Eating for value: what are you really getting out of your food?

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As today’s lifestyles become increasingly busy and fast-paced, many of us find ourselves with little time to manage our health and wellbeing – and when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, our diets are often the first to feel it. In between work meetings, school pick-up and household chores, many of us simply feed ourselves whatever is easy and filling, without considering the nutritional value of our food choices.

But a busy lifestyle is reason to pay more attention to our diets, not less. Rather than going for quick filler foods to simply ‘get through’ the day, opt for these nutrient-rich alternatives to fuel your body, not just feed it.

Food: Coffee
Swap for: Green tea

Almost everyone relies on a cup of coffee to get going in the morning, but despite waking us up with a quick caffeine hit, coffee offers very few nutritional benefits. In contrast, a cup of green tea can help increase mental focus, kick-start metabolism and improve mood, while nutrients like vitamin A, amino acids and polyphenol nourish and heal the body from the inside out.

Food: Cornflakes, Vegemite on white toast, or egg and bacon roll
Swap for: Wholegrain oats, avocado on rye toast, or egg omelette

Popular brekkie foods like cornflakes and bacon and eggs might be quick and delicious, but they’re also worryingly high in sodium, sugar and fats. Instead, opt for breakfasts based on whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins for lasting fullness and slow-release energy to get you through the morning.

Food: Muffin or biscuits
Swap for: Banana, wholegrain muesli bar, or peanut butter on sliced apple

Foods like muffins and biscuits are a common choice for morning tea, but they offer virtually no nutritional benefits. Fight the mid-morning munchies with a small snack of fresh fruit or a wholegrain muesli bar or rice cake. Give yourself enough fibre to satiate your appetite, and enough (natural) sugar to pick up your energy levels until lunchtime.

Food: Ham and salad roll
Swap for: Spinach and kale pasta salad with tuna

Most typical lunch foods like chicken wraps, sushi and sandwiches aren’t the worst things you could put into your body, but they often aren’t the best either. To really get the most out of your lunch, aim to eat a mix of lean proteins, whole grains (or just sub in your favourite Slendier product) and dark leafy greens to give yourself the energy, iron and fibre to make it through the rest of the day.

Food: Chips, milk chocolate or sweets
Swap for: Popcorn, dark chocolate, or berries

The famous 3pm energy slump is notorious for turning us to the nearest vending machine – often leaving us feeling guilty and sluggish afterwards! Next time it hits, make sure you have some healthier options on hand. Berries and dark chocolate are both rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, while air-popped popcorn and rice cakes provide essential fibre and B vitamins.

Food: Spaghetti bolognese
Swap for: Veggie stir-fry with chickpeas, lentils and lean meat

Carb-heavy dinners like pasta, pizza and fried rice are often the go-to at the end of a long, busy day. But rather than nourishing us, they often leave us feeling heavy, bloated and never quite satisfied. A healthy dinner should incorporate dark leafy greens, legumes, and lean meat, as well as only a small serving of whole grains, if any (hello, Slendier!). Leafy greens will provide antioxidants and fibre, while the lean meat will provide some much-needed iron to aid muscle and tissue repair after a hectic day.

Food: Ice-cream
Swap for: Greek yoghurt with berries and dark chocolate chips

It’s not a crime to indulge in something sweet and delicious at the end of the day, but you should still look for the healthier choice. Steer clear of ice-creams, pies and pastries and instead help yourself to some plain Greek yoghurt topped with fresh fruit or dark chocolate chips. Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein and probiotics, while a handful of berries and dark chocolate chips add antioxidants (and a delicious flavour!).

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