion was doing it for someone else.
And if I learnt anything at uni, it was that you have to accept when your life path takes a new direction, it isn’t failure to admit that you have ‘changed your mind’. It is a big strength to find what you are passionate about. I am lucky to say at 25 years old that I have found that and that is because I have worked hard to find out exactly what it is.
I tried catering, I tried hospitality, I tried nutrition consultations, I tried health promotion in a NGO setting. I really have tried it all, and finally come out with something that makes me randomly jump around the house with excitement at times, because I’m finally living it.
If there is any advice I can give, try everything. Anything and everything that interests you – give it a go. You never know what might light your fire, but keep it burning!