Category Archives: Nutrition Education

Liquid Calories

Drinks. We all need them, but are you being sensible with your choices. It’s surprising how much difference the right drink can make to your calorie intake. Many people work hard on their food intake and exercise but drinks can get forgotten. Extra liquid calories end up sneaking in without you being aware.


With a coffee shop on every corner it’s easy to be wooed by the delicious sounding drinks, however your favourite beverage may have more calories in than you think. Take a coffee for example: Latte, Cappucino, Americano, added syrups, sprinkles, small, medium, large, the possibilites are endless. An average large latte provides 340 kcal, equivalent to many people’s breakfast. A large Cappucino can be 200 kcals which is the size of a snack, whilst a large Americano is only 23 kcals.

 

DrinkCalories
Fruit Juice 150ml60 kcals
Cola 1 can140 kcals
Diet Cola 1 can4 kcals
Red Bull 1 can160 kcals
Lucozade 380ml266 kcals
Latte smalllarge200 kcals340 kcals
Cappucino smalllarger120 kcals200 kcals
Americano smalllarger11 kcals23 kcals
Smoothie150 kcals

 

Looking at cold drinks an average smoothie can be 150 kcals and an energy drink such as Lucozade 266 kcals. Having these drinks regularly could lead to your taking in more calories than you should be and prevent you achieving your weight loss goals.

Lower calorie drinks include:  No added sugar squash, all types of tea (earl grey, darjeeling, redbush, herbal and fruit), low calorie hot chocolate, diet drinks and the best choice of all is always water.

 

This post was originally written and published on the Slimsticks site.

Should we all be Vegetarian?

Meat. A lot of us eat it. A lot of us like it. Really we should be eating less of it though. Why you ask? Are you serious? Sorry but Yes.

Although meat itself is not bad, eating too much of it is not good. It contain saturated fat which can contribute to heart disease. In fact people eating a plant based diet have a 20% lower incidence of heart disease and a lower risk of diabetes.

However the other big issue for me is the environment. We are going to run out of land to graze animals on and there is not enough meat to go around if we continue to eat it at our current rate. Eating less meat will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently in the UK we eat TOO MUCH meat, fat and sugar and TOO LITTLE fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.

Now I’m not advocating that we should all go vegetarian, but I am suggested we all try to reduce the amount of meat we eat in a week. Try more meat free days. There are plenty of yummy vegetarian recipes to try out, let’s help the environment, help our health and broaden our horizons.

Plant based proteins include beans, pulses and legumes (chickpeas, lentils and any form of bean – kidney, cannelini, black eyed, mung and even baked beans), soya, quorn, cheese and tofu, nuts and seeds.

How to eat more plants:

Aim for 2/3 of your plate to be veggies and wholegrains, with just 1/3 being meat.

Make some plant food swaps in your usual dishes, so try quorn mince instead of beef or tofu in a stirfry.

Halve the amount of meat you use in dishes and add pulses instead, this works well with casseroles for example.

Try vegetable rissotos, vegetable and bean bakes, veggie pastas and vegetable lasagne. The possibilities are endless.

So I challenge you to have 2-3 meat free days a week. I’ll be putting up some pictures of our meat free meals, I’d love you to share your pictures and journey with me too, comment below or tweet me.

The danger of seeing the wrong nutrition professional – Nutritional Therapists Exposed.

A big nutrition story hit the headlines this week, an expose on nutritional therapists. It makes for a very interesting and scary read…

Medical experts were sent undercover as patients to 15 nutritional therapists. The results were worrying. About half of the nutritional therapists gave advice that could have endangered the health of the patient. Shockingly one patient was advised to put off radiotherapy for her cancer and use diet alone to rid the body of cancer, completely unproven to work. Other symptoms described by patients highlighted potential serious illnesses and these were not picked up by the therapists. Non-evidenced based tests were used to diagnose illnesses (hoolding liquids in your mouth, iris patterns)

The full article can be seen here: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2012/01/nutritional-therapists-gambling-with-your-health-276653/ 

 

What this highlights is the need to always check that your nutrition professional is kosher. Nutritional therapists are NOT the same as dietitians.  Dietitians have a title that is legally protected, they must hold a dietetic qualification and will have undergone at least 3 years of training. You can check that your dietitian is who they say they are by looking them up on the Health Professionals Council website.  Registered nutritionists should also have at least a degree in nutrition and be registered with Nutrition Society. Anyone else may not be giving out evidenced based, safe advice.

 

Here is a link to a great leaflet on the different types of nutrition professionals that may help you: http://www.bda.uk.com/publications/dietitian-nutritionist2010.pdf

 

 

What is “Normal” Eating?

The words “normal” eating mean all kinds of things to all kinds of people. In my line of work with eating disorder clients I’m often encouraging them to move towards a more “normal” eating plan and we discuss what that looks like. Today I asked on twitter what “normal” eating means to people and below are some response combined with other responses from my group sessions with patients  and a few from myself 🙂 It generated quite a debate, so I thought I’d share it with you, what do you think?

Normal Eating is:

  • eating something at least three times a day.
  • eating more than you feel you need to eat on some occasions (over-eating) and eating less than you need on other occasions (under-eating).
  • Listen to your body, eat when hungry, stop when full. No food is bad food, everything in moderation.
  • A regular meal pattern that maintains a healthy body weight & provides a correct balance of nutrients.
  • Ensuring a healthy balanced diet for optimal health & wellbeing with enough fluid too.
  • Not eating in response to your emotions, so eating or not eating on occasions because you feel unhappy, “bad”, or tense.
  • eating foods, without feeling guilty.
  • eating in a flexible way so that it does not interfere with your work, study or social  life.
  • eating sufficient food and a variety of foods, all things in moderation.
  • being aware that eating is not the most important thing in life but knowing that it is important for good health.

 

Normal Eating is:

  • not counting calories weighing food, or following a strict diet.
  • not always eating low calorie/diet foods
  • not eating to lose weight but knowing that you can “watch your weight” if you want to.
  • not assuming that you can control the amount and type of food your body needs better than your body can.
  • not having to constantly weigh yourself for reassurance.

 

 

Winner of Theo Paphitis #SBS Award

This week  Dietitian UK won a Small Business Sunday (#SBS) Award from Theo Paphitis from Dragonʼs Den. This is a weekly competition on Twitter. Small Businesses send a tweet saying what they do and Theo chooses 6 businesses which he then re-tweets to all of his followers. This week I decided to join in the fun and was absolutely pleasantly surprised to WIN.

I’m very excited to see where this may lead and hope it not only helps my business but that it boosts the profile of other dietitian’s too.

Dietitian UK is a small, local business, based in Southampton, Hampshire that works with companies, businesses, community groups and individuals with the aim of giving sound, effective nutrition advice to improve health. Work includes private consultations, menu redesign, recipes, product work, leaflets, PR and media work.

Priya is a registered dietitian with a passion for nutrition, she loves to inspire change and creativity in eating. With her experience and a fresh approach Dietitian UK can help you and your business.

 

Hydration – Am I drinking enough?

The human body is 50-70% water, we cannot survive without it. Water carries nutrients around the body and waste products out of the body, it helps regulate body temperature and acts as a lubricant. It can also help with weight loss!

It’s well known that it’s not a good idea to get dehydrated. This can lead to fatigue, headaches, thirst, weakness, your speech and mental alertness can be affected. However this doesn’t mean you should drink as much as possible. Too much fluid (overhydration) will dilute the sodium and potassium balance in your blood, possibly leading to brain seizures and behavioural changes.

 

How do you know you are getting enough fluid?

It’s not pretty but the best way to tell is to look at your urine. If you are properly hydrated your urine should be a light yellow colour (1-3), if it is 4-5 you should have a drink and the 6-8 range is dehydration.

 

Hydration chart
Hydration chart

 

 

How much do we need to drink?

Specific guidelines have not been set for adults in the UK as there is so much variability between individuals. As a dietitian I use the figure 35ml of water per kg of body weight. This means a 70kg person would need about 2.5 litres of water a day. Surveys carried out on the UK population show men take in average of 3.4 litres a day and women 2.7 litres fluid a day.

Sounds like a lot? This isn’t all through drinking fluid. We take in water from our food as well, around 1 litre a day.

The best thing to do is to drink little and often, according to thirst. Have drinks with meals and if you are out and about a lot, take a drink with you.

What to drink?

Water is always the best drink to have, but not always what you want to drink. You can safely drink up to 4 cups of tea and coffee a day. Other good choices include 1 glass of fruit juice a day, milk, no added sugar squash, fruit and herbal teas.

This post was written for Slimsticks.

Vitamin D, do you get enough?

Vitamin D is one of those nutrients that we often forget about yet is very important. Suddenly, it’s having a come back and becoming a hot topic.

So what’s the fuss about?

Hands up if you know what vitamin D is even needed for? Those of you who said bone health get a gold star. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, specifically your gut. It helps you maintain the levels of calcium and phosphate in the body so that you have enough for bone mineralisation and bone growth. It also plays a role in cell growth, immune function and reducing inflammation in the body.

Too little vitamin D affects your bones, they can become thin and brittle. Rickets in children and osteomalacia/osteoporosis in adults are due to too low vitamin D levels. Worryingly rickets is on the rise in the UK, as is osteoporosis. So we really need to be thinking about looking after our bones.

Children 1-7 months need 8.5μg/d and those aged 7months-3 years 7μg/d, pregnant and breastfeeding women 10μg/d. There are no set levels for those 3-64 years but it is now recommeded all adults take a 10mcg supplement daily or at least in winter months.

Why? Most people know we make vitamin D when we step into the sunshine, however there are numerous issues with this. To get enough of the right type of sun’s rays all year round you need to live in the right area of the world. In the UK we unsuprisingly don’t fall into that category. Having pale skin means you accrue vitamin D 10 times faster than darker skinned people, but we are now out in the sun less and less, plus when we are out there is usually sun cream on the skin preventing the UVB rays getting through and so stopping vitamin D being made. Somewhere we need a balance.

After World War II the NHS was born (1947) and vitamin drops were given to all children under 5 for free, these included vitamin D. This is not standard practice now and many little ones are not getting enough of the D love in their life. In fact my little one wasn’t until recently.

But what about vitamin D in foods I hear you all cry…well that’s the main problem, it’s not found in that many foods. Here’s a few – oily fish, some canned fish, shitake mushrooms, eggs and fortified cereals and margarine. In America milk, orange juice and cheese is all fortified too. There’s a debate over whether more foods in the UK should be fortified at the moment. What do you think? 

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Nutrition in the Under 5’s: an overview.

 

Here’s an overview of nutrition in the Under 5’s, over the next few weeks I shall be delving in and looking at nutrients in more details including Iron and Vitamin D, so follow my blog or keep and eye on twitter and facebook for more!

 

Children are not mini adults. Not only do they need good nutrition to stay healthy and well but unlike adults, they are growing and developing too so have different requirements.

 

By 12 months children should be joining in family meals, this doesn’t mean cooking two meals but some modifications like cutting out salt in cooking. Meals should be based on the Eat Well Plate with 1/3 of the plate being starchy foods, 1/3 veggies, some protein foods and some dairy.

 

 

Variety – no one food contains all the nutrients children need so therefore they need to eat range of different foods. Try to plan ahead for the week so a variety of starchy foods and protein foods plus fruit and veggies are eaten. This is good for the whole family.

 

Portions – The amount of food a child needs varies with age, body size and physical activity. Appetite can vary from day to day, let them guide you. Generally if your child is growing and developing normally  and happy then they are ok! A healthy meal pattern is small regular meals with one or two healthy snacks and drinks in between.

 

Protein – needed for growth, repair and renewal. Found in meat, fish, eggs, milk, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Babies and children have higher requirements as they are busy creating lots of new cells as they grow. Protein is made up of amino acids and not every food contains all amino acids so eating a variety is key to getting them all.

 

Carbohydrates – provides energy and fibre. Found in cereals, potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, fruit, vegetables, lactose in milk. Base meals on these foods. Children have small stomachs so do not give too much fibre, gradually build this up as they grow to keep their digestive system healthy and help prevent constipation. There is a balance between fibre and fluid that keeps the digestive system happy. So if constipation is an issue reduce fibre slightly and check how much your child is drinking.

 

Fat– needed for energy for children as they grow, also for storing vitamins A,D,E and K and for providing essential fatty acids. It’s important to choose unsaturated fats (good fats) found in vegetable oils like olive, rapeseed, sunflower, seeds, nuts and oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel). Saturated fat and trans fats (bad fats) are found in cakes, pies, pastries, biscuits, fatty meat and meat products, butter, cream, whole milk, coconut and palm oil. Limit these bad fats and swap for ‘good’ fats. Eat oily fish once a week.

 

Salt– Babies and children only need a very small amount of salt in their diet. Salt is ‘hidden’ in many ready-made foods, such as bread, baked beans, and even biscuits; it can be easy to have too much. Do not add salt to the foods that you give to your baby because their kidneys cannot cope with it. Avoid giving your baby ready-made foods that are not made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals, because they can also be high in salt. Check food labels. The salt content is usually given as figures for sodium. To convert sodium to salt multiply by 2.5. Food that contains 0.6g of sodium, or more, in a 100g is a lot, and foods with 0.1g, or less, in a 100g, is a little.

 

Fruit and vegetables – Aim for at least 5 a day. Have a variety (eat a rainbow – children find this fun to do). Peel and chop so easy to eat and readily available e.g. carrot sticks. Keep the fruit bowl full and biscuit tin empty! Portion size is roughly what would fit into the palm of their hand. Fruit on cereal+ fruit snack + veg at lunch or in lunch box + veg with evening meal + fruit for dessert = 5 a day

Get planning and get healthy 🙂


 

Tips to reduce food waste.

Mouldy carrots, liquid cucumber, out of date yoghurts…we’ve all had it. In this time of us all trying to be more eco-friendly not only should we be trying to shop more locally and reduce petrol, buy local produce and reduce food miles, grow more food ourselves…but also not overbuying food that we don’t need and making sure food doesn’t get wasted.

The Food Waste Report says we throw away 1/3 of the food we buy, 6.7 tonnes a year. The main foods wasted being potatoes, bread and fruit and veggies. According to statistics if we stopped wasting food it would be the equivalent to taking 1 in 4 cars off UK roads! I found this figure pretty alarming. Reducing the amount of food waste is key if we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Being a dietitian I must admit I do watch what others do in their homes. I’m not judging but just interested. What I tend to see is a lot of wasted food. Leftovers from meals being thrown away, things in the fridge not being used in time, fruit half eaten and then chucked in the bin. None of that is allowed in my house. If a banana is left in the car and is by the husband and is past its best it either gets used straightaway in my banana flapjack recipe or frozen for use later on. Leftovers are fought over for lunches! In fact I now just cook extra so the baby and I can have leftovers for lunch in the week, and the freezer can be fed.

I’d like to inspire you to be a little less wasteful so here are some tips:

Top Tips:

1. Plan, Plan, Plan. At some point in the week plan out what you are going to do for meals. In our house this is a flexible plan as I’m guided also by what is on offer in the shops. So I may decide to do a risotto, but leave the type of risotto flexible until I shop. Planning helps me buy the right things, saves me time and money and keeps me organised! It also ensures that most of  the time we don’t get caught out on a busy day with no time to cook…as I think about what we are all doing and try to plan in when I will have time to cook dinners.

2. You don’t need to throw away food just because it is past the best before date. There are 2 types of dates on foods…the use by date is important, food can be eaten up to the end of the ‘use by’ date, but not after even if it looks and smells fine. The best before date is different. This refers to quality rather than food safety. When the date is passed, the food won’t be unsafe but it might begin to lose its flavour or texture.

3. Keep leftovers. Leftovers are amazing. Use them for lunches, add them into the next days meal, add them to a whole new meal – use as the base of an omelette, a frittata, soups and stews… Or freeze them.

4. Be aware of what is in your fridge and veggie rack. Think about what needs using up first before you start to cook. Is the spinach wilting? Are the peaches going off? Then use them up quick! Stir fries are great for using most veggies, fruit can be lightly stewed and turned into a dessert or a compote for breakfast. Use the internet to find a quick recipe.

5. Make soups…if we have a glut of veggies it becomes soup time.  Homemade soups are so quick and easy to make. Soften a little onion, ad your veggies, cover with stock and simmer till the veggies are soft. Whiz in the blender, add seasoning and hey presto…fresh soup. It’s cheap, easy and full of nutrition.

6. Get composting 🙂 Scraps, peelings, apple cores, teabags, torn up paper and tissue, toilet rolls etc… can all be composted. Get a compost collecter in your kitchen and start a compost heap in the garden. Then use the compost to grow some yummy veggies!

7. Try to buy food that has less packaging or biodegradable packaging. Fruit and veggies can be bought loose, from the green grocer or have a box delivered from the farm. Recycle as much packaging as possible or compost some of it.

References:

WRAP. Food Waste Report. The food we waste.  April 2008. http://wrap.s3.amazonaws.com/the-food-we-waste.pdf

Local Produce, Give it a Go.

Local produce has always been around, local farmers have always been growing and producing, but somehow over the years we stopped buying it. The excitement of trying new “foreign” foods, the emergence of supermarkets containing almost every food you could ever want and prices have drastically changed the way we shop. Small shops are dwindling away and farmers have had to change the ways they do business. Take a look in your kitchen, where did you shop this week? Where did your fruit come from? Who looked after your chicken and what type of life did it have? Is anything local?!

I absolutely love Farm Shops (my husband will tell you that), whenever we are driving around and I see one a cry comes out of my mouth “Farm shop, Farm shop” and often my lovely, obliging husband will pull over and let me browse, smell, pick up foods and drool over yummy things. Living in Hampshire there are many Farm Shops off the beaten track, but also my local butcher sells local meat, a well known supermarket shop nearby had local strawberries in last week and some of our farm shops deliver weekly, plus our local chickens live at the end of my garden 😉 If you look around your area I bet you can find a way to get some local food. Look out for farmers markets and food shows too.

Local produce is any food that has been grown, raised, cooked, baked or produced within your locality.

So what are the benefits of eating local produce?

Here’s my thoughts, but please do add to them by commenting below…

1. Usually local produce has been well looked after – animal will have had space to roam, have been fed on healthy foodstuff and provide quality, tasty meat. Fruit and veggies will be grown as naturally as possible.

2. Buying locally is eco-friendly, less transport costs, you can even go and pick it up from the farm or have it delivered direct to you from the field.

3. Food is fresher, so tastier. The fresher your fruit and veggies the better they are nutritionally.

4. You are supporting your local farmers, so supporting your community and economy. Rather than supporting the pockets of your local supermarket 😉

5. Often farm shops and farmers markets have a great range of different foods – I’ve recently had watercress sausages, locally made biltong and some amazing apricot liqueur.

6. Food festivals and markets give you a chance to try before you buy and get ideas on recipes and cooking from the producers.

7. Buying what is in season can be cheaper. Stock up when things are in season, cook and freeze for later on or wrap and store veggies if they are suitable.

So how about taking up the challenge…try shopping locally for even some of your shop this month.