Australian Guide To Healthy Eating, Topical Nutrition

If vegetables had labels would we eat more?

I often wonder if vegetables had labels with health claims, would we be inclined to eat more of them? It is a common belief that to eat healthy is expensive. If we ate according to the Australian Guide To Healthy Eating, and achieved the required serves of fruit (2) and vegetables (5) each day, fruit and vegetables should take up about a third of our daily food intake. I find this fascinating, that a third of our food budget should be spent on fresh produce. Do you think this is the reality?

Is a third of your local supermarket taken up by fresh produce? When we consider that most fresh produce doesn’t have a label yet boasts many more nutrients than much of the packaged food, we can see that the labels have to work hard to sell the products, often focusing on minor nutrients, or clutching at the smallest benefit to promote sales.

(Source: Pixabay)

Let’s look at sweet potato as an example. If it had a label it might read low GI, source of Vitamin A, pre-biotics, protein and dietary fibre.  Conversely, if a packaged food had a different type of label, one that outlined all of the not so favourable qualities, would we still buy it? I guess this is similar to the cigarette cartons with the confronting disfiguring images on them. Did they work as a scare tactic? It certainly got people talking.

Next time you are considering the cost of your fruit and veg, think about the true nutritional benefits. Just because they aren’t on a label you cannot assume they don’t exist!

Simultaneously, don’t be persuaded by selective claims on a product, as it is often not the entire picture. It could be compared to social media, where people only show their best traits. It’s not 100% reality.

I might sound as if in against marketing, this isn’t the case. I just urge you to apply a bit of critical judgment when considering food choices :).

For anyone in Brisbane I hope you stay dry over the weekend with the expected torrential rain.

As always, thanks for stopping by, Madeleine (THG) 🍍.

Australian Guide To Healthy Eating

What should I be eating Part 4: Meat and alternatives

It has been awhile between posts for me, so I do apologise for making you wait for the next important core food group! First, a little refresher. To date we have covered:

  1. Grains and cereals
  2. Vegetables
  3. Fruits

Today I will discuss meat and alternatives. This core food group offers a wide variety of options to choose from such as lean meats, fish, tofu, eggs, poultry, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans. This group will most commonly be known for contributing protein, which we need for muscle growth and development. But protein also helps to keep us feeling full.

Were you aware that this food group offers zinc, B group vitamins and iron? You might be wondering why our bodies need these? Iron helps deliver oxygen to our organs so we can function at our peak. B group vitamins assist in various metabolic processes that ensure our body converts fat and carbohydrates into energy. Lastly zinc aids in the breakdown of fat and protein, but also keeps our immune system functioning to fight off infection, as well as supporting fertility.

In addition to protein and essential fats, legumes, nuts and seeds also provide an array of minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals for good health. Those of you that do not eat meat for ethical, environmental or personal reasons, you can still achieve adequate protein and nutrient intake and by consuming sufficient eggs, tofu, dairy, seeds, nuts and legumes in your diet.

What can you eat to get this fabulous concoction?

  • Boys and girls aged 1-3 = 1 serve/day
  • Boys and girls aged 4-8 = 1.5 serves/day
  • Boys and girls aged 9-18 = 2.5 serves/day
  • Men aged 19-50 = 3 serves/day
  • Men aged 51-70+ = 2.5 serves/day
  • Women aged 19-50 = 2.5 serves/day
  • Women aged 51-70+ = 2 serves/day

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your requirements go up too, so you can nourish your baby and produce protein rich breast milk.

  • Pregnant – 3.5 serves/day
  • Breastfeeding – 2.5 serves/day
(Photo credit: Healthy Food Planet)
(Photo credit: Healthy Food Planet)

What constitutes a serve?

A standard seve is typically 500-600kJ. This could be:

  • 65g cooked lean red meat such as lamb (fat trimmed), beef, pork, kangaroo, veal (90-100g raw)
  • 80g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or turkey (100g raw)
  • 100g cooked fish fillet (115g raw) or a small (90g) can of tuna, salmon or sardines
  • 2 x large eggs (120g total)
  • 1 cup (150g) cooked lentils, beans or legumes, chick or split peas
  • 170g tofu
  • 30g nuts or seeds, peanut, almond or any other nut butter
(Photo credit:
(Photo credit:

What about sausages and processed meats, will these cause cancer?

In October 2015 the World Health Organization [sic] issued a press release outlining findings that consumption of red meat probably causes cancer (colorectal, possibly pancreatic and prostate) in humans, and that the consumption of processed meats causes colorectal cancer.

The key here is the AMOUNT of these foods that are consumed.

For every extra 50g of processed meat eaten daily, your risk of colorectal cancer increases by 18%.

So do watch your intake of sausages and processed meats as these are exactly that, heavily processed and tend to offer varying amounts of sodium and saturated fat, often well above guidelines. Try to keep these foods as sometimes foods and not everyday foods.

Stay tuned for the 5th and final post on the core food groups, dairy.

Thanks for stopping by, Madeleine (THG)🍍

This blog post was written by Madeleine Baumgart and first appeared on That Healthy Girl blog


Australian Guide To Healthy Eating

What should I be eating Part 3: Fruits

To date I have looked at two of the five food groups: grains and cereals, and vegetables. Today I am going to focus on the fruit group. For me, fruits are linked to fond childhood adventures and trigger those memories. Picking mulberries off a friend’s tree and trying not to stain our hands or clothes as I enjoyed the sweetness. The many trees that boasted bright bunches of bananas on the drive to Ballina for Summer holidays. And just recently the mangoes, pineapples and coconuts that were plentiful in Hawaii. To me, fruits are like natural lollies. But like anything, there is too much of a good thing.

Like vegetables, fruits pack a decent serve of vitamins such as folate, which is important for pregnant women in preventing neural tube defects during pregnancy. It also provides vitamin C which plays a role in preventing scurvy, but if you’re not out at sea it will help with the formation of collagen which strengthens bones, connective tissue (less wrinkles) and assists in wound healing. Fruit is also an important source of dietary fibre which your bowels will thank you for. Lastly, fruit also offers carbohydrates in the form of natural sugars, so will provide you with energy.

By including fruit in your diet every day it will reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and assist in maintaining a healthy weight.

The minimum recommended amount of fruit needed is as follows:

Children 2-3 years need 1 serve a day.
Children 4-8 years need 1.5 serves per day.
Older children, adolescents, adults (including pregnant & lactating women) need 2 serves a day.

Most of us don’t achieve this minimum, so think about some ways you can add more fruit to your day.

Here are some examples of what a serve is:

  • 2 small apricots/peaches/kiwi fruit/plums
  • 1 medium banana/apple/orange
  • 1 cup of diced canned fruit
  • 1/2 fruit juice (be mindful that juice is lower and fibre, and is quite acidic which is not good for your teeth long term, so fresh fruit is always the better choice)

Here are a few tips to get your thinking:

Grating apple onto porridge or cereal.

Throwing blueberries/raspberries/blackberries into a smoothie.

Fresh mango in Summer, yum!

Mandarin/mango or strawberry tossed into a Summer salad.

Kiwi fruit with natural yoghurt and nuts as a snack.

Baked apples with walnuts, cinnamon and sultanas.

How do you enjoy your fruit?

Thanks for stopping by, Maddy (THG).



Australian Guide To Healthy Eating

What should I be eating Part 2: Vegetables

Last week I introduced the new Australian guidelines and outlined the fist and most abundant group (hopefully) in our diet, breads and cereals. This week I am going to discuss the next group, vegetables.

This group is by far the most colourful and exciting, there are simply so many varieties that it is near impossible to not find one that tickles your fancy. Vegetables are an important source of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and other exciting things like iron, zinc, protein and folate.

Including a wide selection of vegetables in your diet will actually reduce your risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases such as heart disease and some cancers. Due to their low energy dense properties, vegetables assist in the maintenance of a healthy weight and can also help with weight loss when consumed as part of a balanced diet (think food plate again). Terrific!

Now don’t just imagine green, wilted and tasteless vegetables, take a trip to your local farmers market and discover the different colours and varieties that are on show. And don’t forget, this group includes leaves, roots, tubers, seeds, stems, shoots and flowers (edible flowers anyone?) so there are more than enough to chose from.

Another good thing is to play with different cooking methods. Prior to starting my degree I was your typical 3 vegetable girl – carrots, sweet potato and broccoli, chopped in chunks and steamed. Now I try to shake things up a bit by simply cutting a different way, roasting with a splash of rice bran oil and fresh herbs or even grating and making vegetable patties. As with everything else, the possibilities are endless.

How much do we need?

Children 2.5-3 years need 2.5 serves.

Children 4-8 years need 4.5 serves.

Older children and adolescents need 5 serves.

Adults should aim for 5-6 serves a day, and lactating women need more, 7.5 serves.

A serve is approximately 75g, or if you don’t have scales (or can’t be bothered weighing):

  • 1 cup of leafy greens or raw salad ingredients
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/2 cup of sweetcorn
  • 1/2 cup of cooked, dried or canned beans, peas or lentils
  • 1/2 cup of cooked orange of green vegetables (spinach, carrots, pumpkin)
  • 1/2 medium potato or other starchy vegetables (taro, sweet potato, cassava)

Choosing vegetables that are in season will always be readily available and be of higher quality as they are less likely to be frozen. In saying that though, if frozen vegetables are your only choice due to cost or time, they are still a viable option. And they are probably more nutritious than vegetables that have been sitting in the fridge crisper for a week or more.

If you do happen to visit a local farmer’s market, get to know who you buy from and you will discover that they are contagiously passionate about their produce, and will often give you tips for cooking and let you know when things are in season. Otherwise head to this website for a list of what each season has to offer:

Fruit and Vegetable Seasonal Guide

Australian Guide To Healthy Eating

What should I be eating Part 1: Grains and cereals

I’ve long had many people ask me what I think they should eat to help them lose weight. The short answer is, it is different for everyone, as (no surprises here), we are all so different! Varying weight, height, ethnicity, amount of exercise and medical history can all effect our dietary requirements. So there is never one prescription.

There are however,  new Australian Dietary Guidelines which outline the five core food groups and propose a sensible selection of food, based on a bucket load of evidence from Nutrition experts. I am always inclined to base my suggestions on research rather than hearsay, as there is clinical research to support it.

The new food plate is depicted below.


As you can see, the food plate is made up of the five core food groups that our diet should be based on. You can see that the breads and cereal section takes up about a third of this plate (which may put fear in those of you with a carb phobia). Here is an outline of the number of serves we need each day to function and our best:

Men (19-50 years) need 6 serves/day, men (51-70 years) need 5.5 serves/day.

Women (19-50 years and 51-70 years) need 5 serves/day. 

Now, what does a serve look like I hear you ask?

Hear are some examples:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 cup of cooked pasta
  • 2/3 cup of cereal or
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice, noodles, barley, buckwheat, semolina, quinoa or polenta
  • 1/4 cup muesli
  • 1/2 cup cooked porridge
  • 1 crumpet
  • 1 small English muffin
  • 3 crispbreads

Now whole grain options are always going to be better for you as they contain more fibre which will keep you fuller for longer and give you sustained energy. This particular food group provide most of our carbohydrates, which is the body’s only source of glucose, or energy. If you deprive the body of (or severely restrict) carbohydrates, you are likely to be irritable and faint as the brain needs glucose to function. Unlike muscles and the liver, our brain CANNOT store glucose, so it needs it to function. It’s a no brainer really :). The body has alternate ways of finding glucose by breaking down fat or muscles, but the by products of these pathways are quite toxic to the body, and can really cause damage, as well as stunt what is a basic physiological process.

Sooo, the bottom line is, eat carbs as you need them for energy, particularly if you are exercising, working or even breathing (which I hope is all of us). Do not fear them as they can actually be your friend, and assist in weight loss when chosen correctly (think whole grain, wholemeal).

Maybe try something new to shake up your eating repertoire. There are loads of alternate grains available these days, so maybe keep that in mind next time you are at the supermarket.

Thanks for stopping by!

Maddy (THG).

For more information, pop on over to the revised website