I'm often contacted by journalists, food writers and radio chat hosts for a comment or to give my take on a hot new issue in nutrition. Or to review a new diet book that's just been published. Here I've summarised the latest things I've said in magazines, radio, TV and online. It's my opinion on everything from the obesity crisis to cutting back on sugar to raw food and ancient grains.
Plant mylks setting the trend
In this article, I warn about using plant mylks (almond, oat, rice or soy mylk) as regular replacement for cow’s milk. Unless they’re fortified, they are low in protein and calcium and not suitable for teenagers, pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers”, I say. “By all means enjoy them as a sideline but it’s not the same nutritionally as having a glass of dairy milk.” To be sure, you can check the nutrition panel. In the Per 100mL column, you need to see 75 to 120mg of calcium per 100mL to match regular milk.
The truth about kombucha (and how to make it)
I chat about the pros and cons of kombucha, an oddly-refreshing fermented tea drink that tastes “a bit like rancid pineapple juice”. There’s not much research into this fermentation process that has a lot in common with home-brewing beer or making sourdough bread.
Why gluten-free may not be a healthy choice
Avoiding gluten may be the health fad of the moment, but there’s nothing healthy about many of the products labelled ‘gluten-free'. Here I outline how gluten gives baked foods elasticity and structure, so gluten-free substitutes are full of fibres such as carboxymethylcellulose and stabilising gums like xanthan or guar. Many have less fibre, more additives, are refined and processed, cost more, don’t taste as good and just aren’t worth the calories.
Protein 101 for vegetarians (how to make a lentil burger)
In his book ‘My Year Without Meat’, food writer Richard Cornish describes the basics of protein for nutritional needs and interviews me about the four other key nutrients we get from meat, chicken and fish - iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3s.
Raw food diet pros and cons: Does cooking food destroy its goodness?
Read more detail to decide if a Raw Diet is for you. Better outcomes come from an 80 per cent raw OR “Raw Before Four” concept both of which maximize your intake of salads, green smoothies, spiralised and fermented veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. Don’t equate a raw diet with vegan – rawists can still eat raw meat, raw fish and raw milk (where permitted). It all depends on which philosophy you wish to follow. I make the point that cooking has advantages too as it makes some nutrients more bio-available and kills otherwise harmful pathogens.
Edible weeds that are safe to eat and how you can use them
Weeds by definition are unwanted and wild. But what you may not know is that some of the main common culprits are actually edible and quite nutritious. In this post, I talk about the nutrition benefits of dandelion, nettle, sorrel, chick weed, purslane, wild fennel and blackberries. These wild greens add variety to your diet and have not been bred. But you need to know exactly what you’re looking for.
Making sense of the whole sugar debate
I chat to presenter Rod Quinn about whether it’s necessary to eliminate sugar completely or if you can still consume a little, if so how much is OK to eat, why sugar is bad for you, why it’s so hard to find it (hidden) in many mixed foods, and if there are any healthier alternatives such as rice malt syrup or panela. I also tackle the questions from dozens of listeners who called in.
ABC Radio National, Overnights with Rod Quinn 19 March 2016
The case for smarter labelling of sugar
Paula Goodyer interviewed me on the difficulty of working out how much is added sugar and how much is natural as in fructose (think fruit yoghurt) or lactose (think flavoured milk). This was part of Paula’s review of That Sugar Book which has been published by Damen Gameau.
Lifestyle blog of the Sydney Morning Herald, Paula Goodyer March 2016
Trans fats face the chop after US Food and Drug Administration announces ban
In the United States, authorities have banned the use of the dangerous trans fats that are widely used in fast foods. The US Food and Drug Administration has given food manufacturers three years to remove the ingredient which it has deemed unsafe for human consumption. So will Australia's health authorities follow the US lead?
The World Today from Radio National Interview by Nick Grimm 17 June 2015
The new Healthy Eating Pyramid
I comment on the positive changes to the Pyramid updated by Nutrition Australia. It is based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines and was last overhauled 15 years ago so things have changed. Vegetables and fruit now make up the base which forms the greatest part of our diet, grains have moved up to the next tier and are to be eaten in smaller quantities, healthy fats such as olive oil are allowed by in the smallest quantity as shown by the tip. Added sugar and salt are to be limited, choose water as your main drink, use more herbs and spices.
Body ‘n’ Soul Liftout in Sunday Telegraph. Interview by Rosie King 7 June 2015 (pdf)
Also online at News.com.au website eg Herald Sun
How to understand the Nutrition Panel
Working out what’s in your food is tricky. So when Richard Cornish asked me what I look for on the back of the pack, I gave him a run-down of kilojoules (and its relationship to Calories which is the first stumbling block), followed by sugars and sodium. These items are easy to understand once you realise that the ‘sugars’ on the Panel is NOT the same as added cane sugar which is the thing we need to cut back on. And sodium is only one part of the salt molecule. Interview by Richard Cornish.
Good Food Guide from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age 14 April 2015
Method for cooking rice reduces final Calories absorbed
I was interviewed by Cathy Johnson from ABC about a study that examines how much resistant starch is generated by first cooking then cooling rice overnight in the fridge. Like cooked cooled potatoes, the more resistant starch present, the less you absorb whcih reduces your intake. BUT if you're only having boiled rice once or twice a week, it hardly matters that you're getting around one third LESS of the starch normally present. It's all the other stuff in your diet that's going to count ....
ABC Health and Wellbeing website April 2015
4 critiques of That Sugar Movie
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this docu-drama and engaged with its likeable hero Damon Gameau who struggles to eat a high sugar diet from light and supposedly-healthy foods such as muesli bars, fruit yoghurt, cereals plus a large volume of liquids including fruit juices, sports drinks, flavoured milks, vitamin waters, iced teas and iced coffees. But I had 4 main criticisms which detract from its enjoyable take-home message.
ABC Radio National, Blueprint for Living with Michael Williams Feb 2015
Lean cuisine and protein
High-protein foods are currently in vogue but how much protein do we need and is TOO much dangerous? I explain that most people can easily meet protein requirements even vegans who consume no animal foods. Protein has been found to help weight loss in several ways (satiety, maintaining muscle mass) but we don’t need the huge amounts from popular protein powders and shakes loved by body builders. Interview by Miranda Herron.
Choice magazine, Sept 2014
Why a gluten-free diet is not healthier if you don't have coeliac disease
Despite the media hype, I argue that a gluten-free diet may not be as healthy as you think and can be significantly more expensive. Read my thoughts on refined starches and sugars and those processed gluten-free breads, cookies, muffins and everything else that you once thought was just a "basic food". Interview by Miranda Herron.
Choice Magazine April 2014
I Road-Test the Raw Diet
I embark on a Raw Food Diet for a week to see how practical it is and whether I lose any weight on it. James Valentine and I discuss the good and bad points of raw food and whether it's really necessary for health. We chat about popular raw food cafes and dishes such as zucchini ribbons salad, cashew "cheese" and banana avocado chocolate "mousse".
ABC Radio Sydney 702 with James Valentine 27 March 2014
Why 'super-treats' are such a health issue
I was interviewed for goodfood.com.au about the health issues around 'super-treats' like the trendy but deadly 'cronut', the croissant-doughnut love child. Lots of fat, lots of sugar, lots of kilojoules/calories and irrestible. Therein lies the problem. These energy dense treats can lead us on the path to obesity. The trick is to keep your treats small and remember they're treats not staples. You can read the full interview here.
The sugar hit
Paula Goodyer interviewed me on sugar - why it's a problem in the modern diet but also probing whether it's really the only villain when it comes to obesity. I argue that it's sugar combined with bad fats and refined starches (junk foods) that are the culprits.
Chew On This blog on Sydney Morning Herald Nov 2013
Living without processed food
Michael McKenzie looks at how the Australian diet has changed over the past three generations in relation to processed food, what percentage of the average Australian diet is processed food, and what are the different types of processed food – good and bad.
ABC Radio National 'First Bite' program Oct 2013
The "ancient" grains revival
On Purely Practical, I talked with Natasha Mitchell about the recent revival in grains such as quinoa, spelt, amaranth, teff, millet and farro. What's the difference between regular wheat and rice and the ancient forms? Are they worth including in your daily diet? What nutritional benefits do they offer?
ABC Radio National Life Matters Jun 2013
Stevia - the sweet stuff
I chatted with Michael McKenzie about what stevia tastes like, the other ingredients in stevia sweeteners eg starch, maltodextrin, erythritol (they're not 100per cent pure stevia), and its growing popularity. Listen to the interview on the ABC website.
ABC Radio National 'First Bite' program Dec 2012
Little ideas for smart snacks
Snacks are 'sometimes' foods and worth thinking about in terms of nutrition and portion size. Make them healthy and keep them small, I say. Check out if you're really hungry or thirsty, and check out my suggestions for better snacks.
Interview by Jana Frawley for the Daily Telegraph, Herald-Sun and national News Ltd newspapers Nov 2012
Purely Practical - my top 10 kitchen gadgets
I chatted with Natasha Mitchell about which gadgets sit at the back of our cupboards unused and which are always in our hands. Read the comments from the ABC listeners, always an intelligent informed audience.
ABC Radio National Life Matters Oct 2012
How to cure a sweet tooth in kids
Most children have a sweet tooth but how much is habit and how much inborn? See the sugar counts from my Sugar Fact Sheet reported.
Sunday Telegraph and News.com.au Sept 2012
Bite-size view of a nation
A detailed look at what Australians eat - and how much they put on their plates. My best quote: "If there's one item that sums up our children's diets, it would be the potato chip. Bread used to be our staple food; now it's the potato chip, particularly when it comes to kids.''
Interview by Tim Elliott for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age 20 March 2012
5 easy tips to cut down on salt
We consume too much salt but try my easy ways to reduce your salt intake without suffering. Plus how to boost the flavour when you can't use salt.
From Nutrition News page of Weight Watchers magazine Oct 2011
Masterchef "indulgent" recipes contributes to the nation's obesity crisis
Excessive use of butter, duck fat, salt, sugar, cream and oil by the chefs on Masterchef is encouraging over-consumption and gourmet overindulgence. I suggest that lack of vegetables or salad at dinner and too much rich heavy food means Masterchef meals are NOT everyday fare. Fine for the occasional big night out or special occasion but not something we want to cook up night upon night.
Interview by Alys Francis and Kevin Bradford for NineMSN website, 16 Jun 2011
White bread in decline
White bread with added fibre, vitamins, minerals and/or omega-3s. Are these super-enriched white breads the ones to buy? If you can’t switch the kids onto wholemeal, are they the next best thing? I put up my opinion in this interview for A Current Affair from Channel 9.
TV interview for A Current Affair, Channel 9, April 2011
A beginner's guide to cooking oils
Which is the best oil to buy? This is one of the most common questions I get so I was pleased to be interviewed by NineMSN for the Health & Wellbing section of their website.
Web article by Hannah Marton, April 2011
Yoghurt: health food or just dessert?
Low-fat or full-fat, flavoured or plain, diet or Greek? There are so many choices today at the supermarket, it's hard to know which is the healthiest yoghurt to buy. Check out what I think about yoghurt in this excellent article by award-winning health writer Paula Goodyer.
Article by Paula Goodyer for Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Brisbane Times, 15 March 2011
High-fat breakfast boost to metabolism?
New research at the University of Alabama suggests that starting the day with a high-fat meal can boost the metabolism and prime the body to burn fat more efficiently. However this is the opposite of what nutrition currently suggests and I am at pains to make this point in the article.
Article by Catherine Lambert for the Herald-Sun Melbourne, 25 April 2010
Calories star at the cinema
Movie popcorn, fizzy drinks, chocolate, lollies, choc-top ice-creams - served in super-sized containers thanks to movie price deals - are the standard snacks on offer at cinemas. Not only are they expensive, they're loaded with fat, salt or sugar and represent ‘mindless eating' in its extreme form.
Article by Sophie Elsworth for Daily Telegraph and Courier-Mail, 22 Feb 2010
Are sugar alternatives better than sugar
Stevia, agave, nectar, maple syrup, rice syrup, rapadura – trawl the shelves of supermarkets and health food stores and there are plenty of sweet alternatives to basic cane sugar. But whether these products offer real benefits compared to regular sugar depends on what you want from a sweetener – is it zero kilojoules, steadier blood sugar or a food that’s less refined and with more nutrients?
Article by Paula Goodyer for Healthwise, The Age, 13 June 2009
Salads have more fat than Maccas
Some supermarket salad dishes contain more fat, sugar and salt than a McDonald's cheeseburger or large fries. Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby said: "I am a big advocate of salad and when people don't have enough time to make it themselves they think they are doing the right thing."
Sydney Telegraph, Melbourne Herald-Sun & Adelaide News July 2009
Catherine Saxelby's 5 ways to fool your stomach
Healthy - yet simple - things you can do to help yourself feel fuller on fewer kilojoules/calories. You'll be surprised at what you read. Simple painless ways to help your weight loss efforts. Small changes have a lot of power over the long term.
Today Tonight Dec 2008 and my own handout
Recipes for leaving home from mum Catherine Saxelby
Despite the trials and tribulations, it's vital you teach your kids to cook before they move out of home - so they're not dependent on take-aways. Read how Catherine teaches son Guy to cook a simple stir-fry and check out Robin Powell's 10 basic dishes anyone can cook on a budget - from Bolognaise sauce to the versatile lentil dhal.
Feature by Robin Powell for the Sydney Morning Herald, Good Living, 1 July 2008
Read what Catherine Saxelby (and other health experts) eat
Three health experts reveal their breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between menus. Do they follow their own advice? Is everything they eat always squeaky-clean?
Story by Alex May for the Sunday Life magazine, Sun-Herald & The Age, 16 Mar 2008
Read a summary of Catherine's food diary from the article
Catherine Saxelbys says juices may not be the tonic we think they are
Exotic fruits such as goji and acai might be high in antioxidants but the claims made about them are exaggerated. And they're not necessarily better than any other high-in-antioxidant fruit such as berries or plums.
Article by Paula Goodyer for The Age & Sydney Morning Herald, 1 November 2007
Catherine Saxelby lists her Top 20 super foods
Catherine chats with Trevor Chappell on why it's important - in this age of junk food and excess consumption - to make every kilojoule/calorie count by eating super foods.
ABC Radio Overnight, 19 September 2007
Catherine Saxelby tells us why a cuppa is beneficial
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water and Catherine lists the many ways it's so good for our health.
Heartwise magazine, October 2006