Tag Archives: super foods

The importance of taking a real lunch break

As important as it is to bring a nutritious lunch to work, it is equally vital to take a step away from your desk to take a mental break. Most work places contractually allow an hour for lunch however recent studies suggest that one in four people are too busy to take a break for lunch, one in three eat lunch at their desk and the average person takes less than 20 minutes each day for lunch away from their desk (Gandhi, 2012). Many people work through lunch in order to save time and avoid working late however it rarely works to their benefit.

If you don’t take a lunch break you may want to reconsider after reading this post because there are definite health and productivity advantages in doing so. Of course, to a degree, the need for breaks definitely depends on the demands of your job. The more intense and demanding your job, the more necessary it is to take breaks.

Taking a lunch break and nourishing the brain with food and fresh air will not only boost your mood and leave you feeling refreshed thus increasing your afternoon productivity levels it will also help you maintain your weight. If you habitually eat while you’re working or at your desk, elevated stress levels lead to increase cortisol, which leads to fat accumulation in the body. There is also more of a chance you will overeat, because the distractions from work cause you not to realise that you’re full until you’ve over eaten (Gandhi, 2012).

Making a conscious effort to take a lunch break improves your productivity as it energises and refocuses you. It also encourages you to work more effectively as you are working towards a short term reward. It will also leave you feeling happier and less prone to mood swings, therefore being a more pleasant and motivated employee. Many workers worry about what their boss and co-workers will think if they take a break. You will need to get over this and allow yourself to detach psychologically as well as physically. If you are so stressed out that you are worried about work the entire time you are taking a lunch break, there won’t be any benefit. So as hard as it is to let go of the stress and get over about what others will think, it will be well worth it and you will be pleasantly surprised at your mood lift and increased productivity.

Once you master the art of taking a decent lunch break we dare you to step it up a notch and boost your endorphin’s by taking an express gym class or going for a power walk in a nearby park. Many gyms offer express thirty minute classes at lunch or gather some workmates or friends that work in the same area to do a thirty minute power walk.

So take the plunge of getting into a regular habit of taking a lunch break. Even if it means taking fifteen minutes more than you usually do to step outside for some fresh air. Fifteen minutes is better than nothing.

Make taking a lunch break a New Years resolution. Go on we dare you. You will be surprised at how your productivity and mood increases. We’d love to hear your feedback, tips and experiences of how taking a lunch break benefits you.

References

Gandhi, Kumud. 2012. The importance of lunch. Retrieved 24 November 2012 from http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/lifestyle/food/the-importance-of-lunch.html

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Healthy lunch boxes for happy kids

A healthy school lunch is the best thing you can send your kids off to school with in the mad morning dash to get out the door. Often hectic routines can get in the way of sending the kids off with a healthy lunch box of food to keep them going throughout the day.

Eating healthy foods helps children concentrate and learn and will set them up for the future with healthier eating patterns.  Encouraging children to select their own lunch box items will mean they will be more likely to eat it. Setting a good example for your children is also important so try to set a good example with your own lunches and encourage your child to sit and eat before heading out to play.

There are so many processed foods such as muesli bars, cookies, crisps and crackers on the market which appeal to parents for their convenience and kids because of their high sugar and fat content. We’re not saying all these products are bad just to be wary of which products you buy we encourage you to take a look at the nutritional content and not to fill up your child’s lunch box of all of these sorts of items.

Some health food suggestions include:

  • Fruit: fresh or tinned and occasionally dried fruit as it is very high in sugar, low in fibre and stick to children’s teeth causing tooth decay.
  • Vegetables: try vegetables with a dip or a small container of mixed vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, capsicum and cucumber.
  • Dairy: a small drink of milk (freeze overnight and wrapped in a cloth in the lunch box), cooled fruit yoghurts, homemade versions of cheese and crackers (avoid sweet dips such as chocolate spread and oven-baked savoury biscuits are just as high in salt and fat as chips are so are best avoided).
  • Breads: attempt to include a variety of bread, particularly if children begin to lose interest in sandwiches. Try bread rolls, pita bread, flat bread, bagels, fruit loaf or buns, corn thins, scones, pikelets, muffins, crumpets, crisp breads to keep it varied.
  • Fillings: keep the sandwich fillings varied also with vegemite, peanut butter, different types of cheese, tuna, egg, sliced cold meats, grated carrot and lettuce, avocado, hommus, the list goes on.
  • Muffins and cakes: try making your own at home to include more fruit and vegetables and to eliminate additives. Sultana, carrot, zucchini, banana or pumpkin can be used in various baking.
  • Muesli and ‘breakfast’ bars: these are almost always too high in sugar and stuck together with fats and sugar. Try to avoid or keep to a minimum.
  • Water and milk: are the best drinks for children and can be frozen to help keep foods in the lunch box cool. Sweet drinks such as fruit juices, juice drinks, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured mineral waters, soft drinks are high in sugar and not necessary as they can increase the risk of tooth decay and are filling so may take the place of healthier foods.

Since time is usually of the essence you can prepare lunch boxes in advance the night before or some items can be prepared for the week and frozen such as bread, cooked meat, cheese, peanut butter, baked beans, mashed egg, yeast or vegetable spreads such as vegemite.

For more tips or information about your child’s lunch box or eating habits you can contact your school nurse, community health nurse, Dieticians’ Association of Australia or us here at Docmate and we will point you in the right direction.

References

Better Health Channel (2012).  Lunch Box Tips. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Lunchbox_tips#

Burrell, Susie (2007). How to pack a healthy kids lunch box. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from  http://www.taste.com.au/news+features/articles/1156/how+to+pack+a+healthy+kids+lunch+box

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Good and bad news for coffee addicts

Coffee culture. It has rapidly become a large aspect of Aussie life with the rise of cafe culture. We are sure to all know a caffeine addict; be it ourselves or someone else. The majority of people I know, including myself, need at least one per day to kick start their day and often another if necessary.

Other than tasting amazing and having great affects on energy and alertness levels coffee actually has health benefits when drunk in moderation. To start with it is part of the antioxidant family which is thought to help battle cancer amongst providing other health benefits. It also has other less commonly known health benefits.

Moderate coffee drinking (1 to 4 cups per day however this varies from person to person) may help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease due to coffee’s antioxidants that can prevent some damage to brain cells and boost the effects of neurotransmitters.

Some studies also show moderate coffee drinkers have lower rates of stroke than non-coffee drinkers. Coffees antioxidants can help to quell inflammation’s damaging effects on arteries. However on the other hand high coffee consumption (a 5 cup of more daily habit) is associated with higher heart disease risks.

Although research is sparse it appears that the more coffee people drink the lower their incidence of cirrhosis and other liver diseases. In addition, studies have often linked frequent coffee consumption (4 cups or more per day) with a lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Scientists think that antioxidant compounds in coffee can boost cells’ sensitivity to insulin which helps regulate blood sugar. However this is about the only positive of high caffeine consumption.

Of course the everything in moderation principle applies to coffee consumption. High caffeine intake can sabotage the antioxidants’ effects, can make people jittery and even raise cholesterol levels. If you are sensitive to caffeine it can cause irritability or anxiety in high doses.

It can also be highly addictive as many of us know. If you caffeinate yourself daily, you are likely to develop tolerance to its effects which means eventually you’ll need a regular caffeine fix just to reach your baseline level of alertness and are susceptible to withdrawal symptoms like extreme fatigue and
headaches.

Caffeine consumption can also cause trouble sleeping as typically it takes about 6 hours for the caffeine to clear your system. Boiled or unfiltered coffee contains higher levels of cholesterol so it is advisable to choose filtered methods instead. Finally, it is important for pregnant and nursing women to have a very moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy and attempt to cut down further when breast feeding if their babies are restless or irritable.

At the end of the day everything is best in moderation however it is important to be informed about the benefits and risks of your daily habits. If you are ever concerned about your caffeine consumption or simply want to find out more we suggest you make an appointment with your GP. You can book an appointment online with us here.

References

Delish, 2012. Coffee: Pros and Cons for Your Health. Retrieved 6 October 2012 from http://www.delish.com/recipes/cooking-recipes/coffee-health-benefits

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Green power

We’ve heard five plus a day will keep the doctor away. For most people the fruit intake is easier than the greens or vegies. But once you know how incredible they are for your health plus discover our easy recipes you may find your consumption naturally increase.

Continuing our series on superfood goodness this week we are going to chat about superfoods of the green type!

Spinach and broccoli have long been favourites in the green vegetable department and they are certainly super good for you. Spinach is a great antioxidant, source of iron, vitamin C and contains nutrients which protect against inflammatory, oxidative stress-related, bone, cardiovascular problems and cancer. Broccoli is rich in vitamin D, C, A folate, fibre and has a strong positive impact on our body’s detoxification system.

But the green food of the moment we want to talk about is the micro salt water plant or algae spirulina. Spirulina contains rich vegetable protein (3-4 times higher than fish or beef), multi vitamins (particularly vitamin B12 which is low in a vegetarian diet), minerals (including iron, potassium, magnesium sodium, calcium), a volume of Beta (a carotene which protects cells) 5 times more than carrots and 40 times more than spinach, as well as high volumes of gamma-linolein acid which can reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

The most unique element of spirulina is phycocyanin which is only found in spirulina. Phycocyanin has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has the same Cox-2 enzyme that most prescription anti-inflammatory drugs do and some studies have shown it helps to protect the liver against damage and regulates the production of white blood cells (SOLECO, 2012).

While the Japanese have known about spirulina’s cancer prevention and immune system boosting properties for years the Western world is slowly catching on. Although spirulina has taken off in recent years. NASA have even chosen to use it for astronaut food in space and plan to grow and harvest it in space stations in the near future (TAUU, 2012).

Spirulina is most frequently purchased in Australia as powder that can be added to smoothies and have we got a great superfood packed smoothie recipe for you!

Superfood Slammer:

Ingredients:

· 1 banana

· 1 tablespoon of spirulina powder

· 1 cup of acai berry juice or 1 tablespoon of acai powder

· 1 cup of mixed sunflower seads, brazil nuts and almonds

· 1 cup of milk

· ½ cup of natural non sweetened yoghurt

· 1 table spoon of honey

· A pinch of cinnamon

Instructions (well the one and only instruction):

Put everything into a blender, mix, serve over ice or chilled and enjoy!

If you would like to know more about spirulina Australianspirulina.com.au is a great source from how much spirulina should be taken in a dose to comparing various brands of spirulina. Of course here at DocMate we are always happy to help also so please do ask us if you have any queries. Or for any major changes in diets or dietary concerns we recommend seeing your GP.

References

SOLECO, 2012. Phycoycyanin. Retrieved 3 October 2012 from http://solecoltd.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&ltemid=40

TAAU Australia, 2012. Spirulina FAQ’s. Retrieved 2 October 2012 from http://www.australianspirulina.com.au/spirulina/spirulina.html#one

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