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Healthy Diet – Questions and Answers

Summer! A time we get out and about, catch up with friends, family get-togethers, parties, school break ups and farewells, means your diary is bursting at the seams and everywhere you turn there’s indulgent food being offered to both yourself and your children.

Healthy Diet – Questions and Answers

Q: How can I treat my kids to their favourite foods but still ensure they are getting a healthy diet?

A: One of the simplest ways to moderate your child’s intake of treat foods is to establish a healthy approach to portion control. If your child loves sweets, set out an agreed upon portion in advance so that their expectations are managed and you are ensuring they aren’t getting too much of a good thing. Another strategy is to replace high energy/high fat ingredients with healthier alternatives. For example, if your children love to eat hot chips, why not make ovenbaked chips. Simply slice the potato into wedges, spray lightly with canola oil and then cook at 180 degrees for 1 hour.

Q: Are the natural trans fats in dairy as harmful for the body as man-made trans fats?

A: There have been some suggestions that naturally occurring trans fats are less harmful than commercially made ones. The reason for this suggestion is that man-made trans fats are created when healthy, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated liquid vegetable oils go through a process called partial hydrogenation. However the current scientific evidence is inconclusive. The main effect of trans fats (whether natural or man made) is that they raise ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and decrease ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which increases the risk for heart disease. The good news is that in Australia, many companies in the food industry are proactively working to reduce trans fats. As a result the overall consumption of trans fat in Australia is low. Australians consume much less trans fat than saturated fat, meaning saturated fat is more of a health concern. For heart health, it is recommended that you try to limit pastries, pies, biscuits and cakes to only occasionally and eat less than 2g trans fat each day.

Q: My teenage daughter is skipping breakfast at the moment. What are the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast?

Healthy Diet – Questions and Answers A: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it is a long time since the body was last refuelled. A nutritious and sustaining breakfast will supply her with the energy she needs to get the day off to the right start. A breakfast that is high in carbohydrate will supply energy for muscles and the brain. Carbohydrate foods that are good breakfast choices include bread, crumpets, cereal, fruit, milk and yogurt. Wholegrain breads and cereals are the best option for breakfast, as they contain carbohydrates, essential nutrients and dietary fibre, which is important for inner balance. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamins and minerals to help boost daily nutrition. If time in the mornings is limited, try quick options like reduced fat-yogurt, wholegrain toast or a piece of fruit.

Q: What are the best drinks to put in my child’s lunchbox?

A: Water and reduced-fat milk are the best drinks for children to drink most of the time. They can be frozen to help keep foods in the lunch box cool. A small tetra pack or bottle (125 mL) of fruit juice is also OK. Sweet drinks such as cordials and soft drinks are high in sugar. It’s best to keep these drinks as special treats.

Q: It’s challenging to make sure my family has healthy choices – what should I look for in an evening meal?

A: When planning an evening meal, start with a carbohydrate base. This could be pasta, rice, noodles, couscous, bread or potato. Include a source of protein such as lean meat, skin-free poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, beans or lentils. Add a colourful mix of vegetables and/or fruit to provide fibre, vitamins and minerals. The evening meal can be an opportunity to make up for a poor intake of particular nutrients. For example, if family members struggle with getting adequate calcium, make a pasta sauce or curry based on CARNATION Light & Creamy Evaporated Milk. If iron absorption is a problem, combine lean red meat with vegetables rich in vitamin C. If your family members are reluctant vegetable eaters, hide grated carrot and zucchini in spaghetti bolognese or slice some raw vegetable sticks as appetisers. Serve a wide variety of foods and your family will receive all the nutrients they require. Healthy Diet – Questions and Answers

Q: Are stir fries healthy?

A: Stir-frying is an excellent way to prepare a healthy meal. In addition to encouraging vegetable consumption, they require very little fat to get a delicious result. The technique is fairly straightforward. A small amount of oil is used at high temperatures to quickly sear the food. Additional flavourings such as salt-reduced soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, chilli and ginger can be used to help bring the dish to life.

Q: My kids are all very active and by the time we get them home after school activities, they are starving. How can I feed them quickly without sacrificing taste and nutrition?

A: There are a few strategies to use. The first is to plan ahead, keep the fridge and pantry well-stocked and master a few quick recipes such as stir-fries, risottos, pasta sauces and curries. Use time-saving products such as tinned tomatoes, minced herbs, bottled pasta sauce, flavour bases and frozen vegetables. Supplement these with fresh ingredients to create quick, tasty and nutritious meals. Another option is to double-up when cooking meals. A bolognese sauce can be turned into a lasagne, chilli con carne or canneloni for another night. A final option is to give the kids a quick snack to take the edge off their hunger – a bowl of soup, a milkshake, sandwich or muffin are good examples of easy, nutritious snack choices.