finger holding donut From when to snack, to keep on top of Menopause – Our Nutritionist has the answers!

What is the best time of day to snack?

If you are using in-between meal noshing as a weight-loss strategy so you are less starving at meals, recent research suggests the afternoon is optimum. A study in the Journal of American Dietetic Association found that dieters who snacked in the a.m. lost 7% of their body weight during the course of a year, while those who grabbed a bit post-lunch instead lost 11%. Given the short time between breakfast and lunch, morning nibblers may be eating as much out of habit as hunger, since they also tend to consume afternoon snacks, it increases the chance of taking in unnecessary calories. So rethink your morning munchies, and you may shed a few kilos. Remember all snacks must be eaten sitting down and on a plate at the table so you are aware of what you are consuming. Eat your snacks slowly and chew your food well.

I have gained so much weight since I reached menopause. All my friends are complaining. Can you give any suggestions, please!!! I eat the same as I always have and the scale continues to go up.

Your metabolism takes the greatest hit at menopause which usually occurs around the age of 52. Thanks to all the hormonal changes, you don’t absorb protein as well as you used to and muscle loss accelerates. Before you were losing up to 2 kg of muscle per decade, now it is up to 4 kg. But just as it is crucial to stay active, many women in this age group become less so, especially if they are experiencing back or joint pain. Stay active and cut calories! Keep moving! Low-impact activities like swimming, cycling and brisk walking may even alleviate joint and muscle pain. (just get the okay from your doctor first). Varying your cardio routine from day to day is also the key, as it can help prevent overuse injuries. Do strength training three times a week as you get older if you want to stay strong. To stay slim, find ways to trim calories at every meal. Keep portions small and don’t pick and snack. Eat three fewer bites, cook with less oil, have an extra serving of veggies and half the amount of starchy foods like pasta or potatoes. Extra protein is also essential for warding off weight gain, so pack enough healthy sources – such as fish, lean meat, and low-fat dairy into your diet. Be consistent, know that your efforts will ultimately impact how you feel. A 50-year-old can function like a 70-year old or a 30-year-old – it is up to you!

Can you please explain the difference between allergies and intolerances? So many people seem to have so many dietary requirements. As a restaurant owner, it has become extremely difficult to satisfy the demands of the public.

Allergies and intolerances to food are two different issues. Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system mistakes a component in food (usually a protein) as being harmful and creates a defence system to fight against it. Allergy symptoms, such as hives, diarrhoea, swelling of the airways and shortness of breath develop when antibodies fight against the ‘invading’ food.

Food intolerances are more prevalent and involve the digestive system rather than the immune system. Natural and artificial chemicals found in a wide variety of foods can irritate the digestive system, leading to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating and stomach pain. Food intolerances can also occur when a person in unable to properly digest or break down food. One of the most common food intolerances is lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

When shopping for foods that address special dietary needs, people are also seeking nutritious choices. Interest in gluten- or dairy-free products is growing, while 33% of consumers are looking for a lactose-free claim on products. Many are also making the lifestyle choice to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. The label should tell you everything you need about whether a food product meets your needs. It is exceptionally difficult as a restaurateur to satisfy the more varied requests (demands) of customers, and it appears to be getting worse.

healthy woman looking into camera How can I tell if I have diabetes?

Firstly you must see your doctor if you have any suspicions that you might have diabetes.  Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications and harmful effects of diabetes such as damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, teeth and gums, feet and skin, or kidneys. Studies show that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels close to normal can help prevent or delay these problems of diabetes. The following symptoms of diabetes are typical. However, some people with type 2 diabetes conditions are characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people who have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.

Common symptoms of diabetes:

Urinating often

Feeling very thirsty

Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating

Extreme fatigue

Blurry vision

Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal

Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)

Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Which exercise burns the most fat: running or walking?

If you have been to the gym recently, you might have seen the ‘fat burning’ setting on the treadmill –a gentle-to-moderate speed, where you walk (not run) to burn fat. Technically, you will burn fat when you’re walking – it’s true. But if you want to lose body fat, don’t swap your morning jog for a gentle stroll just yet. Your body burns different fuel sources when exercising at different intensities. When you are doing a low-intensity exercise like walking (when your heart is beating at less than 60% of your Maximum Heart Rate (Maximum Heart Rate = 220 beats per minute, minus your age), almost all of the energy you burn is from fat. As you start to increase the intensity – say, to a hard walk or a jog(60-80% MHR) – you keep burning fat, but your body begins to burn its store of carbohydrates as well. At a high intensity, like sprinting (greater than 85% MHR), carbs become the prominent source of food used.

So walking might burn the fattest, but it doesn’t burn the most overall energy – and that is what you need to focus on if you want to lose body fat. Here is where higher intensity workouts, like running, come in – they get your heart rate up higher, burning more overall energy than walking would if you do them for the same length of time.

Walking is still worthwhile ‘fat loss’ exercise, of course – you will eventually burn the same amount of energy as you would a shorter, higher-intensity workout. But you will have to exercise for twice as long to burn the same amount of energy. In addition, research has also shown that you can burn more fat – and burn fat for longer after your workout – by ‘interval’ training: exercising at alternating intensities. Simply choose a favourite cardio activity (including brisk walking) and alternate between vigorous and slower movements every 60 seconds. Stick to this consistently (and don’t forget the healthy, kilojoule-controlled diet!), and you will start to see results.