Life can throw us some curveballs from time to time. Big or small, when these disruptions happen it’s common for
eating habits to be low on our list of priorities.
If you’re struggling with where to start, here are some tips from HBF dietitian Kate Kenny to take an objective look at your habits, set achievable goals and get back on track.
- Get back to basics
While changing nutrition trends might regularly make the headlines, remember the fundamental nutrition
recommendations have not significantly changed for many years. There’s no single magic food or nutrient
when it comes to dietary recommendations, instead focus on eating a variety of foods from each of the core food
- Milk, yoghurt & cheese (or milk alternatives)
- Lean meat, fish, chicken, tofu, legumes & nuts
Building eating habits on these core food groups will help you naturally achieve a balanced diet which is high in
protective nutrients and low in saturated fats, trans fats, salt and sugar (and that’s a good thing).
Make goals to break bad habits
We’re all prone to making bad food habits from time to time – whether it’s overeating, snacking
or binging a few too many pieces of chocolate on a Friday night. The key to breaking these habits is to focus on
one or two goals at a time. Try to focus on what “to do” rather than what “not to do”.
Keep in mind it’s about progress, not perfection.
For example, if you’re in the habit of grazing on biscuits late afternoon, your goal could be
“I’m going to have an apple mid-afternoon”, not “I’m not going to eat a biscuit
Tip: If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, there are
dietary quizzes you can use for guidance. Try the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score or this Healthy Eating Quiz developed by the University of
After a period of time you may wish to revisit the dietary quizzes and evaluate the success of your changes and
either introduce another goal or adjust your current goals to make further progress.
When your routine has been disrupted there are a lot of things that can be impacted, meal planning and
preparation being one of them. This can sometimes lead to less healthy, albeit convenient, choices. Below are a
couple of ideas to make healthy eating more achievable
- Plan at least a few meals for the week ahead, this can save you the hassle of last-minute trips to the shop
- Make larger batches of well-balanced meals and freeze the leftovers.
- Stock the pantry and freezer with some staples that can be combined to make a quick meal. Items such as
frozen vegetables, canned beans, canned tomatoes, canned tuna/salmon, microwavable rice are great.
We are constantly making choices about food, what to eat, when to eat, how to eat and how much to eat. Some
choices we’re aware of and others we’re not. Stay on top of this by trying to remain aware of your
eating habits. It’s amazing what you can discover by simply tuning in.
You might find yourself halfway through your third chocolate biscuit and realise you’re not even enjoying
it. Or you might find yourself halfway through the day wondering why your energy is fading and realise you
haven’t eaten at all. A few tips:
- Keep the nutritious foods like fruit, unsalted nuts and yoghurt within reach - on the bench in a bowl or eye
level in the pantry or fridge
- Keep the treat foods like chips, chocolate and lollies further from reach - perhaps top shelf of the pantry
- Divide adequate portions of meals or snacks ahead of time (perhaps when not hungry so your logical brain
does more thinking than your hungry brain)
- Check that your routine allows you enough time to stop and eat regularly
There will always be some change in our lives that we’ll have to cope with, but no matter what challenges life
throws at us we will always need to eat. Building
nutritious eating habits can be of great comfort and keep you well during a stressful time.
Above all, be kind to yourself. If you’re not so happy with the food choices you made one day, tomorrow is a
new day to make better choices.
HBF health & support programs
As an HBF health member, you get access to a range of support and health programs to get you back to yourself.
This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation
or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider
whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.