A new report from the CSIRO has found Australians are still eating too much junk food or discretionary foods, and that we only just meet the pass mark when it comes to adopting national dietary recommendations.

CSIRO Research Scientist and report co-author, Doctor Gilly Hendrie, says Australia’s low collective score “is a stark reminder of the work that needs to be done to improve our eating habits and reduce the national waistline.”

The results revealed an average diet score of 55 out of 100.

The closest Australians got to meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines was with beverages, achieving a score of 93 out of 100. This high score was achieved by predominantly choosing water over energy-dense drinks such as soft drinks or juice.

For older people, eating more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy improves diet quality.

Similarly, it is advised to cut down on added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium or salt.

Someone who knows the impact of lifestyle changes and poor diet choices is 58-year-old Debbie from Victoria who began putting on weight despite being relatively active for most of her life.

Becoming the primary carer for an older family member left Debbie with little time for herself.

Debbie loved cooking and would often over eat but as she began going through menopause, her metabolism changed which left her unable to eat a lot of the things that she used to.

“I used to go to Zumba twice a week and walk on a treadmill, but I stopped even doing that.

I hated what I had become and felt so uncomfortable. I had no nice clothes anymore and dreaded getting dressed up to go out. I didn’t take full photos of myself as I didn’t want to see myself. Weight gain had taken my confidence away,” Debbie explained.

Debbie utilised the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet to better understand how to fuel herself with the right foods, reduce her portion sizes and stay true to the meal plans.

“The good news is that a healthy diet can be achieved with some simple changes,” Dr Hendrie said.

“The thing to keep in mind is reduce, increase and add variety.”

“In other words, reduce the amount of discretionary foods being consumed, increase healthy foods including fruit and dairy and alternatives, and aim for variety by eating three or more different types of vegetables with your main meal.”