Before you give yourself a pat on the back for your poached chicken and steamed broccoli for dinner, take a minute to recall what else you've eaten today.

Because according to a nutritionist, Kiwis are good at healthy dinners, but what we're eating at breakfast, lunch, and snack-time leaves much room for improvement.

In this week's episode of Take Life Back, host Stacey Morrison speaks to Abbie O'Rourke from Feel Fresh Nutrition about how to pack more vegetables into every meal and shares her tricks for beating sugar cravings.

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"Kiwis are quite traditional in their dinners," says O'Rourke. "We have vegetables and meat and we do make an effort to eat well at night time. I think it's kind of ingrained in us but we really, really do need to incorporate that throughout our whole day.

"There's no reason why you can't include vegetables as your snacks, breakfast, lunch and your dinner."


While there are plenty of diet tips out there, O'Rourke says the key to eating well at every meal is actually pretty simple.

Here are seven easy ways to start eating - and feeling - better today.

1. Check your nutrients ratio

"We still operate as having majority protein and carbohydrates," says O'Rourke.

So begin by reconfiguring your dishes: Fifty per cent of your plate should actually be from vegetables and greens, complimented by 20 per cent protein, 20 per cent carbohydrates and 10 per cent fat.

2. Write it down

Noting often people haven't incorporated any vegetables in their diet until the end of the day, O'Rourke recommends writing down what you eat over a period of three days. Look at how many vegetables grace your plate, then you'll be able to see which meals you need to make more effort with.

3. Don't like vegetables? Mask the taste

Morrison asks how to we can include veggies earlier in our day. For those that find veggies rather unbearable O'Rourke suggests hiding the taste in something like a smoothie. "(It's) the easiest way to hide some vegetables. You can basically mask anything with a banana," says O'Rourke.

"Put fresh spinach into your smoothie to mix it up. You don't even taste it."

If snacking on celery or carrot sticks doesn't appeal to your taste buds try dipping them in some peanut butter or hummus - and prepare to have your attitude towards veggies changed for the better.

4. Healthy substitutes

It might sound odd, but try cutting a kumara into slices and grilling them in the oven. Rushed for time? Pop a slice straight in the toaster. Add some eggs and avocado on top and what have you got? A nutritious, veggie-loaded equivalent to eggs on toast. While you're at it, why not add a side of mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach. Cook them in some butter and garlic … delicious!


5. Buy frozen

Disregard the excuse that eating healthily is too expensive. Frozen veggies are as cheap as a bread roll and can easily be added to meals to improve not only nutrition but flavour as well.

6. Keep yourself well stocked

Usually we need quick ideas for lunch when we're busy throughout the day. O'Rourke encourages people to keep convenient, healthy options on hand: "... tins of tuna, brown rice cakes and things like that. Boil some eggs or bring leftover protein from the night before." Keep some olive oil in your desk drawer, drizzle it on top, and you have a meal almost instantly.

7. Eat when you're hungry

The reason we crave sugar in the afternoon is predominantly due to tiredness or eating poorly. To tackle this, eat little amounts often to keep blood sugar levels at bay. Keep snacks on hand to avoid going for long periods without eating. This will curb that habit for hitting up the vending machine come 3pm.