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Top tips for easy midweek dinners

One of the hardest times to stick to eating healthily is midweek, after a busy day at work or with the kids. Cooking from scratch can feel like a chore. However, if you make sure your cupboards are stocked at the start of the week, it is not difficult to have a home cooked meal on the table in 30 minutes or less. 1.  Quick prawn or chicken stir fry without the shop-bought sauce. Chop some veggies, such as onion, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers or mange-tout and fry in a wok with the chicken or prawns and some chopped fresh ginger, garlic, chilli, lemon or lime juice, a handful of cashew nuts and (reduced salt) soy sauce. Add a sprinkle of fresh coriander and serve with rice or noodles. If you’re cooking for children, reserve the chopped chilli until after you’ve served the children’s meals. Either add to the wok and cook for a couple of minutes longer or for a spicy blast, sprinkle on raw. 2.  Thai curry. For another quick Asian dish, buy …

Healthy eating for older people

As we get older, eating well becomes even more important than it has been throughout our adult lives. From the age of 50, our energy requirements decline as our metabolism and physical activity slows. This is often accompanied by a decline in appetite. However, our need for a regular intake of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals is as great as ever – to help us fight age-related disease and maintain healthy bodies. For older adults, being slightly overweight is not a health problem and is actually better than being underweight. Underweight may be associated with malnutrition and is linked to falls and osteoporosis. Underweight people may also have fewer resources to fight disease. On the other hand, obesity is still linked to heart disease and some cancers, so keeping weight at a healthy level is very important. The key to good health in older age is to eat plenty of nutrient dense foods. When the appetite slows, it is even more vital for the foods that we do eat to contain the vitamins and minerals …

Myths and misconceptions in healthy eating for children

It has become increasingly harder in recent years to know what to feed children given the huge array of products in the supermarket that are designed to appeal to them. There have also been conflicting reports in the media about whether drinks such as fruit juice are healthy or not and whether some processed products can be included in the 5 a day or not. Children need fruit and veg as much as adults do, for the fibre, vitamins and minerals that boost immunity and make a vital contribution to good health. So, what foods do count as one of your 5 a day? One 150ml glass of 100% fruit juice 80g whole fruit, eg. banana, apple, pear, a few large strawberries, a handful of blueberries 30g dried fruit (a small box or large handful) 80g vegetables or salad veggies 3 tbsps legumes, eg baked beans, lentils, chickpeas And don’t forget that all vegetables in soups, casseroles and sauces or fruit with cereal count towards the total. This means that even a small amount in …

Top 10 tips for losing weight for the New Year

It’s the New Year and we’re into recovery mode after the Christmas excesses. It’s so easy to lose track of what you’re eating and drinking at Christmas and indulge in too many chocolates, desserts and wine. It’s part of what makes Christmas fun! January is the time to move on, get back into your routine, start exercising and develop some good eating habits that can help you to look and feel better without resorting to a ‘diet’. Here are my top tips for losing weight and feeling good with minimum effort and no deprivation: 1. Become conscious of your appetite. Before you eat, check in with yourself –  do you feel hungry or are you eating because you’re bored / it’s your habit to have a snack at 4pm? Are you thirsty? Try having a glass of water or a cup of tea first. If you really want a snack, have a piece of fruit. 2.  At mealtimes, don’t eat until you’re full to bursting. It takes 20 minutes for food to reach your stomach …

Eating well for the party season

It’s the pre-Christmas silly season with festive lunches and nights out – a fun time of year but with plenty of opportunities for piling on the weight or feeling sluggish and tired from over-eating and drinking. Food is never going to be a cure for drinking 10 beers but it can mediate some of the effects of alcohol on your body. Eating well is what you eat over the course of a day, a week, a month – getting all the nutrients you need to be healthy. If you know you have a night out planned that will involve booze and canapes or a pub dinner that is guaranteed to come with chips, think about what you eat the rest of that day. Preparation for a night out Start with a good breakfast such as homemade muesli, porridge or toast with eggs then have a salad, soup or pasta dish with plenty of veggies for lunch. Don’t forget to eat your two portions of fruit during the day and drink lots of water, so you …

Fats – are they good for you after all?

There is currently a great deal of confusion around fats in the diet. For the past 20 years, healthy eating guidelines have told us to eat low fat foods and in particular to reduce saturated fat. Food companies have moved to produce low fat products, however the fat has in many cases, been replaced by sugar in order to make the product taste better. Yoghurts are a particularly good example of this. The addition of sugar to low fat yoghurts has in many cases, increased the number of calories to the point that a low fat yoghurt has more calories than the original full fat version! And guess which yoghurt tastes better? Some scientific studies are also questioning the direct links between saturated fat, high cholesterol and heart disease. This is work in progress, and the latest review of scientific studies (Cochrane, 2012) suggests that a reduction in total fat intake doesn’t seem to affect cardiovascular risk, but a reduction in saturated fat is still to be recommended for everyone. One thing that most scientists …

Easy everyday healthy eating – an introduction

This blog aims to debunk some of the myths surrounding ‘healthy eating’ and give some simple practical advice on how to eat well every day.  I trained as a nutritionist in Australia, but am now based in the UK. I get very frustrated with the confusion surrounding food and what to eat, often stoked by media articles on the latest study or celebrity ‘diet’. What follows is my, pragmatic way of eating well. So, what constitutes a healthy diet? a diet which prevents excess weight gain and potentially helps with weight loss, provides plenty of energy for tackling our busy lives, plentiful vitamins and minerals, which help boost the immune system and could protect against ‘lifestyle’ diseases and is sustainable in the long term. There are many popular contemporary diets that claim huge weight loss while cutting out entire food groups or articles discussing the latest superfoods, such as expensive goji berries and chia seeds to boost antioxidant levels. Newspaper articles discuss the latest findings on the Mediterranean diet or the traditional Japanese diet and their …