Health and Fitness: Tips to improve 2019 nutrition include better planning

MORE VEGETABLES: Being more organised ahead of your weekly grocery shopping and meal planning could be of benefit if you want to improve your nutritional health this year.

Making nutritional changes to improve your health is a common goal for many when the new year rolls around.

But how many are achievable? And how many people are able to stick to them?

University of Newcastle professor Clare Collins, a nutrition expert, suggested improving your food planning skills could turn out to be more beneficial than other dietary goals.

“If you’re going to make a New Year’s resolution then make it about getting more organised for healthy eating and then the rest falls into place,” Dr Collins said.

She suggested trying to cut down on the number of times you shop and when you do the groceries be prepared before you get there.

“Write out a list and have that list based on approximate meals,” Dr Collins said.

“For each of those meals, aim to cook enough for two nights. If you live in a house where if you cook more people eat more, make it a dish where half of it can go in the freezer.”

Being healthy does not mean you have to be a master chef.

“It’s about having things that are easy to assemble and serve,” she said.

“Things like chicken breast. You can barbecue or grill those and have them with one of the bags of green-type lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, a can of beetroot and a bag of bread rolls and you’ve got an easy uber-healthy meal that will be cheaper than anything you can buy.”

Or she suggested keeping pizza bases in your freezer to make quick and easy left-over pizzas that will bebetter for you than bought takeaway ones. You will also save on money.

“Most families probably only have 10 to 12 absolute favourite dishes,” Dr Collins said.

“If you make over at least half of them to a healthier version, and a healthier version is going to have more vegetables hidden in it somewhere or more of the canned legumes to dilute the mince … it’s all of those planning skills that mean you eat healthier all year long.

“So rather than making an ‘I’m going to lose 30 kilos’ [goal], make it ‘I’m going to plan meals’.”


Dr Collins is heading up a dietary intervention study that is looking for eligible participants aged 18 to 24.

The AIM4ME study will test the effectiveness of online intervention for young adults using varying levels of technology-delivered real time personalised feedback on an individual’s dietary intake.

The aim is to motivate young adults to improve their diet quality and eating habits.

Erin Clarke is working on the study and said eligible participants would answer lifestyle-related questions and be randomised into three groups to receive different amounts of feedback on their diet.

“Young adults are very susceptible to having poor diet quality,” Ms Clarke said. “They don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables and they eat too much junk food. It’s about giving them the tools to identify where they have room to make changes.

“We want to see how much feedback they require to make these changes. Do they need a full-on consult and a website or do they just need a website created by health professionals that has the right information.”

More information can be obtained through [email protected].


If you started a new year fitness regime last week, make sure you keep going strong as we enter the second week of the year. Choose realistic sessions for your ability and goals.

Always add a short warm-up and cool-down and during the hotter weather if you are outdoors choose a location close to water so you can have a recovery plunge straight after.


Newcastle Harbour Swim Classic, Newcastle, January 26: Choose between a 700m single crossing of the harbour or a 1.4km double crossing.

Nobbys 2 Newcastle Ocean Swim, Newcastle, January 27: A 2km ocean swim from Nobbys beach to Newcastle beach.

Coastal Ascent Trail Run, Merewether, March 31: Starting at Dixon Park, this new event offers challenging 11km and 25km courses into Glenrock State Conservation Area. There is also a 2km kids run.

NewRun 2019, Newcastle, April 7: The 5km, 10km, 21.1km and kids 2km courses are back plus a new 42.2km option.


Set up four markers A, B, C and D in a square. Set the distances according to your fitness level.

Part 1: Start at A. 10 squats, bear crawl to B. 10 push-ups, 20 mountain climbers, walking lunges to C. 10 bent-over rows, 5 squat jumps, run backwards to D. 30 to 60-second hover. Walk to A. Repeat twice.

Part 2: 10 dead lifts, 10 biceps curls with shoulder press, 10 triceps extension, 20 ab rotation with weight, 10 glute bridge, run 2 laps. Repeat with 4 laps running then 6 laps.

Part 3: Run 8 laps, 2-minute rest. Run 6 laps, 90-second rest. Run 4 laps, 1min rest. Run 2 laps, 30sec rest.


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