You wouldn't necessarily think it, but night time is actually quite a stressful time for the body. Whilst asleep, you essentially 'fast'. Levels of active thyroid hormone (T3) fall and stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol tend to peak, often kicking in as blood sugar drops*. So when you wake, your body is actually in a bit of a state of stress and, consequently, low metabolism (lowered thyroid function). 

Skipping breakfast (or surviving on black coffee alone) only exacerbates this state. It's really important to get some food in first thing, to curb the stress response, boost metabolism, restock glycogen stores and effectively balance blood sugar from the get-go. Carbohydrates - including sugars - tick all these boxes (carbs restrain the release of stress hormones, facilitate the conversion of thyroid hormone to its active form thereby increasing metabolic rate, and can be utilized to restock glycogen stores), and a meal combining plenty of carbohydrates (such as starch, fruit, fresh fruit juice or natural sugar syrup) balanced with a bit of protein (dairy, eggs, etc) is ideal. Don't forget to include some sodium (salt) at breakfast too, another powerful anti-stress, pro-metabolic nutrient. 

*Symptoms of low blood sugar, high nocturnal stress hormone activity and low metabolism/low thyroid include: waking during the early hours of the morning with a racing mind, rapid heartbeat and/or sweat (due to adrenaline peaking); waking once or more to urinate (the body literally 'sheds' water to conserve both salt and sugar); disturbed sleep patterns; and/or lack of appetite in the morning due to elevated levels of cortisol. 

So. Pancakes! 

Banana, ricotta and coconut pancakes

Serves 4

1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup desiccated or shredded coconut
1 tsp bicarb of soda
Pinch salt
1 egg
½ cup mashed banana (from ~1 medium banana)
100g ricotta, plus extra to serve
1 cup milk
25g butter
Maple syrup and blueberries, to serve

Sift flour into a mixing bowl and add desiccated coconut, bicarb of soda and salt. Whisk together egg, ricotta, banana and milk with a fork.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients, stirring to combine and beating out any lumps as you go.  

Heat a frying pan over medium-low heat and grease with butter. Pour ⅓ cup pancake batter into the pan to create one pancake (you may be able to cook 2 or 3 pancakes at a time depending on the size of your frying pan). Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes until golden. Repeat to use up batter.

Serve with extra ricotta, blueberries and maple syrup.

Kate is a certified Clinical Nutritionist and offers one-on-one coaching for clients in Sydney Australia, and internationally via Skype. Visit the nutrition services page to find out more about private coaching, and be sure to subscribe via email and follow the Nutrition by Nature Facebook page for blog updates, articles, nutrition tips, recipes and special offers.  

Hello! Long time no blog - oops. It's been utter madness at Nutrition by Nature HQ although I hope to be getting back into the swing of things soon... expect more regular articles and Q&A posts in the not-too-distant future! Here are links to two recent pieces penned for 
As well, I'm chuffed to be mentioned in the pages of this month's The Australian Women's Weekly magazine. (Gleefully "cutting-edge, occasionally controversial" indeed!!)

Also in the works, based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback that's been coming in after last weekend's nutrition workshop in Hobart, Tasmania (thank you so much to the amazing Mel at Booty for rallying the troops and to all 120+ of you lovely people who attended!). 

I'll be planning some more seminars over the coming months. I'm thinking Sydney... obviously... and will also potentially line up gigs in other Aussie cities as well. So for all Australian readers, if you'd like to attend a one-off workshop in your home town and are willing to drag along a bunch of your nearest and dearest (let's uproot old dietary dogma, smash a bunch of food myths and issue some no-nonense nutrition advice for stress-free healthy living, yeah?), shoot me an email so I know that you're keen. And for international followers based in exotic locations... Bora Bora, Maui, The Bahamas...  I'm willing to drag myself over your way too so register your interest accordingly. 

Just a few topics that we covered in the seminar over the weekend (not an exhaustive list): 
  • Metabolism 101 - interpreting the signs of low metabolism and taking care of your thyroid
  • The importance of minimising 'stress', in all it's various guises
  • Relax. It's just food
  • Stop drowning your body in water! 
  • Salt myths and truths 
  • The dangers of polyunsaturated fats
  • Why butter is better!
  • Food specifics - protein, carbs and fats in perspective
  • Blood sugar basics
  • Eating nutrient-dense foods (but not exclusively!)  
  • Everyone loves to hate on sugar... but our bodies LOVE sugar!
  • Knowing when to ease up on the veggies
  • Soy milk, protein powders, green smoothies and flax seeds - fuhgeddaboudit... :S
  • Biofeedback - tuning in and getting to know to your body 
  • Why you should potentially eat MORE and exercise LESS
  • Intelligent exercise - myths about cardio and endurance training for weight loss
  • Losing weight the (only) healthy way - working with your body, not against it
  • Croissants are awesome and so is ice cream
  • Why the perfect diet isn't conducive to good health 
  • Why dessert can be a GREAT idea
  • Nutrition strategies for a good night's sleep
What people are saying... 

"That session yesterday was bloody amazing. It's the best thing I've done for myself in years - I feel so much more in control of how to proceed with good health, and Kate was absolutely brilliant to listen to. Not only is she herself a picture of good health, her advice hits the right note deep down inside your gut - it's that feeling you trust that has been previously clouded by incessant incorrect and untrustworthy marketing messages about what we should and shouldn't eat for good health. Finally the clouds have parted."

"Kate you did a terrific job keeping 120 of us listening, concentrating and then thinking for two hours, well done. You were really well prepared and I enjoyed the little stories you told to push a point. It was different to any other talk I have listened to on nutrition; lots of common sense backed by obvious scientific research. There is no doubt in my mind keeping stress levels down is crucial for mental health and long term wellbeing. You are a natural presenter!"

"Just awesome!! Reaffirms some things I already know - eg protein shakes, coconut oil, gelatin, meats, polyunsatured fats but WOW about carb/dairy/salt/sugar in regards to being Pro-Thyroid - I have NEVER in my thyroid journey ever heard anyone refer to the thyroid in nutrition and it was so refreshing!!! Very happy I'll be enjoying some rice and potatoes with BUTTER a little more often now."

Kate is a certified Clinical Nutritionist and offers one-on-one coaching for clients in Sydney Australia, and internationally via Skype or email. Visit the nutrition services page to find out more about private coaching, and be sure to subscribe via email and follow the Nutrition by Nature Facebook page for blog updates, articles, nutrition tips, recipes and special offers.  

Any followers out there from the Apple Isle?? I'm excited to announce that I'll be popping down to Tassie to host a Nutrition Workshop/Education Session thanks to lovely Mel at Booty ( Mel's an award-winning group personal trainer and psychologist-in-the-making who I was in touch with recently about all things health and nutrition – now we're joining forces to get the word out to the masses! 

A little bit about the event, what I'll be talking about, etc (from Mel), below. Details regarding registration at the end – I hope to see some of you there!

Public health guidelines, food pyramids and plates, high-fat, low-carb, vegan, vegetarian, low-GI, high-protein, low-sugar, low-fat, low-cholesterol, Paleo, Atkins, fruitarian, alkaline, blood type diets, raw foods, fasting, cleanses, detoxes… it’s a minefield of weird and wacky, contradictory nutritional information and dietary advice out there. Most of it is utter nonsense.

We’re inundated with opinions, pushed and pulled in every direction and at the end of the day, more confused about what to eat than ever. When it comes to looking at nutrition from a physiological perspective, for the individual person in the context of the modern world, I personally disagree with the majority of what the mainstream deems to be “healthy”. The foods and specific nutrients that end up being most conducive to a well-primed metabolism would surprise you.

Today, instead of answering a specific question (or a few) I thought I’d respond to requests that have come in via email for snack suggestions. It seems like the majority of people have their main meals pretty well down pat, but struggle for snack ideas. 

Particularly in a low metabolic state (indicated by low waking body temperature – <36.6ºC/97.8ºF – and pulse outside of normal range), snacks can be useful for balancing blood sugar between meals, minimising the release the release of stress hormones and increasing thyroid. When metabolism is optimal, you may find that you are able to go between main meals without signs of low blood sugar (cravings, low energy, irritability, headaches, anxiety, frequent urination, etc). 

I would encourage you, however, to avoid relying on countless snacks all day and ensure you get in proper 3x squares. Regular, hearty and well-balanced meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) encourage mindful eating, better digestion and greater post-prandial satiety. Even better, if you can put a little 
time and effort into preparing delicious, nutrient-dense meals, and savour them in good company, you’re more likely to feel truly satisfied both physically and emotionally by the food on your plate. 

A few of the below ideas were favourites from my previous snacky post (fruit + cheese will never get old!), some are updated and tweaked, and some are new. Here goes… 

Meet Michelle Robson-Garth, author/owner of, naturopath-in-training and real foodie extraordinaire. Michelle and I "e-met" cross-stalking each other's blogs and realising we both shared a passion for nourishing, delicious food and natural nutrition. A mutual love of clarified butter meant we were fast friends (even if only online!). Her site offers a wealth of great information and awesome recipes - if you haven't checked it out already, do yourself a favour and head on over! 

Thanks Michelle! Over to you... 

One of the common questions that I field from clients and readers is how best to avoid water retention. I see countless people who do everything they can to avoid “puffiness” (particularly women, around menstruation) in order to feel ‘leaner’ – they typically reduce salt and increase water intake drastically (which of course is what is widely recommended). 

I thought I’d tackle the problems surrounding these strategies (reducing salt, increasing water) to try to combat water retention, to explain how in actual fact, they’re much more likely to amplify the problem, rather than solve it. Ultimately, decreasing sodium (salt) in the diet will increase water retention, not the other way around.