Nutritionist Q&A: What To Eat When

I overindulged over the summer holidays, what should I be doing now to reverse the damage?

As much fun as it might have been over the festive season, overindulging can often leave you feeling sluggish, lethargic, mentally unfocused and unmotivated. Your liver, kidneys and cardiovascular system have been working overtime to compensate for the excess alcohol, party food and lack of sleep, resulting in inflammation.

The good news is that by February, our bodies normally let us know they need some goodness put back in!

Three steps that you can implement straight away to replenish your body are:

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Go Green: We are told to eat our veggies for good reason - they are high in fibre, which helps with toxin elimination. The high fibre content also helps keep you full, preventing over-eating. In addition, vegetables also contain chlorophyll, which helps to alkalise your body, reversing the effects of acid forming caffeine, alcohol and sugar. To stay healthy, you should aim for six cups of vegetables per day.

Drink up...water that is: Begin your day with a glass of water with the juice of half a lemon, which is high in Vitamin C - this will support your immunity as well as enhance digestion and detoxification. Aim for 8 glasses a day. Green, ginger, dandelion and lemon grass will also help keep you hydrated and support detoxification.

Cut out the crap. Processed and packaged food are high in sodium, sugar and chemicals that help preserve shelf life, and often have little nutritional value. Instead, opt for wholefoods that will provide you with optimal nutrients for energy, immunity and repair.

2. Fact or fiction: Should we all be drinking eight glasses of water a day?
There is a lack of exact scientific evidence to support this theory. Our bodies are often the best measure for hydration along with climate, physical exertion and how much an individual sweats.

Don’t stop drinking water yet though! Eight glasses can be a good guide and even a moderate increase in water can assist in toxin elimination, mental clarity, back and joint pain and the prevention of UTIs and kidney stones. Every single cell in your body requires water to perform at it’s peak. Hitting the 2L mark each day ensures that your body can easily flush out toxins.

3. Are detoxes safe? If so, which ones do you recommend?
Our bodies do a wonderful job of detoxifying via our liver, kidneys, lungs, bowels and skin. However, now more than ever we are also ingesting an increased amount of toxins.

Supporting your bodies ability to detoxify can help with energy and vitality. Research has shown that regular detox programs can help prevent chronic disease and improve your long-term health. There are a lot of fad detoxes on the market, however, the best type is one that facilitates the removal of toxins and puts the right nutrients back in.

Juice detoxes and fasting over long periods of time can actually can actually create a yo-yo cycle of dieting. Your body needs certain nutrients and protein to support phase II of the liver detoxification path. The best way to detox is to eliminate foods that cause a toxic load on your body, such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, simple carbs (white bread, pasta rice etc) processed foods and meat and dairy.

You should replace these with fresh vegetables, fruit, wholegrain (quinoa, spelt, buckwheat), herbal teas and organic chicken and deep-sea fish. This will optimise cell function and restore energy, health and vitality.

4. What are some great desk draw snacks to have handy when 3pm-itis hits?
Go-to foods should be protein based, as these will give you energy, increase satiety and get you through the afternoon slump:

Nuts and seeds – make your own trail mix with almonds, pepitta, goji berries
Boiled egg – an instant protein source and quick fix
Natural yogurt with cinnamon – cinnamon controls blood sugar levels and cravings
Summer fruits - berries and strawberries are low GI
Veggie sticks with hummus – contains protein and fibre, keeping you full for longer
Soy and linseed rice cakes - with avocado, hummus or goat’s cheese and tomato.

5. What are the top five Superfoods we should all be eating on a daily basis?
Foods that have earned the prestigious Superfood title generally have more nutrients per serve along with additional health benefits.

The top 5 super foods that will help with energy, vitality and weight are:

Chia Seeds: These tiny superheroes are high in Omega 3s. They are also filled with calcium, iron, potassium, antioxidants and protein. As they expand with liquid, they help keep you full for longer and are therefore a great addition to desserts, smoothies, cereal, or salads.

Kale: If Popeye discovered kale, he would have been consuming it by the bucket load! It contains more nutrients than spinach, plus you will consume enough vitamin K and A for your entire day in just one cup. Perfect in stir fries, salads or mixed in a smoothie with pear, cucumber and berries.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah): Quinoa was regarded as a sacred food by the Incas. This super grain seed contains more protein than most cereal grains and is considered a complete protein because it contains all eight of the essential amino acids. It is also gluten free, making it easy to digest, and is low in saturated fat.

Berries: Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries are high in free radical scavenging antioxidants and are also exceptionally low in kilojoules. They are also lower in sugar than most fruits, making them a perfect low GI snack.

Cocoa: Who says chocolate can’t be good for you? Cocoa is a raw form of chocolate and is high in antioxidants. It helps improves cardiovascular health, libido, and increases overall wellbeing.

6. What can I eat if I have low energy levels and need a quick pick-me-up?
Low energy levels are often a sign that your body needs nutritional support. If you feel tired all the time and low on energy, you might be running low on the vitamins and minerals necessary to help your body convert food into energy.

Ensure hat you are getting enough B vitamins, especially B1, which is essential for converting carbohydrates into energy. Include more beans, peas, wholegrain and sunflower seeds in your meals.

B2 also helps you use the energy from food more effectively. The best sources are milk, yogurt, tuna, salmon and beef.

Lastly, protein is vital for energy. As a rule try to include a protein source with each meal. This will help for sustained energy through the day, reduce sugar cravings and help keep you full.

7. What are the best foods to eat for clear, glowing skin?
Often when we aim to reduce fats in our diet, we cut out some of the essential fatty acids that are essential for clear, hydrated and glowing skin. Having a diet high in salmon, olive oil, flaxseeds and nuts will help prevent dryness and assist with the absorption of Vitamin A, which helps prevent premature ageing.

To really give your skin the best chance to glow, remove sugar from your diet. Sugar increases the degradation of elastin and collagen which are needed to keep skin strong, smooth and supple. Reducing sugar in your diet can help turn back the clock and improve the texture and radiance of your skin.

Drinking up to 2L of water per day along with hydrating fruits and vegetables will also improve skin tone and radiance.

From Paleo to Atkins, there are so many different healthy eating diets around today – how can we decide which is best for us?
The problem with fad diets is that they do not incorporate a healthy long-term balanced eating plan, making them unrealistic.

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While some diets have their merits. a whole food approach to eating is often best. This means eating as nature intended us too, naturally. By cutting out processed food, sugar and foods that contain more numbers in the ingredients panel than food, we provide our bodies with optimal nutrition for health, weight regulation, clear skin and a healthy digestive system. Most physical symptoms can be related back to your digestion. By putting the right foods into your body will reward with your energy, clarity, weight management and amazing health.

Melanie Passman is a qualified nutritionist based in Sydney. To book a consultation, visit or email/phone