A message to the “Post Banters”


Or maybe this is a message to the pre-banters, I’m not sure yet. We’ll see how this goes.

This post is NOT a Banting debate.

This post is not about convincing you not to get on the Banting Bus. I guess this is for those of you getting off the bus.

Lately it has become impossible to disclose that you are a dietitian without being asked your opinion on the Banting diet. And it seems that wherever you find yourself, there’s bound to be one person on the diet, and another strongly against it. The diet has become increasingly popular.

At the same time, in my private practice, I’ve been seeing a lot of what I call the “Post Banting effect”. Let me explain this concept:

You see most people who are kinda trying to eat healthily without following a specific diet would usually have a diet that is moderate to high in carbohydrates (starches like rice, potatoes, bread also fruit, sugar etc.) with a moderate amount of protein (meat, legumes). Β And because fat was always believed to be the bad guy, these people would aim for a diet that is low in fat. This may be achieved by having low fat dairy, having lean meat and removing skin from chicken etc.

Enter the Banting Diet πŸ™‚

The hardest part for most people starting the diet is cutting down on carbs. I know there are some who don’t struggle with this, but for most people is it HARD. BUT this is made somewhat easier because suddenly fat is the good guy.Β And you can go big on bacon and chicken skin and double cream everything.Β This is the part everyone likes.

This is great for a while, until it’s not :/

And this is what I’ve seen a lot of in my practice. So many people have tried this way of eating for a period, generally ranging from 1 month to about 6 months. When people stop the diet, all that changes is that carbs make a come-back. And there to welcome carbs is your NBF (that’s new best friend) FAT. The high fat lifestyle is hard to get out of, and most people don’t even realise how used to fat they’ve become – full cream milk, double cream yoghurt, butter, the fat on your steak.

This is the post banting effect. It is a diet that is now high in carbs, high in fat, high in everything basically. This diet is dangerous and puts you in a worse off position than you were before you even felt the need to start a diet.

For those of you who have tried Banting for a while and then been shocked at how easily you have regained the weight (and more!) once you’ve stopped, this is why.

I know I have generalised grossly, but this is what I see a lot of in my practice. I’d love to hear from people who have not had this experience, maybe you could help me help my clients πŸ™‚

Health and happiness

Robyn πŸ™‚



Meat Free March


Now that I’ve said it out loud I actually have to follow through with this.

I have decided to not eat any meat for the month of March. Unfortunately this (brilliant?) idea only came to me about 4 days into March, so I started a bit late, but I’ll make up for it in April. Provided I get that far.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while actually. I’ve been so inspired in the last few months by people who have given up animal products. Family members, friends, colleagues, clients, have all been able to make this huge step because they felt strongly about doing something to sustain the environment and making an effort to improve their own health.Β Maybe I’m just following a growing trend at the moment, but those convictions speak to me too.

Having spent the last 4 and a bit years listening to what people eat, I’ve realised that in general we eat a lot more processed meat than what we should be. If after this month I’m not able to give up meat forever I really hope to at least be rid of processed meat forever.

I’m going the lacto-ovo vegetarian route for now, which means I can still have dairy and eggs. I’m still undecided about fish. It feels a bit like cheating to me, but I’m not sure how vegetarians generally feel about this? I should probably decide soon.

I’ll let you know how it’s going. I definitely won’t be posting any fancy vegetarian recipes, to be honest I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into and I’m still figuring out how this is all going to work. You’re welcome to send those recipes this way though! I’ll probably need it.

My friend Jessica is a Registered Dietitian too, and is doing amazing work to advocate for plant-based eating. And she looks amazing Β too! She’s the person who can help you with advice and recipes etc. This is a like to her Facebook group:Β Plant-based eating and dieting South AfricaΒ and her Instagram account:Β Plant Based Dietitian

I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’m confident that the health and environmental benefits will be worth the sacrifice.

Health and happiness πŸ™‚




Best way to eat healthy – DIY

This is probably my first post in 2 years? Terrible, I know. But you can thank my stick blender for my comeback πŸ™‚ Yes, my stick blender πŸ™‚

I bought a stick blender yesterday (for R120) and while I am definitely delayed in acquiring this awesome utensil, I may be slightly obsessed with it. I absolutely love smoothies, which probably stems from my love for fruit. Summer..smoothies..same thing really. I’m also excited to use this little guy to make soup in winter πŸ™‚ Best buy if you ask me.

Why is my stick blender relevant to you? It probably isn’t. But it got me thinking…

Convenience is everything these days, isn’t it? Time is limited. We’re willing to put convenience above our health :O I don’t think I’m exaggerating. After a busy of work, and then gym and then some other meeting, when you run into the store to grab something for dinner you would probably be more concerned about how long it needs to be in the microwave or oven for than how many grams of sodium it contains. What about the days you don’t even run into the store? Why get out of the car when you could just drive-thru…

Most of the time we don’t read the ingredient list, and what do all those words really mean anyway? Even when you’re getting supposedly healthy foods or healthy shakes or drinks, do you really know what it’s made of? Probably not.

You could opt for the grilled chicken burger and get more creamy mayo than your body knows how to deal with or go for the “healthy” cooked veg made with generous amounts of salt, sugar and butter. According to a recent article, you could order a peanut butter smoothie and consume more calories than a double bacon and cheese burger. The only way you can make sure all these unnecessary things aren’t added to your food is to DIY.

While I can’t add any hours to the day, I will tell you something very cliche and not at all profound: You only have one body, watch what you put into it. Prioritize your health and your nutrition and make time for it. Cook your own food so you know what you’re eating. Maybe that means waking up a little earlier to prepare something for lunch so you don’t have to buy anything, or start with dinner prep so there’s less work to do when you get home.

All of your other investments don’t mean much if you don’t invest in your health.

Start making small, healthy changes πŸ™‚ I’m enjoying making my own smoothies with only the ingredients I want in there!

Health and happiness πŸ™‚

What I do and why I love it.

It’s the most important week of the year – Dietitians Week πŸ˜‰ Just kidding, holidays that involve chocolate are more important, obviously.

I’ve only been practicing as a dietitian for 2 and a half years now but I can honestly say that I’ve never had a conversation that went like this:
Them: “What do you do?”
Me: “I’m a dietitian”
Them: “Oh okay. Anyway…”
People are always interested in what a dietitian does and what they have to say. The most typical responses I get are:
“I need to come see you, I need to lose weight”
“So what do you think of Tim Noakes?”
“Please don’t watch what I eat”
(I’m sure my fellow RD’s can relate)

Currently, I work in paediatrics. When I mention this people usually ask:
“So you help kids lose weight?” No…

Dietitian does not = weight loss

While there are many dietitians who are passionate about helping people lose weight and get healthy (and doing an excellent job of it), unfortunately I am not one of them. Believe it or not, most of my time is spent helping people (kids) gain weight.

A typical day is spent in hospital calculating requirements and prescribing feeds for premature babies who are sometimes 800g or even smaller, or children who are malnourished or who have any other nutrition-related condition. I love it when these little humans are big and well enough to go home, to me it’s the most rewarding job in the world.

That’s probably the broadest and most general description I could give but the point is, there’s more to being a dietitian than what you thought (I’m generalizing here, excuse me :)) To be honest, when I decided to become a dietitian it was so that I could sit behind a desk and tell people what to eat, I thoughts that’s what dietitians do. As a student I fell in love with the clinical and community side of dietetics.

A well-known professor recently said that Dietetics is a dying profession. I may be a bit biased but I’d have to disagree. I think we’re just getting started. People are starting to realize that nutrition literally affects everyone and food is medicine.

I could carry on for days, people who know me have probably experienced this. I am truly passionate about what I do, and can’t imagine spending my days doing anything else!

To all the dietitians – happy Dietitians Week πŸ™‚

Health and happiness πŸ™‚

Do you even know what Carbs are?

It seems that recently people have found a great pleasure in telling me that they don’t eat carbs anymore. Some people (whose names I need not mention, they know exactly who they are) mostly do it to get a reaction out of me, I think…I hope. It really does wind me up.


Because I hear it so often.

“Carbohydrates are manufactured by plants and are a major source of energy in the diet” from my textbook Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy (I know, I get 0 for that pathetic attempt at referencing) Anyway…there are different types of carbohydrates; monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. What this means is that some carbs are simple and more refined while others are complex and well, less refined.

What most people forget is that sugar is a source of carbohydrates, along with everything that contains sugar like sweets and sweetened drinks.

Let’s clear up a major misperception – the word ‘carbs’ does NOT mean bread. Just because you eat less bread does not mean you don’t eat carbs. A lot of the food you ate today had carbohydrates in it. Fruit contains carbs, vegetables, juice, Coke, milk, beer, sauces…I could go on.

And for those who don’t eat carbs but only eat starch…it’s the same thing. Starch isa carbohydrate.

Oh Tim Noakes….I have nothing against him. He is highly qualified, a great sports scientist and a few other things and I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about. My problem is that people have bought into the latest craze and have chosen convenient parts of his diet to follow. Please don’t sit on your couch all day eating sausage and butter telling me “Tim Noakes said I must eat fat and butter and full cream milk”.

Because of people like Tim Noakes, dietitians have been under attack and criticized for not willing to change our views and sticking to what we’ve been taught. For the most part, this is untrue. We are scientists. There’s always new research and we have to keep up with it.

Personally, I don’t believe it’s necessary to cut out any food group to be healthy, but I am open to the latest findings. I don’t believe in diets but I can’t stop you from dieting. All I would like to do is help you get the basics right. Know what you’re talking about and most importantly know what you’re eating.

Dietitians love this cheesy line “If it’s about nutrition, ask a dietitian” but I agree 100%. This is our science.

PS: I know many great dietitians in private practice obtaining amazing results with their clients and would be happy to pass their names to you if you’re interested πŸ˜‰

Health and happiness πŸ™‚


Keeping Cool This Summer :)

Summer is (slowly) approaching and if you’re anything like me, it involves a lot more soda, juice, cocktails and ice cream than it should!

Below are a few facts and tips to help keep you cool without adding too many calories πŸ™‚ You’re welcome πŸ˜‰

Ice Cream

It isn’t really summer without ice cream hey? No. But I don’t think I need to tell you that we probably need to go a bit slower on ice cream.
Good news – there are healthier alternative which are equally as yummy!
1. Frozen yoghurt
Personally, I’m a huge fan.
I do however feel that sometimes it’s marketed as like this miracle zero fat zero calorie really tasty stuff, which is only partly true. A small part. The tasty part.
Based on Wakaberry’s nutritional info:
100g FroYo
419 kJ
3.99g fat
12.2g carbohydrates

Compared to a soft serve from Steers:
100g ice cream
5.3g fat
23g carbohydrates

So you see how frozen yoghurt is a little better πŸ™‚
PS: Beware of the toppings! They don’t even pretend to be fat free!

Another favourite – Fruttare. Love these things! If you don’t know what they are all I can say is that you’re missing out!
They are less than 270kJ a pop, made with fruit and simply yum πŸ™‚


Opt for fruit ice lollies instead of the ice cream chocolatey ones like Magnum/King Cone etc.


I have mentioned this in a previous post (go read it!) but don’t be fooled by fruit juice. It usually contains more sugar than your fizzy drinks so it isn’t necessarily the better option.
It’s always a good habit to dilute your fruit juice with water. Everyone who knows me knows that I always do this.

You can also try making some drinks at home like flavoring water with fruit slices or homemade ice tea. Those are good alternatives to sodas and juices.

Use Sprite Zero in place of lemonade when making punch. This helps to cut down the sugar!

Drink lots of water
I’m sure you already know this, but maybe you just needed a reminder πŸ™‚

Like I always say, there’s more to life than counting calories, but let’s not be too silly this season πŸ˜‰

Health and happiness always πŸ™‚

World Breastfeeding Week – What the celebs have to say

It’s one of the biggest weeks in a dietitian’s calender, especially a community dietitian like myself, World Breastfeeding Week! πŸ™‚

My excitement will come as no surprise to most of you, you know how passionate I am about this.

My mind is buzzing with ideas! I want to tell you all the scientific facts, the benefits for the mother, the baby, the environment, the… Yeah, I need to calm down. So to keep it nice and chilled (for now) I recruited (not really) some well known women to share on their breastfeeding experiences πŸ™‚

Jenna Elfman:
I’m on a mission with every pregnant woman I see! I’ll ask, “So are you planning to breastfeed? Have you prepared?” If anyone had told me what to expect, or had given me some pointers, I would have been able to have a very different experience.

Jada Pinkett Smith when asked for how long she breastfed Jaden:
A good 18 months. That baby never even saw a bottle. He went everywhere with me – premieres, award shows.

Catherine Zeta Jones:
There’s something so intimate about it. It’s wonderful bonding.

Jennifer Garner:
All I ever heard was everyone bitch about it, nobody ever said, “You are not going to believe how emotional this is.”

Breastfeeding has been one of the best experiences of my life. I love it! I can’t stop! I think I’m going to breastfeed him until he goes to college! I’m hooked!

David Beckham:
Breastfeeding, I think, is really an incredible thing.

I know it may seem a bit shallow, and definitely unscientific, just a couple of quotes from celebs. But I love it. I love hearing success stories, good experiences and just anyone who is as passionate as I am (if that’s possible).

Let me end off with something less shallow. Of all the breastfeeding quotes I’ve read, this is my favourite. It may not be from someone famous, but this is the quote that fueled my passion.
“Breastfeeding is a natural “safety net” against the worst effects of poverty. If the child survives the first month of life (the most dangerous period of childhood) then for the next four months or so, exclusive breastfeeding goes a long way toward canceling out the health difference between being born into poverty and being born into affluence…it’s almost as if breastfeeding takes the infant out of poverty for those first few months in order to give the child a fairer start in life and compensate for the injustice of the world into which it was born.” – James P Grant, former Executive Director, UNICEF.

Have you ever read something and wished you wrote it?

For the first 6 months of life we can level the playing field. Whether you’re Catherine Zeta Jones or a nobody like me. It’s a crazy concept!

Lastly, breastfeeding is a choice πŸ™‚ many moms are unable to breastfeed or choose not to. I’m only here, as always, to help people make informed choices!

Happy Breastfeeding Week πŸ™‚

HOW you cook is as important as WHAT you’re cooking

Yes, it’s true. They’re equally important.

I’ll keep this short and to the point. Just another food truth to help you πŸ™‚

Let’s take a very versatile food as an example…how about potatoes?
Everyone loves potatoes, the options are endless! (Slight exaggeration)


But not all potatoes are equal…

You can compare 100g of potatoes cooked in various ways and see that the calorie/kilojoule content differs A LOT!

Mashed potato, made with low fat milk and margarine


      Roasted in oil


      Boiled with skin


          Baked in jacket


          Chips heated in the oven


          Chips, deep fried


        And we all know the list continues.

        Point is, depending on what you do with your potatoes, you could quadruple the kilojoule content. And this applies to everything you cook. So cooking methods are very important!

        These truths would mean nothing without some advice, so here I go…

        The methods which involve the least oil are usually the best. Like baking, boiling, steaming, etc. Cooking with water may mean that sometimes you’ll lose some of the nutrients, for example boiling vegetables, but on the plus side, you’re not adding any calories either.

        Limit frying, and try to avoid deep-fat frying altogether. Foods that already contain fat, like meat, should rather be grilled instead of fried. And allow the fat and oil to drip off! You and your heart are way better off without it!

        Stir-frying is a good option πŸ™‚ especially with a non-stick pan! (less or no oil). Microwaving can also serve as a low-fat or no-fat cooking method, but it’s not that popular. If you have a pressure cooker, use it! Cooks food quickly so less nutrients are lost AND most of the flavour stays in the food, so you won’t need to add any oil for richness etc.

        As always, I hope that helps. Maybe it just serves as a reminder to be mindful of your cooking methods, and maybe try something new, something healthier πŸ™‚ as you can see, it makes a huge difference!

        Questions are always welcome πŸ˜‰

        Health and happiness πŸ™‚

Do it right the first time and you won’t have to do it again

Because of the journey I’m on personally and because of what I see at work on a daily basis, I thought it was necessary to once gain express my….what can I call it….annoyance (?) towards weight-loss quick-fixes.

I (try to) go to the gym most days, some days I go to the gym in the morning and jog in the evening or vice versa. I eat healthily most of the time. And I am getting healthier, fitter and slimmer. It feels like it’s going a bit slower than I would like it to, but the point is, it’s going. I’m sure a few of you can relate?

Then…a friend/family member, or in my case, a colleague comes and tells you about how they’ve lost 12kg in the last 2 months. Urgh. And that conversation is enough to make you feel like WHY are you putting in so much effort for a much smaller reward. Well that’s how I felt at least. Until I realized, wait… I don’t want to inject myself every day to help me lose weight (which is what my colleague is doing). Yeah she lost a lot of weight, but her husband has to inject her every day, and she’s on a very strict diet. A quick-fix.

Another colleague of mine has had her jaw wired shut in a desperate attempt to lose weight. True story. This is the second time she’s doing it as she has regained all the weight since the last time her jaw was wired shut. It’s 36+ degrees here most days, and she has to have soup for lunch. Another quick-fix.

Seeing what people go through to lose weight has made me realise that I’d much rather do it the right way, which is and always will be what I encourage my patients to do as well. Do yourself a favour, start working towards a healthy lifestyle. Form good, healthy habits.

What both my colleagues are lacking is physical activity! Get active, make it part of your daily routine.

If you’ve inherited poor eating habits from your family, change them! And then get your kids to inherit healthy eating habits from you.

Don’t put a time frame on being healthy, get healthy and then stay healthy.

I read a tweet the other day that said something along the lines of “You didn’t need a pill to put all the weight on, so you don’t need a pill to get all the weight off”. It’s soooo true.

If you’re making a lifestyle change, be encouraged, be proud of what you’re doing πŸ™‚
You’ll feel so much better knowing you didn’t take any pills or injections or wires in your jaw to achieve your goal weight! And yes, it may take a little longer, but it will last so much longer. If you change your lifestyle, there’s no stopping and starting again. If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to do it again πŸ™‚

I’m feeling encouraged again, hope you are too:)

As always, wishing you health and happiness πŸ™‚


World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day πŸ™‚

According to the WHO, it is estimated that 346 million people worldwide have Diabetes, and by 2030, without intervention, this number will more than double!

What is Diabetes?
There are different types, the most common one’s being Type 1 and Type 2.

    Type 1:

Insulin-dependent Diabetes/ Childhood onset Diabetes. Characterized by a lack of insulin production.

    Type 2:

Insulin-independent Diabetes/ Adult onset Diabetes. Caused by the inability of the body to use insulin effectively. Mostly caused by excess body weight and physical inactivity!

Type 2 Diabetes is a disease of lifestyle. Poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity over a number if years will catch up with you, and it may be in the form of Diabetes. If you’re thinking Type 2 Diabetes is only for “old people” and you don’t have to worry about it right now, I’d advise you to stop thinking that….A 22 year old girl was referred to me last week with Type 2 Diabetes! I was so freaked out I had my own sugar tested as soon as she left.

I think it’s a good idea for everyone to get their blood sugar tested but especially if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms
– excessive excretion of urine
– thirst
– unexplained weight loss
– constant hunger
– vision changes
– fatigue
Unfortunately with Type 2 Diabetes the symptoms are often less obvious than in Type 1, leading to late diagnosis and complications. So it may be worth having your sugar tested anyway πŸ™‚

To prevent Diabetes, the WHO recommends that you:

– achieve and maintain a healthy body weight;
– be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days;
– eat a healthy diet of between three and five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce sugar and saturated fats intake

I could write a book on Diabetes, there’s so much information out there, but if you do have any questions please ask πŸ™‚ that’s what I’m here for!

Let’s prove the WHO and not join the 346 million πŸ˜‰

Health and happiness πŸ™‚