Tag Archives: dietitian southampton

Baby Food: Why it’s better to make your own.

A Glasgow team have tested 479 shop bought baby foods and found that most of them had fewer nutrients than homemade versions. They also found that the majority of the foods (65%) were sweet in taste, sweetened with fruit sugar rather than sugar itself. Finger foods expecially were found to be sweet.


A quote from the researchers “UK infant mainly supplies sweet, soft, spoonable foods targeted from age 4 months”

Babies have an innate preference for sweet foods and breast milk itself has a sweet taste to it, however when it comes to weaning we want to be encouraging our small ones to extend their palate. Offering a range of tastes, textures and flavours will do this, by sticking to sweeter tastes babies will be more likely to want sweet foods later in life which could lead to less healthy choices.

The nutritional composition of the baby foods was looked at and the researchers found that babies would  need to eat twice as much shop bought foods to get the same energy and protein as a homecooked meal. This makes it pretty hard work for a baby to meet their nutritional needs.

So is there a role for shop bought baby foods and should manufacturers be changing their meals?

I would say there still is a role for these foods. We all need a balance of foods in our diets and being a mum I know full well that there are occasions when a pouch or jar of baby food can be so much easier. Try to stick to homemade meals as often as you can and keep the bought versions for those emergency occasions. I’ve certainly used bought baby meals when abroad on holiday for example and when out and about with no other options. 

My top tip would be to aim for 80% of the diet to be homemade, be realistic about your time, plan meals, cook in bulk and freeze and don’t beat yourself up if you resort to shop bought food now and again.

Why not check out some of my weaning recipes or check out my Baby Weaning Ebooks. 

Read the abstract of the study here.

Gluten Free Ginger Biscuits Recipe, baking with the toddler.

Baking and cooking with my toddler is a very regular occurrence, it’s one activity that I find teaches her lots, keeps us both amused and we get to eat the results.

So here is out latest recipe, in the final stages of pregnancy I had a bit of morning sickness creeping back in, so these ginger biscuits were a cunning ploy to help me get through the day. They have a great texture, in fact you won’t know they are gluten free and they last week in the biscuit tin.


Plant Based Protein

Blog post written for Slimsticks.com 

Eating a more plant based diet is becoming increasingly popular and the current research is suggesting it’s the way to go. If you don’t want to go the whole “hog” then why not have a few meat free days in your week?

 A plant based diet is thought to reduce the risk of several cancers including throat, stomach, colon, prostrate and oesophagus. For example eating too much red meat and processed meat increases your risk of colon cancer. Eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds leads to a diet lower in fat and calories so can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. A plant based diet is also higher in fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals, all of which can help prevent disease such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

 But eating a more vegetarian diet does mean you need to plan and be a bit organised. Plant based protein foods do not contain the full complement of amino acids which can leave you lacking in protein. Therefore it is important to ensure that you eat a range of different protein foods. Good choices include nuts, fish, seeds, beans, legumes, eggs, cheese, dairy, tofu, quinoa and soya. 



Top tips for plant based protein:

  • Add seeds to salads and stir fries.
  • Top cereals with slivered nuts.
  • Experiment with beans, add them to curries, chilli, casseroles and salads.
  • Lentils make a great thickened for soups.
  • Hummous and nut butters are great at lunchtimes.
  • Stock up the freezer with a range of protein sources so you don’t run short.
  • Try bean chilli instead of beef chilli or using quorn mince as a minced beef substitute.
  • Eggs are fast, fantastic and packed full of protein – omelettes, frittata’s, boiled, scrambled, poached are all healthy options.


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.


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.