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Healthy Partying

Healthy Partying

So you're on a special diet and you want to have a party – for many people this sends shivers down your spine. Managing dietary restrictions is hard enough day to day let alone at a party. But with a bit of planning it can be done and it can be fun!

Sometimes it's easier to become Party Central at your own house. Offer to host Christmas and special family dinners so you have complete control over the menu and ingredients.

There's no reason your child can't have an amazing birthday party with their friends, don’t let food hold you back.

This is YOUR child's party so make sure ALL food you serve is OK for your child. You want them to be able to eat absolutely anything they like at their own party. And don't worry about the other kids. I bet you will find they gobble up all the food you serve without comment! We've had many parties over the years with foods that were free of a million things and the other kids loved it all, not one comment about it not being 'normal' food.

Be creative with presentation so it looks fun and appetizing – fruit can look fabulous as kebabs for example. Take the focus off foods with fun games and crafts and ditch the old lolly bag in favour of some toys and accessories from the $2 shop.

Check out the What Can I Eat Cake Pantry for Premix Blends that can support your dietary needs and create a decadent and delicious birthday cake that will have everyone talking and wanting the recipe! (Don’t tell them how easy it is!!)

If you are going out to a party at another house, have a special lunchbox (that your child has chosen) which is the party box. It only comes out on special occasions and you take it with you to the party with some safe, fun party foods. If you can find out ahead of time what is being served you can make things that are similar so they don’t feel like they are missing out on anything.

Happy partying!


Article Submitted by Kris Barrett from Nourish Me


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We Are What We Eat and How We Sleep

We Are What We Eat and How We Sleep

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to ensure that we are ready to take on what the next day may have in store. Our energy levels will be increased as well as concentration and our ability to handle stress. Combining this with a diet that supports optimal nutrition makes a powerful combination to ensure we perform at our best on a daily bases. Making the right dietary choices can have a direct impact on sleep.

For a good night's rest it is important to avoid consuming food and drinks that may be inhibitors of sleep, these include any food or drinks that contain caffeine or related compounds such as coffee, soft drinks, chocolate and tea. Although the sensitivity to the stimulant effects of caffeine will vary from person to person these substances are best avoided in the evening to encourage the body to wind down and relax before bedtime.

Alcohol is also another substance that can have sleep-impairing effects. There is a misconception that alcohol relaxes us and induces sleep when, in fact, it could be the cause of a restless night! Alcohol can cause the body to release adrenaline, which is stimulating to the brain. It can also impair the transport of tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.

Another issue to consider is nocturnal hypoglycemia. This is defined as low nighttime blood glucose levels. When a drop in blood glucose occurs, it causes the release of hormones that regulate glucose levels, such as cortisol, glucagon, growth hormone and adrenaline. These hormones stimulate the brain and can cause the body to wake with the signal that it’s time to eat. Nocturnal hypoglycemia, which is a form of dysregulated glucose metabolism can be caused by overconsumption of refined carbohydrates, which is very common in our society today.

The best way to avoid this condition is to consume carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index.


If an evening snack is needed a complex carbohydrate such as oatmeal or a whole grain unprocessed cereal would be a good option. These foods can also help to promote sleep by increasing serotonin levels within the brain.

Bananas are a good choice for an evening snack. Bananas are high in magnesium and potassium both of which have a muscle relaxing effect. They are a complex carbohydrate that also contains tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin.

Try having a handful of nuts and seeds that include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamias, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. This snack will provide more of the essential nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and essential fatty acids, required for healthy nerve and brain function.

Cherries have been found to contain naturally occurring melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland and helps to regulate sleep. Cherries are also high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have found that sipping on tart cherry juice can improve sleep and reduce the occurrence of insomnia.

There are also a number of relaxing and gently sedating herbs that can be infused to make a lovely bedtime nightcap! Try making your own loose leaf blend including herbs such as passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm, valerian and lavender.

Making the right dietary choices can have a huge impact on how we sleep.

In this day and age where the demand we put on our bodies to perform outweighs the effort that we take to care for ourselves, the one area we all have the power to improve is how we sleep and eat. Considering that most people will have some sort of sleeping problem or disorder in their lifetime, it is comforting to know that some sleep issues can be avoided simply by making better choices.

Take some time to consider if you could be making better food choices to improve your sleep!

Article submitted by Living Chiropractic

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Reading Food Labels

Reading Food Labels

An important part of choosing healthy, nutritious food suitable to specific dietary requirements is knowing how to read food labels.  Unfortunately labels have their own language, and it is not always easy separating fact from fiction.  The best starting point is learning how to decipher what a manufacturer has to tell you, as opposed to the information they volunteer in order to convince you to buy!

Ingredients Listing

All manufacturers are required to list their ingredients in descending order according to their relative proportion by weight.  Although by no means an exact measure, this list will give you an indication of the relative amounts of the different ingredients that make up the food.  Be aware, that some manufacturers will use several different kinds of sugar (e.g. Fructose, lactose, maltose, molasses, treacle, golden syrup, icing sugar, honey) or fat (e.g. shortening, vegetable fat, vegetable oil, beef fat, butter, margarine, cocoa butter, canola oil and milk solids) so that each one will be present in a smaller proportion and will not be seen to be the major ingredient in the product.

Salt & Sugar Content

The body’s needs for sodium are estimated at 920 to 2300 milligrams per day.  However, the average person takes in 10 to 20 times as much salt as is required, much of which comes from processed foods.  The true name for salt is sodium chloride and ingredient lists may clarify salt under either title.  If a nutrition panel is present it is possible to estimate the amount of salt in a product by looking at the sodium content.  Be aware of hidden salt in processed foods.  For example, a vegemite sandwich provides approx. 480 milligrams of sodium, of which only 150 comes from the vegemite and the rest from the processed bread and margarine.

To find out the sugar content of a food, refer to the total sugar figure listed on the label.  Adults should aim to take in about 5% to 10% or less of their kilojoules from sugar.  For an average female this would be approximately 25 to 45 grams, and 30 to 60 grams for an average male per day.

Misleading Claims

A food classified, as low fat must not contain more than 3 grams total fat per 100 grams.  If classified as fat-free the food must not contain more than .15g total fat per 100g of product.  Do not be tricked into believing that foods claiming to be low in cholesterol are also low in fat.  Cholesterol is a type of fat from animal sources such as meat and eggs.  A product such as olive oil, made from vegetable sources, may make the claim no cholesterol, but it is still 100% fat.  Also be cautious of claims such as 95% fat free this equates to 5 g of fat per 100 g of the product, but if the actual serving size is 500 g, then you are still taking in a total of 25 g of fat.

Gluten Free

If a product claims to be gluten free the nutritional analysis should indicate NIL.  Finally be careful purchasing already baked products that all ingredients are clearly listed.  For more extensive information about acceptable 
ingredients if you are following a gluten free diet got

Article submitted by Kumara Lord (BED,MHN)

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Acid to Alkaline Food Chart

Acid to Alkaline Food Chart

Very Alkaline Foods – Eat Lots

Alfalfa grass
Baking soda
Barley Grass
Cabbage, lettuce
Cayenne Pepper
Fresh red beet
Granulated soy
Red radish
Soy lecithin
Soy nuts
Soy sprouts
Sprouted seeds
Wheat grass
White beans


Alkaline Foods-Eat More!

Almond butter
Bee pollen
Bok choy
Borage oil
Evening primerose oil
Fennel seeds
Flax seed oil
Caraway seeds
Green Beans
Green cabbage
Horse radish
Lima beans
Pine nuts
Raw onions
Rubarb stalks
Sesame oil
Soy flour
Squash- all kinds
White cabbage
White radish


Neutral Foods -Maintain!

Acai berry
Agave nectar
Apple cidar vinegar
Basmati rice
Brazil nuts
Brussel sprouts
Buck wheat
Bulgar wheat
Coconut oil
Cumin seeds
Flax seeds
Goji berries
Homogenized milk
Olive oil
Rice milk
Sesame seeds
Sweet potatoes
Water (spring)
Whey protein powder


Acid Foods-Eat Less

Banana, ripe
Barley malt syrup
Beet sugar
Black currant
Brown rice
Brown rice syrup
Cherry, sweet
Cod liver oil
Corn oil
Corn tortillas
Fig juice powder
Dried sugar cane juice
Fresh water fish
Frozen vegetables
Fruit juice
Goose berry ripe
Grape fruit
Grape, ripe
Italian plum
Macadamia nuts
Mandarin orange
Milk sugar
Organ meats
Peanut butter
Pear pineapple
Pumpkin seeds
Rose hips
Soy sauce
Sunflower oils
Wheat kernels
Whole grain breads
Tomatoes, pureee


Very Acid Foods – Don’t Eat!

Artificial sweeteners
Ocean fish
Pickled vegetables

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Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance… what is the difference.


One in five individuals in Australia have at least one allergy, which places Australia with one of the highest prevalence’s of allergy amongst the developed world (1). If the present trend continues it is estimated that there will be a 70% increase in the number of Australians with allergies by 2050, which correlates to 7.7 million people (1).

The high and ever increasing prevalence of food allergy and atopic disease has researchers identifying genetic predisposition as a risk factor, where in children with neither parent having an allergy, the child will have a 20% chance of having one allergy disorder (2). If one parent has an allergy disorder the risk increases to ≈ 40%. If both parents have allergy disorders then the risk increases to 60 – 70%. In addition to genetics some studies reveal the importance of the impact of environmental influences (2).

Researches from the John Hopkins Children Centre believe there is a trend toward more severe and more persistent allergies (3). However it should be noted that the severity of allergy presentation in a family history is not a good predictive guide as to how sensitive a child may be (4). In many cases when the presentation of allergy or food intolerance in the parent is only mild the possibility of allergy or food intolerance being related to a child’s symptoms can be overlooked (4).

The allergen pathway commences before the child is born, with allergens crossing the placenta, programming the immune system down the allergy pathway (4). This impact commences about halfway through the pregnancy, which is the time a mother could start focusing on minimising allergen exposure via modifying the maternal diet and minimising environmental factors (4).

The modification of the maternal diet encompasses a varied diet based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines (4). It discourages bingeing on any food in the second half of the pregnancy and during breastfeeding (4). There should be the total avoidance of egg, seed, peanut and nut (from the household) (4). There are precautions to take with respect to milk and dairy foods, and also fish and other seafood, and a minimisation of one’s intake of soybeans and other legumes (4). With respect to meats, allergies can occur, with pork allergy tending to be more likely to occur when eaten with fat (4).

It is recommended that lean meats are consumed. Wheat, oats, barley and buckwheat can all cause allergy and tend to only cause symptoms in highly allergic infants (4). In relation to vegetables, potato allergy is commonly seen in the highly allergic child, however in general there is no reason to modify vegetable intake during pregnancy (4). This may, however, be necessary during breastfeeding as some infants may react to tomato and spicy foods (5). Of the fruits the avoidance of the citrus family is recommended, with the reactions occurring to fruit often being related to a food intolerance rather than an allergy (5). Kiwifruit is the most allergenic fruit with the possibility of allergy development in the highly sensitive child (4).

The environmental measures include the total avoidance of cigarette smoke, ensuring houses are well ventilated, particularly kitchens where there are gas cook tops, and taking dust mite allergen precautions and pet precautions, particularly with respect to cats, rabbits, guineas pigs and mice (4). There should be total latex avoidance, in particular powdered latex products that cause the allergy to develop (4).

The allergen pathway highlights the possibility of the presentation of allergy related symptoms early in life, with researchers identifying that 2.2% – 5.5% of infants have food hypersensitivity during the first year of life (5). In the presentation of allergy in children we usually find that they are allergic to two or three different foods, with the most common being peanut, egg, milk, other nuts, seafood and sesame. Wheat, soy and rice can also cause allergies (5).

We should also consider the possibility of food intolerances. There is often confusion about the difference between allergy and intolerance and the terms are sometimes used in place of one another. There is a difference between food allergy and intolerance both in the types of foods and the way they affect individuals.

The immunological basis to Food Allergy

In the normal process of digestion food proteins are broken down in to smaller proteins (peptides) by enzymes in the stomach and the small intestine (7).  These smaller particles are prevented from entering the tissues of the small intestine by physiological and immunological barriers (7).

However, on occasions, small proteins (peptides) are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, which initiates an immunological response (7). Whether this initiates an allergic (Ig-E mediated) or intolerant response (Non Ig-E mediated) is dependent on the genetics of the individual, the characteristics of the food protein and the microenvironment.  It is the interaction of these components, which leads to the development of a Food Allergy or Food Intolerance (7).

The classic allergic response manifest as urticaria (hives), angioedema and anaphylaxis; the more delayed allergic response may manifest as inflammation in the colon or skin or enterocolitis or eczema respectively (7).

Classic IgE – immunological mediated allergic response…. How does it start?

The food protein enters the body via the gut or lung mucosa. Once inside the tissue, these proteins are then engulfed by specialised cells (deneretic cells) (7). This then stimulates B cells to produce Th2 cells (7) this results in a stimulation of cells, which results in the production of antibodies. These antibodies bind to mast cells in the tissue or basophils in the blood and stay in the tissue for months. This process is called sensitization (7). These antibodies are known as specific IgE antibodies. On a subsequent occasion when the body is then exposed to this food protein the protein binds to the antibody. This results in the breakdown of these cells and the subsequent release of histamine, prostaglandins, leukotrienes, platelet activation factors and bradikynin (7). These chemicals result in vascular dilation and hyperpermeability, which attract cells into the tissue, which results in inflammation (7). Skin Prick Tests (SPT) and Radioallergosorbent Test (RAST) are used to diagnose Ig E immune mediated food allergy.

Non – IgE – Immune mediated Food Allergy

The mechanism to non-IgE mediated food intolerant reaction is not always clear.  There have been several research studies, which have investigated the Immunological basis of gastrointestinal non-IgE allergies.  These have clearly identified the involvement of T- cells (Th1 and? Th2) and cells such as oeosinophils (7).  The mechanism encompasses the initial exposure of the protein to the tissue, which results in the sensitization of the T- cell (7).  Then, the subsequent exposure results in the release of inflammatory chemicals (cytokines), which lead to chronic inflammation (7).  The presentation of non-immune mediated food allergy can present at all ages.

There are diagnostic difficulties associated with the diagnosis of non-IgE mediated food allergies.  The diagnostic tools include biopsy and patch testing (7).  Patch testing has a role in eosinophillic oesophagitis and atopic dermatitis, although we sometimes use it to help identify foods that may be causing bowel disturbance. When the food is placed in contact with the skin, the specialized cells in the skin pick up the food proteins and present it to the immune system. If the individual has sensitivity to that food, they will react with inflammation at the site of the food over the next 2-3 days. This gives us a window to what is happening in the gastrointestinal tract with foods.

Non allergic food hypersensitivity / food intolerance

A non-allergic food hypersensitivity is usually characterised by a delayed reaction, which can occur hours or even days after eating (7).  The sensitivity to certain foods is defined as the inability to properly process and fully digest certain foods, leading to chronic symptoms. A food sensitivity / intolerance does not involve the immune system though rather involves the stimulation of nerve endings in tissues by a chemical component which may be naturally occurring, an additive, or a combination (6). These include amines, salicylates, glutamates, preservatives and colours.  Symptoms of food intolerance are extensive and variable. They can be very similar to those of an allergic response. Symptoms of allergic reaction are usually sudden, while intolerance response may sometimes occur straight after ingesting a problem food or have a delayed response. Symptoms may take 12-24 hours to develop. The severity of symptoms can also depend on the quantity of the problem food ingested. They may not occur until a threshold amount is ingested.

Where to from here?

A child that continually screams when being breast fed, has unsettled sleep patterns, wakes moaning with writhing, has loose stools, is colicky, has slow weight gain, reflux, eczema, nappy rash, or displays irritable, impulsive or overactive behaviour, should prompt us to consider the possibility of food allergy/food intolerance.
An experienced dietician, while awaiting an appointment with an allergist, can undertake the initial investigation of a possible food allergy/food intolerance.  Once identified then an appropriate management plan can be established. Continual guidance and support are key factors in the management of these conditions, through what can be a challenging time for children and their families.


1. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, November 2007, Economic Impact of Allergies.
2. Professor Mimi Tang, SBS, TV Allergy program, October 2007, Allergic Reaction: Children and their allergies.
3. Dr Velencia Soutter, December 2007, email communication.
4. Royal Prince Alfred Allergy Resources, Food Allergy Prevention.
5. Scott H. Sicherer, MD, Donald Y.M. Leung, MD, PhD, June 2007, Food allergy, anaphylaxis, dermatology and drug allergy, Journal of Clinical Immunology, Advances in Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Series 2007, pp 1462 1469.
6. Dr Robert Loblay, SBS, TV Allergy program, October 2007, Allergic Reaction: Children and their allergies 7. Isabel Skypala and Carina Venter, Food Hypersensitivity, Diagnosing and Managing Food Allergies and Intolerances, Blackwell Publishing 2009.

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