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Heart health - beat the odds

Sophy Foreman, High Performance Dietician, discusses some of the ways you can try to avoid heart disease, the leading cause of death in Australia.

What can we do to avoid becoming a statistic? 

Watch your portion sizes

It’s hard to miss the fact that portion sizes have become larger and larger in the last few years. Why is it we seem to associate value for money with the volume of food we receive on our plates? It isn’t surprising with the emergence of all you can eat nights, and meal upgrades for less than a dollar. We really have lost sight of what is an appropriate portion. 

Research shows that we will tend to over-eat if we are faced with large portions. Doing this regularly will quickly see your waistband expand.  Easy ways of controlling how much you eat when dining out is to split entrees with a friend, order a side of salad or vegetables and fill up on that. Alternatively, ask for a doggy bag and avoid the temptation to order dessert.  When at home try and stop yourself going back for a second helping if you cook large quantities. Instead, freeze the leftovers into individual portions – this is ever so handy on nights when you’re too tired to cook, or an easy lunch to take to work the next day. This will also save you money! Avoid eating in front of the television and computer. It’s so easy to overeat when you are distracted, so take some time out to sit around the table and talk to your family during mealtimes.  It could quite often be the only time a family gets to all be together, so make the most of it! 

Plate up your meals as follows. Allow half of the plate ‘real estate’ to be vegetables/salad. This can be piled high! A quarter of your plate should be home to a lean piece of protein. For example, fish the size of your palm, and the remainder should be filled with carbohydrate, preferably wholemeal (i.e. brown rice, wholemeal pasta), the size of your fist. Also, consider using smaller plates, the size our grannys used to have. We eat with our eyes and filling a smaller plate will actually trick the brain into thinking its had a large meal.

Get some exercise

Get moving. Anything that makes you slightly out of breath will be going you some good. Try and aim for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days a week though.  Consider buying a pedometer and counting your daily activity.  You might be surprised at how little you actually do, especially if you have a desk job. Aim for 10-12,000 steps everyday. Every little bit counts so start parking your car in the furthest bay from the shops, walk to your colleagues desk rather than emailing them,  take the stairs instead of the escalators and lifts, and go for a walk in your lunch break.

Choose low glycemic index (GI) foods

The glycemic index measures the rate at which sugar enters the blood stream from the foods we eat. Low GI foods (less than 55) are absorbed into the blood stream at a much slower rate than high GI foods. Therefore, they don't cause large increases in the level of sugar in your blood.  Foods such as oats, pasta, grainy bread, milk, yoghurts and most fruits are low-GI.  These foods are often more filling as well and will reduce the temptation of sweet cravings.  To lower the GI of your meals even further, include some lean protein to your meals, as well as a good serve of vegetables and some healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.


Sophy Foreman (Porter) has established a reputation in Western Australia as a leading High Performance Sports Dietitian. She currently pursues her passion in this area by working with a number of elite sports teams including; The Emirates Western Force, WA Rugby Academy, and The Perth Glory. She also worked for The Fremantle Dockers for six seasons (2005-2011).



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