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Teaching intuitive eating in family life

It seems a lot of you out there are interested in teaching your children about intuitive eating. Which is absolutely amazing! I’m over the moon. Absolutely loving the little experiments people are doing at home too. 

After a few comments and questions about the last blog post I thought I’d do a post on how we talk about nutrition at home. Again this is not a perfect method and I don’t know it all but I am seeing the benefits in my children. 

For example this week at lunch my boy aged 4

“Mummy why are we having grapes for lunch”

Me: “Because Miss E wanted them” (she is a grape-a-holic, though she hasn’t tried wine yet!). 

J-boy: “We had grapes yesterday and the day before”

Me: “I know, is there a problem with that?”

J-boy: “Well we shouldn’t just eat the same foods we should have different colours and types”. 

Me: in a flabbergasted tone “Ummmm yes exactly” 

Is it just me who is amazed when their children actually listen and take on board what you say?

So here we go, how we chat about nutrition at home:

Take the relaxed road. Several people asked me how can I be sure the kids won’t over eat the food like sweets and biscuits? I guess I can’t ever be sure, but I also cannot be in control of their food intake for ever. I want them to listen to their inner signals and to have a good grasp of nutrition. The more I trust them and let go, the more they surprise me.  So we talk about how sugary foods are absolutely delicious and all foods are great to eat but too many lollipops, cakes, biscuits, dried fruit can lead to tooth decay and tummy ache. On those occasions when the children do over-eat sweeter foods it is a great chance to talk about how that feels.  

A recent example being Eton Mess, my girl had a serving, then came back to ask me if she could have more. I suggested she think about her tummy and decide herself. After another serving she felt a bit sickly and later on reflected on this being due to the sweet, creamy dessert.

Now if I had told her not to have another serving she would have just felt a bit disgruntled, whereas now she understands more about listening to her body. 

Fullness and Hunger Cues. We talk about how it feels to be full and hungry. In the words of my children:

Fullness = my tummy has had enough, it feels uncomfortable, my mouth has eaten enough, I’m not empty. Hungry = rumbles and my tummy aches. Sometimes when I’m hungry I don’t have my energy.

Miss K has always been good at stopping when she is full. the J-boy is another kettle of fish. He will happily keep munching on foods such as biscuits unless you remind him to tune into his tummy. Distraction for him is a biggie. Yesterday in the car he had been given a pack of biscuits, he asked how many to have and I asked him to ask his tummy and see after 1 if he should have another or keep it for later. He happily munched his way through 2 and stopped. Now I’m pretty sure it would have been 3 or 4 biscuits if he had been watching TV whilst snacking or distracted.


Nutrition Facts. Now I’m not organised enough to sit down with them and give planned nutrition lessons, I find relaxed or undercover stealth like approach works best.  So don’t feel you need to become a teacher to teach nutrition. When we eat a meal we tend to have a few facts about the food we are eating and talk about the meal. It could be where the meat comes from, how something is grown, the colours on the plate or why something is good for your body. My kids love a handy fact and they will then repeat things back at a later meal. This can prove amusing when someone else is eating a food that they know about.

Your language matters. How you talk about food is so important. Labelling foods as good/bad, healthy/unhealthy, treats or special foods put those foods up on a pedestal. If there are foods that you disapprove of your children will soon pick up on it. I feel like it is a daily occurance that I am having to challenge my own thinking on this and change my words/tone. It seems I am not alone, phew.

Eat using the Senses. Talk about how food tastes, smells and the texture. This can help them to zone in on what they are eating and to not eat it without noticing. One way we have done this recently is to talk about taste buds, where they are in the mouth and what you are tasting when you eat certain foods. My boy enjoys the noises that foods make and how they feel when he eats them with his fingers. Yes it may be not be good table manners but it is a way to get him to connect with his food and think about what he is eating. Later in life people spend lots of time getting back to mindful eating… our children can teach us alot about enjoying our food.

I’d love to know your thoughts. How do you talk about food at home? 







The risk of social media.

Social media for me is essential. It brings me work, it brings me a virtual team and it enables me to stay up to date. I love it for personal and business reasons. It has connected me to a community of other nutrition professionals who I would probably never had met otherwise. I have daily chats with people about the current research, I can ask questions and support others, I can share resources and collaborate with them.

But at the same time social media can be a tough place to be. The nutrition world has become a crazy place. There are people with no training in nutrition publishing books and becoming the got-to for advice. There are highly qualified and respected experts getting caught up in social media wars.  I can completely understand why some people stay away from it altogether. 

Here are some things I am thankful for on social media:

Dietitian’s and registered nutritionists are trained to read the research and interpret it. That may sound simple but there can be many ways to interpret one piece of research. I’m thankful for people who share research, those who give an unbiased view, those who answer questions and help when others need a clearer answer or more research to back up a view. 

A virtual community who are supportive, forward thinking and inspire me. Working as a freelancer I don’t actually see other dietitian’s that often. To all those who are on the cutting edge with popdcasts, videos, infographics – thankyou. 

People who get in contact to just say nice things. Those who notice and say hi, those who comment on a blog post or a recipe. It is appreciated. 

Things that I wish I could change on social media:

The sniping and fighting that goes on. There is not one perfect answer, or one perfect diet. So maybe sometimes we have to agree to disagree.

Promoting of books and money making schemes over the science. It can be all too easy to think that just because someone has a book contract it makes them an expert. There are too many arguments about who is the expert. Personally I would say look at someone’s qualifications. If they are talking about nutrition have they actually studied nutrition? 

Black and white thinking. Social media only provides you with a small number of characters or a snapshot moment to present your point. This can mean that things become black or white, you end up having to take a side. Nutrition is a fairly new science and we are learning so much all of the time, with new research coming out tat is adding to our evidence. Therefore we do not have absolutes, what we do have is a base of science that we build upon. 

If you are a nutrition professional I do think you need to be on social media, sharing accurate messages, supporting your profession and keeping up with the world on there. How we group together and fight these battles that go on is not something I can answer but I do know it needs to be co-ordinated and professional.

Lentil Lasagne and Lasagne made easy

Lasagne is one of those meals that is loved the whole family. Let’s face it, if you don’t love lasagne then you are very usual! Often seen as hard to make, time consuming and more comfort food than “healthy” I want to share my top tips for making it a standard weeknight family meal.

  1. Pack in the veggies. Lasagne does not have to include meat! I rarely use mince to make lasagne these days. Instead I use lasagne as a way to pack in the veg. You can use lentils, beans or tofu or quorn to get protein in. There is nothing wrong with using the normal beef mince but  if you are looking for more variety with meals or like us, are wanting to eat a greater range of plant based protein sources then it’s time to expand your lasagne repertoire.
  2. Making your own sauce doesn’t have to be complicated. As much as I love a white sauce, if I’m in a rush it always goes lumpy or I burn the bottom of the pan. One of my hacks is to use cottage cheese. Add a little natural yoghurt to thin it down and pour it on the top of the lasagne, top with grated cheese and the jobs done. I wasn’t convinced this sauce would pass the lasagne police in my house  but it did. Phew. The other easy alternative is to use a half fat creme fraiche, simple. 
  3. Embrace your freezer. I totally love my freezer, it saves me on a regular basis. Oh, and it needs defrosting, in case anyone fancies helping me with that. You can either make a double batch of the main filling and freeze it for another meal, or I like to make a whole lasagne and freeze it, makes me feel like a proper domestic goddess. Minus the tidy kitchen, mine is never tidy.
  4. Make ahead. I often make lasagne in stages. so I will either get the main filling out of the freezer and leave to defrost, or make the filling up and leave it. Then later I get a child to help me put it together, layering the filling, pasta and sauce. 
  5. Use pre-bought lasagne sheets. I know most people don’t make their own fresh lasagne sheets, but I sometimes do, it makes the lasagne SO good, literally the best lasagne. But it takes more time that I just don’t have that often. 
So why not transform your lasagne into sometime more inventive. It’s a forgiving dish. Here is a recipe for a wheat free, dairy free version I made this week:
Lentil Lasagne
Serves 4
Write a review
Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
585 calories
89 g
13 g
11 g
35 g
3 g
533 g
221 g
14 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 585
Calories from Fat 94
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 13mg
Sodium 221mg
Total Carbohydrates 89g
Dietary Fiber 34g
Sugars 14g
Protein 35g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 onion
  2. 2 garlic cloves
  3. 3 carrots
  4. 2 peppers
  5. 1 medium courgette
  6. 1 tsp olive oil
  7. 2 cups of dried lentils
  8. 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  9. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  10. 250ml stock (I used homemade chicken stock but you could use a stock cube and water)
  11. 1 bay leaf
  12. Dried mixed herbs
  13. 1 small glug of balsamic vinegar
  14. Lasagne sheets (wheat free if required)
White sauce
  1. 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  2. 2 tbsp wheat free flour
  3. Soya milk as needed, approx 250ml
  4. 250ml water (you may not need it)
  5. Soya cheese or normal cheese
  1. Chop all the vegetables in a food processor (this saves time!) or chop finely by hand.
  2. Saute in the oil for a few minutes, then add the lentils, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaf, dried herbs, balsamic, stock and simmer for 20 minutes. This is your basic lasagne filling, You can now freeze this, keep it in the fridge for making up later, or use straight away.
  3. Make up the lasagne with 1 layer of lentil mix, lasagne sheets, lentil mix and lasagne sheets.
White sauce
  1. Pour the oil into a sauce pan and mix in the flour with a wooden spoon, it will make a thick paste. Mix in a little milk and stir to make a batter, now add in the rest of the milk place on a gentle heat and keep stirring to incorporate it all. The sauce will thicken, if it is too thick add some water. Keep stirring! Let it gently bubble but not too much. I like to let it cool a little and then pour on top of the lasagne.
  2. Top with cheese and bake at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes.
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Eating Disorders: Why can’t I recover?

Working in eating disorders as a dietitian is the very hardest part of my job. As a freelancer I cover a huge variety of roles. In my other world as a Pilates teacher and studio owner I have an altogether more energetic and flowing role. Yet it is working with eating disorder clients that uses the most of me, pushes me hardest, and pulls on my mind, spirit and emotions. 

 Some of my hardest work is with the “stuck” clients. Those who really want to change, really want to break free, really want help…. and yet they just can’t do it. It is so very hard for them as you can see they do want to get better. Imagine this – knowing how you are living is ultimately going to shorten your life, make your life difficult and lead to you not being able to do a lot of things and yet not being able to change it. Life with an eating disorder is a very hard life.

Often there is a specific weight that they cannot push past. 

Sometimes there are behaviours such as exercising or purging that they cannot give up.

Change can be made, but only to a point.


So what causes this “stuckness”?

An association with a certain weight.  

It is not uncommon for me to being working with someone who 100% agrees that they need to get their weight to xx kg. We put a plan in place, they are working towards it really well, everything seems to be on target and then the “stuckness” hits just before our weight goal. Why? It could be that when they were last at this weight they didn’t like their bodies/themselves, someone said something negative about them or that something traumatic happened at this weight. It could be they have never been that weight before, it is the highest weight they will have reached.

I like to work this through with people. 

“What will it be like being this weight”

“How will it change your relationships and how you see yourself”

“What will be better and what will be worse?”

I also remind them that you really cannot predict how it will feel and be until you get there. Using the analogy of a night in a hotel. You can guess how it will be, you can imagine how you may spend the time with your partner, you can predict the layout of the room, the hotel and the menu. However you cannot really be sure what it will be like until you get there. Even if you have stayed there before, things change, things feel different at different stages of life.

2. Not wanting to move on.

Having an eating disorder can for some be a way of escaping. Escaping growing up, escaping emotions, escaping reality. So getting better means that you have to deal with all those tricky issues. You cannot run away any longer. You have to put on those big pants and be a grown up. It isn’t necessarily going to be fun, but in the long term it will be worth it. 

I find using some motivational work can be beneficial here. Looking at the pros/cons of change. Planning out a vision board of where they want to be in 1 year, 5 years time. Talking through the real reasons they need to get better. For most people there is something driving the desire to make change. Examples are wanting to have a certain career that you can’t do at a low weight (nursing, law), wanting to have children, wanting to be able to go travelling.

3. Invested in the Eating Disorder.

This may seem like a strange one. If you have had an eating disorder for a long time it can be hard to imagine not have one. It becomes part of who you are. It becomes part of the way that other people see you, relate to you and care for you. If you no longer have an eating disorder there is an uncertainty, how will others see you, will they still care for you, will they still take time over you? If you no longer have an eating disorder who will you be? A huge part of this is all around knowing your identity. Spending time journalling can help with this. Thinking about who you used to be, who you would like to be. What are the things that make you come alive inside? Spend time doing those. What are your dreams and aspirations? What things are you good at? Asking someone close to you the question “What are my giftings or what are I good at?” can be very revealing and helpful.  Once you have an idea of who you could be outside of your eating disorder you can push yourself to move past it.

Working on your relationship can also be helpful. If these are strong then you know that people will care for you always, with an eating disorder or not. Being in a sick role means you are seen in a very different way. Being recovered and healthy can expand and move your friendships and relationships to new levels. 

Being stuck in your eating disorder recovery can be a very natural part of the recovery process. If you are in this place do seek some help. Do spend time journalling, talking, being creative and finding who YOU are. To look for a good therapist and dietitian near you in the UK the B-eat website is a good starting place. Or drop me an email as I work with people around the UK by video call.


10 portions of fruit and veggies a day?

So today we woke up to the news that 10 portions of fruit and vegetables is the new 5 a day. 

10 a day

95 studies on fruit and vegetables have been analysed by researcher at the Imperial College of London. They found that the most benefit came from eating 800g per day, as 80g is a portion this equates to a whopping 10 portions a day. 

Consuming 10 portions a day was associated with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% lower risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of cancer, and a 31% reduction in the risk of premature death. This may be due to the levels of antioxidants they contain as well as their fibre content. Eating 10 portions will also potentially mean that less processed foods are being consumed, so implies an overal healthier diet and lifestyle. 

This isn’t to say that eating less is not worth doing however as there are still significant health benefits from eating any amounts of fruit and veggies. For example helping to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Specifically apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, lettuce), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) may help protect against heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death. Eating green vegetables, yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables could help protect against cancer risks.

Is it Achievable?

The problem is that in the UK many people are not even meeting the 5 a day target. Suddenly asking them to eat 10 portions a day is unrealistic and laughable for some. I myself currently eat 7-8 portions a day, having increased this from 5 a day. I could increase this further but I have a gut issue and personally I think I am on my limit. 

For some people this level of fibre intake is not going to be a good plan. Those with digestive disorders such as diverticulitis, some people with IBS or Crohns disease or an inflamed gut.

So it is all about small increases and working towards eating more.


I’ve already heard the words “too much sugar” mentioned. Do not panic people. Put your sugar finger pointing fingers down. The sugar in fruit is not a “free sugar”. It is contained within a fibrous matrix and so it is not released into your blood stream as quickly as eating pure sugar or honey. 

Having said this, I would still recommend you focus on eating more vegetables and not too much fruit. Remember dried fruit is a more concentrated form of sugar so watch your portion sizes of this. Juices and smoothies should be limited to maximum one  a day. So really we are looking at upping the whole fruit and veg.

10 portions a day:

So what could it look like?

Breakfast: Cereal with 80g berries and 1 tbsp raisins. 2 portions

Snack: Banana and nuts. 1 portion

Lunch: 1/2 avocado on toast topped with tuna served with a side salad. 2 portions

Snack: 1 chopped carrot with 1 tbsp hummus. 1 portion

Dinner: Chicken casserole and rice with 2 portions of vegetables. 1 glass of fruit juice. 3 portions

Snack: Chopped apple and yoghurt 1 portion

My take home message:


Focus on increasing it gradually.  As with anything this is a habit that needs to be formed and it doesn’t happen overnight. Set yourself small goals like adding fruit to your breakfast or having a vegetable based snack each day and build on it.

I’d love to hear how many portions of fruit and veg you currently eat and how you plan to increase it.


Pear Rock Cakes, no added sugar.

It’s been a week of pretty awful sleep. That saying about “They saved the best till last” is not true when it comes to sleeping babies. The third baby is the worse sleeper! However she also gives the best cuddles and is super cute with it, so I can’t be cross with her.

When I don’t sleep well I tend to :

  1. Walk around in a bit of a brain fog, yet still be functional for work – how does that happen?
  2. Want to poke out the eyes of anyone who has a baby that sleeps through the night.
  3. Loose some of my words. My 6 year old is good at finding them for me. “I’m just making…..ummm, ummm” “Breakfast Mummy?” “Yes, that’s the one”. 
  4. Get creating in the kitchen. I’ve no idea how but cooking and baking helps restore my sanity.

So on a cold, fuzzy headed Sunday afternoon I was flicking through my recipe notebook and stumbled upon rockcakes. Rockcakes seem to be one of those recipes that people make in school or when they are learning to bake. I think they need a come-back. Super easy to make, which means the children can help, there is little that you can go wrong with and you are left with a mountain of tasty snacks for your week.

I’ve adapted the usual rock cake recipe by adding in fruit and upon tasty the mix I decided it was sweet enough for our palates. Try a bit of it before you add in the eggs and see what you think as you can always add in a little sugar to taste. Doing it this way will hopefully mean you don’t go OTT on the sugar content.

My kids were happy bunnies and rewarded me by playing nicely with minimal arguments all afternoon. I love the subtle pear hint in these. Perfect for tbe after school munchies, which happens to co-incide with my cuppa and snack time 🙂 

Dietitian UK: Pear Rockcakes

Pear Rock Cakes
Yields 20
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
116 calories
17 g
29 g
5 g
2 g
3 g
45 g
9 g
5 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 116
Calories from Fat 41
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 29mg
Sodium 9mg
Total Carbohydrates 17g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 5g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 100g butter at room temperature
  2. 250g flour (I used Doves Farm Plain Gluten Free Blend)
  3. 2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp mixed spice
  5. 1 soft large pear, peeled and chopped
  6. 1 soft ripe banana, mashed
  7. 100g raisins
  8. 2 eggs
  1. Rub the butter into the flour.
  2. Now add the baking power and spice.
  3. Add in the wet fruit. the pear should break down easily if you are using a stand mixer or food processor.
  4. Now mix the raisins in gently.
  5. Add in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Taste and add sugar if needed, I found it wasn't necessary.
  7. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5, line and grease a baking tray.
  8. You should end up with a soft dough.
  9. Take dessert spoons of the mixture and gently shape into rounds.
  10. Place onto a greased, lined baking tray.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are lightly browned on the top.
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Detox the diet talk.

Diet and Detox.  These words can be destructive. They suggest that you need to lose weight, that you have been doing things wrong, that you are not good enough, that your body is full of toxins, that you need to change the way you look. I see a lot of broken people with broken thoughts about their bodies and eating. 


a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.
restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.


a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification.

So it’s all about restriction, abstaining and getting rid of the bad stuff.  NO! Thinking like this will lead to negative thoughts about yourself, lowered self esteem, negative body image and the feeling that you are not good.

Dietitian UK: detox-the-diet-talk

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t changes that people need to be making to their eating and their lifestyles. Some people need to gain weight for health reasons and others need to lose weight, some people need to have a healthier balance of foods in their days, others may need to be more active. What concerns me is the mindset and thought patterns around why these changes are made. Approaching it from a “I’m a bad person and need to change” mindset is not going to give long lasting positive results unless those thoughts are challenged along the way.

Use a Positive Mindset:

Have a longer term approach. What are your long term goals? Where do you want to be in 1 year and in 5 years? Think about how your health and body need to be in order to achieve those goals.

To be a nurse I need to be strong, fit and have a healthy relationship with food so I can eat around my shift patterns.

To have children I need to be a healthy weight for fertility, I need to be a healthy role model with my lifestyle and I need to be able to cook a good range of meals.

From here write yourself out a list of positive changes you can make to your eating and lifestyle. These are some of mine:

To eat an extra portion of vegetables every day.

To get outside in the fresh air for some form of exercise 5 days a week.

To cook a new recipe once a week.

To switch off technology, read more and get to bed early once a week.

To make healthy snacks ahead of time so I stay away from the biscuits.

It’s not about having a strict diet plan and then beating yourself up when you can’t stick to it.  It is about having a plan that is achievable and flexible. 

It’s not about cutting out food groups and thinking foods are bad. It is about moderation and balance.

It’s not about only making change for a few weeks. It is about the long term.


Be kind to you. Be achievable. Be true to you. 


The low down on Fats. Are saturated fats really the villain?

Recently the world of fat had a shaking up. For 50 years saturated fat has been the bad guy, linked to coronary heart disease. But a systematic review and meta-analysis of the research looked at 32 worldwide cohort studies that reported finding a link between saturated fat (SFA) and coronary heart disease (CHD) and begged to differ.

Dietitian UK: Saturated Fats: The Lowdown

The original landmark research that led to the development of our dietary guidelines was done by Ancel Keys, the Seven Countries study in the 1970s. He found links between CHD and cholesterol levels and linked this to saturated fats as we know saturated fats increase cholesterol. However this was not actually proven and no research was done to then prove the association or to look at the impact of the dietary guidelines. 

The new analysis found that:

  • Saturated fat, omega 6 fatty acids, and monounsaturates (MUFA) were not linked to heart disease but instead they were neutrally related to the risk.
  • Trans fats were associated with a  16% increased risk of coronary events, a 34% increases in all cause mortality, 28% increase of CHD mortality and 21% increased in risk of CHD.  
  • Omega 3’s led to a reduced risk. 

The research analysed in these studies was carried out using diet history questionnaires and diet records and we know this is not always ultra-reliable. There is always the potential for bias and under/over-reporting. Different studies also used different views on fat categories so it confuses the results slightly.

What has happened: Some of the research looking at saturated fats compared extremes of intake. When you reduce saturated fats you increase polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, or you increase carbohydrates. The research often doesn’t tell us what foods were changed if saturated fat levels were altered.

What are Saturated Fats and how much should we eat?

The fats found in animal products: butter, cows milk,meat, salmon and egg yolks and in Plant products: chocolate, cocoa butter, palm oil. 

Dietary guidelines are that saturated fats should be limited to <10% and trans fats to <1% of energy. These still stand.

Fresh MeatWhat do you eat instead?

Research in 2005 showed us that replacing SFA with carbohydrates caused a small increased heart disease risk and instead should be replacing it with polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). Another study looks at the quality of carbohydrate, which I think is the key. It found replacing  SFA with high glycemic index carbs led to a higher risk.

If you replace saturated fats with high glycaemic index carbohydrates, the “bad LDL cholesterol” increases. There is a direct association between LDL cholesterol and heart disease mortality. What we replace saturated fats with is important.  Highly processed CHO are known not to be good for us due to their effect on blood sugars.

A 2% increase in energy from trans fats is associated with a 25% increase in risk of CHD and 3% increase in CHD mortality.  So we don’t want to be eating more of those. 

Current recommendations are that we replace SFA with PUFA and not with refined carbohydrates. So there is still am emphasis on lowering saturated fat but not going for very low fat diets. We all need some fats in our diet and very low fat diets are no longer recommended.

PUFA’s are found in:

High quality carbohydrates from fruit and veg and grains.

Nuts, seeds and plant oils.

Omega 3’s – 2 portions oily fish or vegetarian options such as linseed, hemp oil, walnuts and chia.

Dietitian UK: Healthy Fats

Can SFA’s be good for us?

Some foods that contain saturated fats also have other goods nutrients: vitamin A, D calcium and phosphorus are in dairy foods for example. Vitamin D is a nutrient that we are finding more people are deficient in so we do want people to be eating full fat dairy. 

It’s a complex relationship to understand. There are so many confounding factors when we look at diet and heart disease, you cannot control them all. 

We know now that dietary fats have different biological effects. Not all SFA’s behave in the same way. So it looks like excess lauric, myristic and palmitic acid are shown to decrease LDL cholesterol clearance which is not a good thing, but other length fatty acids are not associated with CVD risk. 

All saturated fats are nutrients with very specific functions, we metabolise them differently and synthesise fatty acids when we eat sugars, alcohol and starch. So SFA is not the only thing responsible for heart disease risk. 



It is more complex than we originally gave it credit for.

The concern is that is we remove one nutrient it gets replaced with something else  that may not be as good.

So it’s not all about reducing SFA but more key is what we replace it with. It’s not the cutting down that is always key but what we increase and actually eat more of. Perhaps our dietary guidelines should look at what to EAT MORE of rather than the negative EAT LESS. 

Individual changes to one nutrient have a knock on effect on another. WE want to see the bigger picture here and look at the balance of the whole diet. Maybe look at what you shold eat more of and not what to reduce. as you eat more fruit and ve you will eat less processed foods. 




BMJ 2015;351:h3978 SFA meta-analysis



The saturated Fat debate. Jenny Rosborough. Complete Nutrition Vol 7 (No2) June 2015

Snacking, children and biscuit love.

There are days when I feel like I am running a cafe. My children take it in turns to come to me saying “I’m hungry” or “Can I have a snack” or “Marmite/Biscuit/Cereal Bar”. Occasionally I even get a please 😉

I do wonder how on earth they can eat so much and still want more, but then they will go through days when they hardly eat, so it all seems to balance out. I prefer them to self-regulate their appetite rather than having me guess when they should be full.

Having a 5 year old makes life a little easier as I can reason with her more and talk through choices. She asks for cake and we can decide if that is the best option just before lunch or could she have a breadstick and save her cake for later on. We can talk about having a range of foods in the diet and what foods are better choice to keep our bodies working properly. She also reacts to having too much sugar and recognises this!

The 2 year old is a different kettle of fish altogether. He has just been through a stage where he has discovered biscuits (mainly from playgroup time with Daddy – ahem) and he is in love. Now I can’t blame him. Who doesn’t love a biscuit. However, they aren’t things I plan for my small ones to eat everyday. THis boy definitely has a sweet tooth. So I’ve had to go on a biscuit cull in our house. When he asks for a biscuit I’ve been explaining we don’t have any, showing him the empty tin and redirecting him to a banana or a piece of toast. There have been some tears and some stroppy moments but after 2 weeks we have made it through the biscuit terror. He is now not asking for them at every available eating moment, at least not at home. 

Dietitian UK: Healthy Snack Ideas collage

So here (in no particular order) are our current list of snacks:

  • Fruit and yoghurt. Job done. 
  • Popcorn – I airpop a pile and keep it in an airtight box for a few days. Plus it is wholegrain!
  • Maltloaf – my 5 year old calls this chocolate cake! She knows it isn’t but…. hey makes it more fun.
  • Wholemeal toast with marmite or cream cheese – a common 2nd breakfast. Yes they are hobbits.
  • Large rice cake with peanut butter and slices of banana (seriously good combo).
  • Homemade healthy flapjacks, we almost always have these in stock, I make a batch weekly.
  • Nut and seed balls. I make these for me but they always get shared around.
  • Nuts (pecans for the 2 year old, almond for the 5 year old) and dried apricots. Always fills them up.
  • Cheesy biscuits with grapes. An easy snack for on the go.
  • Hummus with….almost anything. My kids love a dip – but go through phases of what they like to dip in, so we vary from breadsticks, veggies (carrots, peppers, cucumber, broccoli, green beans), small rice cakes, crackers, toast strips.
  • Wholegrain cereal with raisins in a pot, no milk. Dry cereal can make a great snack on long car journeys as it takes a while to eat!
  • Courgette cheesy biscuits. For when we have had a baking session.
  • Homemade cereal bars. I like to pack fruit or veg in these.

I hope that gives your some ideas. Please share any ideas you have as I’m always on the look out for new things!

Should I still be eating Bacon and Sausages?

Red meat and processed meat has been in the headlines a lot this week. There is likely to be more to come on this topic too.

For those of you not in the know, the WHO released a report saying that processed meat is linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. This has been wildly stretched by some to suggest that we shouldn’t eat meat at all.

Let’s unpack it a bit.

What is processed meat?

“Processed meat has been modified to either extend its shelf life or change the taste and the main methods are smoking, curing, or adding salt or preservatives.” WHO quote.

This includes salami, bacon, corned beef, jerky, tinned meat, sausages, ham, hot dogs.

It is the chemical released in the processing that are the issue here. So it is not actually the meat that is the problem but the processing of it.

The figures:

50g processed meat a day (3 rashers bacon or 2 slices of ham) can increase your risk of colorectal cancer to 72 in 100,000.

Dietitian UK: Healthy Eating for Anorexia Nervosa

Or your risk of bowel cancer could be increased by 18% compared to someone who doesn’t eat meat. That may sound high but the absolute risk of bowel cancer is 6%, so by eating processed meat it may increase to 7%.

The evidence:

The evidence is pretty weak. There is no direct cause and effect here as there are multiple factors coming into play. People with an increased risk may also be overweight, smoking and eating less fruit and veggies – all of which will also have an effect. 

The EPIC study found that vegetarians had the same risk for colorectal cancer as meat eaters. That says a lot to me.

The bottom line:

Recommended red meat intake for an adult is 70g per day. 

In the UK our average intake is 71g per day. So most of us are absolutely fine.

Red meat provides a good source of iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. It can be an important source of iron for teenage girls and pregnant ladies.

Red meat is significantly lower in fat than in was 30 years ago. I was surprised at the lowered level of fat in beef and lamb at a recent event I attended.

There are lots of things that can increase your risk of cancers. It’s all about perspective and moderation. 

I will still be eating sausages.