Ashy Bines – Modern Day Saviour, or Cult Leader?

Ashy Bines - Modern Day Saviour, or Cult Leader?

Now that I have your attention, I want to be clear that this isn’t a personal attack against Ashy Bines, but I do want to explore the reasons behind needing to understand how to read food labels so we don’t fall for common marketing ploys. As a culture we have a tendency to obsess over health, often elevating celebrities to cult-like status, but is what they’re promoting actually healthy, or are we blinded by the air-brushed bodies that appear in the distorted reality of social media photos?

So, let’s start with some background. My best friend has recently been making a huge effort to get healthy for a number of reasons and I’m super proud of her efforts.  Unfortunately, she’s fallen into the trap of buying into clever marketing rather than fully understanding how to read food labels objectively. She’s a bright, educated woman who is by no stretch a dummy, so it’s made me wonder who else has fallen prey to marketing tricks.

Let’s make this simple by using one of Ashy’s real products and analysing the nutrition panel for Chocolate Clean Treats (Real Treat Mix), as pictured above.

30.8g of sugar per 100g? That’s enormous! Sure, it’s not cane sugar, but your body still processes dates, vanilla powder and rice malt syrup the same way. To read more about how your body processes sugar, head to this link. In accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO), most experts would recommend that we consume no more than 25g (6 teaspoons) of sugar per day.  So just 1 of these balls (at 11.3g sugar per 29.5g serve) is HALF your daily intake!

Coming in at 42.7g per 100g serving, this “clean” treat is through the roof with its carb content. While the sugar accounts for part of the carbs, this is still an exorbitant amount of each and eating this product certainly isn’t going to do you any favours if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight or reduce inflammation.

While I’m all for rewarding yourself with a small treat every now and then, it’s important to recognise that these are still treats, or to quote Elmo, a sometimes food.

The use of words such as “clean”, “refined sugar free” and quotes like “lets keep the treats REAL clean and nutritious because healthy food is an act of self love and a healthy life style”, is incredibly misleading and is designed to trick people into forgetting that these are in fact a treat. These words are made even more effective when paired with a pretty face and photo-fit body that, let’s face it, most of us wish we had. But what we’re really buying into is a dream, not genuine health.  It’s so easy to convince ourselves that it’s ok to have more of these because they’re “healthy.

Products like the one we’ve looked at above are healthier in the sense that they don’t contain added colours, preservatives and other numbers, but when the first ingredient on the list is sugar (for which there are many names ), maybe think twice before including this in your diet. Don’t forget to also look at the nutrient panel to help you figure out if something is healthy or not, as other words for sugar are often used to confuse us. Marketing is designed to hook us in, but it’s up to us to take the time to read the labels and analyse them objectively. 

A good rule of thumb when it comes to nutrition is that fresh is best, with things becoming more complicated when we have ingredient lists to consider.  As far as that list is concerned, a wise person once taught me that if you don’t recognise an ingredient, the chances are that your body wont either, which is a guideline I have tried to live by. The next important step in analysing whether something is healthy or not is learning to understand your nutrient panel. Current science shows that following a LCHF way of eating can be beneficial for managing many health conditions, weight management and general wellbeing.  In accordance with this, it is recommended that on average we consume less than 50g of carbs per day and increase our good quality fat intake to around 70g per day and our protein to 45-60g daily*.  

With this in mind, the next time you reach for a treat I encourage you to take the time to look past the buzz words and assess things for yourself.

Peace, love and wellness,

Mandah xo

*Please note that these recommendations are intended as general information only. This site is unable to provide information tailored to each individual and is not intended to replace the advice of your health care professional.  It is important to consult with your own treating practitioner for individual advice regarding your own specific circumstances, especially when considering major changes to diet or lifestyle.

Fat Shaming – The Struggle of Food Addiction

Fat Shaming - The Struggle of Food Addiction

You’ve probably noticed a trend on social media where it seems ok to fat shame people. As a society we have come to view overweight people as greedy and lazy because if you’re overweight, it’s totally your fault, right?

Wrong! For a start, major corporations spend millions of dollars researching how to get us hooked on their products by targeting different areas of the brain and our chemical responses to various ingredients. As I’ve written about before, there are so many factors that contribute to weight, such as genetics, illness, culture, hormone imbalance, socio-economic status, education, psychological and emotional distress and more. The last 2 in particular can be some of the hardest to combat, with many people experiencing food addiction due to finding comfort in eating.

Like any addiction, it’s not as simple as “just stop doing it”. It’s an ADDICTION! 

I’m wondering how many people have considered that food addiction maybe be even harder to break than drugs or alcohol?

I know that may be hard to accept, but hear me out. Drug addicts struggle to give up drugs, they crave them, they use them as a form of escape, but they don’t physically need them to survive. They won’t die without them, though it may sometimes feel that way to them. The same applies to alcoholics. Yet people who are addicted to food are faced with the stone cold fact that the very thing they are addicted to is essential to their existence. They will literally die without it! They are faced with their addiction every single day! It’s not illegal or restricted, it’s advertised freely.

One of the biggest tools for recovery is for addicts to remove themselves from situations or people that may encourage them to relapse, so how is a food addict supposed to utilise this integral step?  Is there any hope for recovery?

Firstly, I’d like to let you know that if this is an area you’re struggling with, you’re not alone. You shouldn’t feel ashamed if you don’t seem to make any progress.  We all need help with things sometimes and it’s ok not to know how to do everything yourself.  So, how can you make changes? 

  • Identify the problem. With emotional eating, one of the best things you can do is acknowledge that this is your trigger. Once you have identified this, it will empower you to take ownership and slowly start to make changes. If you know what causes you to reach for comfort food, it makes it easier to put steps into place to combat that.
  • Seek help.  Doing things alone can be a real struggle.  Often we become disheartened, lose motivation or simply can’t find what works for us.  A good nutritionist will be able to help you identify problematic patterns, help you find feasible alternatives, prescribe supplements (that may be linked to your cravings) and provide you with support and encouragement along the way. Finding a counsellor or psychologist may help you identify and work through any psychological issues attached to your eating patterns, as well as providing you with added support.
  • Join a program.  There are many programs out there which are designed to help you lose weight without having to sign up for fancy shakes, products or gym memberships. One that I really love is the Eat Fat Get Fit Program, which I am actively part of and have seen many people achieve great results.  The program is designed to provide you with nutritional information based on solid science, meal plans, Q and A, exercise plans, interaction and support from other members, support from a Nutritionist, Exercise Physiologist, Dietitian and Personal Trainer who all want you to succeed!  One of the things I love most about this program is the private Facebook group where the members can talk abut anything, because there’s no such thing as a stupid question.  People are so great at encouraging each other and sharing information, that it’s a super positive community to be a part of.
  • Spring clean. Some people find that a really effective way to discourage poor eating habits is to simply not stock the fridge or pantry with the usual junk food culprits. Go through the fridge and pantry and ditch all the convenience foods.  Often we will think twice if we have to make a special trip to the shop for a treat, with junk becoming a less appealing choice if the only options in the house are healthy or something we have to prepare.
  • Restock. I’m the last person in the world to say no to chocolate! Treats and enjoyment of food are a wonderful thing, so in order to discourage bingeing, replace your treats with healthier options. Buy chocolate with a higher cacao content, as it will have less sugar. Switch out sweets for frozen berries, ice-cream for frozen natural yoghurt, and crisps for seed crackers and hummus.
  • Community.  One of the biggest struggles with addiction is feeling isolated, misunderstood and unsupported.  Joining groups of like minded people can provide a safe place to talk about your struggles, receive support, share ideas, discuss what has or hasn’t worked for you, share encouragement and motivation.  There are many groups for this type of thing both in the community and online. They will all have a slightly different approach, so explore your options and see what gels with you.
  • Take the First Step.  While getting the courage up to try again can be the hardest thing, you won’t make any progress if you don’t take the first step.
  • Believe in yourself.  You CAN do this! You may make mistakes along the way and struggle to keep going, but you CAN make changes, you CAN break the cycle and you CAN change your relationship with food.

Together, let’s change the attitude around body shaming and encourage people instead, as you never know what they may be struggling with.

Peace, love and wellness,

Mandah xo

The biggest loser…?

biggest loser

The Biggest Loser… Or is it?

Yesterday I met a man who was approaching 250kg and forced to now work as a driver because it allowed him to sit all day. We got chatting and he asked me what I do. When I responded that I was a nutritionist, he asked me what I thought of The Biggest Loser. I stayed silent for a moment so as to give him a thoughtful answer, and in that time he said he loved watching the show but it always left him feeling disappointed because he didn’t seem to be able to lose the weight like the contestants did.

I realise that he mustn’t be the only person who feels discouraged by TV shows and it only causes me to feel even more strongly that these programmes may be more damaging than beneficial.

These shows set people up to fail.

Wait, what? 

No, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be encouraged to become healthy, but is the structure of these shows really a good one? Do the techniques work for everyone? Let’s break it down!

In the real world, who has personal trainers at their disposal for 8 hours every day of the week? A nutritionist living in their house to teach, prepare, regulate and monitor their diets? Cameras spying on them so that every little slip up is noticed and addressed? Unless you’re a Hollywood A-lister (Hi Brad and Ang, I always knew you followed my page!), then I’m willing to bet that the above things don’t apply to you.

The sad reality is that many contestants on weight loss shows reportedly put back on all the weight they’ve lost AND MORE! Aside from those issues already mentioned, what are the reasons?

Genetic and cultural factors often play a part, but it’s more than this. There are very strong links between obesity and emotional/psychological issues. Please don’t think I’m saying that because someone is overweight that they’re impacted by these things, but being healthy is about treating the whole person – mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. When just one of these things is off kilter we can experience health issues.

So, back to weight loss shows specifically. I would so dearly love to see contestants offered genuine emotional and psychological support throughout the show. Discover the real reasons they are struggling with weight. This is a long term process and doesn’t exactly make for riveting TV or an exciting competition, but I want people to understand that there is so much more to weight management than just calories in v calories out. EVERYONE is different, so don’t be disheartened when what worked for a friend doesn’t necessarily work for you. There is so much misinformation out there that it’s easy to become confused and think we are eating healthily when we’re actually not.

If you’re struggling with weight management it may be beneficial to see a health care professional for some tailored guidance. There’s no shame in admitting you need help and may be the very first step toward making positive long-term changes to your health.

Change the channel, or better yet, turn it off and take yourself to the park. Taking that first step is the hardest, but it could change your life. What have you got to lose?