Entries for the 2016 Member Awards are now open. It’s not often we can give public recognition to our amazing members and their truly inspiring achievements. Some are shy, some don’t want the publicity, and others honestly don’t believe that they are anything special. Trust us, all our members are special in their own ways and one of our goals is to help women discover their amazing selves.
Each year we have a Member Awards promotion, where members enter themselves (often with a little push from the Health Coaches) and tell us their unique stories. This year, we have three prize categories:
While there are three separate prize categories, each member completes the same entry form. The team of judges then filters entries into the different categories. The thing is, many women might be delighted with their results but not think they are inspiring, for example, or may not feel that they are anything special. Others around them can usually see it, though, and this is where the Member Awards is so important.
In 2015 we had many wonderful applications, and we’d like to share some in the coming weeks. The first one is Loretta H, from Tasmania, who lost 43 kilos and 142.5 cm.
“I saw an ad for Healthy Inspirations in the paper and thought “What the heck, I’ve got nothing to lose except a heap of weight and I’ve tried everything else.” I was sceptical to start with because everything else that I had tried, I was unable to sustain for the long term, but the ladies at Healthy Inspirations have taught me so much about my body and the food I choose to put into it, that I no longer view either as my enemy.
I am nearly 50 years old and for 26 years of my adult life I have weighed over 120kg, so needless to say there have been some mental and emotional hurdles to overcome. And just a few years ago I was so unfit I struggled to walk 200m to the shop; I now walk 10km once a week and every other day I walk up a steep hill around where I live. I actually enjoy walking now. Wow, I never thought I would say that.
Probably the biggest health benefit for me is that after 30 years of being on medication for high blood pressure, I am now off medication and maintaining normal blood pressure. When people ask what I’ve been doing, I simply say I’ve been seeing a health coach at Healthy Inspirations and learning heaps about food and my body, eating real food and discovering how different foods affect me and which foods work best for me.”
See a Health Coach in your centre for an entry form: we’d love to hear your story and share it to help inspire others.
We accept that it would be politically incorrect for the new 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines to tag themselves with any descriptive names like: low fat, low GI, low carb, high protein etc.
Of course, the guidelines promote ‘energy balance’ and the simplistic message that weight control is all about kilojoules (calories) in versus kilojoules (calories) expended.
The first sentence of Guideline 1 (of 5) reads: “To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious foods and drinks to meet your energy needs.”
I have some problems with this:
Some of us believe that the ‘energy balance’ hypothesis is overly simplistic. It ignores the biochemical and hormonal forces that drive fat storage, hunger and cravings. These forces are different for each individual and are primarily influenced by foods and drinks that elevate blood sugar – those that contain carbohydrates.
There are some people who are trying to manage their weight and their health, who have learnt that they have to limit their daily carb intake to stay under their body’s individual daily carb tolerance.
Foods containing carbohydrates are not ‘bad’, especially those that have a low energy density and high nutrient density. But exceeding your body’s individual carbohydrate tolerance might be ‘bad’ for you, have negative health implications (think inflammation) and make weight loss very difficult.
So what is the carb count from the recommended servings for a woman 51-70 in the new guidelines?
We never expected the guideline authors to provide a carb count and so we did some sums. We only did these for the people who are most interested in weight control – women 51-70. There are more overweight men, but it seems that they are simply less interested.
The guidelines do provide online sample meal plans for men and women aged 19 to 50, but not if you’re over 51! (Don’t we matter?)
Here’s the food groups containing carbohydrates and I have varied the choices to provide a clearer picture.
5 daily serves of Vegetables and legume/beans
1 small potato, ½ cup carrots, ½ cup broccoli, ½ cup squash, 1 small tomato = totals approx. 16.8 g carb
2 daily serves of fruit
1 medium apple, 1 medium banana = totals approx. 59.2 g carb
4 daily serves of Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
1 slice bread, ½ cup cooked pasta, 2/3 cup wheat cereal flakes, 3 crispbreads = totals approx. 70.3 g carb
4 daily serves of Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)
2 cups milk, 40g cheddar, 200g yoghurt, 100 ml soy drink = totals approx. 39.8 g carb
Total carb per day for 51+ woman = totals approx. 186.1 g carb!
Now if you were to add a “no-added-sugar” glass of juice in the morning, some spreads, sauces or dressings, any nuts, or an unmeasured glass of wine at night, you could easily go over 200 g carbohydrate per day!
We looked for any evidence or mention within the guidelines that an overweight 51+ women could eat over 180 g of carbs a day and be able to lose weight, regardless of her willpower or its sustainability. No mention.
What your waist might tell you about your own carbohydrate tolerance?
If you are reading this and you’re a female, get out a tape measure and measure your waist. If it’s 80 cm or more you have ‘a health risk’. If it’s 88 cm or more you have an ‘increased health risk’, particularly for diabetes. Extra weight around the waist is associated with extra diabetes risk and insulin resistance, which some call “reduced carbohydrate tolerance”. If a woman has a waist over 88 cm and consumes 186 g of carb per day, she may be literally throwing “fuel on the fire”.
Although all the foods in the examples above provide nutrients, the Guidelines do not specify any minimum carbohydrate requirements (or maximum), for any age, sex, size or activity level.
When it comes to weight control, the Guidelines take the myopic view that weight control is only about energy balance. “A kilojoule is a kilojoule is a kilojoule.” This means that they pay no regard to the hormonal impact of eating 400 kj of fat, versus 400 kj of protein versus 400 kj of carbohydrate.
Stepping away from our weight control lens, you can also question the health impact of different foods and drinks, especially those contain sugar (of any kind). Read this.
Of course,when it comes to weight control, the most important hormone (and there are others) is insulin, which is involved in fat storage (amongst other things). Insulin responds to carbohydrate (from any source), and to a lesser extent – protein. Each one of us has a slightly different insulin response to foods and drinks containing carbohydrate. A simple ‘low fat’ breakfast of fruit and muesli may have vastly different effects on different people’s weight control efforts. Energy balance still matters, but our body’s individual hormonal responses to different foods heavily influences how that energy gets stored or used.
How big is Australia’s weight problem?
On Page 12 of the Guidelines it reads:
“There is widespread recognition that overweight and obesity constitute a global problem requiring urgent attention. Overweight and obesity contributed 7.5% of the burden of premature death and disability in Australia in 2003. More recent data from Western Australia and Queensland indicate that overweight and obesity have now overtaken cigarette smoking as the single greatest contributing risk factor, being responsible for 8.3–8.6% of the total burden of disease and injury.
As is the case internationally, overweight, obesity and associated health problems place a significant economic burden on the Australian health care system. The total direct, indirect and social cost has been estimated at $37.7–$56.6 billion with direct costs estimated at $8–$21 billion. It is predicted that by 2023, the projected health expenditure for type 2 diabetes will have risen $1.4 billion to $7 billion per year, due mostly to increasing weight gain.”
I believe that these Guidelines are simply not good enough and lack any clarity in what people, who are overweight, and want to reduce their weight, should eat to lose weight.
I welcome your comments.
After years of deliberations, the 2003 guidelines have been updated, telling all Australians what the government thinks we should be eating. The task has been massive, especially sifting through the vast amount of input from various health bodies, consumer groups, food growers, manufacturers and retailers, as well as restaurants and fast food outlets.
We’ve looked at the guidelines through the lens of healthy effective weight loss and sustainable healthy weight control and plucked out excerpts that you may find interesting reading.
Firstly, everyone agrees that whatever Australians have been eating and drinking, it’s worked – to make Australians and their children even fatter!
55% of women are overweight or obese and by 2025 this is expected to increase to 75%. Data from some states indicates that overweight and obesity has now overtaken smoking as the greatest health risk factor.
Even more frightening is that we are failing our children and adolescents of whom 1 in 4 are now overweight or obese. More than 35% of daily energy intake was derived from energy-dense nutrient-poor ‘extra foods’. Despite the common myth that “kids will grow out of their weight”, the odds are stacked against the overweight child ever having a healthy weight. We’ve had a preliminary look over the new guidelines to give you our take on what we think is good and what could be improved.
The guidelines cover 5 sections:
1. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight
2. Eat a wide variety from 5 food groups + plenty of water
3. Limit foods containing certain saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol
4. Promote breastfeeding
5. Care for your food; prepare and store it safely
The good bits:
1. It’s a wake-up call for every Australian. If we don’t do something, or everything, collectively and individually, our hospitals and health care system will be completely clogged and unfunded with diabetics alone. The problem is way past one that can be addressed by “individual responsibility”.
2. The guidelines are written in plain English and freely available for all to see at www.eatforhealth.gov.au
3. They explain the various levels of evidence. However, because there are practical and ethical challenges in dietary research, the evidence levels are only “associative”, with 3 levels: A: convincing association, B: probable association and C: suggestive association.
4. The first guideline about weight mentions the value in maintaining muscle strength.
5. On page 16 they made it clear that increased energy consumption was mainly driven by rising consumption of cereal-based foods, confectionary and sugar-sweetened drinks – being 36% of adult’s intake and 41% of children’s intake. We are slowly killing (sweet-poisoning) ourselves and our children.
6. “The Glycaemic Index does not lead to greater weight loss or weight management.” P20
7. “There is little evidence that population fat intake is associated with the obesity epidemic independently of total energy intake.” P22 This means that it is not just the intake of fat, but total intake.
8. “The satiety value of foods may also be important in managing appetite and hunger.” P 22 (No mention of feeding frequency and protein intake on satiety.)
9. “Energy-dense dietary patterns are associated with higher consumption of grain-based foods, fats and sweets and lower consumption of vegetables and fruit.”
10. “The three key lifestyle areas related to overweight and obesity are dietary pattern, physical activity and behavioural change. Multi-component interventions that address all three areas are more effective than those that address only one or two.” P 22 (Sounds like the Healthy Inspirations weight loss program.)
11. Want more? “A combination of increased physical activity and energy restriction is more effective than energy restriction alone for weight loss and maintenance of weight loss. Physical activity can affect body composition favourably during weight loss by preserving or increasing lean mass while promoting fat loss.”
12. And more? “Lifestyle improvements, through cognitive and behaviour change, to increase physical activity and improve dietary intake is fundamental to weight management. Such education, training and support may be provided to individuals or groups.” (Sounds like the Healthy Inspirations weight loss program.)
13. “No recent studies of the relationship between legumes/beans and weight loss were identified.” P39
14. “The majority of vegetables are nutrient-dense and low in kilojoules – in particular, green, Brassica and other ‘salad’ vegetables are relatively low in energy (kilojoules). However, starchy vegetables are less nutrient-dense and are higher in kilojoules. Diets high in fibre and specific complex carbohydrates such as non-starch polysaccharides, have been used with modest success by people with type 2 diabetes attempting to lose weight. The small effects seen in these experimental situations might relate to a satiating effect due to the prolongation of food absorption and a smoothing of the blood glucose response after meals.” P 41
15. The health value of ‘grass-fed meats’ (as opposed to grain-fed or grain-finished) and ‘some eggs’ (Which eggs? We assume they mean free range eggs.) get a brief mention as a source of essential fatty acids on P 48. On P 51 they say “There do not appear to be any increased health risks associated with the consumption of eggs.”
16. In section 2.4.2 on P 49 they discuss red meat. They explain why there is no evidence statement regarding any association between eating red meat and heart health. The population-based studies have simply failed “to adequately disaggregate possibly different effects of unprocessed red meat and processed meats.” There’s simply “insufficient studies” and “lack of clarity” to allow an evidence statement for or against eating red meat and cardiovascular health.
17. Nuts and seeds get a big tick of approval. But we suggest you avoid manufactured seed oils.
18. Dairy clarity. “the consumption of dairy foods is not associated with weight change”. P 57
19. Drink your water! 8-10 cups. Not sugar-containing juices or beverages. Unsweetened coffee and tea seem to have many health benefits.
20. In the section on saturated fat and cholesterol (HDL and LDL) they make mention of “the discovery of sub-fractions of these” with a reference. As far as we know, sub-fractions tell a clearer picture of one’s cholesterol health but that these tests are not commonly available in Australia, but are becoming increasingly used in the USA. We predict that you might start hearing of a new measure ‘triglycerides over HDL’ in the future, instead of total cholesterol or the current cholesterol ratio.
21. Limit foods containing added salt. P 73. “… there is now some evidence indicating that reducing sodium may result in a reduction of mortality, stroke and heart disease for those with hypertension (high blood pressure) but not, as yet, for those with normal blood pressure.” The Healthy Inspirations food plans are very low in any foods containing added salt. Adults need between 460-920 mg/day of sodium but it should be kept preferably under 1,600 mg/day and definitely under 2,300 mg/day.
22. The report was very strong in recommending against the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. “The most recent WCRF statements urge caution with energy-dense foods and sugar-sweetened drinks because of their association with obesity and its link with some cancers.” “From a nutritional perspective, good health can be achieved without the addition of sugars in any form to the diet.” We would have gone one step further to advise against consuming fruit juices, where the naturally occurring sugars are concentrated even though the juice may be labeled as “no added sugars” or “a good source of (anything)”.
The bits we feel could be improved
1. There’s a new food plate that groups various foods into 5 groups and this is followed with suggested portions of each group for people of different ages and sex. But we suspect that there has been undue influence by various special interests to make sure that their food group was included or received a solid recommendation.
2. The biggest problem caused by how we eat, is our weight. By 100 fold this is a bigger problem than nutrient deficiency, which the guidelines try so hard to avoid, at the risk of having us eating too many servings of the various food groups. On Page 19 they write that the World Health Organisation is now more interested in energy balance than specific food groups.
3. Like the dietary guidelines that are based on the ‘energy balance’ assumption, there’s also revised physical activity guidelines. They suggest that 30 minutes a day (7 days a week) is not sufficient to prevent weight gain. They recommend 45 to 60 minutes every day and 60-90 minutes for people who have lost weight to prevent weight regain – totally unrealistic! Now, we disagree with the guidelines. At Healthy Inspirations we strongly believe in the wellness benefits of exercise, and that (like flossing your teeth and wearing seat belts) we should all be doing it for life. But it’s simply not effective for weight loss. We too, used to believe that daily physical activity was an essential ingredient to weight loss. This meant that we ‘forced’ many overweight people to exercise when they simply did not have the energy or inclination to do it. It actually led to them dropping out of exercise. We’ve found a better way. If you help people make the dietary change that’s right for their body so they can start releasing fat as energy, and start losing weight, then, and sometimes only then, will they be inclined towards physical activity – which can benefit them for life. This especially applies to overweight children who are encouraged to exercise when their dietary patterns keep them fat. Put simply: Exercise does not lead to weight loss. Weight loss leads to exercise.
4. There has only been recognition and allowance for vegetarians, who choose to avoid different foods like: meat, dairy, fish, eggs… for their individual philosophical, ethical or health beliefs, but there has been no recognition or allowance for others, who for different reasons choose to avoid cereals and grains, and/or dairy. We would have preferred a statement like, if you choose to avoid or limit cereals and grains, make sure you have extra serves of nutritious non-starchy vegetables and adequate serves of meats, eggs, fish and dairy.
5. The guidelines make the simplistic “earth is flat” assumption that our weight is all about energy balance and no other factors. But we all know some who eat little and can’t lose weight, where others seem to be able to eat (and drink) anything and stay slim. We’ve learnt that each person differs in how their body stores and releases fat and that this can be manipulated by adapting an individualised dietary plan. One diet does not suit every body!
6. Interested in maths? Let’s look at some numbers from P 15 regarding “Energy intake and trend data” in the decade to 1995 and knowing that the estimate is that it takes 37,800 excess kilojoules to add 1 kilogram of bodyfat
1. Adults consumed an extra 350 kilojoules per day = 127,750 kj per year = 1,277,500 in the decade. This would equate to an extra 33 kg!
2. 10-15 year old girls consumed an extra 900 kilojoules per day = 328,500 kj per year = 3,285,000 in the decade. This would equate to an extra 86 kg!
3. 10-15 year old boys consumed an extra 1,400 kilojoules per day = 511,000 kj per year = 5,110,000 in the decade. This would equate to an extra 135 kg! (Of course, none of this happened which means we cannot take the ‘energy balance’ hypothesis for granted. There’s self-regulatory factors at work for each individual. For the fortunate, these work well, but for many of us they do not. These are not discussed in the guidelines. That’s why we take an individual pathway, focusing on what can move each individual member from fat storage to fat release and burning.)
7. Please keep reading!
8. On P 32 mention is made of new varieties of grain (cereal) foods. There are now books written on new high-yield ‘dwarf strains’ of wheat that may contain ‘anti-nutrients’. Search for Wheat Belly by Dr William Davis.
9. On P33 they write “Dietary variety has the benefit of diluting potential toxicants found naturally in foods.” We believe that it’s valuable for each person to discover which, if any, foods do not suit their body, especially those foods known to be high in ‘potential toxicants’.
10. Too often they use the phrase “a good source of…” to justify eating a particular food. To generalise – meats, fish, eggs, dairy, non-starchy vegetables, nut and seeds (but not seed oils) have high nutrient density.
11. Page 44 discusses grain foods and their nutrient density but makes no comments regarding their energy density, or potential anti-nutrients (phytates). They do mention that it is mandatory for wheat flour used in bread making to be ‘fortified’ with folic acid and thiamine, and for the salt to be iodised.
12. To be defined as ‘wholegrain’ foods only need to have 25% actual wholegrains! P 45
13. “Note that as some degree of processing is applied to most grains (cereals) to aid digestion, the effects (on the body – JH) can be significantly influenced by the technology applied in processing and cooking.” P 46
14. It is difficult to put some foods into one category. For instance, eggs, which are now declared ‘safe’ to eat, are in the ‘lean meats and alternatives’ group, which are traditionally seen as ‘protein rich’. However, on an energy basis, eggs supply more fat than protein.
15. In recommending a reduction in saturated fat the guidelines promote an increase (4-10% of energy) in polyunsaturated fats typically supplied in the diet through manufactured seed and vegetable oils, many which are higher in Omega 6. We are concerned by any use of polyunsatured oils over 4% of total energy. Where we all know to avoid ‘trans-fats’, we predict that you will hear more about the downsides of eating margarines and the polyunsaturated seed oils (eg canola oil), which have a higher Omega 6 profile.
16. The section on alcohol gave a mixed report, with some benefits and some risks, especially the increase in breast cancer risk. Unlike the other sections, the section on alcohol did not address its impact on weight loss or weight maintenance.
We hope that this summary has shone some light on the new 226 page Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013, especially from a weight management perspective. They clarify some issues and also leave some big questions.
At Healthy Inspirations, we have learnt that “One diet does not suit every body” and that a process that works with your body to develop an individual dietary regime works best and is most sustainable.
We’re pleased to read the words “Multi-component interventions that address all three areas (dietary pattern, physical activity and behavioural change) are more effective than those that address only one or two.” That’s what we do.
We hope that those that read this will have greater confidence to start or continue their weight loss journey at Healthy Inspirations. We’ll continue to stay abreast of the latest research so that our programs and their delivery are always at the cutting edge of effectiveness, wellness-promoting and sustainability. The comments from members doing our weight loss program typically fall into two groups:
1. “I was mainly interested in learning how to eat better in order to improve my health and avoid future illness. Not only do I feel much better, my weight loss has been a welcome side effect.”
2. “I was mainly interested in getting my weight down, having tried loads of diet and exercise programs. Not only did my weight come down, but I feel so much better. I thought that how I used to feel was ‘normal’. I now know that it wasn’t.”
Your comments are welcome. Please feel free to share this post with your friends. Print it out. Send them an email link, or post it on Facebook or Twitter.
We wish you the best of health,