Maintaining a balanced diet with the goodness of dairy


While working from home has eliminated our commute and enabled us to spend more time with our families, for many of us it has been less than ideal for our waistlines.

In the lead up to World Milk Day on 1 June, Fonterra Dietitian Deanna Mak shared some tips on how to maintain a nutritious balanced diet while working from home.

“Lots of people have found snacking to be a big issue while working from home, especially with the fridge and pantry so close,” she said.

“If you’ve found yourself reaching out for additional snacks, it is reassuring to know that food serves us beyond providing nutrition. We enjoy food as a time to socialise, to celebrate, to comfort or simply for the taste. It is normal (and healthy!) to enjoy food for all these reasons. The key is balance, along with maintaining regular physical activity.”

Deanna said dairy made a good snack alternative to overly sugary or highly processed discretionary foods.

“Dairy is recognised in the Australian Dietary Guidelines as a core food group, and is a nutrient powerhouse

providing energy, protein, slow-release carbohydrates, B vitamins for unlocking energy and bone-building nutrients such as calcium,” she said.

“For the average adult, it is recommended we consume three serves of dairy a day which is equivalent to a glass of milk, a slice of cheese or a tub of yoghurt. Nine out of ten Australians aren’t consuming enough dairy, so if you’re going to reach for a snack, an extra serve of dairy may help ensure you’re getting enough.”

As part of maintaining an active lifestyle, Deanna’s five top tips for healthy eating while working from home are:

1)      Be prepared. Stock the fridge and pantry with healthy foods at the beginning of the week, and have healthy snacks ready for when hunger creeps in. Foods rich in dietary fibre and protein can help fill you up. Think veggie sticks and cheese, fruit smoothies, or wholegrain tomato and cheese toasties for a winter warmer.

2)      Practice mindfulness. Increasingly popular over the last decade, mindful eating can help achieve balance. It can help you identify your body’s cues for hunger and better understand what’s making you reach for that snack. Remember, for best performance we don’t overfill our cars with fuel – the same applies to our bodies.

3)      Experiment! Lots of people have enjoyed ‘iso-baking’. You can do the same with core food groups. As an example, dairy doesn’t just mean a glass of milk. Experiment with different dairy foods; try pairing veggie sticks with cottage cheese instead of regular dips, or enjoy wholegrain toast smothered with warmed ricotta and grilled bananas for a comforting winter breakfast or energising snack between virtual meetings.

4)      Allow yourself to indulge, sensibly. It is normal to indulge on occasion. For healthier indulgence, try incorporating core food groups for added nourishment and remember sensible portion sizes. Some healthy swaps include making homemade pizzas instead of ordering take-away and swapping cheesecake for baked ricotta, sweetened with a drizzle of honey and a handful of berries.

5)      Little bodies need snacks. While adults can generally consume all their nutritional requirements in three main meals, toddlers and young children have smaller tummies and therefore need smaller meals and snacks to help keep them sustained throughout the day. Snacks are a great way to teach children about healthy choices. Make it fun by getting them involved; think traffic light fruit skewers or a smoothie with their favourite fruit.