Healthy eating habits/How can I eat well on a student budget?

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Grocery bag of healthy foods

Healthy eating doesn't need to be confusing![edit]

With so many different messages out there, it can be confusing to understand what we should be eating. The Australian dietary guidelines and the Australian guide to healthy eating are developed from the latest scientific evidence and they are a basis for what an everyday diet should look like.

Defining healthy eating[edit]

Eating healthy simply means choosing the food and nutrients that give you the best overall health status possible. Your diet should be one that maintains physical health through preventing any nutrient deficiencies or excesses. Both of which can lead to illness or chronic diseases. You can achieve this by modelling your daily diet on the AGHE and getting the required number of serves from each of the five food groups that is specific for your size and activity levels [1].

What should I eat?[edit]

Evidence suggests Australians need to eat more:

VEGETABLES and LEGUMES/BEANS

Good Food Display - NCI Visuals Online.jpg

Include a variety of coloured vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, capsicum, carrot, spinach, eggplant and pumpkin.The more types of coloured veggies on your plate the more nutrients you will receive, such as fiber and various vitamins and minerals.Legumes and beans include foods such as lentils, baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans. Guidelines recommend 6 serves for men and 5 serves for women aged 19-50 years.Most of our energy needs should come from this food group and the grains group (see below). Try to fill half of your plate with these foods.

FRUIT

Fresh fruit such as apples, bananas, apricots,oranges, various berries, canned fruit and dried fruit can be great options. Fruit juice should be consumed only occasionally and in small amounts. AGHE guidelines recommend 2 serves for both males and females 19-50 years.

GRAINS

This group includes various carbohydrates such as breads, rice, pasta, noodles, oats and muesli. Eat mostly whole and high fiber grains. Current recommendations for both males and females are 6 serves daily. Most of our energy should come from this group and the vegetable/legumes group (see above). Try to fill a quarter of your plate with grain foods.

MEATS & POULTRY

Choose more lean meats such as beef, lamb or kangaroo. Chicken and turkey are great poultry options and fish is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats for heart health. Nuts, legumes and beans are also part of this group. Foods in this group are good sources of iron, zinc and protein. Three serves per day are recommended for males aged 19-50 years, and 2.5 serves for females. Try to fill a quarter of your plate with these foods.

DAIRY

It is important to include low fat dairy options such as milk,yoghurt,cheese or soy or rice alternatives. Both men and women, 19-50 years are recommended to consume 2.5 serves daily.

What shouldn't I eat?[edit]

The guidelines don't recommend any thing you shouldn't eat, the important message is moderation. Be aware of what you eat and how often.

Evidence suggests Australians need to eat less:

Starchy vegetables, high and medium fat dairy products, red meat for men, refined cereals/grains such as white bread and foods from the discretionary foods group' such as soft drinks, pies, pizza, chips and alcoholic drinks. These discretionary foods or sometimes foods have lots of extra energy in the form of sugars and fats but have little or no nutrients.

Some unhealthy foods

Try to choose foods mostly from the food groups outlined above and moderate choices from the 'sometimes foods'. Depending on your size and activity levels there is an allowance of 0-2.5 serves from this group.

Can eating healthy really be cost effective?[edit]

Quick price check!

1 serve potatoes (150g) 1 serve B/F cereals (40g) 1 serve poultry (65-100g)
Raw potatoes $0.25 Rolled oats $0.10 Frozen whole chicken $0.35
Frozen chips $0.50 Cornflakes $0.25 Raw whole chicken $0.50
Crips/chips $3.00 Breakfast bars $0.95 Pre made chicken kebabs $1.80

For more information on the real cost of healthy foods, check out this link: [2].

Eight great shopping tips[edit]

Shopping tips
  1. Only buy what you need.
  2. Plan weekly meals and snacks.
  3. Don't shop on a empty stomach
  4. Spend most of your money on the 5 core food groups.
  5. Check online and catalogues for specials.
  6. When buying extra foods choose one item for example ice cream or chocolate. Have it in small amounts and savour for long as possible.
  7. Stock up on basics: Includes frozen and canned veggies, fruit, fish, dried legumes (lentils, chickpeas, baked beans and 4 bean mix), long life milk, dry pasta, noodles, rice and other grains.
  8. Buy things you can freeze such as wholegrain breads and lean cuts of meats and fish.

Getting the most nutritious foods from your budget[edit]

Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season

Apples (autumn, winter) Banana, cauliflower, broccoli (all year). For more information, go to this handy link [3]

Go to fresh food & local markets

Kingsbury/ La Trobe University market every Sunday. Bundoora park farmers market 1st Saturday of each month. Preston markets. For more information head to: [4]

Bulk up your meat dishes with... canned legumes, extra vegetables & different whole-grains like quinoa, polenta and couscous.

Make your own desserts based on low fat milk, yoghurt or fruits- Make sure to limit added sugars.

Drink more water- this is great because it is free! Cut back on soft drinks, cordials and extra added sugars fruit juice and swap to this. Add a slice of lemon or orange for added flavour!

References[edit]

1. Australian guide to healthy eating. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/

2. Healthy eating tips. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Healthy_eating_for_children_and_adults

3. Melbourne and Victoria seasonal food guide.(2010). Retrieved from http://seasonalfoodguide.com/melbourne-victoria-seasonal-fresh-produce-guide-fruits-vegetables-in-season-availability-australia.html

4. Victoria farmers market association. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.vicfarmersmarkets.org.au/