In a completely perfect world we would eat when hungry, stop when full and eat the foods our body tells us to eat. However few of us are that tuned into our bodies signals. We are bombarded with outside signals for example the media, advertising, other people, shops, restaurants – food is all around us.
You walk down the road and pass someone eating a burger, “hmmm I fancy one of those now”. Then you pass a billboard advertising ice-cream, “oh I could eat an ice-cream later”. Then someone in the office has a birthday so you have a slice of cake. Later on the radio is advertising a meal deal which makes you think of buying one for your lunch. In the shop you are standing waiting to pay and see a cereal bar so pick it up to nibble on. All those extra signals that are overriding your actual body signals. It’s all so easy to be overwhelmed by the external and takes a lot of quietening ourselves to hear the internal cues.
Many people I work with cannot actually initially pinpoint what hunger feels like. I ask how hungry they are and am met with a confused look. Hunger on the one hand is quite a simple idea, your body is hungry, it tells you, you eat. Other the other hand it is complex, so complex. There is head hunger, body hunger, stomach hunger, emotional hunger.
Here is my 7 year olds take on how she knows she is hungry. I think this is such an important conversation to have with children AND adults. So have a think this week, how do you feel hunger and how hungry are you before you eat?
When I was asked if I would take part in a documentary style show that was about myth busting and presenting the science behind dieting I knew this was something I needed to get involved in.
The show was of course a little controversial (or it wouldn’t make good TV) and I hadn’t realised celebs would be put on diets as part of it… but it made interesting viewing and had a great team of experts speaking. I love the fact that more and more times there are fully qualified, sensible talking actual experts talking about nutrition in the media. More please! In fact I was working on a shoot recently and the food stylist was telling me about her time working with Gillian McKeith a few years ago and how times have changed so much since then. A lot more credibility is now needed for most media outlets.
So here are some snippets of my on camera parts for the show, I hope you like it! A great facial expression to start 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.