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We chat with Ali Redman about keeping our nutrition in check and how to avoid gaining those extra kilos during the festive season.

You are an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), sports dietitian and massage therapist. Can you tell us what drew you to the health industry? 

I grew up in an active family, with members diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, allergies and intolerances requiring lifestyle modification. I was exposed to why people may need to eat differently from a young age; this, plus my love for food and helping people drew me to the dietetics profession. After school, I took a gap year, where I worked full-time and studied a Diploma of Remedial Massage to maintain good study habits. Being a massage therapist and completing my degree in dietetics opened various doors for me, which I am very grateful for.

What can one expect when visiting your practice?

 I have clinics in Forster, Tuncurry and Nabiac for the convenience of my clients. I approach all sessions by gaining background about the client’s needs, their diet, physical activity and social history, then personalise education and treatment to meet their goals to sustain changes. Whether it be the way we eat, move or recover, there is no one size fits all approach.

In a world of fast food and convenience, what common problems or complaints do you continually receive? 

Usually around diets, meal plans and the cost of food. In short, there is no best diet. A meal plan can be a good guide, but I will teach you to fuel your own lifestyle and needs, and healthy eating can definitely be very cost-effective and include your favourite foods. Like most things, organisation and preparation are key, but let me assure you there are various cheap, nutritious and easy to prepare foods for an on-the-go lifestyle, with the right strategy. 

Two great starting places for anyone is to make sure you get in at least five serves of vegetables in a day, as only 7% of the Australian population do, and watch your portion sizes. They aren’t “sexy” solutions sold to you by a celebrity, but I guarantee if most people started here, they would be improving their overall health.

How do I know if I’m getting all the nutrition I need? How does nutrition influence everyday performance? 

Optimising health and influencing weight changes isn’t just about energy in and energy out, as there are various aspects that can leave people feeling like they aren’t getting where they want to be. Our health and performance are influenced by our nutrition intake, sleep, illness, activity, hormones, genetics, age and more. The first step is eating a variety of nutritious foods (predominantly from the core food groups) as these enhance our health. So, if you aren’t quite getting where you want to be, consider some of these other options and speak to a qualified health professional for personalised advice.

Do most people experience weight loss after visiting a dietitian? 

It depends if that is the client’s goal. I have guided clients to reach their weight goals; however, many are surprised by the additional benefits, such as improved sleep, mental clarity and gut function, to name a few. 

When someone is trying to lose weight, it is important to make sustainable changes, rather than jump from diet to diet. Small changes in weight can be clinically significant, as a loss of just 5% can have large health benefits and reduce a person’s risk of developing chronic diseases. Start small and work from there – consistency is key.

What’s your opinion on multi-vitamins? Do you think they’re beneficial? 

If you eat a variety of core foods, chances are you will not require a multi-vitamin. I would say unless clinically advised (usually diagnosed by a blood test) save your money and spend it on real food that comes with additional benefits. Before taking any kind of supplements, it is best to seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Crohn’s Disease is a subject you have been involved in raising awareness about. Can you tell us a little about the disease and how you plan to advocate for it? 

Crohn’s Disease is an incurable lifelong gastrointestinal disorder under the umbrella term of Irritable Bowel Disease and relates to chronic inflammation that affects the lining of the digestive tract. Australia has one of the highest rates in the world, with numbers still on the rise. I am passionate about being involved in fundraising for both Crohn’s and Colitis Australia and Bowel Cancer Australia, as diet can play a role in its management. 

People usually feel uncomfortable talking about these conditions due to many symptoms relating to bowel motions. I want to help “flush the stigma” behind these very serious conditions by normalising conversations about them.

 What’s your day on a plate? 

My mornings always consist of Weetbix with Allbran or eggs on toast, plus a piece of fruit if I have been exercising. Lunch and dinners are interchangeable, with a variety of meals that have quality carbohydrates, lean protein and veggies such as stirfries, pasta, meat and veg or salads. The ingredients differ depending on my fridge contents plus what is on special at the supermarket. 

When it comes to snacks, I love Ryvitas with hommus, spinach, cheese and tomato, Barley+ muesli bars, fruit, hummus with veggie sticks and yoghurt. I always have a water bottle with me, but also enjoy a coffee most days, along with herbal and black teas. If you want more of an insight, I have a free recipe book full of nutritious, tasty and budget-friendly meals I developed over the years, so reach out if you would like a copy. 

With Christmas fast approaching, can you give us any advice when it comes to our calorie intake? 

Still aim to get your veggie serves in every day by making your plate consist of 50% veggies at lunch and dinner meals, as these are high in nutrients and low in energy. When going to parties, it is great to include snacks like veggie sticks and hummus, fruit skewers (even with a touch of melted chocolate), air-popped popcorn, and bruschetta to pair with some of your more energy-dense snacks. 

You can also think about including some additional exercise and focus on portion sizes outside of celebrations. One meal won’t completely change your health; it’s the things we do consistently that will make a difference.

Where can we find out more information? 

On my social media pages, which can be found by searching @equilibriumapd, my website: www.equilibriumapd.com or via email: ali.equilibrium@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks, Ali.

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