There has been so much talk about red meat over the last few years. The guidelines from the WHO told us not to eat too much red meat and showed the link between red meat and colorectal cancer. This risk was higher with processed red meat. Today it’s been more news about processed meat causing cancer, so as a population we are still eating our bacon it seems.
The problem this time is nitrates (NO3) and nitrites (NO2). These are often added to processed meats as they help it keep its pink colour and are important in food safety – protecting against botulism. Nitrates are metabolised to nitrites in the body, these are all fine until they combine with protein to form Nitrosamines. These can be carcinogenic. There lies the problem.
However nitrates themselves can be beneficial, they can relax blood vessels, being beneficial for blood pressure. They can improve the blood flow to muscles in exercise and they are a cofactor for reactions in the body.
Nitrates are found in processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami and chorizo. Interestingly they don’t seem to be added into UK made sausages, which is a slight win. They are also found added into higher amounts in smoked fish, cured fish and beer (especially German beer). The levels in your piece of ham are small. Nitrates are also found in vegetables however these naturally occuring forms do not appear to react in the body in the same way as those added into meats.
The take home – eating less meat is a good thing for the planet and for our bodies, but there is no need to cut it out entirely. In my opinion cutting things out is generally not a helpful approach. Processed meat is not something to be eating daily but it is ok to eat it occasionally. You can find some processed meats now that are nitrate free, check the labels nitrate/nitrites, but remember that does not mean you can eat it regularly. As a population we all should be eating less meat and more plant based proteins when we can. So keep that bacon sandwich for a now and again brekkie.
This is going to be a hot topic. As a nation we have never had such access to food. Yet our diets are at their worst and the way we eat is unsustainable.
‘Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate , safe and healthy while optimizing natural and human resources.’ FAO, 201031
Our food system is responsible for 15-30% of Greenhouse gas emissions (GGE’s) in the UK. This is due to all stages of food production from farm to fork. From using farm machinery, processing and packing food, the transportation and storage of it to how we cook it, then the waste and recycling afterwards.
Foods that contribute the most to Greenhouse gas emissions are red meat, dairy and soft drinks, so consuming less of these will make a definite impact.
The production of food accounts for 70% of human water use, which is a huge amount. It is damaging our planet – through deforestation, pollution, a loss of biodiversity and damage to ecosystems.
In the UK we could make a huge difference to our planet just by focusing on not wasting as much food. An extra-ordinary 10 million tonnes of all food produced is spoiled or wasted in the UK every year. Whilst you may think restaurants and large scale catering is responsibly for this, actually the majority (71%) occurs in the home.
So what can we do to help? This week one blue dot – a toolkit on environmentally sustainable diets has been released by British Dietetic Association with guidance and research on how we can eat sustainably. Below I summarise the main points.
This imformation is undoubtedly going to raise the questions “So should we all go vegan?” My answer would be – Not unless you feel strongly about it or really want to. It’s about making swaps to some meals, eating less of some foods and having more plants in our diet. However also thinking about how and where we shop, what we do with food waste and packaging too.
- Reducing red meat intake to 70g or less a day. A lo Or commit to eating meat less times in your week. 50% of the UK population eat meat on a daily basis.
A reduction in current UK consumption of total meat (108g per day)1 for adults to 50-99g would reduce our carbon foot print by around 22% whilst a further reduction to below 50g per day would result in a 39% reduction.
- Switch to eating more beans, lentils and pulses, soya, tofu, mycoprotein, nuts and seeds. These are plant based swaps for meat. So a lentil bolognaise or using adding beans into a curry so that less meat is needed.
- Eat moderate amounts of dairy and include plantbased swaps. There is now a huge range of dairy alternatives, it is important to check these have added calcium in them.
- Choose fish from sustainable sources. Over fishing and poor fishing practices have impacted on fishing stocks and the marine ecosystem has been damaged.
- Eat more wholegrains including tubers and potatoes.
- Go for seasonal fruit and veg or choose frozen and tinned options.
- Tap water over soft drinks, tea and coffee. Soft drinks are a large contributor to our carbon footprint due to their processing and packaging.
- Reduce your food waste. This is a huge area for us to all focus on. Shopping for only what you need, using all the leftovers and being savvy with portion sizes can all help.
My children surprise me time and time again with their eating and their ability to hone in on their own needs and internal cues… if only I give them a chance.
With my oldest turning 8 this week she is exposed to different foods in places outside our home. Sweets at youth club, biscuits for sale at school (yes really in the playground), cake at groups. Totally a time for her to put into practise all her intuitive eating skills and experiement away from me.
With Miss K being my first child, she is also the one that I weaned first and did all the things wrong with first! Parenting is the hardest job for sure and there is no manual. So I was clear on limiting her biscuit intake and on keeping the sweets up high and on a pedestal. The sweet issue I had to totally back track on, explain I had dealt with this badly and it was time to try a new approach. The result is my kids eat sweets, regularly but they savour them and we have small amounts after a meal or as part of a snack. Today they have both had half an iced doughnut. I don’t see restriction as the answer, I don’t want my children to grow up sugar-free or feeling cake is only for special occasions, but to appreciate all foods and know some things we eat less of. I certainly don’t dish out cakes and sweets daily but I do have them around and part of life, Children need to learn how to eat and how to be around foods at home. Home is the training ground, the place to experiment, get things wrong and then try again.
This weekend I was on a course and my parents looked after my kids. They all did a fabulous job at looking after each other. One thing I noticed was how well the mealtimes went. My mum was worried the smallest one especially had not eaten well and recounted the day to me, she had eaten well just not in what we would percieve to be a normal meal pattern. That’s toddlers! The kids had also convinced my mum to buy them doughnuts (grandparents prerogative) and where I would have cut these in half they had a whole one each…. my boy ate part of it and then gave it back when he had enough. Now this is the boy who I think could pretty much eat a whole chocolate cake – turns out I am wrong, again 😉 and very happy to be.
So why am I writing all of this? To show other parents that there is hope. That your children can be trusted around food, that they have an intuitive sense of what to have and how much. It may be that like me, you haven’t been perfect in your approach to food, well it’s not too late to change that and have a conversation with your children.
Here are 3 of my top tips:
- No foods are off limits or restricted. However as a parent you decide when to offer a food and what to offer. Your child decides what to eat from that selection and how much. If you have a cupboard of snacks like we do, then it is totally going to happen than you get asked for specific foods items from there, which could be totally fine but it’s working with your child to work out their hunger and what to put with their snack.
- Involve your children in the shopping and let them choose some of the foods, even if they are high sugar options you would prefer them not to have. It’s about learning how to have those foods safely, at home.
- Let your children choose what to eat from a selection of food, without judgement. This is HARD. If you have provided a range of food then it is up to them to choose what to have and not up to you to tell them. Sometimes stepping back can allow your child to shine and show their independance off.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and problems. Do get in touch via social media, a blog comment or email.
After making these I was named the Empress of Veggies by the one and only Gregg Wallace, so I felt I had to share this recipe! It is a little messy to make (make sure you squeeze the fluid out of the veggies) but those dips combined with the croquettes = heaven.
- 200 g cauliflower coarsely grated
- 200 g sweet potato peeled and coarsely grated
- 2 medium carrots peeled and coarsely grated (200g)
- 1 medium courgette coarsely grated (200g)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 1 small bunch parsley picked and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp onion granules
- 100 g fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas mark 6. Line a large shallow baking tray with parchment paper.
Place all the grated vegetables into a large bowl and mix together. Add the remaining ingredients and mix really well, squishing it all together until evenly mixed. Set aside to soften for 15 minutes.
Mix once more then divide into 8 in the bowl, then take each portion and form into two little sausages. Place onto the lined baking tray then repeat with the remaining mixture to form 16 sausages.
Place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the croquette golden brown on the outside, .
While the croquettes bake, prepare the dips.
- 240 g frozen peas
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1 red chilli seeded and very roughly chopped
- 1 lime zested and juiced
- ½ small bunch coriander very roughly chopped
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Place all the ingredients for the pea guacamole into a large food processor and pulse until just broken down, then scrape the sides of the processor down. Blitz until just beginning to get smooth - you want a little texture left. Tip into a serving bowl and taste
- 240 g tinned sweetcorn
- 4 tomatoes chopped
- 4 spring onions chopped
- ½ small bunch coriander chopped
- ½ lime juiced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Place all the ingredients for the sweetcorn salsa into bowl and mix well then tip into a serving bowl.
I hope you enjoy making these and it gets you eating more veggies!
If you need any help with this then do get in touch.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
With parents who reside in Spain, paella is something my whole family loves, my mum has been taught how to cook it by the locals. This weekend with my mum in the UK at my home I decided to cook her my version. It’s probably not a true paella but hey, it’s tasty family food and a one pot meal that you can put in the middle of the table so everyone helps themselves.
Of course you could totally add chicken, fish or your own favourite vegetables to this, I used what I had in my kitchen. Make your own version and let me know how it goes.
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- pinch of saffron (optional)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 100g chorizo, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 450g basmati rice (you could use paella rice)
- 1 tsp Italian mixed herb mixture
- 2 dried lime leafs (optional)
- 450ml chicken stock (mine was homemade or use a stock cube and water)
- 2 large carrots grated
- 2 medium courgetes grated
- 100g mushrooms
- 100g peas
- 450-600ml water approx, judge it on the rice as it cooks
- dash of lemon juice
- 250g frozen prawns
- large handful of fresh herbs, chopped
- Place the spices in a large wide based pan on a medium heat, add the boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chorizo and allow it to release its oils.
- Next add the garlic and rice, cook for 2 minutes. Then add the stock, dried herbs and lime leaf.
- Allow this to simmer whilst you prep the veggies, you could use any veggies you like!
- Add in the vegetables one at a time and stir in.
- Add the water and place the lid on the pan. Allow it to simmer until the rice is cooked.
- Finish with the lemon juice and prawns, allowing the prawns to cook in the pan with the rice for a few minutes.
- Finally add the herbs, taste and season.
I’m trying to get my children to each cook with me once a week, making it a scheduled activity and time with mummy all at once. It slows me down and means more planning is needed but it is also teaching them valuable skills.
Breastfeeding is something I am quite passionate about, partially because I’ve breastfed 3 children, for a total of 4.5 years. That’s a lot of feeds and little sleep 😉 however totally worth it in terms of the impact on their long term health.
Now this is totally not meant to be a dig at anyone who cannot breastfed or who chooses not to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is blimming hard work. I’ve been through mastitis, blocked ducts, nursing strikes, bleeding nipples, tongue ties x 3, nursing strikes, expressing (such a faff!) and babies who just want to feed forever. So I totally get that how you feed your baby is your choice and for many combination feeding or formula feeding is the way forward. I planned to only breastfeed my first for 6 weeks, then 3 months, then till weaning. Small goals and steps helped me. However I also have ladies in my postnatal pilates classes who just cannot get on with breastfeeding and for them using formula saves their sanity.
Ultimately we all know breastmilk is amazing stuff, so if you can breastfeed I heartily recommend you do it. Here I’m sharing an article I wrote for Network Health Digest on how breastmilk affects the microbiome of the infant. Fascinating stuff.