Category Archives: Nutrition Tips

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

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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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Q is for Quinoa

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Quinoa seems to have stolen the spotlight the past few years as a superfood. Although I’m not a big fan of saying a food is a ‘superfood’, quinoa does bring a lot to the table!

Firstly to begin with it’s a great option for coeliacs as it’s gluten free. You can add quinoa to salads as a swap for couscous or make porridge with quinoa flakes.

It’s also a complete protein, which means it contains all the essential amino acids (the ones you have to get through your dietary intake as your body can’t produce them). Although in saying that the protein content is very low (8g protein per 1 cup cooked) so I would recommend having other protein sources with your meal too (you can have a look at our previous blog on protein to find some ideas!).

Quinoa is also very high in fibre, which is great for your bowel health and soluble fibre has been found to reduce blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol. It also keeps you fuller for longer so plenty of fibre in your diet is good for weight loss. Per cup of cooked quinoa you get a massive 17-18g of fibre! Considering the RDI for women is 25g/day and for men is 30g/day, quinoa can really help you get your fibre intake up.

Check out our recipe on Wednesday with Quinoa as a main ingredient!

P is for Protein

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Protein: 1 of the 3 macronutrients of our diet along with carbohydrates and fats. It’s important to have an adequate intake in your diet to retain lean muscle mass and it’s important for your cells (skins, muscles, organs, hair, nails etc) as it maintains the structure, function and regulation.

Protein is also an important part of your meals as it’s helps to keep you fuller for longer, so if weight loss is a goal of yours, than having adequate protein in your diet is important. Sneak some egg in at breakfast, greek yoghurt as a morning snacks, some tinned tuna with crackers, chicken with your lunch meal, a small serving of nuts in the afternoon and a lean mince with your dinner – just some quick ideas of how to get that protein in! if you want some more individualised guidance come and see one of our dietitians!

So what foods contain protein?

  • Animal meats e.g. chicken, beef, turkey.
  • Fish & seafood.
  • Dairy products e.g. yoghurt, milk & cheese.
  • Nuts
  • Vegetarian options such as legumes and tofu.

Protein is particularly important post exercise to help your muscles recover so you don’t pull up as sore and are ready to work hard at the next session. Make sure you get your protein in within 30-45minutes post your session so protein synthesis can start your muscle recovery. If you do a lot of sport and/or exercise workouts and need some guidance around what to do for your recovery meals come and see us at Tree of Life Nutrition!

Melbourne Cup Day

By | Education, Nutrition Tips | No Comments

Well it’s a week today until one of the biggest sporting events on the calendar…Melbourne Cup. And for most of us it doesn’t quite involve much sport but more socialising with friends with food and drinks, placing bets on which horse will win and in the lead up organising our outfit to enter fashions on the field.

There’s often a part of the day that we don’t usually consider in the lead up and that is what will we be eating that day. There’s usually a few champagnes and canapés but what can you do to make sure you stay on track with your health and nutritional goals?

  1. Make sure you have a good quality breakfast. Think some low GI carbohydrates, protein and good fats. A good quality breakfast will keep you fuller for longer and prevent snacking on those not so healthy choices that might be available.
  1. Have a glass of water between alcoholic drinks (if you chose to drink). Not only will this slow down your alcohol intake during the day so you don’t have a huge intake of empty calories but it will also help you to stay hydrated so you wake up the next day without a huge headache!
  1. If you are going to an event have a look at the menu, so you have time to see what is available and chose a healthy option. If the event has canapés our suggestion is to get a small plate and put some canapés on there and eat from your plate – it is a lot easier to keep track of how much you are eating and portion control.

Most of all enjoy the day with family, friends or work colleagues. And good luck!

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