Nutrition 101: The Terms You Need to Know For a Nourished Workplace.


Is there a difference between gluten free and coeliac?  Isn’t vegetarian and vegan the same thing? While you may feel this knowledge is irrelevant, 17% of Australians (3.7 million) have a food allergy or intolerance and 7% (1.6 million) avoid certain foods due to cultural, religious or ethical reasons.  So now more than ever, effectively catering for all nutritional requirements is essential in fuelling your workplace to success.

While the magic bullet to workplace catering seems to be wholefood nutrition, within this there can still be items that your colleagues may need to avoid.  To help you with this, we’ve put together a little A – W guide of the most common nutritional requirements in the workplace.


Alkaline rich foods

In order to reduce the build-up and increase of acidity in the system, alkaline rich foods (such as vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds) are the main source of nutrition, while acidic foods (which include meat, wheat, refined sugars and caffeine) are avoided or cut out. 


While this isn’t a specific nutritional requirement, it’s important to note that if a colleague advises that they are anaphylactic to any food, extra precaution needs to be taken.  Anaphylaxis is a generalised allergic reaction, which often involves more than one body system (e.g. skin, respiratory, gastro-intestinal and cardiovascular). Anaphylaxis usually occurs within 20 minutes to 2 hours of exposure to the trigger and can quickly become life threatening.


Ayurveda is a form of holistic medicine that’s focused on promoting balance between an individual’s body and mind.  According to Ayurveda, five elements make up the universe — vayu (air), jala (water), akash (space), teja (fire), and prithvi (earth).  These elements are believed to form three different doshas, which are defined as types of energy that circulate within the body. Each dosha is responsible for specific physiological functions.  When nutrition is based on Ayurvedic, an individual first determines their dominant dosha and then eats specific foods to promote balance between all three doshas - they know when to eat, what to eat, and how to eat to boost their health, prevent or manage disease, and maintain wellness. Ayurvedic nutrition is primarily comprised of whole or minimally processed foods and a practice of mindful eating rituals.  



Nutrition excludes meat and animal products, alcohol, onions, garlic, scallions, chives and leeks. 



Coeliac disease is when the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats), causing small bowel damage.  Those with it are born with the genetic predisposition and require strict gluten free nutrition. Like any allergen, this can be a life threatening disease and as such, care must be taken to ensure nutrition is entirely gluten free.


Cholesterol is a sterol which is made by the body and is found naturally in animal products.  For health reasons, you may have some colleagues that require low cholesterol nutrition and as such, need to limit their intake of meat, eggs, poultry and dairy foods.

Clean eating

Largely comprised of fresh produce with no additives, clean eating is all about consuming simple foods and being aware of how it got from the farm to your plate. 



Aiming to help manage diabetes and the associated symptoms associated, meals are eaten regularly throughout the day. Nutritional requirements include low saturated fats, in addition to limiting sweets and desserts and a reduction in all pre-packaged foods.



Egg is a common food allergen and for those with an allergy or intolerance, it is generally recommended that any type of poultry egg (e.g. chicken, duck, quail) should be avoided.



Another common food allergen, fish is pretty self-explanatory.  However, there are some foods that contain fish derivatives that you wouldn’t expect, including marshmallows, sauces and dips.  For this reason, like with all other intolerance or allergy, the ingredients list on all pre-packaged or made food should be carefully looked at.


Nutrition is predominately vegetarian, with meat on occasion. 


Fructose is a type of sugar that is found naturally in fruit and honey.  Fructose intolerance is common and as such, you may have team members who require fructose free nutrition.


Gluten free

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale and some oats (providing no cross-contamination has taken place during processing). While Coeliacs have a genetic predisposition, there are others who are unable to effectively digest gluten and as such, require gluten free nutrition.



Halal is Arabic for permissible and as such, halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran.  


Depending on region, nutrition can vary, however it generally comprises of Ayureveda and vegetarian nutrition.  While some eat meat, Cows are viewed as a sacred animal and as such, generally not consumed. 



Consisting of foods that are viewed as clean, pure, wholesome and pleasing to the taste. In general, nutrition includes most foods, excluding alcoholic drinks and pork.  All meat must also be halal.



Used to describe foods that comply with nutritional guidelines set by traditional Jewish law. The pairing of any meat and dairy product is avoided and this extends to the utensils and equipment used to prepare each food group.  Animal-based foods are limited to specific animals and cuts of meat which are slaughtered and prepared in a particular manner. The majority of plant-based foods are generally fine, providing they are not processed or prepared using non-kosher equipment. During Passover, all leavened grain products are also excluded, except for unleavened breads, such as matzo.



Lactose is the sugar found in milk which is generally broken down in our bodies to produce glucose and galactose.  However, there are some who are unable to break down this protein and as such require lactose free nutrition. 

Lacto-ovo vegetarian
Nutrition comprises of all plant-based foods, in addition to dairy products and eggs. 


A common food allergen, lupin is a legume which is regularly found in imported gluten free products, in addition to a wide variety of processed foods.



Another common food allergen is milk and as such, it is generally recommended that those with an allergy or intolerance avoid any milk from an animal source (e.g. milk derivative, powder, protein, or solids; milk malted, condensed, evaporated, dry, whole, low-fat, non-fat, skim, goat’s milk, ewe’s and sheep’s milk and milk from other animals).



Based on the hunter-gatherer ancestry, nutrition is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, consisting of foods that can be hunted, fished or gathered, such as vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices.


A very common allergen, those that are allergic to peanuts generally need to avoid tree nuts too. However, coconut, nutmeg and water chestnuts are generally fine.

Nutrition comprises of plant-based foods and fish, including shellfish.


Raw food

Nutrition is based on consuming food in its rawest possible form, and while the majority of food is uncooked, it can be warmed up to 47 degrees celsius. 


Refined refers to the process where foods are stripped of their coarse outer layers and as a result, eliminate many nutritional aspects. For this reason, some colleagues may prefer refined free nutrition.



A common allergen, any food containing sesame or sesame derivatives (e.g. flour, oil, paste) are avoided. It’s also important to be mindful that bakery goods (especially unpackaged items) tend to have a high potential for cross contamination with sesame seeds and as such, should also be avoided for those with an intolerance or allergy.


Another common food allergen, this category includes both crustaceans and molluscs, so everything from prawns to squid (calamari).  


A common allergen, that isn’t always as obvious as soy milk and tofu, as it is also commonly found in pre-packaged chocolate and baked goods.  


Tree nuts

While peanuts are more commonly recognised as an allergen, tree nut allergies are just as common.  While all tree nuts are excluded from those with an intolerance or allergy, coconut and nutmeg tend to be included.



Nutrition comprises solely of plant-based foods and as such, excludes all animal-derived foods, including honey and gelatine.

Nutrition comprised of plant based-foods.  



Another common allergen, wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed.  Aside from being in most flour-based products, it’s derivatives are also found in a wide number of pre-packed products, including chocolate and ice-cream.  


Nutrition comprised of unprocessed, or minimally processed foods.

We hope this guide helps you to develop an understanding and respect for all nutritional requirements, cultivating a greater interpersonal connection with your colleagues, while also supporting the nutritional choices you select to nourish your team.

While care has been taken in compiling this guide, it is an overview only and as such, we recommend you clarify nutritional requirements and allergy care directly with individual team members.