Tag Archives: dietetics

Nutrient Rich vs Energy Rich

When reading food labels, calorie content is usually the first thing that we look at. Yes, calories in food are important if we’re trying to lose weight. The weight loss equation is simple (or is it?) –

energy in < energy out

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Technically speaking, ANY diet that creates an energy deficit will result in weight loss**. You can eat Maccas all day errrrday AND still lose weight if you are burning more than you consume. *I AM NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD DO THAT! LOL!*

**This is a very generalised statement which does not consider long term sustainability, health effects, metabolism and hormone levels. ALL of which WILL affect your weight… eventually**

BUT! (there’s always a BUT :P)

There are also other important things that we should look at, ie: NUTRIENT content and the overall QUALITY of the diet.

High in Nutrients

We should aim to eat foods that are high in NUTRIENTS. Whole fresh foods: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, legumes, whole grains, dairy, nuts and seeds are all rich in many different nutrients that are SUPER good for you. Nuts and seeds may be HIGH in energy (calories) but they provide the body with healthy fats and a unique mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

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I love munching on fruits and vegetables. They are rich in fiber and water content, making you feel fuller for longer. This means that you are less likely to reach for sugar loaded snacks.

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What you eat also affects your hormones. And that could affect how your body stores fat, hunger levels, mood and the development of chronic diseases. It is NOT as simple as simply looking at “calories”.

High in Energy

It is difficult to grasp WHAT exactly is “energy rich”. A simple concept would be to look at the caloric density. This takes into account the weight of the food. When comparing between foods, those that are higher in energy per 100g are considered more energy dense.

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This image PERFECTLY depicts HIGH energy nutrient POOR foods vs LOW energy nutrient RICH foods.

Let’s say the total energy you need in a day is 1600Kcal. You can eat either the left or the right AND still lose weight. But of course, the right would provide SO MUCH MORE nutrients and you can eat A LOT more in terms of amount. On the left, you’re basically consuming empty calories and would probably need another meal to feel full! Also, what you eat can affect your hormones and how you feel.


Empty Calories

We’ve all heard of the term “empty calories”. What does this actually mean?

Empty calories refer to a food offering ENERGY with LITTLE to ZERO nutrient value.

Examples: fried foods (chips, fries), sugary drinks and foods (chocs, lollies, jelly), alcohol, high fat foods (cakes, muffins, baked goods, biscuits, ice cream, processed meats) etc.

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Not only are these foods nutrient poor, they are also usually highly processed. This could lead to inflammation and are usually associated with chronic diseases (heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, obesity).

Ultimate Balance

We all need ENERGY and NUTRIENTS to survive. Energy fuels the body and nutrients provide the body with the materials needed to maintain and regulate body processes.

We are all at different stages of life (childhood, youth, adults, elderly, sick, pregnant, athlete etc), plus the fact that we are all genetically unique, we have very differentĀ  nutrient requirements.

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The Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013

There is NO one-size fits all. To ensure that we are meeting the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for nutrients, aim to eat a wide variety of foods from the 5 food groups:

-Fruits: Vit C, potassium, vit A, fibre, folate, antioxidants etc

-Vegetables: Fibre, Vit A, C, potassium, iron, magnesium etc

-Grains: Carbs, protein, vit B1, iron, folate, fibre, iodine etc

-Lean meats and alternatives, legumes, nuts and seeds: Protein, iron, zinc, phosphate, copper, vitB12, vit E, omega 3 etc

-Dairy products: Milk, yoghurt, cheese: Protein, calcium, magnesium, vitB12, vit D, niacin, ribo, fats, potassium etc

Just remember, WHOLE FOODS over PROCESSED FOODS. And of course, a little treat here and there WILL NOT HURT! As long as you’re eating well MOST of the time. šŸ™‚IMG_2705

The NEXT time you decide to try a new “diet”, think of these points:

-Am I cutting out FOOD GROUPS?

-Am I getting ALL of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals to function OPTIMALLY?

-Do I feel better?

-Will it provide enough ENERGY, PROTEIN and FATS?

-Will it be sustainable? What is the point if it isn’t?

-Will I be HAPPY?

Ā  I hope you’re a little more informed and EMPOWERED to make YOUR own decisions about WHAT to EAT!

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Love Ya’ll! <3

MAYHEM – First few weeks in Sydney!

Exactly how I would describe my first few weeks back in Sydney.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Week 1 & 2

I arrived on Sunday morning (29th January) after travelling through the night for 8 hours. Safe to say that I did not get much shut-eye. My aunt came to pick me up from the airport and we were off to an extended family CNY lunch.

Rushed back to my auntā€™s place to repack my bag to move to my friendā€™s place (Ming). THANK GOD she was staying just 10 minutes away from my 1st placement site. That takes away the transport-planning stress.

God’s timing is PERFECT! They just got the place a week before I arrived. I moved in BEFORE she did. I guess I “warmed” up her room for her.

IMG_1427So GRATEFUL to have this gem in my life. šŸ™‚ Always looking out for me and worrying about me not having a BED/TABLE/CHAIR etc. I thank God for YOU! I would have been homeless and lost for the first 2 weeks in Sydney! Thanks for your awesome room! LOVE YOU!

IMG_4594Also, Woolies was right next to us (THANK GOD!). I went to grab food to survive the week. Came back, made some food, set aside my clothes for the next day and it was time for bed. I WAS COMPLETELY SMASHED by the end of the day.

FullSizeRenderWoke up extra early the next day to test the transport system (CANNOT BE LATE ON THE FIRST DAY!). It was all good, taking only 10 mins by bus.

First week of placement went really well! Everyone is SO NICE. I have 3 very lovely supervisors. Very excited for the upcoming weeks!IMG_4669The Nutrition and Dietetics department sure knows how to throw a party!


It was a lot for me to swallow in just one week. Leaving home on the first day of Chinese new year + Packing and moving + New suburb + New place + First day of placement + Getting used to regular working hours + Stress from placement + Transport system + Exploring my surroundings + Shopping and cooking + Cleaning + Working outā€¦ and just trying to get back to a normal routine and life. I am a person that lives on a routine. I like to have it all in my head (at least). It has been a challenging week of just trying to adjust to what I have.

At the same time, I was frantically looking for a place to stay! I spent HOURS and 3 out of 6 precious Gbs of data that I had just looking/msg-ing/email-ing practically every place I could find.



Hannah Banana! <3 Much needed catch up sesh! Again, so thankful to have her in my life. We spent the day walking, shopping, eating and pouring our hearts out! Just what we needed. šŸ™‚

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetRunning the stress away!

Background story:

I have 5 placement sites this semester. They are all over the place. To me, TIME is very precious. I’d rather move 5 times than to spend my days in the bus/train travelling for a total of 3 hours. And so, the house hunt quest continues!

FINALLY, at the end of week 1, I found a new temporary home for placement sites 1 and 2. There’s a twist to the story. Minutes after we had settled and arranged everything, the landlord had to cut my stay short by 2 weeks (due to something he claimed was a “long story”). I was at the mall and tears literally rolled down my face. I was just TOO STRESSED OUT! GAH!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMoved out of Ming’s place after 2 weeks and into my new home for the next 4 weeks!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetAs of today, I still have no idea where I’m staying for those 2 weeks. That’s a worry for another day. HAAAAA! Currently living out of my suitcase.

Snapshots of my life:

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetTake time out for yourself, clear your mind, focus, pray and just CHILL. #doyou

IMG_5776This is dinner… most of the time. Along with some veges, meat and fruit.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetCheers to 1 dollar pineapples!

IMG_5510And 2.50 mangoes! SUMMER FRUITS! YUMMMMM!


IMG_5795OD-ed on sushi rolls. I’ve been having this every single day! SO GOOD!

IMG_5540Conducted a small group education session for the Drug and Alcohol group on FIBRE AND HEALTHY POO!

IMG_5515Got them to make all the different types of poo from play dough! SO FUN!

IMG_5541They were very cooperative when it came to making the poo and the reading of food labels. Phew!

IMG_5666Our nutrition booth for Australia’s Healthy Weight Week! It was such a good time getting ppl to play the “guess how many tsp of sugar is in this drink” game, filling out quizzes and giving simple education on healthy eating and exercise! #wellbeing #healthylife #lifestyle

3 weeks down! I cannot THANK GOD enough for seeing me through this time. Indeed, I am NOTHING without Him. Feeling very blessed and realized how much I have taken ā€œconvenienceā€ for granted. Just grateful to live another day!

Everyone goes through tough times. Social media can be deceiving. Ppl seem to think I have it easy but you don’t know what goes on BTS.

The next time you face a tough period, don’t ask God “WHY ME”, instead ask “Show me YOUR will and YOUR power”.


Side note: I’ve been in the gastro/oncology wards and it has made me realize that HEALTH is WEALTH. Appreciate what you have and the body that you are living in. CHEERS!

Bye Malaysia!

I left a subtle hint on my last post at the Puma Malaysia HQ.


It was meant to leave you with some wonder but I didnā€™t expect to receive a flood of messages. Thank you for your concern! Iā€™m here to clear up and hopefully answer all of your open questions.

If youā€™re not into reading lengthy wordy stuff, the gist of it is: I am leaving to Australia for 2 years to pursue my Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics.

This was not a sudden decision.

If you want to know the FULL STORY, READ ON!

Some Background Info

I have always wanted to take up nutrition/sports science, or a related field of study for my undergrad. Courses in this field at private institutes were very limited in Malaysia and it was too costly to go overseas (for a basic degree). Because of this, I did Medical Bioscience. It was my gateway to a Masters in the course that I intended to pursue. Plus, I obtained a scholarship from Monash University, so staying back was the best option.

After graduating, I worked for 2 years alongside one of the best plastic surgeons in town. He was intelligent, articulate and above all, extremely passionate about his work. He combined his passion for aesthetics with his skilled hands, a mountain of knowledge and experience, and last but not least, a big heart for his patients.FullSizeRender(1)

A few people thought that I should not have wasted time and that I should have gone straight for my Masters. I had no regrets coming out to work for 3 years. In fact, I would recommend coming out to work after your undergrad before furthering your studies. Working has opened up my eyes and I have gainedĀ quite a bitĀ of experience, experience that you can never get from textbooks.

1620520_10153006265161388_8679834674850829399_n*Come to think of it: If I had gone sooner, I would not have had 2 wonderful years of running in Malaysia. No PNRC, no races, no running friends, no Marathon, no Half Marathons……* It all worked out for the best!*

Working also gave me some time to “grow up”, decide where to go (to pursue my Masters) and what to do (my future). I kept my options opened. My parents encouraged me to apply for Ivy League schools in the USA. And that was what I did.

After doing some (extensive) research, I narrowed it down to Columbia University.

They offered exactly what I wanted ā€“ Masters in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. The next step was to apply. As it is an Ivy League school, the application process was tedious, not to mention costly.

Ā If you are wondering, the term “Ivy League” is a group of eight Universities in the US including Harvard, Priceton, Yale, Penn, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia and Brown, with a reputation of high scholastic achievements and social prestige.


The Hiccups along the WayIMG_8093


The application process to Columbia University:

– Sit for the MCAT test (Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Mathematics). I took 2 months (self-study) to prepare for the exams. I had to make sure I passed with flying colours because retaking would have incurred unnecessary cost!

Cost: 500USD

-Write countless essays

Cost: Blood, sweat and tears

-Get 5 recommendation letters

Cost: My face grew a few inches thicker as I was always pestering mentors/lecturers for the letters! It tookĀ 2 months to compile everything.

-Send in my resume

Cost: My time

-Show proof of voluntary work

Cost: Not much

-Convert my Australian degree scores to the American equivalent

Cost: 160USD

-Mail/virtually send documents over to Columbia University

Cost: RM 300++

-Application fee: 85USD



The whole processĀ took ONE year fromĀ the time I startedĀ the application (May 2014) to the time I finallyĀ received theĀ offer letter in April 2015.

I would have gone in September 2014 but there was a delay in my MCAT scores.

I would have gone in January 2015 but they did not receive the necessary documents in time and rolled my application to September 2015.

I would have gone in September 2015 but there was a prerequisite that I needed to fulfil.

Prerequisite: Human Nutrition at Monash University Malaysia

Cost: RM 5125++

Deposit to Columbia University to accept my offer

Cost: 200USD

Deposit for accommodation

Cost: 150USDFullSizeRender(2)

With the exchange rateĀ at 4.4 ish now, YOU DO THE MATH!

And I have yet to set ONE foot into Columbia University.

A Blessing in Disguise

As you can see, it was a very draggy process (and it is STILL on-going!).


I nearly gave up. Who wouldn’t?!

There were SO many road blocks along the way. It was almost as if God hadĀ closed that door. But I know that GodĀ has mapped out an ultimate planĀ for me. Everything was part of His master plan, including the road blocks.IMG_1647

When I started to apply for Columbia University, the exchange rate was still sitting at 3.0. By the time I received theĀ offer letter and was scheduled to leave by Sept 2015, the exchange rate had climbed to 4.3.

Indeed, it was a blessing in disguise.

If I had gone, I probably would have to come back! I received a partial scholarship from Columbia, but even then, itĀ was not enough!

You can Google the cost of study there. Try not to fall off your chair. šŸ˜‰

Plan B

Australia was Plan B. It was a rather rash decision because I had less than a month to prepare all my documents to start an application.

The application process was a lot less tiresome compared to Columbia. It was smooth, too smooth.

I am still holding on to my place at Columbia University.

Cost: Another 200USD

If I somehow manage to secure a scholarship, Iā€™d be off to the USA! But for now, Australia it is.FullSizeRender_1(1)

Although I have spent so much time, effort and money (where do you think all my prize money went?! šŸ˜‰ ), I thank God for the many roadblocks along the way. It could have been a lot worse!

To New Adventures!

I am leaving Malaysia with a heavy heart. I will miss my family, my friends, church friends, my room, my dog, my kakak to clean up after me (HAHA!), home cooked food, the Tom, Dick and Harry runners, the Puma Night Running Club, Tsquare, my clientsā€¦ā€¦ I will also miss all the fun activities and races here.


Life isĀ like running aĀ marathon. Bitter sweet.Ā Learn to enjoy the journey, even when the going gets tough!

But at the same time, I am supercalifragilisticexpialidocious excited about what is ahead!

I donā€™t know what is coming, but I am ready to take on new experiences and challenges.

Iā€™ll still be here, virtually. šŸ˜‰


*I’ve discontinued my Puma contract.

I am open to new sponsors, anyone? HAHA! #shameless*