After 3.5 months apart due to an army deployment, my son Finn (21 months old) was going to be with his Dad again. Our mid-deployment family reunion was highly anticipated and I wanted to make it something memorable for all of us, but particularly a time for Finn to reconnect with his Dad. You see, we have FaceTime whilst he’s away but it’s much harder for a toddler to connect with someone like this.

So how does a child best build relationships and feel connected? I asked creative play and parenting expert, Dr Justin Coulson before I left, and his advice was amazing! Even if you don’t have time apart from your loved ones, this creative play advice is essential for any parents or friends of toddlers.

Developing relational connectedness with toddlers is simpler than you think PLAY, PLAY, PLAY. See? It’s simple and fun!

According to Dr Coulson, creative play – the kind of play where children connect with others and use their imagination and their hands – leads to great learning outcomes and is an amazing way to build connectedness. Dr Coulson recommends playing with toys like DUPLO or other things around the home like cushions and sheets which you can build a cubby house with.

Creative Play allows development in areas of relatedness, competence, and autonomy

“There’s an important reason play matters so much to young children. Research shows that they need it to thrive (as do we). In fact, play is one of the most essential experiences children can be immersed in to equip them for later life. The more they do it, the better off they may be.” Dr Coulson said DUPLO creates space for three vital needs to be met in toddler’s lives: relatedness, competence, and autonomy:


Creating real connections and develop relational skills, learning how to communicate, managing conflict, collaborating, and bonding with parents, siblings, and friends.


The best kinds of play are not about consumption, but creation, enabling kids to explore the limits of their physical surroundings, and experience a sense of competence when they succeed – which makes them feel motivated and happy.


Toddlers develop a sense that they’re in control when they play. They do what feels intrinsically motivating – it makes them confident, resourceful, and resilient.

Dr Coulson’s creative play tips for parents

To give our toddler’s the best head start in life, these are Dr Coulson’s creative play tips for parents:

  • Put the screens away and do something creative. Grab LEGO or DUPLO and build, make a cubby house with cushions, boxes and blankets, or make something in the kitchen.
  • Get down on the floor with them. They want you in their world.
  • Let your child take the lead. The more you can encourage and support their autonomy, the more they’ll explore, create, and remain motivated.
  • Encourage talking. Lots. Playtime allows us to build strong relationships and communication skills.
  • Role Play. As children ‘pretend’ to be the horse or the mum or the teacher, they develop cognitive, relational, and communication skills.
  • Make sure that play is unstructured. This allows the children to use their imagination and creativity to make play whatever they want it to be.
  • Encourage games and toys that are open-ended. Rather than there just being one way to do things, a child can develop endless possibilities in their play without feeling boxed in.
  • Live in the moment and be playful. We often think about dinner, or other things on our agenda, when we play with our kids. Instead, let go of the worries and dive right in. Play in the here and now.
Solutions for home and away play

I was very on board with the LEGO suggestion because not only would it be fun when we got there, but it would give me something additional to entertain Finn with on the flight. Plus, Reis STILL loves LEGO (he gets me to buy it for him each birthday, haha!), so I thought it would be something he would like to bond with Finn over. I much prefer encouraging creative play with Finn than giving him a TV show or iPad to play with. In fact, whilst Reis has been away I think we only turned on the TV 3 times and that was when we had people over! This is also because I don’t tend to watch much TV. I just don’t enjoy it that much and so forget to turn it on. I would rather be outdoors playing with Finn, going for a walk, or pampering myself or creating a new recipe for the blog.

Father son connection during and after the holiday

Anyway, as you can see, LEGO came with us to Thailand and between that and time in the pool, it was a whole 11 days of family bonding filled with creative, relaxing play.  I am so thankful for this precious and refreshing time we had together.

Mama Mission accomplished

Now, when Finn talks to Reis on FaceTime (Reis went straight back to the Middle East), he is more interested and conversational which makes my heart sing because it shows me that they connected well on holidays. Now only another 2.5 months to go until our precious little family can reconnect again (Honey the dog included too!).

PS Thailand itself was AMAZING – but that’s for another post

LEGO Giveaway (2 boxes valued at $69.99 each)

The LEGO pictured here was gifted to me but as always I don’t like to keep all the cool gifts to myself. Without readers like you, this blog would be nothing, so I like to give back through giveaways and I have 2 sets of LEGO DUPLO for two lucky people to win.

Sharing is caring

Share this blog post with your friends and family that would also like to win some LEGO for their kids, or might just find Dr Coulson’s advice interesting! There also are incentives for this when you enter below.

Good luck! Competition closes midnight 2 July 2018, Australian entrants only.

Win 1 of 2 LEGO Duplo Sets! (RRP: $69.99 each)

The post Father & Son bond through Play on Mid-Deployment Reunion + LEGO giveaway! appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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I love vegetarian patties but sadly there are pre-made no store bought varieties I can enjoy as they are all packed with onion and garlic. Don’t get me wrong – that’s delicious, but unfortunately I am intolerant to garlic and onion as it triggers IBS for me. This situation is particularly frustrating as the packets are labelled with ‘herbs and spices’ so you don’t actually know (until you’ve eaten it) if that includes garlic and onion. So left to my own devices, I’ve created these delicious FODMAP friendly vegetarian lentil patties which I am currently OBSESSED with. You can put them with a greek yogurt dip and vegetables (salad/vege recipe options below), or enjoy them on a vegetarian hamburger.

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner Lentil Pattie

The best thing about these is they can be made in batches and frozen, or if you love them as much as I do, you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container and eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Vegetarian Low FODMAP Lentil Patties Recipe

Here’s the recipe for these healthy, spice infused vegetarian patties.

Lentil Patties (Fodmap friendly, Vegetarian)
Author: Eat Pray Workout
Recipe type: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Australian
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  30 mins
These can be cooked on the stovetop, but I find I can do more at a time, with less hassle in the oven.
  • ½ C cooked brown rice
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 potato
  • 1 can lentils
  • ½ C gluten free breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala spice mix
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 175 C (fan forced), and prepare a baking tray
  2. Grate zucchini and potato into a bowl.
  3. Drain and rinse lentils and add to the bowl, along with cooked rice, breadcrumbs, spices, and eggs.
  4. Mix well until combined.
  5. Scoop patties onto prepared tray and flatten. Use an icecream scoop for consistent size (and clean hands)!
  6. Bake in heated oven for about 20 minutes. The patties will darken on the top, and feel a little crispy on the outside.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 12 patties

Serving suggestions

You might want to serve these yummy patties with a greek yogurt and dill mixture (if dairy intolerant, opt for coconut yogurt or lactose free yogurt or lactose free sour cream) and a side of one of these options:

Walnut, Avocado and Sundried Tomato Salad

Roast Vegetable and Potato Salad

Pumpkin, Spinach and Feta Salad

Enjoy your Vegetarian Low FODMAP Lentil Patties!

Let me know what you thought of them in the comments below.

The post Vegetarian Low FODMAP Lentil Patties appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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I’ve been away in Thailand for a couple of weeks with my husband on his deployment holiday. During this trip I had a over week off social media (it’s been years since I fully disconnected and didn’t even look at other people’s posts!) and a two weeks away from work. As I rested during this time, I reflected on a lot of things, including many aspects of my work as editor of Eat Pray Workout. This role comes with a lot of time on social media and after some time without it, I really noticed the toll it has on my mind. It impacts my self worth, confidence, positivity and contentment. It’s not always immediately apparent, but often it subconsciously builds up and leads to negative thoughts and/or thought patterns for myself. If this is the affect it has on me, someone who is already very aware of the impact of social media can have, imagine how it is impacting younger women and girls who are both less aware and living the years of their lives where their core values, beliefs and outlooks on life are still being established. So this post has a few ideas of things we can do to help young women love and value themselves in a world of social media that screams ‘you’re not good enough’.

The stats

It’s no secret that along with growing social media we’ve seen a growth in the prevalence of mental health problems, especially in women.

Despite this, reading the cold hard facts can still be surprising:

  • One in six Australians is currently experiencing depression or anxiety or both.[1]
  • The number of suicides by young women in Australia aged 14-25 years now exceeds that of young men.[2]
  • Women aged 18-24 years had the highest rate of psychological distress of any age group or sex in 2014-15.[3]
  • Half of all lifelong mental health problems begin before the age of 14.[4]
Things we can practically do to reduce the negative impact of social media on young women/youth

So what can we do to reduce the impact social media has on young women in our life? Here’s a few tips, some you might even find helpful for your own life – I know I do!

Encourage awareness of who they’re following

We want to encourage young women to follow people with wholesome content. Content that is going to build us up, not tear us down. Sometimes it can be ‘entertaining’ to watch celebrities or outlandishly rich/fit/skinny/good looking people on social media but if it leaves you feeling inadequate or they share values or outlooks that are different to your own, then it’s not worth following them.

This is because what you put into your mind, affects what you get out of your mind. Think of it like a game of tug-o-war. On one side you have the characteristics of your ideal beautiful woman – for example mine would be: mentally & physically strong & healthy, confident, fear-free, self loving, self-aware and God seeking. You want these things to be the winning side. On the other side, are the things that eat away at each of these characteristics. For example, I know that I won’t feel fearless when I’ve spent too long looking at pictures of other people’s blogs on instagram. I worry that my blog isn’t good enough – not enough content, not an engaged enough audience, not a big enough audience. Likewise, looking at pictures of fitness celebrities whilst it can inspire occasionally and I can celebrate with their successes, I know that with my personality it will also lead me to frustration that I am not there too. Both are silly thought processes but I am aware that looking at these images are the things that pull me away from having the characteristics I really want.

So check with each person you’re following and say – is this person adding to the characteristics on the winning side of my tug-o-war or pulling me away from who I want to be? Remember you have the power to help shape yourself with what you put (or don’t put) into your mind. It’s okay to enjoy someone’s content occasionally but choose not follow it to avoid it appearing in your feed regularly if you find it leads you to negative thoughts.

We need to help our young women understand this. Mum’s and Dad’s this could be a good exercise to do with your high school kids on social media as it empowers them to decide who they are following as you guide them through identifying their values, feelings and also review their list of followers. I recommend making this something fun for them too, like take them out for a treat afternoon tea, or even chat about it as you go for a walk with them. Walking is a great way to start conversation.

Encourage time off social media

Time being disconnected doesn’t have to be for weeks at a time and is a bit unrealistic in our day and age. Setting aside time without your phone like weekends away, holidays, one weekend a month, or even just being without it at meal times is helpful. It allows our minds to roam where they want to, free from influence of others. Another important one is keeping your phone away from your bed at night so that you control the last thing you see/think before sleep – just one of the many benefits of not using your phone at night.

Teaching young women to think AND feel

It’s important that young women understand that ‘feeling’ a certain way doesn’t always mean the thoughts causing those feelings are true and correct. It’s important to know that you can change your feelings towards something overtime by recognising your response to a situation and correcting your thoughts if they don’t align with your values. One way you can correct a false or negative thought is through journaling. You could write about how you responded to a situation and what happened just before it to help yourself become aware of those things or to rebuild thought patterns you could write about the way God or someone that loves you sees you. You can also read aloud bible verses or positive affirmation quotes, if you don’t feel like journaling something. Creating positive thought patterns takes some effort, but is very powerful.

Encourage healthy sources of support

It’s important that everyone has some sources of support to reach out to. These might include an older friend/mentor/relative, a good peer support group, your Bible, self help books, etc.

There’s a new self-help book called ‘Well, This is Growing Up’ written specifically for teenage girls written by 24 year old teacher and model, Megan Street. I would recommend this for parents to give to their daughters, especially if you find they don’t want to share their struggles with you, or just even for a relatable and entertaining read for them. Megan wrote the book after losing a friend to suicide with the desire to address many of the issues teenagers face growing up in a hope to prevent other’s from feeling like there is no hope. It’s funny and reminds me of being written by a teenagers ‘big, cool friend’ who has wise advice. Megan even admits to still struggling with some of the challenges she addresses in her book. Like many of us, she says ‘Social media is a big one for everyone at the moment! It is hard not to compare our behind the scenes to every else’s highlight reel and feel crap about ourselves.’ To deal with this she finds physical exercise and emotional improvement helpful but she also aims to ‘balance her mind’ and says she ‘owe almost everything to meditation and prayer.’ NB: 10% of all profits from sales of Well This is Growing Up go to Beyondblue. The book is available for purchase at Leading book stores and online https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/well-this-is-growing-up-megan-street/p/9781921030604

It’s not all bad news

Despite the rise in mental health problems, on a positive note, support-seeking appears to be growing at a rapid rate, with around half of all people with a condition now getting treatment. The estimated population treatment rate for mental disorders in Australia increased from 37% in 2006–07 to 46% in 2009–10.[5] We do still have a way to go, but just by checking in with one young girl you know about how social media is making her feel can spark conversations that are life changing. You don’t always have to go into as much depth as I’ve spoken about here, but making sure our young women feel connected, loved and valued just as they are right now, is the most important thing to help prevent mental health struggles.


[1] ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 (2008), p 41

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Causes of Death, Australia, 2014. Catalogue No. 3303.0.Canberra: ABS. Accessed 2 March 2015 from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3303.0?OpenDocument

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). National Health Survey First Results – Australia 2014-15. Canberra: ABS.

[4]  Kessler, RD et al. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62: p. 593-602.

[5] Whiteford, H. A., Buckingham, W. J., Harris, M. G., Burgess, P. M., Pirkis, J. E., Barendregt, J. J., & Hall, W. D. (2014).  Estimating treatment rates for mental disorders in Australia. Australian Health Review, 38, 80–85

The post Helping Young Women to Love Themselves in a World of Social Media appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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This workout is sure to get your heart rate up and build lean muscle. With little to no rest between sets this 20 minute full body home workout using dumbbells combines strength and plyometric exercises to help you tone and get lean. Complete each exercise as listed below and continue to rotate through each of them as many times as possible for 20 minutes. Use 3-4kg dumbbells and work as hard as you can – this is supposed to be short and intense!
Modifications – make this workout suitable for your fitness level To make the workout easier:
  • Add a 20 second rest between exercises.
  • Do this workout with less or no weight.
To make the workout harder:
  •  Add heavier weights or add more repetitions.
20 Minute Full Body Home Workout using Dumbbells Push Ups x 10
STEP 1: With your hands flat on the ground and fingers facing straight ahead, set your arms slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
STEP 2: Setting your feet at about shoulder width apart also, make your body into a straight line from your shoulders down to your feet. You will need to engage your core to make a complete straight line – no sticking your bum up in the air, or sagging below!
STEP 3: With your head looking slightly ahead of you (not straight down), carefully begin to lower yourself until your elbows are at about a 90 degree angle.
STEP 4: Pause slightly in above position and then raise yourself back up to your starting position.
Repeat in reps of 10.
Tip: If keeping a straight back is too hard you can do these on your knees if you prefer.
Lunge Jumps x 20

STEP 1: Stand with legs hip width apart.
STEP 2: Take a big step forward with one leg, and bend your knees to 90 degree angles into a traditional lunge.
STEP 3: With your feet pushing off the ground in the above position, jump up in the air as high as you can.
STEP 4: In the air, swap your legs so that you land in a lunge with the opposite foot forward this time. (Make sure to land gently, with soft knees).
Repeat 20 times.
Once comfortable with this exercise, you can increase the difficulty by holding a dumbbell in each hand whilst repeating this exercise – this will make your legs work harder!
Tip: Keep your torso upright and as straight as possible throughout the exercise, keeping your core engaged for stabilisation.
Single Leg Squat & Dead Lift x 10 each side

STEP 1: With dumbbells in both hands, place one foot with an even spread of pressure on the entire foot onto the floor and keep it rooted – this will be your stabilizing leg.

STEP 2: Bend the opposite leg up to be in line with your hip, and perform a squat in this position.

STEP 3: At the end of your squat, slowly hinge forward from the hips (with a very straight back), keeping the stabilizing knee bent and secure.

STEP 4: As your body hinges forward, carefully swing your bent leg out behind you, slowly straightening your leg in this position.

STEP 5: Continuing to keep your back completely straight, carefully lift back up to return to your start position.

Repeat 10 times on one leg, then swap and repeat 10 times on the other leg.

Tip: Turn on core to help you balance, roll your shoulders back and down, lift one leg to squat and keep your hips even to the floor as you lean forward in the deadlift.
Lunge Dumbbell Row x 10
STEP 1: Holding dumbbells in both hands again, place one leg forward, lunging into the front leg and keeping the back leg straight.
STEP 2: Keeping back straight, hinge forward from the hips so you are leaning over your front leg.
STEP 3: Squeezing shoulder blades together, begin raising the dumbbells up to your chest height, making sure the elbows are behind the line of your shoulders.
STEP 4: Release the arms back down in a controlled way, staying in your straight back/forward bend position.
Repeat the arm rows in sets of 10.
Tip: squeeze shoulder blades together and pull back elbows.
Please consult your GP or health professional before engaging in these exercises to check they are suitable for you and to ensure you perform them with correct technique.

The post 20 Minute Full Body Home Workout using Dumbbells appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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I don’t often write or speak much about what it’s like to be an army wife. This is for two reasons. Firstly,  I’m usually a little afraid that if I talk about what it’s really like when things are tough, that I won’t be able to continue to be strong and get through the times apart. Secondly, I feel for wives who have it worse than me and I don’t want to ‘whinge’ when others have it worse.

This week I’ve been contemplating this. Whilst it’s hard to talk about, many of you on instagram encouraged me to share what it’s like. So I spoke to about 10 other defence wives to put together an insight into what defence life can be like for the wives/partners including what we want you to understand, so you can support us when our husbands are away.

Strength in times apart

‘How do you cope?’ is one of the questions I get asked the most. Personally, deal with time apart by:

  • trusting God with Reis’ safety and my own strength,
  • focusing on what I have to do in the meantime;
  • speaking positive words about it to others (I know what I say affects the way I think);
  • chatting to other defence wives over some coffee/wine and/or chocolate…Although we don’t really say much, our hearts just empathetically sink to the bottom of our chest pushing a big lump to the top of our throats and together we smile, sometimes cry and just acknowledge how much it ‘bloody sucks’, and
  • just keeping on putting on foot in front of the other until he is home again.
Things a defence wife wants you to understand

I spoke to about 10 defence wives and collated a list of things that army/defence wives wanted to share about their experiences. I’ve added examples of my experiences below some of the point’s by adding an editor’s note.

Things we are thankful for

Keeping a strong, positive mindset is grounded in gratitude, so let’s start with a few of the things we are thankful for in our experiences as defence wives:

  • The chance to give back to this great country and teach our kids about sacrifice and loving others first,
  • The chance to explore new cities and make new friends all around Australia,
  • The chance to grow in mental, spiritual and emotional strength,
  • The chance to encourage others through our experiences.
Things that are hard 1. Time apart, distance & limited communication

It’s difficult not being able to talk some days, or only being able to talk for a short time at random hours due to different time zones and Reis’ long work hours. You can’t just call when you are having a bad day for a little pep talk there and then.I t’s even harder on the trips without reception or phones to speak to each other on. EDITOR’S NOTE: Reis and I once went a few months with just snail mail (I salute the women whose norm this once was).

It’s very weird having a husband that you physically can’t get to, even if you wanted to. It’s not just I don’t have the money or time to fly, he is physically unable to see me – he is either at war or deep in the bush training with weapons that are unsafe for me to be around. In a very connected world, this is a very foreign experience.

2. Impact of separation on kids

Our son, Finley, is now 20 months old. After he was born I thought he wouldn’t notice until he was at least pre-school age the impact of Dad being away. To my surprise, I was wrong. In his first year of life he wouldn’t settle, would wake up more throughout the night, and just be generally grizzlier when Dad was away. The most heart breaking moment though was a week or two after Reis left in January where nothing I did would get him to stop crying and I said ‘what’s wrong baby?’ and he said ‘Dad’. I thought surely, at 18 months old he can’t know that, so I asked him again, checking if the problem was needing food, water, a cuddle, or a story. But he still said ‘ Dad, Dad, Dad’ and kept crying. This took a big emotional toll on me too, it broke my heart that he missed his Dad and there was nothing I could do in that moment to heal that pain.

3. Impact of separation and reunion on the family

The first two weeks and the last two weeks are the hardest. The first two weeks you’re trying to find your new routine as you fly solo. The last two weeks you’re both anticipating their return and trying to make everything ‘just right’ before they arrive, but equally dreading the chaos that you know is coming to your life as you lose the old routine you worked so hard to establish.

3. The loneliness

There are times that feel very lonely and isolating. Coming home to an empty home, no one to make a cup of tea or give you a hug after a big day, no help as your baby wakes every few hours throughout the night, no one to talk to about the minute & relatively insignificant moments of the day, no one to help with the craziness that is bath and dinner time, no one to help clean or bring the washing in, no safe arms to snuggle into at the end of the day. Hats off to every mother/father who has ever single parented. It’s bloody hard work.

The worry

Whilst I do my best to trust God with Reis’ safety, worry can sneak in when I see different news stories about horrible events that are happening nearby. It seems surreal to think he is so close to it and potentially working amongst it. It makes me feel sick to think about it, to be honest.

Moving cities

Most defence families move cities every 2 years.

Can you imagine packing up your life – new job, new friends, without support networks close by? Things which you once took for granted, like going to the shops to quickly pick something up become an expedition that requires more brain space as you navigate a city you’ve never lived in before. Our move to Canberra when I was pregnant was particularly tough as I had morning sickness at the same time we moved. Other things like picking up an enjoyable conversation with a friend about the drama you had on at work last week, are replaced with awkward, getting to know you small talk. The depth of relationships you once had can take years to rebuild and often by the time you do, you’re moving again. You grieve your old home and friends for at least 6 months, even if you enjoy your new location.

Interstate friends

Seeing friends and family that you live interstate from is amazing, but sometimes you avoid it because it’s so emotionally tolling when you have to say goodbye again. It can throw you out of routine for a week or two and leave you pretty down.

How to make a defence wife feel loved

We have felt most loved, when the wonderful friends and family in our life:

  1. Come to help cook dinner, drop in a meal or invite us around for a meal.
  2. Have taken the kids for a play at the park or for a day at their house to give us a break.
  3. Have made the extra effort to travel interstate to visit us at our new home or checked in with a phone call to make sure we know we haven’t been forgotten.
  4. Have been delicate in the way they’ve expressed how much they miss their own partner if they’ve been away for the weekend. When they haven’t dwelt on it too much and acknowledge and empathise that this is our everyday situation, we just want to hug them! 
  5. Have come to help unpack the 10 boxes that are likely to remain unpacked for the remainder of the posting because we were too tired to even considering looking inside another box.
  6. Has made the effort to say thank you for the sacrifice your family makes for this country and encouraged our efforts at home.

There are a LOT of blessings that come from being a part of defence – a stable income, meeting new people, new experiences and places. Most defence wives are the most positive people you will meet and have emotional and mental strength beyond most. I hope this has given you an insight into some of the things a defence wife and family might be experiencing and some practical things you can do to help. A huge thanks to any of the beautiful people who love, support and care for me/a defence family  – we could not do this without you – you rock!

If you’re a defence wife, or know someone who is, please feel free to share this article to help others know how to support you/them! 

The post What Defence Wives Want You to Understand appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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With tens of thousands of products on the supermarket shelves all screaming out for shoppers’ attention, it can become overwhelming for busy shoppers to figure out who to listen to. Today, we welcome Amanda Clark, an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian to share about how to read food labels and determine if a product is really a healthy choice.

About food labels in Australia

Food labels are designed to attract and inform. While food labels are not allowed to deliberately mislead they can still be difficult to understand. By law, every packaged food must have a label. If the product is small then the labeling may be on the outer packaging which is why you sometimes see that statement “not for individual sale” – because that would separate the product from it’s label. The label must include vital information to help the consumer to make informed food choices, but it can be confusing so here are some tips.

How to read food labels in Australia Understanding Serving Sizes on Food Labels in Australia

Products with nutrition labels usually show two figures, the first being per serve and the second being per 100g of food. Use the “per 100g” to compare between products in the supermarket or compare to national guidelines.. Use the per serve figures to check the energy and the nutrition you will be consuming.

First check that company’s judgement of a serving size is the same as you plan to eat. Sometimes a package that looks like it is for one indicates that it serves 2 or more in the fine print. Forrester’s On the Go Trail Mix is an example of this. The pack certainly looks like a single serve at 45g but the per serve nutritional information shown below is only based on 25g which is not even exactly half the pack.

PRODUCT: Forresters On the Go Trail Mix, 45g
Servings per package: approx. 2
Serving size: 25g
Nutrient Ave Quantity per serving Ave Quantity per 100g
Energy 525 kJ ( 126 Cal) 2100 kJ / 502 Cal
Protein 2.2g 8.7g
Fat, total 7g 27.8g
       – saturated 3.5g 14
Carbohydrate 12.8g 51g
       – sugars 12.8g 51g
Dietary fibre, total 1.7g 6.8g
Sodium 14mg 54mg

INGREDIENTS: Sliced sweetened Dried Cranberries ( 40%) ( Cranberries, Sugar, Vegetable Oil), Almonds ( 30%), White Chocolate ( 30%) ( Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Full Cream Milk Powder, Emulsifier from Soy, Natural Flavours) Trail Mix Contains 22% Cranberries, 9% Cocoa Solids And 6% Milk Solids.

I will continue to refer to this table throughout the rest of the article to help explain how to understand a food label.


This is usually quoted in kilojoules which is the correct metric measure for Australia, but sometimes also in Calories.

If you were dividing your energy between 3 meals plus 3 snacks, then typical expectations of energy content can be seen in the table below. Put simply a snack is ideally 420 kJ/100 Cals for weight loss or 840 kJ/200 Cals for weight maintenance for all of us. So for the product shown, approx. half the packet is a fine weight loss energy intake or the whole packet for weight maintenance.

Weight Maintenance Weight Loss
Meal Snack Meal Snack
Women 1890 kJ /450 Cals 840 kJ/ 200 Cals 1470 kJ / 350 Cals 420 kJ / 100 Cals
Men 2310 kJ /550 Cals 840 kJ/ 200 Cals 1890 kJ /450 Cals 420 kJ / 100 Cals

Protein maintains muscle, helps you feel more satisfied and keeps your blood sugar levels steady. Your daily requirement is likely to be 50 – 80g. Note the product above contains 2.2g for a weight loss serving size of half the packet or just under 5g for the full pack. Not a bad contribution to a weight maintenance intake.


This is broken down into total fat and saturated fat. In general you want no more than one-third of the fat in the food to be saturated. For this product half the fat is saturated. The definition of a low fat food is that it contains less than 3g fat per 100g. The per 100g column shows this product contains 27.8g fat per 100g so it is high in fat, but a look at the ingredients list shows this trail mix is almost 1/3 white chocolate which explains the proportion of saturated fat, and the high total fat is made up of chocolate and almonds , with the almonds supplying the source of good fats.


This is broken down into total carbohydrate and sugars. The total carbohydrate contains all sugars and starches.


One trick for the unwary is that the sugars figure includes naturally occurring sugars in any fruit or milk ingredients plus added sugars. The ingredients list tells us that sugar forms part of the chocolate and the cranberry ingredients. Look for products with less than 10g of sugar per 100g or 20g sugar per 100g if it contains a significant component of fruit (eg. 25%). This product does have a high fruit content at approx. 22% and contains 51g sugar per 100g which is high.


The definition of a high fibre food is that it contains greater than 3g fibre per 100g of food. This one contains 6.8g per 100g so is considered a good source, though you will be eating 1.7g, or more likely a full pack which is 3.5g.

Sodium (salt)

Low salt foods contain less than 120mg of sodium per 100g of food. This product is sweet rather than savoury and contains only 54mg/100g.

Overall, I would consider this product to be an occasional food. It contains some good ingredients in the form of cranberries and almonds mixed with a bit too much sugar and saturated fat.

About the Author

Amanda Clark is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, author of the 2018 Australian Healthy Snack Bible and Portion Perfection – a visual weight control plan, incorporating actual portion plates and bowls. www.greatideas.net.au

The post How to Read Food Labels to Understand if a Product is Really Healthy appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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I love Easter. It is one of my most favourite times of the year for sure! The time off, the family, the friends and the food, the meaning of Easter – it all compacts into a real joy filled long weekend for me, as I’m sure it does for many of you too! However, I’m sure we can all admit to being a bit daunted by the ‘spanner in the works’ of our healthy eating routines. It is all too easy to over indulge at this time of year, especially when you’re being gifted with cheeky choccies left, right and centre.

This year I am planning on helping myself out with preparing some healthy alternatives that will still feel like a treat, but won’t be maxing out my sugar intake! Take a look at the delicious Healthy Easter Nibbles Platter I will be preparing for my loved ones, I hope it will inspire you to create some healthy (but equally as tasty and impressive) treats for you and your family this Easter!

About this Healthy Easter Nibbles Platter

This platter includes: Paleo Hot Cross Buns, Breadsticks, Linseed Crackers, Flavoured Hummus, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Healthy Bounty Easter Eggs! Links to the recipes are below. I also added fruit, vegetables and nuts.

Healthy Easter Recipes for Kids & Adults Paleo Hot Cross Buns (with vegan option)

I created these last year for Easter to help me avoid bringing home too many hot cross buns in the lead up to Easter. I eat way too many if they’re in the house more than for just the week leading up to easter (which I still cannot believe is next week! How are we at that time of year already?!). My paleo hot cross buns are filled with nourishing ingredients like coconut, dates, almonds and pear. There is also a recipe option to make these vegan.

Paleo Breadsticks

These salted, thyme, rosemary and garlic paleo breadsticks are so good on a platter like this because you can dip them, or eat them on their own without wanting more flavour as you may with traditional bread sticks. They’re buttery, without butter; bread-like, without flour. A win-win for those with a dairy or gluten intolerance or those who follow a paleo diet.

Flavoured Hummus

These healthy flavoured hummus dip recipes are a staple in my house when I’m entertaining. The flavours pictured here are curry & cumin hummus and beetroot hummus. I also have a recipe for sundried tomato and basil hummus. Another one of my favourite dip recipes you could include on this healthy easter nibbles platter is this cumin and pecan roast carrot dip.

Linseed crackers

These low FODMAP linseed crackers (also dairy and gluten free) are so simple to make, have a great crunchy texture and so many more nutrients than regular wheat crackers.

Easter chocolate dipped strawberries

For these, I have to also share a picture from the original blog post where I shared an easter themed basket of chocolate covered strawberries, along with my tips for making beautiful thick and smooth  chocolate covered strawberries. Check out the EPW pinterest page for more decorating ideas!

Healthy Bounty Easter Eggs

Now these are new to the blog this year, and are my absolute favourite! I would trade real eggs in for these bad boys any day! Get the delicious recipe for these refined sugar free, gluten free and dairy free bounty easter eggs here.

Is there anything else you would add to this Easter grazing platter? Let me know in the comments below! I hope you have a fantastic Easter long weekend. xx

The post 5 Recipes to use on a Healthy Easter Nibbles Platter appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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The unconditional love of a well cared for dog, never fails to amaze me. Their intentions are pure, always to please you. They think you are the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas, the ant’s pants – the absolutely the BEST THING to happen to them! For that reason, they’re hopelessly devoted to you. Reflecting on the beautiful blessing that a dog is today I couldn’t help but think ‘what if we loved ourselves as much as our dogs loved us?’…’what if we saw ourselves in the same light our dogs do?’

The way your dogs sees you

Nueroimaging science has found dogs love you and look to you as their affectionate, loving protective family! Amongst other wonderful things, I think a dog sees his/her owner as:

  • awesome,
  • strong,
  • capable,
  • loving,
  • caring,
  • a great protector, and
  • a great comforter


Honey’s thinking ‘Mum, you’re lucky I love you or I wouldn’t be here in this ridiculous jacket for this photo’

What if we viewed ourselves in the same light our dogs do?

Here’s what might happen:

  • we would love ourselves no matter what we looked like, or what we achieved (or didn’t achieve),
  • we would have less fear because we would know that no matter what happened we were strong and capable,
  • we would trust our instinct (yiew!),
  • we would care for and love our bodies,
  • we would be free to love others without comparison because we were completely confident that were were enough, just as we are.

Having a positive self worth is so important for being able to free yourself of worry and to LIVE with joy, no matter what life throws at you.

A deeper love comparison for an even deeper self love

As I was writing this, I then thought about God’s love for us which is even greater than a dog’s love. His love isn’t shaped by us first “nuturing him well” as a good dog needs. Even good dogs that are hungry or bored, can be naughty and make us angry with their behaviour. We don’t have to do anything to make sure God’s love is unconditional, steady and unchanging. He loves us simply because he created us. How beautiful is that?

‘But what about all those rules in the Bible Amy? Don’t we have to do those for God?’ Well they are there as a blueprint to doing life well. Once you begin to understand the nature of God’s infinite and amazing love you will (like a good dog does to his owner) just want to love Him back and please him. It’s our choice to follow those as we value a relationship with Christ because he first loved us.

So not only should we be loving ourselves as our dog sees us, but also look to love ourselves in the same way God does because that is an even more powerful thought.

The post Do you love yourself like this? A challenge to your self-love appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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Get your cooking gear together, today we are making Healthy Bounty Easter Eggs (refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free), which are simply SO GOOD. If you’re wanting to avoid extra chocolate this easter, this is an option that is refined sugar free and more nutritious than regular chocolate. It is quite energy dense so do you best not to go to town on the whole lot at once (I did, #guiltyascharged #whoops).

Why do we eat eggs at easter?

Easter is one of my favourite times of the year! The meaning of Easter reflects the most important thing in my life, so I love to celebrate it with eggs! Eggs represent the new life Jesus Christ offers us through his death and resurrection, which paid the price for all our wrong doings and gives us direct access to God – both now and forever. We are offered a clean slate before God and we don’t have to DO anything except, just acknowledge Jesus is Lord and ask for forgiveness for the wrong things we’ve done. Simple! I’m so thankful for this gracious gift God has given us as there is no way I could ‘keep all the rules’ to make myself right with God, I’m always stuffing up. Well worth celebrating I think!

Healthy Bounty Easter Eggs Recipe (Refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)
Healthy Bounty Easter Eggs
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  30 mins
  • for the filling -
  • 1 C desiccated coconut
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1T rice malt syrup
  • 2 T coconut cream
  • 2 T coconut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • for the coating -
  • 2 T cocoa
  • 4 T coconut oil
  • 2 tsp rice malt syrup
  • 50g Dark chocolate for drizzle (optional, I like to use whittakers 72% or Lindt 90% as both are dairy free - although allergen advice for both says they MAY contain milk and for the Whittakers gluten, so be careful if you react to contaminated foods)
  1. Melt the filling coconut oil, coconut butter, and rice malt syrup, either on a low heat on the stove, or at 10 second intervals in the microwave.
  2. Pour into a medium sized bowl and then add remaining ingredients. Stir together until combined.
  3. Form the mixture into egg-like shapes by scooping a heaped teaspoon, and pressing firmly. If you find the mix isn’t holding its shape, pop it into the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen up. Place your eggs onto a lined tray, and allow to harden in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, melt together your coating. Place ingredients in a heatproof dish, set over a saucepan of simmering water, and whisk together.
  5. Once the filling is cold and firm, dip in the chocolate coating, and return to the tray to set.
  6. For an optional more chocolate-y flavour with a thicker outer texture, melt dark chocolate on the stovetop and drizzle over the coated eggs.
  7. Set in the fridge, and store until ready to eat!
*These are not overly sweet, so you could always sneak in a little extra rms! Currently not eating a lot of refined sugar, I love them as written.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 20

Easter Eggs sweetened with rice malt syrup

These are not overly sweet, so you could always sneak in a little extra rice malt syrup! Currently not eating a lot of refined sugar, I love them as written.

Try it as a refined sugar free bounty bar recipe!

Love the look of this recipe, but it’s not easter? Instead of shaping them as eggs, set them in mini bar trays to become healthy bounty bars or roll them in balls for bounty balls – YUM!

Sharing is caring

If you try the recipe, don’t forget to pop up a picture or share this post on social media tagging @eatprayworkout #EPWtribe so I can see which recipes you like best! xx

The post Bounty Easter Eggs (refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free) appeared first on Eat Pray Workout.

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