Category Archives: Nutrition Education

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.

Does Personality affect your ability to lose weight?

This week I was interviewed and quoted by a newspaper about a book written on personality and dieting. Daniel Amen thinks that there are 5 types of overeater – compulsive, impulsive, compulsive-impulsive, emotional and anxious overeaters. He suggests that each group of person should avoid certain foods and eat more of others in order to lose weight. This is all based on brain patterns as Daniel is a neuroscientist.

Here is the link…http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2030682/Weight-loss-tips-Knowing-weaknesses-key-says-Daniel-Amen.html

Personally I agree that there are different types of overeaters and personality does definitely affect the way people eat. We all know people who eat more when they are anxious and others who just have to eat food if its in the house but can resist if its not there. It would be right to say that different personalities respond to different approaches. For example some people work well with tackling their body image first, others want practical goals and some need a focus on activity. However I don’t agree with the food advice that Mr Amen gives. Whatever type of person you are a healthy balanced diet is key to weight loss combined with activity. The key ingredient is to have a personalised plan that suits your lifestyle and your food likes/dislikes. If your eating plan and activity plan are not based on things that you enjoy you are not likely to stick to them! Cutting out food groups like carbohydrate is never a good idea no matter what your personality.

My other thought is that some people may use this concept as an excuse… “well I can’t lose weight easily due to my personality. ” In admit it is really not easy to lose weight, it takes time, dedication and lots of hard work, sweat plus some tears, but the health benefits are amazing. Losing 10% of your body weight if you are overweight reduces your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, it can help improve your overall sense of well being and your ability to go about everyday life.

Don’t put your health on hold, get your nutrition and activity sorted out as a matter of priority, it really will change your life.

Sweets linked to less overweight children.

So here is a link to a recent article I was quoted in… it got me thinking. The article was about a study that followed a more than 11,000 children from 2-18 years over 5 years. They found children who ate sweets were 22% less prone to be overweight or obese compared to those who did not eat sweets.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2009972/Sweets-good-children-stop-getting-fat-later-life.html

I think it’s a good example of how media spin can confuse people, the headline suggests we should be feeding our children more sweets. Surely not helpful in a society that is struggling with obesity and diabetes. What is not mentioned is how often sweets were consumed by these children or how active they are, and the rest of their diet is also a huge factor. This study was not a case of letting children overindulge in “treat” foods but showed that children who regularly ate sweets learnt how to eat sensible portions and balance their food intake.

Having small children this is a topical area for me. I want my children to grow up appreciating how to have a healthy balanced diet and that includes how to eat sweets and chocolate on a semi-regular basis in sensible amounts. Therefore I need to firstly model this myself and secondly let my children  eat these foods so they learn how to moderate their intake.

Fatty and sugary foods are included in the EatWell plate (see below image) that we use to demonstrate balanced eating  so remember its ok to eat these foods its just how often and how much of them you eat 🙂 I’m off for a couple of squares of dark chocolate mmmmm.

Healthy Eating on a Plate.

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Visualisation leads to better dietary change

An interesting piece of research caught my eye this week. A team of psychology researchers in Montreal looked into how using mental imagery techniques may increase the likelihood of people eating more fruit and vegetables. They asked 177 students to aim to eat more fruit over the next 7 days. Those who planned, wrote it down and visualised how they were going to do it (e.g. where and when they would buy, prepare and eat the fruit) were twice as likely to increase their consumption.

 Plant-Based-Foods

This was based on sports psychology. “Athletes do lots of work mentally rehearsing their performances before competing and it’s often very successful. So we thought having people mentally rehearse how they were going to buy and eat their fruit should make it more likely that they would actually do it. And this is exactly what happened,” says Bärbel Knäuper.

 

As a dietitian part of my job is helping people plan how they will manage to alter their eating habits so this research is further evidence that planning really is key. Talking through with someone what your long term goals are, how you can put them into place and having a short term goal to achieve are vital components of achieving dietary change.

 

 

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21337259

 

Supplements – do we need them?

I’ve been working with a client who literally must rattle if she walked, which is doesn’t do often. She is largely bed-bound and is trying to use supplements as a way to get her better and boost her energy levels. Now I’m not against supplements on the whole but I do think that we need to be careful with them and use them sparingly.

The nutrition world is growing at such a fast pace and there seems to be a new supplement coming onto the market every week with one for every occasion! A lot of money is spent by people trying to be healthy. But are they really needed?

Taking a multivitamin/mineral on a daily basis seems to be the most common supplement. Whilst this is not harmful and can be very helpful to people who are struggling to eat a balanced diet, it also shouldn’t be necessary for most people. A healthy person should be able to get everything they need from food. The benefits of eating a well balanced diet instead of using supplements are huge. If we think about fruit and vegetables alone there is research linking eating these colourful foods to a reduction in blood pressure, cancer risk, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Your multivitamin isn’t going to do all that. Plus lets face it food just tastes a lot better than a pill.

For some people supplements are a definate yes. Before and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy 400mcg folic acid is proven to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. People at risk of osteoporosis should take calcium and vitamin D. In fact the whole UK population is recommended to take a Vit D supplement of 10 mcg/day. Some vegetarians may need a B12 boost. If you have low iron then iron supplements can helpf ro  at time. These are all specific conditions. Anyone with a deficiency may need a supplement to help out for  while and there are numerous people who can’t get everything they need from food for various reasons so need a supplement. In my eating disorder job I often recommend clients take a supplement whilst they rebuild their eating.

However, if we can get all our nutrients from our diet it is so much better for us. Think natural rather than manmade. There’s also issues with overdosing on some nutrients. Some of these nutrients will just be lost from the body when it is saturated with them, others can cause tummy upsets and health problems. So be cautious with mega doses! The research is still being done on lots of these things.

Until the research comes in, if you can, try to get as much goodness as possible from your food and take a Vit D supplement, especially in those winter months.

  • Over 5 portions of fruit and veggies a day (preferably over 7).
  • Wholegrains including wheat, rye, barley and oats, the less processed the better.
  • Starchy carbohydrate foods at each meal.
  • Dairy foods 2-3 times a day.
  • Low fat, low sugar options of foods.
  • Lean proteins – meat, fish, pulses, beans.