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When you’re setting out to make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle, there’s a few things you can do that can be really helpful. It’s important to understand what’s in your pantry and read nutritional labels, followed by clearing out any unhelpful products so you’re not tempted to slip back into old habits.

Instead replace them with nutrient dense healthy ingredients that support your health journey and allow you to thrive. Anyone who has done this before knows it can be quite daunting, knowing what to keep, what to avoid, and what we should be looking for can be overwhelming. With all the catchy buzzwords on packaging it can be difficult to decipher what some of them really mean, and what the nutritional panel is truly trying to tell us.

So How do We Make Sense of it?

We want to be mindful of is to not be tricked into thinking something is healthy when it’s not. Some brands will go to great lengths to appear as a cleaner option, when in fact it’s not much healthier than their counterparts. Green or brown packaging, words like ‘fresh’, ‘real’ or ‘wholesome’ don’t mean much at all, you need to be looking at the numbers – and they’re found on the back.

So, when we are looking at the nutritional panel, there are a few things to take note of:

Firstly, serving size. At a glance a block of chocolate or a packet of cookies doesn’t appear too bad, but once you notice that it’s only for a single (not to mention small) serving, you’ll realise just how quickly it can add up. The same thing goes for crisps and chips. Often the packet, which appears to be a single serve that we eat in one sitting, is in fact comprised of 4 or 6 serves, so you can see how easily and quickly calorie intake creeps up on us.

Secondly, the three key things to look at are protein, carbs, and fat. As a rule, I like to keep my ingredients and snacks higher in protein, moderate in carbs, low in added sugars, and discretionary when it comes to fats. Because not all fats are created equal. Olive oil, avocados, and nuts are high fat but great for your health, whereas I’ll avoid foods with added hydrogenated fats like sunflower oil and canola oil.

Thirdly, the best rule of thumb is to stick to foods that don’t need a packet. That means fresh fruit and vegetables, and well sourced ethical and sustainable proteins from animal and plant sources. Mother nature knows best when it comes to well-balanced nutrition, so real food doesn’t need nutritional labels or fancy buzz words. Realistically in 2022 we are all going to need packaged foods in some way or another, so steer clear of added fillers, numbers, artificial colours or flavours, or words you can’t pronounce.

In my book ‘Guilt-free Snacks’ I offer people healthy alternatives to their favourite snacks, take-aways, and fast food! The way I achieve this is by subbing out the original ingredients
for healthier versions. Instead of high sugar low-nutrient chocolate, I show people how to make chocolate from scratch. Instead of high refined high carb pizza bases, I show you how to make low-carb keto versions in no time at all. And I think my favourite recipe showcases my favourite simple switch out, its swapping standard corn chips for easy to make pumpkin versions in my no-fuss nachos.

The exciting part of each and every day is when we wake up, we have the chance to make positive decisions about how we fuel our body, being mindful of what we put into it, and how in turn that makes us perform and feel. Food has a profound effect on us, from the inside out, and if you can navigate your ingredient choices a little wiser, you are well on your way to living your happiest and healthiest life.

 Grab your own copy of Guilt-free Snacks by Luke Hines


  • Luke Hines

    Luke is the bestselling author of 13 cookbooks, the Host of Channel 7’s The House of Wellness, and a qualified functional nutritionist and personal trainer. Since his stint as a finalist on My Kitchen Rules he has established himself as one of the most popular health and wellness personalities in Australia. Luke’s experience and credits include working alongside Angelina Jolie as her food and training consultant, being a trainer on Australia’s Next Top Model, hosting Channel 7’s Live Well and The Food Network’s The Good Cooks, and regularly appearing on Sunrise, The Today Show, and Studio 10.