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Changing my plate – reducing additives, preservatives and flavourings

This post is part of a regular series focusing on making small changes to improve our health. I shared my journey with changing my diet and moving to a clean eating approach which you can read here. I also had the lovely Katie Rainbird from Katie 180 undertake an analysis of my food intake for one day in that post, which was another step in the right direction.

Together we also offered the same opportunity to readers of Planning With Kids. We were blown away with the response and while I can’t guarantee will get to all of them this year, Katie has been busy working on many of the submissions already and we will publish as many as we can.

It is not possible for Katie to cover off everything in these posts. The aim is for her to find some small things you can change to what you are putting on your plate to help you achieve your current goal for your eating habits. You can read previous Changing my plate posts by clicking here.

Changing my plate – Joyce’s day

image_katieKatie Rainbird (AKA Katie180) is a Sydney-based Nutritionist who is just as likely to be found jogging as she is baking. She is a mother to two, a keen home cook, prefers to get around in her workout gear and has a major passion for the written word. You can learn more at

Katie reviewed what a reader Kate submitted that she ate in a 24 hour period. This is what Katie had to say about her day:

What is your current goal with your eating habits?
Trying to eat healthier and teaching the children about the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to additives, preservatives and flavouring. Although I would love to be completely clean I try to educate them in making them understand the labels and explain that it comes down to variety and not too much of the one thing. And of course hope that the penny will drop eventually.

6-6.30 2 slices of Helga’s Quinoa flaxseed with a minimum of Flora reduced salt and peanut butter or Nutino. At home at the breakfast table

I passionately recommend to swap from margarine to butter. Margarine is an inferior food-like product made from pro-inflammatory vegetable oils and synthetic vitamins. We KNOW now that saturated fats such as butter, ghee, lard, full fat live culture yoghurt, organic dairy and grass fed livestock are GOOD and indeed BETTER for us. Helga’s bread do not disclose their ingredients list online but I know from reading nutrition panels that they are breads with far more ingredients than bread ought to have: which is ideally flour, yeast, water, perhaps a little salt and olive oil. If your budget can stretch then I suggest swapping to a sourdough soy and linseed from a sourdough bakery else a seeded wholemeal loaf from Baker’s Delight, as these guys bake fresh daily with no preservatives.

A 4seed roll from Woolies with cup a soup. At work. Around 12. This is on a bad day normally I bring in own lunch as in lunch cracker with cheese and a carrot or piece of fruit. Drinking water all day on a 5 hr work day

See notes on bread from breakfast. If you’re able to bring lunch in from home try to swap from a lunch cracker to some cooked grains such as quinoa, brown rice, pearled barley, wholemeal pasta and mix this with salad ingredients, cheese cubes or cottage cheese and salad dressing. Make sure green leafy stuff features!

Due to many after school activities it varies as in either casserole based on beef or chicken or mince or quick fix salad with beef strips or chicken with pasta/rice. Between 6-7. Home cooked with help of some sachet or bottle.
I try to stick to 1 dish up spoon full casserole wise but pig out on the salad. We don’t use dressing in our family.

Flavouring casserole style dishes is really quite simple without the need for ready made sauces or flavour sachets. Stock your pantry with a wide variety of herbs and spices, vegetable stock, good olive oil and you’re set. I’ll link my chili con carne recipe at the end for you, which you can adapt to suit chuck steak and slow cook: just mix everything together and pop the meat in then cook at 160C for four hours in the oven (or adapt to suit your slow cooker). You can afford to eat more of the meat as it’s very nourishing and protein and good fats keep you full.

Snack 1
Around 10. Either a Thank You muesli bar or a carrot or piece of fruit


Snack 2
Afternoon cup of tea with biscuits when kids roll in from school.

Swap biscuits to a handful of nuts with some squares of dark or plain milk chocolate. Add a few dates or figs if you still need something sweet.

Snack 3

Snack 4

I don’t eat dessert.

Nutritional supplements
Fish oil (1000mg x 2) irregular as I keep forgetting
TAKE THEM! maybe buy one of those days of the week pill dividers from the pharmacy and pop them in each Sunday night then keep in the fridge but right up front where you’ll see them every day.

Daily fluid intake
5 cups of tea a day either strong black with milk or green tea without milk. 2bottles of 600ml water during whole day. Glass of milk with dinner. No alcohol during the week on a good weekend I manage 3 bottles of Peroni before I feel utterly bloated

Try to reduce to 3 cups caffeinated tea, whether it’s black or green is up to you. Try to increase to 3 x 600mL bottles water. Why milk with dinner? Is this a habit or do you really like it? If it’s a habit, try to reduce the glass size, perhaps a little latte glass rather than a full sized glass. Or if you can wait and have it as a nightcap rather. If carbonated water makes you feel bloated, reduce your intake or perhaps add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (the good stuff from the health food aisle or store, NOT the Cornwalls stuff) into it so as to aid digestion.

Any further information you’d like to share or special dietary requirements to factor in?
Have a weak spot for Minties and on days out will have a lot but only on days away or movies.

Here are the ingredients in Minties: Glucose Syrup (From Corn), Sugar, Gelatine, Flavour, Vegetable Oil, Colour (133). So we have sugar, sugar, gelatine not likely from ethically raised animals, vegetable oil not specified which, “flavour” which could be anything and an artificial colour. I want to tell you to ditch these cold turkey. BUT, you may hiss at me so I’m going to tell you instead to count out 4 into a snap lock bag or little tub and start monitoring your intake this way when you’re out, suck them don’t chew them to make them last longer then work down to two and hopefully before too long you can have NONE! If you enjoy the chewy mouth feel of them why not make something gooey like date and nut ball with natural peppermint extract? You can add cocoa to make it peppermint chocolate.

Katie’s Summary
Five things to take home:
1. Swap margarine for butter. Likewise all vegetable oils for olive oil, ghee, coconut oil.
2. Find a bread with basic ingredients.
3. Work toward quitting your Minties habit.
4. Focus on whole grains and green leafy things when preparing lunches from home.
5. Swap packet flavourings for home made.

Further reading and recipes


Katie is a qualified nutritionist (Adv. Dip. Nutr. Med.).

Any diet or lifestyle changes that you implement as a result of reading this blog are your own responsibility.

This blog does not provide medical advice, any particular health conditions must be managed by your own health professional.

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.