Feb 272020

Balanced diet is a key factor for leading a healthy life. Also, a healthy and balanced diet helps to prevent diseases, recover from illness, and eventually results in enjoying a good health. Considering kids, Malnutrition is the major health issue that they face during childhood. Signs and symptoms of malnutrition includes unusual changes in behavior such as sluggish, anxious, and appearing irritable, and less growth rate. To our surprise, a balanced and healthy diet protects children from malnutrition and non-communicable diseases as well. Hence, it is essential to follow a proper food chart to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Do Australians follow a balanced or healthy diet!? Today, I am going to tell about Aussies food habits and their dietary guide to healthy eating. Sounds interesting, right!? I am excited to tell and share my knowledge on Australian dietary habits. Let us begin!

In order to make healthy food choices, we all need to follow a dietary advice which is proven scientifically. The scientific guidelines to a healthy food habit developed after so many researches offer great advice on dietary plans that encourage well being and healthy lifestyle. Australians are no less to consider the scientifically proved food charts to have an optimal health.

The Australian dietary guidelines is the ‘National Australian Food Selection Guide’ which is designed to healthy food habits based on scientific evidence. Also, the guideline guides Australians with a complete and vital information on types of foods, food groups, and the quantity based on dietary patterns. These dietary patterns aim to long term health conditions like:

  • Reduces the risk of chronic diseases
  • Keeps the problems related to diet and digestion away
  • Encourages optimal health and well being

Mostly, the Australian dietary guideline and food chart are followed by the food manufacturers, health professionals, educators, food researches, and food retailers. They promote the importance of following the food charts provided by the Australian dietary guidelines and make the public realize through conducting helplines, health camps, etc.

Actually, the Australian dietary guideline represents the quantity of healthy food a person should intake per day by dividing the types of food into five different food groups. All the Australians can enjoy wide variety of nutritious food from these five food groups. Let us see what they are!

First Food Group: Vegetables, Legumes/Beans

Second Food Group: Grains (Cereal). Mostly recommended ones are wholegrain/ high cereal fibre varieties

Third Food Group: Lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, tofu, seeds, eggs

Fourth Food Group: Milk, yogurt, cheese and its alternatives, and reduced fat

Fifth Food Group: All kinds of fruits

The Australian dietary guidelines is the usual diet plan that effectively influences your health and describes a best approach to healthy eating in order to achieve long and healthy life.

Let us discuss in detail about all the five food groups, and including these food groups in a plate proportion makes one serve of food that may be a lunch or dinner absolutely perfect to gain nutrient essentials for good health.

Type of Food Group Major Food in this Group

Vegetables and Legumes

Dark Green Vegetables (Spinach,Brocolli)
  Cruciferous Veggies (Boy, Bok, Choy, Watercress, Brussels, Kale, Cabbage)
  Starchy Vegetables (Potato, Corn, Taro, Sweet Potato)
  Orange Vehetables (Pumpkins, Crrots)
  Salad Vegetables (Capsicum, Cucumber, Lettuce, Tomato)
  Legumes (Beans, Chick Peas, Lentils, Dried Peas)

Grain Foods

Rice, Oats, Wheat, Barley, Rye, Quinoa

Milk and its Alternative reduced Fats

All varieties of Yoghurt, Cheese, Soy


Pome Fruits (Apples, Pears)
  Stone Fruits (Peaches, Apricots)
  Citrus Fruits (Grape Fruits, Mandarins, Oranges)
  Tropical Fruits (Mangoes, Bananas, Pine Apple)
  Other Fruits like Berries, Passion Fruit

Meat and Flesh

Lean Meat (Pork, Beef, Lamb, Kangaroo, Veal)
  Fish and Seafood (Lobster, Oysters, Clams, Crab, Fish, Prawns, Scallops)
  Egg (Chicken, Duck)  
  Lean Poultry (Emu, Chicken, Goose, Turkey, Duck)

Does anyone can follow or approach these guidelines?

The Australian dietary guidelines are applied to all the Australians who are healthy as well as dealing with any health conditions like obese, diabetic, etc.  But it is not advisable for elderly and for those who are prescribed for any special diet from their doctors or health assistants plus for those suffering for any serious health issue or medical condition. So, it is highly recommended to take your physicians suggestion on your dietary plan if you are dealing with any medical condition.

Australian Dietary Guidelines Publication Year

The current Australian Dietary Guidelines are recently developed and released by the National Health and Medical Research Council in February 2013. The one released in 2013 is the fourth edition of Australian Dietary Guidelines whereas the first edition is released in 1982, second edition in 1992, third edition in 2003. It is a frame work towards healthy eating and healthy diet among general population. Hence, there are other leading nutrition experts and the Australian Government are involved while developing such an amazing and highly utilizable food chart.

A brief explanation on Australian diet before and even after the development of Australian Dietary Guidelines:

The food intake patterns of Australians reported in this article are based on the report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Food takes prior role to maintain our healthy lifestyle and well-being which eventually leads to quality life. To lead a quality life, we are in need of good nutrition including essential vitamins and minerals. A healthy life helps human to maintain healthy life whereas poor diet is the major cause of chronic medical conditions and ill health.

Australia has got an awesome National Dietary Guidelines to promote optimal health outcomes among general population. But still about 1/3rd population of Australia are falling sick and maintaining ill health. Do they really follow National Dietary Guideline!? That is the reason behind the report given by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which tells whether the Australians are meeting the guidelines of five food groups. What does the report says!?

The report says that Australians of all ages:

  • Do not follow, eat, and include enough of five major food groups in their dietary plan.
  • Prefer to eat foods high in energy but less in nutrients
  • Consumes sugar, saturated fats, and sodium in high amounts

Also, the report says that about 1/3rd of Australian population are gaining instant energies through discretionary food. Alcohol is even included in that discretionary food. What is discretionary food?

Discretionary foods are a type of foods and drinks that contains very less nutrients which are necessary for human body needs. But they add different tastes and varieties to a person’s diet in addition to providing instant energy.

What type of foods contribute to discretionary foods and drinks?

Since some foods and drinks are not necessary to provide enough or no nutrients to human body needs. They are not included in Australian Dietary Guidelines classification of five food groups. These foods and drinks tend to have high kilojoules and low levels of essential nutrients and also contains high amounts of added sugars, saturated fats, added salts and alcohol with less fibers. Hence these foods are also referred as ‘energy dense’ and ‘nutrient poor’ foods. But they actually and commonly referred as ‘Discretionary Foods’.

The foods and drinks that come under ‘Discretionary’ include cakes, pastries, desserts, confectionery and chocolate, salty/fatty sausages, ice creams, condensed milk, savory pastries, sweet biscuits, processed meats, savory pies, commercial burgers, with high fat and salt, fried foods, crisps, butter and breads, potato chips, fatty/salty fat foods like savory biscuits, creams, energy drinks, sports drinks, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, cordial drinks, and alcoholic drinks. Huh! What not!! All the commercially available junk food come under ‘discretionary food’. So, these foods and drinks does not suit for people who are planning to lose weight. People who are maintaining healthy diet and are in healthy weight can consume on these foods and drinks occasionally (but in smaller amounts) to add variety, taste, and fun to eating.

Higher added sugars Higher fat Higher fat and added sugars High alcohol
Honey Certain tacos, nachos, enchilada Biscuits Mixed alcoholic drinks
Fruit drinks Dairy Blends Some confectionery Liqueurs

Energy drinks

Ham, Bacon Doughnuts Beer
Jams, marmalade Some sauces/dressings Dessert custards Spirits
Sweetened soft drinks and cordials Butter, cream, ghee Chocolate/Bars Sherry
Sweetened waters Frankfurt’s etc. Ice cream Port
Sugar confectionary Quiche Muesli bars Wines
Some Sauces Pastry Puddings
Sugar Salami Iced Buns  
Syrups Potato chips Slices  
  Meat pies Cake
  Pizza Sweet Pastries
  Some processed meats Sweet muffins
  Crisps/Salty pies Some sauces/ dressings
  Spring roll Sweet pies and crumbles

One serve of discretionary food is equal to 600KJ. I agree that it is so easy to reach commercial junk food or discretionary food but fortunately, there are several ways to cut down on discretionary foods and drinks such as swapping discretionary foods with foods from five food groups, limiting portion size in each and every serve, eating mindfully when you are out for dinners, team lunches, etc. which cannot be avoided, and planning for eating healthy diet by avoiding eating outside junk.

Note: Here is a happy news for people who are tall i.e. taller and more active persons can sometimes consume on extra serves of discretionary foods and drinks since they are in need of extra serves to maintain healthy lifestyle. Yay!!!

How about the children!? Are they also must be kept away from discretionary foods!? Absolutely ‘yes’. It is highly suggested to offer only a half serve of discretionary food per day for younger children of age up to 8 years and keep in mind that this is applicable to the kids until or unless they are taller and extra active, in which they could have 0-2 serves per day. Children above 8 years who are maintaining their healthy weight range and are more active can consume 2 ½ serves of discretionary food. Whereas older adolescents can consume up to 3 serves per day.

A sample serve of these Discretionary foods and drinks (provides 600KJ) could be: 1 (40g) doughnut, 2 scoops (75g) ice-cream, ½ small bar (25g) chocolate, 1 can soft drink, 12 (60g) fried hot chips, ¼ meat pie or pastry (full pie = 4 serves).

The Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013

There are five major guidelines telling specific advice about the healthy and balanced diet that also meets our targets of having essential nutrients and energy requirements. Have a look what they are!

Guideline 1: Targets to achieve a healthy life and life style by maintaining healthy weight, being physically active, and choosing right amounts of food high in nutrients and meet your energy needs.

Guideline 2: Include five major food groups to your dietary plan and enjoy the nutritious foods every day.

Guideline 3: Do not consume more on discretionary food like saturated fats, added sugars, salts, and alcohols.

Guideline 4: Support and encourage breast feeding to new born

Guideline 5: Be extra cautious on your food intake and store it safely.

I think we have enough information on Australian food charts and their food habits. Hope you folks are now aware of five food groups in a detailed manner and hope to reach out the message of eating five food groups and the hit the mark.

Let us discuss and compare Australian food chart to Americans. Australia has unique food options and traditions that are originated based on the native foods of indigenous Australians. Though Australian cuisine or food chart is designed by indigenous Australians, the unique food options suits to all tastes around the world. During 18th, 19th, and 20th century British, Irish along with the cultures of Mediterranean and Asian cultures has put a huge influence on Australian cuisine. Today, the same Australian cuisine shows a great influence world-wide. It includes and follows food cultures of different countries before they consume such as Halal foodsKosher foods etc. British cooking methods are still dominant in home cooking, in which fish and chips is the favorite food of Aussies.

Australian American

                   Eggs, Meat & Fish

Balmain Bug small, sweet crayfish
prawns shrimp
king prawns jumbo shrimp
sausage (banger) link sausage
minced beef ground beef
mince meat ground meat
skirt steak flank steak
devon bologna
skirt steak flank steak
                Fruit, Vegetables & Spices
rocket lettuce arugula (rugula, rucola)
eggplant aubergine (UK)
shallots scallions, green onions
spring onion scallion
Spanish onion onion, purple / red
coriander cilantro (Chinese parsley)
capsicum – red, yellow, green bell pepper – red, yellow, green
beetroot round beets
haricot beans navy beans
silverbeet chard
chickpeas garbanzos
rockmelon cantaloupe
sultanas golden raisins
paw paw papaya
stone, seed, pip pits
pips seeds
                      Prepared Foods
gherkin pickle
apple crumble crisps
tomato sauce ketchup or catsup
tomato puree tomato sauce
jelly (Aeroplane Jelly) gelatine desert (Jello)
conserve or jam jelly
biscuits cookies
scones biscuits
Rice Bubbles Rice Crispies
potato chips potato chips (potato crisps – UK)
chips French fries
ice blocks (Icy Poles) Popsicle

In the above chart we have shown few foods and drinks and how they are referred to both in Australia and America. The food type and variety is almost same in both the countries but used for same or different recipes in a different way. For example: Digestive biscuits (Aussie) referred as Graham Crackers in USA are fairly different like their names but are used often for the same purpose like making crumb crusts while preparing any confectionery especially cakes.

Graham crackers are commonly used by Americans and Canadians since early 1880’s. it is a type of sweet flavored cracker made of graham flour usually available in different flavors i.e. cinnamon, honey, and chocolate. It is consumed as a snack item and also serves as a main ingredient in some recipes which substitutes ‘Digestive Biscuits’ in Australia.

Digestive biscuits are a wonderful snack treat and are mouth-watering biscuits. These are slightly sweet and eaten with cheese.


Zucchini is a quick and easy to grow little green summer squash. South Australian summers is the best weather to produce plenty of green squashes. The Australians, Americans, Yanks, and other English-speaking countries like Sweden, Canada, and Germany use the term ‘Zucchini’ to refer summer squash or courgette. The word ‘Courgette’ is often used by the French.

Australian Food Confusions

Though Australian cuisine is world famous, there are still confusions with the food terms used by the locals and other country people. To make you better understand, I am giving you a funny conversation between an Aussie and American.

Australian and American were on a chat on internet and here is their conversion.

American: Well, we had great time over chat. Let me take a break because I need to prepare a peanut butter jelly sandwich to satisfy my hungry son.

Aussie: What! Are you seriously making a jelly sandwich!? (With a confused mental state) I have never heard of making dessert sandwich like this!

Both the confused American and Australian later got to clear their confusions by learning that ‘jelly’ to Americans is equal to ‘jello (gelatin)’ to Aussies.

This conversation proves that there are cultural differences in food which is quite interesting and entertaining too. So, it also suggests that wherever you are in this world, be cautious of food terms and to know what they (the locals) are actually talking about especially when you are making a recipe from another country. To help you to some extent, we have compiled few terms and some common cooking conversations.

Australian American
full-cream milk whole milk
skim milk skim or fat free or non-fat milk
light or lite milk 2% milk
cream, whipping cream, heavy
cream, single cream, half and half
cream, double cream, thick
                Baking and Baked Goods
flour, plain flour, all-purpose
flour, self raising flour, self-rising
flour, whole meal flour, whole wheat
corn flour cornstarch
bicarbonate of soda baking soda
chillies chilli pepper
essence extract
vanilla essence vanilla extract
glace fruits candied fruits
zest, lemon, etc zest or rind, lemon, etc
desiccated coconut shredded, dried coconut
stock cubes bullion cubes
copha * vegetable shortening from coconuts
golden syrup ** corn or cane syrup
molasses or treacle molasses
icing frosting
icing sugar powdered or confectioners sugar
caster sugar *** sugar, granulated (but finer)
hundreds & thousands sprinkles (closest equivalent)
chocolate, cooking chocolate, baking
cocoa cocoa powder
                        Baking Tools
baking tray cookie sheet
oven slide cookie sheet
cake cooler wire rack
cake tin baking pan
ring tin tube pan
Swiss roll tin jelly roll pan
lamington tin 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pan
greaseproof paper wax paper
patty cups paper cupcake holders
tea towel dish towel
trolley shopping cart
frying pan frying
griller (separate from oven) broiler (inside oven)

What is a substitute meant to be in cooking?

A food substitute is a food product with the same functions, same characteristics i.e. physical and chemical, same stability, and are used for the same purpose.

For example: Let us consider ‘Fat’

When you are trying to substitute fat with some other material, make sure the fat substitute must serve like a material that stimulates both physical and chemical properties of fats and could directly replace fat on a weight to weight basis. Fat substitutes hold very less calories compared to the fats. In general, fat substitutes are mainly divided into protein, carbohydrates, and fat based categories. The food substances that come under carbohydrate based fat substitutes include fruit purees (like apricot and prune), cellulose or starch-based gels, guar gum, corn starch, Oat rim (with oat fibre), maltodextrins (corn based), and Z-trim (with insoluble fibre). Protein based substitutes include milk protein, egg white protein, microparticulated protein, whey protein, and whey protein concentrate. Common fat based fat substitutes include mono and di glycerides, Olestra (with fat and sucrose), Caprenin (a cocoa butter substitute), and salatrim (used in reduced fat baking chips).

In simple words, substitutes are substances that look, feel, and tastes like the original ones.

Making a shortening substitute

Shortening is a fat type substance commonly used in cooking and baking recipes. It has long history of usage by Americans as a substitute to fats. But it has a bad reputation stating that it contains high amounts of Trans-fats. Copha is something looks like white in color, solid in nature available in the form of blocks or cubes. Basically, it is solid in nature but becomes clear liquid when melted. Copha is also something similar to shortening in which we find high mounts of trans-fats and saturated fats.

Vegetable shortening is a white, solid fat actually made of vegetable oils. In UK, it is available in the markets with different names like Flora white, Trex, and Cookeen.  Americans state that Copha is not a good alternative to vegetable shortening while making frosting and whipping. However, some recipes require shortenings only for the purpose of greasing pans. In that case, you can substitute shortenings with cooking sprays, grease, oil, etc.

Let us discuss about sugars and other sweeteners

In USA, people generally says that golden syrup is similar to corn syrup. Golden syrup is a viscous and golden colored syrup which is prepared while processing the sugar whereas corn syrup is made from corn starch. Golden syrup seems similar to molasses and treacle but actually not. It is so tasty and even tastes more when topped over vanilla ice cream. To replace molasses, Americans use dark corn syrup while light corn syrup is chosen for just sweet flavor. Also, keep in mind that if Americans are mentioning about Karo in some recipes, that means they are referring to corn syrup.

Crisco is a brand and serves a great vegetable shortening substitute for butter and animal fat produced by The J.M. Smucker Company popular in the United States. It is solid, white fat substance made from vegetable oils such as soy bean and palm oil. In USA, if a recipe is calling for Crisco means, it is talking about vegetable shortening. It is a common and principal ingredient in US cooking. Cakes, pastries, frostings, and fries are the common recipes where Crisco is the main ingredient.

Caster sugar: Caster sugar also referred as ‘Baker’s Superfine Sugar’ and goes by many names like ‘Castor sugar’, Baker’s sugar’, Superfine sugar, etc. It is the term used commonly both in UK and US and is mainly available from sugar cane or sugar beet. It is a type of sugar that is grinded to a consistency that falls between powdered and granulated sugar. However, it doesn’t create much problem in cooking when you replace it with granulated sugar. Bar sugar is the other name to caster sugar in USA.


It is always suggested that do remember that a particular substitute may work for a particular recipe but may not be a perfect substitute for other recipes. So, be cautious while preparing continental dishes or recipes and particularly on the substitutes if you are working with. If you are planning a new recipe from a particular country, try it once before you hit the event directly to avoid unnecessary issues and disappointments. For a change, you can try it on a friend who is more adventurous, interested in cooking, and most importantly with a good sense of humor.

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