As a constant snacker, I find all my good intentions often come undone with snacks. I can plan out healthy meals for the week, but come 10am and 3pm… I am grabbing for the nearest anything to eat. I’ve never been a person to sit down and eat a big meal, so when I was offered the opportunity to find out exactly what should be in a healthy, nutritious snack (my meal of choice) I jumped at the chance.
The Healthy Eating Hub was the venue to experience one of Kate’s experiential nutrition workshops. Kate is a registered nutritionist with over ten years experience in the health and nutrition industry. In January 2015 Kate opened The Healthy Eating Hub in Harrison. Kate and her team offer a variety of services such as nutritional advice regarding weight loss, family nutrition, disease management and sports nutrition, to cooking classes and workshops like I was attending. So what exactly is an experiential workshop? Think part information presentation and part practical, in that at the end of her presentation, we were guided to put together our own snack combinations. In doing this we could put into practice everything we’d just learnt.
Kate had me won early on when she said, “Nutrition information is one thing, but if you can’t translate that to what’s on your plate, it isn’t useful.” I guess that’s why Kate’s workshops are so successful, because she doesn’t just lecture at you for an hour about nutrition, she makes sure you leave with a good understanding of how you are going to apply this new knowledge to your life by actually getting you to put together your own versions of what she was talking about. In our case it was snacks, based with yoghurt. Yum!
Kate told us that one of the questions she gets asked most is how frequently you should eat. Unfortunately this isn’t as easy to answer as it first seems. The short answer is, you really need to see a nutritionist for tailored advice. But Kate didn’t leave us hanging – she told us to think about our goals (e.g. weight loss/gain, or eating for a specific purpose such as a sporting competition), food preferences, how busy your lifestyle is… this list goes on! She went on to explain that how frequently you eat isn’t as important as meeting your nutritional needs. And this is where snackers, like me, often go wrong. Largely because we don’t plan for our snacks. This was ringing bells loud and clear with me!
Kate gave us a wealth of information and I couldn’t possibly put it all into this blog post or it would be a short novel. Even more useful than all the information she gave us, was how open she was to answering our questions, whenever they came up. I found this particularly interesting. Like any workshop, the other people always ask questions you’d never thought of but you’re so glad they’d had because you know you would’ve only got home and wondered the same thing. In my workshop there were some very knowledgeable fit & active people and some personal trainers. I loved hearing the answers to their questions!
The large takeaway from the workshop were the five essential elements Kate wanted us to consider when thinking about the food we put in our mouths.
Nourishment – aim to use each time you eat as an opportunity for nourishment, eg. including eggs, fresh fruit, vegetables.
Volume – create meals and snacks that help you feel satisfied. A small yoghurt bowl topped with seeds, nuts and fruit – the actual volume of a snack like this is quite large but energy is still quite small. So you’ll feel full but it won’t make a huge dent in your calorie intake.
Awareness – going too long without food may trigger poor food choices. Research shows we are more likely to make poor choices when we are incredibly hungry. This would be my problem. Kate’s advice was to actively plan my snacks. Include them in my meal plan so that they’re ready to go when I need them.
Realistic – overly restrictive diets may result in binge eating sessions, leading to inconsistency. Diets often fail because you aren’t supposed to eat that way as a permanent solution.
Knowledge – get good advice that’s individually tailored to you, if you need it.
Kate then went on to display pictures detailing the protein to vegetable to fat, etc portions of both main meals and snacks. To give you an idea, for your main meals you should be aiming for half your plate to be vegetables. That’s because vegetables have high nutritional value but are low in calories. This portioning reflects our more sedantry try lifestyle – think sitting down at a desk all day rather than being out and about.
The Healthy Eating Hub has both dietitians and nutritionists on staff. They offer one to one sessions, as well as workshops. Keep an eye on their website, or their Facebook page, to find out when their next workshop is. If you want to know more, Kate writes an awesome blog and you’ve probably seen her posts if you follow my Facebook page. You can also follow her Facebook page, which I do!