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        Child nutrition - Women's health nutrition & exercise



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Mindful Munching and Moving #2: Iron Deficiency Anemia- Should you be getting "more pork on your fork"?

Posted on 17 March, 2017 at 6:45 Comments comments (0)

Did you wake up this morning feeling like you’ve just run a marathon, in heels, with a couple of screaming toddlers dragging along on your ankles? Did you accidentally put the milk in the pantry and cereal in the fridge…again? You could be the 1 in 4 women with a form of iron deficiency known as iron deficiency anemia (IDA).

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body stores of the mineral, iron, are insufficient to make the very important protein haemoglobin. Haemoglobin catches a ride on red blood cells to deliver oxygen to tissues and muscles so they can function optimally. So when there is insufficient iron the rest of the body can’t get the oxygen it needs. This is when symptoms of IDA become more noticeable:

• General, ongoing fatigue • Weakness • Pale skin

• Shortness of breath • Dizziness • Tingling/crawling sensation in legs

• Tongue swelling/soreness • Cold hands and feet • Fast or irregular heartbeat

• Brittle nails • Headaches • Pica-craving non-food items eg. dirt, ice


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is advisable that you speak to your GP. Typically a simple blood test is all that is needed to diagnose IDA although the cause of the condition may need further investigation. There are many possible causes of IDA, however, the most common are:

• Inadequate iron intake- the body cannot make iron so we must consume foods rich in iron to keep ensure we have enough circulating in our blood and stored in cells for the body to draw upon in times when we need a little extra iron eg. during an infection

• Pregnancy or blood loss due to menstruation or childbirth

• Internal bleeding- stomach ulcers, polyps in the colon or intestines, and colon cancer are just a few conditions which can cause internal bleeding

• Inability to absorb iron even when you are consuming enough dietary iron- undiagnosed or poorly managed coeliac disease, intestinal surgery (eg gastric bypass) are examples of conditions where iron absorption is impaired.

• Vegetarians and vegans also need to be mindful that the type of iron consumed through plant-based foods is not as well absorbed as the iron found in meat and there are certain components of plants that inhibit absorption of iron in the body as well. This is not to say that meeting iron requirements through a plant-based diet is impossible, that’s not the case at all- it just takes a little more careful planning!

• Infants and children (especially those born prematurely) also tend to be at higher risk of iron deficiency particularly during growth spurts due to the increased demand for iron during these times

Most of the causes mentioned above can be treated with some simple dietary changes, in addition to iron supplementation if your GP advises this is necessary (usually in cases of severe IDA).

When I am seeing a client with IDA, leading into how we are going to manage the condition through dietary changes is typically the part of the consult where I hear a resounding- but I don’t like red meat! And my usual reply is that they don’t have to eat it if they don’t want to! Yes, it is true that the iron in red meat is more readily absorbed than that in plant-based foods, and that per 100g, red meat is a richer source of iron than white meat or fish.

However, if you completely detest red meat or for ethical reasons choose not to eat it, there are many other ways for you to meet your iron requirements without having to force feed yourself red meat or compromise your ethical beliefs.

Recommended Daily Intakes for Iron*:

O Men 8mg/day        O Women (19-50 years of age) 18mg/day      O Women (51+ years of age) 8mg/day

*Vegetarians/vegans typically need to consume 150% of the recommended intake of iron


Dietary sources of iron

Meat & meat alternatives         Bread & Cereal foods                         Fruit & vegetables                             Dairy & Other                                             

Kangaroo (100g) 4.4mg           Weetbix (2 biscuits) 3.0mg                 Dried apricots (8-10 halves) 1.5mg   Cheese (1 slice) 0.1mg

Lean beef (100g) 3.1mg           Oats (1 cup) 1.3mg                            Sultanas (1 little box) 0.74mg            Milk (1 cup) 0.3mg

Lamb (100g) 2.5mg                  Wholegrain bread (1 slice) 0.63mg    Fresh fruit (100g) 0.2-0.7mg              Cashews (50g) 2.5mg

Chicken (100g) 0.9mg              White bread (1 slice) 0.36mg             1/2 cup cooked spinach 2.2mg          Peanut butter (1Tbsp) 0.5mg

Pork (100g) 1.4mg                    Brown rice (100g) 0.5mg                    1/2 cup green beans 1.0g                 Liqourice (1 long strap) 4.4mg

Tuna (100g) 1.0mg                    Pasta (1 cup cooked)

Egg (1 egg=55g) 1.1mg

Chick peas (100g) 6.2mg

Baked beans (140g tin) 2.24mg

Tofu (100g) 5.2mg Potato (1 small) 0.5mg



Putting this information into something a little more practical, a woman aged 19-50 years could meet her iron requirements with the following:

Breakfast: 2 Weetbix with milk, a slice of wholegrain toast with peanut butter and a piece of fruit

Mid-morning: Small handful of cashews and small tub of yoghurt

Lunch: Chicken/tuna/egg and salad sandwich on 2 slices of wholegrain bread plus a piece of fruit

Mid afternoon: 8 halves dried apricots and 2 slices of cheese

Dinner: 100g tofu or 100g steak with vegetables (including spinach) and 1 small potato


This example provides approximately 20mg of iron, and the inclusion of Vitamin C rich foods (such as fruit) with meals helps increase the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. Animal protein (red meat, chicken etc) will also help increase absorption of iron from plant based foods. It is advisable to avoid consuming tea, coffee, unprocessed bran, and some herbal medicines with meals as these can block iron absorption (just enjoy them 30-60 minutes before or after meals instead).

So, despite what the ads say, you won’t necessarily be ‘better on beef’ or need to ‘get more pork on your fork’ (but if you enjoy beef and pork-no worries!) to prevent or manage iron deficiency- it just takes a little careful planning to ensure that you are getting the iron your body needs, and that it is absorbing it effectively. And when supplementation is advised by your GP, it is best to combine this with some simple dietary changes.

If you have been diagnosed with IDA, or if you would like to know more about optimal nutrition for prevention of IDA for either yourself, your child or another family member, book an appointment with us today for expert tailored nutrition advice at


Mindful Munching and Moving #1: Kidney Kindness

Posted on 9 March, 2017 at 22:30 Comments comments (0)


The silent killer. Aka chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is estimated that 1 in 10 Australian women’s lives will be lost to kidney related disease over the next 12 months alone. Just as concerning is the estimated 1 in every 10 Australians who have risk factors for CKD but are completely unaware because the fact is, that you can lose up to 90% of your kidney function before experiencing any symptoms (1).


How do you know if you are at risk then if symptoms don’t appear until the late stages of the disease? If you have or have a history of any of the following risk factors, best to speak to your GP about regular Kidney Health checks:


o Diabetes      o High blood pressure     o Heart problems or stroke                                    o Family history of CKD

o Smoker        o 60 years or older          o Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander                     o History of acute kidney injury


To give you a quick overview of why is kidney health so important, here are a just a few of the life-sustaining jobs our kidneys perform 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:


o Regulates blood pressure

o Cleans blood and filters waste and toxins

o Balances water

o Helps activate Vitamin D


Prevention of chronic kidney disease starts with prioritising our health and giving ourselves permission to adopt healthful habits according to our individual needs and lifestyles.


There are no fancy ‘superfoods’ or ‘supplements’ to prevent kidney disease (well, none that are evidence-based anyway). There is however strong evidence to support the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet for reducing the risk of chronic kidney disease (2). Whilst in the scientific literature it is often referred to as the Mediterranean diet, I prefer to call it the Mediterranean lifestyle as it is not just WHAT people who adopt this lifestyle eat, it is also HOW they eat, and their approach to life in general that confers health benefits.

The What of the Mediterranean lifestyle:

• Plenty of vegetables and fruit- fresh or frozen, think ‘rainbow of colours’

• Legumes are used in place of, or to reduce the amount of animal meats used, in dishes (eg in bolognaise or lasagna)

• Nuts are consumed most days (#Nuts30Days30Ways has some great ideas on how to enjoy nuts every day)

• Wholegrain breads and cereals (mainly homemade pasta)

• High intake of olive oil

• Moderately high intake of (locally sourced) fish

• Low-moderate intake of dairy products (mainly locally sourced or homemade cheese and yoghurt)

• Low intake of red meat and poultry

• Moderate intake of wine

• Herbs, spices, garlic and onions are often used in place of salt to pack flavor into meals

• Water is the hydrating fluid of choice


The How of the Mediterranean lifestyle:

• Meals are viewed as opportunities to share yummy, body-and-soul nourishing food with loved ones. Meals are rarely consumed alone and are eaten at a communal table

• Meals are typically served ‘buffet style’ at the table. Everyone serves up their own meals, (except for small children of course, although they are still often given the opportunity to choose what they would like from the available selections), and meal portions are served according to whatever an individual’s food hankering and hunger level is at that meal

• Food is appreciated and celebrated for what it is- a source of nourishment. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods.

• Meals are eaten slowly and mindfully- forks are put down and conversation continues to flow once they feel satisfied. Occasionally, just like most other human beings, overindulgence occurs and the ‘food coma’ feeling kicks in. But no guilt is felt, just acceptance over the indulgence and perhaps a smaller portion at the next meal in response to a lower level of hunger at that time. There are no resolves to start dieting the next day, or Monday morning detoxes. Food is food, and life goes on.

• Wine is consumed at each meal- in the company of loved ones and as a complement to the meal being enjoyed

• Ever heard of the term ‘siesta’- yep, a nap in the middle of the day to reduce stress levels and actually get to sit down and enjoy a lunch meal sounds great to me too! Ok, so in reality, this is not really possible as most workplaces don’t allow for this, but it is common practice in the Mediterranean, and is just one more reason why this lifestyle is also associated with lower incidence of chronic disease


What about exercise?

Regular movement can reduce the risk of chronic disease development, including CKD. In particular, exercise can decrease blood pressure, reduce the risk of Diabetes and improve blood sugar control in individuals with Diabetes (3) . Whilst the general recommendation is 30-60 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity (eg. brisk walking, aqua aerobics) most days of the week; including aerobic and resistance exercises; the most important questions to ask yourself before participating in any type of exercise are:

1. Do I enjoy this type of movement? If you hate walking around the block, it’s probably not something you are going to do regularly. Write down a few options for purposeful movement that you know you will enjoy or would like to try and be flexible- exercise doesn’t need to be rigid. Move every day, challenge yourself if you feel like it, but move in a way that you enjoy.

2. Is this type of movement right for me? Not all types of exercise are suitable for everyone. Seek the advice of an Exercise Physiologist if you are unsure of what type of movement is right for you.


Some final thoughts for being kind to your kidneys:

Eat to your appetite, find your movement mojo with activities you enjoy, enjoy more nourishing plant-based meals in the company of loved ones, drink plenty of water and if you are concerned about your kidney health speak to your GP today about a kidney health check. Also check out the great resources on for Kidney Health Week (5-11 March, 2017).

Would you like to learn more about how to change your food mindset and eating behaviours to prevent chronic disease? Unsure about what type of exercise is right for you? Book an appointment with us today for expert tailored nutrition and exercise advice through our contact page or on 0415 232 008



2. Huang X et al Mediterranean diet, kidney function, and mortality in men with CKD. Clin J Am Soc Nephrology




Food Bytes #2: Exercise Right Week

Posted on 25 May, 2016 at 0:00 Comments comments (0)

Most of us are well aware of the health benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise, however, between juggling family, work and social commitments, it can make it seem near impossible to find the time to squeeze in that extra bit of ‘me’ time to care for ourselves through regular, enjoyable movement.

The benefits of regular physical activity are far-reaching and can positively affect many areas of our lives, not just our physical and mental wellbeing. Did you know that the fitter you are the lower your risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease1 and Diabetes? And if you already have these conditions, a higher level of fitness improves your chances of better managing your condition! Exercise is the single most effective preventative health measure- exercise really is the best medicine!

Can’t afford a gym membership? Find going for a walk boring? Or are just not sure what kind of exercise to do to help you manage your health condition or injury?

Well, herein lies the key message- exercise does not have to mean slogging it out in the gym for hours, nor does it have to mean talking yourself into getting up at 5am every morning in the middle of winter to go for a walk (with the risk of frost-bite a glaring possibility!). That’s not to say these forms of exercise are not good options- if these are what you enjoy doing then I say go for it!

Maybe, though, it’s time we changed our perception of exercise as a whole- maybe if we focused more on moving for enjoyment- that is, finding the type of activity that you are happy to make time for, that makes you feel empowered and bursting with energy, that helps clear your mind and reduces stress levels or helps better manage your health condition. The reality is that your options for movement are only limited by your imagination (and yes, by your physical abilities if you have an injury, health condition, or, like myself, are not a natural born athlete!).

Try thinking outside of the box though: organise a weekly group exercise session with workmates or friends, play a game of footy or cricket with the kids, have a go on the ski fields this winter, let out some frustration in a kickboxing class, or try the new trampolining craze at your local centre such as Flip Out (I assure you it’s loads of fun for the whole family!). Or if you’re really keen, why not sign up for a half-marathon! ( has a calendar of physical activity events in your state and other great info on exercise research and ideas)

So, maybe it’s time we focused on self-care and saying ‘yes’ to putting our health and wellbeing first for a change, because ultimately, if we are feeling our best, we are more likely to be the best version of ourselves in other areas of our lives.

Exercise Right Week is coming up on 23rd – 29th May, 2016. For more information, visit

If you have an injury or health condition or would just like some guidance on which types of activity would be most appropriate for your needs, then book in with your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist today for a thorough assessment and tailored exercise advice. Find your local AEP through or book in with Belinda on 0415232008 or [email protected]


1. Blair, S (2009). Physical inactivity: The biggest public health problem of the 21st century. British Journal of Sports Medicine 43: 1-2


Food Bytes #1: Food to support thyroid function

Posted on 24 May, 2016 at 8:00 Comments comments (0)

The thyroid is a gland that sits at the base of the throat which secretes various hormones to help regulate important metabolic processes including body temperature and metabolic rate. To produce the thyroid hormones T4 and T3, the thyroid relies on adequate amounts of four key nutrients from food: iodine, selenium, iron and zinc.

A diet low in any of these nutrients increases the risk of impaired production of thyroid hormones and development of a wide variety of health problems including rapid weight gain, depression, complications in pregnancy, infertility, mental and physical developmental delay (in children).

So how do you ensure that you are getting enough of each of these nutrients to assist with optimal thyroid function? Aside from following the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and eating a wide variety of foods, including at least one of the foods from each of the columns below each day may just provide that extra nutritional boost you need for a healthy thyroid:


Scallops, Oysters, Tinned pink salmon, Snapper, Parmesan cheese, Green beans, Plain yoghurt, Tinned tuna, Cashews, Lean ham, Spinach


Brazil nuts, Oat bran, Cashews, Sesame seeds, Tahini, Weetbix, Mushrooms, Beef fillet, Eggs


Iron fortified breakfast cereals (e.g. Weetbix), Cashews, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Tofu, Spinach


Weetbix, Parmesan cheese, Lamb, Oat bran, Egg yolk (cooked), Chicken thigh, Soya beans, Tofu, Beef, Mushrooms

May is Thyroid Awareness Month- to learn ore about thyroid health visit

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, or if you would like to know more about optimal nutrition for a healthy thyroid, book an appointment with Belinda for expert tailored nutrition advice on 0415 232 008 or [email protected]