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Snacking versus grazing
Eating between meals can help keep your energy levels stable, but snacking and grazing are not the same thing. And knowing the difference can make a big difference to your health.
Now, about that knock-off drink …
Having a glass of wine, or a beer, at the end of a long day is a ritual for many women; they consider it their reward for getting through the day, and their cue to relax.
But what about when it becomes two drinks, or three, or more? Or when those planned alcohol-free days vanish into the void of ‘one won’t hurt’?
In our annual Women’s Health Survey, more than 43% of women reported drinking alcohol daily or at least weekly. Older women were most likely to be daily drinkers, with 13.7% of survey respondents aged over 50 saying yes to a daily tipple, 8.5% higher than women aged 50 or younger.
Quiz | Test your knowledge!
How much alcohol you drink is your choice, but this Women’s Health Week, make it an informed choice. Test your knowledge and take our quiz.
A standard drink is any drink containing 10 grams of alcohol.
A standard drink is a unit of measurement and signifies that the drink contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. One standard drink always contains 10 grams of alcohol regardless of the glass size or whether it is a beer, wine, or spirit.
100ml of wine is one standard drink.
100ml of red wine (typically 13% alc. vol.) is one standard drink. 100ml of white wine (typically 11.5% alc. vol) is 0.9 of a standard drink.
This means there are typically 7.7 standard drinks in a bottle of red wine, and 6.8 standard drinks in a bottle of white.
The average restaurant serves a standard-sized 100ml glass of wine.
The average restaurant’s serving size of wine is 150ml, equalling 1.5 standard drinks. So keep that in mind when dining out.
A 375mL can/bottle of full-strength (4.8% alc. vol.) beer equals one standard drink.
A can/bottle of full-strength beer is equal to 1.4 standard drinks. However, a can/bottle of mid-strength beer (3.5% alc. vol.) does equal one standard drink.
Two standard drinks per day is considered ‘low risk’.
The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guideline for reducing health risks associated with drinking alcohol defines 'low risk' alcohol consumption for healthy women as no more than two standard drinks on any day (with regular alcohol-free days every week) to ensure minimal risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, not drinking at all is the safest option.
Drinking alcohol is an effective way to 'wind down'.
Alcohol may relax you initially, but disturbed sleep is one of the main side effects of high-risk alcohol consumption, with high-risk defined as more than two standard drinks a day. Other side effects include headaches, depression, mood changes, relationship difficulties – clearly none of which are particularly relaxing. What can help you to wind down is to go for an evening walk, run a bath, watch a feel-good movie with the family … you get the idea.
Research has shown a clear connection between a woman’s regular consumption of alcohol and her increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Research now shows a clear connection between a woman’s regular consumption of alcohol and her increased risk of developing breast cancer – and it also shows that risk increases as higher quantities of alcohol are consumed.
Our national Women’s Health Survey revealed that younger women (18-35 years) are the most likely of all age groups to drink weekly.
Most women in this age group – 53% – said they drank less than weekly, and a further 12% said they never drank at all.
Women aged 51-65 were the group most likely to drink at least weekly, with 35.7% of respondents saying they drank at least weekly, and another 12.7% saying they drank daily.
You got out of 8 correct
We hope you learned something new in this quiz. However, it’s important to remember that how a standard drink affects one person can be very different to how it affects another, depending on factors such as body type and size, whether you have eaten or are drinking on an empty stomach, if you are an occasional or regular drinker, or perhaps what medication you are taking.
Remember, how much alcohol you drink is your choice – but make it an informed choice.
Slow and steady
When it comes to choosing foods for sustained energy throughout the day, slow and steady wins the race.
Certain foods break down fast, releasing large amounts of sugar very quickly into the bloodstream, and the energy rollercoaster ride begins. Your energy picks up very quickly, but this is often followed by a big ‘sugar-low’ crash – so you reach for another pick-me-up and the pattern repeats. Big highs, big lows.
For a smoother and steadier ride, it’s best to choose foods that release sugar gradually into the bloodstream. Here’s some tips on how:
- The fibre in cereals and grains can slow down the release of sugars, so choose wholegrain/ wholemeal alternatives such as brown rice or oats
- Protein and fats can also slow down sugar release, so include protein (such as fish, eggs, beans, meat, chicken or dairy) and healthy fats (such as avocado, olive oil, nuts or seeds) with meals and snacks
- Generally, the more processed and refined a food is, the higher the spike in sugar levels will be. So go for wholefoods, rather than foods that come in a package.
Recipe for busy women
More than one in four women who completed our annual Women’s Health Survey told us that they didn’t have time to prepare or eat healthy food because of their jobs, while more than 38% of women aged 18-50 named family commitments as the time barrier to healthy eating.
So this recipe is designed with the busy woman in mind. While the cooking time is one hour, the amount of preparation is minimal and will provide four serves – if you’re eating solo, that means one for tonight’s dinner and then lunch for the next three days.
The protein in this easy and delicious dish will help to maintain energy levels, grow and repair body tissues and provide amino acids for the production of brain chemicals that influence mood.
Balancing the big 5
Life can be a tricky balance with so many moving parts. But reflecting on these five areas of energy balance – the big 5 – brings it back to basics and can give you an idea of what’s helping you to gain energy, and what’s draining it.
Learn what the big 5 areas are, ask yourself some questions and spend some time thinking about ways to bring your bounce back!
The first of the big 5 is food and nutrition ...
Do you eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day? Are mealtimes enjoyable? How do you feel generally after you eat? Is your diet nutritious? Is it tasty? Do you allow yourself the occasional treat without giving yourself a hard time? Or do you find yourself using 'sometimes' foods as everyday rewards?
The next thing to ponder is how you rest and relax ...
How many hours of sleep do you get on average a night? Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? What could you do to improve your sleep? Do you take time out for yourself when you need it? Do you regularly pause or slow things down? Does your free time leave you feeling rested and relaxed?
What about physical activity and exercise? This is another important area of energy gain or drain!
How much do you move in a week? How much of your day is spent sitting? Do you have physical activities that you enjoy regularly, or does it often feel like a ‘slog’? Do you exercise with friends or in a group? What gets in the way of you moving more? Do you prefer to have music or silence while you move?
Hormones can have a big effect on your energy levels ...
Do you often feel like your hormones are ‘going haywire’? Do you get intense mental or emotional symptoms just before your period? If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), are you feeling like you've got a handle on the condition? Or if you're going through menopause, is it having negative impacts on your mental health? Do you need some extra help from your GP or a trusted health professional?
The final area in the big 5 are your friends, family and social networks ...
Do you have people in your life that you feel you can talk to? How often do you meet up with friends or family? When was the last time you had a nice big belly laugh with people? Does social media help or hinder your social life and confidence? How often do you connect with your support network? Do you have friends and family who you can rely on to look out for – or after – you? Or are you more often the carer of others?
These questions are designed to get you thinking about different parts of your life; about what gives you energy, or what drains you. The best thing about the big 5 is that they are not set in stone – positive steps can be taken to improve each of them.
So, which areas stood out the most for you? Remember, change is possible, and help is available. See your trusted GP to discuss any issues, or if you need extra support in making positive changes and improving your energy levels.
Rest, digest and relax...
Mindfulness – the time is now
Mindfulness is a powerful life skill and a hot health topic. We covered the ins and outs of mindfulness in our 2017 Women's Health Week campaign, but you can always revisit the information and refresh your skills.
The seven steps to mindful eating
We've all done it: eaten our lunch in a rush and then wondered two minutes later where it all went and how it actually tasted. When it comes to mealtimes, what many of us could benefit from is the practice known as 'mindful eating'.
Sleep: time to learn your A to Zzz
Last year, for Women's Health Week 2017, we covered the all-important topic of sleep. Are you craving pillow-time? Revisit the day's information on how to improve your chances of getting a good night's rest.
Happy, healthy wishes
Here’s our farewell gift for you, as we come to the end of Women's Health Week. Share this beautiful illustration with friends on your social media channels, or keep it just for you, as a gentle reminder to put yourself – and your health – first. #womenshealthweek #myhealthfirst
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