Category Archives: Education


Back to school nutrition

By | Back to school, Children, Education, Nutrition Tips | No Comments
Teachers Inspecting School Lunch Boxes…
Let’s get these healthy Lunch Boxes Sorted!

by Dietitian Desi Carlos APD AN

Is this really yet another responsibility we are adding to the long list of roles of our children’s teachers?

As a working mum, I fully understand the quick option of adding a couple or more packaged items into my child’s lunch box. Time and tiredness may be your issue, or perhaps you are fed up of the constant fighting with your children, about lunches that continually get returned home in the afternoons.

So why do kids return food in their lunch boxes and why are they fearful of showing the teacher their lunch?

Allow me (as a Dietitian and a mum) give you a run down on some simple ideas that will keep the teachers from confiscating food and help your kids enjoy their lunch.

No. 1 Start the day off right.
I know this is cliché but please make sure your kids have a solid breakfast before they leave the house in the morning. If they don’t eat, their appetite can be suppressed until they come home in the afternoon and eat you out of house and home… creating terrible habits of eating high sugar, high fat processed meals and then missing dinner because they are so full.
Pick a cooked breakfast option – bread and protein or a high fibre cereal with milk and fruit.

No. 2 Understanding that the teachers are on your side.
Often the school will send you a copy of their lunch box policy and supply you with ideas on suitable snack and lunch options. Most of course are non specific and do not health the 99% of the population where both parents/guardians work, or perhaps other factors influence time for meal prep.
The school policy is to help your children with their performance at school, concentration and behaviour – all of which, believe it or not, improves all these things at home too.

No. 3 Get the kids involved!
Get the kids involved in lunch box prep. Include them in shopping for their lunch box and preparing snacks and meal for their lunch box.

No. 4 What comprises a healthy lunch box?
The main fare is usually a sandwich but you can change that up to include bread/ wrap/ Turkish bread/ baguette/ bagel/ or crackers

+ add your protein – lean meat, chicken, turkey, tinned fish, baked beans, cheese or nut spread (if your school allows it)
+ add salad – lettuce, spinach leaves, cucumber (if your kids complain about veges making their bread soggy- add them separately as veggie sticks – snowpeas, cucumber, carrot, celery, beans, cherry tomatoes)

If your kids just don’t like this idea or are over the sandwiches by mid term – try leftover food in a thermos (pasta, rice, potato and the main meal of soup, curry, or stew).

Then add your snacks:
Fruit – fresh, dried, or tinned (in natural juice)
Yoghurt  or cheese (babybel or moo cheese) or milk
Healthy treat – this deserves a Idea on its own…

Idea No. 5 Healthy Treats – in a pack for ease

  • Crackers (rice or wheat) with dip or cream cheese
  • Vitawheats with Vegemite and cheese or Vitawheat chips
  • Healtheries rice and potato snacks
  • Airpopped popcorn
  • Babybel, snack size cheese, stringers or moo cheese
  • Dried fruit sticks (the ones with no added sugar)
  • Naturally good healthy muesli cookies
  • Party rice crackers
  • Happy snack company – roasted fava, split chics and chickpeas

And then you can modify some home made favourites (get the kids involved)

  • oat biscuits and banana bread and other muesli slices – use yoghurt instead of butter and banana or apple sauce instead of sugar. They taste great… just chewy instead of crunchy.

And then there is Afternoon Tea:
Make sure they finish what they haven’t finished in their lunch box in the afternoon.
Fruit, dairy and a bread and cereal in the afternoon.
Once they have had all of this … consider giving then a treat of their own choice (perhaps after they have done some activity – ride bike, swim, play basketball, walk).

For more detailed and individualised nutritional advice for your children please contact Tree of Life Nutrition 38916199 or email

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12 Mindful Eating Tips for Christmas Festivities

By | Christmas, Education, Nutrition Tips | No Comments
– by Tree of Life Nutrition psychologist, Dorothea Vallianos

1. Give yourself permission to eat ALL foods. Focus on health, not weight loss.

2. Maintain regular eating patterns. Don’t skip breakfast if you are eating out later that day, or had a big dinner the night before. Eating regularly helps maintain healthy metabolism.

3. Drink water and eat slowly. Drink a glass of water before and during your meal will keep you hydrated and less inclined to drink alcohol and soft drinks. Eat slowly and savour your food. Slow down by sitting to eat (if possible), putting your fork down between bites, chewing several times & talking to your companions.

4. Adopt a healthy mindset that contains kindness, compassion, resilience, courage, pressing the pause button and keeping the end goal in mind.

5. Plan ahead. You probably have a good idea of where you’re going and what foods and drinks will be on offer. So think about what you are looking forward to eating there and what concerns you have about what’s on offer.

6. Prepare a plan of action for obstacles you think you’ll encounter. For example, (a) Overwhelming Choices – “I can try a little of everything” or “I’ll try a small amount of 1-3 desserts ” or (b) Responses to people who say “Have some more” – “Thank you, I’m tempted but I’ve had enough for now”.

7. Make an intentional choice from a place of abundance and not deprivation. Remind yourself that you can always choose to eat a certain food. You don’t have to deprive yourself. If you choose to eat it then embrace your decision and savour the food. If you choose not to eat that food, remember you can still eat it at another time of your choice.

8. If there’s a buffet, survey it first. Acknowledge the foods you want to eat and then have a little of all of them or choose 5 that you may want and keep room for dessert. Again give yourself permission to choose a small portion size of 1-3 desserts or a little of all of them. Sometimes it’s just the anticipation of eating the food and really all we need to feel satisfied is to just have a taste.

9. If it’s a sit down menu choose 3 options you want to eat and then choose the healthiest of the three. Don’t be afraid to make modifications. For e.g. the burger without cheese or mayonnaise. The pecan pie without cream on the side. This way you are basing your decision on what you want and what’s healthy.

10. Recognise the ways you sabotage yourself.  Prepare for and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviours by using coping self-statements. For example, instead of “It’s too hard. I can’t do it” say “I realise I’m overeating“. “Am I really hungry or am I bored, sad, angry or feeling guilty. I can still stop overeating now”. Instead of  “I’ve blown it now I may as well eat more”, respond with “Just made less desirable choices doesn’t mean I have to give up. I can continue working towards my goals even if I slip up”.

11. Maintain other healthy habits like exercising, sleeping, and social connections.  Exercising for 10 minutes in the morning is a good way to fit it in before the distractions occur. Sleep well. We tend to eat more when we are tired because we are looking for energy. Lack of sleep also makes us lose concentration and become moody. Connecting with others and eating with them is socially and emotionally rewarding. Stay focused on your conversations and not your concerns about eating.

12. Give yourself the Gifts of Christmas. Hope & Forgiveness – Never give up on yourself. Get back up and keep going. We all make mistakes. We are all works of art in progress. Be Kind to yourself. Peace & Joy– Begin when we accept where we are and have the courage to continue step by step towards our goals while still rejoicing in the fun times, enjoying food and embracing the blessings in life. Love & Kindness – Be your own best friend to yourself and others. Surround yourself with your cheer leading team. We all need a little support and encouragement from people who are positive and mindful of our goals. We, in turn, can reciprocate and enhance others’ lives.


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5 simple tips for a happy and healthy festive season

By | Christmas, Education, Nutrition Tips | No Comments
With the festive season upon us, it is easy to get caught up in the festivities and overindulge. To help get through this time, we have come up with some tips on healthy eating, how to make better food choices at events and parties, and end the year on a healthy note, without feeling like you’ve missed out on the delicious Christmas goodies.
1. Make the best food choices you can – Accept that it will be more difficult than usual. Focus on maintaining your weight, rather than trying to continue to lose it. Don’t feel obliged to eat everything that is on offer. Choose the foods you want most, and be conscious of portion sizes. Forego that extra spoonful, the second mince pie and avoid overloading your plate.
2. Fill up on the good stuff – By “good stuff”, we mean in salads, fruits, and water. Choosing to fill your stomach with foods that are full of nutrients FIRST, means you’re less likely to overeat on the “bad stuff”. Good choices include vegetable sticks, dips, seasonal fresh fruits and nuts. Water is also important. Don’t forget to drink plenty of it.
3. Start the day off right – have a filling and protein rich breakfast. Think baked beans or eggs on wholemeal toast, low-fat Greek yoghurt with fruit and granola, porridge made on milk etc. Having good sources of protein to start the day, with some good carbs, will fill your belly, and make it easier to prevent mindless snacking later on.
4. Keep up the activity – Exercise in the morning, before the festivities start, and before it gets too hot! Getting it out of the way first thing, you’ll feel energised for the rest of the day. Avoid the “all or nothing” mind trap, and keep up the walks or regular gym visits. Enjoy the great Australian summer, and make the most of the outdoors by participating in backyard activities like cricket, swimming or kicking a football around. On Christmas day, suggest a family walk. You’ll be burning off the calories you just are, and won’t feel anywhere near as full or guilty.
5. Keep to a regular meal pattern and never go to a function on an empty stomach – If you’re hosting a Christmas party, have plenty of low fat snacks on offer for yourself and your guests. Try not to hover near the food, or you’ll be more likely to snack and eat too much. Remember, Christmas is one day, it’s what you do most of the time that really matters. Most importantly, relax and enjoy yourself. Make the most of spending time with your family and friends.
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How to boost your immunity this winter

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Winter is well and truly here, and these colder months can provide a challenge with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Staying well-nourished is important to keep our hard-working immune system firing strong, to reduce the risk of getting sick.
Here’s a list of a few nutritious foods we recommend to boost your immunity, and some lifestyle tips, to ward of the winter ill’s and keep you healthy:
  • Garlic – the humble garlic has long been hailed for it’s properties. Garlic contains a variety of antioxidants, has mild antibacterial properties, reduces cholesterol, improves blood circulation and research suggests, prevention of some cancers.
  • Yoghurt – including yoghurt in your diet everyday, provides a good dose of probiotics, important for gut health, and helps boost your immunity. Try adding some berries on top, for a top-notch snack.
  • Tomatoes, red capsicum, chili and berries– the purple and red colours or pigments (anthocyanins and lycopene) of these foods function as antioxidants, which fight against oxygen’s damaging effect on body cells. They are also high in vitamins C and A, which might not cure the common cold, but do repair and regenerate tissues, thus improving immune function.
  • Chicken soup – liquid nourishment and food for the soul – it’s the perfect comfort food to boost your immunity! Don’t underestimate this dish, it’s packed full of veggies, and is very low in kJ.
  • Spices – adds flavour to any dish, with many spices have antioxidants and antibacterial properties. Check out our spicy chickpea, tomato and quinoa soup, which is guaranteed to warm you up on a chilly winters night.
Healthy winter tips:
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables – eat a rainbow to ensure that you get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, that are important for everyday functions of the body, such as energy conversions and repairing of cellular damage.
  • Keep hydrated – 2 litres is still the recommended amount in summer as in winter, to keep our bodies functioning. Remember, warm drinks, such as tea count as well!
  • Watch your portion sizes – To prevent overeating in winter, try eating off smaller plates, and ensure meals have lots of fibre rich foods such as veggies and wholegrains. These foods will make you feel full and less likely to overeat and reach for that second helping. It takes 20 mins for the stomach to communicate to the brain that it is full, so eat your meals slowly, and take your time to enjoy your food.
  • Get your vitamin D – Going outside for some sun is not always easy in winter (unless you live here in sunny QLD), so you might want to eat foods that contain vitamin D. Foods such as oily fish and some fortified food products (cereals and some milks) contain vitamin D.
  • Move your body – it might be harder to motivate yourself to go out in the cold these days, but it is still important that you get some exercise in. Perhaps do a little workout indoors, go to an exercise class, or go for a walk in your lunch break.

If you need nutritional help and guidance, make an appointment to see our friendly dietitians. Desi, Lisa and Stephanie would love to help you, reach your health and nutritional goals. Call us today on (07) 3891 6199 or send us an email on

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New exercise physiologist – Brent

By | Education, Exercise | No Comments

Meet Brent, our exercise physiologist, working from our Tree of Life Nutrition clinic in Woolloongabba. We asked Brent a few questions about the benefits of exercise physiology, and how his services might help you, to improve your health.

What is an Exercise Physiologist?
An Exercise Physiologist (EP) is a university trained allied health professional, who specialises in the benefits of exercise to help improve patients health, by developing individualised programs for the prevention, management and treatment of chronic medical conditions. Additionally, an EP considers the individual and all aspects of their life, to develop sustainable exercise and lifestyle habits that are tailored for their health goals.

What is the importance of exercise and seeing an EP?
Exercise has long been known to have complementary health benefits, and is now being used as a form of medicine in the management of various chronic diseases, and it can also be fun and highly enjoyable. We are born to move, and our bodies rely on this movement to function optimally.
What is the difference between a PT and an EP?
There are big differences between the two professions, not only in terms of education, practical experience and knowledge, but the range of clientele.  PT’s are only qualified to deliver fitness programs to persons “at low risk”, meaning people who are already healthy. Whereas EP’s can treat and work with all types of people, from those who wish to improve their health, to patients at risk of developing, or with existing chronic medical conditions or injuries.

In terms of education and experience, an Exercise Physiologist must complete a minimum of 4 years of university study, either undergraduate or post-graduate, within an approved course by the governing body Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA). The degree also includes over 5,000 hours of clinical placement to learn how to apply clinical reasoning and theoretical knowledge for the management or rehabilitation of chronic diseases and injury. Compared to many PT courses, which can take as little as 6 months to complete.

How an EP can help with chronic conditions?
An EP can help with a wide range of conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, cancer treatment recovery, osteoporosis, weight management, and joint and muscle related conditions.

EP’s are also skilled in how medications might affect or be affected by exercise, and specialise in how to safely implement an exercise therapy intervention and improve health outcomes. This will be done to suit your lifestyle to either directly address the chronic disease or health issue, or positively change contributing or predisposing factors.  Ongoing review and monitoring of progress will ensure success and adherence to your management plan, to get you back on track to great health.

Weight loss – An EP can assist with weight loss and compliment your dietetics plan by implementing an achievable exercise plan into your lifestyle, which will be both enjoyable and effective. Exercise Physiologists understand the science of exercise and use this knowledge to structure exercise in a way that targets weight loss.

Improved energy – Regular exercise has been proven to drastically improve energy levels and reduce fatigue. Starting an exercise program will enhance the blood flow carrying of oxygen and nutrients to muscle improving their ability to produce more energy.

Osteoporosis – Exercise improves bone strength and density because the development of strong bones occurs through force and impact on the skeleton, from the muscles pulling on them. An EP can assist with this process by ensuring the exercises implemented for an individual with osteoporosis cause this process and the exercises are safe with no falls and fracture risk.

Increased fitness – Regular exercise at the appropriate intensity for an individual improves fitness overtime by increasing VO2max, which is an indicator of a person’s fitness. It measures the amount of oxygen a person can consume and deliver to the various different tissues in the body. As VO2 max improves a person’s fitness level will improve, making exercise more efficient, achieving more exercise easier, and being able to do more activities for a longer period of time in everyday life.

Diabetes – An EP can implement an exercise program that assists the body in using blood sugar without the need for insulin release. As we use our muscles during exercise this signals a process where our muscles will take up the blood sugar and utilise it for energy, without the body needing to produce insulin to transport it to our fat and muscle cells. Exercise assists a person living with diabetes, by causing insulin to work better, which will improve your diabetes management; reducing and/or maintain a healthy weight; lowering blood pressure; reduce your risk of heart disease; and reducing stress.


Brent is available for appointments every Friday at our Woolloongabba clinic. Call us on (07) 3891 6199 to make an appointment to improve your health today!


Easter Survival Guide

By | Education | No Comments

There are many temptations during Easter that test our willpower and waistline. It is an indulgent season, but fear not – we have compiled a list of tips to help you manage, without missing out.

  • Choose quality over quantity – Plain, dark quality chocolate has less sugar than milk or white chocolate (although it may contain more fat), the flavour is more intense, and therefore most people find that a couple of smaller pieces are enough to satisfy a craving. With that being said, choose YOUR favourite treats this Easter, just have a little bit, so you don’t feel like you’ve missed out or deprived yourself.
  • Portion Control – Moderation is key, when choosing Easter treats. We recommend a 25g portion – which equals to about 3-4 squares of chocolate. Remember – chocolate still has a lot of kilojoules, so overindulging can easily lead to weight loss. Buying individual, smaller chocolates, will make it easier to control the amount you eat, especially if you give yourself a limit of 3-4 little eggs. Larger chocolate blocks or eggs will make it more difficult to control portion sizes, and harder to stop eating.
  • Eat mindfully – savour every mouthful. It is easy to “shove” food down, without paying attention to what or how much we’re eating. Eating mindfully involves really paying attention to what you’re eating, the flavours of the food, how it feels in your mouth, the aroma and texture – it will give you so much pleasure and enjoyment. You’ll be surprised how little you actually eat, and how much better it tastes, when you savour a treat this way.
  • Sharing is caring – share your Easter treats with family and friends, particularly after Easter. Give yourself the long weekend to enjoy your favourite treats, but come Tuesday….no more! Give them away. Get them out of the house. Don’t fall into the trap of eating all the leftover chocolates and treats.
  • Store chocolate in the fridge – The chocolate flavour lasts longer in your mouth when it’s cold.
  • Homemade treats – Allergies and intolerances often limits a lot of food choices. Making your own Easter treats is a great way to make indulgent treats that won’t result in reactions or upset tummies. A simple Google search will bring up lots of options for gluten free, nut free, dairy free, and/or low kilojoule Easter recipes. Try dark chocolate covered strawberries or other fruit, or dark chocolate bark – check out our Facebook page for other delicious recipes.
  • Help is available – We don’t mean Chocoholics Anonymous, but us. Our dietitians at Tree of Life Nutrition will be happy to help if you have any post-Easter chocolate withdrawals, or need to get back on the weight-loss bandwagon. Give us a call on 3891 6199.

Enjoy the long weekend :)


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5 tips to maintain motivation

By | Education | No Comments

Whether it is staying inspired to continue with a New Year resolution, diet change, elimination diet, or just being healthier, maintaining motivation to achieve a nutrition goal can be a challenge. So we have compiled our top 5 tips on maintaining motivation to reach your nutrition goals!

  1. Measure progress

Review your action plan regularly. Whether that be asking yourself at the end of each day: “What did I do today that helped me reach my goal?” reviewing weekly food diaries, or fortnightly meetings with your dietitian, whichever works for you, as long as it holds you accountable. Being reminded of progress already achieved is a great way to see the big picture, and get you back on track to reach your goal.

  1. Celebrate little wins

Don’t forget to applaud yourself, and give yourself a pat on the back for achieving short-term goals. Everyone’s nutrition journey is different, so celebrating little goals will make it more enjoyable. Try to not give yourself food rewards, but instead focus on little treats such as buying yourself flowers, or watch a movie or an episode of your favourite TV series.

  1. Overcoming barriers

Some days we don’t feel motivated to do anything, and that’s ok, setbacks and challenges are normal. However, to keep going forward instead of halting, it’s important to have plans in place to get you back on tract. Thinking about barriers in advance, and having a plan to counteract each barrier, will help prevent creating excuses, and help avoid relapses from occurring. Your dietitian can help you brainstorm potential barriers, and come up with solutions that are tailored to you.

  1. Being mindful

Mindfulness starts by being present in the moment, and taking a second to tune in. Take cues from your body, and ask yourself: “Am I hungry?” “Or am I bored/tired/sad/thirsty?”. Checking in, and being aware of how your body is feeling will ensure you only eat when hungry, reduces snacking, and overeating.

Being mindful also includes limiting distractions such as TV and computer screens (phones included), and enjoy your meal and make meal time special. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so try chewing for longer, and take your time enjoying your meal.

  1. Have a support person

Having a person in your life supporting your nutrition or health goal will make the journey there so much more enjoyable, and research shows, more likely to help you reach your goals. Choosing a partner, friend, or even a dietitian, means that you have a personal cheerleader, someone cheering for you to succeed, but also hold you accountable for when you need a little push. If you prefer the electronic version, there are lots of free Apps available that give daily reminders, and are a good way to help keep track of your progress, depending on your nutrition goal.


If you need more individualised advice and support, contact Tree of Life Nutrition on (07) 3891 6199 to make an appointment to see one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians. We would love to help you reach your nutritional goals.


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