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.

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.

Sporty, sports drinks

Yesterday I was on the sidelines of a Netta (pre-netball) match cheering on my daughters school team. At half time, one of the 9 year old team members was given a 600ml bottle of sports drink and she proceeded to drink the entire bottle. Funnily enough, I was interviewed by the West Australian newspaper a couple of days ago on the exact same topic so my sports drink antenna were on high alert. At half time in a Netta game, each team member has only played two ten minute quarters and will do the same again in the last half, with a grand total of 40 minutes with breaks in between.  Not surprisingly, this does not warrant the consumption of sports drink in any circumstance. Excess sugar, salt and calories, come on down. Despite the misconception of some people who think buying a sports drink is equivalent to doing exercise, they should only be used before, during or after extended bouts of exercise lasting one hour or longer. Most good sports drinks contain between 4-8% carbohydrate and the combination of the sugar (carbohydrate) and sodium (salt) increases the absorption of water, keeping you hydrated..  Sports drinks also act to delay fatigue by sparing muscle glycogen stores (carbohydrate) and topping up blood glucose Sports drinks are very useful and even essential for extended exercise sessions but all too often kids playing weekend sport and even adults are seen knocking these drinks back when just plain water will do the trick.

Operation Sugar Storm

Who would have thought that little white grains could cause such a ruckus?  There has been a loud roar around Australia this week, with the new marketing campaign for CSR Sugar starring Olympic Medallist and world record holding swimmer, Eamon Sullivan. The advertisement showcases Eamon behind a kitchen bench in his birthday suit, with his private parts cleverly hidden by a mixing bowl.   Continue reading “Operation Sugar Storm”