Organised October - Week Two: Nutrition

Nutrition, where to start?

Nutrition is a forever developing field with new research occurring every day. But what does nutrition mean to the regular joes of the world?
When we talk about nutrition we are not talking about dieting or eating less or drinking protein shakes. We are talking about a healthy diet, a nutritious diet. Nutrients are what supports your body and all its functions. Every nutrient has a purpose and is important, some nutrients are more talked about than others but it doesn't mean it is ok to leave them out. Protein is often seen in gyms or in any diet program, promoting protein shakes, protein balls, protein ice cream etc. Protein is important and does play an important role in developing muscle and recovery, however the amount of protein regular person needs on a daily basis is far less than what is expected.

Healthy eating doesn't require protein loading or expensive products or focusing on your weight. It is simply just making a positive choice towards your food so that you feel better overall. By eating a wide range of foods you will provide your body with all it needs to be its best. Eating right will not only help with weight management but also helps sustain energy levels, boost your immune system and make your feel better all over.



So how can we do this?

It is so common for people to rush through their morning, running late for work and end up grabbing a coffee and toast on the way out the door. If you are one of these people, do you ever notice that by mid-morning your stomach is growling, your easily distracted and finding it hard to focus on your work and craving something sugary and sweet? This is all because you body has already used up all its easily accessible energy (sugar and caffeine) and its energy stores are depleted. A good way to offset this is by eating a breakfast which provides slow release energy, lasting you until your lunch break.

A great food which provides slow release energy is a complex carbohydrate. Carbohydrates over the years have received a bad name, with so many diets recommending to cut them out. Too often clients say they have cut out carbs to lose weight and be healthier, but they don't seem to be achieving any results and are tired all the time. I am here to tell you, carbohydrates are NOT BAD! There is such a thing as healthy carbohydrates and no that does not include pastries, potato chips, white pasta and bread. It does include oats, sweet potato, fruits, nuts, quinoa, vegetables, legumes, wholemeal bread and pasta and the list goes on. These 'healthier' carbohydrates provide your body with a longer lasting slow releasing energy which means your body has all the energy it needs to function and concentrate for longer. 

When looking at eating a balanced diet, it is important to include something from all 5 food groups

  1. Vegetables and legumes
  2. Fruits
  3. Grains - Mostly wholegrain and high cereal fibre varieties ie. breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley.
  4. Lean meats - poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans
  5. Dairy - milk, yoghurt, cheese or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)
The Australian dietary guidelines recommend eating a minimum number of portions from each food group to ensure all nutrient needs are met and a healthy diet is consumed. 

  • Vegetables = 6
  • Fruit = 2
  • Grains = 6
  • Meat = 3
  • Dairy = 2.5
Each food group contains different nutrients and minerals, and within each food group are similar nutrients and minerals, meaning that eating different foods which falls under the same food group will provide you with the same nutrients. However it also means that eating a wide variety of food is important to cover all the nutrient needs.

How Big Is A Serve?

Serving sizes do vary between foods and food groups. Below are some examples of serving sizes for particular foods. However there is also a little cheat way to estimate a serving size. When looking at a piece of meat, steak for example. The size of your palm is one serve. If you cup your hands together that is a single serve of vegetables. Make a fist with one hand and that is roughly the size of a serving of fruit and a serving of grains. Now everyones hands are different sizes, so this is no exact measurement, but it is a good way to roughly guess how much you are eating if weighing and measuring is not an option.


  • ½ Cup cooked green or orange vegetables e.g. broccoli, spinach, carrots
  • ½ cup cooked or canned beans, peas or lentils
  • 1 cup of green leafy or raw salad vegetables
  • ½ medium potato or starchy vegetables e.g sweet potato, taro
  • 1 medium tomato


  • 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
  • 2 small kiwi fruits, plums or apricots
  • 1 cup of canned or diced fruit


  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ a medium roll or flat bread
  • ½ a cup of cooked rice, pasta or noodles
  • ¼ cup of muesli
  • 1 small English muffin


  • 65g of cooked lean red meat e.g. beef, lamb, veal, pork
  • 80g of cooked lean poultry e.g. chicken or turkey
  • 100g of cooked fish or 1 small can
  • 2 large eggs
  • 170g of tofu


  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 slices of hard cheese
  • ½ cup of ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup of yoghurt
  • 1 cup of soy, rice or almond milk
When it comes to looking at packages of food there is a nutrient table on every packet in Australia. If you have ever looked at it, there is a section which specifies the amount of nutrients provided within the product. There are also two columns of numbers, the first is the amount of nutrient in each serve and the second is the amount of nutrient within 100g. When looking at these two columns, it is important to look at the per 100g column and not the per serving column. The per serving column can be misleading as serving sizes between foods and between packets of foods can vary greatly. Sometimes the numbers of the per serving can look really good, but make sure to take note of how big one serving is. For example a serving of Miss Michel's Munchies Nut and Seed crackers, looks a lot better than the per 100g, however when looking at the number of servings in a packet and how big one serving is, it is just 1 cracker to a serve of 41g with 6 servings per packet. However when looking at the per 100g column it is comparable across all products as the amount is the same. 

Now the basics of what is nutrition and what should be consumed have been covered, lets look at incorporating this information into a daily meal such as breakfast. Breakfast can set you up for the day, providing energy and nutrients. Many people chose not to eat breakfast and skip it until later, and depending on when and what you chose to eat for your first meal this is ok. The main thing is to be aware of what your body needs and when it needs it. If you are running a marathon that day it is important to eat, if there is a busy day at work which will require a lot of concentration it is important to eat. If you are having an easy going morning and are planning on having a big lunch then its ok to wait. What ever the situation is, just listen to your body!

There are diets which restrict the time of which food is consumed, and there is a lot of research to support this style of eating. For more information on time restricted feeding check out our blog on 'Intermittent fasting'.

Whether your breakfast is just toast and peanut butter or eggs and sausage, try to include some grains and protein, these provide long lasting, slow release energy.

Some Quick Easy Breakfast Ideas

#1 Wholesome Eggs on Toast

  • 2 pieces of whole grain toast (2 serves of grains)
  • 1 cup of raw spinach (1 serve of veg)
  • 2 eggs (1 serve of protein/meat)
  • slice of brie cheese (.5 serve of dairy)
  • topped with a sprinkle of flax seed (.5 serve of fruit/nuts)

This meal includes a variety of food groups and incorporates foods low in sugar, high in protein with slow release energy and it take minimal time to prepare.

#2 Chia Pudding

Another recipe great for those with minimal time in the mornings is chia pudding. This is prepared the night before and can be prepared a few at a time.

  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
  • 3 tbs of maple syrup
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1.5 cups of milk (oat or nut milk is a great option)
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds

Mix all of this together with a whisk and place into small jars (this will make 4 portions), cover and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning you can eat it as it is or toss some oats or granola on top with fresh berries. This is a great option for those who have limited time in the morning and prefer to take something to go. It can be prepared and set in a bigger container such as a protein shaker, so it is easy to quickly add your favourite topping, put a lid on it and eat it on the way. This is quicker than a smoothie, incorporates more food groups and will provide a longer lasting energy.

Smoothies are also good options for those who don't like to eat much in the morning and there are blenders out there which allow you the blend on the go. This is also a great option for those lacking time in the morning and can easily be prepared the night before to make less stress for the morning. However smoothies and protein shakes do not provide much fibre or require much digestion. Digestion contributes to our basal metabolism which burns calories. But that is a topic for another day.

How do you do breakfast? quick, fast and on the go? Or sit down and eat slowly?

- Alyssa Michel -

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