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What are food cues? Tips to use your environment to support your healthy eating goals

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What are food cues? Tips to use your environment to support your healthy eating goals

Food cues surround us. They are on billboards, there when you shop for groceries, watching TV, scrolling the internet and even listening to your favourite podcast. Food cues are signals from our environment that are telling you to eat.

Food cues place chocolate bars conveniently on the counter when you go to pay at the petrol station, or at the checkout when you buy groceries.

Food cues trigger cravings, encourage eating (even if you are not hungry) and can predict weight gain. Some people are more susceptible to food cues and some situations are more triggering than others.

Here are some tips to reduce exposure to food cues:

  • Reduce the time you spend in food dominate environments such as shopping centre food courts, and food markets
  • Don’t shop when hungry
  • Consider whether you really are physically hungry or whether it is ‘eye’ hunger.
  • Store food out of sight in cupboards, and choose opaque containers if possible
  • Eat at the dinner table, or in an environment that limits additional stimulation from food

You can also use food cues to promote healthy eating! Try these tips:

  • Prepare a grocery shopping list and stick to it! Or shop online
  • Pack your own snacks and lunch when you go to places like the movies or are out an about
  • Make your contribution to a social event or workplace function a healthy snack plate of vegetables, healthy dips and wholegrain crackers or fruit
  • Request that work social clubs stock healthier snack alternatives, and place discretionary food items in a cupboard
  • Store fruits and vegetables in clear containers, and pre sliced or prepared so they can be easily eaten
  • If you have a large appetite, try to expand the volume of food you eat, but not the kilojoules. Compare a 45g muesli bar that provides 400kJ, to a 200g tub of yogurt and 1 cup of strawberries which is also 400kJ.

A handy acronym to apply if you are often tempted by food cues is RROAR (Remind, Resist, Organised Alternative, Remember and/or reward):

Remind yourself that whilst you might be triggered by a food cue, you don’t have to respond

Resist, give yourself space between yourself and the food cue, that may involve turning around, or leaving that environment

Organised Alternative, pre-prepare what you will do when a food cue arises. This might be to grab a glass of water, walk around the block, play a quick game on your phone

Remember, what are your goals?

Your Personal Healthy Eating Quiz

What you eat or don’t eat affects how you look, feel and perform. Take our short quiz to find out what foods you could introduce to help you be your best.

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What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is making sure you enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups daily, in the amounts recommended. The five major food groups as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:

  1. vegetables and legumes/bean
  2. fruit
  3. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
  4. grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients and eating a variety of foods from the list above helps to promote good health and reduce the risk of disease.

How do I improve my diet?

If you want to improve your diet you have come to the right place. By completing the Healthy Eating Quiz you’ll receive instant personalised feedback and a report on your diet quality to highlight any areas where you can improve your overall eating habits. Your score is based on the frequency and variety of the foods consumed from the five major food groups mentioned above. No Money No Time can help you improve your score by providing tips, goals and suggestions. On top of this we will provide quick, cheap and healthy recipes as well as credible answers to diet hacks, myths and FAQ’s.

Is my diet healthy?

Dietary habits are different between people. Some people choose to follow a particular diet (i.e., Keto diet or vegan diet) while some have to make changes due to certain food restrictions or health conditions. If you want to know if what you usually eat is healthy, then do the Healthy Eating Quiz today to give you the answers in less than 10 minutes.

Why is healthy eating important?

Your HEQ score and personalised feedback report is based on the frequency and variety of healthy core foods you usually eat. This is important because no single food contains all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Some foods are higher in nutrients than others and people who have a lot of variety in the foods they eat are more likely to be healthy and to stay healthy. In other words, if you can eat a large variety of vegetables as opposed to only 2-3 types of vegetables, the benefits are much greater. This type of diet also helps you to feel better, think better and perform better during your usual daily activities.

Take the Healthy Eating Quiz