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Should we label a food as good or bad?

The label of good and bad foods annoys me. It is one of those labels that I find hard to get away from when I am talking to people as it comes up constantly. I spend a lot of time trying to break that idea down in people’s minds. Google it and there are over 71,800,000 links talking about what foods are good/bad, what bad foods are really good, the best good foods to eat and so on. But do good and bad foods really exist?

Bad foods seem to be ones that are high in sugar, fats and calories. Foods that are “not healthy” and that exert a “bad” affect on the body. They can range from fast food, processed food and high fat/high calorie snack items to carbohydrates and dried fruit.

Dietitian UK: Should we label foods as good and bad?

We have a complex relationship with food. Trying to make it fit into just one camp is tricky. Look at the major food groups – carbohydrates, protein, fat, dairy, fruit and veggies. Then look at lentils. They are put in the protein group but they contain carbs and are a portion of veggies too. 

Let’s take it to a more philosophical level. Can a person be labelled as good or bad? Take an object like a razor blade. Is it good or bad? One the one hand it can be used to shave and on the other hand it could be used as a weapon. 

So by trying to label foods as good or bad we are over-simplifying it. Foods are really neutral. Labelling them automatically places them into one category. Let’s take chocolate as an example. On the one hand this is a high calorie, high fat food that is often laden with sugar, so could be classed as a “bad food”. However dark chocolate contains iron, magnesium and fibre. It has antioxidants including polyphenols, catchins and flavanols and may help lower blood pressure plus reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Some research suggests it may help with cognitive function too making it sound like a pretty amazing food to be eating. Even fruit and vegetables can have their negatives, too many carrots can turn the skin orange due to excessive beta carotene!

No single food is to my knowledge nutritionally complete. We need a combination of foods in order to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs. This includes the full range of essential fatty acids and some sugar too.

The old phrase “All things in moderation” is actually very true. Instead of looking at a food in isolation we need to think about how often we eat a food, how much or it we eat, combined with what else we are eating and adding to a food. Limiting or not allowing yourself to eat certain foods can actually lead to you craving them more and then over-eating them. Food is something to be enjoyed rather than denied, so a small amount of the things you like really can be good. 

So instead of labelling foods as good and bad, or healthy and not healthy, how about we change the way we view it. I let my children eat all foods, including cake, sweets and chocolate. However they know that some foods are best to eat in small amounts as they can lead to their bodies getting sick. A good example of this is a weekend recently where we had multiple parties, leading to a lot of party food being consumed. Both children had tummy aches and were slightly constipated! An excellent time to highlight that they had eaten more biscuits and cakes, less fruit and veggies and their bodies were complaining. We talked about how these foods are delicious (the words of my toddler boy) but if you eat too much of them they can make you feel unwell. 

How do you label food in your mind? 

Welcome 2015, resolve to relax.

2014 you were officially a whirlwind. With a baby, a preschooler and 2 businesses to run I had to cut maternity leave short and get right back into the craziness of working around my littlies. Trust me this is not recommended and leads to generalised chaos, very little sleep and a never ending to-do list. 

2014 you were also full of celebration and new things. I love hanging with my small ones, being around daily to watch them grown and develop is so amazing. One of my sayings is to “celebrate the small successes in life”.  The baby saying “Moo” and pointing to a cow, Miss K, aged 4 putting a fresh toilet roll on the holder for the first time (all by herself, with no prompting) when she finished the last of the old roll. Little things, but lovely to take a moment and celebrate.

2014 was a huge learning curve. I’ve learnt more about social media, business, Pilates, nutrition, motherhood, cooking, recipe development, mental health, IBS and myself. Good job I love to learn.

I love a new year. It’s like a fresh notebook, clean pages, endless stories to fill it in with. So 2015, I look forward to seeing what you bring.

I don’t really make resolutions…  but this year I’ve a few small ones:

Dietitian UK: 2015 Resolve to Relax

1. To relax more. I felt like I was working all the hours I possibly could towards the end of 2014, yet still not getting everything done. So I’m going at it from a more backwards approach and builing in more relaxation time. My key will be to make this structured relaxation time. So it is put in my diary as set work/relaxing time.

2. To book in some CPD courses. Now the baby boy is big enough to be left all day I am looking forward to getting stuck into some day courses. I’ve already booked one. Go me.

3. To be more selective about what work I take on… and what I work I turn down. This has always been a hard one for me, but now with so much going on I know I can’t do it all. 

4. To get away more. A break away from work always helps put life in perspective and gives us much needed family time, even for a night. So I’ve already booked some holiday time, something to really look forward to.

5. To see more of friends. Having lost a dear friend recently I want to make sure I treasure my friendships and invest in them.

Notice none of these are about diet or detoxing? You weren’t expected them to be were you?! #trustadietitian

 

Gingerbread Biscuits: Wheatfree and gluten free.

We’ve been doing an activity advent calander this year, which has been a lot of fun. Each day I’ve planned out and put a different Christmas themed activity in our advent calander. It’s meant I’ve been able to plan in all the little things I’ve wanted to do with the kids and it’s made me be organised! However I have also been able to swap activities around as long as I get to the calander before Miss K. That happened last weekend, when I had been planning to do some Christmas baking with the small ones, but a close friend died and so I opted for Christmas colouring instead so we could go to the celebration service. 

So this weekend, we got stuck into the baking. I’d never made gluten/wheat free gingerbread before, it was great fun to make. Miss K enjoyed weighing out things, licking bowls, eating dough, rolling and cutting out biscuits.  I’m now having to hide the tin as it’s so tasty I’m sure it will go too fast!

DSC_3592

 

DSC_3591

Dietitian UK: Wheat/gluten free Gingerbread

 

Gingerbread (wheat/glutenfree)
Yields 40
A simple to make wheat/gluten free gingerbread perfect for Christmas gifts, to hang on the tree or to eat yourself!
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Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
77 calories
12 g
7 g
3 g
1 g
2 g
18 g
34 g
4 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
18g
Yields
40
Amount Per Serving
Calories 77
Calories from Fat 23
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
4%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 7mg
2%
Sodium 34mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 12g
4%
Dietary Fiber 0g
1%
Sugars 4g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
2%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
1%
Iron
1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 350g plain gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm)
  2. 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  3. 2 tsp ground ginger
  4. 125g butter
  5. 125g brown sugar
  6. 50g black treacle
  7. 50g golden syrup
  8. Extra flour to dust and roll out
Instructions
  1. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger together.
  2. Run in the butter.
  3. Mix in the sugar.
  4. Weigh out the treacle and syrup, heat gently to soften (I did this for 1 minute in the microwave)
  5. Make a well in the flour mix and pour in the wet mix. Stir and then knead to a dough.
  6. Roll out onto a floured board, keep it pretty thin, we went for about 1/4 inch.
  7. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5.
  8. Go crazy with your Christmas cutters and transfer carefully to a greased, lined baking tray (we used a palate knife for this).
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stay close and check them regularly so they don't catch around the edges.
  10. Leave to cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray and then transfer to a plate or wire rack.
Notes
  1. As the baby was asleep we made this by hand, but you could easily use a food processor to speed the process up.
beta
calories
77
fat
3g
protein
1g
carbs
12g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
Dietitian UK: Wheat/gluten free Gingerbread

DSC_3597

Fruit and Nut Balls (gluten free, wheat free, dairy free)

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to get my creative side out. A few weeks of my husband being tied up with things has meant I’ve been pretty much keeping the show on the road by running around like a juggling magician 😉 Keeping 2 small ones fed, vaguely clean, amused, pretending to have a tidy house and running 2 businesses is….. well busy. You know those moments when you are cooking dinner with a baby on your back in a sling, whilst helping the toddler find her prized possession and aware you are teaching Pilates in 10 minutes – well that. You know what, it’s tiring as heck, but I LOVE MY JOBS. 

So in preparation for another busy week myself and Miss K took full advantage of Master J napping, we busted our moves in the kitchen. In fits of excitement, under a watchful eye, Miss K pretty much made cheese straws on her own, meanwhile I knocked up these fruit and nut balls. They were so quick to make that she asked me – “Mummy, when did you make those?”.

Dietitian Uk: Fruit and Nut Balls

My food processor is on it’s very last legs but it just managed to grind the nuts and seeds (hint hint Santa). If you don’t have a food processor a coffee grinder would work, bash them in a pestle and mortar chop them nice and small. The resulting mix will be sticky and slightly oily as the fruit and nuts release their goodness.

Fruit and Nut Balls
Yields 20
Cranberry, date, almond, walnut and sunflower seeds make a health-filled snack perfect to boost your energy levels for on-the-go people.
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
242 calories
22 g
0 g
17 g
6 g
2 g
50 g
1 g
14 g
0 g
14 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
50g
Yields
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 242
Calories from Fat 141
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
26%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 9g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 1mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 22g
7%
Dietary Fiber 4g
16%
Sugars 14g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
5%
Iron
7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 200g walnuts
  2. 200g almonds
  3. 200g sunflower seeds
  4. 200g dried cranberries
  5. 200g dates
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until the nuts are in small pieces.
  2. Now 1tbsp at a time, squeeze in your hands and roll into balls.
  3. Place onto a plate and put in the fridge. You can eat them straight from the fridge or after an hour remove and place in a tub/tin lined with greaseproof paper.
beta
calories
242
fat
17g
protein
6g
carbs
22g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Healthier Chocolate Beetroot Brownies: wheat free, gluten free.

I love a chocolate brownie, who doesn’t? But they so often just don’t agree with me. Due to having Crohns diease I have to e wheat free and I can’t tolerate too much fat.  For ages I have been meaning to play around with making a lighter, healthier, wheat free version of a brownie. Finally, one Friday night, after teaching Pilates and doing ballet, I had the moment I needed. That chocolately, cakey craving. 

Now I like beetroot, but only in small quantities. This is definitely a good way to use beetroot if you grow your own or get a glut given to you. In fact it may be the best way to cook with beetroot 😉 It really is surprisingly nice. I may even have to grow beetroot next year just to make it again. 

Dietitian UK: Healthier Chocolate, Beetroot Brownies

Any other good beetroot recipes, please do share.

Chocolate Beetroot Brownies
Yields 20
Simple beetroot chocolate brownies, the hardest bit is cooking and peeling the beetroot if you use it from fresh!
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Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
145 calories
20 g
30 g
7 g
2 g
4 g
58 g
28 g
14 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
58g
Yields
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 145
Calories from Fat 61
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
11%
Saturated Fat 4g
20%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 30mg
10%
Sodium 28mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 20g
7%
Dietary Fiber 2g
8%
Sugars 14g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
3%
Vitamin C
2%
Calcium
2%
Iron
6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 500g beetroot
  2. 100g dark chocolate
  3. 100g unsalted butter
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 200g sugar
  6. 100g flour
  7. 50g cocoa
Instructions
  1. Cook the beetroot by boiling for 10-15 minutes until you can stick a knife in and it is soft. Leave it to cool and then peel with gloves on! A messy job.
  2. Place the beetroot in a food processor and blit, then place in a sieve and press out any excess fluid, or you will get soggy brownies!
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate, I used the microwave, heating for 30 seconds at a time and stirring until it was melted.
  4. Now mix the beetroot and chocolate mix together.
  5. Beat the eggs and sugar together separately and then add these to the chocolate mix.
  6. Finally fold the flour and cocoa into the mixture.
  7. Pour into a greased, lined tray.
  8. Bake at Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes
beta
calories
145
fat
7g
protein
2g
carbs
20g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Myths about Dietitians.

Over the years I’ve had many reactions to telling people that I’m a dietitian. Usually I get asked lots of questions about foods such as “Are bananas good for you” and “Uh Oh I’m eating chocolate” to “How good is …… (insert the latest “superfood” here)” along with “I’m on the ……. diet”.

Dietitian UK: Myths about dietitians

I find people tend to make funny presumptions about dietitans, so here are some of the ones that just aren’t true…

1. You must be a vegetarian. I loose count of the number of people who assume I am vegetarian. The best was being refused a taster of a meaty food at a supermarket because the store assistants assumed I was a vegetarian. Bizarre as they knew nothing about me. Apparently I look like a vegetarian. So my question is: “What does a vegetarian look like?” Either I look like I may be anaemic or I look like I’m full of amazing plant protein?

Actually I used to be a vegetarian as a teenager and I would be one now if I lived alone and if sausages didn’t exist 😉 We eat meat a few times a week in our house and eat plenty of vegetarian meals too. I do agree that eating plant-based protein is a healthier  and more sustainable way to eat, so I would encourage people to eat less meat.

2. No cake for you. I lose countof the number of hilarious occasions when people have bypassed me and not offered me cake/chocolate/sweets thinking that I wouldn’t eat them. Now there are lots of foods I cannot eat as I am wheat intolerant but I do enjoy a treat from time to time, all things in moderation is my mantra. All dietitians like cake, it’s in our code of conduct 😉 in fact at the British Dietetic Association Annual dinner this year the dessert was not a fruit salad… but a chocolate brownie with ice-cream. Cake is a once a week treat in our house. Homemade healthier flapjacks… now that’s a whole different story!

3. You must like diets. As soon as I say that I’m a dietitian people love to talk to me about the lastest diets they are on. However in actual fact I am anti-diet. I literally sigh inside when people start with “Oh great, I’m on the …. diet, you must know all about that” Lets avoid the fad diets and just eat healthily please.

4. You always go for the skinny option. Now I admit, most of the time I do chose the healthier option. I like the 80/20 rule where you eat healthily 80% of the time and allow yourself some more relaxed eating 20% of the time. So although I may not eat that piece of cake and do choose a camomile tea over a latte, it is not always the case. 

5. You must be super healthy. Hmmm. I would say that depends on what you call super healthy. I eat a healthy well balanced diet and exercise regularly (I teach 12 pilates classes a week for starters), but I also eat dark chocolate, drink wine and eat crisps 😉 In my mind this is all balanced and healthy, in your mind it may not be 😉

Dietitian’s. Usually very into cooking, food, cake and science. Not that into fads, diets and avoidance.

Pilates: the best workout you can do.

Ok so I must declare I am completely biased as I am not only a Pilates fanatic and a Pilates teacher but I am also a Pilates studio owner. As a dietitian I know that only focusing on eating a healthy diet will only give me half the results that I want. In order to keep my body in tip top condition I need to get active too. Pilates ticks most of the activity boxes for me as includes whole body toning, abdominal strengthening and it addresses postural issues. It isn’t fast paced and full of cardio but there are some cardio elements to it, you can certainly work up a light sweat and I combine it with other cardio activities. 

Dietitian UK: Pilates, the best form of exercise?

Top 5  Reasons to do Pilates:

1. It will help your posture – stand taller, help with rounded shoulders, curved spines and it will show you how to correct yourself in day to day activities.

2. That bad back will definitely thank you. By improving your core strength you will support your lower back and help your whole body move in a more functional manner.

3. Pilates uses body weight exercises so you get some resistance training thrown in too – think press ups, side planks and tricep dips. 

4. It will improve any other exercise you do. When you realise what you need to correct in your posture it carries over to other parts of life. A stronger core will help in other exercise too.

5. It can be done anywhere and doesn’t need lots of fancy equipment.

If you fancy giving Pilates a go then check out my DVD.

WheatGrass: The Grass is always Greener … or is it?

Wheat Grass was discovered in the 1930’s by Charles Schnabel a.k.a “Mr Wheatgrass” He used it to nurse dying hens back to health, they not only got better but started prodcuing more eggs. So what is it and is it as good for humans as it is for chickens?

Wheat grass is a mix of grains in their sprouting stage, its not always gluten free, so take caution over this if you are a coeliac.

Wheatgrass

Nutrition:

The claims are it has a higher nutritional content than any other vegetable (1 oz is better than 1kg fresh veggies), but actually tests show that claim in not correct, wheatgrass it is equivalent to lots of other green veggies gram for gram. It contains vitamins A, C and E – the antioxidants that fight disease, ageing and inflammation along with iron, calcium and magnesium. 2oz provides 10%  of your folate and vitamin E and 20% of your iron needs for the day.

The research:

Only small scale studies have been done on wheatgrass and so athough there are sone positive results we have to say the evidence in inconclusive at present.

 A small study showed positive results in ulcerative colitis but this really was a small study! 

Conclusion:  

There is no proof that wheatgrass is a miracle food or better than other greens but it does contain plenty of goodness and do if you like it add it in to smoothies and recipes to boost their nutritional content. To get the best from your diet aim to eat a range of different fruit and vegetables to get a range of micronutrients.

Fussy Eating: Is it a stage?

There seem to be stages in a child’s development when they go through a more fussy stage. I often see questions in parenting groups about fussy eaters and having 2 children on my own I’ve been through a few fussy eating stages myself. There does seem to be a pattern.

Dietitian UK: Baby Eats Salmon and Spring Vegetable Risotto

 So why may a child have a stage of fussy eating?

  1. Teething. If their mouth hurts it fairly likely it will affect their eating. They may want to choose softer foods or want more milk and less solids. My daughter used to go back to only wanting puree for a few days. If you know they are teething, go with it, offer softer, soothing foods. Try soups, yoghurt, rice pudding, soft cereals, porridge fingers, scrambled egg, fruit purees. 
  2. It can be a developmental stage. For some children when they are learning something new it can affect their sleep, their need for cuddles and closeness and/or their eating. It is usually just a stage.
  3. They may be feeling unwell. Not wanting to eat is often an initial sign for me that my children may be coming down with a bug or are off-colour. Trying to force them to eat can be detrimental. I remember encouraging my daughter to finish her breakfast as we were going out on a long day trip… she vomited 3 times in the car!
  4. Eating for Attention? For some children they know the link between parents wanting them to eat healthily and getting more attention if they don’t. 
  5. A reaction to something else that is going on. Eating and choosing not to eat is one of the few things that young children have any control over. If they are upset about something or there has been a big change in life they may respond by communicating via their eating. 

Top Tips:

  1. Don’t stress out. Be as calm and composed about it as you can be.Your reaction is key. You child will be watching you. Getting upset or cross about their eating will not be helpful. I find it helpful to ask if there is a reason my children don’t want to eat something. Sometime it is a simple reason like it isn’t the right temperature or it has a mark on it. Easily fixed.
  2. If you are in a calm mood try negotiating that they try a few mouthfuls, but don’t let it get stressful. 
  3. Don’t make another meal. If mine do not eat dinner they can have 1 yoghurt and that is it. If they are hungry they know to eat what I’ve made. 
  4. Be a good role model. I can’t stress this enough. Children are sponges, they watch everything, they repeat everything. If you don’t eat vegetables how can you expect them to?
  5. This too will pass. If it is a phase then ride it out. If they are ill or tired that will pass. If it goes on for longer than a few weeks start to ask questions. You can always seek the advice of a dietitian. They are the experts.

I don’t want cereal for breakfast Mummy.

My almost 4 year old has been telling me eating cereal in the morning hurts her tummy. Ideally I like my kids to have cereal as the ones on offer in our house are wholegrain, full of fibre and provide a range of vitamins and minerals. The research shows us that cereals are a great breakfast choice. However I also know it’s not worth forcing this type of issues with an almost 4 year old. So we are experimenting with different breakfasts. It may just be she is bored with cereal, or her tummy may be hurting for many reasons as like me she does sense things through her tummy it seems! Either way we have embraced this as a good opportunity to try out some different breakfast ideas.

Face pancake

Top favourites have been:
Crumpets with marmite and apple wedges plus a milky hot chocolate.

Pancakes with grapes and raisins and yoghurt on the side to dip in.

Toast with peanut butter, sliced banana and a glass of warm milk.

As you can see I always encourage my kids have fruit and a portion of dairy with their breakfast.

After a few weeks of different breakfasts Miss K has now gone back to porridge. It seems that tummy issue wasn’t cereal related after all 😉  Often if there is a food issue you are a bit concerned about ignoring it and working with your child will make it far easier for them to come round to your way of seeing things!