Fruit for dessert???

Choosing fruit for dessert is a great alternative to its calorie-packed bakery counterpart.

Dessert is one meal sweet tooth’s look forward to the most. And if you’re watching your weight, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a little morsel of indulgence. It’s very possible to create yummy deserts from fresh fruit, yoghurts and healthy ingredients which taste good. The advantage being they just aren’t high in calories.

Many dessert foods including cakes, pastries, doughnuts, chocolate and cream-based desserts and ice cream are major calorie culprits. They are often hard to resist and easy to succumb to the temptation; even though we’re well aware that eating highly fatty foods isn’t worth it in the end. They can sabotage your healthy eating intentions and your waistline. Let’s face it: Ice cream is no health food.

That’s why choosing a fruit-based dessert is a far better option. They’re mostly easy to prepare and are great healthy alternatives to the fattening desserts that we know; especially if they have no added sugars or fats. Many really healthy desserts are okay to eat every night and if you’re eating fruit, it’s most likely to count as one serve of your daily recommended fruit intake.

Now if you’re eating out and dessert time has arrived before you know it, don’t go without and watch your friends eat. Instead, be smart. Opt to order a low fat yoghurt topped with fresh fruit salad.

If you’re having fruit-based desserts, ask for it to be served without ice cream or cream which only add a oodles of calories and not much room for nutrients. If you truly are craving ice cream, then that’s okay. Exercise portion control and ask for gelato, vitari or a low fat ice-cream alternative. That way you’re still getting your ice cream fix, just without so many calories. Remember though, that it should be a treat and not consumed every night.

Home time dessert cooking allows you to experiment the most. Many healthy dessert ideas come from raw food desserts. If you add berries into the mix, you will boost your antioxidants. Consider filling crepes with fruit compotes or dipping strawberries into dark chocolate. Another great touch is sprinkling lemon juice and a few drops of Grand Marnier on strawberries to add fresh citrus notes.

Either way, dessert should be enjoyed. It’s okay to eat a small amount of your favourite calorie-food here and there and truly savour it; just don’t eat too much and too often. For even more healthy dessert recipes, watch Vision TV if you’re a Vision member to find out more. Bon Appétit!

Fruit juice – Stay away from it!

Too much of a good thing will cause imbalance in the body

Too often, we forget that juice is a processed food which contains ingredients beyond rich nutrients. There are many additives and sugars in juice which are quickly released into the blood stream. Therefore, too much is not a good thing and can lead to health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

Excessive juice intake can cause dental cavities to develop from the high sugar levels. It can also cause weight gain, diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal issues like bloating, abdominal pain and excessive gas.

This is why a recent British study at Bangor University in North Wales recommended that fruit juice should not be counted as one of the five pieces of fruit services per day, since it contains too much sugar. Instead, dried fruit should be included in your diet guidelines.

In one particular study, the researchers found that freshly squeezed juice can contain up to five teaspoons of sugar per glass. This is because the squeezing process further concentrates their sweetness. This is a problem when people substitute juice for real fruit and it’s a real mistake. Fruit juice is significantly higher in sugar.

Unfortunately, fruit juices do not always have many vitamins and nutrients, despite having vitamin C. A major issue with drinking too much is that it only fills up your stomach and leaves you feeling content. It’s worry because your appetite is satisfied by sugars and not by a nutritious meal. And although you will consume needed daily calories, it won’t be from good fats or protein, but rather high amounts of carbohydrates and sugars. This can lead to a poor, unbalanced diet and future health problems.

Clearly, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. People often opt for juice as a healthier alternative to fizzy drinks, energy drinks and flavoured milk. While one standard serving of juice may contain nutrients, you can get then from the whole fruit without the extra energy. Stick to water!

The sugars found is juice are known to affect your weight and hormones when consumed excessively, since the human body stores unnecessary sugar as fat. Eating sugar also increases the insulin in your blood which can be a danger for diabetics. Insulin also causes the body to store fat which can potentially damage artery walls; a catalyst of heart disease. High sugar levels can even cause your immune system trouble by hindering white blood cells from functioning correctly. So the next time you’re craving juice, think!

What eggs are best and what’s the healthiest way to eat them?

Small, large, extra large; buying eggs use to be such an easy process. All you needed to decide on was the size you were after. Now, with so many egg varieties on the supermarket shelf, how do you know what the healthiest option is for you? 

Firstly, forget caged or free-range terms painted all over an egg carton. They’re not going to tell you any nutritional value whatsoever about an egg, but rather how the chicken was raised. And given that there is no standard for the terms, free-range doesn’t always mean a chicken will see the light of day. It just confirms that a chicken gets time out from being imprisoned in a barn cage.

We need to be clear that how a chicken lives doesn’t affect the nutritional value of their eggs. Sure it will impact their welfare and quality of life, but it does not improve an egg. The chicken’s diet is what determines an egg’s nutritional content.

One factor which improves the nutritional quality of eggs is giving a chicken access to pasture. This is where they can thrive on natural green plants and insects so omega-3 acids, vitamin D and beta-carotene properties in their eggs are increased.

Another great way is for farmers to incorporate added nutrients to their hen’s feed. For instance, including flaxseed in the mix will give any chicken (organic, pastured or caged) added nutrients such as vitamin E and omega-3 acids which are found in egg yolks.

This is why omega-3 eggs are an extremely nutritional option. The hens are fed a diet high in vitamin E and omega-3 fats to boost the content levels in each egg; regardless whether the hen is caged or free range.

Many people think vegetarian eggs are very healthy, but they’re not as nutritional as other eggs. This is because they are fed a strict animal-free diet that restricts them from roaming freely outdoors where they can access insects and worms. Therefore, they’re predominately a caged chicken.

At the end of the day, choose an egg where the hen’s laying them consume a highly nutritious diet. Eggs can be consumed raw, but are more popularly eaten cooked. All of the egg can be eaten or separated into the yolk or egg-whites only for optimum protein. Poaching an egg is a good cooking technique because you don’t have to add any fats. It’s also quite quick to prepare. Remember, when you add extra to your egg such as butter in scrambled eggs or cheese in an omelette, you are increasing fat properties.

Controlling your Caffeine Intake

Why too many coffees can even cause irregular heartbeats for healthy people.

Coffee. It’s a miracle drug when we need a burst of energy to pull us through an enduring day. But what are the negative impacts of having too much caffeine?

Caffeine is classified as a stimulant drug that increases blood sugar levels, elevates heart rate and blood flow and raises body temperature. It is a diuretic which lowers your water intake, causes you to urinate more frequently and can lead to dehydration. And although small doses can reduce fatigue and increase alertness, large consumptions can trigger not so beneficial side effects.

Rapid heartbeat, medically known as Tachycardia, is one of the most widespread complaints associated with the heart. Patients often seek medical attention for the symptom and find that it is caused by excessive amounts of caffeine; regardless of how healthy a person is. Even in small doses, caffeine can severely affect people who are prone to panic attacks. It can interfere with medications taken to calm down their system and even induce panic attacks and cause mood swings.

One of the worst, but overlooked side effects of coffee is caffeine addiction. Scarily enough, the smallest amounts of daily caffeine intake can form a physical dependence which can quickly turn into a vicious cycle. Most of the time regular coffee drinkers need a caffeine-packed beverage in the morning to get a kick start. If the person misses a daily hit of caffeine, they may even be subject to experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as excessive sleepiness, fatigue and headache. This is where it all begins and it may even be that coffee drinkers need a caffeine boost in the morning in the first place because they are already experiencing insufficient sleep which can lead to chronic insomnia.

But these side effects are considered to be quite moderate negative impacts of caffeine. There are more serious symptoms people in high risk medical categories, and even healthy people, may suffer from. People with certain physical conditions need to minimise their intake if they are known to experience high blood pressure and diabetes. It doesn’t end there, though because healthy people can experience problems such as stomach discomfort, anxiety and rapid heartbeats if they drink high levels of caffeine.

The recommended dosage of caffeine is 500mg per day. Think about how much caffeine you are consuming through coffee beverages, certain teas, soft drinks and other beverages. While one serving may be beneficial in the morning, consider reducing caffeine amounts in the evening to prevent over consumption, sleeping disorders, prolonged depression and rapid heartbeats.

Parents need to take responsibility for childhood obesity

Parents of overweight or obese children should really be doing more in western society’s obesity epidemic.

Everybody is familiar with the saying: You are what you eat. And when it comes to children, they’re innocence overshadows them. They are what their parents eat. They’re not old enough to go shopping and opt to put healthy food in the trolley. They can’t choose what fruit or how much chocolate goes into their cupboards and fridge; let alone their school lunch boxes. More so, they shouldn’t choose what goes in the pantry because they aren’t mentally sound to choose healthy food over junk, and would probably opt for sugar-ridden sweets anyway. It’s fair to say that parents of overweight and obese kids need to be held partially accountable for their children’s corpulent diet and exercise regime.

Although bullying and low self-esteem leads to comfort eating in young children, the problem again reverts back to food in the house hold and parents being bad role models. Why are so many cupboards stocked up on junk food? Clearly parents are major culprits when kids have access to calorie saturated, pound stacking on food.

It’s a great thing that the Australian Government has brought in lunchbox regulations to lower the amount of inappropriate food packed by parents. But there’s a lot more to be done to alleviate this international obesity epidemic.

In 2009, Californian researchers found that adolescents are more probable to eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruit per day if their parents do. Furthermore, teenagers were more likely to drink soft drink and eat takeaway food if their parents did.

So really, it does come down to parents being role models and shot callers when it comes to diet. Why not invest in healthy, appropriate, low calorie foods for your children and promote exercising. Walk your children to school instead of catching the bus or dropping them off by car where possible. Walk to the shops if it’s close enough. It all begins with the home.

Should we push for nutrition to be on the school syllabus?

Some health and nutrition experts have began to argue that the syllabus should now incorporate health classes – and that if there’s not enough time to fit this into the timetable then sports and games should incorporate nutritional education as part of their classes.

One school in Sydney has actually already started doing this and has earned itself top marks when it comes to pleasing both parents and education authorities. Even the children are enjoying the classes!

The idea is that by teaching children about food, they are taking life-lessons away with them and helping to keep their weight healthy for the rest of their lives. The school, Coogee Public School, has introduced a Healthy Active Kids program, which aims to improve diets and increase exercise levels.

The idea is that if kids learn how to be healthy at an early age it will lower the risk of becoming overweight in adulthood and be a lesson that is taken away with them for the rest of their lives, having a continuous beneficial impact. As part of the initiative, the school gave out journals to almost all of its 560 students. They used these to record how active they are and what they are eating. In class they then focused on nutrition, physical activity and exercising the mind. Deputy principal Stewart Crawford said: ‘We have had such a positive response that we are looking to run it again. There’s been a 15 per cent increase in the number of children who say their diet is excellent.’

Ley us know what you think of this initiative….

Labeling laws could be changing?????

The labeling of food is a confusing process for many – we also tend to feel less guilty when we can’t see the stats of the food we’re consuming, which certainly doesn’t help the general push to label all food. We can go to a bar and drink a glass of wine relatively guilt free when we can’t see how much sugar we’re consuming. However, slam a label on the side of the glass and show us just what we’re doing to our bodies and we suddenly recoil in disgust – or at least, that’s the plan.

It may be soon be introduced that all alcoholic beverages are labeled with their exact contents. The urge comes as more and more pregnant women continue to drink during their pregnancy and end up causing harm to their baby.

One doctor commented: ‘We have got to get over the notion that it is politically safe to talk about the bad effects of smoking but not the even more harmful effects of drinking while pregnant.”

Former health minister Neal Blewett has commented: “it was rather odd that you have all this information, all this advice, yet at the point of sale there is no indication at all”

In Britain, a traffic light labeling process was introduced with three stickers on food – red for high in fat, yellow for ok, and green marked clearly for “go”! This is a simple and very easy to follow system which Australia is hoping to adopt and even use across its alcohol companies.

But would this make you change your habits? Let us know…

The Athlete’s Diet

It caused a bit of a stir some years ago and now it’s back – the Weetbix advert which asks ‘How many do you do?’ The downfall of this advertisement however, is that all of the celebrity faces are athletes and obviously eat (and should eat) more carbs than the average person. Think of their routine, they train all day long and burn off massive amounts of carbohydrates and need more for the energy that they burn during sport.

They are in essence encouraging a child to eat as much as they do, to take in as many carbs as they do, and ultimately not burn them off. These characters are also idol figures for children, which means it’s far more likely that what they say on these adverts will be taken extremely seriously by children and undoubtedly be emulated.

And if you think this isn’t quite true, or an extreme, we did a little forum searching around the subject and found a mum’s forum talking about their kids’ reaction to the advert. Their children wanted to challenge their parents to see ‘how many they could do’. One woman’s little girl could eat as many as her father! This is shocking as there’s absolutely no way that the little girl will burn off as much as her Dad. However, what’s even worse is that the family in mention didn’t see anything wrong with this, it was simply a family challenge and they found it funny just how much the little girl could eat.

It’s understandable that children with a limited knowledge on food will be sucked in by these adverts but when parents are too, it becomes extremely worrying.

Cereal Offenders

The marketing industry is one of the fitness industry’s biggest and most competitive rivals – marketing ploys are created on a daily basis to try and hide the hidden demons in foods.

Low fat foods, which are adorned with logos and slogans promoting ‘99% fat free’, ‘the healthy choice’,  etc, may be low fat but they’re usually packed with carbohydrates that we’re never openly told about – carbs which are so well hidden under scientific terminology, that most consumers don’t know how many grams they in actually consuming.

Take for example, a popular health cereal by a well-known cereal brand – it promotes low fat, in fact virtually no fat almost at only 0.6g per 45g serve. Many would think, ‘great!’ and start snaking on bowls of cereal all day long, however, per 45g serve, there is also 33.7g of carbohydrates – an incredible amount, which if not burnt off will turn straight into sugar and then fat.

It’s extremely important for parents of young children to look out for this. Parents especially try and do the right thing by their children by buying low fat foods, but simply end up piling them with masses of carbohydrates which cause their sugar levels to rise and fall very dramatically.

Other serious offenders are all the vitamin-enhanced drinks, which claim to be incredibly good for you due to their added vitamin levels, but are packed with sugar. On one hand, yes, it’s great that they are packed with so many vitamins and nutrients – often things that you wouldn’t take in sufficiently through diet alone, but on the other hand, they are full of so much sugar that the negatives outweigh the positives. If you’re really concerned about your vitamin intake then the best thing to do is buy vitamin tablets and take these with water – by far the healthiest of options.

When tempted by the low fats and the healthy choices, make sure you read all of the stats – the marketers will obviously want to push the goodness and ignore everything else.

It’s all pretence!

Snacking on, and drinking foods that are labelled as good for you, has got to be one of the biggest downfalls when it comes to our diets.

There are many culprits in the food industry but one of the biggest (especially over the summer months) is low carb beer. As the sun shines, many people turn to a refreshing beer as a thirst quencher… and many opt to drink low carb beer, as they believe it will have less effect on their bodies.

However, it’s been revealed that Australian drinkers are being exploited by this low carb myth as many are fooled into believing that this is the beer to drink to promote good health.

In fact, when surveyed, 38% of people thought it was actually healthier than lower-alcohol light beer compared to 36% who knew it wasn’t. This is a shocking statistic – more people believe that low carb beer is actually healthier than low alcohol beer. The results of a great marketing tool it seems. The consumer’s ‘desire’ to make a healthy choice is what is being exploited. People want to do the right thing and are being fooled into thinking that they are. What’s worse is that many people have admitted to drinking more, purely because they believe it to be healthier.

What the consumer should actually look out for is kilojoules as this is far more relevant to your health… it is the units of energy that your body will need to burn after intake. The ones you don’t burn will turn into fat – but the marketers don’t want to teach anybody about that it seems!