woman of colour laughing Our resident Nutritionist answers questions about milk, weight loss and those intense afternoon sweet cravings.

I am desperate to lose the extra 3 kg I have gained.  I am generally a small frame but I have struggled to get them off.  I exercise 4-5 times a week, but that is not really working either.  How can I lose 3 kg in a short space of time?

Stop worrying about losing weight quickly, rather get into correct eating habits so that the weight is lost incidentally to you exercising and eating correctly.  Losing weight is a simple formula – provided energy in is less than energy out, your weight will drop.  Consequently, look at your food and alcohol consumption, ensure that your portion sizes are small and that you are making the correct choices.  In addition, increase the intensity of your exercise.  Have you attempted following the meal plan I have formulated on my website www.arlenesway.com.au?

I eat pretty healthily and have cut out refined sugar and chocolate, but my one vice seems to be sultanas!!!  Just wondering how bad they are for you if you are trying to lose weight?

Sultanas are not a great snack if you are trying to lose weight as they are full of sugar, and are not very filling. You must remember that sultanas are dehydrated grapes.  2 tablespoons of sultanas is equivalent to eating an orange or a small banana or a slice of bread.  Try and restrict your intake to a school snack pack a day.

woman drinking milk Is the milk allowance over and above anything that is on your diet plan on your website or total for the day including your diet plan?

The 2 cups of milk are over and above the meals I have designated on the diet plan – this is to ensure you satisfy your calcium requirement for the day.

I have dreadful sweet cravings and wondered if this indicates there is something missing from my diet.  I became a vegetarian a year ago and thought that this could perhaps be causing this desire for lollies, chocolates, cakes and biscuits which I previously never felt like.  These cravings are mainly in the latter part of the day.

It would be necessary for me to analyse your overall diet before I could determine whether your intake is deficient in any of the vitamins or minerals.  When the cravings occur later in the day, it is often due to a drop in blood sugar levels, which may be due to not eating sufficient throughout the day.  I would suggest you eat six small meals during the day, and try to satisfy the sweet cravings with nutritious foods such as fruit or yoghurt.  In addition, when one is tired you experience sweet cravings.  Ensure that you are not iron deficient, or perhaps you lack sleep or are doing too much.

I am always trying to lose weight and have just been reading a book on food combining.  What do you think of this diet?  I am so desperate to “shrink” that I will try anything.  I do not understand it, but they give menus that I can follow.  Can you explain how it works and if you think it is healthy or not?

The concept behind food combining diets is that proteins require acids to digest and carbohydrates require alkali, so mixing the two creates incorrect digestion – and one of the consequences is obesity.  Should you subscribe to this diet, you can say good-bye to toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, meat and potatoes, lamb curry and rice and spaghetti bolognaise.  The notion that starch foods need an alkaline solution while protein foods need an acid environment is rubbish.  The stomach is an acid environment and has a pH of 1; so all foods entering the stomach experience this intense acid.  In addition, there is hardly a single food that is a pure protein or pure carbohydrate.  Most foods, whether they classify them as carbohydrates, proteins, or fats are a combination.  Bread, all grains and cereal foods, legumes, nuts and milk contain protein and carbohydrates within the same food.  This diet is not recommended; it carries a high risk of you becoming nutrient deficient.  We should be combining foods rather than separating them.  The body is perfectly equipped to cope with such mixtures.  In addition, if you are participating in sport, it may provide insufficient energy.

I was very impressed with your diet plan.  I will be grateful if you could let me know what kind of diet I should be on, as I am diabetic.  I still have my normal meals, except for cutting out sugar altogether and trying to eat brown bread and no milk, etc.  Are there any recipes for Diabetic, which could be included in your weekly diet plan?

All the recipes are suitable for diabetics as they are all low in fat.  Diabetics are prone to suffer from heart disease so should be aware of their saturated and trans-fat intake.  Provided diabetic balances with their carbohydrate consumption throughout the day their blood sugar levels will be within normal limits.  You should not be eliminating milk from your diet as this can lead to a poor calcium intake, which in the long term may result in low bone density and osteoporosis.  I suggest you consult a dietitian to prescribe a balanced meal plan for you.  If you are not insulin-dependent, then my diet plan is perfect!