We’re studying nutrition hard, but still only managing a C.

Back in May 2015, the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score was launched. This is a scientifically validated survey which assesses people’s diet quality against the Australian Dietary Guidelines. It takes into account variety, frequency and quantity of the essential foods groups, as well as age and gender.

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Some of you may remember I shared the link on my Facebook page, and I remember one person commenting on how surprised they were at their individual results. They thought they were doing pretty well in the food stakes but received a rude shock.

Well 39,999 other people took the test also, and based on the results, I’m sure this individual wasn’t the only one.

As a whole, Australia was given a rating of 61 out of 100.

In university terms, that’s just scraping a credit. Now, I do know that P’s do get degrees, and a credit after not attending lectures and partying all week would have you jumping for joy and celebrating with another goon bag and Tightarse Tuesday at The Hawthorn. But I know that many current dietetic students and dietetic grads know that this wasn’t good enough to gain entry into dietetics.

And well quite frankly, I don’t think a credit for our diets is good enough either.

The results showed that our intake of discretionary foods (sometimes referred to as junk food – but as I like to teach people, ‘sometimes foods’) was three times higher than the recommended daily limit.

This is hardly surprising, as the Australian Health Survey (2011-13) found that ‘sometimes foods’ were accounting for about one third of our energy intake.

This previous survey also found that 7% of the population were eating the recommended daily serves of vegetables, and just under half were consuming two serves of fruit per day.

Now, those results won’t even get you a pass.

There is no denying that health has moved up the priority list of many. This is good great. But somewhere between filling our trolley’s full of ‘superfoods’, breakfasting on acai berry smoothie bowls, putting butter in our coffee and activating our almonds, it seems we are still failing to get the basics right.

Ask yourself this: If you were to fill up a measuring cup with your daily vegetables, how much would you have?

Honestly.

If it’s not two cups of steamed, and 1 cup of salad (or any combination meeting the recommended serves), there is room for improvement.

Or even just ask – Are there vegetables on my plate each night?

The evidence base to support the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption is stronger than the Bachy’s biceps, and meeting this target should be as important as passing your degree. So get this part right, and you’ll be well on your way to good health.

As for those sometimes foods. Those Nutella doughnuts. Those Lindt balls. That new choc mint golden gaytime.

Ask yourself, how sometimes is sometimes?

Professor Manny Noakes from the CSIRO said that ‘this type of food is no longer just an indulgence, its become mainstream and Australians are eating it each and every day.’ And that’s exactly what I was saying to my mum on Monday.

So I think it’s time we all refocus & go back to basics. Back to how our grandparents ate – grains, dairy and legumes included.

Let’s focus more on eating fresh, whole food paddock-to-plate goodness. Eat a rainbow, keep your portions in check, and have those sometimes foods only sometimes. They are always going to be available, so have them when you really do actually want them. Be mindful, eat them slowly and really savour the flavour. It’s about balance.

So how do you measure up?

Emma xo

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