Efendy: Modern Turkish with a taste for the traditionalOur resident nutritionist answers your questions about sushi, getting that post-baby body into shape and healthy eating tips.

On your diet you often allow chocolate, but not crisps – I do not have a sweet tooth, but love salty things.  Could I replace the chocolate with pretzels or crisps?

Salty snacks are acceptable provided you do not suffer from fluid retention or blood pressure, as the salt will exacerbate these conditions.  20g packets of chips or pretzels are interchangeable with 30g chocolate.

Do you think the low GI diet works to help you lose weight?

Any program “works” provided you are eating less energy than you are burning.  This puts your body into negative energy balance which will result in your body burning stored fat to compensate for the disparity between what your body needs and you are consuming. 

The Glycaemic Index diet was originally developed to help people with diabetes.  Low GI foods cause a slow rise in blood sugar level and a slow fall, consequently your length of satiety is greater than eating foods with a high GI. 

High GI foods create a sharp rise in blood sugar levels and a sharp fall.  However, it is not as simple as this as the GI does not take into consideration that most people do not only eat when they are hungry.  Most of the overweight population eat when they are tired, socialising, stressed, happy, out of habit, or when the food is in front of them. 

No matter what program you choose you have to control your portion sizes.  If you eat too much of a low GI food (eg. Basmati rice) it will have the same impact on your weight as a high GI food (jasmine rice).   It is advisable to eat low glycaemic index food that is high in fibre and low in fat, but in the portions the body requires, and you will definitely drop kilos!

I suffer from terrible bloating, diarrhoea and then constipation.  I have been to a doctor and also had a colonoscopy, but nothing was diagnosed except irritable bowel syndrome.  It is most uncomfortable.  I went to a naturopath who took me off wheat and dairy, which helped for a while, but then it came back.  I am overweight so I thought you could help because I am so uncomfortable.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an overall description of all the symptoms you are experiencing.  It is often associated with nerves, so disappears during a holiday or when your life is running on “stress free”.  You will find it advantageous to lose excess weight, as this can also create excess bloating. 

Eat six small meals a day (as described in the NW Website meal plan).  Remember your stomach is approximately the size of your fist, so when you consume large portions it has to stretch which will make you feel extended. 

Try and do at least 30 minutes exercise in the morning and another session of 30 minute in the evening.  This not only assists with weight loss, but also helps pass the wind and relaxes the muscles, which will make you feel more comfortable.  Slippery Elm may also help with digestive disorders.

I am so unhappy because I am being bullied and teased at school for being so fat, which makes me so depressed that I go home or to the shops and eat more, which means that I am getting fatter!  I feel so awful that I am too embarrassed to go to the gym, which makes my weight even worse.  Please help me!

You have to show an enormous strength of personality to lose weight, get fit, and return to your “happy” self.  If you cannot do it alone you should contact a professional or join a group organization where you have peer support. 

You do not have to join a gym to exercise – start walking.  Reduce your eating portions and cut back on the fat you are consuming.  Start by using the meal plan on my website (www.arlenesway.com.au) as a guide to the quantities you should be consuming. 

Life is for living and enjoying, not for existing and being unhappy.  You are the only one who can make the changes necessary to alter the pattern your life is taking.  Forget high fat snacks, binging, and feeling sorry for yourself – it is time to take positive action!

I have got a very sweet tooth and I wondered if the low carb sweets now being sold are OK to lose weight?

Low calorie sweets are a good option if you want to continue dropping kilos, however, these often contain isomalt, which can cause wind, bloating and diarrhoea.  Low carb sweets often have the same calorie count as the ordinary varieties, as they may be low in sugars (carbohydrates), but contain higher amounts of saturated fat. 

It is calories that make you fat, not carbohydrates.  In addition, low carb sweets also contain excess sugar alcohols, which can cause gastrointestinal problems if consumed in excess amounts.  Try eating a lollipop a day – it lasts a long time and should satisfy your sweet cravings!