nutrigion treeCarbs are simple and complex all at the same time! It’s good to learn the difference.

I swim every morning for at least an hour. Can you suggest what I can eat afterwards, on the way to work, to give me the nutrition I need?

After morning exercise, rehydrating and eating a good breakfast is a priority. Along with lots of water or a sports drink, a snack that is a mixture of carbohydrates and protein is ideal. Try a low GI breakfast cereal with some protein, such as oats with a banana and/or some berries and some yoghurt, to help keep you going until morning tea. Other good options include having peanut butter and banana sandwich, a low-fat yoghurt and a piece of fruit, a fruit bun and flavoured milk or an Up and Go.

How can oestrogen levels affect bone density?

Oestrogen is a female hormone that plays an important role in the health of women. One of its benefits is that it protects your bones and helps keep them strong and healthy. When oestrogen levels drop, many women lose bone density. Teens and young women who often miss their periods usually have low oestrogen levels. As a result, their bones may not be as strong. For midlife women, the drop in oestrogen that happens with menopause can lead to rapid bone loss.

Arriving at Menopause

The word menopause comes from the Greek words for “month” and “end.” It means the end of monthly periods. Some people call it the “change of life.” For most women, it is a natural change that takes place during their life. As a woman nears menopause, her monthly periods become less regular and can be heavy or light, or both at different times. In some women, it takes less than a year to reach menopause. In others, it can take two years or longer. The time of change leading up to menopause is called perimenopause.

Menopause happens when your ovaries stop making oestrogen. A woman reaches menopause when her periods stop completely for a year. The average age of menopause is 51 years, but some women have their last period in their 40s and others later in their 50s. If you have your ovaries removed by surgery, menopause happens instantly. Either way, it happens, menopause leads to a decrease in oestrogen.

Women in their 40s are more likely to break a wrist than men at this age. This may be a sign of bone loss starting even before a woman reaches

menopause. Bone loss can speed up when oestrogen levels begin to decline during perimenopause. During the early years after menopause, the risk of

breaking bones in the spine increases in women. For many women, a rapid loss of bone takes place during the five to seven years after menopause. Women can lose up to 20 per cent of their bone density during this time. After that, bone loss tends to take place more slowly.

woman deciding between sweet or appleI have been dealing and fighting with anorexia for the past two and a half years, and I am now trying to eat more and often.  I can never feel full no matter what or how much of it I eat.  I was wondering if you had a healthy eating plan that would allow me to remain slim but also allowing myself the nutrients my body needs.

An eating disorder like anorexia causes the natural instincts of the body to become muddled – consequently, your tummy does not know when it is full, hungry or just satisfied.  These cues have to be learned by your body.  Initially, you have to be told what quantities to eat, and eventually, you will automatically know the portion sizes your body requires depending on your energy expenditure and lifestyle.  The meal plans designed on my website  are a good guideline for you and are nutritionally well balanced.  Initially, you may find it difficult to consume regular meals, but with a lot of determination and support from your family and friends, you will achieve your goal. I suggest you see a dietitian get a more personalised guideline of what you should eat.

I am 175 cm tall and weigh about 66 kg.  I want to lose about 5kgs and would like to know the best way to do it.  I don’t want to try any of those fad diets as they just put the kilos back on when you stop.  I am a Lacto-Vegetarian and I have never had any meat or fish before.  Is there any particular exercise and foods I should be eating?

You have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 21.5, which is the lower level of normal, so you are already slim and perhaps need to reassess your body image.  A normal BMI is 20-25.  If you lose 5 kg and weigh 61 kg, your BMI falls to just below 20.  You should not lose more as you will be underweight which is not healthy.  You should be eating a variety of foods to satisfy your nutritional requirements, particularly as you are vegetarian.  Be careful to satisfy your protein, calcium, iron, zinc and Vitamin B12 requirements.

I don’t eat carbohydrates after 1 pm but am confused as to what foods have carbohydrates and which ones don’t.

When you speak of carbohydrates, what comes to mind?  Potatoes, bread, pasta and rice.  However, carbohydrates also include fruit, pumpkin, cereal, most grains, corn, barley, etc.  Carbohydrates are complex molecules made up of thousands of glucose (sugar) units.  Carbohydrates appear in virtually all plant foods and in only one food taken from animals – namely milk.  Carbohydrates are the major source of energy.  Anyone who is trying to exercise, and has a low carbohydrate diet will find exercise difficult.  Carbohydrates have recently been thought of as dietary villains with respect to weight loss, however, they are essential to life and your weight is dependent on the quantities you are consuming and the energy you are expending.  It is all a balance, of energy in and energy out – any excess is laid down as fat!

vegetables and fruit layed out in heart shape I am diabetic and find it always exceptionally hard to cope with alcohol and socialising.  I have to drink a bit otherwise I feel left out.  As it is I feel different by just having diabetes and always having to watch what I eat.  What tips can you give me?

The major tip I can give you is to make sure that you have eaten sufficient carbohydrates to prevent a hypo.  You don’t have to overdo the drinking to be part of the social crowd, one or two low-alcohol beers, a glass of wine mixed with mineral water, should help you feel more socially acceptable.  Make sure you count the number of drinks you consume.  Start with a non-alcoholic beverage between each alcoholic drink.  It is recommended that women shouldn’t have more than two standard drinks, and men not more than four.  I am not aware of whether you are on any medication, but if you are on Diamicron, Minidiab, Daonil, Rastinon, Diabinese, or insulin, insulin can react and result in hypoglycaemia.  Make sure you are consuming sufficient carbohydrates.

I am suffering from severe constipation.  I wake up in the morning feeling very bloated.  I don’t want to get hooked on laxatives.  What do you think of fibre supplements? Do you think I should take these?

The ideal method is to obtain extra fibre from food rather than supplements.  Eat wholemeal and wholegrain bread and cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  There are a number of different types of fibre found in foods, not all of which will be present in a fibre supplement.  In addition, high-fibre foods contain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals; these are not present in fibre supplements.  Increase your fluid intake as fibre absorbs water.  This will further assist the effects of fibre on bowel regularity.  Exercise is essential for regular bowel movements.