Tag Archives: obesity

Don’t do battle at the buffet – fill up without filling out!

According to Nutrition Australia, the average Aussie packs on around 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas period[i]. The trouble is that most of us don’t lose the extra kilos over the year. The result? We’re getting heavier and heavier. Today, a staggering two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese[ii].

Being too heavy is seriously bad for your health – it increases your risk of chronic (long-term) conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancers and even Alzheimer’s disease.

This Christmas season follow these easy tips to pick smarter and healthier options at your gatherings, to help you fill up on flavour – without filling out!

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Before the party

Don’t let yourself get too hungry before an event – it’s easier to succumb to fatty/sugary treats. So have a small sandwich or some veggie sticks and hummus or tomato salsa. Make sure you’re hydrated, too. It’s easy to mistake hunger for thirst.

Circle before you choose and chew

Studies show that when faced with a wide selection of foods, people tend to want to try everything. So make a conscious decision to stop, take a look at what you fancy going around the table a few times before making your choice. Then make sure you chew, chew, chew! According to food psychologist, Dr Brian Wansink, people who chew their foods more tend to be lighter than people who don’t[iii].

Pick up a small one

Psychologically speaking, eating from a smaller plate is more satisfying than loading up a large plate – the plate looks fuller so your mind is tricked into thinking you’ve had loads to eat. Plus, Brian Wansink found that people tend to finish everything on their plate[iv]! Our portion sizes have grown over the last 20 years along with our waistlines – did you know that the plates used by our grandparents were the size of our current salad plates? That’s one great reason to downsize your plate.

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Slow down

Put your knife and fork down between bites. Put your glass down before you have another sip. Why? It helps you to become more focused on what you’re consuming. It also takes around 10 minutes after you are full that the signals reach your brain to tell you that you’ve had enough. Slowing it down helps you get back in tune with your body and puts you back in control.

Veggies first

They are low in kilojoules and rich in nutrition, water and fibre. They also require a lot of chewing which helps to slow things down as you take the edge off your appetite. The fibre in veggies and legumes (peas, beans and pulses) absorbs water (another reason to ensure you’re well hydrated), which forms a jelly like mass that helps you to feel physically fuller.

Sushi’s special

If sushi is on the menu, it’s a great option. The combo of high protein fish and filling fibre in the sticky rice is a healthy choice. Add wasabi to tempt and tantalise your taste buds.

Don’t drown in fat

Creamy, cheesy, dressings, dips and sauces make the kilojoules soar and drown fresh tastes, too. Instead, drizzle a little olive oil and lemon or lime juice on your salads and veggies.

Try smaller treats

If you love certain treats, you don’t have to cut them out completely. If you can, try to opt for small amounts and eat slowly – enjoy every mouthful.

Move away from the buffet

Research shows that being near food – seeing it and easily being able to grab it – makes it more likely that you’ll eat more[v]. So try and sit as far away from the meal mountain as you can.

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Drink from a long one

Again, Dr Wansink’s pioneering work has shown that people tend to feel that they have drunk more if they drink from long glasses compared with short, stubby ones[vi]. Using tall thin glasses instead of large wide ones means that you’ll end up pouring less and drinking less, too.

Don’t drink your kilojoules

Your body was meant to be hydrated with kilojoule free water. This may be one reason why your body finds it so hard to detect the kilojoules in juices, waters and smoothies. Alcohol provides a double whammy – it has a lot of KJs and it also puts the brakes on fat breakdown. So try to dilute your drinks, alternate between alcoholic drinks and water and opt to be the designated driver if you can.

Balance things out

Don’t make the celebrations start early and stay late into January – it’s a sure fire way to start the New Year a little heavier. Balancing your extra intake with extra exercise is vital if you don’t want to start the New Year heavier than you were last year. Just half an hour a day can make a big difference to your health – your body health and your self-confidence and emotional wellness, too.

Click here to download our infographic on what to eat this holiday season.

Ravinder Lilly
Ravinder Lilly, Dietitian at rt health fund

 

[i] Nutrition Australia. Tips to beat the Christmas bulge. http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/tips-beat-christmas-bulge

[ii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Overweight and obesity. http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/

[iii] Reader’s Digest. How to Chew Your Food More. http://www.rd.com/health/diet-weight-loss/chew-more-eat-less/

[iv] Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. Most of the World Belongs to the Clean Plate Club – Except Children. http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/op/Clean_Plate_Club

[v] Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. How Visibility and Convenience Influence Candy Consumption. http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/content/how-visibility-and-convenience-influence-candy-consumption

[vi] Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. Short, Wide Glasses Induce Us to Over-Pour Despite Serving Experience. http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/op/glassshape

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The six tell-tale signs that may mean you have diabetes

Someone is diagnosed with diabetes mellitus every five minutes or so around the country and it has been described as the biggest challenge to Australia’s health system. Already, 1.2 million Australians have been diagnosed[i], yet a massive half a million people are thought to have diabetes without knowing it yet. Are you that one in half a million?

Of those who have diabetes, around 10 per cent have type 1 diabetes (where no insulin is produced) while around 85 per cent have type 2 diabetes[ii] (where insulin is produced but isn’t used by the body). The other five per cent are women who have diabetes triggered by pregnancy.

Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked with being overweight – especially carrying too much weight around the middle, and with being inactive. Having a family history of type 2 diabetes also increases your risk.

The signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes aren’t always as obvious. It’s often diagnosed during a routine check-up at the GP. And, although the symptoms are often mild and develop gradually over a number of years, there are a few tell-tale signs. If you have any of these symptoms – or you know someone who does – go and get checked out by your GP.

  1. Hunger and fatigue. Your body and brain cells rely on a tiny sugar called glucose to provide the fuel they need to function properly. Your body tries to regulate your blood glucose level and keep it within very narrow limits. To physically enter the cells and provide nourishment, your body needs the hormone insulin. Insulin ‘holds hands’ with glucose to get it into where it needs to be. If your body becomes resistant to insulin, which can happen when there is too much fat in your cells (this distorts the shape of the membranes making it difficult for insulin to enter them) and the hormone can’t do its job, your cells become deprived of nourishment. The result? Hunger and tiredness.
  1. Thirst and frequent trips to the loo. Your body likes to hang on to the nutrients it receives and so it will reabsorb glucose. But when there’s too much glucose circulating around your blood (if insulin is absent or not working properly, for example), your body can’t reabsorb all of it. To get rid of the extra glucose, your body makes more urine. But for this to happen, it needs more fluid hence an increase in thirst. Drinking more means you need to urinate more, too. The glucose spills out in urine (diabetes means siphon – to pass through and the Latin word mellitus means honeyed or sweet!)
  1. Dry mouth and itchy skin. Because your body concentrates on trying to get rid of the excess glucose in your body through urine, there’s less fluid to go around for the rest of your body. The result can be a dry mouth and/or a strange, lingering taste. This can be due to less saliva production (saliva is your mouth’s natural cleansing system). Dry mouth can make dental problems worse so as well as seeing your GP, keeping up with visits to your dentist is vital, too. Also, because your kidneys are using so much fluid to get rid of excess glucose, there may be less fluid around to reach your skin. Dry, annoyingly itchy skin can result.
  1. Blurred vision. As your body battles with fluid and glucose, the fluid in your eyes can be affected. Dryness can mean that the lenses in your eyes alter in shape making focussing more difficult and leading to blurred vision.
  1. Infections. Millions of microorganisms live in harmony in and on your skin and that includes yeast organisms. But, if circumstances are right, yeast infections like candida and athlete’s foot can flourish and grow out of control since they love glucose and moist, warm conditions. That’s why recurrent yeast infections may be a sign of diabetes.
  1. Slow healing of cuts and wounds. Blood carries the nutrients and infection fighters needed to promote wound healing. But, fluctuations in blood flow caused by fluid levels can slow down wound healing. On top of this, high levels of blood glucose can affect the nerves leading to poor blood circulation. All of this makes it harder for blood to reach the wound or cut, which slows down wound healing.

Diagnosing and treating type 2 diabetes is very important. Your GP can give you a quick check-up and test for diabetes. And, treatment can help you stay well and help you avoid nerve damage, heart trouble, and other complications later on.

This health message is brought to you by the health and wellbeing team at rt health fund, Australia’s only dedicated, not-for-profit health fund for people who work in the transport and energy industries.

[i] Diabetes Australia. About Diabetes. https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes

[ii] Diabetes Australia. What is diabetes? https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/what-is-diabetes

Seven important men’s health checks

iStock_000017162400_Large_FINALMen are notorious for ducking regular doctor appointments and for skipping important health checks. Did you know that men between the ages of 15-75+ only account for 36.6% of GP visits? While women in the same age range account for 51.1% of visits to the doctor[i]? If you haven’t been in a while and are wondering which health checks you should be having, this one’s for you …

  1. Mind and mood

Nearly one in two Australians (45 per cent) will be affected by a mental health condition at some stage[ii] and around one in eight men are likely to be affected at some time in their life[iii]. Yet, compared with women, men are much less likely to seek help for mental illness – the majority, 72 per cent, don’t get help when they need it[iv]. Affected men are also twice as likely as women to resort to damaging coping behaviours, like drug and alcohol use. Male depression is also a high risk factor for suicide; men account for the majority (78 per cent) of all suicides[v].

Get it sorted …

No one needs to tough it out. If you notice a period of two weeks or more in which you feel irritable, sad, worried, on edge, or you stop taking an interest in the pleasures of life, speak to your GP.

For more information visit blackdoginstitute.org.au or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

  1. High blood pressureStock image-hands around heart_FINAL

It affects a third of Australian men[vi] and high blood pressure raises the risk of serious conditions like stroke, heart disease and kidney problems. These conditions arise due to the heart working much harder than it should to pump blood.

Get it sorted …

There are no symptoms associated with high blood pressure. But thankfully, a quick, simple blood pressure check by your doctor or health practice nurse can give you your reading. And if it’s high (140/90 or more), there are things you can do to bring it back down to help prevent serious health problems in the future.

Your doctor may prescribe medication, or recommend reducing your alcohol consumption, increasing your exercise or changing your diet. Opting for fresh produce over manufactured food can help to normalise your blood pressure.

For more information visit heartfoundation.org.au.

  1. Check your skin

Melanoma (skin cancer) is the third most common cancer in Australia[vii]. And though both men and women are affected by skin cancer, the death rate is much higher in men because they tend to seek help later[viii].

Get it sorted …

Check your skin regularly; look for colour and texture changes in existing moles or the development of new moles. And, speak with your GP who will know what to look for, what to treat immediately and when or if you need to be referred to a specialist.

For more information visit cancer.org.au.

  1. Count your cholesterol

Over 30 per cent of men over 18 have high cholesterol[ix] – a major risk factor for heart disease. Like high blood pressure, there are no symptoms, so regular GP checks are essential, especially if you have a family history of heart disease, are over 40 or are overweight.

Get it sorted …

A simple blood test can detect the ratio of LDL cholesterol (harmful) to HDL cholesterol (good) and triglycerides (other harmful fats) in your blood. Your GP may suggest medication and a few simple tricks to help lower your blood cholesterol such as eating more veggies, fruits and legumes, eating oily fish at least twice a week and cutting down on sugary treats, high fat eats and alcohol.

For more information visit heartfoundation.org.au.

  1. Lose weight written on a chalkboard next to a kiwi an inchesDo you measure up?

Over 40 per cent of men aged 18 or over are overweight – approximately 1.5 times the rate of women[x]. Being overweight can raise the risk of chronic (long-term) conditions such as heart disease, metabolic disease, diabetes and some cancers[xi].

Get it sorted …

Measuring your waist circumference can indicate whether you need to lose a few kilos. If the tape measure shows that your waist is over 94cm (or more than 90cm if you’re a male of south Asian origin[xii]) you’re at increased risk of serious conditions.

For more information visit shapeup.gov.au.

  1. Don’t ignore diabetes

Diabetes is more common in men than women[xiii] and the risk increases if you’re overweight, have high blood pressure or if you have a family history of the condition.

Get it sorted …

Be on the look out for constant thirst, frequent urination, recurring infections and tiredness (although not everyone has these symptoms). To find out, your GP can perform a blood glucose test.

For more information visit diabetesaustralia.com.au.

  1. Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and represents 30% of all male cancers[xiv]. There are approximately 20,000 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in Australia every year[xv].

Get it sorted …

It’s important to balance the potential benefit of detecting prostate cancer early against the risk. Discuss the pros and cons of testing with your doctor.

For more information visit prostate.org.au.

Your GP is a great place to start for more information on any of these tests. They can also offer many medical health checks Stock image-doctor talking to patient_xxl_FINALin one appointment – great if lack of time is your excuse of choice. If you know a man who could do with a little encouragement to get his health tested, do what you can to get him there. You could be helping to change a life for the better.

This health information is brought to you by the health and wellbeing team at rt health fund.

i Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. General practice activity in Australia 2009–10. http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442472722

ii Beyondblue. The facts about depression and anxiety. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts

iii Beyondblue. Depression in men. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/for-me/men/depression-in-men

iv Black Dog Institute. Facts and figures about mental health and mood disorders. http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/Factsandfiguresaboutmentalhealthandmooddisorders.pdf

v Better Health Channel. Men’s health. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Men’s_health?open

vi Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. High blood pressure. http://www.aihw.gov.au/high-blood-pressure/

vii Melanoma Institute Australia. Melanoma facts and statistics. http://www.melanoma.org.au/understanding-melanoma/melanoma-facts-and-statistics/

viii Cancer Council Western Australia. Cancer statistics. https://www.cancerwa.asn.au/resources/statistics/

ix Heart Foundation. Factsheet – High cholesterol statistics. http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/Factsheet-High-cholesterol.pdf

x Heart Foundation. Factsheet – Overweight and obesity statistics. http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/Factsheet-Overweight-and-obesity.pdf

xi Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Overweight and obesity.   http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/

xii NHS Choices. Why body shape matters for south Asian people. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/SouthAsianhealth/Pages/Waistmatters.aspx

xiii Diabetes Victoria. Diabetes FAQs. http://www.diabetesvic.org.au/guide-to-diabetes/diabetes-faqs

xiv Cancer Council Australia. Prostate cancer. http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/prostate-cancer.html

xv Movember Foundation. Men’s Health. https://au.movember.com/mens-health/prostate-cancer