Simone Austin is one of the most recognized AFL sport dietitians in Australia. During this podcast, she discusses the Food Tracker app by Healthy Life.

Highlights from the episode:

  • What is the Healthy Life Food Tracker app?
  • Simone’s role in the app development and where the app sources it’s data
  • How to use the app
  • Where to get the app
  • Simone’s Eat Like an Athlete book and how to reach her in social media

Instagram: @simone_austin

Facebook: @SimoneAustinDietician

Food Tracker:

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Interview Transcript

Jack: On the show we have Simone Austin. She’ll be presenting on how the healthylife Food Tracker can help you. Thanks for jumping on, Simone. For those that don’t know the healthylife Food Tracker, can you give us a bit of an intro on what it does? 

Simone: That’s part of healthylife, a new brand that’s around for about six months. It’s online and their healthylife Food Tracker is a tool that you can sign up for and it will actually look at your shopping, your shopping basket or trolley, and then transfer that shopping basket into serves of food and then compare it for you based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. It’s a really useful tool to see how you’re tracking in each of the five food groups and your discretionary sometimes food areas as well.

Jack: Amazing. That’s a great tool. And what’s your role with the software? 

Simone: So, what happens is the team at the CSIA actually helped code the Australian Bureau of Statistics database on food that’s usually used when the government do their food surveys. And so, they spent a couple of million dollars actually coding all of that down to each serve. One-size apple is whatever serve, your slice of bread, your bowl of pasta, or whatever you’re buying at the supermarket has been changed into serves of food as based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. And the CSIA have coded that based on the ABS food data.

And so, what you do is you go do your shopping. It does have to be at the moment it’s at Woolworths, but there is, hopefully, some new versions where you can then add in and say, ‘Well, I actually only do 50% of my meat shopping at Woolworths, and I do 50% at the butcher or so.’ It would, hopefully, take that sort of thing into account. But at the moment, it’s at Woolies.

You do your shopping, you connect your everyday rewards card, because that’s the only way it can obviously track that it’s you and track that it’s your shopping. And then you log in at healthylife and you get your shopping changed for you into bar graphs and into pie graphs with all pretty pictures.

Jack: I love that.

Simone: And then what you can do, you can see, ‘Well, this week I bought enough vegetables for my household to get me for three days,’ or ‘I’ve got enough for seven days.’ So, it will give you…

Jack: Projections.

Simone: Yeah. It will give you each of the five food group areas and show you how much you’ve got based on your household. So, you can add the other people in your household in, or you can keep it just for yourself. 

Jack: Wow. I love that. I don’t know where I stole the quote from, but what you measure, you tend to improve.

Simone: Exactly. And some people said, when we did some pilot testing, one lady said, ‘Oh, I’m not really into health, but I really want to get my sometimes food less. And I want to get my vegetables and my core foods up.’ So, she was just using it like a game. But you know what? If that makes her eat healthier, because she wants to compete against herself, then that’s working, isn’t it?

Jack: Absolutely.

Simone: But I think, Jack, one of the best things I like about it is we shop in food. So, most tracking tools will track your protein, your carbohydrate, your vitamins and minerals, which is great and we need it. But most of us just don’t understand what that thing means when I go to the supermarket. What do I buy?

So, it tells you in food, which means, ‘Okay, I know I’m not having enough meat.’ And even if you’re an athlete, you still need to meet the requirements of the Australian Dietary Guidelines to be healthy. And then you just might need more. So, you might realize, ‘Well, I need more carbs than that,’ or ‘I need more of the grain foods,’ or ‘I need more of the meat and alternatives.’

And you can work with your dietician to work out: are you going to need more of that, or are you going to need more serves? And then you can still say how many serves, and your dietician can help you base how many serves of each food group is actually your target, if you’re different to the Australian Dietary Guidelines. 

Jack: Okay. And since it’s been live, where are people falling down? Like from what you’re hearing, where are people falling down the most? 

Simone: Unfortunately, for most of us, we just don’t hit the target of the core food groups and we’re over on the discretionary foods. But we have been having a look and seeing that the people who have been using Food Tracker tend to be better and have a bit less on those discretionary foods and more on the core foods than people who aren’t using it.

So, is that because they’re more interested in health? Or is that because it’s making them feel like, ‘Oh yeah, I do want to improve that’? And often we don’t even realize what we shop. 

Jack: Yeah. The tablet.

Simone: Yeah. So, we often go, ‘Well, gee, I didn’t realize.’ For athletes, I think both me and Beck were talking about undereating. I think it’s a really good tool to show where people are maybe not having enough of their grains or they’re not having enough of their meat. Or, as Beck mentioned, when they’ve got fractures, if they’re not having enough of their calcium, at least they could be looking at the dairy and dairy alternatives area to say, ‘Yeah, I actually need to purchase more of that.’

Jack: That actually can be almost like your assistant, as the dietician working with your clients.

Simone: Yeah. Because often we think we’re doing well in areas. And then when we actually have a look at what we are doing, we don’t always stack up to what we think we’re doing in our mind. Or we have a good week and we forget about those weeks that weren’t so great.

And so, you can compare over weeks or over months. You can pull up what you would like to have a look at and it can track your history for you, so you can measure change over time. 

Jack: And you said Woolworths, so it includes everything that’s in Woolworths? If you’re buying your meat, your eggs, anything you buy, your lollies, which is not what you’d want to buy.

Simone: Yeah. Well, you could cheat the system, if you wanted to. You could do two shops, where you do a shop, scan your everyday rewards, and then you can do your next shop and not scan your everyday rewards. 

Jack: If it gets competitive, like these things do, with friends, I’m sure that’s going to happen.

Simone: But you know what? You’re only cheating yourself then, aren’t you? So, if you really want to know what you’re doing over time, then it’s a free tool. I think it’s great in terms of no one’s done this before. Because it just was such a huge task to code every food in that ABS data down into serves of food, rather than just using the nutrition information panels, which give you the nutrients. No one has invested in doing that before. So, I have to say, it’s a pretty unique and good tool. 

Jack: Absolutely. And where did it originate? Where did the idea come from?

Simone: Actually, it was a bit before my time. I think the Woolies’ dieticians have been working on the idea for some time, but it just needed some dedicated people in terms of hours at work. And healthylife, being owned by Woolworths, but as a separate entity to Woolworths, has now had the money and the people invested to actually make it happen.

So, it’s only been out for a few months, but you can get online, and let me know what you think. We’re looking for improvements. We’re looking to upgrade it. I think of it like a public health tool, but it’s put out by the supermarketer. The good thing is that they’re encouraging you to eat more of the core food group and encouraging you to eat less of the other. And that’s pretty unusual for that to be happening. So, there’s some great tools and information on there as well. 

Jack: Okay. So, for those that are like, ‘All right, I’m going to do it. The whole family is motivated.’ You’ve inspired them to eat healthy. And, as you always said at Hawthorn, make sure you’re getting plenty of color from your food groups. What’s the first step? What do they need to do? 

Simone: So, jump onto healthylife, which is just And then you just log in, which is free to do. And then in your little logging, you’ll see Food Tracker, and then you say, ‘Yep, I want to join up to healthylife Food Tracker.’ And then you connect your everyday rewards and then you just do your first shop. It comes up basically instantly to show your shops. You can now do it just for yourself, or you can do it for the rest of the family as well. 

Jack: Amazing. Well, thank you for sharing that with us, Simone. No doubt, you’ve made an impact on some family’s lives. So, hopefully, the youngsters that are listening, boys and girls, get your parents involved. And maybe if it does motivate you to be better, get competitive with dad and mum on who can eat the healthy.

Simone: Exactly. See who makes the shop, adds the things to the shopping basket to make that core food parts go up and who removes ones for some to go down.

Jack: Love it. And then for those that want to follow your work, Simone, where’s the best place to find you? 

Simone: Well, I’m going to give you supply donor, ‘Eat Like an Athlete’.

Jack: Absolutely.

Simone: So, of course, you can read from my book, which you can just buy at bookstores online. Instagram, which is @simone_austin, and the same stuff is shared to my Facebook page, which is ‘Simone Austin Dietician’. So, love to see anyone send any questions, but happy to answer them.

Jack: Awesome. Thanks so much. Thanks for jumping on, and we’ll add all those links in the show notes.

Simone: Thanks, Jack.

Jack: Thank you for listening to the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast. If you liked this episode, it’d be a massive help, if you could like, follow, rate, give a review or even share with your mates. The show is recorded in Melbourne, Australia. Be sure to follow our Instagram page for all updates on our latest and greatest.

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