Kayla Itsines: this is what happens to your body when you skip a meal

I’m sure we have all been there before, you’re running late for work and decided to bypass breakfast or maybe you’ve decided to skip your lunch break to catch up on some work. You think it will all be fine right? Not necessarily. In addition to hunger pains, being han-gry (watch out innocent bystanders!) and feeling sluggish, there are some other worrying health impacts associated with skipping meals.

What happens to your body when you skip a meal

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1. Blood sugar levels plummet & hormones become affected

If you skip just one meal it causes your blood sugar levels to fall, and if you are skipping breakfast they will never rise at all. Sugar is one of the things your body runs on and if it isn’t topped up properly, every organ in your body is affected. It also causes your cortisol levels to rise which causes anxiety and stress! Blood sugar levels need to be stable at all times so you don’t risk binging or feeling really off.

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2. Metabolism slows

Your body is used to working 24 hours a day. When you skip a meal your digestive system isn’t able to do its job, this essentially means your body enters starvation mode in an effort to conserve energy. When this happens your metabolism slows way down and the food you do eventually eat isn’t burned off very efficiently. So if you think you are doing yourself a favour by skipping a meal in order to eat something naughty later, you are actually making it worse! If you are going to have a ‘cheat’ meal, try to eat wholesome foods throughout the rest of the day at regular intervals to keep your metabolism going.

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3. Your brain doesn’t function properly

Without a proper supply of nutrients, your brain becomes clouded and your emotional and intellectual functions are affected. You will start to become moody and irritable, and it will be harder to concentrate as you go about your daily tasks. This can be a nightmare if you have a report due or are sitting an exam. When you do eat again the relief will only be temporary, as your metabolism doesn’t know when it will be receiving nutrients again. It stays low in order to conserve energy. What does this mean for you? Your mood isn’t going to improve, say hello to a bad day and further blood sugar drops! If you continually choose to skip meals your body may eventually turn to your muscles as a source of fuel, further draining energy. Sorry girls, but a cup of coffee isn’t considered a meal, it will only make you feel more groggy and irritable as the day goes on!

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4.  Overeating and Binge Eating

If you have skipped most of your meals during the day and finally sit down to have dinner you are at serious risk of overeating way too much! Your body is so starved for calories and nutrients you usually don’t know when to stop because all of a sudden you feel so hungry. In the long run this could cause stomach problems and weight gain. Another thing you have to be wary of when you skip a meal is the dreaded binge. You have been absolutely flat out at work all day and haven’t had a moment to stop, you start making your way home and suddenly you could eat everything in sight. You open the pantry and proceed to eat 3 packets of chips, a chocolate bar, wash it down with a soda and then continue snacking on some biscuits. This is all before dinner. Nobody likes to binge, we all know it leaves us feeling guilty and sick. In order to give yourself the best chance to prevent binging, you must eat regularly throughout the day to keep your metabolism running and your body feeling satisfied.

TOP TIP:

Remember girls, meal prep is everything! The old saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is SO true! If you don’t want to meal prep days in advance, spend a few minutes at night getting your meals ready for the next day so you have the best chance of having a great day – with a full tummy!

Could your gut health be affecting your mood?

For years we’ve placed the utmost importance on our brain and heart – the control centres of our nervous and cardiovascular systems, respectively. Yet we’ve dismissed a third, seemingly embarrassing but equally vital organ, the conductor for the digestive system, the gut.

For the most part, the brain and heart were seen to keep us alive while the gut was perceived as good for little more than going to the loo. That is, until now.

More and more research is emerging that suggests the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut plays an incredible role in our brain health in terms of mood and even memory.

Dr. David Perlmutter, neurologist and New York Times bestselling author of Grain Brain, has been a key figure in this research. In his most recent book, Brain Maker: The power of gut microbes to heal and protect your brain – for life, he reveals how the microbiome of the gut may hold the answers to help us manage and treat neurological disorders that affect our behaviour and mood, from chronic headaches to anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s and autism.

We spoke to Dr. Perlmutter about his work and found out what he recommends for good gut (and therefore brain) health.

5 key essentials for good brain-gut health

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Key #1: Consume Prebiotics

“Prebiotics are indigestible fiber and they are the ingredients that gut bacteria, good gut bacteria, love to eat to nourish their own growth and activity, which includes keeping their host, that’s you and me, healthy. One of the benefits of having good bacteria in the gut is that they are able to use the prebiotic fiber we consume to fuel their metabolism and produce compounds that help us stay healthy.”

We can consume prebiotics naturally in the foods that we eat. Dr. Perlmutter recommends eating a diet high in prebiotic-containing foods such as chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, dandelion greens, and jicama or Mexican yam.

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Key #2: Don’t forget Probiotics

“Probiotic bacteria liberate nutrients contained in the foods you eat, making them more easily absorbed. For example, they increase the availability of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as vitamins from the B-complex group.”

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria themselves. According to Dr. Perlmutter, we should consume whole, natural fermented foods, which make them exceptionally bioavailable, or more easily accepted by the body, and consider teaming these foods with a high quality supplement.

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Key #3: Cut the Carbs & Sugars

“I suggest a diet that’s devoid of simple sugars, gluten-containing grains and flours, and is rich in healthy fats as well as prebiotic fiber. This particular diet supplies the ingredients to nourish not only healthy biology – and in turn a healthy microbiome – but also a healthy brain. A low carb diet is a diet that keeps blood sugar balanced and gut bacteria balanced.”

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Key #4: Avoid Gluten

“Gluten is among the most inflammatory ingredients of the modern era. We now know that disruption of the gut lining as a consequence of gluten exposure may actually occur in all humans – not just those with coeliac disease. This leakiness of the gut leads to inflammation that can affect the entire human body.”

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Key #5 Healthy Balance

Dr. Perlmutter says that one must support this dietary lifestyle by engaging in other gut-friendly activities such as maintaining a regular exercise program, getting a good night’s sleep, lowering exposure to potentially noxious chemicals, and reducing life stress.

“The inescapable and empowering truth is that we have co-evolved with these microorganisms throughout our journey on this planet. They are our body and our brain’s best friend. They are as much a part of our survival as our own cells are. So let’s do our utmost best to take care of our microbiome. This is the key that opens the door to exceptional health,” says Dr. Perlmutter.

Tips and tricks for choosing a good (for you) granola

Hidden beneath a mountain of fresh berries and gut-friendly yoghurt, granola is the picture of good health. But take a closer look and often you’ll be shocked to discover that your “healthy” start to the morning is actually loaded with sugar and high in calories – bet you wish you’d just been eating donuts.

Before you banish your maple oat clusters for good, granola CAN be a nutritious breakfast as oats are a good source of fibre and protein, while nuts are rich in omega-3 fats (the good stuff). As with any “health products”, wrapped in brown packaging and waving a gluten-free/raw/paleo flag, we must be mindful of marketing and check what’s on the label.

Tips and tricks for choosing a good (for you) granola

1. Check the sugar

Granolas can be laden with sugar. While some of the sugar content will come from dried fruit, the rest may be hiding under a pseudonym – molasses, brown rice syrup, agave and evaporated cane juice are all versions of the white stuff. Some natural sugars are good for us but as a rule of thumb, try to stick to six grams or less per serving and look for sugar additives in the ingredients.

2. Watch the calories

A healthier granola will sit around 200 calories per 45 gram serving but as with any food, assess what your daily diet requires and what you’re happy to forego on your morning meal.

3. Control your portion size

Typically, the ‘serving size’ for granola is smaller than that for muesli since granola is more dense. It is often around 35 to 45 grams, which, as much as we’d like it to, does not equate to a full bowl of grainy-goodness (unless you’re eating out of an egg cup). If you find a granola you love that is slightly higher in sugar/fat/calories than this guide suggests, perhaps alter your serving size rather than giving it up altogether or mix it with a healthy bran or wholegrain cereal.

4. Trim the fat

Granolas that are jam-packed with nuts and seeds provide a good source of unsaturated fats but sadly even these can add up. Ideally, look for those with two to three grams per 1/4 cup. This can be extremely difficult to find so we’ve done the hard work for you and sourced two of our favourites: Paleo Pure and Green Press Cereal Killer granola.

5. Source the oils

For muesli to transform into its tastier, naughtier alter-ego, granola, it needs to be baked, usually with oil. The oil used can make a huge difference to the nutritional value of the product. Many granolas list hydrogenated oils and palm oil which won’t do your heart any favours. Look for brands that use healthier alternatives like coconut or macadamia oil. For example, Byron Bay Macadamia Muesli.

6. Read the ingredients

In Australia, the national Food Standards Code dictates that the ingredients on food labels be listed in descending order of ingoing weight. In other words, if the number one ingredient is a form of sugar, oil or the like, pop it back on the shelf. Next, check for things you’ve never heard of and other sneaky fillers like inulin and soy protein isolate. If you’re struggling to pronounce it, chances are your system will struggle to digest it.

Are you really what you eat?

We all know that foods nourish our bodies and help us to glow from the inside out (hello veggies) and there are a raft of other foods we should try to avoid in our diet because of the damaging effects they can have on our health (sayonara processed junk a.k.a ‘fake’ food).

When it comes to what we eat and the link to cancer however, the information – especially in recent years – can be more confusing. Recent news headlines have lambasted some of the most common of tasty treats like bacon and other red meats, refined sugar and even white bread and other carbohydrates.

To set the record straight once and for all we asked Cancer Council to dish us up five facts about food and cancer. Research now shows that one third of cancers can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle, and key to this, says Cancer Council, is enjoying a healthy diet.

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  1. Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are some of the best foods you can eat to reduce your risk of cancer as they’re rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are also low in kilojoules and therefore great food choices if you’re also trying to maintain or lose weight. There is no one ‘super’ fruit or vegetable that protects against cancer. Instead, try to ‘eat a rainbow’ –  it will help keep your diet interesting and give your body the best protection.

In terms of preparation, eating a combination of both cooked and raw vegetables is best, as there are some cancer-fighting agents which are better absorbed from cooked fruit or vegetables. Good methods of cooking include steaming, stir frying, grilling and roasting. These use as little water as possible preventing nutrients and vitamins leaching out into the water.

TIP: Aim for at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day.

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  1. Load up on fibre

Evidence is now building for the importance of including wholegrain foods regularly in a cancer prevention diet, especially to help decrease the risk of bowel cancer. Consumption of fibre and wholegrains are also associated with a lower risk of common lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dietary fibre occurs naturally in foods such as wholegrain cereals, fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes.

TIP: Wholegrains such as wheat, brown rice, corn, oats, rye, barley, millet and sorghum are an important part of a healthy diet as they are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, protein, dietary fibre and protective phytochemicals.

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  1. Limit red and processed meat intake

There is now a clear body of evidence that bowel cancer is more common among those who eat the most red and processed meat. The World Health Organization has classified processed meats – including ham, salami, sausages and hot dogs – as a class 1 carcinogen, which means that there is evidence that processed meats contribute towards cancer. Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork has been classified as a ‘probable’ cause of cancer. However, with this being said, lean red meat can be an important source of iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and protein and in terms of cancer risk there is no reason to cut meat completely from your diet, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. The Cancer Council recommends eating only moderate amounts of fresh lean red meat – a moderate intake of meat is 65-100g of cooked red meat, 3-4 times a week – and a limited amount or avoid eating processed meats, which are high in fat, salt and nitrates.

TIP: The following are examples of 1 serve of meat – this should roughly fit into the palm of your hand:

  • ½ cup mince
  • 2 small chops
  • 2 slices roast meat.

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  1. Maintain a healthy body weight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of ten types of cancer including breast (post-menopause), endometrial and ovarian cancers in women; bowel, oesophageal, liver, kidney, pancreatic and gallbladder cancers, as well as advanced prostate cancer in men. Being overweight also increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease, gout, impaired fertility, lower back pain, osteoarthritis and many other conditions.

TIP: Filling your plate with plant foods, watching portion sizes, limiting junk food and choosing to drink water will help you maintain a healthy weight.  In addition, aim for 60 minutes of moderate exercise or 30 minutes of vigorous exercise most days, but every little bit counts so start small and gradually increase your activity.

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  1. Be mindful of alcohol

There is convincing evidence that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the bowel, breast, liver, mouth, throat, larynx and oesophagus. The more you drink, the greater the risk; and the type of alcohol you drink doesn’t make a difference.

TIP: If you choose to drink, limit your intake. The recommended intake is an average of no more than 2 standard drinks a day.

Jessica Sepel: the importance of eating mindfully

As babies, we ate intuitively: we fussed when we were hungry and stopped eating when we were full. Then, as we grow up, many of us lose touch with our true hunger signals. We start eating when we’re bored, sad, stressed, or happy. We turn to food to deal with our emotions and use. We forget food is purely available to keep us alive and well. It’s here to nourish our bodies – not solve our emotional problems.

As women, we need to identify those underlying emotional issues that are affecting our relationship with food. That’s the first step. The next time you reach for a chocolate bar or a bag of salty chips, ask yourself if you’re really hungry, or if you’re just emotional. Is there something going on in your life that needs attention?

Once you’ve figured out what’s causing you to emotionally eat, you can begin to change your habits – and heal your relationship with food.

When it comes to dealing with emotions, food is not the answer.

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I used to be a victim of emotional eating. Every morning, the number on the scales would determine my eating patterns. If I liked what I saw, I’d feel empowered, and I’d stick to my diet. If I didn’t like it, I’d punish myself through deprivation or the total opposite, by bingeing on the food I’d been missing for so long. I’d berate myself for not having “more willpower” – then the cycle would start all over again the next time I “slipped.” That is no way to live. Trust me. That’s why I’m so passionate about helping women find their way back to eating with love and joy. 

Natural eaters vs. dieters

To banish emotional eating for good, you need to let go of the diet mentality and become a natural eater instead.

Here’s the difference:

Dieters think about food all the time. They become so preoccupied with food, it starts to take over their quality of life. They have an emotional connection to food.

The fact is, food is not there to make us feel better – it’s there to keep us alive.

Natural eaters, on the other hands, don’t class food as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They see it purely as a source of fuel and nourishment. They enjoy eating, of course, but they know they’re eating food to survive. That’s it.

If you can shift your mentality and start to see food as a) abundant and b) a source of nourishment, a few things will happen. You’ll start eating when you’re hungry, and stop bingeing and using food to deal with emotions. And as a result, you’ll lose weight.

Diets don’t work because they’re a deprivation game. When we deprive ourselves, our bodies get tricked into thinking food is scarce. They then kick into survival mode, slowing down our metabolism and holding on to anything we feed it. You may lose some weight, but you’ll pile it straight back on. That’s the other problem with diets: they’re not sustainable, and the stress they cause wreaks havoc on your hormones and mind.

Give up the diets. They don’t work.

Post-Easter Cleanse: 6 surprising foods that aid digestion

Are you suffering from a chocolate-coma post Easter, feeling sluggish and a little guilty? Before you go beating yourself up about it, signing up for a marathon and swearing off carbohydrates, remember that it’s normal to indulge over the Easter period.

Instead, why not get back on track by kick-starting your metabolism and cleansing your system by adding some nourishing foods to your diet? We spoke to clinical naturopath and TV Presenter, Emma Sutherland about the best ingredients for improving digestion and here’s what she had to say.

6 natural foods that aid digestion

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1. Kiwi fruit

Kiwi fruit has an incredibly high vitamin C content, which helps to boost the immune system. It also protects cell DNA from oxidative damage, improves digestive health and helps to clean out toxins. Best of all, all of these actions contribute to glowing skin.

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2. Apples

Apples contain dietary fibre content, which helps the overall digestive process. Apples are high in pectin, which is a type of fibre that binds to cholesterol and heavy metals in the body. They therefore help to cleanse the intestines and eliminate toxic build up in the body.

Apples have also been shown to lower cholesterol and help prevent DNA damage and certain diseases. It is also thought that green apples can help prevent certain skin diseases, so if you suffer from rashes or any other skin conditions, they may be beneficial for you.

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3. Beetroot

Beetroot contains a unique mixture of natural plant compounds that make them a great blood purifier and liver cleanser. They are also loaded with fibre and folate, which is great for digestive health.

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4. Cucumber

Cucumber not only assists in detoxification and digestion, but it also helps to strengthen and synthesis skin tissue and induces improved blood flow to the skin through capillary dilation. Furthermore, it helps to boost the immune system and alkalize the body.

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5. Celery and celery seeds

Celery is an excellent blood cleanser. It contains many different anti-cancer compounds that helps to detoxify cancer cells from the body and it contains over 20 anti-inflammatory substances. It is particularly good for detoxifying substances found in cigarette smoke.

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6. Lemons

We all know that lemons are great for the digestive system, but what is it that they do exactly? Lemons contain high amounts of vitamin C, which is needed by the body to help produce glutathione. Glutathione then helps the liver detoxify harmful chemicals. It is one of the best natural detoxifying ingredients that you can get, so add it to your salads and in your water for the benefits.


Liverlicious Smoothie Recipe

1/2green apple
1/2 cup blanched kale
½ cup spinach
A Handful of mint
A Handful of parsley
A handful of celery
½ cucumber
1 tbs camu camu
1 tsp flaxseeds
½ cup coconut water

Mix in a blender and voila!

 

Make your own healthy cacoa and coconut granola

With all this talk of finding a granola that’s actually good for you, we thought, what better way to ensure your breakfast bowl is nutrient-packed and nourishing than to make your muesli yourself? So we asked James Duigan to share his delicious cacao, carob and coconut granola recipe that just so happens to tick all our boxes for a healthy granola.

Cacao is the real deal – the untouched, purest form of chocolate without all the sugary rubbish and it provides a great source of health-boosting antioxidants. Carob contains as much vitamin B1 as asparagus or strawberries and is packed with calcium, and coconut is a fantastic source of good fat which helps you to metabolise bad fat.

CACAO, CAROB AND COCONUT GRANOLA

Serves 4–6

INGREDIENTS

300g coconut flakes, unsweetened

200g mixed nuts

50g pumpkin seeds

30g sunflower seeds

30g cacao nibs

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1 teaspoon carob powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons maple syrup

4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
  1. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix to combine. Once thoroughly mixed, stir in the wet ingredients.
  1. Lay the granola out evenly on the baking trays trying not to have any ingredients on top of each other.
  1. Bake for 10–15 minutes, or until golden brown, then remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before storing in an airtight jar for up to 2 weeks. (The oil may sink to the bottom of the jar.)

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