To green juice or not to green juice?


While juicing has been around for eons, the latest craze has now gravitated towards the even ‘healthier’ pressed, whole juice. The concept makes some sense – stop extracting the pure sugar from your favourite plant foods (forsaking fibre and flooding your system with sugar) and opt for a pureed version of the whole food … complete with all the ‘goodies’.
Pressed (whole) juice is now the beverage of the moment. Celebrities drink it. So do fitness fanatics, yoga disciples and vegans. They’re guzzling raw vegetable drinks to “cleanse” their bodies, consume more veggies and shed unwanted kilos. On the surface, it seems that firing up your Nutribullet is the easiest way to consume copious amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit. It makes for a fast breakfast, lunch on-the-run or snack, and it’s healthy. Right?

Well, maybe not. Let’s take a look at the facts…

Problem #1

One of the major issues with any form of juicing (whole or otherwise), is that you are condensing the volume of fibrous plant foods, allowing consumption in quantities beyond your natural capacity. If you piled the hefty contents of your Nutribullet onto a plate prior to blending, it’s unlikely you’d manage to consume it all in its whole state before your stomach sent a signal to your brain that you’ve had your fill. With the absence of chewing your food and the consequent gradual release of saliva and associated enzymes, much of the digestive process, which nature has perfected, is lost.

Digestion of carbohydrates (including all veggies & fruit) begins in your mouth when mixed with saliva. If you do not chew your food, saliva doesn’t have an opportunity to do its job. Saliva contains special enzymes and antibacterial properties. Saliva contains the enzyme amylase, which breaks down starch into simpler, digestible sugars such as maltose and dextrin.  About 30 percent of starch digestion takes place in your mouth and these enzymes also play a role in protecting teeth from decay. Saliva also contains a potent form of the enzyme lipase which is essential for fat digestion.

Problem #2
The high vitamin K content in a spinach/kale smoothie, for example, can be life-threatening if you take blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin. Such anticoagulants often are prescribed after a stroke, deep vein thrombosis or other circulatory conditions. Kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard and parsley contain enough vitamin K per cup to lower the drugs’ anti-clotting activity.

If you’re one of the many millions of people taking cholesterol-lowering statins, stay away from grapefruit. The citrus fruit blocks an intestinal enzyme that controls absorption of some statin drugs. You’ll also face a higher risk of muscle and joint pain, muscle breakdown, liver damage and kidney failure if you drink grapefruit juice, or eat the fruit, while taking statins. Grapefruit also can interfere with drugs for high blood pressure, anxiety, allergies and other ailments.
If you have kidney problems, beware of fruit and vegetable juices with high amounts of potassium, such as bananas and kale. Four cups of chopped kale can be lethal if your kidneys are weak due to high blood pressure, severe infection, an enlarged prostate, certain drugs or pregnancy complications.

Green juice & thyroid function:
Kale, bok choy, cauliflower, collards and spinach are rich in the substance thiocyanate, which in very high concentrations, can interfere with adequate iodine nutrition. The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone, and thus exposure to very high amounts of thiocyanate can potentially result in hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and compensatory growth of the thyroid (goiter). Your thyroid function is responsible for your metabolism, so a reduced production can result in numerous health issues, including excess fat gain. The risks may be exacerbated in individuals who are already iodine deficient, and these may include those with restricted diets, such as vegetarians and vegans.

Australia is known to have very low levels of iodine in our soil, hence the reason much of our salt is now ‘iodised’ and ‘iodised salt’ is now compulsory in commercial bread production.  Adequate iodine nutrition is particularly important in women of child-bearing age and their children, given the importance of iodine and normal thyroid function on the developing brain in young infants.

Eating whole greens in their usual amounts will not be a significant contributor toward thyroid disorders.
Problem #3

Juice cleanses don’t work!
We clean out our houses, our lint filters and cars. So why not our insides? That’s the reasoning behind juice cleanses, which are intended to rid your body of ‘toxins’. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – FORGET IT! The practice is a waste of your time and money, not to mention potentially detrimental to your health. Your body is not like the filter in your clothes dryer. It doesn’t need ‘cleansing.’ Our bodies have their own elaborate, complex and very efficient detoxification system, known as the liver, intestines and kidneys.  It’s physiologically incorrect to think the body can’t detox on its own … or that an elaborate regime of starvation plus juice will do the job for you!

In the process of ‘detoxing’, you’re actually starving your body of essential nutrients, potentially causing loss of bone, tooth decay from the sugary juices and loss of valuable lean muscle tissue, not to mention the additional stress of being hungry and the headaches (often touted as the effect of rampant toxins!) caused by the blood sugar rollercoaster. Which, by the way, stimulates further fat storage!

Problem #4
Juices can be calorie bombs!
If you’re downing up to 2 litres of juice a day to lose weight – which many fasts recommend – stop! Juicing for days to lose weight can be potentially harmful. That’s because you’re losing out on important nutrients.  And don’t expect to get slimmer. In fact, you might gain weight, because you’re consuming more calories than you realise – mostly from naturally occurring sugar in the fruits and vegetables. Some juices and smoothies are more caloric than a meal. Consume too many, and you can end up with a few thousand calories of juice a day and still be unsatisfied.
Problem #5

You’re depriving yourself of protein.
Juice (pressed or otherwise) is not a meal replacement. A 70kg person needs a minimum of 70 grams of protein daily to repair cells and create new ones. Protein also preserves and builds lean body mass, stabilises blood sugar and create satiety, which supports health and even burns calories. Fruits and vegetables [alone] are not a great source.

PROCRASTINATION: the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today!

procrastination-1 procrastination-flowchart-2

We’ve all done it – some more than others…

Contrary to what we tell ourselves, “putting it off” doesn’t exist. It simply remains undone. If you’re a person who lives one way, yet proclaims to live another way in the future, I’m afraid you’re simply trying to justify not getting things done.

If you spend your time complaining about how much you have to do (aka procrastination) you have no present time to get things done. What a perfect excuse! This flimsy justification for not living in the present moment causes further self-doubt and self-delusion, moving you further away from being strong and capable and propels you towards being a victim … full of hope and wishes. Fairytale stuff!

Accompanying procrastination is the inevitable neurotic behaviour, along with useless, negative emotions such as guilt and anxiety. These emotions consume more time and energy than just getting it done in the first place.

Lying to yourself keeps you from having to admit you’re not a doer. The bottom line is, if it’s important enough to be on your list of activities, roll up your sleeves and get started!

3 common neurotic phrases:

“I hope it will work out”

“I wish things were better”

“Maybe it will be ok”

Sound familiar?

As long as you use the above you can absolve yourself of responsibility and continue to rationalise doing nothing.  Things rarely improve on their own. If they do improve, it’s because you’ve made the choice to do something constructive.

The critic

People who are not ‘doers’ are often ‘critics.’ It’s much easier to be a critic as being a doer require effort, risk and adaption to change! It’s always easier to talk about how someone else had performed than to turn around and look in the mirror. By being a critic you can feel important at the expense of others – using others performance as stepping stone to elevate yourself in your own mind. This way, you can avoid having to fail, coming face to face with self-doubt.

Procrastination is also a great way to justify sloppy or poor performance by saying you simply didn’t have time. Or even better … you may be able to manipulate others into doing it for you!

The doer

Doers have no time to criticise others – they’re too busy doing! They spend their time helping others who are not so talented rather than serving as their critic.

Boredom doesn’t exist for the doer. Procrastination creates boredom in the present moment. The choice is always yours.

Examples of typical procrastination:

  • Remaining stuck in a job where you feel unable to grow
  • Hanging onto a relationship that’s gone sour
  • Refusing to address/work on relationship difficulties
  • Not tackling addictions, saying “I’ll quit when I’m ready”
  • Putting off menial tasks
  • Avoiding confrontation
  • Being afraid to change
  • Deciding to start your diet next week, tomorrow
  • Using tiredness as an excuse
  • Getting sick when you are faced with a difficult situation
  • I don’t have time to do it
  • Constantly looking forward to that dream trip
  • Being a critic to camouflage your own refusal to do things
  • Refusing to get a physical check-up so you don’t have to deal with illness
  • Planning but never putting into action a regular exercise program
  • Living your entire life for your children and always putting off your own happiness


  1. Make a decision to live 5 mins at a time instead of always thinking long term. Use each 5 mins to complete tasks and get things done
  2. Simply begin a project you’ve been putting off
  3. Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen if I take action now?
  4. Make a designated time slot in your diary to complete tasks you’ve been putting off
  5. Procrastinating is substituting the now with anxiety about the future – ask yourself what you are trying to avoid in the current moment by procrastinating
  6. Quit smoking NOW, start your diet THIS MOMENT….do one push up NOW. Immediate action is how you tackle the problem
  7. Ask yourself – are you doing now what you’d choose to do if you only had 6 months to live?
  8. Decide not to be tired until the MOMENT BEFORE YOU GET INTO BED
  9. Eliminate the words hope, wish and maybe and replace with “I am going to do the following things to ensure I feel better”
  10. And finally … BE A DOER – NOT A WISHER, HOPER OR CRITIC!

The Great Red Meat Debate!


Given the recent publicity surrounding meat consumption, I thought it was time to re-post this one…


Red Meat Consumption and Mortality

An Pan, PhD. et al. Archives of Interal Medicine. Published online March 12, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287

Background:  Red meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases. However, its relationship with mortality remains uncertain.

Methods:  Observation of 37,698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2008) and 83,644 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2008) who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer at baseline. Diet was assessed by validated food frequency questionnaires and updated every 4 years.

THE ‘RESULTS’as published in the study conclusion notes and in the media release

Red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, CVD, and cancer mortality. Substitution of other healthy protein sources for red meat is associated with a lower mortality risk.


Over the years, I’ve heard almost every reason as to why we shouldn’t eat red meat, from claims of it fermenting in your gut to it being riddled with parasites. Many tend to read such claims in trashy magazines and jump on the ‘meat is evil’ bandwagon. So let’s look at some facts…

As far as the reliability of the study design goes, it’s pretty poor. For science to determine what causes a potential health risk, they generally take two identical groups (rats for example) and subject them to identical conditions, with the exception of one group who gets a drug, food or whatever is being investigated. For example, if one of the two groups of rats was being fed a drug and they all died, yet the other identical group all lived, there’s relatively compelling evidence that the drug killed them.

The Red Meat Consumption study was not this type of study. It was what is known as an ‘observational’ study. There were no identical groups, no diet fed to the participants, no clinical testing. Instead, the participants completed a ‘food frequency questionnaire’ (FFQ) several times over a span of thirty years or so. The first thing they teach you when studying a nutrition degree is that FFQ’s are notoriously unreliable. Can you recall what you ate for lunch last month? If so, could you accurately describe the source or quality of the food or the quantity? Of course not – it’s absurd to assume one could.

There have been many ‘observational’ studies performed over the years which have shown one conclusion, only to be completely debunked years later. One example was Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Early observational studies concluded that taking HRT seemed to show a 44% reduction in heart disease, yet a later randomised control trial revealed that HRT was far from protective, proving to increase heart disease risk by a whopping 29%!

The participants in this recent red meat study completed a questionnaire about their dietary and lifestyle habits and then this data was correlated with statistics on disease prevalence, such as cancer and heart disease, in an effort to see if there may be any association between red meat and disease. Once a correlation can be established, this will usually generate a randomised control trial based on the hypothesis. This ‘study’ didn’t challenge the theory that red meat increases our risk of disease and there have been many studies which have found quite the opposite to be the case. We must remember that correlation is not necessarily cause. We could say that the presence of umbrella’s increases dramatically each time it rains, therefore umbrella’s cause rain!

In this recent Harvard study on red meat, a scale was developed on how much red meat the participants consumed, ranging from practically vegetarian to regular meat eaters. On this scale, as the consumption of meat increases, so too does the rate of dying. However, as the meat consumption increases, so too does the rate of smoking and alcohol consumption, plus this group exercised less.

They also consume less plant foods and fibre, exacerbating slow digestion and allowing nitrates (from processed meats) and carcinogens (charred meat) to sit in the gut for a longer time, promoting higher absorption. To top it off, this group consumed significantly more calories had a higher BMI and blood pressure … all ingredients for increased risk of disease. Interestingly, the higher meat eaters had LOWER cholesterol than the vegetarians!

I am yet to see a single clinical trial which shows that a diet of lean, unprocessed meat eaten in balance with colourful fresh plant foods increases our risk of any disease in humans. Perhaps if you’re living on a diet filled with highly processed meats full of nitrates and altered fats, you could anticipate an increased risk of disease, but clean, lean, grass-fed beef? We have an abundance of high quality produce in Australia. Lean red meat is full of protein, iron and B-vitamins – all essential to a health body, optimum lean muscle tissue and a strong immune system. So what can you take from this? Don’t believe the hype!

Secrets of success

Just a short post today about some startling statistics that confirm what I have been saying on this blog. The US National Weight Control Registry tracks over 5000 individuals who have lost more than 13kg and kept it off long term, improving their health & quality of life. Below are a few of the common traits of each participant:

98% modified their food intake

78% eat breakfast

75% are weighed/weigh themselves at least once a week

62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week

90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day

Did you know…

  • It takes 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn off 1 x skinny latte
  • Every ‘standard’ glass of wine takes 20 minutes of walking to burn off
  • We lose around 5% of muscle each decade after the age of 30 (if we don’t do regular strength training)
  • Your metabolism drops by 140kjs for every kilogram of muscle lost
  • 95% of people regain their weight after ‘going off’ a diet
  • 75% of your calories are burned by your basal metabolism

You cannot out-run or out-train a poor diet!

Staggered calorie intake…fasting….the 5:2 philosophy…what’s the deal?

intermittent-fastingThere has been much hype regarding intermittent fasting and the idea of eating normally for 5 days and fasting (very low calorie diet VLCD) for 2 days. You may have seen documentaries and/or read a book by doctor and BBC journalist, Dr Michael Mosley, who espouses this method to reduce visceral (internal) body fat and consequently the associated diseases. While I have quite enjoyed his documentaries and he raises some interesting points, there are still many unanswered questions as his productions are not exactly long-term, peer-reviewed studies, but rather intriguing observations with many unexplored variables.

For those who have been asking for my opinion on the 5:2 method, here are my thoughts on the unexplored variables:

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Coping with Peer Pressure

peer-pressureIt’s one thing to change your own psychology when embarking on a new eating and exercise regime but watch in wonder at how all of your friends react too. It’s quite an eye opener.

Often the people you think will be most supportive, turn out to be the most threatened. They start to notice you are choosing different foods from a menu, bringing lunch to work from home instead of the local sandwich bar and all the questions begin. Curiosity develops into lectures or challenges on the subject because there is always one friend or colleague who knows better.

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Media Headline: “High protein diet raises cancer risk as much as smoking”

Too much proteinDozens of worldwide media outlets reported on the same study published in the Journal of Cell Metabolism. Let’s take a look at the facts…

The study:

The researchers conducted a 24-hour dietary recall (known to be highly inaccurate) and measured nutrient intake (protein, carbohydrates, fats, and calories) of 6,000 participants. These participants were categorised into three groups (low, medium and high protein intake) based on their consumption in one 24 hour period.

Eighteen years later they measured causes of death (cancer, diabetes, heart disease and all-cause mortality). The researchers theory was that protein increases IGF-1, which may increase the rate of growth in tumours already present in mice. In addition to this, 2,200 participants were tested for IGF-1 levels, although no information on how this testing was done was detailed in the study.

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The Powerful Connection Between Your Mental Health and Your Diet

mind and dietYou can’t pick up a magazine or newspaper without reading about the latest studies linking diet and nutrition to all manner of disease, such as sugar and diabetes, folate and spina bifida or obesity and heart disease…but what about our mental health? You may be surprised to learn just a few of the following facts. Yet a few more reasons to ‘nourish’ your body with food! Read More

The Calorie Misconception

I have found over many years of consulting with and advising clients, that most people believe they need far more calories than they actually do. While online calorie calculators are now widely accessible, they may provide an estimate of your requirement, but much of the time I have found these estimates to be too high. Particularly when we enter information about our activity to calculate calories burned over and above our minimum daily requirement (BMR). In the menu planner in my sixth book, The End of Dieting,  you will find and accurate BMR calculator. However, be careful not to overestimate your perceived activity. Once you have one of these calculations, if you follow this honestly over a period of weeks and you do not see a significant loss in body fat, you are probably over-consuming. In this case, I don’t care about the fact that your calculations are correct, or that it’s working for your best friend and third cousin on your mothers side! The only thing that matters is that it’s not working for you. The fact remains that if you continue to do the same thing you will continue to get the same result. You either increase your daily exercise and/or decrease your portions by 10 per cent (or both!) and you WILL kick-start fat loss. Your body is a mirror-image of your lifestyle. If you’re 80 kilos with a goal of 60 kilos, and you get ‘stuck’ at 70 kilos, it’s because you have the diet and exercise habits of a 70 kilo person. Tweak your lifestyle to that of a 60 kilo person and your body will have no choice but to follow you there!

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Diet soft drinks – Friend or Foe?

soft drink photoDiet soft drinks began way back in 1952, when a New York-based company launched a sugar-free ginger ale called No-Cal. This was created with Diabetics in mind, not dieters. Over the next few decades, several other companies began to compete in this arena and, in 1963, the Coca-Cola Company joined in with the launch of the cyclamate and saccharin sweetened ‘Tab’. In 1982 our very own Elle Macpherson strutted her stuff on the very famous TV commercial. This was closely followed by the release of Diet Pepsi in the 1960’s. Over the years there have been numerous reformulations of these diet drinks due to the banning of certain sweetening agents and their links to ill health and disease (in the case of cyclamates, the FDA banned them on evidence they caused cancer in lab rats). These days most are still sweetened with aspartame (Nutrasweet) or a combination of several different artificial sweeteners.

It’s interesting … while there have been rumblings about the potential health risks of diet soft drinks for many years now (regular drinkers have a 43% increased risk of stroke and heart attack and other vascular problems), it’s not until you hear that your risk of gaining weight is increased by 54.5% with just 1-2 cans a day that the majority of the soda drinking population prick their ears up! Let’s explore this further…

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