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Christmas treats for our furry friends

We Aussies treat our furry friends more like family. And rightfully so! Their unconditional love really is the ultimate feeling.  

And like we do with every other family member, Christmas is the perfect time to treat them, too. 

We’ve got some deliciously purrrr-fect recipes that will make your pets barking mad this Christmas season! 

Homemade festive recipes for your dog:

Chrissy Cookies

Ingredients: 

190g wholemeal flour 

2 eggs 

65g tinned pumpkin 

30g peanut butter 

1/2 tsp cinnamon 

 

Method: 

Preheat your oven to 180°C/ 160°C Fan/ gas 4. 

Mix all the ingredients together to make a dough, making sure everything is well combined. If the mixture is too dry, add a small amount of water. 

Put some flour onto your surface and roll the dough until it’s ½ inch thick. 

Cut out the dough using a Christmas tree or other Christmassy shaped biscuit cutter. 

Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the biscuits are hard to the touch. 

Leave to cool thoroughly. 

 

Snowball cakes

Ingredients: 

1 ripe banana 

75 g peanut butter 

1 egg 

35g honey 

50 g wholemeal flour 

35g rolled oats 

1/2 tsp baking powder (optional) 

60ml water 

 For the snowy topping (optional) 

One tsp of cream cheese or Greek yogurt per snowball 

 

Method: 

Preheat your oven to 180°C/ 160°C Fan 

Mash the banana and mix in the egg, honey and peanut butter. 

Add flour, oats and baking powder and stir until thoroughly combined. 

Mix in the water, a small amount at a time. 

Divide the mix between six cupcake cases (12 for smaller furry friends), and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

Leave to cool thoroughly and remove the pupcakes from their cases. 

Coat the top of each pupcake with a teaspoon of cream cheese or Greek yogurt. 

 

Homemade festive recipes for your cat:

Christmas Chicken Bikkies

Ingredients: 

1½ cups cooked and shredded chicken 

½ cup chicken stock 

1 cup whole wheat flour 

1/3 cup cornmeal 

1 tbsp soft margarine 

 

Method: 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC

Mix and blend well the chicken, stock, and margarine

Add flour and cornmeal. Knead dough and roll to ¼ inch thick.

Cut into one-inch sized pieces or use your favourite kitty cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes. 

Tuna Crunchie Bites 

Ingredients: 

170g undrained tuna

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

1/3 cup water 

 

Method: 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together

Roll out to ¼ inch thickness and cut into your favourite kitty shapes

Place baking paper onto your tray and cook for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. 

 

Finally, if you don’t get the chance to make anything, here are some Christmas treats you can buy for your furry family:   

https://www.igashop.com.au/search/1?q=christmas+treats+for+dogs 

https://www.igashop.com.au/search/1?q=christmas+treats+for+cats 

Merry Furry Christmas! 

 

Disclaimer: The above recipes are designed for dogs and cats. But please be aware of your pets’ intolerances and allergies and substitute out ingredients as you see fit. 

How Vinnies can help spread joy for you and your community this Christmas

Christmas is a time of love, laughter and indulgence, and it’s right around the corner! And for families with kids, it also means plenty of new toys filling the home.

This year, IGA and our charitable partner Vinnies Australia, continue to work together to brighten the season for Australians. Because with a small act that’s a tonne of fun, we can make sure that your old toys keep bringing joy to Aussie kids in 2024!

So follow along and find out how decluttering and donating your much loved toys can make your Christmas (and everyone else’s) as joyous as possible.

What is decluttering

Simply put, decluttering is the process of looking at what you’ve got in your home and deciding which stuff you want to keep and which to get rid of.

How to do it

Simple really. Just follow our quick tips!

1. Rally the kids

Enlist family members to help! You can go through old toys, laugh and reminisce, and give them the nice moment to decide what they’re ready to have someone else love.

2. Sort, sort, sort!

In your chosen room, get 3 sections ready to sort, group and pile your items.

Section 1: For items that you still want to keep.

Section 2: For items to be donated.

Section 3: For items that need to go.

3. Take the leap

Grab your piles and commit! Put back the stuff you’re keeping, throw out what needs to go and head to your local Vinnies.

As a proud partner of Vinnies Australia (URL), we can all help make someone else’s Christmas amazing by donating items and making sure they’re continued to be loved. All that with the added bonus of also doing your bit to encourage the reusability of products and reducing landfills! (can link to the donation page https://www.vinnies.org.au/get-involved/donate-goods)

And lastly

We know decluttering can be hard. So if you prefer to help in other ways, check out the Vinnie’s Christmas baubles available in IGA. Buying a bauble helps support Aussies who are struggling to pay basic expenses like food, bills and rent this holiday season.

Merry Decluttered Christmas, everyone!

Give A Gift That Gives Back

Christmas is a time of giving. It’s a time of sharing, and it’s a time to eat great food with family and friends.

Knowing what to get someone for Christmas can often be a hard task, and sometimes even expensive.

Do-It-Yourself Hampers are a great way to give a gift that is personal, tailored to whoever is receiving it, and you can determine the budget you want to spend.

There are many different options out there with what to include in a hamper. You can also check out 8 sustainable guilt-free gift ideas on our page here.

IGA is a network of 1,300 independent family-owned businesses that sit at the heart of local communities across Australia. Independence makes all the difference for these businesses and for our customers and local communities. Free from having to follow a one size fits all mantra, IGA independent owners not only understand local needs, but go out of their way to support local producers, suppliers, and charities wherever possible.

That’s why we love the idea of creating a hamper that gives AND gives back. It’s a double gift hamper!

You can give back to the community by purchasing Community Co. products. Community Co proudly support local communities and suppliers through the Community Chest Program. Plus, make sure you look out for products in store that have a Community Chest ticket. To find out more about the Community Chest click here.

Here are just two Hamper ideas you can make yourself by shopping at your local IGA, but the options are limitless. Make it your way and get creative.

SWEET & SAVOURY HAMPER

Hamper inclusions:

  • Colander
  • Wooden spoon
  • Tea towel
  • Community Co. Californian Walnuts 130g
  • Community Co. Whole Kalamata Olives 350g
  • The Candy Market Choc Honeycomb 150g
  • Community Co. Kalamata Olive Sourdough Loaf 500g
  • Community Co. Gourmet Date & Apricot Fruit Crackers 100g
  • Community Co. Jam Packed with Strawberry 500g
  • Community Co. Smooth & Creamy Double Brie 125g
  • Community Co. Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oil 500mL
  • Community Co. Pure Honey 375g
  • Community Co. Nibbles Salted Pistachios 200g
  • Community Co. Sweet & Spiced Gherkins 500g

TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS HAMPER

Hamper inclusions:

  • Ceramic Baking tray
  • Homemade Coconut Ice balls – Click here for the recipe
  • Community Co. Mince Pies
  • Community Co. Sweetened Dried Cranberries 200g
  • Community Co. Natural Pistachios 80g
  • Community Co. Gourmet Cranberry & Pumpkin Seed Fruit Crackers 100g
  • Community Co. A Dollop of Wholegrain Mustard 190g
  • Community Co. A Splash of Red Wine Vinegar 500mL
  • Community Co. Stuffed Green Olives 450g
  • Community Co. Extra creamy Triple Cream Brie 125g
  • Signature Collection Mini Decorated Christmas Cake 160g
  • Coconut Ice Balls (See recipe)
  • Community Co. Shortbread Biscuits 180g
  • The Candy Market Choc Honeycomb 150g (In mason jar)

Food rescue program

The IGA Food Rescue Program: Redirecting surplus food to support people who need it most.

At IGA, we believe in giving back to our local communities, to continue to build a healthy and happy environment for us all.

The IGA Food Rescue Program enables our network of independent retailers to donate edible surplus food to those who need it most within their communities. Together with the Not for Profit ‘Food for Change’, IGA stores across NSW, SA, WA, NT, VIC and TAS are regularly taking this action and donating available food from their stores that would otherwise go to waste.

Quick Facts:

With the launch of The IGA Food Rescue Program in 2018, we have seen over 2 million meals donated to those less fortunate.

For over 3 years, IGA Meadowbank has been donating food to Christian Community Aid, and during this time they have made over 134 donations, and 128,728 meals.

“Without IGA Meadowbank we couldn’t feed the hundreds of hungry families that approach us seeking food relief on a regular basis” said Adelaide Collisson from CCA. “We heavily rely on their support to keep our food donation program going.”

The Food Rescue Program is one that the Meadowbank staff are very proud to be a part of, “At IGA we pride ourselves on being the heart and soul of the communities in which we serve.” said Meg Penny, IGA Meadowbank. “It feels good to know you have fed hungry people in your community every week.”

Likewise, since July 2021, IGA Marulan has established an inspiring relationship with Anglicare Goulburn, donating over 7,441 meals to date. “They really rely on the donations…for emergencies to help the homeless, domestic violence victims and families short on money.” said Ivan Wilson, Anglicare Goulburn.

Staff at IGA Marulan are equally as grateful to be part of the Food Rescue Program and take great pride in, “knowing that they are helping families in need.” said Lorraine Hill, IGA Marulan. “The staff enjoy hearing the stories and feedback from Anglicare and have developed a great relationship over the years.”

Our thanks go out to all the store owners and staff who are supporting the Food Rescue Program, to help those in need and create positive outcomes within their communities.

To stay up to date with our community tips and ideas, and other great initiatives, sign up to the Locals Matter Community Program today.

5 easy switches to celebrate Earth Day

This Earth Day, IGA wants to make celebrating the environment easy, accessible, and fun! Sometimes all it takes is a simple switch to make a world of difference. In this article, we run you through 5 eco-friendly alternatives to everyday tasks that make protecting our precious environment easier than ever. Try one of these each day of the week in the lead up to Earth Day: 

1. Walk, don’t drive

Cars require space and energy, mainly in the form of fossil fuels. Walking rather than jumping in your car for short trips can hugely benefit the environment, and yourself!

2. Switch out your electric appliances

Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use can save electricity, so it’s a great habit to get into and can save on your energy bills too! You can also consider using more efficient electrical appliances, for example, an Air Fryer is a very quick way to cook your meals – and can therefore save time and energy!

3. Grow your own

Try planting your own herb garden, so you can always have fresh herbs! If you’re feeling more adventurous and have the space, you could try planting some of your own veggies too.

4. Give something a second life!

You can get as creative as you like with this one! For example, are you still making your way through your Easter choccy? You could save the foil wrappers instead of throwing them away, to make some homemade Christmas decorations.

5. Go veggie for the day

A simple way to have a positive impact on the planet is to eat less meat, so give it a go for a day or two and have some fun making new, fresh vegetarian meals! Take a look at our healthy veggies recipes here.

Have a go at one or more of these, and see if it’s something you might be able to build into your routine more regularly.

To stay up to date with our community tips and ideas, and other great initiatives, sign up to the Locals Matter Community Program today.

All-natural easter egg dye

Feeling creative this Easter? Decorating eggs is a tradition lasting over 2,500 years, and is still popular today, so we’ve put together a fun way to get creative over the holidays while also using up your food leftovers! You can have some fun, and care for the environment at the same time.

This is an all-natural alternative to regular food colouring, and a great way to give your scraps a second life!

What you need:

  • Hard boiled eggs (in shell)
  • Large/wide-mouthed jar
  • Red cabbage, red onion, yellow onion, carrot

You can make different colours out of different foods, and shades may vary depending on your ingredients. You can test our different foods, but here are some to get you going. You will need to soak your eggs in the jars, and the longer you leave them soaking in the fridge the more intense your colours will be.

Yellow: Carrot creates a rich yellow colouring. Add approx. 150g of carrot to 350ml of water and simmer for 15 mins, adding a couple of teaspoons of vinegar.

Blue: It sounds strange, but try using red cabbage! Cut the head of the cabbage into chunks, mix with a few tablespoons of vinegar and 900ml of hot water and simmer, and you will have your blue dye!

Green: Skins of red onions are best for dying your eggs green. Simmer the skins in 450ml of water for 10-15 minutes and add a few tablespoons of vinegar to create the dye.

Orange: For orange, do the same process as above but using the skins of 6 yellow onions.

To stay up to date with our community tips and ideas, and other great initiatives, sign up to the Locals Matter Community Program today.

5 minutes with Margaret Strahan about new film release, ALLELUJAH

Margaret Strahan: Head of Senior Services for Uniting Care in the Central Coast and Hunter region

At IGA, we care about supporting our local communities and those in need. That’s why we caught up with Margaret Strahan to chat about the new film release ALLELUJAH, a warm, humorous and deeply moving story about surviving old age. ALLELUJAH celebrates the spirit of the elderly, whilst paying tribute to the deep humanity of medical staff battling limited resources and ever-growing demand.

Margaret, what was your key takeaway from the film, ALLELUJAH?

My key takeaway from the film is how important it is to treat our elders with the respect and dignity they deserve. All people have wants and needs, and that doesn’t change in old age. The staff who work in aged care do an incredible job with very limited resources and we all know people who go the extra mile to support our elders to live their best life.

It also highlights the financial challenges of delivering care on a budget, which sees some care homes, especially small ones, forced to close when they cannot keep up with expectations.

From your experience in aged care, does the film share similarities to the elderly care here in Australia?

I saw a number of similarities and at the same time a number of differences. I believe in Australia we have worked hard to move away from an institutional model and more of an advocacy model, putting the decision making closer to the resident. This change is represented in the design of our buildings and more importantly in the culture we foster. With over 30 years’ experience in aged care, I have witnessed many positive changes. We have challenged ourselves as professionals to remember that we don’t always know what’s best for our residents in our care. Elderly people, even those living with dementia have a voice, and we have to advocate for them. For some reason, when someone enters a care home it is quite typical to look more to their family as their ultimate decision maker rather than their supported decision maker, this is something we need to remind ourselves and their representatives of at times.

Similarly across the globe, people who work in aged care do this because they are passionate, and want to see care delivered well. We are also fortunate to have wonderful volunteers who assist us to deliver something extra that tight budgets won’t always allow.

Why do you feel it’s important for people to watch this film?

The film, although it has many light-hearted moments, has a serious message to deliver. I think people need to watch this film to fully understand its message. Even with my experience, it gave me a lot of food for thought on how aged care can be perceived, by the media, by the community, and sometimes by ourselves. Aged care work is a profession, one I am proud to be a part of along with many extraordinary people. I believe it takes a certain type of person to work in aged care and experience both the joy in our success stories and its many challenges. I consider it a privilege to work with our elders and support them to continue to live their best life.

ALLELUJAH is in cinemas April 6th 2023. Watch the trailer here.

To stay up to date with our community tips and ideas, and other great initiatives, sign up to the Locals Matter Community Program today.

Fun ways to spend Earth Hour with your kids

Earth Hour serves as a great reminder for us all to switch off from our devices and switch on to the negative effects of excessively using non-essential electric appliances.

This year, IGA is making it even easier for you to take part in this one hour without power by providing a series of fun activities you and the whole family can do that don’t require any electricity. Just make sure to keep a couple torches or candles close by!

1. There’s no better way to keep cozy than with a home-made fort! Grab all pillows and blankets in sight and challenge the whole family to create the perfect hangout spot for your hour without power.

2. Are you a family of hidden talents? Use this Earth Hour to unleash your inner superstar and put on a talent show. Go all the way and give yourself a stage name and costume to really sell your act… it’s lights! camera! action! (just without the lights).

3. Board games are the perfect way to get the entire family involved in a fun-fuelled Earth Hour. With phones, social media and streaming sights ruling our day-to-day lives, this is a great way to recharge and reduce yours and the kid’s screen time.

4. Light up your home while having some fun, and try making our Orange Skin Candles – have them ready to light for earth hour!

  • Using a paring knife, cut around the middle of the orange without piercing the flesh
  • Gently push fingers around the flesh of the orange, separating it from the skin. Make sure that the stem remains intact as this will be the wick
  • Fill the orange halves with vegetable oil
  • Light the orange stems when ready to use. Caution: Do not leave candles unattended and ensure orange skins are relatively flat or stable on the bottom to avoid tipping.

5. Get outside! Set up a star-gazing picnic in your backyard with some yummy snacks and take in the beauty of the night sky, or go one step further and pitch a tent for you and the family to camp in overnight. There’s no better way to pay tribute to the earth than by embracing the great outdoors!

6. Who says you need electricity to make something yum? Have a go at making our fun sushi rolls and enjoy a dinner that is good for you and your planet. Just make sure you have cooked rice ready to go! View Recipe

Have a go at one or more of these family friendly activities this Earth Hour and see just how much fun you can have electricity-free! Plus, remind yourself and your kids to be mindful of your electricity usage on all days!

To stay up to date with our community tips and ideas, and other great initiatives, sign up to the Locals Matter Community Program today.

Food allergy vs intolerance explained

We can all remember an occasion where we’ve eaten something that didn’t agree with us – that packet-mix cake from our childhood, say, or greasy takeout on a road trip.

However, if your day to day diet causes you discomfort or pain there could be something else going on. There’s a chance you might have a food allergy or intolerance, which if left untreated can have serious health risks.

And you wouldn’t be alone. Australia has one of the highest allergy rates in the world with 1 in 10 infants and 2 in 100 adults being affected by a food allergy. Although allergies are much more common among infants, many of these will be outgrown. Food intolerance is even more common than food allergy.

Both can be unpleasant, complicated and in some cases life-threatening. The good news is, they can be effectively managed!

What’s the difference between a food allergy and intolerance?

A food intolerance involves the digestive system and is usually the result of an inability to process or digest certain foods. This could be due to an enzyme deficiency, gastrointestinal disorder (e.g. IBS), sensitivity to food additives or reaction to naturally occurring food chemicals. Although food intolerances can cause discomfort, they are not life threatening. Some people may even be able to eat the problem food in small amounts without experiencing any symptoms.

A food allergy, on the other hand, involves the immune system. The severity of an allergy can vary from person to person with some being much more sensitive than others. Unlike an intolerance, a food allergy can cause a serious, potentially life-threatening, reaction if even a microscopic amount of the food is eaten, touches the inside of the mouth or is inhaled.

Signs & symptoms of a food allergy

Allergic reactions can occur very quickly, usually within 20 minutes to 2 hours after eating or coming in contact with the food.

Signs & symptoms of a food intolerance

These usually show anywhere between 30 minutes and 48 hours after consuming the food, which complicates the identification of the problem foods.

Most common food allergens among adults

Although you can develop an allergy to almost any food, the most common food allergies we see in adults are to:

Most common food intolerances among adults

There are many food substances people can have an intolerance to, each of which are found in a variety of foods. The most common include:

Food substance

Example foods

Lactose

Milk, Milo, chocolate, ice cream, cheese, yoghurt, cream

Gluten

Barley, rye, oats, wheat

Preservatives (e.g., sulphites)

Cordials, dried fruit, sausages, wine

Salicylates

Fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, honey

Amines

Cheese, chocolate, bananas, avocado

Caffeine

Coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, tea, soft drinks

FODMAPs

Wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes, lactose, honey, apples

Can I develop a food allergy or intolerance at any age?

Most food allergies appear in childhood, but they can develop at any time. It’s possible to develop an allergy to foods you’ve eaten for years with no problems.

Food intolerances generally occur later in life. This is because as you age digestion naturally becomes slower and your body produces less of the enzymes needed to break down food. You may also become more sensitive to a particular chemical or food additive – for instance, sulphites.

Testing for food allergy or intolerance

If you are concerned you may have a food allergy or intolerance, it’s important you seek a proper diagnosis from a qualified medical practitioner. Your practitioner can test you for allergies with a simple blood test or skin prick test. If these show you are allergic to a particular food, you can eliminate the food from your diet to avoid any reactions.

If allergy testing comes back negative, it’s possible you have a food intolerance.

Beware of anyone offering intolerance testing! Unfortunately, most of these tests (except for a specific breath test for lactose intolerance) lack both scientific evidence and clinical relevance.

Diagnosing and managing food intolerance requires the input and supervision of a qualified health professional, such as your dietitian. We would recommend you first keep a food diary and note down any symptoms which may be related to food. Then you will need to eliminate all suspect foods from the diet before reintroducing them one by one, to see which food(s) or food substance(s) cause your symptoms. Your dietitian will then be able to assist you in finding your tolerance threshold(s) and creating a personalised diet.

Bottom line

Whilst food allergies and intolerances are often confused, the two are very different. They can both negatively impact your health and should be taken seriously. If you suspect you may be allergic or intolerant to a certain food, speak to your doctor or dietitian about testing and management.

Brought to you by:

Anna & Alex

How to overcome food cravings: 6 tips from our dietitians

It’s fair to say we’ve probably all experienced food cravings before –  that irresistible urge to eat a specific food. Whether it’s chocolate, chips or ice cream, you feel as if you cannot relax until these intense cravings have been satisfied.

Food cravings can really throw a spanner in the works, particularly when you’re working towards adopting a healthy eating pattern. Frequently ‘giving in’ to cravings can be disheartening as your health goals seem more and more unattainable.

So, is there really anything you can do to help curb these food cravings? Accredited Practising Dietitian, Anna Debenham, shares her top 6 tips.

1. Start with a balanced diet

The best place to start when dealing with cravings is to take a look at your overall diet.

Your two main considerations are:

1)     Is your current diet nutritionally balanced?

2)    Are you eating enough?

If you find yourself experiencing strong food cravings regularly throughout the day, you might need to look at the macronutrient balance of your meals (i.e. the balance of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fats).

Afternoon sugar cravings can be avoided by eating a more nutritionally balanced lunch.

This is something we see a lot of, especially when people eat salads or soups for lunch that don’t contain an adequate amount of protein. It’s important to remember that, in order to feel full, you need more than just greens. A serving of protein, a little healthy fat and some healthy carbohydrates alongside those greens is a much more balanced lunch that will keep you satisfied and help keep those cravings at bay.

2. Don’t avoid your favourite treat foods

One guaranteed way to intensify cravings is to ban specific foods from your diet altogether.

While this may sound like a useful way to reach your health goals, banning foods means that they become ‘forbidden fruit’. Once you can’t have it, you’ll find yourself wanting it even more.

There’s no need to ban unhealthy foods from your diet altogether. Focus on a healthy diet but don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love – allowing treats occasionally in small amounts can actually help to avoid those intense cravings. Remember, we are looking for long term, sustainable habits and banning foods typically is not a long term approach.

3. Retrain those taste buds

Did you know that you can actually alter your taste buds to crave less sugar and salt?

Every few weeks, our taste buds regenerate. By slowly reducing your intake of sweet and salty foods, over time your taste buds will slowly adapt to crave these sorts of nutrients less.

The key is not to go cold turkey, or you might find your food tasting a little bland. If you slowly cut back, you’ll adjust and find your cravings may have reduced.

4. Try and break the habit

Food cravings are often a result of a habit you have developed over time. For example if you feel you ‘must’ immediately end each meal with a sweet bite, it is likely this is more so a habit than anything else.

Instead, try changing the behaviour straight after your meal. For example you might make yourself a herbal tea for a tummy settler and palate cleanser. Alternatively, you could go for a walk or if it’s late at night brush your teeth. Replacing your usual behaviour (eating a sweet treat) with another behaviour is a great way to break the habit.

5. Look after your mental health

If you find yourself experiencing strong cravings after a stressful day at work, chances are the cravings are emotionally fuelled.

Emotional eating becomes an issue when you’re consistently using food as a way to cope with emotions. Sometimes, it’s a habit so engrained, you don’t actually realise your craving is related to your emotions. Next time you are craving something, have a think about how you are feeling and ask yourself, ‘Do I really feel like this? Is this going to make me feel better long term?’. Have a list of other things you can do when you are tempted to emotionally eat. Distracting yourself by doing something else that makes you feel good is a technique that works for many. This could involve going for a short walk, journaling or even tending to that pile of laundry that needs washing! If it’s a habit you’ve had for a while, emotional eating can be tricky to break, however finding new ways to soothe these emotions is an important first step.

6. Get enough sleep

Did you know you’re more likely to experience food cravings after a night with too little shut-eye. This is because a lack of sleep affects certain areas of your brain which can significantly increase your desire for highly palatable and calorie-rich foods.

To counteract food cravings associated with sleep deprivation, aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, there’s no need to worry about the occasional food craving. They are normal and something most people experience. However, if you feel that your food cravings are out of control or keep you from reaching your goals, it might be time to take action.

If food cravings, emotional eating or binge eating are an issue that you’re dealing with on a regular basis and finding hard to beat, the best thing to do is get support from a qualified professional.

The Biting Truth are a team of dietitians who understand there is no one size fits all approach and can work with you to develop a personalised nutrition strategy plan to help you become the healthiest version of yourself. You can book a consult easily today.

Read more from The Biting Truth

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How to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables

As a parent and caregiver, you play an important role in making healthy choices for your children and guiding them towards one day making these choices on their own.

With so many mixed messages surrounding nutrition, this is a task that can often feel overwhelming.

If your little one is a veggie hater, you might find yourself using all sorts of strategies to get them to eat veggies – bribing, sneaking veggies into meals or forcing them to eat them. While these strategies may help in the short term, they are unlikely to positively influence their food behaviours and may even lead to more challenges as they get older.

IGA’s paediatric dietitian, Alex Parker, breaks down some simple things you can do to help your little ones learn to eat (and enjoy!) vegetables.

Don’t treat veggies as the enemy

Comments such as “you have to eat your broccoli before you can eat your dessert” sends a message to kids that vegetables are not enjoyable – they are a chore. Instead, try to create a positive mealtime environment by exposing your child to vegetables without pressure, and avoid any negative connotations surrounding vegetables. This can have profound effects on their future eating habits as well as help to alleviate your stress and frustration.

Get your child involved

The more familiar kids are with vegetables, the more likely they are to eat them. Some great ways to boost your child’s confidence and familiarity around vegetables include:

  • Take your kids grocery shopping and encourage them to choose a veggie or two to buy and try each week.
  • Get them in the kitchen and involve them in age-appropriate tasks such as washing vegetables or peeling and cutting using a child-friendly knife.
  • Get your little one to serve up vegetables to other people at the table.

All of these small experiences will ultimately help improve their overall confidence with vegetables.

Take advantage of snack times

Snacks are great opportunities to bump up your little ones’ veggie intake and will show children different ways of enjoying them. Whether you keep it simple by serving vegetable sticks with a dip or some cheese or get a little more creative and create a recipe that includes some vegetables, taking advantage of snack time is a fantastic way to boost your child’s vegetable intake.

Find inspiration from some of our favourite veggie-based snacks here:

Lead by example

This is one of the most powerful ways to encourage your little ones to eat vegetables. If you don’t eat vegetables yourself, how can you expect your child to? Children learn by example, so it is essential to start by packing in as many veggies as possible into your own daily diet. Try to frequently sit with your child to eat and show them how you eat your vegetables (without putting pressure on them to eat theirs).

Serve small portions of new vegetables, alongside familiar foods

Be careful not to bombard your child with a big portion of new (unfamiliar) vegetables on their plate, as this can be overwhelming and will reduce their likelihood of trying anything at all.

Instead, try offering small portions of new vegetables e.g. one halved cherry tomato or a teaspoon of corn kernels. Offer these new vegetables alongside a familiar food that you know they enjoy. This will ultimately provide some comfort whilst encouraging them to taste something new.

Help your child listen to their body

While you may feel tempted to beg your child to eat one more bite of peas, mealtime offers a great opportunity to allow children to listen to their body’s instincts. Most kids are able to effectively self-regulate their hunger and appetite. This means that, in most circumstances, they will naturally eat the right amount of food for their body. Try to trust that when your child says they are finished, they really are and there’s no need to force them to eat more.

Need more support?

The Biting Truth’s Little Bites Program has been specifically designed for busy families in need of a little extra support navigating fussy eating. The program includes a selection of kid-friendly recipes, articles, tutorials, printable resources and more.

Learn More

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Coeliac disease Q&A with The Biting Truth

This month we’re aiming to raise awareness of Coeliac Disease, with the help of our in-house dietitians, Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth, who have answered all the questions you submitted on coeliac disease.

1. What are the signs/symptoms of coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease can vary in its symptoms, ranging from many to none at all. Symptoms can include:

Ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms including: diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, flatulence, vomiting, cramping, bloating, abdominal discomfort

1. Unexplained weight loss
2. Prolonged tiredness and weakness
3. Iron deficiency and/or other vitamin and mineral deficiencies
4. Recurring mouth ulcers
5. Recurrent miscarriages or infertility
6.Failure to thrive or delayed puberty

2. What’s the difference between coeliac disease and gluten intolerance?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where the lining of your small intestine, which is covered in tiny little projections called ‘villi’, becomes damaged by gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other grains. Over time, with continued consumption of gluten, the villi become more and more damaged, leading to reduced absorption of nutrients. Once diagnosed, the only way to manage the disease is to remove all sources of gluten from the diet.

Gluten intolerance (also known as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity) doesn’t involve an immune or autoimmune response, i.e., there’s no inflammation. However, it’s characterised by similar symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, wind, lethargy and bowel changes. People with gluten intolerance can usually tolerate small amounts of gluten without experiencing any symptoms (unlike people with coeliac disease). Tolerance varies greatly between individuals; the key to managing symptoms is identifying the tolerance threshold (i.e., how much is tolerated) and being careful not to exceed it.

3. How is coeliac disease usually managed or treated?

The only treatment currently available is a strict gluten-free diet.

A gluten-free diet prevents further damage to the intestinal lining, allowing the villi to heal so that nutrients can be absorbed properly. People with coeliac disease need to be strict in following the diet for the rest of their life, even if they don’t have symptoms. They can’t take a break every now and then to have a bowl of regular pasta or a slice of regular bread.

Ongoing monitoring is also important. The villi usually grow back and return to normal, but this can take anywhere from months to years. Even if they grow back, the individual needs to remain on a gluten-free diet. In this sense, people are only treated for coeliac disease, they are not cured; at least, not yet – doctors are working on it!

If left untreated, people with coeliac disease are at an increased risk of bowel cancer, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriages and chronic ill health. The risk of all these conditions returns to normal on a gluten-free diet.

4. Do you have any advice on taking nutritional supplements?

We find that nutritional deficiencies in people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease are quite common. The severity and extent of intestinal inflammation influences how someone absorbs nutrients. The most common nutritional deficiencies are vitamin B12, calcium, iron, vitamin D and zinc. If you have diagnosed nutrient deficiencies, your doctor may advise you take supplements.

Keep in mind, once you restore your nutrient levels and your intestines heal, you’ll likely no longer need to take supplements.

We recommend meeting with an Accredited Practising Dietitian who can assess your diet and provide guidance on what to eat to help you meet your nutritional requirements.

5. Which foods contain gluten?

Grains, flours
  • All varieties of wheat (i.e., spelt, kamut, durum, farro)
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Products containing malted gluten-containing grains e.g., malt barley
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Triticale
Cereal products
  • Couscous
  • Egg noodles
  • Lasagne
  • Muesli
  • Noodles
  • Oat porridge
  • Pasta
  • Ravioli/tortellini
  • Udon noodles
  • Wheat-based & mixed grain breakfast foods
Breads, biscuits, cakes
  • Barley bread
  • Crispbreads
  • Croissants
  • Ice cream cones
  • Pizza bases
  • Regular biscuits/cakes
  • Regular bread/rolls
  • Rye bread
  • Sourdough bread
  • Waffles/pancakes
Drinks 
  • Barley drinks
  • Beer/ale/lager/stout
  • Milo & other malt powder beverages
Sauces, spreads 
  • Malt vinegar
  • Vegemite, Promite & Marmite (gluten-free varieties available)

6. Do you have any nutrition tips for someone following a gluten-free diet?

The most important thing to know is that it’s still possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet when following a gluten-free diet.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Avoid all gluten. Even very small amounts of gluten can cause ongoing gut damage and/or symptoms for people with coeliac disease.
  2. Be careful of cross contamination. Cross contamination occurs when a gluten-free food becomes contaminated by either direct or indirect contact with a gluten-containing food.
  3. Include gluten-free grains in your diet and choose wholegrain products where possible e.g., brown rice, quinoa, wholegrain gluten-free bread.
  4. Eat a balanced diet that includes foods from all 5 food groups – grains, veggies, fruits, dairy and meats/alternatives.

7. How can I tell if a product is gluten free?

Check the label for the following claims:

  • Gluten free: By law, a product can only be labelled as ‘gluten free’ when it contains no detectable gluten (i.e., less than 0.003%). These products are safe to eat for people on a gluten-free diet.
  • Contains gluten or contains traces of gluten: Sometimes sources of gluten are not written on the ingredients list, but a label will state ‘contains gluten’ or ‘contains traces of gluten’. These products should be avoided by people on a gluten-free diet.
  • May contain traces of gluten: Warning statements such as ‘May contain traces of gluten’ are voluntary and can be used a bit like a ‘get out of jail free’ card by the manufacturer. The use of warning statements in this way can result in the food being eaten by someone ‘at risk’ or in the food being avoided when it’s in fact safe to eat. It’s a good idea to contact the manufacturing company for more information as avoiding all foods with this warning may not be necessary.
  • There are also some handy apps available if that’s your kind of thing:
  • Coeliac Australia app (called ‘Gluten Free Ingredient List’ on iPhone)
  • Find Me Gluten Free
  • FoodSwitch (from The George Institute for Global Health)

Thank you for sharing all of your questions, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading our answers!

Read more from our Nutritionists, the Biting Truth, or discover our healthy gluten-free recipes here:

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Heart healthy ways to celebrate this Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s day, take care of your heart in more ways than one! We’ve gathered some of our favourite heart-healthy recipes to create the perfect, romantic dinner for two.

Starter

Kicking off your delicious dining experience, we have a simple yet effective dish – a real crowd pleaser. IGA’s Almond Dukkha recipe is packed with unsaturated fats which are proven to reduce risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. Serve this nutty blend with a few slices of fresh bread and some extra virgin olive oil, packed with heart-healthy fats and antioxidants.

Main

Salmon is not only tasty, but it’s also packed with omega-3 fatty acids which have been proven to prevent heart disease and lessen the likelihood of a stroke. For this reason, we’re plating up a nutrient-rich Caponata with Salmon as your main course. Inspired by Sicilian cuisine, this colourful and healthy dish is sure to make for a happy heart and tummy.

Dessert

Take your V-day chocolate game to the next level with our Avocado and Strawberry Chocolate tart. This decadent dessert is packed full of potassium and is also relatively low in salt, all thanks to the superstar ingredient, avocado. A combination that has been recognised for its ability to lower blood pressure, whilst protecting against heart attack and stroke.

Bonus treat for that special someone!

Don’t have enough time for a three course meal? Have a go at baking a batch of our Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes for a guaranteed happy valentine. Not only are these super tasty, they’re also an excellent healthy alternative using beetroot, boasting its ability to boost blood flow and reduce signs of inflammation in blood vessels.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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What to eat before and after a workout: a dietitian’s guide

Did you know that inadequate sports nutrition increases your risk of poor performance, injury, fatigue and suboptimal gains? Since nutrition is a significant contributor to exercise performance and recovery, it is crucial to consider the nutritional content and timing of your meals and snacks.

Whilst we all have different goals, food preferences and training schedules, there are basic sports nutrition guidelines everyone can follow to help optimise performance and recovery.

Dietitians Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth share their top tips below.

Pre-workout nutrition

Eating before exercise will provide you with the fuel necessary to optimise performance and get the most out of your workout. Skipping a pre-workout meal or not eating enough can affect safety and performance by contributing to dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, lethargy and increasing susceptibility to injuries.

It is also important to consider the type of fuel you’re giving your body! Fuelling with the right nutrients prior to exercise will provide you with the energy and strength necessary to optimise performance. The key elements of pre-workout nutrition largely depend on the type of training you’re undertaking, your personal preferences and your exercise goals.

In general, your pre-exercise meal or snack should be:

  • Rich in carbohydrates and protein: this will allow you to prime your fuel stores and support working muscles
  • Low in fibre, especially for those with gut issues: foods that are low in fibre are digested quickly to provide you with fuel and avoid gastrointestinal issues during your workout (e.g. cramping, bloating).
  • Easy to digest – avoid foods overly high in fat as these are slow to digest (e.g. dairy products, fatty meats).

Carbohydrates prior to exercise can assist in topping up your muscle glycogen stores to support training by providing working muscles with adequate fuel. Although protein is a bigger focus in post exercise nutrition, consuming protein prior to a workout can also assist with muscle protein synthesis and recovery.

As a guide, aim to consume a meal 2–4 hours prior to exercise or a snack 1-2 hours before a workout. Since our taste buds (and our stomachs!) differ, we recommend taking some time to experiment with different options to find what works best for you.

Post-workout nutrition

The food you consume and the timing of your meals following a workout are extremely important and can help you improve body composition, performance and overall recovery.

The basic idea behind post-workout nutrition is to achieve the following three things:

  1. Replenish energy (glycogen) stores
  2. Reduce protein breakdown
  3. Repair the muscle used during your workout

Exercise not only utilises your body’s energy stores but also causes small amounts of damage to the muscle tissues at a cellular level. While this might sound counter-productive, it allows you to become stronger, fitter and leaner – as long as you are consuming the right foods to support this process. The building and toning of muscles occurs when muscle proteins are broken down and new ones are created. Therefore, post-workout nutrition will not only replenish your energy stores but also importantly assist in building new muscle.

In general, your post-exercise meal or snack should be:

  • Rich in protein to repair and rebuild muscles damaged during training
  • Rich in carbohydrates to help replace the energy utilised during exercise

Timing is a crucial element of post-workout nutrition. We recommend eating within 30–90 minutes following a workout. Studies have revealed that adequate nutrition and rehydration during this period will best support recovery. This has been attributed to the fact that, during this time, blood flow to the muscles increases, priming the muscles to accept nutrients and helping to stimulate muscle growth and repair.

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5 ways to have a fun and active Summer

There’s no better time to get moving than the Summertime! Do your mind and body a favour and hit those exercise goals, all whilst soaking up some much needed vitamin D. Give one or all 5 of these fun, Summer activities a go…

1. Walk don’t drive

Get your steps up and save your wallet at the same time! Leaving yourself some extra time to walk is one of the easiest ways to squeeze a workout into your week, and it can also provide an opportunity to clear your mind from the stresses of everyday life. Chuck on your favourite playlist, a podcast or invite a friend and leave the car keys at the door!

2. Play a team sport

Gather your mates or members of the community and set up a friendly game of soccer, touch footy, basketball, whatever you fancy! This is a great way to exercise, whilst socialising and potentially picking up a new skill.

3. Go for a bike ride

Why not make this the summer of discovering the great outdoors! Grab a friend or make this a solo mission and get pedalling.

4. Organise an outdoor training session

Exercising outdoors is the perfect way to spice up your weekly workout routine and can also be a great alternative for anyone looking for a cost-saving and flexible alternative to the gym! Inviting a group of friends to join is also a great way to keep yourself motivated and on track to reaching your fitness goals.

5. Get in the water!

This may seem like an obvious one, but swimming is a great form of exercise, while also improving coordination, balance and posture. Plus, who doesn’t love cooling off in the ocean or pool on a hot summer’s day? Just don’t forget to slip, slop, slap!

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