Smartphone App Review: Monash University FODMAP App


One in seven adults suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition characterised by symptoms such as gastrointestinal wind, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. Although more women than men are affected by IBS, the condition is common throughout the world, including; Australia, the US, Europe as well as many Asian countries.


Now, thanks to the research team at the Department of Gastroenterology at Monash University, a smartphone application has been created which provides accurate information about foods that trigger IBS reactions in order to help sufferers manage their symptoms.  The launch of the app came in response to an increasing number of requests about the FODMAP content of food.  “We had a growing database and wanted to make this information available” says Dr. Jane Muir.  “A smartphone application is an ideal way of delivering information to where it’s needed-to IBS patients, health professionals and scientists in the field.”


Having suffered from IBS for the past two years, I personally decided to give the FODMAP diet a try.  My dietician recommended that I download the Monash University smartphone app to use as a resource.  Priced at $12.99 the app is not cheap, however is great value for money.  It contains a FODMAP food database which lists over 600 foods, a traffic light system to guide people to low FODMAP food choices, a recipe book with over 77 recipes and meal ideas and a bowel symptom and food diary that can be used in discussions with your health care professional.  More importantly however, all proceeds from the sale of the smartphone app goes towards the Department of Gastroenterology at Monash University to fund further research, and create significant regular updates to the smartphone app.


Once downloaded to your smartphone, the app does not require internet access, therefore you can rest easy knowing that you can always have access to the information even in those pesky dead spots in supermarkets.  Simply open the app on your smartphone, find your ingredients in the Food Guide and crosscheck against the traffic light system.



The traffic light system is used to inform users of the tolerance of foods and correct serving sizes.  Red foods are high in FODMAPs and should be avoided, orange foods are moderate in FODMAPs and may be tolerate by some people while green foods are low in FODMAPs and are safe for consumption. Once clicking on the desired food, you can view the specific food serving sizes.  For example, 3 cherries may be tolerated, however more than this may cause IBS symptoms.  The app also allows you to star and make notes under each food listed in the Food Guide section to taylor the diet specifically to your symptoms.



If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the information and struggling to create meals that are FODMAP friendly then look no further than the recipe guide within the app.  Here users can choose from 77 different FODMAP friendly recipes that include breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snack recommendations.  With a wireless connection you can even print these recipes at home to help you with the creation of your shopping list.


Finally, the smartphone app provides a space for you to record a food and symptom diary.  Here you can enter your meals consumed throughout the day including the key ingredients.  You can also record your symptoms including abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating, wind, tiredness and lethargy and nausea on a 10 point scale from excellent (none at all) to the worst it has been (really awful).  I found this particular useful when speaking with my dietician as it gave her a clearer picture of what foods might be triggering my IBS symptoms.


You can download the smartphone app in the iTunes Store.
It is available for iPhone, iPad and Android users.


Low FODMAP Baked Orange Chicken with Coriander and Quinoa Couscous


 2 skinless marylands

30g polyunsaturated margarine

1 sprig Rosemary

6 oranges, zest and juice

300g quinoa

1 punnet cherry tomatoes, chopped in half

1/4 bunch mint, roughly choppe

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 bunch chives, chopped

4 lemons, juiced

1/2 cup white wine (dry)

Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Olive oil spay



1. Preheat over at 190 Degrees Celsius.

2. Wash and pat dry the chicken.

3. Rub margarine over the outside and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the rosemary over the chicken and place in an oiled baking tray.

4. Pour the juice of three oranges over the chicken and scatter the zest of three oranges.

5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, basting the chicken with the juice.

6. Whilst the chicken is baking, prepare the sauce and quinoa. Blanch the rind of the three remaining oranges in boiling water and drain.

7. Place the quinoa in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the grain. Simmer until cooked.  Set aside to cool in a large bowl.

8. Add cherry tomatoes to the quinoa and toss through the mint, parsley and chives. Add the lemon juice and season to taste.

9. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and rest for 5 minutes. Remove any fat from the pan and add the juice of three oranges, blanched rind and wine. Simmer over a medium heat, stirring to combine.

10. Serve the quinoa and chicken on a plate and pour over the sauce.


References (check these out for more information):

1. Monash University. 2012. Low FODMAP Diet App. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 March 16].

2. Itunes Apple. 2016. Itunes Preview: The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 March 16].

3. Monash University. 2016. The Monash University LOW FODMAP diet (Version 1.6) [MOBILE APPLICATION SOFTWARE]. [Accessed 14 March 16].

Nicole Yarham

A woman with an ambitious heart and big dreams, Nicole’s mission is to inspire people to seek freedom from disordered eating and poor body image to lead an authentic and passionate life. Having suffered from an eating disorder for eight years, Nicole’s story of hope, freedom and recovery inspired her to found Life in The Aftermath, an online community for woman in recovery. Her stories of hope, mindful eating, positive body image, self-care, anxiety management and recovery will inspire and encourage you to love and accept who you are and make positive steps towards living an authentic life.


What’s the Deal with FODMAPS?

I’ve always been awkward when it comes to social situations.  I stress out before I even leave the house.  Not because at times I can make inappropriate outfit choices, but because I’m concerned about where the location of the closest bathroom will be and its state of hygiene.


Why? Because depending on the food I consume when out and about, I may have less than a few minutes to locate one before my stomach implodes on itself.  Having a suffered from an eating disorder in the past, my digestion never quite recovered post recovery.  Therefore, somewhere in my early 20’s I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as a result of the disruption I had caused to my body during that time.  This invisible illness has wreaked havoc on my social life ever since.


It causes me to go to the bathroom within minutes of eating.  Not just once, but up to three – four times afterwards.  It also causes me to feel constantly bloated and lethargic, and produce a large stomach that would otherwise not be there.  Feeling icky all the time and overthinking about what to do in social situations is what started the anxiety.  Unfortunately for me, my IBS symptoms worsen when I’m anxious.


Overtime other symptoms began to present themselves.  Backache, stomach cramps, wind, constipation and diarrhoea.  At one stage I was hospitalised for what the doctors thought was gallstones, however it turned out to be trapped wind as part of my IBS symptoms.  That was when I decided enough was enough.


After having a serious chat with my doctor she suggested that I try the FODMAP diet.


Not knowing what the acronym FODMAP even stood for, I was hesitant about participating in a restrictive diet after I had finally learnt to eat with variety during my eating disorder recovery.  However, after researching the science behind it and reading about other people’s success with it I decided that it was worth a shot.


So what are FODMAPS and how do they affect us?

FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found naturally in certain foods or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (when in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose and polyols (such as sorbitol and mannitol). While these carbs are not readily absorbed my most people, in some (those like myself with an intolerance), they lead to severe symptoms of digestive distress and affect the absorption of food nutrients.


FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:


F          Fermentable – i.e., they are broken down (or fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel
O         Oligosaccharides – “oligo” means “few” and “saccharide” means sugar. Thus, these molecules are made up of individual sugars linked in a chain.  They are found in wheat, rye, onions and garlic as well as legumes/pulses.
        Disaccharides – “di” means two (so this is a double sugar molecule) and is found in lactose in milk, soft cheeses and yogurt.
        Monosaccharides – “mono” means single (so this is a single-sugar molecule) which is fructose that is found in honey, apples and high fructose corn syrups.
A          And
P          Polyols – these are sugar alcohols (e.g. sorbitol, mannitol) found in some fruit and vegetables and used as artificial sweeteners.


When those with FODMAP insensitivity consume foods and/or drinks high in FODMAPs, these carbohydrates, which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, pass through to the large intestine, where:


1. The FODMAPs are readily fermented by bacteria in the large bowel, leading to gas production and/or

2. The FODMAPs, which are highly osmotic (i.e., they attract water into the large bowel), alter bowel movements.


These two processes can trigger symptoms associated with “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (or IBS) including excess wind, abdominal pain, bloating and distension, constipation or diarrhoea, or (the best) a combination of both.1



The Low FODMAP Diet.


Developed in Australia by Professor Peter Gibson, Dr Jane Muir and a team of dedicated dieticians at Monash University, this diet is an effective treatment for people who suffer from symptoms of IBS.  This breakthrough research has been published in international medical journals and is now accepted and recommended both within the mainstream and natural health sector as one of the most effective dietary therapies for IBS.1


The Low FODMAP diet has two phases.


Phase 1: Elimination Phase
The goal of the elimination phase is to significantly reduce or completely resolve your IBS symptoms through lowering the total intake of FODMAPs you consume. The diet does this by removing certain foods that are high in FODMAPs.



Monash University recommends that you stay on the elimination phase for a 2 to 6 week period. This time period will give you enough time to adjust to the low FODMAP foods. Once your symptoms are under control you can then start the reintroduction phase with the guidance of your dietitian.


Phase 2: Reintroduction Phase

The goal of this phase is to develop an understanding of your individual tolerance levels to each of the FODMAP groups. You might discover that you can tolerate a little bit of some FODMAP groups, have no issues with other groups, and need to stay on the low FODMAP plan for certain groups.  With the help of a dietician, you will complete 10 FODMAP challenges where you will eat certain foods that are high in FODMAPs for three days straight each week and observe and record the way your body reacts to them.  By the end of the 10 weeks, you should have a clearer picture of which FODMAP groups are causing your symptoms and feel equipped with ways to avoid or lower these foods to ensure that you can manage your IBS symptoms moving forwards.


Although I found this diet difficult and trying at times, I can’t speak highly enough of the results. Not only do I have a better understanding of what triggers my IBS symptoms, but I am learning to eat in a more loving and thoughtful way to nourish my body.  I am able to make informed choices when in social situations and order food that won’t have me running to the bathroom within minutes.


Thanks to the research team at the Department of Gastroenterology at Monash University, I am also able to make more informed choices when grocery shopping.  With the help of a smartphone app, I am able to view recipes, shopping lists and a food guide that uses a traffic light system to highlight the different amounts of oligos, fructose, polyois and lactose in different foods to manage my symptoms (stay tuned for a review of the app)!


If you are concerned that you suffer from IBS or would like to know more about FODMAPs, seek medical advice from your doctor.


References (Check these out for more information):

1. The FODMAP Friendly Vegan. 2015. What are FODMAPs?. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 16].

2. Monash University. 2015. Low FODMAP Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 16].

3. Sue Shepherds. 2015. What are FODMAPs?. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 16].

Nicole Yarham

A woman with an ambitious heart and big dreams, Nicole’s mission is to inspire people to seek freedom from disordered eating and poor body image to lead an authentic and passionate life. Having suffered from an eating disorder for eight years, Nicole’s story of hope, freedom and recovery inspired her to found Life in The Aftermath, an online community for woman in recovery. Her stories of hope, mindful eating, positive body image, self-care, anxiety management and recovery will inspire and encourage you to love and accept who you are and make positive steps towards living an authentic life.


The Real Definition of Success

From a young age we are told that success is a tangible thing; something you work toward and achieve. Success is something I felt I achieved throughout my schooling life. Completing an assignment, getting a good grade, getting into a sporting team, a dance team, getting the part I wanted in a play. Success was easy. But what no one ever told me, is that that is not what real success is about. This is going to sound like a cliché, but success isn’t achieving, it is being happy, and it has taken me many years to see this. That is not to say the two things are mutually exclusive, an achievement can make you happy and that is a success, but waking up in the morning can make you happy and that success is just as valid.


For years after leaving school I felt like a failure, I started uni, but I never finished it. I jumped from one job to another like I was jumping from sinking ship to sinking ship, trying to bail out the water until I finally started to drown. I thought I was failing because I wasn’t good at my job, I wasn’t smart enough or fast enough. I watched everyone around me sleep, eat, work repeat and I was constantly falling behind. I thought I was failing because I wasn’t good enough, but really I was failing because I wasn’t happy enough.


In 2011, I was diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder. Living and dealing with this knowledge has been one of my greatest challenges and one of my true successes. That may sound like an odd thing to say, but after quitting work for close to a year, struggling with depression and crippling social anxiety, I have started working full time as a retail assistant. For someone else, being 25 and working in retail mightn’t seem like much, but I ENJOY my job. I don’t dread work every day. I don’t dream up ways to avoid turning up the following day. I go to work, I come home. I eat, sleep, work, repeat. And that is my success.


I feel like in today’s society contentment has become synonymous with complacency, but for me, contentment is my greatest success.


So basically, what I am saying is that success is not the same for everyone. Don’t let someone else’s definition of success limit you, and don’t let it push you into somewhere you don’t need or want to be. Your definition of success can change over time, and it is never too late to revise your own idea of your own success.


I will leave you with one of my very most favourite cliché quotes:

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

– John Lennon


Sara is a crazy cat lady from Brisbane. When she isn’t writing, Sara is a professional window dresser and a cushion aficionado. Sara loves dancing and show tunes and is officially the youngest old person you will ever meet.

Why Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is such a catch phrase at the moment!


Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness is ‘paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.’ Similarly, Morgan Cash and Koa Whittingham’s 2010 publication in Mindfulness views mindfulness as ‘the capacity to observe, describe, and act with awareness of the present moment experience, with a nonjudgmental and nonreactive attitude’.


This is broken up into five separate parts. Mindfulness is a capacity to:


Observe the present moment experience
Describe the present moment experience
Act with awareness of the present moment experience
Have a nonjudgmental attitude toward the present moment experience
Have a nonreactive attitude toward the present moment experience


To check out Morgan and Koa’s mindfulness research click here!


Why bother? Well, increasing any single one of these five points is correlated with increased wellbeing, according to the Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness!


Just looking at picking one? The ability to act with awareness of the present moment experience is correlated with lower levels of depressive symptoms.


Oh you might just change your mind about choosing one because… having a nonjudgmental attitude toward the present moment experience is correlated with lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress.


So how do you get going?


Sloooowwww dooowwwnnn……….


There are many ways to begin being more mindful. Some simple ones are:

Breathe… Breathe in… and breathe out… slowly… deliberately…
Relax your shoulders and release tension in your body – really concentrate on how your body feels in that moment.
Noticing and valuing every moment and slowing down to accomplish this – and when I say every moment I mean every single moment. Not just the good ones! Valuing the moment for what it brings and accepting this.
Stop multitasking! Just do one thing at a time – and do it deliberately. When you’re talking to someone, be ‘all there’. Leave your phone in your handbag. Stop yourself from thinking what you will say next, the point you want to make, what you will cook for dinner. Just listen deeply.

BUT the most well researched way to improve all aspects of mindfulness (minus the acting with awareness of the present moment part) is meditation. Meditation can include slow inhalations and exhalations, relaxing tensions in the body, and noticing thoughts while accepting them in a nonjudgmental and nonreactive way. I highly recommend the Smiling Mind App and Website.


They have so much information on the science behind mindfulness and meditation. Most importantly it has individual, age-specific programs to follow. You can choose whether you would like music or just to hear a guiding voice. This FREE app is available on both Apple and Android platforms and can be used by meditation masters or beginners alike. For those of you with littlies, the kids can join in with targeted age brackets!


I am setting you a challenge.

Download the Smiling Mind App and do two meditations per day for 14 days (one first thing in the morning and one just before going to sleep at night). Just one fortnight – that’s all! Then share your thoughts with us below. We love learning about new ways to become more mindful and hearing what works for you!


Don’t forget to share this around with your friends and family on social media. Spread the mindfulness. Let’s all stress a little less!


Amy Kate, the founder and owner of The Mindful Collective, is passionate about helping bright-eyed young women experience a little more wellbeing with a lot less stress. She is on a mission to empower young women through building their mental health and wellbeing. Her days are filled with learning to dance, listening to young women discuss their lives, eating homemade granola and bubbling with laughs.


Book Review: Deliciously Ella Every Day


From the founder of the wildly popular food blog Deliciously Ella comes Ella’s latest cookbook “Deliciously Ella: Every Day”.  This cookbook is an essential handbook to plant-based eating, taking you through the best methods for preparing easy, delicious and nourishing meals in minutes using every day ingredients from your cupboard.


Having transformed her diet in 2012 after suffering from a chronic illness, Ella Woodward has improved her symptoms and overall physical and mental health through adopting the plant-based lifestyle.  She has embraced a philosophy that is all about enjoying the natural foods that your body loves while creating fresh and simple dishes which are easy to prepare, use every day natural ingredients and taste amazing.


Featuring more than 100 gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free recipes to nourish and excite your body, this collection will make your every day delicious – even when you are tired, super busy or on-the-go.


Each recipe is thoughtfully designed to nourish your body with the goodness that it needs while fitting into your existing lifestyle.  Therefore if you don’t strictly follow a plant-based diet, there is room for you to add a side of chicken, beef or fish to each meal and interchange plant-based ingredients with diary alternatives.


Packed with vivid photos, foolproof instructions and simple shopping lists, you’ll have Instagram worthy photos of meals that will leave you feeling energised and inspired to share with others. Be sure to try her gooey black bean brownies or chocolate hazelnut tarts.  They are certainly crowd pleasers at dinner parties! Or find pearls of wisdom, further recipes or simply follow Ella’s journey towards health at her beautifully presented blog:


Chocolate and Hazelnut Tarts

Perhaps my favourite recipe from the cookbook, these tarts make the perfect afternoon snack or dessert.  Rich in protein from all the nuts, fibre from the dates and antioxidants from the raw cacao powder, you’re sweet tooth and body will be left feeling both nourished and satisfied.  You might be surprised by the presence of avocado, however it creates the most creamiest texture and absorbs the sweet flavours of the raw cacao powder and maple syrup. These tarts are sure to impress!

Makes 12


For the Filling
150g hazelnuts
12 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

pinch of salt


For the Base
14 medjool dates, pitted
300g almonds
4 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for the tins
brown rice or buckwheat flour, to dust

Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan 160 C).
Place the hazelnuts on a tray and put in the oven to roast for 10 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, make the base.  Place all the ingredients except the flour into a food processor along with 3 tablespoons of water and blend until a sticky mix forms.

Sprinkle a little flour on a work surface and roll the mix out.

Use a little coconut oil to oil a muffin tin, or individual muffin moulds.

Using a cookie cutter, a saucer or whatever you can find, cut circles of the base mixture a little wider than each muffin shape, then mould the circles into the tin or moulds.

Put the bases in the oven to cook for 10-15 minutes, until they turn a golden brown colour.  Remove and allow to cool.

Once the hazelnuts are cool, place them in a blender and whizz until they form a nut butter, then add the remaining filling ingredients with 100ml of water.

When the bases are cold (this is important as it lets them harden and stops the chocolate from melting), fill each one with a generous tablespoon of the filling.


Enjoy X

Nicole Yarham

A woman with an ambitious heart and big dreams, Nicole’s mission is to inspire people to seek freedom from disordered eating and poor body image to lead an authentic and passionate life. Having suffered from an eating disorder for eight years, Nicole’s story of hope, freedom and recovery inspired her to found Life in The Aftermath, an online community for woman in recovery. Her stories of hope, mindful eating, positive body image, self-care, anxiety management and recovery will inspire and encourage you to love and accept who you are and make positive steps towards living an authentic life.


Mindful Eating

I love Sundays. It’s the one day of the week where I set aside 3 hours to slow down and practice mindful eating.  I sit down with a cup of tea, a meal planner and my favourite cookbooks (including Deliciously Ella’s: Every Day Cookbook).  Here I let my fingers run through the pages as I take a moment to appreciate the beautiful pictures in front of my eyes.  Then with my favourite pen in hand, I carefully and thoughtfully choose recipes that will nourish me and give me the energy that I need for the week ahead.  I include a mixture of quick and easy meals, as well as ones that take longer to prepare and I ensure that I include a few home baked treats to nourish my soul.  Then I lovingly put together an organised grocery list paired with my green shopping bags and head to the supermarket.


Upon arriving at the supermarket I take a moment to not become overwhelmed.  I tune into the music playing and start humming along as I work my way up and down the aisles finding the appropriate ingredients for my week’s meals.  Once I get home, I put on a Spotify playlist that fills my apartment with some upbeat tunes.  I then take the time to pack away my groceries in an orderly manner before starting my meal preparation.


Meal preparation is perhaps one of my favourite unwinding and distressing activities as I am able to use my hands to create something beautiful.  As I peel and chop fruit and vegetables I take a moment to be thankful for the variety of produce that is available all year long.  Then as I mix herbs and spices and simmer my meals on the stovetop, I let the aromas fill the air before I allow myself to taste the flavours to ensure that they are balanced.


Once the cooking is complete, I sit down with my partner at our kitchen table that overlooks the front garden.  Not distracted by technology we discuss our plans and goals for the upcoming week and reflect on the fun that we had over the course of the weekend.  Tuning in to my senses, I take time to chew my food in between talking, or take a moment to put down my cutlery and simply savour the taste of the meal and wait for my stomach to feel full.  At the end of our meal and conversation we take the time to lovingly container up the weeks meals, snacks and baking to enjoy the following day and throughout the week.  Now each day, I am guaranteed and thankful to have something healthy in the fridge ready to nourish me and fuel me, even on the run!


Perhaps my Sunday mindful eating practice seems a little over the top and isn’t particularly your cup of tea.  Life is busy, it’s hard to set aside a chunk of time to thoughtfully prepare meals, let alone eat them when there are so many distractions and things to be done.  Sometimes cooking simply feels like a chore that needs to be completed and there’s nothing particular about it that you can appreciate.  However mindful eating doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair.  There are plenty of ways to work mindfulness into your daily food habits without consuming too much of your time.

The Centre for Mindful Eating describes mindful eating as the practice of allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.  It’s about using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body, acknowledging your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment and becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.


With this in mind here are some of my favourite tips you could try out, play around with or adapt to begin to introduce mindfulness to mealtimes in an easy and attainable way and assist you in developing a healthy and respectful relationship with the food that you eat.


Start small.


Be realistic and set an attainable goal. Choose one meal or snack each day (or even every second day) and commit to focusing on mindful eating at that time.

Choose your meals thoughtfully.

At the start of the week, take some time to plan your meals. Grab some inspiration from cookbooks, phone apps, newspaper articles or Pinterest. Write a grocery list and go shopping to stock up on wholesome ingredients.


Lovingly prepare your own meals.

The cooking process can be as relaxing and enjoyable as eating if you let it. Try to be as non-judgemental as you can in the kitchen.  In the words of Rachael Kable There is no “wrong” way to create something, just opportunities to learn and have fun in the process! Become immersed in the actions of cooking your meal, from chopping ingredients up, to stirring, to arranging your meal on your plate.


Stop multitasking at meal times.

It’s really difficult to focus on eating if you’re doing other things. Put your phone away for 5 minutes.  Turn the television off.  Take a short break away from your computer screen.  Enjoy a park bench and some fresh air.  Or simply enjoy the ambience of your lunchroom at your workplace.  Take a moment to enjoy your meal without distractions.


Be aware of your senses.

Eating is more pleasurable when it is a multi-sensory experience. Use your eyes and notice what is on your plate.  Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the food you are about to eat. Smell the aroma. Chew it slowly so that you can appreciate the flavour and experience the textures.  Listen to the sound and crunch of the food as you chew.  Focus on how much you like, or dislike these sensations.


Use cutlery and put it down between mouthfuls.

Following this simple step will allow you to take smaller portions and slow down between each mouthful so that you can focus.


Talk and share.

One of the joys of eating is sharing a meal with loved ones whether that is family, friends or your partner. Turn the focus of the conversation onto the meal while you are actually eating.  Share what you are experiencing in terms of flavours and textures, likes and dislikes.


Be Grateful.

Take the time to notice and be thankful. Appreciate all the good things that food can do for your body.  It can nourish you, energise you, calm you and keep you well. Be grateful that you can afford such wholesome food that is available all year round.


By incorporating mindfulness into your daily eating routines you will discover that eating is not about willpower, restriction or following rules. Instead it’s about caring for yourself with compassion and kindness and allowing yourself to reconnect with your belly, taste buds and emotions to create a healthy and loving relationship with food.



1. The Center for Mindful Eating. 2014. Principles of Mindful Eating. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 February 16].

2. Rachael Kabel. 2015. Let’s Eat…Mindfully. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 February 16].

Nicole Yarham

A woman with an ambitious heart and big dreams, Nicole’s mission is to inspire people to seek freedom from disordered eating and poor body image to lead an authentic and passionate life. Having suffered from an eating disorder for eight years, Nicole’s story of hope, freedom and recovery inspired her to found Life in The Aftermath, an online community for woman in recovery. Her stories of hope, mindful eating, positive body image, self-care, anxiety management and recovery will inspire and encourage you to love and accept who you are and make positive steps towards living an authentic life.


Is Planning the Key to Smashing your Health Goals?

Hollie (aka, insta-famous: @powered_by_vegies) shares some ideas on how to plan your meals, shift your mindset to achieve your best most healthy self!


The first thing that I know for sure is that we are all living busy lives, full of responsibilities and to-do-lists as long as our arms.  Unfortunately, habits can be much easier to make than break, like having a cup of tea and a sneaky biscuit, it’s only one right? If we continue to repeat behaviours for long enough we create worn in pathways in our brains, which can be hard to rewire.


So how long does it take to break a habit? 21 days? Well contrary to popular belief it is different for everyone depending on your experiences and personality. The best thing to do is try to form a new parallel pattern i.e. when you are feeling peckish at 3pm and usually reach for sweets or salty snacks, drink a green smoothie or eat some crunchy vegie sticks. Or if you feel stressed and this usually triggers a craving to devour a tub of ice cream, put some head phones in and go for a walk 1.


“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a most challenging problem. While it appears that it should be easy, it is a path laden with obstacles.”2 Think about how hard it is to eat healthy when your cupboard is full of chips, lollies and chocolate.


This brings me to my “go to” advice for anyone wanting to transition to a healthier diet. I know that we all think that multi-tasking is effective, but when it comes to eating healthy it is best to make a plan and take one simple step at a time.


Step 1: Out with old and in with the new.

I want you to set some time aside to clean out your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer. Get some boxes and a bin ready. I don’t want to tell you exactly what to throw out as that will depend on you and your family’s needs. Processed junk (i.e. chips, sauces with lists of ingredients longer than War and Peace) is a good place to start.


Place all of the food that will no longer assist you in achieving your goals that is still within the best before date in one box. I recommend giving this to your local homeless shelter as it will not only make their day but assist with the feelings of guilt associated with throwing away food. Then go through all items that may be past their best before date and get rid of them.


Step 2: It’s time to renew and refresh your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer

I like to stock my cupboard according to what I will need. This means checking your recipe books and making a list of the herbs and spices that will be regularly used. I have a few go to books that are simple, healthy and very family friendly (like Deliciously Ella and Vegie Head).


Staples in any healthy pantry:

Legumes (I like to buy in bulk, cook and freeze in bags that are ready to go) but you can also use cans if you are time poor. Did you know: Beans can help us live longer, control our blood sugar, and help prevent and treat diabetes3. Remember that variety is key, try chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils, adzuki beans and black beans just to name a few.


Herbs and spices are also a must to enhance the flavour of any dish. My favourites are: turmeric, cumin, coriander, oregano and chilli.


Your fridge should be stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Buy from your list to avoid wastage (more about this later).


Don’t forget to make the most out of your freezer! When fruit and vegies are on sale I buy up big and freeze in portion sizes. I always have frozen bananas to make banana “nice cream” and frozen fruit is perfect to make healthy desserts and smoothies.


However, if you are like my mum and just get home, open the fridge and create healthy food without recipes or lists, it is essential that your fridge, pantry and freezer are stocked with a rainbow of fresh produce that will inspire you to get creative and eat healthily.


Step 3: Make a plan and stick to it!

I spend a little time each week with a cup of coffee and my recipe books all laid out on the dining room table. I flick through the books for inspiration and ideas of what I will cook for the week to come.


Write down what you would like to cook for the week and the ingredients that you need for these recipes and healthy snacks in between. It’s important that you take this list to the grocery store or farmers market to stock up for the week. Try not to make impulse buys. If it is not on the list do you really need it? Do not…. I repeat DO NOT… go the grocery shop hungry…… this has led to me over buying and… let’s face it… making some less than desirable decisions.


If you have a partner or children you can get them involved in picking meals from the books and helping you buy the fresh produce that you need. Write the meal plans down in a family scrap book and it can become your healthy food family favourites. Give kids the list and highlighter and then make it a challenge to buy all the things on your list as fast as possible. If you deviate, tell them that you owe them 5 push ups and they can stand and count them out. I recommend doing this at home as you might get some funny looks.


These are just some of the simple things that I do to ensure that the environment in which I live is always stocked with food that helps me achieve my goals. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a treat every now and then but if you don’t have it… you won’t eat it.


My last tip for people aiming to make healthier choices is to take your own food and snacks to work. This can be prepared the night before to avoid all those greasy takeaway lunches which are usually full of salt, sugar and fat. If you normally buy your lunch at work, put the money aside and treat yourself with something at the end of the month, like that nice active wear you have had your eye on.


Work options: It’s really simple to prepare some homemade lentil burgers or roast a big batch of vegies for the week. Just add some whole grain bread, brown rice and a simple dressing and you will save money, time and be smashing those healthy goals.



1. Layton, J. (2009) “Is it true that if you do anything for three weeks it will become a habit?” July, 29th. Retrieved from 28 February 2016

2. Lisle, D., & Goldhamer, A. (n.d.) How to escape The Pleasure Trap! Dr Fuhrman. Retrieved from

3. Greger, M. (2014) Beans, Beans, They’re Good For Your Heart. August, 29th 2014. Retrieved from



I am a healthy living advocate and lover of life.
I am a health and nutrition coach, fitness instructor and self-taught cook.
My aim is to empower people to build positive relationships with health promoting plant foods, to nourish your body not only with good food but with an active lifestyle and exercise.

Clear Out The Clutter!

Recently I’ve been thinking quite a lot about organisation and clutter in my home. Specifically the impact it has upon my happiness and stress level. As humans we have a tendency to self-organise. However I must admit, I have a tendency to procrastinate as well as a propensity to be sentimental about objects. As a result, my home has lots of things scattered/piled about. Nothing outrageous enough to make a television show about but I definitely have way too much stuff. That coupled with a handsome husband and darling daughter (who is all of one year old) my house has reached the point where I am motivated enough to do something about it.


Since the ‘problem’ is not a new one, I have done a stack of reading on how to keep a tidy home, home organisation, speed cleaning and such. It is very easy to lose hours in Pinterest! I’ve cherry picked a few ideas (it’s how I roll you may prefer to stick to hard and fast rules. Here’s the ones that I find work for me.


Bite Sized

If I have learnt anything in the last five years of studying it’s that large tasks – such as a thesis or house organisation need to be broken up into manageable sized chunks. This makes the task more clear and seem achievable while capitalising on the the motivation achieved by completing smaller tasks along the way[3]! It reduces my stress as my never-ending “To Do List” gets smaller. This week I tackled the hutch (display cabinet with  in my living room). The hutch tends to be a transitional home, home to things that need to go in the shed, paperwork, christmas and birthday cards etc. This week I relocated the items appropriately. So presently – hopefully indefinitely  – it will only be home to the few decor items and box of tissues allocated to it.


200 Things

While I am not a “New Years Resolution” kind of person generally, this year after reading a blog titled “200 Things to Throw Away” (find it here) I decided one way to tackle house organisation was to throw away (or donate) 200 items this year. Not necessarily the listed ones, just 200 things. I am down 20 items so far and I can already see a difference! Usually my bedside table is covered in stuff but it has been delightfully devoid lately. As an unexpected bonus, I am far more mindful of items I bring into the house – hello savings!


It’s The Little Things

The couch on the other hand usually has a pile of washing on it… to combat this and other items hanging around like a bad smell I have taken up not leaving a room empty handed. It’s common to flutter around the house as I go about my day, getting breakfast, getting a drink, going to the bathroom, getting dressed – you get the idea. I visit nearly every room in my home MANY times a day. With this in mind, every time I go into a room I either tidy something or take something that doesn’t belong into the appropriate room. Some times it’s easy – when an item is clearly out of place, other times I challenge myself to do something I have been meaning to do but haven’t gotten around to yet. Often it doesn’t take long such as putting away the pens Little Miss One has enjoyed pulling out of the desk drawer. Regardless I feel better for having done it.


It’s Only Two Minutes

The couch-robe has also inspired an uptake of the concept “if it takes two minutes do it now”. I admit I am fairly proficient at procrastination. Things that need mending lay abandoned for lets say a good chunk of time and washing piles up. But repeating the phrase “it only takes two minutes” has helped motivate me to do lots of little things around my home! Folding clean clothes (which seems neverending!), making my bed or emptying the dishwasher. The small things helps make me feel accomplished and motivated for bigger / more tasks. The simple task of making the bed, means every time I go into my bedroom I smile and know at least I have done that today. This is particularly important when your housemate toddles around after you undoing what you’ve tidied!


Everything in its Place

In order to avoid the pile of up things on the hutch – particularly paperwork, I’m dealing with items as they come in. Each item that enters my home will have a place or be dealt with immediately. I find this rather easy with mail, if it’s a bill it goes on my desk and if it’s junk straight to the recycling. However it’s a little more challenging with other larger or less clear items. They usually have to boot something else out of it’s place to find a permanent home.


Two months into the new year and I feel less stressed as the culmination of the little habits is starting to make a big impact upon the clutter!




Weinstein, N. (2014). Human motivation and interpersonal relationships: Theory, research and applications. Springer: United Kingdom. doi: 10.1007/978-94017-8542-6

Haraty, M., McGrener, J., & Tang, C. (2015). How personal task management differs across individuals, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 88,13-37. doi:10.1016/j.ijcs.2015.11.006

Tanaka-Ellis, N. (2010). Factors limiting learners’ success in achieving task outcomes in CALL. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 4(3), 213-233. doi: 10.1080/17501229.2010.513445

Rachel Fredericks

Rachel Fredericks is a practising Catholic, a wife and mother of one (two if you count the 2yo puppy). She’s currently studying her Masters of Organisational Psychology as well as bringing up her darling daughter who just turned one! She enjoys good conversation, quality time with family and friends, going to the beach or a run and reading good books.

International Junior Miss Australia 2015: Shakira Rush

Shakira is not your stereotypical pageant winner – there is much more to this beauty than meets the eye. Creative blood has always been flowing through her. She has been dancing her socks off since she was just 4 years old and was awarded a full scholarship for school because of her talent. One year later she began speech and drama lessons, and finally she started singing when she was 8 years old.


Performing wasn’t Shakira’s only creative outlet. A favourite pastime of hers was going to op shops, buying second-hand clothes and then creating something beautiful and new with them.


She is hardworking. Shakira has been working as a dental assistant for over 7 years and she specialises in assisting the dentist for oral surgery cases and paediatric cases. When she isn’t at work or practicing for pageants, Shakira relaxes by tuning out watching TV or walking her cute-as-a-button dog, Dommy.


Shakira has a beautiful relationship with her sister, Atarah. They are so close, Atarah could be mistaken as her surrogate pageant mum! They have been working together for almost two years.

We are thrilled that Shakira was able to take time out to answer our questions.


Shakira, thank you so much for taking time out for The Mindful Collective’s Mindful Moments! Would it be correct say you’ve always had a passion for wellness?

I would say yes, I have always been healthy. My parents have always provided me with healthy food but until recently I hadn’t realised the importance of eating healthily. You don’t get sick if you stick to a healthier diet! You have more energy, and your skin and hair just looks healthier compared to times when you have unhealthy binges.


What form of meditation do you prefer and why?

I would have to say my favourite form of meditation would have to be walking Meditation. I love spending time with my dog ‘dommy’ and just forgetting about my busy life and just enjoy the fresh air and time with my dog. Something about seeing my dog so happy just makes me forget about everything going on in life.


What are some changes you’ve noticed in your life since beginning your mindfulness journey and how have these helped you achieve your goals?

Spending months and months of practicing your walk, organising fundraisers and getting yourself bikini body ready just to show those judges and everyone else in those short few minutes on stage everything you have been working so hard to achieve. However if you’re not in the right mind set or your caught up thinking things like ‘am I good enough?’, ‘ have I done enough work?’,’ Am I going to embarrass myself?’ That time on stage can fly by all those months can go to waste and you won’t fully enjoy the moment. You have worked hard so you want to enjoy every second of it. I started my mindful journey to help me get in the right head space and to fully live in the moment and not worry about anyone else but me. Because I am doing this for me. You would say the changes I have seen i I am not caring about anyone else I am living in the moment. I don’t get caught up in negative thoughts. I just be me and enjoy being me.


We all need some crazy powerful stress-busting tools and techniques – we would love to hear works for you!


When I am about to have a stress attack I will go sit by myself somewhere quiet, listen to some relaxation music and just do deep breathing. If that doesn’t work I will just go for a little walk. It always clears my head.


Shakira, we have to know, what is your secret nutrition weapon?

It’s not really a secret, however I try to eat a balanced diet. I avoid processed foods as much as possible. My secret weapon would be buying fresh food from local sources (local famers, Rocklea Markets), they are also quite competitively priced.


How do you express your creative self during your busy life?

I have always loved being on stage since I was little competing in dancing, speech and singing. Nowadays I use pageants as a means of self -expression and creativity.

Pageants generally have been viewed negatively for creating bad body image in young girls. However, from my experiences with pageants I believe this to be untrue. I have witnessed and experienced the empowerment and self-confidence pageants can boost in young women. I feel pageants give us tools we need to express matters that are important to us.

Pageants teach us that in order to get others to respect us or matters which are passionate about, we first must respect ourselves.


Do you have a quote you live your life by?

“You never get a second chance at a first impression.” Pageant Academy


Who Inspires you and why?

I would say my biggest inspiration is Audrey Hepburn.


Today, Audrey is still regarded as one of the best female actress of all time. In Audrey’s later years she stopped making movies and started dedicating her life to working for UNICEF. She went to some of the most poverty stricken countries in the world. Hepburn’s first field mission for UNICEF was to Ethiopia in 1988.


She visited an orphanage in Mek’ele that housed 500 starving children and had UNICEF send food. On the trip, she said, “I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can’t stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children.”


In October 1990, Hepburn went to Vietnam in an effort to collaborate with the government for national UNICEF-supported immunisation and clean water programmes. She is an inspiration and that is why I look up to here. She is true beauty inside and out.


To keep up with Shakira’s journey, follow her on Facebook!