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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.’


how to socialise your way to health

Nicole Bando, APD, IBCLC

It’s a privilege to be allowed to glimpse into a person’s life, family, thoughts and vulnerabilities. When discussing weight, health and body image, these aspects are so closely intertwined, that to really understand someone’s dietary choices, you must first understand them. Celebrations, eating out and socialising are a part of our lives and learning how to manage these occasions makes a big difference to your everyday health. Though it can be tricky to make informed choices at times of temptation and plenty, we can learn how to integrate these parts of our lives to create a balanced approach.

I read an article by The Age columnist, Jessica Irvine on the weekend, which really spoke to me of this concept. It highlighted how in every possible way, we live in a modern society of excess; of consumerism, objects, stuff, and of course, food. There is so much choice and availability all the time, that it can start to feel like our only choice is to consume.

So there’s the clincher; choice. I don’t want to be reductionist about health and weight management. I understand the complexities; the psychological, medical, genetic, environmental and physical factors associated with health decisions. However, if we focus on our choices in a given situation and how we can learn to make better ones, we start seeing longer term shifts in health outcomes such as weight, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and importantly, how we feel about ourselves. It’s a good time to consider how to live and derive pleasure from special occasions, without jeopardising what is of utmost importance; our own precious health. This is possible, even when three course meals are on offer for days in a row.

1. Forward plan: List every occasion over the next week and be strategic with meals and snacks on those days. Is it a big lunch you are feeling concerned about? Have a good breakfast – oats with berries and yoghurt, or eggs on multigrain with tomato and do something active (go for a walk or gym class). In other words, set yourself up to make healthy, informed and sound decisions.

2. Consider what will be on offer: if going out, check the menu in advance and make the best decision you can. If at someone’s home, you may have an idea of the fare. When you arrive, scope out what is available decide what you would really love to eat. Please, enjoy it. By allowing yourself to do so and letting go of dieting ‘rules’, such as ‘no bread or pasta or dessert,’ you will immediately make better choices. This doesn’t mean lose all barometer of fullness and go crazy; it means – give yourself the permission to taste, nourish and celebrate, whilst listening and ultimately respecting your body. Take a plate and load up on salads or vegetables, choose a small amount of the available protein (chicken, meat, fish) and similar size of carbohydrate (pasta, potato, rice). Try to avoid mindless snacking on dip & cheese platters and save room for the main event. If there is a cheese you love, take a small piece with crackers, taste and enjoy it.

3. Save room for your favourite dessert (mine is my mum’s chocolate cake). Avoid going back for seconds by eating slowly, check in on how you are feeling. Enjoy a glass of wine if it makes you happy. Move away from the table when done; a family board game or walk around the block might be a welcome distraction.

4. If you feel uncomfortably full, or have over indulged, avoid the guilt and negative self talk and instead reset at the next meal. Choose to eat lighter – a salad, or some toast and please do not punish yourself. Food is not tied into moral worth, eating too much does not make a person ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it makes them human. Learning from these times can help us approach the next occasion differently. The ability to reset helps us shift towards a healthy lifestyle approach; it gets easier as time goes on.

5. Perspective: One meal in isolation is not going to have a long-term impact, it is when the splurge meals carry on for days or weeks that the impact is greater.

6. Realistic expectations: Make healthy choices most of the time, plan regular exercise opportunities and be organised with fresh, seasonal meal ideas and snacks. These are the best steps towards health.

I would love the privilege to help you glow, grow or nurture and develop a healthier relationship with food. My approach is tailored to each individual’s situation. I am available for consults at NEST Family Clinic and booking details can be found at

Rock silly season nutrition with these 5 tips

1. Balance
When life gets a little crazy busy, aim to be prepared for the weeks with meal prepping. Try double batch cooking and freezing. Keep canned or frozen foods handy, such as vegetables, eggs, baked beans & wholegrain bread for quick and healthy meals. If you can, take some time for yourself to do something you love.

2. Don’t restrict yourself
Though there may be more treats around than usual, it’s important not to restrict yourself before or after social occasions, by skipping meals. Stick to fresh whole foods where possible, with loads of fruits and vegetables, and remember this season is a small part of the year, so enjoy it and listen to your body.

3. Find time to move
Movement is so important for both your physical and mental health. Small steps count, so even 10-15 minutes of activity is a great start, try gradually building up to 30 minutes a day. Switch off by playing a podcast or your favourite music.

4. Listen to your hunger cues
It’s easy to overeat when food is plentiful. Tune into your hunger & fullness signals by taking your time. Remember it takes 20-30 minutes after eating for these signals to occur. Eat with awareness; choose foods you really feel like, to avoid mindless grazing.

5. Perspective
Don’t let a day, a week, or even a month derail your overall health and wellbeing. It’s a small part of the year and whilst it’s important to make healthful choices and keep moving, it is also ok to indulge sometimes. If you can give yourself permission to enjoy, and tune into your body’s messages, it can help to avoid unhelpful guilt. Aim to keep routine and structure where possible.

By Emma McShane, Dietitian & Nicole Bando, APD, IBCLC

Healthier party food

By Emma McShane, Dietitian. Edited by Nicole Bando, Dietitian & IBCLC, August 2022

At a party, a small amount of sugary food is okay, though it is important to ensure the majority of the food includes healthy options for children to ensure they are being nourished for growth & their best health. Children may have many parties over a weekend, which means their opportunity to eat high sugar, processed foods is beyond their needs for growth.

For quick, easy packaged food options to include in your next kids’ party, check out this link:

These colourful ideas also promote growth, mood, play & concentration:

–    Vegetable sausage rolls made with filo pastry
–    Assorted sandwiches using multigrain bread
–    Fruit skewers
–    Fruit and yoghurt cups
–    Wholemeal pita bread pizzas loaded with vegetables such as spinach, capsicum, tomato, mushrooms etc.
–    Healthy bliss balls
–    Popcorn for children over 3 years of age
–    Cheese and crackers
–    Rice crackers & dips
–    See our allergy friendly party food list

Lolly bags have an excessive amount of sugar and minimal nutrients, and are generally not recommended. Try swapping out lollies for something else, such as colouring books and utensils, craft ideas or recipe cards for healthy foods to make at home. Or offer 1 small treat instead of a bag.

Catering for Christmas? How to meal plan for the big day

Many people worry that eating too much on Christmas day will ruin their health goals, however some perspective can help. It is one day of the year, and is meant to be enjoyed, so don’t worry about your activity goals or healthy eating habits for this day. One day will not break the healthy habits you have created for yourself. It is only if these habits carry through for days and weeks that our health can be impacted.

Are you catering for Christmas Day and feeling overwhelmed by the task and dietary requirements?
We recommend following our easy structure for the perfect Christmas spread:

1.  2x Protein: Meat e.g. Beef, chicken, ham or turkey. This can be barbequed or roasted depending on what is easiest for you.
A great vegetarian or vegan option is a mushroom wellington, whole roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce or a vegetable lasagne.

2. 2-3x Vegetables (make this the rainbow – use different vegetables with different colours).-
Starch: No Christmas spread is complete without roasted potatoes, pumpkin or sweet potato. Chop roughly, place in a baking tray with garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Roast for about 40 minutes for crispy goodness.
Greens: Steamed green beans with a drizzle of lemon and olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper are simple & fresh. Or Brussel sprouts pan-fried with some coconut oil.
Steamed carrots with a sprinkle of cinnamon & roasted almonds (if no allergies)
Note that all these vegetable dishes are  gluten, dairy and egg free.

1-2x Salads
Examples include:

  • A fresh garden salad with lots of green leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, and olives can be delicious. Add a simple dressing made from olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, and vinegar for extra flavour.
  • Pulse salad e.g. lentil salad with baby beetroot and spinach is a hearty protein option for vegans/vegetarians.

3. Bread: good quality sourdough or wholegrain breads are great options. Gluten free brands include Helga’s and GF Precinct.
4. 1-2x Desserts –
Why not try our smoothie popsicles, great for kids, the recipe can be found here:
Pair dessert with a fruit platter using fresh, in-season fruits such as cherries, raspberries, strawberries, pineapple and mango. Why not try our orange yoghurt dip as a fresh accompaniment to the fruit.

We hope that this structure makes catering for Christmas a little easier so you can spend more time enjoying Christmas with the ones you love.

By Emma McShane, Dietitian, December 2022

Alcohol & zero alternatives

Drinks may be flowing in December, are you worried about overdoing it? Text Try these tips:

  • Space them out: Alternate alcohol with water or bubbly water, to reduce overall alcohol and keep you hydrated.
  • Pouring at home? Know your serves: 100mls wine & sparkling, 30mls spirits, 285mls beer (less than a stubby), 425mls light beer, 285mls cider.
  • Limit cocktails, they are very high in sugar and contain multiple standard drinks.
  • Be the nominated driver: If you have lots of parties, can you go alcohol free for some?
  • Try zero alcohol options: a great alternative to alcohol. Check the labels before buying as remember they may also be high in sugar and added chemicals. We found these good options:
  • Dash peach infused sparkling water
  • Polka botanical non-alcoholic spirit
  • Iced tea homemade e.g. with a teabag and sparkling water

I’m breastfeeding, can I drink alcohol?

The safest option whilst pregnant and breastfeeding is to avoid alcohol altogether, as it can reduce breastmilk production and impact baby’s growth and development. Alcohol is present in breastmilk in the same levels as the bloodstream and it takes approximately 2-3 hours for the mother’s body to clear the alcohol in one standard drink. This time increases with each drink consumed. So if choosing to consume alcohol, wait around 2 hours before breastfeeding. Any milk expressed before the 2-hour window will need to be discarded, as it is not safe for the baby to consume. If there are times where a mother plans on drinking more than one standard alcoholic drink, plan ahead and express some breast milk beforehand to feed baby during this time. Below are two links to resources for further information:

By Emma McShane, Dietitian & Nicole Bando, APD, IBCLC