Movies and Popcorn anyone?

It is school holiday time here in Australia and in my house, that can also mean lights, camera, action aka the movies.

I do love the whole process of going to the movies but one thing I just don’t get is the side serve of literally everything from the candy bar. While waiting to pick up my tickets I stand and watch in fascination as queues of people run out of the candy bar and snake through the foyer.

I never got to the movies much as a kid, so the whole eating at the movies thing just didn’t exist for me. Mum and Dad were great fans of the drive-ins and of course with four kids, this was the affordable option, especially if a few of them were hidden in the back seat! Mum would make a picnic and for an extra special treat, we got to walk up to the kiosk between movies to get a drink to share between the four of us.

I sound like a nanna writing this but things have most certainly changed. The food available at the movies now is a mammoth smorgasbord of lollies, chocolate, fizzy drinks, ice-cream and buttered popcorn. The question is, when did the food become the feature rather than the movie?

If you love going to the movies and swinging by the candy bar – it might be time to reassess your choices. Lets start with good old popcorn.  Popcorn usually comes in three sizes at the movies – small, medium and large, although I consider the small version to be huge! If we consider 100g of the movie variety (the small box) alongside air popped and microwave popcorn, the numbers are interesting.

                                     Calories                               Fat                           Sodium

Movie                           464                                       24                            980

Air Popped                343                                       4.5                            8

Microwave                 390                                       12                             699

As you can see, there is a massive difference in salt and fat content between the different varieties. Air popped refers to any plain popcorn that has been cooked without fat, such as in a saucepan, air-popper or microwave.  My childhood memory of popcorn is standing by the stove while mum cooked it in the saucepan.  Instead of cooking in a saucepan, try whipping some up in the microwave in a microwave safe container, its quicker and it doesn’t burn.  Having said that, don’t walk away and leave it either!

Movies aside, the beauty of popcorn is that it is classified as a wholegrain, is high in fibre at 14.5 grams per 100g and it takes a while to eat. The glycemic index (GI) of popcorn will differ depending on the brand but is around 55, making it a moderate GI carbohydrate food and therefore providing you with a longer lasting energy source than many other carbohydrate rich snacks.

And what about popcorn’s friends and their calorie count?

Choc Top – 348

Maltesers (40g) – 201

Twisties (200g) – 448

Peanut M&M’s (200g) – 1024

Coke (600ml) – 258

Snakes Alive (200g) – 680


I promise that I am not the fun police but really? These pack sizes are the common varieties found at most movie candy bars. Do we need to buy a 200g bag of Peanut M&M’s? No, but when those brightly coloured packages are beckoning us, it is inevitable.

My kids get great pleasure out of making up their own goodie bags to take to the movies and if you are a regular at both the movies and the candy bar – it might be worth doing the same. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the movie!

Chewing the fat


Ros Thomas Chewing the Fat

A clever friend of mine writes a very entertaining column in the West Weekend Magazine each Saturday and a recent edition was too good not to share.  It is below in its entirety but you can also see more of Ros’s insights here.


Ros Thomas, The Weekend West Magazine, Published February 2, 2013

A few weekends back a girlfriend and I were at the beach for our first swim of the summer. It was an overcast morning and the water looked dark. We were trying to stave off the inevitable shock of cold water by discussing our chances of getting eaten by a shark. She turned to me and said: “Any self-respecting shark would take one look at me and say: Geez, I’m not that hungry.”

A real friend doesn’t lie about her weight. A real friend understands that a woman’s weight can be central to her mood: thin = happy, not thin = grumpy. My bathroom scales are an electronic slab of nastiness hell-bent on destroying my morning.

A nutritionist once told me: ”Do not weigh yourself every day, it’s bad for your mental health.” But most mornings, I roll out of bed, skip to the loo and then step daintily onto my scales. It takes about three seconds for them to calculate how many squares of cooking chocolate I had the night before and deliver up the numbers that have me inwardly cursing (and outwardly cranky) for the next half hour.

If the figure is really offensive, I move the scales around the bathroom floor, hoping a second (or third) try will give me a more considerate read-out. Sometimes I hold onto the door frame and voila! I weigh the same as I did when I was 18. Self delusion makes me thin.

When I ring a girlfriend to say: “Good morning, I am a circus tent” she doesn’t reply: ‘Hey, I’ve lost three kilos and I’m back to what I weighed on my wedding day.” Instead she sympathises: ”I weigh the same as the day I gave birth to my third child.”

My Adonis does not realise that all nearly all women obsess about their weight, usually to their partner’s detriment. (The fatter we feel, the thinner our libido.)

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not so shallow that our weight is all we care about. We have discussed at length our disappointment that even the head of the CIA can’t have an affair without getting caught. We worry Julia Gillard was talked into becoming a redhead by her hairdresser boyfriend. And then we go back to our weight, because society demands that the female of our species should always be pert and thin. Any woman who has had children or is within fifteen years of menopause knows pert requires surgery and pert andthin is a pipe dream.

I have two lovely pals who meet with me every Friday morning. Our husbands think it’s a weekly discussion to exchange housekeeping tips, and how to serve up more marital happiness. But really those girlfriends come to my house to find out what the scales of injustice say. Having starved ourselves all morning for ‘weigh-in,’ the more sensible one of us records the offensive number of kilos in her diary. Then we put the bad news behind us and get down to the more important business of tea and cake.

I wouldn’t miss those Fridays for quids. They began five years ago when we decided one of us might need a weekly catch-up to help her endure the horrors of chemotherapy. (We didn’t need to weigh her to know she was thin.)

Since then there has been a wonderful survival story, one last baby, two husbands’ vasectomies, two new places to live, one new career and several sets of hateful scales. Cancer free and in perfect nick, the most disciplined of our threesome now sympathises with the two of us whose blasted weight has stayed more or less the same, always five kilos too many.

We still de-brief every Friday, except now we use ‘weigh-in’ as an excuse to check up on each other and restore some girly equilibrium.

What Friday weigh-ins are good for is motivation. The three of us come away hardened with steelier resolve to be Elle McPherson pure about what we eat. (Usually sabotaged by Troy Buswell self-control.) On occasion our iron will has lasted a whole week – the record is three months -but usually we’re texting each other by Friday night: “Do organic brownies count?” (Apparently, if they came from the health food shop, they have no calories.)

For me, trying to lose weight at this time of year is hopeless. And pointless. There are too many good things to eat. So I’m going to move those scales around the house until I find that elusive G-spot  – G for gravity. That’s the spot where a slight incline confuses the scale’s pea-sized brain into thinking I’m three kilos lighter. I have high hopes for that bit of the kitchen floor that dips as it merges with the pantry. If my plan fails, I’ll just use the stupid scales as a step-up to reach the top shelf. I’m sure that’s where I hid the last of the cooking chocolate.

Not so special

Recently I did a tour of the West Australian Wheatbelt for one of my clients, a utility company.  I visited depots and offices educating their staff on healthy eating, health performance and hydration with the aim of impacting their health and safety, reducing fatigue and increasing productivity. As I made my way through Northam, Cunderdin, Merredin and Wyalkatchem I couldn’t help but notice what a stunning part of the world it is.


When we got to talking about food, and the issues that affect health and well-being, the talk of the town(s) was not what I expected.  A craze had been sweeping the land.  That craze was discounted Tim Tam biscuits.  As most of you will know, Tim Tam’s are an Australian institution and are in fact modelled on the UK brand of the Penguin biscuit. The usual price of a packet of Tim Tam’s is $3.21 and on this particular week in the Wheatbelt (and beyond I believe) they were flying off shelves for $1.49.  It was creating angst amongst the community.

Brian Wansink, a leading author and psychologist and author of ‘Mindless Eating’ points to research that show we are very much influenced by in store promotions.  Through several experiments, his team found sales increased with virtually any type of promotion but the use of numbers really sealed the deal.  An offer of ‘3 for $6’ sold more products that the same promotion price of ‘$2 each’.  Then there are the ‘Buy one get one free’ or ‘3 for the price of 1’.  Manufacturers fund price promotions in supermarkets and get such great returns they still make a profit plus they hope that once you have tried a product, you will stick with it.  Supermarkets win too, because you are attracted to their store and will probably buy more than the item you went in there for.

The problem with the Tim Tam super duper special is that like any high fat and/or sugar food, if it is languishing in your pantry or beckoning to you from the biscuit jar, you will eat it.  Before you fall for a promotion and go sprinting toward the red flashing light aimed at encouraging you to buy in bulk, think about whether you really need to be eating more of this particular food and whether it is a true bargain for your health as well as your bank balance.

The Lightness of Being

There is no doubt it is controversial and it sure has got people talking.  I am referring to the graphic images that West Australian’s have been confronted with over the past couple of weeks since the launch of the LiveLighter campaign.  The Grababble Gut.  As a nation, we’re the heaviest we’ve ever been. As at 2010, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that more than 4.3 million Australians, roughly one in four, were obese. In Western Australia, the story is much the same. More than 60 per cent of us are either overweight or obese. Despite claims to the contrary by supplement companies and unfortunately as frustrating as it it can be, there is no magic pill.  Keeping your weight in the right and healthy place for you always comes back to the tried and true equation, you have to make healthier choices, perhaps eat less and exercise more.  There is simply no evading this, but the payoffs are huge. Cathy O’Leary, Medical Editor of the West Australian newspaper had some really interesting comments with regards to the health promotion methods employed in this campaign in her ‘Health campaign takes guts’ article and I agree with her.  Its not rocket science and we don’t need fancy measuring tools to know when we need to lose weight particularly the ‘toxic’ kind around our middle bits and surrounding our organs.  But it isn’t easy either. I have been talking about this campaign on radio 882AM 6PR over the past few weeks and it has certainly provoked some reactions, positive and negative with regards to the effectiveness of ‘scare tactics’ and graphic images.  One of our listeners, Helen emailed in her thoughts which may resonate with some of you.

“Just listening in to your story regarding fat and our society.  I have two boys, one thin as a rack one chubby. They have the same activity level and same diet.  I worry about my older boy but really don’t know how to help him lose weight short of boot camp and strict diets but I don’t want him to have diet hang ups and body issues.  So we let him be and try to monitor what we can.  We eat takeaway maybe once a month, I cook 99% of our meals as we have severe allergies in our house.  I don’t want my boys at 7 and 10 worrying about how much fat and sugar are in their cereal, thats my job, but to be fair its hard finding yummy good food not full of salt, sugar and fat.  We are a working family and I’m lucky enough to be able to cook every night and I bake from time to time.  But families just don’t have time to be on top of this stuff all the time.    How do we help our kids and ourselves?”

Good question Helen. One of my own annoying traits to make things way more complicated than they need to be and it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘paralysis by analysis.’ This is the phenomenon where you analyse and think about something so much, the end result is zip, zero, nada. This does make changing behaviours challenging.  I often share four strategies for removing barriers to change and they are: 1.  Too much information makes it too hard to do anything.  Make sure your information is accurate and from a reputable source.  Choose one thing you are going to change and conquer it before moving on to the next target. 2.  Know where you are at – Assess your current position, what are your goals, blood tests, fitness levels, dietary assessment and use technology to track your progress. 3.  Be a certified practising health accountant – be accountable to someone (professional or personal) 4.  Get support from those around you and don’t use ‘busyness’ as an excuse.  Recognise that when you are busy and under the pump and it is difficult to control everything, things that you can in fact control like nutrition and exercise fly out of the window.

Be like a postage stamp.  Stick to one thing until you get there.

Beverley Sills




On the fourth day…

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Four cuddling koalas…three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Ahhh, Caramello Koalas.  They are so cute and tasty. I mean the the chocolate variety not the fluffy ones. Just in case you are wondering how they fare in the world of treats, one regular sized koala contains 99 calories and this includes around 1 teaspoon of fat and just over 2 teaspoons of sugar.  If you get sucked into a fundraising vortex and decide to go the Giant version, this effectively doubles the dose.  Well, maybe a bit more if you get guilted into buying the whole box. So should you eat them?  They are quite delectable and can help you experience a moment of bliss, so they are perfectly designed as an occasional treat. But when I know that one little koala is 1/12th of my total calorie intake, I do what I did today.  Go check them out at the zoo…. zero calories, fat and sugar but still the moment of bliss.

Shampoo makes you fat – doesn’t it?

A couple of weeks ago, a story hit the media which I commented on during my segment with Paul Murray at 6PR radio.  The concept of shampoo being a cause of obesity was flung about and it appears the offending fat promoting chemicals in particular are known as phthalates.  Phthalates, phthalates, phthalates (trying saying that three times quickly) are found in everything from shampoo to toilet cleaner to perfume to canned food tins and there a number of international studies currently looking at our everyday, cumulative toxin exposure.  I am not discounting the importance of minimising toxin exposure in our bodies but just in case you were getting excited about throwing out your shampoo and never needing to exercise again,  sorry. ‘Chich’ of Churchlands in Western Australia had the best solution I thought. Here is her response to the claim that shampoo makes you fat. “Its the shampoo I use in the shower.  When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body.  Printed very clearly on the shampoo label, it reads, FOR EXTRA VOLUME AND BODY. I have gotten rid of the shampoo and I am going to start using Dawn dish detergent. Its label reads, DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE.  Problem solved and it sure does pay to read the label.” It just keeps coming back to that irrefutable equation, In vs Out, In vs Out….. with not a single drop of shampoo in sight.

Permanent or Temporary?

Just this morning with my weekly milk delivery I found a little brochure proclaiming that the milk I was holding had NO PERMEATE ADDED.  I have to confess my ignorance as all that flew into my mind was a visual of sitting at the hairdressers in the 80’s with a big contraption over my head and chemicals causing tears to flow.  Given that I have had one and only one ‘perm’ in my life, with the end result being me resembling a show poodle, even my knowledge of this is shaky.  Surely my milk has not become involved in this too? Significant research later reveals that ‘permeate’ is the term used to describe the milk-sugar (lactose) and minerals part of whole or full-cream milk.  As you would expect, cows milk has regional and seasonal differences resulting in varying levels of fat and protein in the milk collected from farms.  The composition of our milk is governed by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Food Standards Code which is considered to be one of the best in the world.  Basically permeate is produced when milk is passed through a fine sieve (ultrafiltration) to separate the lactose, vitamin and mineral components from milk protein.  From here, dairy manufacturers may adjust these components to make various milks such as low fat, high calcium and no fat to meet consumer demands. Under the same Food Standards Code, these components can be added to or withdrawn from milk to standardise the normal variations in fat and protein.  A similar situation occurs with 100% fruit juice as the sweetness of fruit also varies according to the season and the Code allows the addition of a certain amount of sugar to these products. So, no chemicals, heads in buckets or tears in the eye.  Of course, at the moment there are tears in the eyes of many a dairy farmer for a completely different reason.  The ongoing battle of price.  Any thoughts?

Ball Rolling

Can you roll into a ball?  I tried it just to check and so far so good.  Being flexible is SO important to your daily movement and comfort and essential for getting a sweat up. Rolling into a ball is not something that many of us have to do each day.  Can’t say I’m unhappy about that either.  However, this skill is essential for hedgehogs and some poor little Scottish ones recently found themselves in a spot of bother. Continue reading “Ball Rolling”