‘DISCRETIONARY FOODS’ – WHAT ARE THEY, AND CAN I EVER HAVE THEM?
Words by CORE+ Port Melbourne trainer and qualified nutritionist, Rosalyn D’Angelo.
I’m a big sweet tooth. Forget chips and pizza, give me a chocolate biscuit or piece of cake any day!
These foods are what we call ‘discretionary’ foods – aka, ‘sometimes foods’. We don’t require them for good health, and they’re high in sugar, saturated fat and salt. There are plenty of other discretionary foods – think processed meats, pastries and pies, cream, butter, alcohol and sugar-sweetened drinks.
These foods can be an important part of celebrating and socialising, but if they are getting in the way of achieving your health goals, or they’re replacing healthy meals and jeopardising your nutrient intake, it might be time to pull back on them a little.
Conversely, it’s important to remember you don’t need to have a perfect diet in order to reach your goals. At the end of the day, it’s all about our two friends: balance and portion control!
Here are my top tips on enjoying discretionary foods responsibly:
- Prioritise your favourite foods and eat them at a time when you get the most joy. When I know I’m going out for a beautiful diner with friends after work and plan on having wine and dessert, it’s pretty easy for me to say no to those sausage rolls on offer at morning tea.
- It’s safe to say the first bite is the best. So, savour it and enjoy it, and you’ll end up needing less to be satisfied.
- Rather than focussing on what you shouldn’t be eating every day, focus on what you should be eating: plenty of plant food, fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy foods, lean proteins and wholegrain carbohydrates. Remember that food is your body’s fuel – you get out what you put in. You’re the most rare and expensive type of sports car, so you need the best fuel you can find!
- Swap your favourite discretionary food for something similar, but healthier. For example, when I feel like something sweet, I might have some porridge with a little honey, or even a small piece of dark chocolate melted through. Other sweet healthy treats include fresh dates (freeze them and they taste like caramel!) and homemade mini muffins (think banana, Greek yoghurt, berries and oats).
Do you have a quick recipe for your favourite go-to healthy ‘sometimes food’? Share it with us over at the CORE+ Facebook page!