18 Habits of an Environmentally Chic Shopper

LandscapeThe concept of eating sustainably is rapidly be becoming the ‘in’ thing to do. Organic produce, eating locally, farmers markets, free range, grass-fed – love it or hate it they are part of our urban jargon.

A lot of the debate surrounding the sustainable movement is whether or not paying a premium for produce is better for you – but the reality is the movement goes far beyond our own health and is a vital step in preserving our precious environment.

In the spirit of Christmas, where the shops are drenched with anxiety and credit cards, I feel it is important to remind you how easy it is to ‘give’ to the environment all year round.

So here are my top 20 tips for making sure you welcome Christmas and the New Year with the savvy environmental chat.

Going to the supermarket:

1. Bring that reusable bag. Shockingly only 1% of plastic bags worldwide are actually recycled – the rest end up in landfill or our oceans where, unable to biodegrade, they release toxic particles. And those handy paper bags? They aren’t any better. Requiring a cool 14 million trees to be cut down and processed. This process alone requires more energy than the production of plastic bags.

2. Buy naked. Choose products with the least packaging. Buy meat from the deli counter rather than the pre-wrapped section, large tubs of yoghurt rather than individual tubs, a wedge of cheese rather than a pre-wrapped block. These are also cost cutting measures, so you kill two birds with one stone!

3. Go to a market that isn’t super. Buy from establishments that are committed to Australian produce and products. I feel so much better handing my money to the farmer who grew my broccoli rather than the supermarket who gave me a discount petrol voucher. Often these stores also operate with practices that curb environmental waste and several farmers, if you ask, choose farming methods that recycle resources.

Fruits and Veggies:

4. Buy from the source. This is becoming significantly easier with the burgeoning of farmers markets, so it is no excuse to cite ‘exclusivity’ as a major preventative. Eating locally not only gives back to the grower directly, but reduces your carbon footprint. As a plus the produce is far fresher than the veggies from South America I so often see at supermarkets!

5. Embrace the raw.  Up your intake of raw veggies to reduce the energy spent on using cooking appliances. Simple, much more convenient and potentially more nutritious!

6. Tis the season. So embrace what is growing now in Australia (cherries, tropical fruit, beautiful vibrant lettuces!) Have a look at what’s in season now.

7. Get a green thumb.  Yes, they are hard to find (my efforts in growing lettuce and basil have yet to yield a tangible result) but it is a nourishing experience to grow your own food from pots and planters, even if the results are underwhelming!


8. Quality over quantity. Factory raised meat has the largest negative environmental impact in comparison to any other consumer food.  I am a massive meat-eater, and I consider it vital to my sense of wellbeing, but I choose to eat modest amounts and only buy animals that have been raised ethically. I am quite adamant about this and will spend a lot more on quality meat, knowing that I will stretch it out over a week rather than a day.

9. Chew on some roo. Kangaroo is local, has far less of an impact on environmental degradation, is a great source of iron and is super lean. Mastering the art of cooking the perfect kangaroo fillet is fun and making burritos with kanga mince is a staple in my kitchen. It is also phenomenally cheap. Need I say more?

10. Grass is always greener. Pasture-raised animals have a more humane up bringing, have a smaller negative environmental impact and are fed a natural nutritious diet composed mainly of grass as opposed to processed grain.


11. Hook up with the steward. It can be confusing as to which fish to buy but a small Marine Stewardship Council badge on the fish tag ensures that it has met the strictest of sustainability standards, both in terms of how it was caught and the variety of fish.

12. Get a’mong’ it.  Know your fish and make it a priority to choose Australian fish that are abundant in the environment. It will likely mean that the product has been reviewed by the Marine Stewardship Council and you have a better awareness of whether or not the fish is sustainable or not.

13. Step away from the tuna. Try something different! Expand your repertoire to include sardines, garfish, john dory – this will ensure your daily tuna or salmon addiction won’t potentially wipe out an entire species or render us reliant purely on farmed versions of the breed. (Ok that’s extreme, but you understand right?)


14. Cut back on your hormonal intake.   It is true that livestock in Australia is pumped with antibiotics to make them grow at a faster rate. This has profound health impacts for the cows, the people who drink this milk and our environment (large industrial dairy sites emit large greenhouse gas emissions). At the end of the day, milk from happy cows is readily available and not cost prohibitive. Otherwise try almond milk, coconut milk or rice milk.

Out on the town:

15. Bottle down. Remove the need for bottled water and ask for pure tap. Consider also the advantage of drinking beer from the tap. A superior taste sensation and it necessitates the use of a reusable glass not a disposable bottle.

 On the home front:

16. Don’t buy paper for mess. Cotton napkins and sponges for spills (not paper towel) are small investments towards less waste.  I will let you continue your toilet roll habit. 😉

17. Don’t chuck out ‘old’ food We are all far too sensitive when it comes to ‘use by dates’ and potentially rancid food. Food can stand the test of time; you would be surprised what a refrigerator can do. Old meals can be revamped into new or even (shock/horror) eaten as a cold lunch a few days later. You will reduce waste and also energy expenditure given that you won’t have to cook a new meal in a few days time.

18. Multiply your food. Now that you are firmly over the concept of eating ‘old’ food, cook more than you require and freeze leftovers for meals ahead. Planning ahead is an excellent way to save money, lose weight and use less energy throughout the week.

So let me ask you guys. Do you try to incorporate any of these habits regularly? Or is there a tip I have obviously missed? Let me know what tactics you use in the comments below! 


3 Things you need to know about carbohydrates…

I want to briefly talk about carbs today.

In the same way that fat was condemned in the 80’s (along with low waist shorts and natural makeup) it is fair to say that carbohydrates are now being held responsible for our growing waistline.

Now, there is some truth to this.  We live in a world where enormous quantities of refined carbohydrates can be bought cheaply and easily.  And we can’t deny that carbs are sumptuous – particularly when they have been aerated, plumped up with lush thickeners or entombed in chocolate.

It is easy to see how they can be over eaten. Give me a packet of Tim Tams and I can show you that they are not never-ending.

Currently, carbs are being blamed for a host of weight related issues – sugar is now the cause of obesity and carbohydrates of all shapes and sizes ‘cause massive insulin spikes’ which ‘makes you fat’.

It is true; the overproduction of insulin (in obese people particularly) causes your blood glucose levels to crash, stimulating hunger. Thus, people with insulin resistance who are eating refined carbohydrates (without the fibre, fat and protein present in a well-rounded meal) will eat more.

However this doesn’t make carbs fattening.

It is actually quite simple. Carbs, particularly overly processed ones are just so easy to eat. We have become reliant on them as a cheap source of fuel. People have to eat something, and our need for ease means that carbohydrates have become the dominant norm as our fuel.

On the flip side, I see so many girls going super-duper low carb (eschewing broccoli) in their efforts to drop the last few.

But, going low carb also isn’t going to help you. You do the need them. It just depends how active you are as to how many. Generally the level of activity in your day should dictate what type of carbs you choose to eat.

So what carbs and when?

1. Whole unprocessed carbohydrate sources are your priority,  such as fresh fruit and veggies. This focus is nutrient dense and not calorie dense.

2. Quality grains, such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat (or whatever tickles your fancy) or bread without preservatives and additives are a secondary source and need to be consumed sensibly. When you are not physically active you haven’t done enough to justify more carbohydrates on top of whole food. Emphasis here is that they are not fattening! They are just unnecessary if you have sat at your computer all day.

3. Desserts, chocolate, lollies and added sugars: should be eaten sparingly in the week. I don’t care how raw/vegan/organic the source. The reality is, it is still an additional something that isn’t necessary in vast amounts daily.


And from a health and weight loss perspective how many carbs should I have?

I like this little rule from Men’s Health weight loss adviser Alan Aragon.

Multiply your target body weight by 1 if you have a desk job, work out in a gym several times a week for an hour or less, and your main goal is fat loss. Multiply by 2 if you’re a recreational athlete who trains for more than an hour a day. And multiply by 3 if you’re a competitive athlete who trains multiple hours a day, or if you’re a guy with a Mini Cooper body and a Corvette metabolism who is struggling to gain weight.

 The number you end up with indicates how many grams of carbs you should eat every day.

 What do you think? Have you had success on low carb diets? Find you get too light-headed without dense carbs? (usually indicates you have great insulin levels) I would love to hear your thoughts.

Top 3 Problems with the Typical Healthy Breakfast

oatsSo…I have been tardy, absent and severely missing my communication with the wonderful world of blogging and my readers!

Apologies, I have been dabbling in website overhaul. Needless to say, I ain’t that good at it, but when I manage to pull this off (I am aiming for end of January) you will be so impressed!

I am going to be having video content as well as exciting kitchen styling sessions from other fit and healthy personal trainers, health coaches and dieticians.

Just writing about it gets my adrenaline pumping!

As for now, I will continue to instagram and post facebook updates, while my website is currently ‘down’.

Yes- I should have clarified this earlier. But, no one is perfect and I thought I could pull the rabbit out of the hat sooner rather than later.

So today, I thought I would reflect on breakfast – again.

I find this meal to be a stumbling block for many well-intentioned health seekers.

Particularly for women who want to ‘tone up’.

While I have a few friends who naturally sit at a muscular level, I am not one of them and over the past few months I have dabbled in strength training and proper nutrition in order to see how a fit body is made through spot on nutrition, fun strength training and adequate rest time.

(Such as today – where I believe a nice stretch and an epsom salt bath will suffice)

Back to the breakfast issue though, I have realised how seriously lacking most breakfast options are of protein and now know why so many people flail on the energy levels prior to lunch and indeed experience a slump in the afternoon. Instead of subtracting my breakfast portions I have merely added twice the amount of protein and gained some serious definition in my arms and abdominals (ok I am not ripped but my abdominals are present rather than pudgy!)

With this in mind

My three Issues with the Standard Approach to Breakfast:

1.    Cereal:

When a food company says something is a ‘healthy choice’ I recommend taking a closer look. Cereal is one such ‘health food’ that is targeted towards us health conscious girls. There are several leading healthy wholegrain cereals that have seriously high levels of sugar and salt, which are added to these products to lower the fat content without jeopardising the taste. Next time you are in the supermarket, grab a chocolate bar and head to the cereal aisle then compare the sugar content of either. You will be amazed.

Even better is when the cereals have synthetic vitamins added to them, which are both unnatural and often used in such small amounts that the benefits are negligible.

Once again, it isn’t cereal that is a problem it is the pre-made boxes that are seriously questionable when it comes to your health.  I encourage you to make your own cereal, read the label to see what is exactly in the box or if all else fails I suggest you say ‘cereal later’.

Cereal Substitution: Oats or Buckwheat, Cinnamon, Stevia with Coconut Oil or Cultured Butter, either warmed over the stove or baked in the oven.

2.     Dried Fruit:

Although considered a good source of energy, be fussy in the type you select. Drying is a wonderful age-old form of food preservation. Unfortunately the dried fruit that is available in supermarkets, is just not as natural and wholesome as you think. Most of these options are vacuum freeze dried, and then placed in a microwave or boiled before being vacuumed a second time. It is little wonder that after this process the dried fruit in question is nutritionally devoid. This process is also solely cosmetic; appealing to our desire for plump, soft and substantially bigger portions and involves the use of chemicals (sulphates typically) that can trigger asthma and allergies.

Now, don’t get me wrong. One of my favourite things are dried dates – they honestly can substitute chocolate for me – but I choose to eat versions with no sulphites, manufactured with integrity and I make sure, in keeping with my desire for good digestion that I counteract the dryness of the fruit with lots of water. Regardless of whether your dried fruit is organic or conventional, dried fruit is taxing on your digestive system and needs to be either soaked in water or followed with lots of fluid!

Dried Fruit Substitution: Angas Park Dried Fruit – an Australian company with fruit that is incredibly plump, dried naturally and without additives. The dates and figs are amazing and they can be found in Coles.

3.    Milk:

 I have never actively craved milk. But I don’t see why it can’t form a part of a healthy all round diet. Indeed, milk has long been part of human diets. However, recent questionable farming practices and feeding methods have left me doubting whether the milk you buy in the supermarket is as ‘bone building’ healthy as we are lead to believe.

There are a lot of anti-dairy crusaders in the health world, and with good reason. However for me generic milk at the end of the day is the stuff that is best avoided. The stuff you buy for $1 a litre has been homogenised to even out the fat molecules and pasteurised to kill off bacteria. This is often why people have issues with milk. Heating up milk through pasteurisation alters the enzymes present in milk. Milk therefore becomes difficult for your body to digest.

If you want good milk, choose a quality provider who is committed to the welfare of their animals. This way, you know your milk is mineral rich and the cows have been fed a proper nourishing diet.

Milk Substitution: I personally don’t buy it, but I really like the ethos of the Elgaar Dairy Farm. You can pick up their products at health food stores and all of their dairy products are packaged in reusable glass so you can return your bottles when you run out and be reimbursed! I adore their cottage cheese and cream. If you like the taste of Almond Milk, then I would also consider giving this a run!

What about you? Are there any breakfast finds that you have found to be particularly awesome?

I’d love to see what everyone else considers their optimal start to the day!