Monthly Archives: February 2016

Gluten Free ‘Is it for you?’

The gluten free diet has often been publicised as being healthy and a diet that everyone should be following. But is it the right diet for you?

Gluten is found in (wheat, barley, rye and oats). Those who are unlucky enough to be diagnosed with Coeliac Disease like myself MUST follow a strict gluten free diet for life. Coeliac Disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body sees gluten as an invader and attacks itself in an attempt to stop the invasion. If the diet is not followed, the small intestinal villi continue to be destroyed, which impairs the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

While cutting out gluten will not hurt anyone it is not necessary if you are not allergic. A lot of people are intolerant to gluten, in particular wheat, but can eat small amounts of barley, rye and oats without any symptoms. Reducing and eliminating gluten in your diet basically eliminates processed foods.

Foods labelled ‘gluten free’ DOES NOT always mean they are healthy, especially gluten free biscuits, cake mixes and slices as they often contain a lot of sugar, if not more!

I recommend reducing and eliminating wheat from your diet where possible as wheat today is heavily processed and has been genetically modified so much that is hardly resembles the wheat that was eaten 50 years ago. Wheat promotes inflammation in the body, spikes blood glucose levels and has been identified as a leading factor in the development of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cognitive problems, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis and even cataract development.

Unless you suffer from Coeliac Disease or experience gastrointestinal problems such as; abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation or bloating, small amounts of gluten need not to be feared and can be enjoyed in moderation.

If you suspect you may have Coeliac Disease speak with your doctor of health care practitioner to request a blood test.

Coffee – Healthy or Unhealthy

Coffee gets many mixed reviews especially when you type it into ‘Google’. It’s good, it’s bad, you should drink this much each day, you should drink it before this time and the list goes on.

From a nutritionist’s perspective, caffeine releases stored glucose into our blood stream which raises blood glucose levels in the body, a similar effect to what eating a handful of lollies does. What goes up must come down and for some people this can be quite dramatic with feeling jittery and frantic.

Coffee does contain antioxidants which can be effective for neutralising free radicals in the body that we are exposed to daily from our environments. Studies have shown that drinking coffee can improve cognitive function, physical performance and can brighten your mood.

People who suffer from insomnia, stress and anxiety in particular may find consuming coffee makes their condition worse and therefore should refrain from drinking. People who have inflammatory conditions such as; IBS, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis may also find the acidity of coffee too irritating and may promote the onset of flare ups.

Personally I enjoy drinking coffee and having 1 coffee a day in my opinion is fine as long as it does not cause you any problems. I do recommend that you drink a good quality coffee to get as many antioxidants as possible.

When you are drinking coffee, try having a small snack that contains some healthy fats to slow down the spike and drop in glucose levels. To make a coffee break that bit healthier try swapping out regular cow’s milk for almond, coconut or rice milk and without the sugar. If you do need a hint of sweetness try stevia, xylitol or a tsp of raw honey.

In Rockhampton there are a bunch of places that offer almond milk now including; The Two Professors, Cheese and Biscuits Cafe, Blue Truffle Gourmet Deli, Elijah and Edward’s, Gloria Jeans and Muffin Break.

I do suggest that you have your coffee before 3pm to ensure that your sleep in not compromised.

Always remember that if you choose to have your coffee, you will need to drink an extra 1-2 glasses of water as coffee can dehydrate you as it promotes urinary excretion of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.



Why I became a Nutritionist

Studying nutrition and working as a qualified nutritionist was not something I ever thought I would end up doing. I always enjoyed food and did a lot of cooking with my family after being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease back in 2003. Back then eating gluten free was not well understood, times have certainly changed!

Instead I left school and studied a double degree in Business (Human Resources) and Arts where I spent just under 4 years working in the construction industry. Two of those years were spent working on fly in fly out (FIFO) projects. I moved to Brisbane and spent a year in the corporate world before spending 6 months flying into Gladstone for a project. I was then relocated to Perth to work on Barrow Island.

Before starting FIFO I had a mentor at work who encouraged me to look at studying nutrition as a side hobby as it was something I enjoyed. Living in Brisbane exposed me to a new take on food. Restaurants in particular were more adventurous, and there were many different groups of people who were extremely passionate about their food choices and diets. Specialty health food stores were more abundant and people in general took more of an interest into what they put in their bodies. Spending time travelling overseas amongst other cultures also built up my interest in nutrition.

At first the idea was to study nutrition for personal interest only and to continue working in Human Resources as I really wanted to specialise in Industrial Relations. As I progressed further into my Advanced Diploma in Nutritional Medicine I started to consider the idea of one day actually working as a Nutritionist with the hope to have my own business. Spending 2 years in FIFO camps made this decision easier as I wanted to be able to encourage, inspire and educate people on how to make better food choices that would benefit their health long term.

Friends, family and work colleagues could all see that I was passionate about nutrition and were probably getting sick of hearing about food!

In February this year I resigned and left FIFO work and the construction industry behind and moved back to Rockhampton to focus on completing the last of my Diploma fulltime.

Today I work as a Nutritionist and absolutely love what I do.