All posts filed under: Nutrition

Cutting through conflicting dietary advice

The news this week has probably made you feel even more confused than you already were about what you should and shouldn’t be eating. The National Obesity Forum published a report contradicting the current government healthy eating advice. The report suggested that eating fat could help weight loss and prevent type 2 diabetes, rather than making us fat and causing heart disease, which has been the assumption for many years. It also suggests we should significantly cut our carbohydrate intake. The latest Eatwell plate, produced by Public Health England earlier this year, recommends basing your diet around carbohydrates and choosing low fat foods. This advice has not changed significantly since the publication of the previous Eatwell plate in 2007, except to specify limits on sugar and to recommend wholegrain or higher fibre carbohydrates. The advice to choose low fat dairy products and spreads was not updated. In recent years, research into fat consumption and obesity has shown that despite many people following a low fat diet since the 1990s, obesity rates have continued to rise. …

Eating to beat the winter blues

There’s nothing you can do about the weather at this time of year, but eating well can help to boost your responses to it. A good diet can harness your immune system to fight off colds and other viruses that are circulating. It can also top up your body’s levels of vitamin D, which may be low following several months of little sunshine. And the right foods can boost your mood and increase your energy levels. Here are my 5 top foods to keep you in top form this winter: Salmon Salmon and other oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel are a fantastic source of omega 3 fatty acids. This type of fat plays an important role in the brain and there is evidence of a link between omega 3 deficiency and depression. Other foods that contain good fats, which may be beneficial for boosting mood, are avocadoes, nuts and olive oil. Brown rice Wholegrains, such as brown rice contain low GI carbs, which release their energy slowly, B vitamins and magnesium. Eaten at …

The easier way to feel good in the New Year

The first week of the new year is always the time we think of making ‘improvements’ to our diet and our lives in general. Festive indulgence in British culture must be followed by penance in January and the media has been full of strict diets that claim to change lives. However, for the vast majority of people, this is simply unnecessary. The latest trend in diets is for ‘clean’ eating, where the emphasis is on fresh, unprocessed foods. This in great in theory, but many of the proponents of this way of eating also recommend excluding all grains, beans and dairy foods. This is hard to manage in a practical sense, particularly if you usually eat with family or buy your lunch out, and in the longer term, you risk nutrient deficiencies. For example, to get your required daily calcium intake without eating any dairy foods, you would need to eat a large amount of green leafy vegetables and nuts every day, together with a cup of soy milk or tinned fish with bones, eg sardines. …

The secret to guilt-free treats

Finding foods that satisfy a 4pm slump or a craving for dessert after dinner that aren’t really bad for you can be hard. Feeding children something healthy and filling, when they seem to be constantly hungry can also be a battle. The key when feeding children (and adults) is to include wholegrain carbs alongside the sweet stuff.  If you have the time at the weekend, baking biscuits or a crumble can be a great activity with kids and gives you a supply of snacks or pudding that can be included in lunchboxes or eaten at home. Fruit tastes fantastic when it’s baked and you add a lot less sugar when cooking yourself. Here are a couple of my favourite recipes: Sultana and oat cookies 125g butter 85g brown sugar 1/2 tbsp vanilla essence 1.5 tbsp milk 1 large egg, lightly beaten 120g wholemeal plain flour 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 200g oats 85g sultanas or raisins In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until …

Prolonging the sunshine feeling with a Mediterranean diet

The holidays may be over and the days getting cooler but there is no reason why we can’t continue (or start!) eating some of the fabulous foods that are ubiquitous in Mediterranean countries. The “Mediterranean diet” is known to be one of the healthiest ways of eating and has been linked with lower rates of heart disease and diabetes and promotes longevity. It includes lots of fish, fresh vegetables and fruit, beans, nuts and olive oil. This diet may be hard to replicate exactly in the UK as it relies heavily on locally grown produce, but there are plenty of elements that can slot easily into your weekly meal planning. We tend to eat lots of fish when on holiday by the coast, including in this country. There is no reason why we shouldn’t continue to eat fish at home. It is packed full of healthy omega 3 fats, which are linked to heart health, good skin, joints, healthy brains and concentration. Healthy eating guidelines state that we should eat fish twice a week. Oily …

The truth about juices and smoothies

Fruit juice has for many years been viewed as the healthy alternative to soft drinks. However, with the current focus by some scientists and the media on sugar, it has become clear that drinking lots of fruit juice is no better than fizzy drinks for causing tooth decay, obesity and in the long term, diabetes. One small (150ml) glass of fruit juice can be counted as one of your 5 a day but no more. When the juice from a whole fruit is isolated from the fibre of the pulp, the sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing an insulin spike that encourages the body to store the calories as fat and over many years can lead to diabetes. If you enjoy fruit juice and struggle to eat more than one piece of fruit per day, drink it with breakfast or another meal. The sugar content of the juice will be absorbed more slowly if it goes into the body with low GI carbs (eg. from oats, grainy toast) or protein, say from eggs. …

Low carb or gluten free?

It seems that every article about healthy eating and weight loss in magazines and newspapers currently recommends low carb or cutting out gluten. But what is the truth behind this and should everyone be eating a low carb or gluten free diet? The simple answer is no. Carbohydrates are an important part of our diet. We may not have evolved eating grains, as the paleo diet points out, but for the vast majority of people, carbohydrates are our main source of energy and an important source of B vitamins and minerals. For hundreds of years we have been eating grains, however it is only in the past 30 years that a majority of the population has become overweight. There are probably two reasons for this: the introduction of processed, refined carbs (think of crisps, chips and breakfast cereals) and the widespread addition of sugar into everyday foods. Refined carbohydrates and sugar have essentially the same effect on the body. They are broken down into basic glucose units and need little processing, so are absorbed quickly …