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What are sometimes foods and drinks?

3 November 2021|2 min read

Sometimes (discretionary) foods and drinks are recommended to have only sometimes and in small amounts. There are a wide range of foods and drinks that are in the ‘sometimes’ category.

These products are usually high in additional energy (kilojoules) and low in healthy nutrients the body needs. Sometimes foods typically contain high levels of saturated fats, sugars, salt and/or alcohol. Examples include cakes, biscuits, confectionery, chocolate, cream, potato chips, savoury and sweet pastries, mayonnaise and sugar sweetened beverages.

Based on the most recent Australian Health Survey (2013), Australians have a high intake of sometimes foods. Balancing your intake of the 5 food groups and sometimes (discretionary) food can be tricky but making small swaps to include more nutritious foods from the 5 food groups can help you find your healthy balance. 

Why have sometimes foods and drinks in small amounts?

While food provides us with nutrition, we also eat for other reasons. Enjoying your favourite foods, eating socially and eating foods that bring you joy is also important.

It’s important not to focus on just one food or one meal, but on your whole diet. It’s OK to have these sometimes foods in small amounts, as part of a balanced nutritious diet and to enjoy them mindfully.

Sometimes we don’t realise how many of these foods we are choosing. The healthylife Food Tracker may help you become more aware of your choices. 

If your percentage of sometimes foods is looking a bit high, you can make small, healthy swaps to gradually bring this down each week.

Sometimes foods and your health

It is always important to mindfully enjoy your food, we not only eat to nourish ourselves but it is also often your ticket down memory lane. It is recommended to have ‘sometimes’ foods sometimes, as the name suggests!

Ever wondered why? 

They may be high in overall energy levels (kilojoules/calories) but what about the nutrients? Sometimes foods tend to have lower levels of the really important nutrients and high amounts of saturated fats, additional salts and sugars, alcohol or low fibre levels.

As you may have noticed, especially with your younger ones, more ‘sometimes’ food may also mean less space for more nutritious food in their tummies! 

Evidence shows that foods high in saturated fats, sugars and salts have been associated with higher risks of obesity and other long-term health conditions. 


Swap out sugary treats for berries and other fresh fruits.

What can you eat instead? 

Want some help in working out how to make healthier choices? The healthylife team of expert nutritionists and dietitians are here to assist you with healthier swaps!

Are you trying to reduce lollies and candies but still want to satisfy your sweet tooth? Try our favorite alternatives such as fruits, frozen grapes, plain popcorn, nuts or yoghurt.

  • 3pm pick-me-up? Swap sugary cakes and biscuits for a savoury home-made muffin.
  • If you are trying to reduce your soft drink intake, awarding water the “Drink of the day” is a good idea. And to make up for the fun bubbles, you could also opt for sparkling water; amp it up with a slice of lemon or berries. 
  • How about a treat on the really hot days? Try making your own homemade nice-cream by blending a frozen banana until smooth. 

Want to arm yourself with tips to help the whole family eat more veg, manage sugar intake or move a little more? 

Our ways to well programs do the hard work for you, by pulling together practical, expert-backed advice to help inspire you to make healthier choices. Get started today.