Learn to listen to your body

Hunger v’s Non-Hunger

Unless I am seeing someone for a specific medical condition, I generally don’t tell them what to eat.

What I DO do is teach people about nutrients and food – quality, portion sizes and cooking techniques. I also teach people about eating and getting back in touch with their bodies, and one of my observations has been that the ‘food’ side of things is often easier to grasp than the ‘getting in touch with your body’ side of things!

Hunger is often the first thing we talk about and yet can be one of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments for clients. The first thing to always think about is that hunger is a normal body cue and it feels different for different people (and some people manage better with different levels of hunger!). Fullness is also a normal body cue. It indicates to us when we have had enough to eat, when our body perceives that it has received enough energy.

Some people are even afraid of feeling hungry. Some popular diets even market to this, promising that ‘you will never be hungry’, which is not really of advantage to you. You are supposed to feel hungry and supposed to feel full!

There is no need to be afraid of hunger, it is normal, and even a good sign that your body is working well. Best of all, hunger is easily fixed!

Often diets will advertise themselves as having the ability to make you ‘never feel hungry’


So what does hunger feel like?

As I mentioned, different people, feel hunger differently. Some of the ways hunger can be felt can be described as:

  • Hunger ‘pangs’
  • Hollow or empty feeling
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • ‘Queasy’ feeling
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Crankiness
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Here is an exercise you can do right now sitting at your desk:

Close you eyes and bring awareness internally.

Start at your mouth and work your way down to your stomach.

Are you aware of any signals that your body is giving you that you are full, or hungry?

Does any part of your body feel tense? Or hollow?

Is your stomach moving or is it still?

Can you associate any other feelings with how your stomach is? Are you happy? Anxious? Nervous? Tired?

You may notice other emotions that are unique to you. Acknowledge these. Maybe write them down, but don’t focus on them…

There are a couple of reasons why we are getting you to understand and value your body cues and that is because, it is likely (if you are a human – very likely!) that you have, in the past, used food for reasons other than hunger.

Chances are you have used food for one or more of the following:

  • Comfort
  • Reward
  • Distraction
  • Boredom
  • To stay awake
  • In celebration
  • To clear your plate
  • So you don’t offend anyone.

Whist some of these are quite acceptable reasons to eat when not strictly hungry, they are the reasons that don’t happen every day – celebrations are occasional, usually once a month at best; Not offending the person giving you the meal or snack is also minimal. The big issues are around when you find you are CONSTANTLY eating for emotional reasons, as a distraction, or as entertainment.

Eating when we are not hungry is called ‘non hungry eating’. Non hungry eating also includes overeating, grazing, nibbling and bingeing. Most people do a significant amount of non hungry eating and it does appear to be one of the biggest factors in causing weight gain, and difficulty loosing weight.

So how do we decrease our non-hungry eating? 
Well, there are two ways.

1. The first way is to recognise it! Check in with yourself before you eat something and see if you are really hungry or not. Using your hunger-fullness scale is a great tool for this. Being more aware of our physical hunger and fullness also helps us to become more conscious of the reasons we might be eating when we are not physically hungry.

2. The second way to decrease non hungry eating is to be more aware of weather we are enjoying all of the food we are eating. This may sound strange to some of you, but it is very common habit a lot of people have where they are not really paying attention to this aspect of eating. For example, we might start off enjoying something – that first bite or two taste fabulous, but then we loose the pleasure and we just keep eating to finish it off. Another thing that can happen is that we start off with a food we really enjoy, and then we get distracted, by the TV usually, and before we know it, our plate is empty and we barely tasted the food!

Always remember – YOU are the expert on your own life, no one else. A dietitian can help guide you; give you up to date, evidence based advise; help manage medical conditions nutritionally in conjunction with your GP; teach you to manage your own nutrition and that of your familys, but we are NOT experts on YOU!
with love,

What’s the big deal about Fibre?

I’m sure you have heard from your doctor, your mother, or read it in a magazine – ‘make sure you get enough fibre!’

But… fibre is only for old people, right?


Fibre is one of the most underrated nutrients in the diet. As a society we seem to be always talking about the protein and fat in our diets, but poor old humble fibre often gets over looked, when it might just be the key to good health and weight control!

Fibre is largely classified as carbohydrate. Put simply, there are three types of carbohydrates – simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates and fibre. The reason dietary fibre is not like other carbohydrates, is because the bonds that hold its sugar units together cannot be broken by human digestive enzymes and therefore, fibre cannot be digested.

Even though it may not be able to be digested, fibre can regulate the speed of digestion, modulate metabolism, help lower cholesterol levels, slow the release of sugars into the blood and feed the healthy gut bacteria. The bacteria living naturally in your intestines convert very small amounts of dietary fibre to fatty acids, however not an amount significant to consider fibre a source of energy.

One of fibres biggest attributes, and the reason it really is a friend of anyone frying to manage their weight, is its ability to make you feel fuller for longer… making it one key nutrient to include enough of everyday!

The fact is that most Australians do not consume enough fibre. The Heart Foundation recommends that adults should aim to consume approximately 25–30 g daily and on average, most Australians consume 18–25 g of fibre daily. Part of the reason for this is that over time, we have lost the concept of whole foods. We eat concentrated or reconstituted foods and miss some of the important dietary components when we remove the whole food from the nutrients contained within it. An example of this is the juicing craze… juicing a fruit will not help you digest the nutrients an better, will not ‘cleanse’ you and will certainly not increase your metabolism, in actual fact, by juicing fruit, you miss out on all the roughage… the fibre!

Types of fibre:

There are two types of fibre found in foods

Soluble fibre hides the flesh of fruit and the grain of rice inside the hull, and it’s what gives cooked veggies their soft, mushy quality. In your stomach, soluble fiber binds with liquids to form a gummy gel that makes you feel full as it slows digestion, letting your body absorb more nutrients from the rest of your food.

Insoluble fibre bulks up as it absorbs liquid in the stomach and the bulk pushes waste down and out of your system. Insoluble fibre is usually found in the skins and outer parts of foods, and it’s what gives many their tough, chewy texture. Insoluble fibre works to speed up the passage of material through your digestive tract and sweep out toxins on its way.

Most foods have a combination of soluble and insoluble fibre and anything with 3 grams of fibre is considered a good source of fibre, and an excellent source is anything with 5 grams or more. The best fibre rich foods are generally:

  • Wholegrain breads such as mixed grain, rye, sour dough.
  • Wholemeal cereals like oats, bulgur wheat, pearl barley and brown rice.
  • Fruit and vegetables.
  • Legumes and pulses such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas.
  • Nuts (1/4 of a cup of nuts has 4 grams of fibre)
  • Chia seeds.

Now… Just to confuse matters, it is also important that we point out that if you eat too much fibre, it could potentially reduce the ability to absorb key nutrients including calcium, iron and zinc.

So, to help control your weight, help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of bowel cancer and keep yourself regular, you should aim to include a high fibre breakfast cereal, 2 slices of wholegrain bread, two pieces of fruit and a couple of cups of vegetables everyday. Easy!



Whole foods TOMATO SAUCE!

It is a favourite in our house, thats for sure… good old Aussie tomato sauce.
Unfortunately, many of the sauces we buy commercially contain large amounts of salt and sugar as well as preservatives, colour and flavour enhances.

I also get a bit concerned about the fact that a lot of our sauces are imported, or use imported ingredients.

In a bid to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and preservatives in my food, I have been experimenting with sauce recipes – everything from tomato sauce to salad dressing.
I am going to bring you my home made sauce recipes over the next few weeks… Starting with my favourite!

Whole foods TOMATO SAUCE

This tomato sauce recipe can be used as a pizza base, a base for pasta sauce, or pureed until it is smooth and used in place of tomamo sauce on pies and sausages!
Makes 12 serves tomato sauce, 4 serves pasta sauce.

Prep time 15 mins, cook time 30 mins.


1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
6 large tomatoes (overripe is best, I use Roma or Gourmet tomatoes from our local market)
¼ red capsicum
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 190C.
  • Roughly chop the onion, garlic, tomatoes and capsicum, removing all unwanted skins, seeds and piths.
  • Place them onto a large, lined baking tray and mix together with the spices, seasoning and oil.
  • Roast in the 190C oven for 20-25mins.
  • Remove from oven and place into a large pot.
  • Simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Taste to see if there is enough seasoning. Take off the heat when you are happy with its taste and consistency.

If you are making tomato sauce – puree in a blender until smooth.
If you are using as pizza or pasta sauce – leave it chunky.