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Nutrition and Breastfeeding Articles

‘It is hard to know what to believe with so much conflicting nutrition
information. ​I provide you with the latest evidence-based facts.’



By Nicole Bando, Family & Paediatric Dietitian & Lactation Consultant

With school on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about your child’s lunch box. The lunch box provides up to 40% of a child’s daily intake and presents a vital opportunity to fuel rapid growth, development & learning. A well-packed lunch can maximise a child’s concentration and learning ability by sustaining energy levels, promoting gut health, stabilising mood, encouraging healthy growth and building healthy habits to take into their adult years.

How to pack a balanced lunch box:

  • Cover the 5 food groups to ensure that your child is receiving all the nutrients they need.
  • For example: fruit, chopped vegetables, small tub of yoghurt, wholegrain sandwich with cheese and salad.
  • Include protein (egg, tofu, tuna, lean meat, baked beans seeds, nuts (if permitted), dairy) & slow release carbohydrates (wholegrain breads, crackers, dairy foods, fruit, popcorn, pasta spirals, other grains). This will ensure they do not come home starving and over consume during the afternoon and evening.
  • Present the same foods in different ways: e.g. cucumber slices, sticks, whole baby cucumbers
  • Treat foods should only appear sometimes, once every week or two. Consider where your child may be receiving other treats, do they need them in their lunches too? (This includes home baked goods, muesli bars, fruit straps, pretzels, juice, chips, etc.)
  • Involve the children in lunch prep – ask what they would like within reason e.g. carrot or cucumber
  • Continue to send new foods, even if they come home at first. If they are not offered, your child will never try them. Presenting foods frequently helps to normalise them as part of their daily diets.
  • If lunch comes home uneaten, offer as an after school snack, before offering an alternative.
  • If your child only likes Vegemite sandwiches, switch to wholegrain bread, add some fruit, veg & dairy to their lunch boxes for balance.

Remember that even small changes are positive, so try simple swaps such as:

  • Swap a processed snack for a piece of fruit
  • If vegetables are no longer sent, start by sending one or two pieces each day. Acceptance takes time and with persistence the food will be tasted & even eaten.
  • Swap a less nutritious snack for something better e.g chips for popcorn, or banana bread for a regular sized piece of raisin bread with cream cheese.
  • This can be a tricky area to navigate for families, please come and see me for advice to help your kids achieve their best growth and learning potential through nutrition.

For more information, see these links: Nutrition Australia:
Follow Nicole on Facebook @NicoleBandoAPD or Instagram @nicolebandoapd for more nutritious family ideas
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meal prep for beginners

By Nicole Bando, Family & Paediatric Dietitian & Lactation Consultant
January 25, 2020

If you’d like a more organised start to the work and school year, learn to meal prep like a boss. This really is one of the best ways to keep healthy and gets easier with practice. Mix and match combinations and change it up next week. This may seem daunting at first, but trust me, a couple of hours cooking on a Sunday wins many more hours during the week and takes the stress out of last minute cooking & supermarket dashes, amongst work, school and extra-curricular activity runs.
Recipes and shopping list included below.


  • Avoid following multiple recipes, this is time consuming and daunting.
  • Choose something easy that you know well, e.g. spaghetti bolognaise.
  • Mix and match by choosing 1 option from each group:

1. Carbohydrate: 500g pasta, boiled, 1-2 cups quinoa, cooked, 1 loaf wholegrain bread and 1 packet mountain bread wraps
2. Protein: 500g grilled chicken, Plant boosted bolognaise, 6-8 boiled eggs, small cans tuna in olive oil, tinned four bean mix
3. Vegetable: 1 tray roasted vegetables (recipe here), 1 large bag spinach leaves, 1 bag pre-packaged salad mix, chopped fresh vegetables (carrot, cucumber, capsicum, etc.), medium potatoes and broccoli
4. Small amount of good fats: olive oil, yoghurt dressing, avocado, nuts & seeds

Sample meal ideas


  • Mountain bread wraps + boiled eggs, avocado and salad mix
  • Quinoa + roast vegetables + grilled chicken + olive oil, seeds
  • Spaghetti bolognaise
  • Wholegrain bread + tuna + avocado + handful spinach mix + chopped fresh vegetables


  • Spaghetti bolognaise
  • Bolognaise + jacket potato + green salad
  • Jacket potato + canned bean mix + grated cheese + salad mix
  • Mountain bread bolognaise burritos
  • Chicken + leftover pasta + bag spinach + 400g can chickpeas, drained

These meals are designed to last in the fridge roughly 3 days. Divide meals into containers and freeze chicken or bolognaise that will not be used within 3 days to ensure food safety. Simply defrost for use later in the week.

caffeine, mercury & food safety whilst pregnant

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Here is some food advice to get you started. Caffeine crosses the placenta during pregnancy. Is it safe? Too much can increase the risk of miscarriage or a low birth weight baby. It is safe to drink coffee, it’s all about the quantity:
–  Limit to <200mg/day = 1-2 small cups of coffee per day (espresso, percolated) and a cup of tea (green or weak strength), or 3-4 instant coffees per day
Other sources of caffeine include: tea, cola, energy drinks, chocolate, guarana and caffeine supplements.

Found in fish and seafood. Excessive amounts associated with brain injury and toxicity. Deep sea fish contain the highest levels. Fish is a really important source of omega-3 fats, which assist baby’s brain development, so include it in the below quantities:

Current recommendations (FSANZ):

–  Limit fish such as swordfish and flake to once per fortnight and avoid other fish for the fortnight.

–  Limit fish such as orange roughy, catfish to (150g) per week.

–  Limit all other fish (such as salmon, tuna, whiting) to 2-3 serves per week.
There are many dietary consideration during pregnancy. If you’d like individualised advice, come along for an antenatal nutrition consult at NEST Family Clinic.
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