This edition is about food, eating and nutrition – which are a big part of life and essential to well-being. We understand that with busy lives and shifts it can be hard to maintain balance so we have brought together some information that we hope will help!
Nurse & Midwife Support Stakeholder Engagement Manager Mark Aitken talks about his experience with nutrition and his love of cooking. Read more.
Registered nurse and psychologist Dianne explains how eating disorders can develop and what help is available. Read more.
Celeste, a registered midwife explains her relationship with nutrition and provides some great tips to get you started. Read more.
We are launching our first competition and we are looking for recipes that get you through even the toughest of shifts. Find out more.
Dietitian Dianne Wintle recently joined the Nurse and Midwife Support Podcast, where we discussed how nurses and midwives can change their relationship with food. Read more.
Dianne is an accredited practising dietitian. She shares advice on overcoming unhealthy eating habits and tips for good nutrition. Listen to the podcast.
by Mark Aitken RN Stakeholder Engagement Manager Nurse & Midwife Support
Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition of the Nurse & Midwife Support Nutrition newsletter.
The team at Nurse & Midwife Support give a lot of thought to each edition and this one has been no exception.
Many of our team contribute to our newsletters. When I put the call out for contributions for this edition I had lots of offers. Who doesn’t enjoy talking about food! Food, eating and nutrition are a big part of life and essential to well-being.
I meet lots of nurses and midwives on my travels as I promote the service. Inevitably I get tips about where to eat and regional produce that I must try. I have received great food tips and exchanged recipes and Victorian cafe tips.
We love hearing from you and sharing your feedback so we thought we would start collecting recipes and food tips and share them to support busy nurses and midwives. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to launch our first ever competition – we are looking for healthy, simple and delicious recipes that help get you through even the toughest of shifts.
My mother taught me to cook, and it has been a lifelong passion. I love to cook, share recipes and discuss ingredients. I grow many of my own vegetables and find joy in preparing these for a meal shared with family and friends.
In this edition we have a blog from Celeste, a member of our team who shares her passion for good nutrition and how this has become a committed lifestyle choice inspired by her father.
Dianne Lee another member of our team worked with people with eating disorders and provides insights into the complexity of eating disorders and shares her wisdom about how they are managed.
You may have listened to my podcast with Dianne Wintle, a dietician with a Master of Health Science whose research centred around procrastination, stress and obesity in nurses. This research lead to a book that includes nutrition tips and some great recipes. Dianne also wrote this article which discusses willpower, food and joy. She shares advice on overcoming unhealthy eating habits and provides tips for good nutrition and reminds us that cooking can provide joy.
I hope this edition of our newsletter brings you joy. Let me know what you think and don’t forget to enter our competition, I can’t wait to try all of the recipes! Who knows, it may lead to the Nurse & Midwife Support cookbook!
Mark Aitken RN
Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Nurse & Midwife Support
By Dianne Lee
When does normal nutrition become an eating disorder?
Nurses and midwives know the value of healthy nutrition, but even health professionals can become obsessive about body image and what they consume. This behaviour pattern can develop into an eating disorder.
Eating disorders incorporate extreme patterns of eating and exercising that interfere with normal functioning. They can manifest as eating very small amounts, or eating erratically. The person with an eating disorder constantly ruminates and worries about food, body weight and appearance.
The three most common eating disorders are:
- anorexia nervosa,
- bulimia nervosa, and
- binge eating disorder.
Why do some people develop an eating disorder?
There are multiple reasons why eating disorders occur. Research has deduced that eating disorders are due to a range of factors:
- biological - the way your brain works,
- genetic - familial,
- psychological - how you think and feel,
- social - your relationships, or
- cultural - the customs and values of those around you. Girls and women are more at risk of developing an eating disorder than boys and men.
The following are risk factors for developing an eating disorder:
- living in a culture where being thin is highly valued,
- migrating from a developing country to a western culture,
- activities or careers where body image is a focus (fashion models, professional dancers, athletes),
- strict dieting and body dissatisfaction,
- experiencing loneliness, low self-esteem or depression,
- being a perfectionist,
- being impulsive or having difficulty managing emotions,
- experiencing stressful life changes, and
- history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Behaviours to be mindful of:
- being fearful of putting on weight and constant weighing,
- thinking about food all the time, or feeling anxious at every meal,
- gradually restricting how much food is eaten,
- overeating uncontrollably or feeling out of control around food,
- hoarding food to ‘binge’ later,
- purging after eating,
- taking laxatives to reduce weight,
- worrying excessively about how you look and constantly checking in a mirror,
- avoiding eating with others,
- disguising what, and how much you eat,
- exercising excessively,
- menstrual periods ceasing (for women), or not occurring by age 16,
- feeling sad, anxious, irritable, tired or vague, and
- avoiding group activities and isolating from friends and family.
Even if you don’t identify as thin, you may still have an eating disorder if you experience some of the symptoms listed. Eating disorders occur in both males and females of any age.
How are eating disorders managed?
If you have symptoms of an eating disorder, it would be wise to seek help from a health professional, preferably your GP. If eating disorders are left untreated, serious medical problems can arise. If the health professional thinks you have an eating disorder, he or she will refer you to an appropriate eating disorder specialist or service.
Support for eating disorders involves medical and psychological care and treatment, and a healthy eating program. In some cases, hospitalisation and medication are advised. The healthcare team will work with you to decide which combination of care and treatment is best for you.
Most people with an eating disorder recover with treatment, care and time so it’s vital to feel positive about your recovery journey. Symptoms of a pre-existing eating disorder may return, especially during periods of heightened stress. Because of this, it’s important to establish an ongoing relationship with a trusted health professional.
By Celeste Pinney
My interest in nutrition was spurred on by health problems I had in my early twenties. They included fatigue, acne, anxiety and mood swings.
I was lucky enough to come across an amazing clinical nutritionist who helped me uncover some answers and helped me to solve my health issues through a number of different lifestyle changes. Not long after this time my father was diagnosed with a rare cancer, he began a nutrition program in an attempt to support his body healing. This change in diet improved his health for many years.
Witnessing the positive changes in myself and my father that can be made through a healthy diet stimulated my passion for health and wellbeing.
Over the last decade I’ve dedicated myself to learning as much as I possible could about health. I’ve learned an incredible amount in this time and have tried and tested many different ways of eating.
It’s a real challenge in this day and age with the overwhelming amount of information out there about the ‘best diet/food’ for people. The list seems endless with the different ‘diets’ available such as high protein, low fat, high fat, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Atkins, macrobiotic, raw food diet, Mediterranean diet, ketogenic, low carb, just to name a few! No wonder people are confused and often give up.
What I’ve discovered over the years is that there is no one size fits all approach. Sometimes it does take some trial and error and experimenting with what works for you. The research I have read outlines there are some fundamental aspects of diet that if incorporated into an eating plan have been found to be fairly conclusive in terms of health improvement.
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at least 5 servings a day but preferably 8 for optimal health. Studies have shown this reduces the risk of cancer, stroke, heart attack, depression and anxiety, psychological stress and early death.
- Eat adequate protein. This can be from many different sources, vegetarian or animal sources. As you age you lose muscle and muscle depends on protein to be maintained. This is particularly important for people over the age of 50. Protein is required for just about every function in the body and is vital for physical and mental health. Try adding a protein source to every meal.
- Avoid highly processed foods. The evidence is strong for this, as these foods lack fibre and nutrients and are usually high in sugar, trans-fats and chemicals. Avoid products like soft drink, chips, biscuits, cake, sugary cereals, and processed meat. These foods have been linked with many health problems such as cancer, weight gain and poor mental health.
- Eat high fibre foods. Fibre is unequivocally linked to better health and has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer and improves the quality of the gut microbiome which is a major driver of the immune system. Foods that are high in fibre include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds.
- Eat good quality fats from sources like nuts and seeds, avocadoes, olive oil and omega 3 fatty acids from fish and seafood. Our brain relies on quality fats to function normally. Avoid trans fats like canola oil that are found in processed foods, junk food, fried foods and often found in take away and restaurant meals. These fats have also been linked to health problems.
- Limit sugar or avoid altogether. Sugar is high in calories, has no nutritional benefit and is associated with a wide variety of problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dental problems. Sugar is hidden in many canned and packaged foods so always read the label. Alcohol also has high sugar content. If you do crave sweets fruit is the healthier option.
The gold standard is that eating whole, fresh, unprocessed home cooked food contributes to wellbeing and vitality. If you do eat out choose meals that contain vegetables, are not deep fried and have minimal sugar content. Changes in diet can be hard, but even starting with one or two small changes at a time can make a big difference. If you have a particular health issue consider seeking support from a nutritionist or specialist health care professional.
Nutrition is one aspect of good health. Others include regular exercise, quality sleep, stress reduction and healthy social connections. I hope you have found this helpful, remember you can call us about any aspect of your health including if you want support in changing your nutrition!
Your Health Matters.
Online & Telephone Clinician
Nurse & Midwife Support
Win great prizes including cookware and food vouchers by submitting your delicious recipes!
Nutrition can play a major part in our overall wellbeing, but with long hours, missed breaks and shift work we understand how nurses, midwives and students find it difficult to take the time to prepare and eat healthy, nutritious food.
Being motivated to prepare healthy food can be a major factor for some nurses, midwives and students in their quest to eat healthy. So we are launching our first competition to find the best recipes that nurses and midwives have created across Australia that will have you cooking in a flash!
We are looking for easy to prepare, healthy meals or snacks that get you through even the toughest of shifts.
The recipes will be judged on 3 criteria:
- how healthy it is,
- ease of preparation, and
Entries are now closed.
We look forward to trying all of the recipes!
We will have a panel of 3 judges who will be deciding the winners they are:
Mark Aitken is the Consultant and Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Nurse & Midwife Support (NM Support) and has been a proud registered nurse for 30 years.
As our Consultant and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Mark meets with nurses, midwives and nursing and midwifery students across the country to spread the message about the service and listen to what you think should happen next.
Dianne Wintle is an accredited practising dietitian with a Master of Health Science (Hons) awarded for her research centred around procrastination, stress and obesity in nurses. Dianne has worked as a dietitian in private practice, in community health, in clinical dietetics and in Aboriginal health. She also lectured in Nutrition and Dietetics at Charles Sturt University from 2008 to 2016. Coming to dietetics later in life, after a varied career, allowed for a different perspective. While still studying it was obvious to her templates are of little use to the individual trying to lose weight. Fat people are not stupid!
The issues were clear to Dianne that education would do little to help the situation. Lack of knowledge was not the main issue. Her studies fell short, but her research made matters clearer. Having seen many people in private practice who were procrastinating over weight loss, Dianne had the anecdotal evidence, she searched widely across disciplines for commentary and research, and had wide response to her own research. She adds to this the 'lived experience' of being overweight much of her adult life. This led to procrastinating, stressing, eating.
Amy Benn is a registered nurse and Director of Wholeheart Magazine.
Amy became very health conscious, at age 14, after a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. Inspired by the care she received as a teenage patient, Amy knew she wanted to help others and naturally gravitated towards nursing. Managing health and well-being became challenging for Amy as she pursued her chosen specialty of intensive care nursing in one of Melbourne’s major metropolitan hospitals, and becoming a teacher of the nursing profession. Alongside post-graduate nursing study Amy studied meditation, fitness and nutrition. All in the pursuit of absorbing more knowledge and understanding to enable positive lifestyle habits to improve her own health.
Amy’s vision is to equip nurses, midwives and students with the knowledge and understanding to cope with the demands of working in health care, and to enhance their own lives through great health and well-being.
Amy is medication-free and in remission from Crohn’s Disease and enjoying the best health of her life
Amy believes our biggest opportunities lie in our challenges. And, the greatest investment we can ever make, is one in ourselves, and our wellness.
Cookware valued up to $100 and a $100 gift voucher from the list of providers below.
Cookware valued up to $50 and $50 gift voucher from the list of providers below.
A $50 gift voucher from the list of providers below.
Entrants whose recipes are published and are not awarded first, second or third place will receive a $20 voucher, they may choose from the list of providers below.
- Woolworths Essentials
- Coles Express
- JB HiFi
Travelling the country for Nurse & Midwife Support, I meet many nurses and midwives who talk to me about food. A lot of our conversations centre on their love of food: they recommend places to go while I am in town, or offer tips for eating well while working - often I leave with better tips than I provide! I also hear a lot about how many nurses and midwives struggle with food. It can be a complex, even vulnerable, area for many people, often with multifaceted issues connected to it.
Our conversations led to an idea for a podcast about food and how we as nurses and midwives can improve our relationship with it. I was determined that it wouldn’t just be a chat reiterating the obvious ‘eat less and move more’ mantra. As health professionals, you already know that. Instead, we needed to talk about why we may struggle and how we can make change in a helpful way.
It all came together when we found the amazing Dianne Wintle. Dianne is an Accredited Practising Dietitian who generously discusses her own journey with food and weight loss, which led to a later-in-life career change to Dietetics, and why her research focused on how nurses’ feelings of stress and anxiety can manifest in their relationship with food.
The book: Procrastinating, Stressing, Eating
Dianne also explains how this led to her to write a book. Procrastinating, Stressing, Eating, which provides tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst living a normal life. The book explores complex ideas which are explained with humour, cartoons and stories of varied people Dianne has met.
The book answers common questions like “How can I lose weight with so much stress in my life? Why is it so hard to do what I know I need to do?” and offers strategies to stop procrastinating, deal with stress and eat ‘real’ food. Simple recipes, focussed on cooking with joy, are there to remind us of the simple pleasure to be found in cooking and eating.
Happy listening. If you have some tips of your own or would like to share a recipe, drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you have finished the podcast, we also recommend that you check out this blog Dianne wrote for us, ‘Willpower – Joy – Food’, which offers a great strategy to get you started.
Mark Aitken RN
Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Nurse & Midwife Support
Guest: Dianne Wintle
Dianne Wintle is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a Master of Health Science (Hons) awarded for her research centred around procrastination, stress and obesity in nurses. Dianne has worked as a dietitian in private practice, in community health, in clinical dietetics and in Aboriginal health. She also lectured in Nutrition and Dietetics at Charles Sturt University from 2008 to 2016. Coming to dietetics later in life, after a varied career, allowed for a different perspective. While still studying it was obvious to her templates are of little use to the individual trying to lose weight. Fat people are not stupid!
The issues were clear to Dianne that education would do little to help the situation. Lack of knowledge was not the main issue. Her studies fell short, but her research made matters clearer. Having seen many people in private practice who were procrastinating over weight loss, Dianne had the anecdotal evidence, she searched widely across disciplines for commentary and research, and had wide response to her own research. She adds to this the 'lived experience' of being overweight much of her adult life. This led to Procrastinating, Stressing, Eating.
by Dianne Wintle
Dietitian Dianne Wintle recently joined the Nurse and Midwife Support Podcast, where we discussed how nurses and midwives can change their relationship with food. We recommend you check out the podcast first, and then read this helpful article about the connection between willpower, joy and food.
Willpower, Joy, Food - what goes through your mind when you read these three words? Are they a logical mix, or does one of the words seem at odds? Which one? Why?
While many of us find the concepts of willpower and joy at odds in our relationship with food, I argue all three concepts can indeed go together, like peas in a pod.
We often perceive that a lack of willpower leads us to procrastinate over adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours. I would suggest that we just need to look at the relationship between willpower and food through a new framework.
A new framework
Food can be a source of joy. If, up until now, you have thought of it as a response to stress, as a tool to help you relax, or even as the enemy of your goals - I want to offer a new framework.
Many of us feel we have no willpower, especially if excess weight has been a concern for years. I suggest we DO have willpower, and we exercise it again and again in every avenue of our lives.
Operating at capacity
For many people, their mental bandwidth is simply at maximum capacity. There is no space for self-care. This is true for nurses and midwives in particular, as their caring roles and institutional frameworks often involve chronic stress.
The concept of mental bandwidth comes from behavioural economics literature and looks at why poor people, on the face of it, make apparently poor financial decisions.
A good example of this is someone taking out short term loans with exorbitantly high interest rates.
Reasons for this generally boil down to scarcity. If there was plenty of money obviously the money would be able to be borrowed at reasonable rates.
Similarly, overweight people may make apparently poor food decisions — types, quantities and frequency. To understand these choices it is necessary to understand the multiple sources of stress and multiple streams of responsibility.
Nurses and midwives in particular often have high levels of personal and professional responsibility. Many nurses and midwives feel they have a suboptimal nutritional routine, but they are not making poor choices because they are ignorant of the issues. Their mental bandwidth is simply full. Food decisions may be one more thing to worry about, one more element to fit into an overcrowded bandwidth.
One more decision is one too many. Scarcity again, potentially across a range of areas — maybe they don’t have enough time, money, autonomy, respect, self-care… so what should they do?
Making a plan
Let’s go back to willpower, joy and food. How can we capture these elements in a positive or empowering combination?
- Willpower: With no bandwidth left we travel on autopilot. So let’s set up autopilot for success. How? Plan. A solid plan means there is no need for decisions under stress. The decisions have been made.
- Joy: Incorporate joy into the plan. Write down what you actually enjoy eating and drinking. What would you like to be having if you felt in control and had ‘abundance’ instead of ‘scarcity’?
- Food: Armed with your list of desired food, find easy recipes, write a list, and shop. Start to cook again.
It has to be easy. It has to be joyful. It has to have been planned. Cook. Remember the joy.
Need more help?
Remember if you need a hand at any stage, our service provides free and confidential support 24/7. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.