CPR First Aid

What are the Discretionary Foods?

What are the Discretionary Foods

Eat for Health, an agency under the Department of Health and Aged Care, identifies which are the discretionary foods. Items in this category are high in added sugar, fat, and alcohol. The government discourages the consumption of these because of their unhealthy content and harmful effects on health. Instead, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating food from the five food groups every day. Other healthy lifestyle choices also boost health and you will learn about these below. 

What are the Discretionary Foods?

The Australian Government does not consider the following foods necessary for a healthy diet because of their content. So, they strongly suggest cutting down on them and swapping them with options from the five food groups.

The Australian Government does not consider the following foods necessary for a healthy diet because of their content. So, they strongly suggest cutting down on them and swapping them with options from the five food groups.

Food with Higher Added Sugars

Most food on this list are drinks.

  • Energy drinks
  • Fruit drinks
  • Honey
  • Jams
  • Some sauces
  • Sugar
  • Sugar confectionary
  • Sweetened soft drinks and cordials
  • Sweetened waters
  • Syrups

Water and fresh fruits may be a good alternative.

Food with Higher Fat

This category mostly contains processed food.

  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Ghee
  • Certain tacos, nachos, enchilada
  • Crisps
  • Dairy blends
  • Frankfurts etc
  • Meat pies
  • Pastry
  • Pizza
  • Potato chips
  • Quiche
  • Salami/mettwurst
  • Some processed meats
  • Some sauces/dressings
  • Spring roll

Choose the reduced-fat variations of milk, yoghurt, and cheese.

Food with Higher Fat and Added Sugars

Most items in this group are for those with a sweet tooth. 

  • Biscuits
  • Cake
  • Chocolate
  • Dessert custards
  • Doughnuts
  • Ice cream
  • Ice buns
  • Muesli bars
  • Puddings
  • Slices
  • Some confectionary
  • Some sauces/ dressings
  • Sweet muffins
  • Sweet pastries
  • Sweet pies and crumbles

Fruits and wholegrain fibre varieties may serve as a good replacement for these.

Food with High Alcohol

Drink the following in moderation.

  • Beer
  • Liqueurs
  • Mixed alcoholic drinks
  • Port
  • Sherry
  • Spirits
  • Wine

It’s best to see a GP to get medical advice on reducing or quitting alcohol effectively.

Why is there a Category for Discretionary Foods?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend which food and drinks to consume for health and well-being which are the five food groups. However, it also has a list of discretionary foods that people must consume only sometimes and in small amounts due to the following.

  • Most of them contain high kilojoules (energy) but are low in nutrients and may displace food with good nutrition
  • The discretionary choices have an association with increased risk of obesity and chronic disease (such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer)
  • The consumption of them may not be ideal for those trying to lose weight because of their high-calorie content

Dietary changes and planning may help in effectively cutting them down.

What is the First Aid for the Negative Effects of Regularly Eating Discretionary Foods in Big Amounts?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a first aid for cardiac arrest, a heart-related emergency. But, other diseases may need medicines and hospital treatments. People who find it difficult to manage weight may also seek guidance from a dietitian. 

How to Cut Down Discretionary Foods?

Aside from swapping them with the five food groups, the following methods may also help in minimising your consumption of discretionary foods.

  • Planning for eating out
  • Eating more mindfully
  • Limiting portion sizes

The website of Eat for Health has additional information on applying these changes effectively.

What is an Ideal Amount of Discretionary Food?

While it will be healthy to limit eating discretionary foods, it does not mean you have to remove them from your diet. Enjoying them in ideal amounts from time to time is still good for achieving a balanced lifestyle. Eat for Health suggests consuming one serving of discretionary food on a few occasions which is a total of 600 kJ with the following examples.

  • 2 scoops (75g) regular ice cream
  • ¼ cup condensed milk
  • 50-60g (about two slices) processed meats, salami, mettwurst
  • 1 ½ thick or 2 thinner higher fat/salt sausages
  • 30g salty crackers (a small individual serve packet)
  • 2-3 sweet biscuits
  • 1 (40 g) doughnut
  • 1 slice (40 g) plain cake or small cake-type muffin
  • 40g sugar confectionary (about 5-6 small lollies)
  • 60g jam/honey (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 small bar (25 g) chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons (40 g) cream
  • 1 tablespoon (20 g) butter or hard margarine
  • 200 mL wine (2 standard drinks (note this is often 1 glass for many Australian wines)
  • 60 mL spirits (2 standard drinks)
  • 600 mL light beer (1½ standard drinks)
  • 400 mL regular beer (1½ standard drinks)
  • 1 can (375 mL) soft drink
  • 1/3 (60 g) commercial meat pie or pastie
  • 12 (60 g) fried hot chips

Check Eat for Health’s website for its nutrition information panel to get more details.

What are the Other Healthy Lifestyle Choices Aside from Minimising Discretionary Foods?

Aside from minimising discretionary food, applying other healthy lifestyle choices also contributes to health and well-being.

  • Quit smoking
  • Be physically active
  • Drink more water
  • Get enough sleep daily
  • Reduce phone screen time
  • Build social connections
  • Find activities you enjoy
  • Manage stress

It may also help to review your family’s health history and have regular check-ups for early prevention of illnesses.

Aside from minimising discretionary food, applying other healthy lifestyle choices also contributes to health and well-being.

Conclusion

The discretionary foods are those with higher added sugar, fat, and alcohol. The government categorised these to identify which food and drink are not necessary for health and well-being. Such options are high in kilojoules, low in nutrients, and have an association with obesity and chronic diseases. So, it is essential to cut down the consumption of these by swapping them with the five food groups, eating mindfully, and limiting portions. Aside from a healthy diet, other lifestyle choices also boost general well-being such as quitting smoking, exercising, sleeping well, and others.

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