Nutrition for Busy People

Presentation by ViviannaWou, Food Advisory Group on 29 June 2014, ‘Be the Change’ Voice Talk.

Organized by Grace Ng and Vocalogy


Imagine your health as a tree with various symptoms tied to different branches, for example you may suffer from lack of energy, bloating, gastric and gastric reflux. You might use Panadol or other conventional medicine to treat the symptoms but the problems will actually return. Nutrition will treat the cause, nourish the branches and let the tree grow back and blossom.


How do we prevent illness, make changes and achieve optimum health in a short time? Today I’m going to talk to you about nutrition for busy people. There are various topics that I can touch on to inform you about how nutrition is beneficial to one’s overall health. I’m going to mention just a few pointers so that our patients and students know what nutrition is all about.


Nutrition and nutrients are interconnected. Certain nutrients help to speed up the process of achieving health. For a balanced nutrients, you need to have a diet that is rich in anti-oxidants. We talk about nutrient-rich foods like the main food groups: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These are the main food groups that have A to Z nutrients, containing vitamins and minerals. So all these are a balance of nutrients to nourish ourselves.


I also stress detoxification to strengthen the immune system. Detox at least once a year. Do a minor mini-detox once a month. You can either do a detox by using supplementation or by using diet or by using a combination of both. For a mini-detox you can use a combination of juicing and vegetables and certain foods that actually lead you into a starvation mode. In starvation mode, you don’t eat for a while, after which you can input certain nutrients that your body needs.

All these are quite necessary. In Singapore, the food that we eat is quite overcooked. The variety and the selection is not very healthy. To make things worse, the body has to cope with environmental pollutants as stressors as well.


For patients with gastric reflux, I would ask them to cultivate proper eating habits to ensure that reflux is settled first. Most patients come away feeling bloated if you get them to go for a detox as they don’t have good flora or enzymes in their body. Detox only works for gastric reflux if patients follow a good diet plan preceding the detox so that their digestive system is working smoothly first. Only then, nutrient absorption will be better and detox will be beneficial.


The second speaker was talking about exercise and trigger points. Exercise is about using inflammation to heal the body. In exercise you actually raise the inflammation and oxidative stress of the body. These are the markers that represent the technical abuse from eating bad foods, breathing in polluted air, or when the body is under stress. You try to fix the problem of aching when the underlying inflammation has been present and active way before the aching surfaced. By using food and detoxification and by eating the right food, you can actually eliminate these toxins through your lymphatic and digestive systems.


My next point is balancing calories. Enjoy food but stay within means. Some people tend to overeat; some people don’t eat. People who don’t eat may think eating less is good. People who overeat may think that eating more provides you with more energy. What’s right and what’s wrong? Meal planning and time management are actually key to healthy eating. Calorie balance depends on the individual. Every individual’s needs are different. Everyone’s energy expenditure and intake is different. Size, height, job, external factors all play a part. People who are sedentary do not require as much energy as people who are more active.


We now come to food selection. What food do you choose to eat when you eat at a cafe or eat at a restaurant? Do you take packed lunches to work or school or is fast food better? In nutrition we talk about staying away from unhealthy food. We prefer wholesome foods to processed foods because wholesome foods retain most of their nutrients. Processing causes food to lose nutrients along the way. The less processed the food is, the higher the nutritional value.

Try to avoid food high in refined sugars such as soft drinks, sodas, fried snacks and candy. Food high in refined sugar gives you a temporary energy perk. However, blood sugar levels tend to dip after digestion, causing you to feel sleepy or fatigued.


Increase the anti-oxidants in your diet. Don’t cut meat out from your diet. Meat has its own nutrients that are beneficial to the body. Try to decrease foods that are high in salt, sugar and fats.


Has anyone watched the TV show ‘Food Detectives’ that was on TV today? They were talking about soy sauce. Soy sauce is one of the condiments that we tend to use excessively in sushi and sashimi. Sashimi is healthy and soy sauce is necessary to enjoy your sashimi. You just have to cut down the quantity of soy sauce. Choose a soy sauce that is low in sodium because soy sauce is nearly 18% salt. According to the show, the level of the salt does not determine the authenticity of the soy sauce. Chemically processed soy sauce may be more salty than naturally-brewed soy sauce as free glutamates such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) are added to increase the the saltiness of the sauce. Naturally-brewed soy sauce is thus a better choice.


Now we come to the condiments such as ketchup, chili sauce, seasoning, salad dressing. A lot of people think, ‘oh I’m eating salad, that’s very healthy.’ Then they pour mayonnaise and tartar sauce on it. Reduce the quantity of condiments that you add to your food and be selective as to your choice of condiments.


While we need to develop food habits to enable us to have energy that can power us for the whole day, we equally need to manage our energy expenditure. Your energy expenditure is determined by your energy requirements. Earlier on, I was talking about the energy expenditure of people who are very active, for example actors and singers. They require a certain amount of calories to sustain them throughout the whole day. They’re on the run, they’re in and out of rehearsals; they might miss breakfast and forego dinner. This makes it all the more important to select food carefully.


If you’re hungry after having missed lunch, you can replace the energy by eating nuts and slices of cut fruits. Bananas are also great. Even drinking water helps. A lot of us have insufficient water intake. Water and hunger are triggered by the same hormones. People think they’re hungry when in fact, they’re thirsty. Keep hydrated, ensure that you have something in your stomach unless you’re doing a detoxification, in which case you’ll want to go on starvation mode.


Lastly, I’m going to talk about supplements. We have high need of nutrients because if we’re on the run, if we’re under stressful situations, digestion and absorption is not going to be ideal. I’ve seen many patients with gastric reflux and gastritis. If you don’t have time to eat, you may need to supplement your diet in order to have enough nutrients from food.


People who are very tense could be lacking in magnesium. Taking magnesium can help relax your muscles. Magnesium helps if you have problems sleeping or if you have a low attention span. Magnesium is also very good for your diet. The recommended dose is 300mg to 400mg. Nuts, greens or fruits also contain magnesium however people rarely eat enough to constitute the required amount, and deficiency will affect your energy level as the day goes on. Supplementation is useful to keep the level of nutrients up.


I hope that you take away a greater understanding of nutrition and its effect on the body. Thank you very much and have a great afternoon.



Episode 7, ‘Food Detectives’ (Mediacorp) http://video.xin.msn.com/watch/video/episode-7/1tq3ifbze


Speaker Bio


Principal Consultant, Food Advisory Group

Graduated in England, she has worked and lived in the UK and Melbourne, Australia since 1999.


Vivianna is a Certified Nutritionist, a Food Development Technologist and a Nutritional Consultant to several major food and healthcare companies in the United Kingdom for 10 years. Now having returned to Singapore two years ago, she is fulfilling her goals and passion for the food and health care services.


Her working experience in Singapore involved conducting health seminars with major Food companies e.g. Nestle, Cerebos, to name a few. She recommends as a practitioner Lamberts food supplements (which are one of the leading brands in the UK) to her customers with in-shop consultation, body composition assessment and nutritional programmes to improve very specific aspects of clients’ diets that affect individual health concerns.


Prior to working in the private practice with the Tanglin Medical Centre and Mount Alvernia Hospital, Vivianna worked with the Singapore General Hospital in the Food Nutrition and Dietetics Department in charge of food audits, operations and meals planning for patients. Her experience working full-time in a clinical environment involved dealing with common ailments like stroke, high-blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, fatigue syndrome, indigestion and in the field of nutritional supplements industry to treat migraine, acne, eczema, candida/thrush, also food intolerances/allergies and weight loss. Her expertise in treating and counselling major illnesses of Lupus, Parkinson Disease, Alzheimer’s disease, IBS, Autism, Depression, Osteoporosis, Thyroid disease and Gout has gained her with many good referrals and testimonials through the years of practice.


She is a member of the following recognised associations:

Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association

Singapore Institute of Food Science & Technology

The Nutrition Society UK (1941)

British Nutrition Foundation


Visit the Food Advisory group on the internet at foodadvisory.sg. Like the Food Advisory group on Facebook www.facebook.com/FoodAdvisoryGroup to learn more about nutrition. Contact Food Advisory group at +65 67352253.