There is no perfect way to eat

There is no perfect way to eat. The more I learn about nutrition the more I am convinced of this. The science of nutrition is continually evolving, growing and being researched. We are learning all the time and it’s a lot more complex than it looks on the surface, but also there are simple steps we can take to eat well.
 
Things are not always in your control. Our tastebuds, culture, finances and social circumstances are just somethings that can affect how we eat. The good news is there is no perfect way to eat. There are many, many ways to eat a nutritious diet. It’s not about striving to be perfect or have the best meals. It’s about eating as well as you can with what you have. No guilt. No shame. No judgment.
 
 
Our bodies change and need different things at different stages of life, often our bodies are able to adapt and help with this. As a baby, a mums breastmilk will change depending on what the baby needs.  Teenage bodies are able to absorb more calcium than at any other time of life. In pregnancy our bodies adapt and will absorb more of certain nutrients such as iron to provide for the baby and changes in the body. Isn’t the body amazing, it knows what we need better than we do. So one of my top tips is to focus on trusting your body, listening to your body and learning what your internal cues feel like. What does hunger feel like to you when you are very hungry, a little hungry and not hungry at all? What cues does your body give you about the foods it needs? Do you get cravings or suddenly feel you are drawn to certain foods? Sometimes this can be due to the nutrients in these. For example craving vegetables after a trip away when you have eaten differently, or craving salty foods when you haven’t had any salt for some time. 
 
My favoured approach in my eating disorder work is to focus on reaching a healthy state and not a healthy weight. On reconnecting with your body and not ignoring it’s signals. This can be very hard to do and a long journey. It’s not all about the numbers on the scales. Sometimes shifting the focus away from weight can make a huge difference.  There is no perfect way to eat or perfect way to recover from an eating disorder, but we do have amazing bodies that can help us discover the right way for us. 

If you need any help with this then do get in touch. 

Bacon, Chard and Rosemary Pasta

Swiss chard is such an easy veggie to grow and it gives you back time after time. Plant a few seeds, water and care for a few plants lovingly and you will find you always have bountiful supply. 

Some interesting chard facts.

  • Swiss chard was discovered by a Swiss botanist – hence it’s name.  
  • It is a member of the goosefoot family, called this due to the leaves looking like a goose foot.
  • Chard is packed with nutrition including vitamins A,C, K plus magnesium, potassium, iron and fibre.

So the question is what to do with it? The great news is it goes in virtually everything. I’ve added baby leaves to smoothies, savoury muffins and scones. Then use it like you would spinach in dhal, stir fry and omelette. Or wash it and freeze, I’m totally up for an easy life and don’t cook it before freezing. I find it works fine to add to casseroles and other meals where you add as it cooks.

One of the easy summer recipes I sometimes pull out the back of my mind when the chard patch and my mind are overflowing, and I need to cook but also need a break – this chard and pasta dish. It works so well. The rosemary gives it a warm lift and the bacon adds the saltiness, plus it means my children eat it. Now my boy isn’t a fan of his greens, but will eat this meal all up. It goes to show sometimes it is what a food is paired with that matters.

I let my children decide their own portions of this meal and eat according to appetite. My eldest girl after a busy day at school had seconds, my boy cleared his plate and was satisfied. My toddler ate off my plate too! 

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Bacon, Chard and Rosemary Pasta

Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 150 g bacon chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200 g chard leave it whole
  • 150 g mushrooms chopped
  • seasoning
  • 300 g pasta

Instructions

  1. Chop up the bacon, remove the fat and heat a non stick pan. Then cook the bacon for a few minutes.

  2. Add the rosemary and garlic, stir round to release the the flavours.

  3. Next add the chopped tomatoes and allow to come to a simmer.

  4. Cook the pasta.

  5. Wash the chard, chop any huge leaves. Place into the pan and allow it to wilt down.

  6. Chop the mushrooms and add these to the pan, allow the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and put the lid on. 

  7. When the pasta is ready mix the sauce in and serve.

Gingerbread energy balls

One of the questions I get asked a lot is for healthy snack ideas. Walking around the shops there is a plethora of snack items but so many of them are expensive items that you can make yourself in batches with a little knowhow and patience. Energy balls are one such item. Often sold for £1.50-£1 a portion, these can be made a lot cheaper at home. See my analysis below.  Whilst there are a lot of energy ball recipes out there on the internet this one is so delicious that I had to share it. I love having snacks  like these to hand for instant snacking and even better, these freeze well. My boy also loves making these with me.

Perfect mid morning snack for me between clients and an afternoon snack for the kids at a much better cost than buying from the shops.

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Gingernut Energy Balls

Ingredients

  • 100 g unsalted cashew nuts
  • 100 g dates
  • 25 5 oats
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

Recipe Notes

Blitz up the cashews, oats and dates in a food processor or grinder. I do this in batches as my grinder is smalll. You may need to stop grinding and stir it around a bit from time to time.

Put the mixture into a bowl, add in the ginger and stir.

Now roll into balls and roll in the sesame seeds (if wanted).

Store in a tin, the fridge or freeze.

 

Costing = £2.20 for 10 balls (5 portions for an adult)

100g cashews £1.10

100g dates 66p

25g oats 27p

1 tbsp sesame seeds 9p

1 tsp ginger 8p

 

Low Carb Diets

Today has been all about carbohydrates as a new study was published in the Lancet. I’ve spoken on ITV new  and Wave 105 radio about it and  video/audio clips are at the end.

So what’s the low down?  This is a controversial topic as low carb diets have become popular. I’m not against this, but I do think it needs to be properly thought through and planned out. Low carb diets are used by some dietitians clinically for diabetes control, weight loss and for some metabolic disorders. However there is a way to do it right. Let’s break the latest study down:

👉 This was an observational study and it used food frequency questionnaires, so not the best data as this is self reported after the event. It is easy to forget what you eat or under/over-estimate. However the study  was followed over 25 yrs  with over 15,000 people taking part.

👉 A U-shaped relationship was found with increased mortality on a high carb or low carb diet. Low carb being <30% calories coming from carbohydrates. High carb being >60% calories coming from carbohydrates.

👉Eating moderate carbs (50-55% of total calories) was shown to be best. This is what our UK guidlines are based on so we already advise this. 

👉 Swapping carbs for plant based fats and proteins has better outcomes compared to animal products. So if you reduce your carbs it does matter what you replace them with.

👉 This study didn’t look at the type of carbs eaten. We want to be eating #wholegrains and reducing refined carbs (unless you have a medical reason to eat a low fibre diet).

👉 Eating lower carb may help weight loss and with diabetic control but it’s all about balance. Not overdoing it and taking all carbs out. Choose sensible sized portions of wholegrain carbs with meals.

👉 Everyone is individual. If you are more active you may need more carbs. If you are recovering from an eating disorder you may need more carbs. If you on a special diet you may need less carbs. If any of that applies to you then seek advice from a #Dietitan or #registerednutritionist.

One big issue that comes out of all of this is we keep on focusing on individual nutrients. It is not helpful to break food down and count the grams you are eating or the calories from each nutrient and could be triggering for an eating disorder. Food is complex, it is made up of many nutrients some of which we can’t even give a precise measure of. So once again we come back to common sense nutrition, eating sensible portions of balanced meals and listening to your internal cues of hunger/fullness.

 

Book a Consultation

Priya provides one to one consultations from her home consultation rooms in Southampton or online using video calls or phone consultations. See below for the types of issues Priya can help with. Skype/Zoom video calls provide a more flexible way to see Priya face to face but from the comfort of your own home. The software for this is free to use. The majority of Priya’s work is done this way as she works with clients all over the country and internationally too. She also offers dietary analysis via email where a thorough analysis is conducted on your food diary and a report emailed back to you.

As everyone is different and needs differing levels of support Priya does not have a set way of working. However she does work from a non-diet and intuitive eating background. This is based on the concepts that diets do not lead to long term change and that it is better to focus on changing health behaviours rather than just diet and a weight focus.  Retuning your body to listen to its hunger and fullness cues, learning to respect your body and listen to its needs can be a longer route but leads to lasting changes for life.

A initial consultation lasts up to 1 hour and includes an in-depth review of your current and previous diet and food related problems plus your weight and medical history. From this information Priya will give education, advice and help you set goals that are realistic and achievable. All advice is individualised and tailor-made for you. You will receive an email summarising the agreed goals set  along with any agreed information. This may include a meal plan, worksheets or educational literature.

Follow-up sessions can be booked and last for up to 30 minutes. The number of sessions you will need will totally depend on your needs. 

Prices: £95 for an initial consultation and £65 for follow ups.

Package: £260 for 1 x initial consultation and 3 x follow up sessions.

Email dietary analysis with report £65

Eating Disorders:

Priya is renown for her expertise in this subject and the majority of her clients will have an eating disorder. She takes a holistic approach, not just looking at nutrition in isolation but helps clients to look at the wider issues too. Many of Priya’s clients have worked with the NHS and need further support or have not met the criteria for NHS input. If you do not think you have an eating disorder but know your approach to food is not as it should be, then get in touch. Working as part of a team of specialists Priya can recommend a therapist for you to work with or can liase and work with your current therapy team as well as your GP. She works with the Wings Eating Disorders Unit in Romsey and also as part of the Marchwood Priory team. If you need help getting your eating back on track Priya is here to help with education, meal planning, practical help, support and an understanding ear.

Weaning Consultations

One of Priya’s specialist and much loved areas – book a weaning consultation for advice, recipes, top tips and support to help you get your baby off to a wonderful start with food. Having weaned 3 children herself Priya has first hand experience as well as the evidence case and the research to support her advice. If you are struggling with fussy eating Priya can also help with this. Family meal planning and suppoprt can also be supported.

IBS:

Priya can help with advice and support for those with IBS, this includes the low FODMAP diet which is a specialist diet that should be followed under dietetic supervision.

Other consultations topics Priya can help with include:  Chronic Fatigue, Learning Disabilities, Family Meals,  Anaemia, Osteoporosis, brain injury and achieving a healthy balanced diet. If you have another dietary issues please do contact Priya to discuss. If Priya is not able to help she can help point you to someone who can.

Some private medical insurance companies cover dietetic consultations, please check with your insurer. Priya is registered with AXA, AVIVA, WPA, BUPA, Exeter Family, Allianz and Pru Health.

Testimonial:

“The support Priya provided to help me gain weight and overcome an eating disorder was above and beyond what I would expect from a dietician. We met regularly and she never failed to surprise me with creative and interesting ideas to introduce variety into my diet and ensure that the weight gain process was as exciting and smooth as it could be. She encouraged me to face my eating disorder head on and used her incredibly extensive and detailed knowledge on nutrition to challenge disordered thinking. Her holistic approach has been so integral to my recovery that I cannot thank her more! I’d recommend working with Priya to anyone, as her caring, enthusiastic and creative approach is something you don’t find easily.” 

Quick, Tasty Beef Stir Fry – Eat Well for Less

Stir Fry is one of those meals we make a lot at home. It is fast food, easy to make and satisying. This one, made on Eat Well for Less uses frying steak which is quick to cook due to it’s thinness and cheaper than other cuts.  Top tip – you don’t want to overcook this so having all your ingredients pre chopped and ready for action is a good idea.

This is one of those recipes you can make your own. Adding bamboo shoots and beansprouts would give it a nice Chinese style touch, or add any other veggies you have.

Use gluten free soy sauce  and stock cube to make this a gluten free meal.

Red meat is important for iron and zinc intake, something that we know is an issue for teenage girls and young women. This can then be exacerbated if you become pregnant. So whilst red meat is sometimes frowned upon, this recipe provides a great way to include it in your weeks meal plan.

I’ve modified it from the version on the show, scaling it down to serve 4 people rather than 6. 

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Easy Beef Stir Fry

Servings 4 adults

Ingredients

  • 300 g basmati rice
  • 1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 400 g frying steak
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 40 g cashew nuts
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thumb sized piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 small bunch coriander
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain the rice. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the  basmati, stir well then cook according to the packet instructions.


  2. Heat a wok over a high heat until hot, add half the oil and when it’s just smoking, add the beef. Sprinkle with cornflour and stir-fry until browned all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.


  3. Stir-fry the cashews until just golden-brown then set aside with the beef.


  4. Carefully wipe the wok until clean using kitchen roll. Bring to a high heat and add the remaining oil. Once hot, add the red onion and fry for 1–2 minutes, or until just soft. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute


  5. Half fill the kettle and bring to the boil. Add the broccoli, soy and oyster sauce to the wok and mix well. Add the vegetable stock cube with 400ml/14fl oz boiling water and bring to the boil, stirring well. Cover with a lid (use kitchen foil if you don't have a suitable pan lid) and cook for 2 minutes or until the broccoli is just tender (you don’t want to lose the bright green colour).


  6. Add in beansprouts, bamboo shoots if wanted at this stage.



  7. Stir the cooked beef and cashews through the sauce and heat for a minute. Scatter over the coriander and serve immediately with the cooked, drained rice.

Foods for Gut Health

Gut issues are something that plague a lot, if not all of us at some stage of life. Whether it is travellers diarrhoea, a tummy bug, IBS or something more serious, our gut plays a key role in our overall health and it’s pretty complicated science. So here is a little overview of top gut health foods and some science that I think is pretty fascinating.

Gut-Brain Cross Talk 

We all know that our brain send signals to our guts. When you are hungry or about to eat, the brain sends signals so the gut can get ready and start the necessary secretions.

However the gut also has an impact on the brain and a control centre of it’s own.  This is known as a the Gut-brain axis. You will know that if you feel anxious or stressed it can have an impact on your tummy. You may feel this as butterflies or have an upset tummy before a job interview for example. Or have a gut feeling on something – this isn’t made up! Some people can be more sensitive to their guts than others, but in terms of health conditions there are some foods that we can eat to help our guts. 

Research has shown that stress, anxiety and disease states affect the balance of bacteria and microbes in the gut.  This could be an illness or something like a job stress or family event.  For some this will not be lasting, but for some it is. As an example my boy had a stomach bug and this led to lactose intolerance which is usually transient and passes after a few weeks, for him it has lasted but I hope as he grows older it will pass. 

Some people seem more resilient than others. Having a health gut microbiome could help with this, we don’t currently know but research is being conducted on this. It makes sense though that eating well is a logical step.

What is the Microbiome?

Microbiome – collect of bacteria, fungi, viruses and microbes plus their genetic material that are inside the intestines. The microbiome contains 10x more microbial cells than all the humans cells in the body. 

Good Gut Foods:

A top tip I heard recently from Dr Megan Rossi is to aim to eat 30 plant based foods a week. This includes wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables. I counted mine up and I think I’m hitting 20 different types so have some work to do! If like me, you aren’t at the 30 mark then try adding in one new plant based food a week. Whenever you shop you could take a look at something different in the veggie aisle you don’t usually buy. I’ve started growing different veggies to make us used them and try new recipes. You want different colours and different types to get the range of prebiotics, fibres and antioxidants too. 

Fermented Foods:

I’ve been working on incorporating these into my own diet more as I’ve have a gut condition and when it is flared up it usually reminds me to attend to my gut microbiome. 

Foods that I try to make at home are live yoghurt, sometimes kefir and sourdough bread (if I am in a baking mood as it takes a while). Right now I’m in yoghurt mode. I heat the milk until I can just keep my finger in for 30 seconds. Then let it cool for a couple of minutes, stir in 3 tbsps of live yoghurt and leave it in a thermos flask (I have this one – but I don’t use their sachets) or somewhere warm for 8-12 hours. I like mine thick so leave it 12 hours.  I used to make yoghurt years ago as a student using a pyrex jug, leaving it covered with a tea cosy on the parcel shelf of my car in the sun! You can also buy Kefir in a lot of places and there are plenty of other fermented foods to try.

Fermented Foods
Kefir
Kombucha
Live yoghurt
Sauerkraut
Kimchi
Dry fermented sausage
Miso
Pickled foods

Probiotics:

Theses are the beneficial microbes that can help health benefits and alter your microbiome. They are known as  live cultures in foods. For example live yoghurt. Now whilst they can be bought as a supplement the problem is unless you know exactly which ones you need in your body you don’t know which ones to take. There is a probiotic guides that show the strains used in research studies that give benefits in different conditions, which can be useful when you need an idea of what to take, the amount and for how long. But we definitely need more research to enable us to be more specific. 

Prebiotics:

These are foods for the gut bacteria. Fibre, polyphenols and inulin being examples of the nutrients that help. There are loads of prebiotic foods and it is likely you are already eating some. They are the plant based foods – so increase these in your diet and you will be helping your gut. Examples include Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onion, asparagus, legumes, leeks, bananas, apples, oats, barley, flaxseeds and even seaweed.

If you want to read a more in depth article that I have written for a nutrition magazine on this topic then do take a look here:

Issue 126 fermented foods IBS and microbiome

 

 

Who is Priya?

Priya is a dietitian, mum of 3 and Pilates teacher with a wealth of experience. She has worked in the NHS, in private practice, with the media, writing articles, with food brands and businesses.  Qualified in 2005 she had an unusual start to her career as she couldn’t get a NHS job. As often happens this turned out to be the push into freelance work she needed. She also runs a thriving pilates studio in Southampton and has her own range of Pilates DVDs. 

So what  is she passionate about?

Breaking down the science into realistic, everyday tips, recipes and knowledge bombs that you can take away and use straight away.

Getting the right nutrition information out there. There is so much rubbish on the internet and it can be so hard to know what to believe. We need the experts giving the correct evidence.

Cooking healthy, balanced meals. Being a mum of 3 means she totally understand the trials and tribulations family life entails. Being able to throw together some simple ingredients to make a meal that is tasty and nutritious is so important. Priya cooks as much as she can from scratch, but it has to fast and easy to do.

Getting the children cooking too and teaching them about how to eat, how to listen to their bodies and how fun it is to be active too.

Teaching people to eat intuitively. Tuning back into hunger, fullness and what to eat, when. It isn’t a quick journey but it is well worth it.

Working on a 1-1 basis with those who are struggling with an eating disorder, chronic fatigue or IBS. Priya also offers advice on pregnancy nutrition, weaning and feeding your family.

If you need any help as an individual do see my consultations page or drop me an email: priya@dietitianuk.co.uk or if you are a food brand/PR/Media team see some of my other work here and do also get in touch and I’d be delighted to help.

 

Eggs, a natural sleep aid?

There has been some chatter this week about eggs helping you sleep better. As a nation we are certainly not sleeping enough and not getting enough decent sleep. So can an egg help?

Personally I think eggs are amazing and underlooked. They are packed with nutrition in such a small space. Eggs are around 60-78kcals depending on their size. They are great protein source and also contain a whole range of micronutrients. With vitamin D to help top up those sunshine vitamin levels, Iron and zinc which specifically can be low in teenage girls and young women. Then B vitamins for energy release (we all need that). Thinking about brain development, pre-conception nutrition and pregnancy they contain folate, selenium and iodine too. So they are definitely something to be eating regularly, even daily.

Eggs are low in terms of glycaemic index so can help stabilise your blood sugars too. Back to the sleep. Eggs contain tryptophan which is an essential amino acid that acts as a natural sedative. The body can use it to make melatonin and serotonin, these aid our sleep.  The synthesis of serotonin from tryptophan derives from a two-step process with the rate of serotonin synthesis dependent on tryptophan concentrations in the brain. Because serotonin is involved in the regulation of mood and anxiety, eating eggs  may contribute to helping with anxiety and depression as well as sleep. 

Eating an egg along with carbohydrate help to decrease the other competing amino acids in the bloodstream due to the increase of insulin that occurs. So a great way to have your egg would be with a slice of wholemeal toast. 

Further Reading:

Eggs are good: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27126575

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-5993327/Dietitian-reveals-one-sleep-aid-eat-dinnertime-quality-shut-eye.html

A great review on diet and sleep: http://www.michaelgrandner.com/files/papers/grandnerjackson2013-dietsxs.pdf

 

 

Eat Well for Less: Healthier cheesecakes.

Cheesecake. It’s tasty, but it can be pretty high in calories. Now whilst I totally do not advocate calorie counting regularly, I do like having healthier alternatives to foods like this that mean I can make them without it being an extravagance.

So here is the much asked for recipe for those cheesecakes we made on Eat Well for Less. I made this for Christmas and it made a great lighter dessert.

Here is the video clip of Gregg, Chris and I in action making it.

 

Here is the recipe in all it’s glory.

Healthier Cheese Cakes
Yields 12
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
174 calories
14 g
59 g
11 g
4 g
5 g
53 g
93 g
7 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
53g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 174
Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 5g
26%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 59mg
20%
Sodium 93mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates 14g
5%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 7g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
8%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
4%
Iron
4%
* 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. 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  2. 60g/2¼oz honey
  3. 120g/4½oz porridge oats, gluten-free, if required
  4. ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  5. 300g/10½oz fat-free Greek-style yoghurt
  6. 300g/10½oz lighter cream cheese
  7. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. ½ lemon, zest only
  9. 1 tbsp stevia
  10. 1 tbsp light soft brown sugar
  11. 1 tbsp cornflour
  12. 2 free-range eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3½. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin with some oil.
  2. Put the remaining oil and honey into a saucepan, heat until warm and runny.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats and mixed spice until completely coated.
  4. Divide the oats between the muffin tin holes, pressing down on the mixture to make a solid base.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the yoghurt, cream cheese, vanilla extract, lemon zest, stevia, sugar and cornflour. Mix the eggs into the cream until smooth. Spoon evenly between the muffin holes on top of the oats.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until just set. (They should still wobble a little.) Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  7. Carefully remove the cheesecakes from the tin and top with fruit of your choice.
  8. Serve immediately or transfer to a sealed container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Notes
  1. Truvia is fine to use in this recipe or you could swap the Stevia for another sweetener of your choice.
Adapted from BBC Food
beta
calories
174
fat
11g
protein
4g
carbs
14g
more
Adapted from BBC Food
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
A word of caution – these are portion controlled but very tasty, so you need 11 friends to share them with 😉 

Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.