Category Archives: Nutrition Tips

Healthy Tips for the Christmas Season

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Christmas can be a difficult time to eat well. Enjoying yourself shouldn’t mean undoing all the positive changes you’ve made throughout the year. By being careful with your choices you can afford to splurge a little.

Here are some tips to help you stay in control:

  • Make the best choices you can. Accept that it will be more difficult than usual, and focus on maintaining your weight rather than trying to continue to lose it.
  • Don’t feel obliged to eat everything on offer. Choose the foods you want most and be conscious of portion sizes.
  • Watch the alcohol and don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
  • Keep up the activity. Balance any extra treats with a little more exercise.
  • Focus on the healthy summer options available – plenty of salads, barbecues, fresh fruit, low fat dips etc.
  • Enjoy energy dense foods in moderation. High fat or high sugar foods may be included in small amounts as part of a healthy diet.
  • 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.
  • If choosing foods from a buffet, use a smaller plate.
  • Chat and mingle at social gatherings. Don’t hover near the food or you’ll be more likely to eat too much.
  • Remember Christmas is only 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.


Benefits of Eating Socially During Christmas Festivities

by Dorothea Vallianos, Clinical Psychologist

One of the greatest joys of Christmas is gathering around the people you love and cherish and sharing a meal with them. Focusing on them and not on what you should and shouldn’t eat is important and vital in helping you enjoy the multitude of Gifts their Presence will bring you. When you gather around a table to eat the benefits are even more plentiful.

Some of the benefits of eating together include:

  • We exchange the stories of our life, what we did this year, the highs and lows. This helps us process what has happened because we express thoughts and feelings through the narrative of our story.
  • We learn from our own and other’s mistakes and triumphs. This gives us hope and courage to overcome our trials and celebrate our victories.
  • Bonds are created that not only define different aspects of ourselves but weave the fabric of who we are and where we belong.
  • Emotionally we can unwind, relax, be comforted and comfort others.
  • Physically, we slow down our eating when we talk, listen and interact, and this also aids digestion. Biologically our body benefits from structure and regular mealtimes provides this.
  • Socially we get to observe and learn how to engage in conversations.
  • It’s good for our brains at every age. We have an opportunity to problem solve and help ourselves and others.
  • Psychologically, teenagers who eat regularly with their family showed lower rates of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, low self-esteem, alcohol and drug use.
  • Longevity and reduced rates of chronic illness are reported in countries where eating with family and friends regularly is part of their culture.
  • Eating together grants new perspectives on our own lives and we gives us an appreciation of other’s.

So this year during the Christmas festivities, while it’s important to focus on healthy eating, remember that eating can be more than simple nourishment. Sharing a meal together is a celebration of human connection with multitude of health benefits.

dental health

Oral Health and Nutrition

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Did you know, that your diet directly impacts your oral health? The health of your teeth and gums can be influenced by your diet and nutritional status, right through your life. As Dietitians, we often find that people forget about the health of their teeth and gums, and the impact it has for their overall nutrition. Poor dental health can also be the first sign of other chronic diseases. It is Dental Health Week across the country this week (6-12 August). A week where we are reminded how important high-quality dental care is essential to our entire wellbeing. In this article – we “open up” and explain how diet can impact your teeth, how your teeth can impact your health, and what you can do to keep your mouth healthy.

watch your mouth


Healthy diet = healthy mouth

A varied and highly nutritious diet isn’t just good for our waistlines, it’s good for our bodies, including our mouths. A study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology Good Oral Health and Diet, found a significant association between poor diet and increase risk of oral disease.

There exists a biunique relationship between diet and oral health: a balanced diet is correlated to a state of oral health (periodontal tissue, dental elements, quality, and quantity of saliva). Vice versa an incorrect nutritional intake correlates to a state of oral disease

It links poor nutrient levels to periodontal disease; oral cancer; lesions; candida; mucosal disorders and poor development of the oral cavity itself during childhood.

Less sugar = fewer cavities

tooth decay from sugary foodsOur eating and drinking habits can impact the health of our mouths directly. Sugary food and drinks are the number one cause of tooth decay. Sugar is used by the bacteria in plaque to produce acid, which wears away at the calcium and phosphate levels on the surface of our teeth. These are called caries.

The same study also found that dental health problems were fewer in countries who traditionally ate less sugar:

Very low levels of dental caries are found in isolated communities with a traditional lifestyle and low consumption of sugars. As soon as economic conditions improve and the quantity of sugars and other fermentable carbohydrates increases in the diet, a notable increase in dental caries is noticed.

Healthy mouth = healthy person

Your mouth can also be a strong indicator of your general health and wellbeing. Studies show a “robust connection” between oral health status and serious major chronic diseases. A Dental Health Services Victoria paper points to the link between poor oral health nation’s biggest killers:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Stroke
  • Kidney diseases
  • Hardening of arteries
  • Dementia
  • Adverse pregnancy outcomes
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Oral cancers
  • Obesity

Eating for dental health

Which foods are best for keeping our mouths healthy? Here are some other points to remember about eating for the health of your teeth.

Eat for nutrition

nutritious foodsThe number one thing we can do for our teeth, as well as our bodies is to eat a balanced diet, high in vegetables and other nutritious foods. This is true right through our lives and is extra important for growing children. Eating for health will help to prevent chronic disease and reduce the likelihood of oral health problems.

Fibrous fruit and veges

Food like leafy greens, apples, carrots and celery are great for your teeth. Their fibrous texture give your teeth a bit of a clean and massage the gums too. Plus, their abundant source of nutrients ensure your tooth health from the inside out.

Dairy foods

Dairy has more than 10 essential nutrients which support your health. In addition, dairy like milk, yoghurt and cheese can prevent tooth decay because they contain calcium, casein and phosphorous. These minerals help to protect your tooth enamel.


Water is good for our bodies and also for our teeth. Limit sugary drinks to very occasionally. They are very acidic and as well, contain ‘sticky’ sugar which can promote cavities.

Limit Sugar

Not only does this include the obvious sugar like soft drink and lollies, but the hidden sugars we find in many packaged foods. From a dietitian’s perspective, less sugar is great for your internal health as well. It’s all connected.

Want to learn more about oral health and diet?

This field is really interesting, and one which we are passionate about exploring. Our upcoming Mediterranean Diet Expo will feature a fascinating talk about oral health by PhD candidate with the School of Dentistry at the University of Queensland, Andrea Kazoullis.

She will explain the science behind the microbiome, and the fascinating relationship between oral health and nutrition in more detail. We can’t wait!

food secret weapon against diabetes

Food A Secret Weapon Against Diabetes

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A staggering 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. An additional 500,000 Australians are living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. Complications of diabetes includes blindness, kidney failure and amputation. Diabetes can also increase your risk of heart disease by up to four times. So, while diabetes is common, it is certainly not a routine condition. Food has such a vital role in management and can play a huge part in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. As Accredited Practicing Dietitians, we are passionate about how food can help prevent and manage diabetes. This week is National Diabetes Week (8-14 July) and this year, the reminder is that “It’s About Time” we detected all types of diabetes earlier and save lives. We explain a little about diabetes and show you what type of food can make a difference.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Whilst type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition which cannot be prevented, type 2 diabetes is different. It is a progressive condition which is often brought on by a combination of genes and lifestyle factors.

It causes three possible changes in the body, and these can happen all at once, or over time and at different rates:

  1. The pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin and/or
  2. The insulin produced from the pancreas isn’t effective and/or
  3. The cells do not respond to the insulin effectively

What are the risk factors?

Diabetes Australia recognises factors which may increase your risk of diabetes. These are:

  • a family history of diabetes
  • older (over 55 years of age ) – the risk increases as we age
  • over 45 years of age and are overweight
  • over 45 years of age and have high blood pressure
  • over 35 years of age and are from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background
  • over 35 years of age and are from Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background
  • are a woman who has given birth to a child over 4.5 kgs (9 lbs), or had gestational diabetes when pregnant, or had a condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

What are some of the symptoms?

Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Tiredness
  • Hunger
  • Poor healing and skin infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Gradually putting on weight
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Leg cramps
  • Or…NONE! Some people may display no symptoms, and that’s why it’s important to get check ups regularly. The National Diabetes Week message of “It’s About Time” reminds us of the importance of early detection. So, if you are over 40 and haven’t had your blood sugar checked, ask your GP.

Eating for blood sugar health

If you are at a higher risk of diabetes, and especially if you have a family history, eating well can help to prevent or delay an onset of diabetes. Here are some general principles you can follow for your blood sugar health.

  • Eat real food. Most of your diet should come from fruits and vegetables. At least half of your daily diet should consist of good quality fruits and veges. Yes the old 2 serves of fruit and 5 veg is an easy way to remind yourself.
  • Lean protein. One quarter of your daily diet should include a lean protein such as chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, beans or low-fat dairy or yoghurt.
  • Don’t cut the carbs. Swap empty, starchy carbs for a wholegrain alternative, high in fibre and containing complex carbohydrates. These are digested much more slowly and don’t spike insulin levels.
  • Fibre is your friend. A high-fibre diet keeps those blood sugar levels stable and is great for bowel health. Try legumes and pulses on top of a variety of fibre-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • Healthy fats. Avoid high trans fats from fried food or partially hydrogenated oils. Choose fats from olive oil, fish oils, nuts, seeds and avocados.
  • Less red meat. Eat less red and processed meat.
  • Drink water. Drink water as your main drink, and only drink sugar laden alternatives very occasionally.
  • Become a reader of labels. Avoid packaged and processed foods. Learn how to calculate the sugar content in food. Once you start, it may shock you how much sugar is in some foods. Often foods which appear to be ‘healthy’ options contain high amounts of sugar. How do you spot it? Sugar may also be labelled as high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, corn sweetener or dextrose.

mediterranean diet for diabetes prevention

How can the Mediterranean diet help?

Following a traditional Mediterranean diet is an easy way to ensure you are eating for health, without skimping on flavour or enjoyment. The Mediterranean diet naturally follows the above principles. It is high in fruits and vegetables, good fats, good proteins and whole grains. It is also lower in red meat and processed foods.

There is an abundance of Mediterranean recipes available which you can draw from. In most cases, it is about real and simple food enjoyed with family. There are no restrictions so the nutritional value is high.

Choose the more traditional Mediterranean recipes borne from Greek peasant food, or those approved by an Accredited Practicing Dietitian for your daily meals. There are many Mediterranean recipes which are popular in Western countries and are lovely as a ‘sometimes’ dish but were never intended for everyday eating. (Baklava, moussaka, loukoumades we’re looking at you :-))

Want to find out more about eating for diabetes prevention with the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean Diet Expo is coming to Brisbane on October 21 – an all-day immersion into the wonders of Mediterranean culture. You can hear from some amazing guest speakers about this diet for chronic disease prevention, including the prevention of diabetes. Also experience cooking demos, food stalls and a host of entertainment.


foods for preventing cancer

Diet and Bowel Cancer Prevention

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You may not know, that bowel cancer is the nation’s second biggest cancer killer. Although your risk of cancer increases as you get older, its important to know that you are never too young to get bowel cancer. A healthy lifestyle and nutritious diet can all help to reduce your risk. This month, it’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month across Australia. In this article, we look at how the right food can lower your risk of bowel cancer.

What are the facts on bowel cancer?

According to Bowel Cancer Australia, 15,253 Australians are given this diagnosis every year. 2,186 of those people are under the age of 55. 67% of those cases are colon cancer, and 33% are rectal cancer.

Early detection is key

90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully if found early. Sadly, fewer than 40% are detected early.

Rates are rising

20,000 cases of bowel cancer are predicted for 2020.

bowel cancer awareness month

How can food and exercise help to lower your risk?

There are risk factors such as your age (being over 50 increases your risk sharply) and your family history (linked to 25% of cases) which you have no control over. However, diet and lifestyle also play a part. They are what is known as modifiable risk factors. This means, choosing the right kinds of foods and making lifestyle changes is something you can improve upon to lower your risk. Giving up smoking, and reducing your alcohol intake can help, and so can diet and exercise.


Physical activity can help to reduce your risk factor for colon cancer. The Cancer Council says that “inactivity is responsible for 14% of colon cancers.”

“Just 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day is good for your health and 60 minutes can reduce your risk of developing cancer. There is evidence to suggest that the more exercise you do, the lower your risk – especially if this is more vigorous physical activity.”


Your choice of food can impact your risk for many cancers including bowel cancer. While there is no magic cancer preventing food, eating a healthy diet can protect you from bowel cancer.

What food should I eat to prevent bowel cancer?


At least 5 serves of vegetables a day is the minimum requirement. Eat the rainbow to ensure the health of your entire body, including your bowel. Leafy greens, garlic, onions and tomatoes are particularly good!


At least two serves of fruit per day.  Apples, papaya and pomegranate are great, but any fruit eaten in place of a packaged or sugary snack is even better!

Legumes, nuts, seeds.

Eating plenty of beans, lentils and pulses is great for your bowel as is nuts and seeds. This is because they contain plenty of fibre as well as many nutrients for good health.

Limited red and processed meat, add more fish, poultry or vegetarian meals.

Eating more than 700 grams (raw weight) of red meat a week increases your risk of bowel cancer, and your risk goes up 1.18 times for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten per day.

“The World Health Organization has classified processed meats including ham, bacon, salami and frankfurts as a Group 1 carcinogen (known to cause cancer) which means that there’s strong evidence that processed meats cause cancer. Eating processed meat increases your risk of bowel and stomach cancer. Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen which means it probably causes cancer,” Cancer Council Australia.

Dairy foods

Dairy products are associated with a lower risk of bowel cancer. Consume 400 grams of dairy per day to decrease your risk by a staggering 13%. Include low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese in your diet daily.


Eat 3 serves of wholegrains per day to reduce your risk of bowel cancer by 17%. This can include brown rice, grains, and bread.

The Mediterranean diet can lower your risk

The traditional Mediterranean diet can help lower your risk of many chronic diseases, including cancers of the breast and colon. The diet is rich in fish, vegetable, legumes, wholegrains, fruit, and olive oil, with lower to moderate amounts of wine and red meat. It also limits sugars and processed foods, and flavours food with herbs instead of salt. Everything you are ‘supposed’ to be eating to prevent bowel cancer is naturally included in this way of eating. Dishes are delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare and enjoy as a family.

There are many studies on the efficacy of this diet. Here is a passage from the abstract of one study which helps to explain the benefits:

“The Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The biological mechanisms for cancer prevention associated with the Mediterranean diet have been related to the favourable effect of a balanced ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids and high amounts of fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruit, vegetables, olive oil and wine. The Mediterranean diet also involves a ‘Mediterranean way of drinking’, that is, regular, moderate consumption of wine mainly with food.” 

Help to implement the Mediterranean diet

mediterranean diet and bowel cancer prevention

If you are interested in learning how to eat traditional Mediterranean food for health and longevity, come along to the world-first Mediterranean Diet Expo, being held in Brisbane on October 21.

Presented by Two Greek Girls Cooking, it’s a great day out for the whole family. Learn how to cook, eat and live the Mediterranean way and hear from a range of prominent health experts about how to stay healthy and live long. We can’t wait to see your there!


How To Choose Your Food To Get The Most Out Of Your Workout

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It’s a no brainer that diet and exercise are both crucial to your well-being and a common myth is that you shouldn’t eat before a workout to burn more fat. This is actually doing you more harm than good. You should always eat something before exercising as this helps give your body enough fuel to power through your workout. But what to eat? We show you how to choose your food to get the most out of your workout. In order to help you out, and make deciding what to eat a little bit easier, we have listed Australia’s most popular forms of exercise and what the ideal pre-workout snack is for each of them.

Before running

Love getting that blood pressure up? You’re all for a brisk run in the early hours of the morning or a quick jog in the late afternoon breeze. To avoid stomach cramps, we recommend whole wheat toast with some nut butter an hour before you plan on running. This snack contains easy to digest carbs and a little protein so it will fuel you up without you feeling too full.


Bike riding

For cyclists, it’s recommended to eat something that can be digested quickly enough in order to be converted into energy by the time you need it. 30 minutes before you hop on your bike, it’s a good idea to eat a banana.

Pre-strength training nutrition

While weight lifting provides the stimulus that elicits gains in muscle strength and size, the foods you eat are what fuel those developments. When you’re lifting weights, your body will be utilising primarily carbohydrates as fuel. We recommend apple wedges, which provide the low-glycaemic carbohydrates, with almond butter, which offers up protein.

Stamina for swimming

The food you eat before a swim will make a difference in your energy levels and athletic performance. Eat easy-to-digest foods, to avoid needing to use the restroom when you least expect it or having painful stomach cramps. Some steamed vegetables will do the trick

Circuit training

When you’re moving around a lot jumping from exercise to exercise, the key is to consume easily digested carbohydrates, so you don’t feel sluggish. Low fat or fat free yoghurt will give you the energy you need for a high intensity workout without filling you up.


Not to give in to the yogi stereotype but the best food before a yoga session is a small green smoothie. Try to keep the ingredients in your smoothie to mostly greens to support your blood sugar and maybe add a couple slivers of avocado, or a tablespoon or two of chia seeds for just a little healthy fat. The healthy fats will help you absorb the nutrients in the smoothie better.

Pre Pilates

It’s no use wilting with lethargy after the warm up as we all know that there’s a whole world of stamina needed after that. Air popped popcorn is a great idea for pre Pilates. Don’t go for the buttery cinema kind, at most, you can add a tiny pinch of salt to yours if you need the flavouring.

We hope you find these pre-workout food ideas helpful. Don’t forget, that active people have an even greater need for adequate nutrition. If you would like help with designing a complete healthy eating plan which fits in with your lifestyle, why not book in for a consult?


5 Healthy Yet Indulgent Valentine’s Day Meal Ideas

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Treating your loved one doesn’t have to mean sending them to an early grave! As Dietitians we often get asked about healthy meal ideas for special occasions. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s all about romantic food. So we have rounded up some nutritious, delicious and amorous foods which will fuel the flame. Here are our top 5 ideas for a decadent feast to make at home for your special someone this Valentine’s Day.

1. Love potion

For Valentine’s Day, it’s important to pick your drink and stick with it. Try not to mix drinks and avoid cocktails, as the mixers generally used for this are quite sugary. We recommend sipping on a high-quality red wine over a white/bubbly wine. Red Wine is relatively low in sugar and calories and has antioxidants and other nutrients that actually can improve your health if drunk in moderation. Red Wine not to yours or your partner’s taste? That’s fine, pick your favourite and just remember to pace yourself to keep the romance from turning into a snooze fest later.

2. Enter the Entree

This Valentine’s Day, we recommend starting your meal with some Oysters! Yum! Not only are Oysters delicious but they have a large range of health benefits due to their minerals, vitamins and organic compounds. Oysters are a well-renowned aphrodisiac meaning that they can boost sexual performance and libido. If that isn’t reason enough to try Oysters this Valentine’s Day, we should also mention that they can strengthen your immune system, protects you from osteoporosis, they are beneficial for healing wounds, promotes blood circulation in the body and helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases… no not a broken heart! Season them with a little bit of natural lemon and ta-da, you’re all done.

3. Main meal for your main squeeze

Sexy is not about filling up to the point where you can’t move. Choose a meal which is vibrant, tasty and light. The very meal which will leave you wanting more… Try our delicious Salmon with herb, walnut & chilli salsa.

Salmon is delicious and is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, high in Vitamin B and a great source of high-quality protein and potassium, helping you feel fuller for longer. If you’re not a fan of salmon, you could also bake chicken breasts in the same way. Just keep testing to ensure it is cooked through well before serving.

4. Salad is sexy too

Salad can be super-special when you add watermelon. Vibrant and pretty with the pinks (and very on-theme for Valentine’s Day might we add), this is the perfect addition to add to any table. Watermelon is high in citrulline which promotes blood flow and circulation, good for getting the blood flowing to the heart and other organs! It also contains lycopene which supports heart and prostate health.



For a refreshing side dish or one to cleanse the palate before dessert, we recommend creating the Watermelon, feta and mint salad. Simply chop 1 kg of watermelon, 1 cucumber, 200g fetta, mix it all together before adding 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 cup of loosely chopped mint and cracked black pepper to taste. Keep it Simple Sexy.

5 Treat yo’ self

Yes, it is ok to treat yourself every once in a while, and what kind of treat would this Valentine’s Day dinner be without dessert? It’s time to get figgy with it! Tempt the taste buds with this delicious fig dessert. Figs are in season now, and have been long prized as a sensual food. We recommend preparing yours drizzled with honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a generous dollop of yoghurt. The sweetness of the honey will taste delightful with the tang of the yoghurt – oh and did we mention that honey and cinnamon are aphrodisiacs too!

Now that your meal is sorted the rest is up to you… Happy Valentine’s Day lovers!

 Stay in good health!

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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

Image is from

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

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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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