Friday, July 27, 2007

How to Win the Snack Battle With Your Children

Children need to eat small meals often during the day as quite often they are burning energy just growing. Give your children some choice in what they eat while remembering that you are the adult (and the one paying for the food!). If you have always given your children a wide variety of healthy foods, snack preparation should be easy.

Why not let your children help choose snack foods when you are shopping. However you must still read the labels as many foods labeled 'fat free' still have high sugar and sodium levels and very high calories. Some breakfast bars make excellent snacks and often children love to 'eat breakfast' after school - let them have another bowl of cereal. Whole grain products will help keep your child feeling fuller for longer.

Have fun with food - use cookie or scone cutters on low fat cheese or wholegrain bread, make faces on the plate with various foods, make smoothies with low fat milk and fresh fruit.

Always keep a supply of snack food such as cut up carrot, celery, cucumber etc in the fridge and a bowl of fresh fruit on the table or counter top.

Encourage your children to drink plenty of water. You can make it different by having animal shape iceblocks, low calorie cordials (check the ingredients), crazy straws. Make iceblocks with fresh fruit juice and let your children suck on them in summer.

Make the lounge room, games room, bedroom etc 'food free zones'. Designate the kitchen as the 'snack room' to stop children zoning out in front of the tv with their snacks.

Always set a good example - make sure your children see you eating healthy snacks and drinking water in the kitchen. Make it a family affair - even if you're not particularly hungry, snack with your children. It won't take long for your eating cycles to coincide with theirs.

Check out for your weight loss and exercise program.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Does Dieting Work?

So long as you think 'diet' until you reach your desired weight, you'll never keep the weight off. About 85% of people can lose weight on almost any diet but only about 15% or people have kept it off after 2 years and only 1-2% after 10 years.

You need to change your mindset to 'new way of eating' and view this as a lifelong commitment. That way, once you reach your new weight or clothes size you'll stay there as you won't be tempted to think that you can now 'go off that diet'.

Your new way of eating must include 3 meals per day, contain adequate calories for your body to function and stay healthy and it must also contain a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein. Carbohydrates usually fill you up quickly whereas proteins will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Perhaps the easiest way to start your new
way of eating is to look at what you currently eat then cut out all unhealthy fats - this is the fat you find on your meat and what you cook your meals in. Some fats are good for you, in moderation.

Next, look at your portion size and plan to cut it by 20%. You should aim for 200g of meat, chicken or fish per meal. Most salads are 'free foods' that you can eat as much of when peckish. Plan that your plate will contain 1/4 meat/fish/chicken, 1/4 pasta/rice/legume and 1/2 salads or 'free' foods.

At first you might feel hungry when eating these smaller portions, but you can bulk up on very low calorie items such as corn, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, celery, water chestnuts, zuchinni etc. There are many 'calorie counter' books available to help you choose. Keep away from the breads as much as possible or eat a multigrain bread which is low gi and will keep you feeling fuller longer.

Exercise is very much part of any weight loss program. It is not necessary to join an expensive gym - walking to the bus stop, train station or work is excellent (if it is feasible). I live 12km from my nearest town so walking to work is not an option for me but I can walk to the local park for lunch and walk to the shops for small items such as bread and milk and tinned goods. Walking back carrying these items helps exercise my arms. Start gently with your exercise if you aren't used to it.

Speak to your doctor first if you have any health concerns. He is the person best suited to advise you.

Remember, that extra weight didn't arrive in one day or even one month. It will take time to lose it but you will be successful if you follow a plan such as the one below.

Check out for honest reviews and health and fitness related packages.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Avoiding the Advertising Hype

Advertising of fast foods, especially on television, has reached epidemic proportions. There are ads to tempt you, or your children, during almost every ad break! How to avoid being 'sucked in' is becoming quite a problem for some families. Children learn the 'nag value' early in life and sometimes parents just give in for a little bit of peace. Of course, this is just what the advertisers want. Because once you start, it is very hard to stop the 'merry-go-round' of 'fast food' meals.

It is shocking to see the queues heading outside the doors of some well known fast food places at tea-time. I have on more than one occasion seen someone I know standing in the queue when I have gone to buy food and seen them still waiting when I get back to the car. Smart advertising and being busy will keep you in the queue, waiting your life and waistline (and money) away. So will the gimmicks they advertise to get the kids in - that toy that is tied to the newest movie just released that all kids simply MUST have.

The best thing you can do when these ads come on is to mute them and talk to your family during that time. When our children were small, as we saw the ice-cream van on the side of the road we immediately pointed out anything of interest (even if we made it up) on the other side of the road. Worked almost every time.

If your children are caught up in the peer pressure and 'I must have' wave, a firm no nonsense "no" will work - perhaps not the first or second time you say it, but if you keep repeating it often enough and firmly enough, it will eventually get through. Hey - who's the adult here; who pays for the food. When your children are old enough to pay for their own food that's different. Hopefully the message will have got through by then.

Children's eating habits will be formed through you, the parent. Have plenty of fresh fruit available for snacking (during and after school) and teach them the 'king, prince, pauper' method of eating. (Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner.) This way they will start the school day with a body and brain properly fed and ready for learning. A hungry child can't concentrate at school - I know because I went to school hungry many times. If necessary, get your child up earlier to eat a decent breakfast and make sure it is healthy. No sugar filled cereals or fatty bacon or sausages. A good plain cereal with tinned or fresh fruit, a boiled egg and toast will set your child up till morning tea time. Many good recipe or diet books will have breakfast variations in them.

Lunch can be salads and a tin of tuna, a sandwich or pita bread for variety. There are many types of healthy breads available - look in your local bakery instead of the supermarket, you will be surprised.

Aim for low GI foods- they will keep you and your child feeling fuller for longer.

Save the cakes, biscuits or lollies till the visit to grandma and grandpa or someone's birthday party. Snacking on these will stack on the weight.

Give your child water to drink - bottled water has far fewer calories than any fizzy drink, is cheaper, doesn't stick to the hips or rot the teeth.

If you need to take your child shopping with you, make sure both of you have eaten before you get there. If you both are full you are less likely to impulse buy sweets or potato chips or drinks to munch on while you're shopping. Have a shopping list and stick to it.

For a program on losing weight and keeping healthy, go to

Friday, July 20, 2007

Healthy Eating for the Busy Person

In today's busy world where many families require two incomes to stay afloat, it becomes very easy to opt for easy meal creation - packaged foods or fast foods. If you are serious about losing weight, this is a one way ticket to obesity.

There are some simple and effective methods to stay on track to losing excess weight. Perhaps one of the most important ones is goal setting. Sit down with pen and paper and your partner and 'free associate' - write down outrageous goals then work your way to achievable ones. The more fun you have setting your goals the easier it will be to reach them. If your goals are boring, you will have little incentive to achieve them. Make your goals realistic, achievable and meaningful to you.

Perhaps your first goal could be to take lunch with you for a week. If you pack your lunch the night before, it is easy to just grab it and go in the morning. By taking lunch with you, you are not only saving money, you get to be the one who chooses what goes into your body. There is no worry about artificial colours, flavours, additives or any other nasties.

By taking your own lunch, you are making yourself important. You are saying "hey, I care about myself". (If you make lunch for your partner as well, you are telling them they are important too.) It takes very little time to make sandwiches or prepare a salad when you are preparing the night time meal. Even left-overs are great the next day and most workplaces now have a microwave.

Processed or fast foods rarely have the required vitamins for healthy living and are nearly always full of ingredients that are (a) fattening, (b) contain too much salt and sugars, (c) are frequently cooked in oil, (d) are overcooked, and (e) just downright detrimental to your health. Yes they may be easy and require no thought after a busy day at the office, but the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.

Many people working in an office find they need a 'sugar hit' during the day to keep the concentration from flagging. Don't reach for the sweets, have natural sugar found in fruit instead. An apple, orange or in season fruit taken from home is not only better for you, it is much cheaper on the wallet.

When thirsty, don't head for the coffee machine or the fizzy drink dispenser, bottled water will fill you without adding anything to the hips or waist. In fact, water when you're feeling hungry is often all you need. The brain often confuses hunger and thirst so if it's not meal time, drink water.

With planning, the evening meal need not be a chore. Meals for the week can be planned ahead, the shopping done on the weekend, meats can be frozen to keep them fresh and taken out in the morning before leaving for work. Sit down with your partner each week and between you plan what you would like to eat for that week. If your partner cooks occasionally, even better. By choosing together what you want to eat, it makes the meals more interesting and meaningful.

Always keep in mind your goals of losing that extra weight and plan accordingly. Keep your goals in front of you - on the fridge, in your bag, next to your computer at work, on the mirror in the bathroom, even on the back of the toilet door. Wherever you will see them and remind yourself of them is good. Talk about your goals with your friends, ask them to keep you on track.

Be positive in your self talk - don't let the 'evil twin inside your head' beat you up. Always focus on the successes, never the failures. If you do go off your diet plan, accept it, forget it and get back on track. Don't agonise about that piece of chocolate or extra glass of wine. Worrying never achieved anything and if you keep focusing on it, you are likely to repeat it. Focus instead on how you are working towards your goals at a steady rate and are crossing milestones off your list.

Remember, that weight wasn't gained over a 1 week period and you won't lose it quickly either. Slow and steady is what will get you there in the end. Balance and moderation in all things plus healthy exercise will see you achieving all those goals.

Research ways you can reach your goals, for example check out

Why not start your program by looking at

Eating Habits

As a parent, I think the best thing you can do for your children is to instill good eating habits from the time they start on solids. This not only gives them a healthy start in life, it provides the framework to build upon for the rest of their lives.

When your children are at that inquiring stage of life, let them experiment with different textures and tastes - don't hold back just because a food is 'adult'. Let them choose. If they don't like it, they'll soon let you know.

When packing to go shopping or to visit friends or family, pack a small plastic container with different pieces of available fresh fruit - a few slices of banana, a couple of sliced strawberries, some kiwi fruit, apple, nectarines, grapes etc. Colour is just as important as taste. A boring container of just apple is not as exciting as a colourful one filled with the above fruits.

To drink, nothing beats good old fashioned water. If you are lucky enough to have access to rain water then great. If not, bottled water is better than tap water which can have many impurities in it. If you start a child on fizzy drinks at an early age, they will continue to want them to the detriment of their teeth and waist lines (and your wallet with decayed teeth).

If your children have started on the rocky road of being finicky eaters, pull them back into food variety immediately. Depending on their age, they may not remember past a day or three and if they do remember and complain, it won't last very long and they'll soon eat what's in front of them when they get hungry enough and remember, children need to eat often as they burn a lot of energy just being children.

Poor eating habits lead to obesity in both children and adults and obesity leads to its own set of health related and social problems.

Poor eating habits are just that - habits and habits can be changed. It takes time and perseverance, but the rewards are well worth the extra work.

Good eating habits doesn't mean boring food. There are thousands of recipe books in bookstores all over the country. There are no doubt even more recipes available online. My favourites are my mother's and grandmother's recipes (well, not all of them!) These are the foods I remember as a child and we all grew up healthy. We didn't have fast food outlets on every street corner to tempt us. We had good old fish and chips occasionally on a trip back from the beach but the rest of the time it was home-cooked food. These habits have stayed with me and even though fast food is available, it is more of a rare treat than a weekly (or more often than that) meal. This habit has again been passed on to my children who hopefully will continue it when they have their families.

Perhaps one of the most important things to learn about losing weight and helping your family lose weight is the fact that as an adult you are the role model. If your children see you eating potato chips as a snack or having a hamburger and chips for lunch, they will copy you.

If you are serious about losing weight, having better health and overall fitness, visit