Aus­tralia’s lead­ing nu­tri­tion ex­perts an­swer your ques­tions

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS -


Q My hus­band works ir­reg­u­lar shifts in an area that has limited healthy food out­lets. What and when should he eat dur­ing his night shifts?

Michelle, Al­bion, VIC Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian Re­becca Lock says:

A The hours and lo­ca­tion of your work can make healthy eat­ing a chal­lenge, but with a bit of plan­ning, your hus­band can eat well re­gard­less of the time and place. Here are my top tips for how to eat dur­ing a shift.

1 Eat reg­u­larly Aim to eat at least three times dur­ing a nine-hour shift — have two meals and a snack, or two snacks and a meal. In­clude plenty of salad or vegetables, lean pro­tein (such as eggs), lean beef or chicken, and some grain-based food, such as whole­grain bread, pasta or rice.

2 Stay off the stim­u­lants En­ergy drinks, soft drinks and caf­feinated bev­er­ages can cre­ate a cy­cle of de­pen­dence, be­cause when the first en­ergy hit fades, you of­ten reach for another right away. Th­ese drinks are of­ten full of sugar, which can cause weight gain. Limit cof­fee to no more than three cups a day, and take a wa­ter bot­tle to work to stay hy­drated.

3 Limit greasy take­aways The fast food avail­able near shift-work en­vi­ron­ments can be high in salt, sugar and sat­u­rated fat, all of which can make you feel slug­gish. If take­away is your only op­tion, choose a nu­tri­tious wrap or salad that will fill you up and pro­vide the last­ing en­ergy you need for ac­tive work and shifts.

4 Plan ahead Keep some of your favourite healthy (non-per­ish­able) foods at work so you can eas­ily grab some­thing when you’re hun­gry, and pack fresh foods each day, too.

Try some of th­ese ideas:

• Chicken–salad sand­wich

on whole­grain bread

• Baked beans on

whole­grain toast

• Re­duced-fat cheese

and whole­grain crack­ers

• Yo­ghurt and fruit

• Un­salted nuts and seeds

• Whole­grain muesli bars


Q I’m try­ing to lose weight. Should I stop eat­ing carbs at night? Michael, Lo­bethal, SA As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Tim Crowe says:

A It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter what time of day you eat — car­bo­hy­drates can’t tell the time! What’s im­por­tant is how much you eat and how ac­tive you are dur­ing the day, be­cause th­ese amounts de­ter­mine whether you gain, lose or main­tain weight.

Of course, it’s much bet­ter to eat reg­u­lar meals through­out the day to fuel your body and keep hunger in check. And eat­ing less at night has its mer­its, too. You’ll cut back on the amount of food you eat and may even gain more en­ergy, as go­ing to bed on a full stom­ach can rob you of sleep.

Also, be aware that eat­ing lots of ex­tra food in the evening can point to un­healthy eat­ing habits, es­pe­cially if much of that food is fu­elling couch-based ‘ac­tiv­i­ties’.

When peo­ple were told to eat noth­ing from 7pm to 6am for a re­cent study, their daily en­ergy in­take dropped by an im­pres­sive 1000kJ (239cal) — and this small dif­fer­ence in en­ergy was enough to see them lose 400g over the two-week re­stric­tion pe­riod.

If you feel like a snack after din­ner, first con­sider how much you ate dur­ing the day. And try to avoid snack­ing in front of the TV — the dis­trac­tion de­mands your at­ten­tion, mak­ing it eas­ier to overeat with­out re­al­is­ing.


Q I fre­quently suf­fer from acute bouts of di­ver­ti­c­uli­tis. Are there any foods I should eat to re­duce the chances of an at­tack or ease the dis­com­fort of a flare-up? Kaye, Rich­mond, NSW Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian Brooke Long­field says:

A Diver­tic­u­lar dis­ease is a painful con­di­tion in which small pock­ets form in the large bowel. The usual cul­prit is con­sti­pa­tion, which in­creases the ex­ist­ing pres­sure in the bowel walls. When th­ese in­testi­nal pock­ets be­come in­flamed, di­ver­ti­c­uli­tis is the un­com­fort­able re­sult. Un­for­tu­nately, this disorder is more common in sum­mer, as de­hy­dra­tion can lead to con­sti­pa­tion when we fail to drink enough wa­ter.

Ex­perts once thought that di­ver­ti­c­uli­tis suf­fer­ers should steer cleer of fi­bre-rich foods, such as nuts and seeds, but we now know they need to do the ex­act op­po­site. Eat­ing a high-fi­bre diet helps keep stools soft and pre­vent the for­ma­tion of more bowel pock­ets, thereby re­duc­ing your risk of an at­tack.

Try to eat at least five serves of ve­g­ies as well as two serves of fruit ev­ery day. Swap white bread, white rice and re­fined break­fast ce­re­als for high-fi­bre ver­sions, such as soy–lin­seed bread, brown rice or whole­meal pasta and un­toasted muesli or bran. Legumes (chick­peas, lentils and beans) are also great sources of fi­bre, and you can eas­ily add them to meat-based dishes such as bolog­nese. When you add ex­tra fi­bre to your diet, re­mem­ber to drink plenty of flu­ids, be­cause fi­bre draws a lot of wa­ter into the bowel to soften stools and ease their pas­sage. Dur­ing a flare-up, the in­tes­tine is very in­flamed, so you’ll have to re­duce your fi­bre in­take to al­low the bowel to rest. In ex­treme cases, your doc­tor may ask you to stick to a diet of clear flu­ids, such as wa­ter and broth, for a few days. When symp­toms sub­side, you can slowly re­turn to your healthy high-fi­bre diet.

Drink lots of flu­ids while you in­crease your fi­bre in­take

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