Archive for December, 2011

Ask the Diet Doctor: The Real Deal on Detox and Cleanse Diets

December 27, 2011

This time of year a question that might be on our mind is should I start a detox and cleansing diet?  Here are some frequently asked questions and what Dr. Mike Roussell has to say about the idea of detoxing.  Coffs Coast Health Club throws open its doors tomorrow so if you really want a “detox” come and sweat out some of those toxins that have been building up over the holiday season.

“The Real Deal on Detox & Cleanse Diets”

By Mike Roussell, PhD

Detox and Cleanse Diets

Q: “What’s the real deal with detox and cleanse diets—good or bad?” —Toxic in Tennessee

A: Detox and cleanse diets are bad for a number of reasons: They waste your time and, depending on the duration and the level of restriction, they may do more harm to your health than good. One of the problems with ‘detoxes’ is that they are very vague—What toxins are being removed? From where? And how? These questions are rarely answered, because most detox plans lack any real scientific basis. In fact, I recently challenged a room of 90+ fitness professionals to show me any evidence in humans (not mice or in test tubes) that lemon detoxifies your liver, and no one could come up with anything.

When a client comes to me to detoxify or cleanse their system, it tells me that they’re not feeling good physically and maybe emotionally. To help them start feeling better, I work with them to reset three key areas of their body: focus, metabolism, and digestion. Here is what to do to optimize these three areas and why it matters:

1. Digestion
Your digestive track is a powerful system in your body that actually has its own nervous system. Alleviating digestive problems is one of the fastest ways to start feeling better.

What to do: Start removing potential allergenic foods from your diet such as wheat, dairy, and soy, while also taking a daily probiotic supplement. Focus on eating ample fruits & vegetables in addition to proteins (beans, eggs, meat, fish, etc) and a variety of oils. After 2-3 weeks, slowly add back gluten-, soy-, and dairy-containing foods one at a time; one new food type every 4-5 days is as fast as you want to go. Monitor how you feel as you add each of these foods back into your diet. If you start to have bloating or other gastrointestinal issues, this is a red flag that you might have an allergy or intolerance to one of these food types so keep it out of your diet moving forward.

2. Metabolism
Your body can store environmental toxins and metals in your fat cells. This is the only area that I think we can truly detoxify ( actually remove toxins from your system). By burning the fat stored in fat cells, you cause the fat cells to shrink. As a result the fat-soluble toxins are released.

What to do: When resetting your metabolism, don’t focus on restricting your calories, as we don’t want to depress your thyroid function. Instead focus on eating the nutrient-dense foods mentioned above and exercising at least 5 hours per week. The majority of that exercise should be high-intensity metabolic training (a few intense exercises repeated in a circuit with little to no rest to push the body to its absolute limit).

3. Focus
It’s not uncommon for me to find clients running around with empty energy stores, using caffeinated beverages to help them surge through meetings and long work days. Here’s why that’s bad: Relying too much on stimulants like caffeine wreaks havoc on your focus, sleep quality, and ability to optimize stress hormones.

What to do: Stop drinking caffeinated beverages altogether. This will cause headaches for the first couple days, but it passes. When you’re no longer hopped up on caffeine, it will become clear that you need to start getting better sleep at night. Make a deal with yourself to get 8 hours of sleep each night. This will also help with resetting your metabolism, as quality sleep is essential for optimizing weight-loss hormones like growth hormone and leptin.

Practicing mindfullness meditation is also important for resetting your focus. Research shows that people who regularly practice mindfullness meditation have a greater ability to focus on tasks and avoid distraction. You don’t need to go out and buy a meditation pillow so you can sit in the lotus position for hours each day. Just start with a simple 5-minute meditation. Sit and count your breaths, one to ten, repeat, and try to focus only on your breathing and not what’s on your to-do list. You’ll find that even 5 minutes is enough to make your feel rejuvenated. Make a goal of working up to 20 minutes 3 times per week.

A final note: Please don’t go on any crazy detox or cleanse plans. Try following these simple steps instead to reset your metabolism, focus, and digestive track for 3-4 weeks, and you’ll feel great, improve your health, and lose weight as a bonus!

Meet the Diet Doctor: Mike Roussell, PhD
Author, speaker, and nutritional consultant Mike Roussell, PhD is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical eating habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and long lasting health. Dr. Roussell holds a bachelor degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. Mike is the founder of Naked Nutrition, LLC, a multimedia nutrition company that provides health and nutrition solutions directly to consumers and industry professionals via DVDs, books, ebooks, audio programs, monthly newsletters, live events, and white papers. To learn more, check out Dr. Roussell’s popular diet and nutrition blog,

Dreaming of a Light Christmas

December 22, 2011

Dreaming of a light Christmas

December is a difficult time for people when it comes to eating, so much of the food on offer is off limits. But you don’t have to avoid parties or forgo the festive feast, just make a few simple changes.

Try to keep saturated fats to a minimum and eat some slow-digesting carbohydrates with every meal. Those who are watching their weight or cholesterol levels need to cut back on all fats, but particularly saturated fat. Monitor your sugar intake as it can add many kilojoules (which can lead to weight gain), and choose foods that are high in fibre, such as fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.

In actual fact, catering for healthier eating options at Christmas and New Year can benefit the whole family. We’re fortunate in Australia as, unlike our counterparts in the northern hemisphere, an array of delectable summer fruits are at their best during the holiday season. Add crisp salads and succulent seafood, and you have all the necessary ingredients for a wide range of healthy (and tasty) meals. Following are some suggestions that will make this season’s eatings healthier for everyone.

Cut the crackling

The whole family will benefit from eating less saturated fat, which can clog arteries and raise blood cholesterol. Here are some simple tips to help you cut your intake of these “bad” fats:

  • Serve grilled, barbecued, steamed, poached or baked seafood. Providing it’s not fried, seafood is low in fat and contains valuable omega-3 fatty acids. Try prawns (which have virtually no saturated fat), stuffed squid, or whole barbecued or poached salmon or trout.
  • Choose lean meats whenever possible and cut off any visible fat. If you’re roasting pork, remove the rind and cut off the fat. Replace the rind to keep the meat moist during cooking.
  • When preparing poultry, lift the skin on the breast and remove the fatty pads. Tuck some herbs or a few lime or lemon leaves under the skin to add flavour.
  • Buy reduced-fat dairy products and save the cheese for a time when there aren’t as many fatty foods around.
  • Use vegetable oil for cooking rather than solid fats such as copha and lard. Extra virgin olive oil is the best choice of all — it has a strong flavour so you’ll use less, and a high anti-oxidant content. Macadamia and sesame oils also add a distinctive flavour and are rich in unsaturated fats. If you’re serving roast vegetables with the Christmas dinner, use an olive-oil spray instead of cooking them in the meat fat. Alter-natively, heat a baking pan until very hot. Add a teaspoon of oil, then toss the vegetables until they’re coated with a light film of oil.
  • Make all the food for Christmas dinner yourself so you can control the fat content. For example, make your own stuffing using a base of brown rice, barley or cracked wheat, rather than breadcrumbs. When baking pies and pastries, use filo and an olive-oil spray instead of shortcrust or puff pastry, which are high in fat.
  • If you need to nibble, nuts are a much healthier choice than potato chips.
  • When hosting a party, make your own dips using low-fat yoghurt. Serve them with sliced capsicum, carrot and celery sticks, raw asparagus and blanched broccoli florets rather than crackers.

Re-evaluate carbs

Carbohydrates have suffered an image problem in recent years, but much of the bad press has been generated by diet-book authors promoting a short-term fix. Your body needs carbohydrates — all you have to do is choose the healthy ones.

In the intestine, carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars, such as glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Insulin carries the glucose out of the blood and into the body’s cells to supply energy. In people with diabetes, insulin production varies, so it’s important not to flood the body with glucose. The trick is to choose carbohydrates that are digested slowly and don’t provoke a rapid rise in blood glucose. These include:

  • most fruits, including the stone fruits and berries that are in season now
  • wholegrain breads or sourdough (the real thing, rather than packaged bread with sourdough flavouring)
  • natural muesli or one of the high-fibre, bran-based cereals
  • rolled oats
  • barley
  • basmati or doongara rice
  • pasta
  • peas and all kinds of beans, including canned beans and bean mixes
  • sweet potatoes
  • waxy white potatoes such as desiree and kipfler (the kind that don’t mash well).

Dreaming of a “Light Christmas” 

Menu for 10: starter, main & dessert

Chilli & Lime Oysters with Tomato Sorbet

Chilli and lime oysters with tomato sorbet

Photography by Steve Brown

Starters for the Christmas feast are sorted with these magnificent chilli and lime oysters with tomato sorbet.

Preparation Time

25 minutes

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • 3 limes
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 3 fresh coriander roots, washed, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbs finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 fresh red birdseye chilli, halved, deseeded, finely chopped
  • 40 oysters
  • Tomato sorbet

  • 7 (about 800g) ripe egg tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 3 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 egg white


  1. To make the tomato sorbet, place a shallow metal container in the freezer to chill while preparing the sorbet. Place the tomato in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Strain tomato through a fine sieve into a large bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to push the liquid through. Discard seeds and pulp. You will need 810ml (31/4 cups) of tomato juice to make the sorbet.
  2. Add the coriander, sugar and fish sauce to the tomato juice and mix well. Pour into the chilled metal container. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for 6 hours, running a fork through the mixture twice, or until just set.
  3. Roughly break up the sorbet with a metal spoon and quickly transfer it to the bowl of a food processor. Add the egg white and process very briefly until the sorbet reaches a soft, icy texture. Return the sorbet to the metal container. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for 6 hours or overnight until firm.
  4. Finely grate the rind of 2 of the limes. Juice all the limes. Combine lime rind and juice, fish sauce, coriander roots and leaves, sugar and chilli in a small bowl.
  5. To serve, place the container of sorbet in the fridge for 15 minutes to soften slightly. Divide the oysters among serving glasses and spoon the dressing over the top. Use a sorbet scoop to place a well-formed scoop of sorbet on top of the oysters. Serve immediately.


You can make the tomato sorbet (steps 1-3) up to 3 days ahead. Continue from step 4, 15 minutes before serving. If any guests don’t eat oysters, you can substitute 2-3 peeled cooked king prawns, quartered, or a mixture of diced cucumber and avocado.



Risoni, Pumpkin & Green Shallot Salad

Risoni, pumpkin & green shallot salad

Photography by Steve Brown

Preparation Time

25 minutes

Cooking Time

25 minutes

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • 305g (11/2 cups) risoni pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 800g-piece jap pumpkin, deseeded, peeled, cut into 1.5cm cubes
  • 10 green shallots, ends trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup roughly torn fresh continental parsley
  • 10 pitted kalamata olives, halved, cut lengthways into thin strips
  • 2 tbs rinsed drained capers, finely chopped
  • Dressing

  • 2 ripe egg tomatoes
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh red birdseye chilli, halved, deseeded, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp caster sugar
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the dressing, use a small sharp knife to cut a shallow cross in the base of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 1 minute. Drain. Use your fingers to carefully peel. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthways and use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds. Finely chop the flesh and place in a bowl. Add the vinegar, oil, garlic, chilli and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Cook risoni in a large saucepan of boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Drain. Rinse under cold running water and drain well. Place risoni in a large serving bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the pumpkin and cook, turning often, for 25 minutes or until pumpkin is lightly browned and just tender. Add to the risoni with the green shallots, chives, parsley, olives and capers.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss until combined. Serve immediately.


  • You can make the dressing (step 1) up to 6 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Continue to the end of step 3 up to 4 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Carry out step 4 just before serving. Risoni is a rice-shaped dried pasta.

Chargrilled Asparagus with Mustard Vinaigrette

Chargrilled asparagus with mustard vinaigrette

Photography by Steve Brown

Your guests will be delighted with these spears of crunchy asparagus dipped into tangy mustard vinaigrette.

Preparation Time

10 minutes

Cooking Time

10 minutes

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • Olive oil, to brush
  • 4 bunches (about 40 spears) asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • mustard vinaigrette

  • 2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp caster sugar
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the mustard vinaigrette, place the vinegar, Dijon and wholegrain mustards, oil, garlic and sugar in a screw-top jar. Season with salt and pepper and shake until combined.
  2. Preheat a barbecue or chargrill to medium-high. Lightly brush a little olive oil over the ridges of the grill. Place half the asparagus on the grill in a single layer. Cook, turning occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and tender crisp. Transfer to a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining asparagus.
  3. Drizzle asparagus with dressing and season with pepper.


You can make the mustard vinaigrette (step 1) up to 1 day ahead. Store in the screw-top jar in the fridge. Continue from step 2, 15 minutes before serving.

Poached Salmon with Dill & Horseradish Cream

Poached salmon with dill & horseradish cream

Photography by Steve Brown

Preparation Time

25 minutes

Cooking Time

30 minutes


You’ll need a large fish kettle for this recipe. Fish kettles are available from kitchenware stores.

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • 1 x 2.5kg whole Atlantic salmon, scaled, gutted
  • 1 large red onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Dill & horseradish cream

  • 150g extra-light sour cream (Pauls brand)
  • 21/2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 11/2 tbs horseradish cream
  • 1 tbs finely chopped fresh dill
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the dill and horseradish cream, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, horseradish and dill in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Place in a serving jug and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge until required.
  2. Measure the thickest part of the salmon and jot down the measurement. Place salmon in a fish kettle. Arrange the onion, bay leaves, thyme, dill and peppercorns around salmon. Pour in enough cold water to completely cover salmon. Add the lemon juice. Place the kettle over 2 burners or hotplates on medium-low heat or on a preheated barbecue grill. (If cooking salmon on the stovetop, it’s important to place the kettle over 2 burners or hotplates of equal size to ensure even cooking.) Slowly bring to a simmer (this may take up to 20 minutes), but don’t allow water to boil. If necessary, adjust the heat to keep the liquid from boiling. Once the water is simmering, cover and cook for 10 minutes, then cook for a further 10 minutes per 2.5cm of fish or until a thin metal skewer inserted into the thickest part of the salmon slips in easily. Use basket insert to lift salmon from the water. Carefully transfer salmon to a serving platter. Discard cooking liquid. Use a small sharp knife to carefully remove the skin from the side facing upwards. Season with pepper.
  3. To serve, place salmon on dining table. Use a metal spoon and fork to divide salmon into portions and lift onto plates. Serve with dill and horseradish cream.


  • Make the horseradish cream (step 1) up to 1 day ahead. Continue from step 2 up to 2 1/2 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Semolina Christmas Pudding with Sherry Custard

Semolina christmas pudding with sherry custard

Photography by Steve Brown

Preparation Time

20 minutes

Cooking Time

240 minutes

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • 265g (1 1/2 cups) chopped seedless raisins
  • 155g (1 cup) currants
  • 135g (3/4 cup) sultanas
  • 50g (1/4 cup) mixed peel
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) pedro ximinez sherry 150g (4 slices) day-old soy-linseed bread
  • 140g (3/4 cup) fine semolina
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 x 220g can baby apple (Heinz brand)
  • 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 250ml (1 cup) reduced-fat milk
  • Sherry custard

  • 1 1/2 tbs cornflour
  • 55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 500ml (2 cups) reduced-fat milk
  • 2 1/2 tbs pedro ximinez sherry


  1. Combine the raisins, currants, sultanas and mixed peel in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Add the sherry and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 8 hours to macerate.
  2. Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the semolina, cinnamon and mixed spice and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Combine apple, sugar, egg and egg whites in a bowl. Add milk and mix well.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the fruit mixture and mix well. Add the semolina mixture and stir until well combined.
  5. Line the base and side of a round 22cm (base measurement) cake pan with 2 layers of non-stick baking paper. Spoon pudding mixture into pan. Tap pan on benchtop to settle mixture. Cut a 30cm-square piece of non-stick baking paper and a 30cm-square piece of foil. Place paper on top of foil and fold to make a wide pleat in the centre. Place the pleated cover over the pan, foil-side up. Tie a double piece of unwaxed white kitchen string under the rim of the cake pan to secure. To make a handle, tie a double piece of string loosely over the top of the cake pan (this makes it easier to get the pan in and out of the saucepan). Scrunch the paper and foil around the rim so they don’t get wet.
  6. Place an upturned heatproof saucer on the base of a large saucepan. Use the handle to lower cake pan into saucepan until it is sitting on the saucer. Add enough boiling water to reach halfway up the side of the cake pan. Place over medium-high heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and boil, adding more boiling water when necessary, for 4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out slightly sticky.
  7. Meanwhile, to make custard, combine cornflour and sugar in a saucepan. Add enough milk to make a paste. Stir in remaining milk. Stir over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until custard boils and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in sherry. Pour into a heatproof jug and place plastic wrap directly on surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming.
  8. To serve, turn pudding onto a wire rack and remove the paper. Cut into wedges and serve drizzled with custard.


  • Allow 8 hours macerating time.
  • You can make the pudding (steps 1-6) up to 2 weeks ahead. Wrap cake pan in plastic wrap, then foil, and store in the fridge. To reheat, steam pudding in cake pan for 1 hour. You can make the custard (step 7) up to 21/2 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature. Carry out step 8 just before serving.
  • Pedro ximinez sherry is a fruity, full-flavoured sherry from Spain. It is available from most bottleshops.


Good Taste – December 2003 , Page 114

Quick Fixes For When You Have Overindulged

December 18, 2011

While we’d all love to be more conscious of portion sizes to help reduce holiday weight gain, all it takes is a cheese ball here, and a sausage roll there, and those innocent bite-sized holiday treats can produce an explosion of heartburn and bloating in your belly. If you went a little overboard at the hors d’oeuvres table (or the main course), and are now feeling the negative side effects, here are some quick remedies to help ease the pain.


  • Walk It Off: No need for a brisk, speed-walking session, but around 20 minutes after your meal, a leisurely walk can assist in dispelling gas from your abdomen. What walking does is help to relieve overall intestinal pressure and therefore will reduce that uncomfortable bloating feeling. Walking also helps to get the blood flowing, which aids in the overall digestion process. Fresh air in itself can make you feel better too!
  • Bloating-Busting Foods: About a half hour after you’ve indulged, if you can still stomach some food, try eating a small portion of either papaya, pineapple, or yogurt, since all of these food items are great in aiding in the digestion process. For instance, pineapple is high in the enzyme bromelain, which helps break down protein, making it easier for your body to digest your food.
  • Drink Green Tea: Help your body cut fat accumulation and cholesterol levels by drinking green tea during or after your meal. Controlled studies have shown that green tea contains certain polyphenols, or plant-based antioxidants, which help break down fat, thus helping to lower cholesterol level and BMI.
  • Refrain From Lying Down: You may be tempted to hit the sofa for some post-party relief, but don’t! Wait at least three hours after your meal to avoid acid reflux since all those gastric juices will be working hard to help digest your food.


Info sourced from


The Worst Drinks for your Body

December 15, 2011
 With summer now here you will be grabbing for more cold beverages.  Well before you start guzzling them back you might just want to think before you drink.  We at Coffs Coast Health Club believe the best quencher for your thirst has to be no other than water.  So keep your sugary drinks to a minimum and up your intake of good old H2O.

Worst Drinks: Juice Drinks
Juice Drinks
Labels like “juice drink” and “juice cocktail” are almost always a euphemism for brightly-colored sugar water. For a truly healthy drink, look for 100 percent juice. Nothing else.
Worst Drinks: Whipped Coffee Drinks

Iced Coffee with Whipped Cream

When made with low fat milk, a large icy cup  can contain up to 800 caloriesand a third of the maximum recommended intake for artery-clogging saturated fat. And there’s a reason why it tastes so sweet: At 170 grams of sugar in a typical drink, you get more of a sugar shock than a caffeine buzz.
Worst Drinks: Flavored Waters

Flavored Water

Flavored and infused waters may deliver a few extra vitamins, but they’re also often packed with added sugars. Next time you buy a bottle of water, check the label: If you see anything more than water and natural flavors, leave it on the shelf.
Worst Drinks: Diet Soda
Diet Soft Drinks
Diet soft drinks may be caloriefree, but it’s also 100 percent nutrition free. Plus, if you’re guzzling diet coke all day, there’s a good chance you’re not drinking the healthy beverages your body needs, particularly water and tea. One diet soft drink a day is fine, but if you’re downing five or six cans, you may be doing damage to your body.
Worst Drinks: Frozen Mixed Drinks
Frozen Mixed Drinks
When it comes to cocktails, the mixers are the real calorie culprits. Case in point:  a standard pina colada can clockin at a whopping 880 calories, that’s more than 8 times the amount in a shot of rum.

Worst Drinks: "Healthy" Fruit Smoothies
Fruit Smoothie
Yes, fruit is good for you, but a 32-ounce smoothie can pack as many as 700 calories with fewer than 2 grams of protein, thanks to the high sugar content. That’s like eating a whole pineapple, entire mango and 1 cup each of blueberries and strawberries in a single sitting. Why that’s bad: Calories from any food get socked away in your fat cells if you eat more than you can burn.
Worst Drinks: Sports Drinks
Sports Drinks
Ending your workout by guzzling a typical sport drink may set your weight-loss goals back. Many sports drinks on the market contain a mixture of natural and artificial sweeteners, plus a laundry list unpronounceable additives.
Worst Drinks: Hard Liquor
Hard Liquor
Alcohol in moderation—one or two drinks a day—has been shown to raise HDL (good) cholesterol, boost bloodflow, and improve sugar metabolism. But when you ask for that third drink, your risk for obesity and slew of other health problems starts to climb. A March 2011 study from the American Cancer Society found that the risk of cancer death was 36 percent higher among people who drank liquor heavily (3 or more drinks each day) than those who drank in moderation or not at all.

Worst Drinks: Lemonade

Old Fashion Lemonade

Most store-bought versions are made from the same sweeteners used in soft drinks, combined with preservatives and artificial color. At 100 calories per cup, and with the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar and zero nutrients, you’re essentially drinking liquid candy. Definitely not refreshing.
Worst Drinks: Soda
Soft Drinks
It’s tough to find a single redeeming quality about soft drinks: They’re overloaded with sugar and provide empty calories without satisfying your hunger. In fact, soft drinks are the only food that has been directly linked to causing obesity. If you’re not willing to eliminate them from your diet entirely, consider one can of full-sugar fizzy as an occasional treat—the same way you would a chocolate bar.

Worst Drinks: Energy Drinks
Energy Drinks
When people think about “energy” drinks, they’re usually referring to products that contain caffeine. The problem is that most “energy drinks” are loaded with too much caffeine and sugar, so while they may give you a short-term burst of energy, you’ll ultimately crash and just want to zonk out. When you need a brain boost, you’re better off sipping green tea or snacking on a handful of walnuts.
Information sourced from SHAPE magazine
December 2011

Enjoy Life or Lose it…it’s your choice

December 13, 2011

"Get Active, Be Active & Stay Active" The Coffs Coast Advocate, Saturday 10th December 2011

Coffs Coast Health Club’s  owner Glen Barnett has something to say about keeping fit and healthy.   Deal with life positively and don’t let it drag you down.

Simply click on the above article to enlarge and read what Glen has to say about aging and fitness.

You can  follow Glen Barnett on for lots of tips and advice on fitness & health, for people of ALL ages.

Until next week, keep moving and stay healthy.

Stress-Reducing Foods

December 11, 2011

Stress Management Diet

Stress management can be a powerful tool for wellness. There’s evidence that too much pressure is not just a mood killer. People who are under constant stress are more vulnerable to everything from colds to high blood pressure and heart disease. Although there are many ways to cope, one strategy is to eat stress-fighting foods. Read on to learn how a stress management diet can help.

Stress-Busting Foods: How They Work

Foods can fight stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, actually boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time. Finally, a nutritious diet can counteract the impact of stress, by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure. Do you know which foods are stress busters?

Complex Carbs

All carbs prompt the brain to make more serotonin. For a steady supply of this feel-good chemical, it’s best to eat complex carbs, which are digested more slowly. Good choices include whole-grain breakfast cereals, breads, and pastas, as well as old-fashioned oatmeal. Complex carbs can also help you feel balanced by stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Simple Carbs

Dietitians usually recommend steering clear of simple carbs, which include sweets and soda. But these foods can provide a fast fix for a mood swing and short-term relief of stress-induced irritability. Simple sugars are digested quickly, leading to a spike in serotonin. But remember to limit your intake of simple sugars and sweets.


Oranges make the list for their wealth of vitamin C. Studies suggest this vitamin can reduce levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system. In one study done in people with high blood pressure, blood pressure and cortisol levels (a stress hormone) returned to normal more quickly when people took vitamin C before a stressful task.


Popeye never lets stress get the best of him — maybe it’s all the magnesium in his spinach. Too little magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue, compounding the effects of stress. One cup of spinach goes a long way toward replenishing magnesium stores. Not a spinach eater? Try some cooked soybeans or a filet of salmon, also high in magnesium. Green leafy vegetables are a rich source of magnesium.

Fatty Fish

To keep stress in check, make friends with fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and tuna, can prevent surges in stress hormones and protect against heart disease, mood disorders like depression, and premenstrual syndrome. For a steady supply of feel-good omega-3s, aim to eat 3 ounces of fatty fish at least twice a week.

Black Tea

Research suggests black tea can help you recover from stressful events more quickly. One study compared people who drank 4 cups of tea daily for six weeks with people who drank a tea-like placebo. The real tea drinkers reported feeling calmer and had lower levels of cortisol after stressful situations. When it comes to stress, the caffeine in coffee can boost stress hormones and increase blood pressure.


Pistachios, as well as other nuts and seeds, are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating a handful of pistachios, walnuts, or almonds every day may help lower your cholesterol, reduce inflammation in the arteries of the heart, lower the risk of diabetes, and protect you against stress.


One of the best ways to reduce high blood pressure is to get enough potassium — and half an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana. In addition, guacamole offers a nutritious alternative when stress has you craving a high-fat treat.


Almonds are chock full of helpful vitamins. There’s vitamin E to bolster the immune system, plus a range of B vitamins, which may make the body more resilient during bouts of stress such as depression. To get the benefits, snack on a quarter of a cup every day.

Raw Veggies

Crunchy raw vegetables can help fight stress in a purely mechanical way. Munching celery or carrot sticks helps release a clenched jaw, and that can ward off tension.

Bedtime Snack

Carbs at bedtime can speed the release of serotonin and help you sleep better. Heavy meals before bed can trigger heartburn, so stick to something light like toast and jam.


Another bedtime stress buster is the time-honored glass of warm milk as a remedy for insomnia and restlessness. Researchers have found that calcium eases anxiety and mood swings linked to PMS. Dietitians typically recommend skim or low-fat milk.

Herbal Supplements

There are many herbal supplements that claim to fight stress. One of the best studied is St. John’s wort, which has shown benefits for people with mild-to-moderate depression. Although more research is needed, the herb also appears to reduce symptoms of anxiety and PMS. There is less data on valerian root, another herb said to have a calming effect.

De-Stress with Exercise

Besides changing your diet, one of the best stress-busting strategies is to start exercising. Aerobic exercise increases oxygen circulation and produces endorphins — chemicals that make you feel happy. To get the maximum benefit, aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week.

Gingerbread Tree

December 8, 2011

With many children already off school we thought you might like to make this Christmas Decoration with them.  Why not sample some delicious gingerbread as well!?  It is a wonderful time of the year, we at Coffs Coast Health Club,  hope you  enjoy spending the holidays with your family and friends.

Gingerbread tree

Merry Christmas!


1 tree


  • 3 1/3 cups (500g) plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 175g dark brown sugar
  • 150g honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 eggwhite
  • 1 1/2 cups (240g) icing sugar, sifted, plus extra, for dusting
  • Silver cachous, to decorate


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Sift flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and a pinch of salt into a bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add honey and egg. Beat until combined. On low speed, beat in sifted dry ingredients until mixture comes together. Divide dough in 1/2. Wrap separately in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Trace 19cm, 15cm and 10cm stars on to cardboard and cut out. For 7.5cm and 4.5cm stars use cutters.
  4. Roll out dough halves between baking paper until 4mm thick. Using star templates and 7.5cm cutter, cut out 3 stars of each size from dough. Using 4.5cm cutter, cut out as many stars as possible from remaining dough.
  5. Place same sized stars together, 3cm apart, on baking paper-lined oven trays. Bake larger stars for 8-10 minutes; smaller stars for 5-7 minutes or until deep golden. Stand biscuits for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
  6. Place eggwhite in a bowl. Stir in icing sugar, 2 tbs at a time, until combined.
  7. Stack the largest stars at offset angles, placing 2-3, 4.5cm stars in between. Glue each layer with icing. Continue stacking in decreasing size until all 7.5cm stars are used. Finish with one 4.5cm star flat and a second one upright. Use icing as glue to decorate tree with cachous.
  8. Tie up remaining small stars to look like presents. Leave tree to set for 1 hour. Serve dusted with icing sugar.


Unassembled and in an airtight container the biscuits will last about 1 month. Once the tree is assembled, depending on humidity, it can last up to 2 weeks.

recipe from

Five Easy Hamstring Stretchs

December 6, 2011

Are the backs of your legs tight? It’s important for the health of your back, hips, and knees to keep your hamstrings flexible so do these five easy stretches to target this commonly tight area. Try them at the end of your next workout, when your muscles are warm.

Tipover Tuck Hamstring Stretch

Are you feeling sleepy? The Stages of Sleep.

December 4, 2011

Stages of Sleep: REM and Non-REM Sleep

When you sleep, your body rests and restores its energy levels. However, sleep is an active state that affects both your physical and mental well-being. A good night’s sleep is often the best way to help you cope with stress, solve problems, or recover from illness.

What Happens During Sleep?

Sleep is prompted by natural cycles of activity in the brain and consists of two basic states: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which consists of Stages 1 through 4.

During sleep, the body cycles between non-REM and REM sleep. Typically, people begin the sleep cycle with a period of non-REM sleep followed by a very short period of REM sleep. Dreams generally occur in the REM stage of sleep.

What Is Non-REM Sleep?

The period of NREM sleep is made up of stages 1-4. Each stage can last from 5 to 15 minutes. A completed cycle of sleep consists of a progression from stages 1-4 before REM sleep is attained, then the cycle starts over again.

  • Stage 1: Polysomnography (sleep readings) shows a reduction in activity between wakefulness and stage 1 sleep. The eyes are closed during Stage 1 sleep. One can be awakened without difficulty, however, if aroused from this stage of sleep, a person may feel as if he or she has not slept. Stage 1 may last for five to 10 minutes. Many may notice the feeling of falling during this stage of sleep, which may cause a sudden muscle contraction (called hypnic myoclonia).
  • Stage 2: This is a period of light sleep during which polysomnographic readings show intermittent peaks and valleys, or positive and negative waves. These waves indicate spontaneous periods of muscle tone mixed with periods of muscle relaxation. The heart rate slows and the body temperature decreases. At this point, the body prepares to enter deep sleep.
  • Stages 3 and 4: These are deep sleep stages, with stage 4 being more intense than Stage 3. These stages are known as slow-wave, or delta, sleep. If aroused from sleep during these stages, a person may feel disoriented for a few minutes.

During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds bone and muscle, and appears to strengthen the immune system. As you get older, you sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Aging is also associated with shorter time spans of sleep, although studies show the amount of sleep needed doesn’t appear to diminish with age.

What Is REM Sleep?

Usually, REM sleep occurs 90 minutes after sleep onset. The first period of REM typically lasts 10 minutes, with each recurring REM stage lengthening, and the final one may last up to an hour. Polysomnograms show brainwave patterns in REM to be similar to that recorded during wakefulness. In people without sleep disorders, heart rate and respiration speed up and become erratic during REM sleep. During this stage the eyes move rapidly in different directions.

Intense dreaming occurs during REM sleep as a result of heightened brain activity, but paralysis occurs simultaneously in the major voluntary muscle groups. REM is a mixture of encephalic (brain) states of excitement and muscular immobility. For this reason, it is sometimes called paradoxical sleep.

The percentage of REM sleep is highest during infancy and early childhood. During adolescence and young adulthood, the percentage of REM sleep declines. Infants can spend up to 50% of their sleep in the REM stage of sleep, whereas adults spend only about 20% in REM.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The amount of sleep a person needs depends on the individual. The need for sleep depends on various factors, one of which is age. Infants usually require about 16-18 hours of sleep per day, while teenagers need about 9 hours per day on average. Most adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep per day.

The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep. People do not seem to adapt to getting less sleep than they need.

What Are the Consequences of Too Little Sleep?

Too little sleep may cause:

  • Impaired memory and thought processes.
  • Depression.
  • Decreased immune response.

Sleep deprivation also magnifies alcohols effects on the body, so a fatigued person who drinks will become much more impaired than someone who is well-rested. Sleep deprivation also increases pain perception on pain simulation testing. Caffeine and other stimulants can temporarily overcome the effects of severe sleep deprivation, but cannot do so for extended periods of time.

Reviewed by The Sleep Medicine Center at The Cleveland Clinic.