Gluten free eating has been bang on trend recently. Why? There is a thought that gluten affects weight, causes bloating and is commonly poorly digested. However, often it is not actually gluten that is the issue. There can be several other explanations, for example: large portions of carbohydrate foods can cause bloating, just because of the amount of food in one sitting. In those suffering from IBS, the issue is unlikely to be gluten, but that of FODMAPS, which include wheat, lactose, beans, pulses, plus certain fruits and vegetables. Another key reason can be the overall diet. Eating a diet that is high in packaged, processed foods can cause symptoms that then disappear when you remove gluten. Why? Because why gluten is removed, your whole diet changes. It is not gluten that is always the culprit, take a look at this clip from Food Truth or Scare for more.
Gluten free foods can be: 👉 lower in fibre. 👉 higher in fat. 👉higher in sugars 👉higher in calories. 👉lower in B vitamins. 👉lower in iron 👉often they are not wholegrain.
Therefore gluten free foods are not healthier! Of course if you are gluten free for medical reasons you may need to have these foods but you can also use grains such as buckwheat and quinoa to provide your wholegrains. So it also doesn’t mean you can’t have a great healthy diet and be gluten free, it just require more planning and thought. Top advice: only go gluten-free if you absolutely need to.
I love media work and am of the opinion that dietitians and registered nutritionists need to be shouting the right nutrition messages out on the air waves and in the press. Not only so the public hear good nutrition advice, but also so the public know who to turn to for that advice. Google can bring up all kinds of wierd, wacky and dodgy advice. Social media is full of everyone and anyone shouting their nutrition messages out. Working with the media can be a way to push the experts to view.
So therefore I was more than happy to pop in and chat to Sasha Twinings at BBC Radio Solent about nutrition and to answer some of her listeners questions live.
Here is a little snippet of our chat. We cover IBS and fermented foods.
According to those in the know these are some of the food trends coming our way in 2017. In my cynical mind this usually means things to be wary of or foods that will become super expensive. However there are also some interesting new foods on the horizon which I’m looking forward to trying.
Meaning any drink, juice, potion, shot or magical elixir that can boost your health. This year the money is on using alternative medicine’s roots, shoots and leaves. Products such as maca, holy basil, apple cider vinegar, medicinal mushrooms and kava are tipped to be added into the mix.
Priya says: These alternative medicines are alternative as we don’t have enough research and evidence to prove their benefits. A lot of these drinks are unlikely to contain enough of these ingredients to have a benefit on the body and are likely to be a marketing ploy. There may be some good ones out there, but remember that water is always the best drink to be having, follow that up with plenty of fruit and veggies to pack yourself a wellness punch.
Using up the byproducts
The waste from making products will be turned into new products. For example using the leftover water from chickpeas as an egg replacement or the left over whey from making Greek yoghurt to create a probiotic drink.
Priya says: I like this. We need to cut down on our food waste, using all the leftovers is a brilliant idea. It is what I try to do in my kitchen and we are all encouraged to do it, so why shouldn’t food manufacturers try too?
Yes the humble coconut is still hot to trot in 2017 with novel products continuing to come out. Tortilla wraps, butter, ice-creams, coconut flour and sugar are all set to be popular. I just hope there are enough coconuts being grown to support this craze.
Priya says: Whilst there is nothing wrong with coconut, in fact it is very nutritious, I do have an issue with it being over-used. We do not need to be having coconut versions of everything and adding coconut oil to foods when it is not needed. Coconut products such as sugar and flour do have some good features such as their low glycaemic index, however the coconut is high in saturated fat and so with all foods it is best to consume it in moderation and wisely.
All things Japanese
Sushi has been popular for a while (it’s one of my children’s fav meals). Now in 2017 Japanese condiments, pickles and different types of seaweed are coming our way. Mirin, Miso, sesame oil and plum vinegar may not be unheard of in your kitchen but are set to be more popular in our store cupboards.
Nori is already available in the supermarkets, but more seaweeds such as kelp, wake and dulse are set to follow suit. I personally would love it if there was more of a trend for foraging these for ourselves. Now who wants to show me which seaweed I can pick up off the beach and how to use it?
Priya says: Savoury Japanese flavours such a matcha tea, green tea, azuki bean and mochi are likely to be popping up in recipes for cakes, desserts and breakfasts. All in all I’m excited about this one and look forward to trying new combinations out.
Condiments look like they will be big news in 2017. With rare, traditional and new flavours of sauces and dips coming out. Apparently we have pomegranate molasses, beet salsa, mexican hot chocolate spread, plum jam with chia seeds and habanero jam.
Priya says: These all sound exciting but may not fit with the current thinking on reducing sugar intake as many condiments are high in sugar content. Again it is all about how much of these products you have and how often you use them. They can certainly bring flavour and interest to a meal, just remember that a little can go a long way.
Alternative grain pasta
Ancient and different grains have been increasing in popularity. Partially fuelled by the clean eating brigade, plant based eaters and the gluten free movement. Quinoa, lentils, chickpeas flour are making popular noodles. Also spiralized veggies will continue to rise and seaweed noodles are set to make headlines.
Priya says: It is great to have all this variety. Using different grains is great at it brings more variety into the diet and with that, a broader way to get good quality nutrition into the diet. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with wheat based pasta, using these other forms of noodles opens up things for people on vegetarian, gluten free and specialist diets plus it makes it more interesting when making meals.
If you like purple then you are in for a treat as purple cauliflower, black rice, asparagus, carrots, elderberries, beetroot, corn and potatoes are the foods to watch in 2017.
Why purple? The colour indicates higher antioxidant content, it comes from anthocyanins which are action packed nutrients aiding in fighting ageing, cancer and chronic diseases. For example, purple potatoes are high in iron and antioxidants.
Priya says: Purple foods are an interesting trend and very nutritious so I would certainly recommend eating them. Hopefully this trend may helps make fruit and vegetables more appealing to some people and increase their intake of these foods. Remember that we need to eat a range of fruit and vegetables so focus on eating a rainbow and not just purple foods.
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.
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.
I love doing media work and this was especially fun as the radio crew came to me! We broadcast my part live from my lounge. Have a listen:
So normally I am not pro diets. However there is always an exception and this is it. The Mediterranean diet is the way I try to eat and drink. I prefer to call it an eating plan or a lifestyle rather than a diet. It is one of those diets that is good for your overall health and could have a great protective and preventative effect on chronic disease such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
There is some really good research on this way of eating. Large scale randomised trials conducted over a number of years with deent follow up. This is what we like. So the evidence shows that the Mediterranean diet definiately has good implicaitons for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For overall health it is a very good way to be eating.
The PREDIMED study followed 7447 people aged 55-80yrs who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), for 5 years. They were randomised to:
Mediterranean diet with 1 litre of olive oil a week
Mediterranean diet with 30g/d nuts
Low fat control group
The data has been analysed in a number of different studies. Here is my short summary.
These results were only significant in men and less than expected but still show the benefits of the Med diet for heart diease.
Salas-Salvado et al (2008) looked at the data from 1224 people after 1 year of the diet. 61.4% of people at the start had Metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, raised blood sugar levels and blood lipid levels) and found:
6.7% reduction in metabolic syndrome in the olive oil group
13.7% reduction in the nuts group, which was statiscally significant. So a Med diet with nuts may have reveress metabolic syndrome.
Monteserrat et al (2007) looked at 372 of the subjects at the 3 month marker and found the levels of LDL cholesterol reduced in the Mediterranean diet groups. The high levels of antioxidants in the diet was concluded to the be cause of this. Olive oil, nuts, fruit, vegetables and legume intake was all increased in the Meditteranean diet groups and all these foods contain antioxidants.
Blood sugars were looked at in 772 people at 3 months bu Estruch et al (2006). They found in the Med groups:
Blood sugars reduced
Systolic blood pressure reduced
Total:HDL cholesterol reduced
C reactive protein reduced (a marker of inflammation).
Looking at type 2 diabetes, Salas-Salvado (2011) found the risk was overall reduced by 52% in those on the Med diets. Only 10-11% of people on the Mediterrrean diets developed type 2 diabetes compared to 17.9% in the control group.
Lyon Heart Study:
The Lyon Heart Study is another good quality piece of research. 605 middle aged subjects who had already had a heart attack were followed for 4 years and were randomised to either:
Mediterranean diet with an omega-3 rich margarine
Western style diet
The results showed:
72% reduction in death from heart disease
a reduced rate of recurrance of heart attacks
Esposito et al (2008) followed 180 patients with metabolic syndrome for 2.5 yrs. They were put on the Mediterranean diet or a low fat diet. At the end the Mediterranean group had lost more weight at 4.0kg compared to just 1.2kg in the low fat group. The Mediterranean diet group also had reduced the occurance of metabolic syndrome with only 44% of people still having it.
A Southampton dietitian has told Wave 105 how many parents are unaware of just how much sugar is in supposedly “healthy” fruit drinks for children.
Priya Tew is offering mums and dads advice on healthy alternatives to make sure their children are not exceeding their recommend daily intake (RDA) of sugar.
It comes as a new study shows many fruit drinks for children are “unacceptably high” in sugar.
The research, published in the journal BMJ Open 24th March 2016, found that 42% of fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies surveyed contained at least 19g of sugars, 5 tsp, this is almost a child’s entire maximum recommended intake per day.
Action on Sugar is asking for a reformulation programme to reduce sugar in children’s drinks by 50% in 5 years and restrict them to 150ml serving sizes. Only 6 products surveyed were found in 150ml servings, meaning children are likely to be consuming more.
“The research doesn’t surprise me. Although it [fruit juice] is high is natural sugar, it’s a very accessible form of sugar.
“I do think parents are unaware of how much added sugar there is in fruit juice and smoothies, and they’re seen as a healthy option. I would beg to differ on that. I think a healthy option for a drink for a child is water or milk, perhaps some no added sugar squash.
“If you’re going to give your child fruit juice then my advice would be to water it down, make it half juice and half water, and only have that as an occassional treat rather than a daily option.”
When processed into fruit juice drinks, the sugars (fructose) in the fruit cell walls are released as ‘free sugars’ which damage your teeth and provide unnecessary calories; you take in more calories without feeling full (i.e. A 200ml glass of orange juice can contain 3 oranges).
Co-author of the study Kawther Hashem, Registered Nutritionist and Researcher of Action on Sugar says:“It is highly concerning that many parents are still buying fruit juices and juice drinks for their children thinking they are choosing healthy products; children should be given as little juice as possible (maximum of 150ml/day).These juices rot children’s teeth and give children a ‘sweet tooth’ that will affect their general health in later life.
“What is more concerning are the products with added sugar and glucose-fructose syrup. We call on all manufacturers to stop adding more sugars to already sweet juices, particularly in children’s products and to restrict children’s drinks to only 150ml bottles/cartons.
“Our advice is to eat the fruit, don’t drink the juice.Juiceshould be an occasional treat, not an ‘everyday’ drink. These processed drinks are laden with sugars and calories and do not have the same nutritional benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables.”
So if you weren’t watching BBC1 on Thurs 25th Feb at 9.15am then where were you?
Oh yes, probably at work or out living life 😉
Well you missed watching me talking about red meat with Chris Bavin on the TV…. but don’t worry because if you are in the UK you can watch it back for the next 28 days or so. So get on over to BBC iplayer and check it out.
I would love to know your thoughts so please do leave me a comment.
This weekend has been busies that usual as I was asked to take part in some filming for a BBC2 new show. So as a family we travelled up early Saturday morning to the Chicago Rib Shack in Twickenham.
Filming for me is something I quite enjoy and when done in a relaxed manner is quite easy and natural to do. See my top tips below if you are getting involved in any filming work.
1. Do your research before hand. Find out what they want you to talk about, in what style and are there are key messages they would like you to convey. From this you can draft out your ideas or come up with a rough script.
2. Take a few outfits with you in case your first choice is not suitable!
3. Don’t expect it to be all glitz and glamour. You will probably have to do your own hair and make up and there can be quite a bit of standing around and waiting.
4. TV work is not usually well paid 😉
I spent 30 minutes talking, pointing and gesticulating towards a pile of red meat. What was great about this work was the opportunity to get a message out about red meat in a positive light, after the bad press.
My top points were:
1. Red meat is fine to eat as part of a healthy. balanced diet and I would encourage it. It is all about that word “moderation” once again. The guidance is we can eat 500g uncooked weight of red meat a week, so think about having it 2-3 times a week.
2. Protein, iron, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and vitamin D are all nutrients found in red meat.
3. Red meat can actually help with some health conditions such as anaemia. It contains haem iron which is easier for the body to absorb and use than non-haem iron in plant proteins.
Eye catching nutrients that have been in the media spotlight recently. All of which has caused great confusion for pretty much everyone.
I completely agree that people need to be educated about nutrition. Science needs to be shared. However what I’ve seen is a media frenzy and the wrong messages being shouted out, whilst the key message are swallowed up.
It very much feels like we have started focusing more on single nutrients instead of looking at our diets and lifestyles as a whole. It doesn’t add up to me. If we focus on reducing sugar then will this lead to not eating yoghurt and calcium levels dropping? Personally I do not sit down and add up how much sugar I have in a day. At least not on a regular basis. What I do look at is the balance of my diet. How many portions of fruit and veggies I eat, oily fish, whole grains, high fibre foods. Then I focus on eating whole unprocessed foods when possible and cooking from scratch. I drink water, tea with no sugar or herbal tea. Sugary snack foods are a treat food. For me it works.
I have clients who have spreadsheets detailing all their nutritional intake for the day. Pretty time consuming and confusing as when you try to make one nutrient balance the books another one slips up.
I’m not sure there is a perfect diet. I think it’s all about choosing sensible, achievable goals and working towards a sustainable healthier lifestyle. Small changes you can stick to.
Such as : Eat another 2 portions of veggies a day. Step away from the cereal bars and back to the fruit bowl with some nuts and seeds. Swap sugary soft drinks for a sugar free version, homemade fruit water, herbal tea or no added sugar squash. Build activity into your day, everyday.
Rant over. What are you doing to make achievable steps toward a healthier lifestyle?
I was asked to comment on it for a local radio station – Wave 105, you can listen to a snippet here:
The study ran from 2007-2010 and looked at over 900 picky eaters, aged 2-5 years of age. They found that children with severe fussy eating habits were more than twice as likely to have symptoms of depression or anxiety. Children with moderate fussy eating habits were more likely to suffer from ADHD and separation anxiety. Both groups of children were 1.7 times as likely to show symptoms of anxiety.
Now whilst this is an interesting study it is also one that could easily alarm parents. The key to note here is this study looked at children with moderate to severe fussy eating habits. All children go through fussy eating stages as part of their development. If you are concerned your child is not moving forward and is struggling long term with their eating patterns then think about approaching your health visitor, GP or seeing a dietitian.
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.