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Guess how many teaspoons of sugar are in that drink...

Be aware of the amount of sugar in the drinks you consume.
Be aware of the amount of sugar in the drinks you consume.

THERE is indisputable evidence linking dietary and lifestyle choices with the development of chronic disease.   

Eating too much fast food, a lack of exercise, oversized portions, excessive sugar intake and low fruit and vegetable consumption are all contributing factors.   

Eating a variety of nutritious foods and drinks are important factors in preventing chronic disease and living a healthy life.   

The Queensland Government funded Country Kitchens program, being delivered by the Queensland Country Women's Association is encouraging people living in rural, regional and remote areas to make better choices about their nutrition and exercise.   

Sugar in drinks

250ml coconut water: 2 ½ teaspoons  

200ml orange juice: 3 ½ teaspoons

500ml flavoured water: 5 teaspoons  

250ml energy drink: 6 teaspoons  

500ml flavoured iced tea: 7 ½ teaspoons  

600ml sports drink: 7 ½ teaspoons  

250ml soft drink: 9 ½ teaspoons  

500ml iced mocha: 11 ½ teaspoons  


"The QCWA's Country Kitchens program, is a unique and practical approach to teaching people how to eat more fruit and vegetables, cook at home, sit less, move more, watch portion sizes and reduce sugary beverages," said Program Coordinator Fiona McKenzie.   

Since August 2015, a team of accredited practising dietitians has been travelling the state running a series of Hands On Nutrition Workshops inspiring country Queenslanders to adopt healthier eating and lifestyle choices.   

A key outcome of the QCWA Country Kitchens program is the Healthy Catering Guidelines, which provide a set of benchmarks for healthy eating across everyday and discretionary foods. The guidelines also illustrate how commonplace recipes can be easily modified to make them healthier. 

"While knowledge of chronic disease has improved over the past 30 years, many people still do not understand the impact of overeating, the kilojoule content of sugary beverages and of not eating enough fruit and vegetables each day," Ms McKenzie said.   

In general terms, a portion of cooked vegetable equates to half a cup. By checking portion sizes with a household cup measure you'll quickly learn how much is sufficient. For a comprehensive list head HERE and search 'serve-sizes'.  

It's also a good idea to know how large your plates and bowls are. By using a cup to measure the food into your plate and bowl, you have a guide to how many portions of food is actually there. 

"We consume a lot of hidden sugar in our meals and beverages, so reading labels is a must," Ms McKenzie said.   

"The quickest way to reduce sugar is to switch a high sugar drink for water. If you find the taste needs adjusting, add sliced orange, lemon, lime or mint leaves."  

Try limiting consumption of drinks containing added sugars such as sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks and juices, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks. Flavoured milks may also contain added sugar. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake. Choose water throughout the day. Go HERE for more tips.  

So how much does the consumption of sugary beverages and oversized meal portions contribute to the health of Queenslanders?   

Overeating and consuming too much sugar increases your energy (or kilojoules) intake and can lead to weight gain, among other ailments. Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Obesity also reduces our quality of life and life expectancy.   

According to the Queensland Chief Health Officer report 2016, there has been a steadying of obesity rates and, in 2014-15, 30% of adults were obese by measurement and 66% were overweight or obese. 25% of children are overweight or obese. Compare this to the earliest Queensland estimate in 1993 where only 9% of adults were obese by self report.   

Encouragingly, a total of 929 people from 20 communities participated in the QCWA Country Kitchens program for the 12 months to December 2016. A further 24 towns out of the targeted 80 communities are on the schedule to learn the benefits of reducing sugary beverages, watching portion sizes and healthier eating and lifestyle practises.   

To get involved contact your local QCWA Branch or member, or go HERE and register.   

Here's the next workshops coming up in the Capricornia and Port Curtis regions:  

Workshop 1

June 26, 12.30-4.30pm, QCWA Wandal Branch Hall  

June 28, 10am-2pm, QCWA Wandal Branch Hall  

June 29, 5:30-9pm, Moura State High School  

Workshop 2

July 24, 12:30-4:30pm, QCWA Wandal Branch Hall

July 26, 10am-2pm, QCWA Wandal Branch Hall  

July 27, 5:30-9pm, Moura State High School

Workshop 3

August 28, 12:30pm-4:30pm, QCWA Wandal Branch Hall  

August 30, 10am-2pm, QCWA Wandal Branch Hall  

August 31, 5:30pm-9pm, Moura State High School  

Secure your place at or phone 3026 1220.  


IN FOCUS: Pat Van Bergen from Port Curtis division

Pat Van Bergen with some of the healthy meals created in the workshops.
Pat Van Bergen with some of the healthy meals created in the workshops.

Why did you decide to get involved with QCWA's Country Kitchens Program?

I was excited to join the Country Kitchens Program to spread the word about healthy eating. We have a small branch but we were very excited to use this as an opportunity to connect with the community. We had 12 people attend our workshop series from all different age groups and a few men as well.  

What part of the program appeals to you the most and why?

I really enjoyed the Hands on Nutrition Workshops. The cooking component made the learning interesting and I enjoyed being able to see how the recipes came together. It is a great opportunity to try new flavours and techniques.  

What have you enjoyed the most about becoming a Facilitator?

Being a facilitator has given me an opportunity to meet new people within QCWA and the community. The best part has been learning new things, healthy recipes and some tips and tricks.  

In what ways have you been able to reinforce the Country Kitchens five key messages within your community?

It's been a great way to engage with the wider community. The Hands on Nutrition Workshops were successful in promoting the five key messages, particularly eat more fruit and veg. Being able to show tips and tricks fist-hand for increasing fruit and veg intake was fantastic.     


RECIPE: Ricotta Vegetable Pies with Tomato Salsa


Ricotta vegetable pies with tomato salsa
Ricotta vegetable pies with tomato salsa nata_vkusidey


Serves 4, prep time 10 mins, cook time 25 mins  


1 tablespoon olive oil  

1 cup sweet potato, diced

1 cup zucchini, diced  

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons cumin  

6 eggs  

200g ricotta cheese  

6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese   


8 cherry tomatoes, diced  

½ cup basil leaves, torn

1 tablespoon olive oil  


PREHEAT oven to 160°C and line muffin tray with baking paper.  

ADD oil to pan and cook sweet potato and zucchini.  

ADD garlic and cumin to vegetables and cook for a further 2 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.  

BEAT together egg and ricotta, then add to the cooled vegetable mixture.  

DIVIDE the mixture evenly between pans.  

DECORATE with the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  

BAKE in oven for 25 minutes or until golden.  

COMBINE extra cherry tomatoes, basil and olive oil and mix together.  

SERVE pies with salsa on the side.  

Courtesy of Trish Doherty, Tannum Sands Branch      

Topics:  bil-qcwa health sugar

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