Tag Archives: Priya Tew

How do we know when we are hungry/full?

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? 

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Family friendly “not a chicken curry”

Usually my children are not so keen on curry, however being half Sri-lankan this is not an option for me! My oldest girl used to eat a lot of spice, in fact at 22 months in Sri-Lanka she was eating curry off my plate. She went off spice and is now age 7 working back onto it. My boy has never been into anything spicy and so he is definitely a work in progress.

So this time I went at it from another angle. A fragrant but mild curry served with rice and optional naan on the side. However I sold it as “it’s not a curry, it’s chicken with naan”.  It worked. WIN.

The beauty of this meal is it can either be made in the slow cooker/crock pot or on the hob.

Here is the recipe:

Family Friendly Chicken and Naan
Serves 4
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504 calories
39 g
115 g
17 g
48 g
7 g
454 g
363 g
14 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
454g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 504
Calories from Fat 147
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
26%
Saturated Fat 7g
33%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 115mg
38%
Sodium 363mg
15%
Total Carbohydrates 39g
13%
Dietary Fiber 12g
49%
Sugars 14g
Protein 48g
Vitamin A
192%
Vitamin C
141%
Calcium
7%
Iron
25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  2. 500g chicken on the bone, skinless
  3. 2 onions
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 2 peppers
  6. 3 carrots
  7. 500ml chicken stock (mine was homemade)
  8. 50g sachet creamed coconut
  9. 1 tsp tumeric
  10. 1 tsp cumin
  11. 1 tsp coriander
  12. 1/4 inch fresh/frozen ginger, grated
  13. 1/2 cup dried lentils
Instructions
  1. Brown the chicken in a pan. Add the onions and garlic to soften them.
  2. Then either place all ingredients in a slow cooker/crock pot and place on high for 8 hrs.
  3. Or cook in a large pan on a medium heat for 40 minutes.
  4. Serve with rice and naan if wanted.
beta
calories
504
fat
17g
protein
48g
carbs
39g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
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The non-diet approach for children.

In a time when there is a focus on reducing sugar, countering obesity and improving the long term health of the nation, it can be hard to know how to approach these topics with your family. On the one hand we want children to be aware of what is in food but we don’t want them to be obsessing over it or feeling they need to go on a diet.

Personally I think that teaching children about nutrition, food preparation, healthy behaviours and their bodies early on is really important and can be part of the solution that our society needs. So as a mum I do my best to educate my children on a daily basis.  Simple messages that we use are “There are no good of bad foods but some foods we eat less of as too much of them are helpful for our bodies”. We also talk about what is in a food and why it is good for us – often using “Funky Facts” such as the fibre in bread or the vitamin C in a kiwi. Top facts like this are things I find they store up and remember.  

We may talk about dental health or how out tummy feels if you eat too much of certain foods.  Both my older children (age 4 and 7 yrs) can associate with a time they have eaten sweet foods and felt unwell from it! I love talking to them about how their tummy feels and what do they feel it needs as well as what does it want!

I prefer to focus on these messages rather than focusing on weight/size/shape.  Being a dietitian who works in the eating disorder field I am well aware of the issues that can occur when there is too much of a focus on weight, shape, size and how your body looks.  Instead I like to focus on the enjoyment of food and on healthy behaviours such as being active, getting fresh sunlight, being outside and taking care of our teeth, hair, nails. 

Here is a little video of my 7 year old explaining her thoughts on food:

I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

 

The least sexy but vitally important nutrient

Facebook likes too ask “what’s on my mind” well actually right now it is fibre. An overlooked and neglected nutrient, maybe because bowel health just isn’t sexy. However to my mind, neither is constipation or piles. 
 
When the recommendations for fibre increased to 30g per day there were lots of posts out there about how hard it would be to achieve it and how to meet your fibre needs. At the time I remember thinking how hard this would be for many people to achieve. It’s all about making small changes one at a time and then building on these. In my clinic I see the extremes. Sometimes underweight people who are eating too much of the fibre rich foods (and I have to ask them to decrease these) but then also plenty of people who are just not having enough fibre which is causing some of their symptoms. 
 
(Disclaimer: this advice is not for those who are weight restoring from an eating disorder, too much fibre can be very filling and stop you from eating enough energy).
 
So why is fibre important? 
 
  • Bowels, bowels, bowels. As a student dietitian on the wards I remember having to swallow my embarrassment and loudly say to people “how are your bowels today”. These days I’m older, a lot harder to embarrass, mum to small kids and used to talking about bowels a lot… whether it be a clients, a child’s or a worms. Yes this week my girl wanted to chat about worms poo. Having enough insoluble fibre is important for bulking your stool. 

 

  • Soluble fibre forms a gel that slows digestion. This also means it helps stabilise blood sugars, lowers cholesterol and aids satiety, keeping you fuller for longer. Soluble fibre is found in oats, barley, psyllium, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits/vegetables. 

 

  • The microbiome is a fascinating area. Research has shown that the largest influence on the gut microbiome comes from diet. Fibre feeds the gut bacteria so by eating your fibre you are helping ensure your gut stays happy and healthy.

So how much fibre is in your foods? Although I wouldn’t promote you analyse labels all the time it can be interesting to compare the fibre content of some of the foods you eat.

Some fibre rich foods that can help boost your intake are:

Lentils, Spilt peas, beans,  garden peas, nuts, seeds, wholegrain versions of pasta, rice, bread products, wholegrain cereals, grains such as oats, quinoa, cous cous, popcorn, fruit and veggies, potato skins.

Top tips to increase the fibre content of your meals: 

  • Add lentils, beans and pulses to your meals. A couple of handfuls of lentils goes well in casseroles, soups, salads, even stir fries. 
  • When possible opt for wholegrain versions of foods.
  • Add nuts and seeds into meals. I love them sprinkled on breakfast or my yoghurt, you could add to a salad or on top of a stirfry. Sprinkle some in your sandwich or add to baking.
  • Increase your portions of fruit and vegetables if you are not meeting the 5 a day target. 
  • Eating more plant based meals in your week. We aim to eat plant based meals 4-5 times a week in our house. 

Here are some meals where I’ve pimped the fibre:

Oats with fruit, seeds and nuts – 15g fibre. Plus the oats here are soluble fibre. 

  

2 x Rye bread with 1/2 avocado – 10-15g fibre, this particular bread is very high fibre, 10g for 2 slices.

If you used a different rye bread it would be lower, using my normal rye bread plus the avocado it would be 10g fibre.

Risotto made with pearl barley and broccoli – 12-15g fibre per portion. Pearl barley has a high fibre content and is a great grain to cook with. It takes slightly longer to cook than rice but can be used instead of rice, or added to soups and stews. 

Vegetable fajitas with chickpeas, peppers and sesame seeds, smashed avocado and seeded wraps – 10g fibre.

I totally encourage you to try increasing your fibre intake and help your gut bacteria, blood sugars and bowel health. Remember to also drink plenty of fluids to help that fibre move through your system.

 

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Constant thoughts of food? It could be linked to your diet.

One statement I hear regularly in my eating disorder clinics is “I feel like I’m going mad, all I think about is food”. Now whilst an eating disorder is a mental health illness it is not a sign of madness. However you can feel so consumed by your thoughts of food that it feel that way. Why? Well let’s have a look at some of the symptoms of being underweight….

Back in 1941 there was a landmark study conducted by Ancel Keys called the Minnesota experiment. The aim of this study was to get information on how to refeed those starving from famine conditions. 32 men completed the study, 12 of these were studied for 8 weeks to assess their baseline intake before the trial began. Then they were all starved for 24 weeks, with their intake reduced from 3,200kcals to just 1,600kcals/day served in 2 meals. which led to a 25% loss of body weight.  Now take a note of the number of calories, yes these men would have been more active and lived a different lifestyle but 1,600kcals led to them being starved. Many of the diets that are advertised today are much lower in calories that this, so are they really healthy for our bodies? 

Fascinatingly the men showed a lot of the symptoms we see in people suffered from an eating disorder. They become obsessed with food. Some read cookery book and stared at pictures of food. Cheating become a huge issue with them trying to find extra snacks. One man became psychotic, having vivid dreams of eating flesh and threatened to kill Keys, he was dismissed and after a few days these dreams and thoughts went away. This to me highlights the affect being a low weight can have on your thoughts and mental health. If you have an eating disorder and are a low weight that pre-occupation you have with food can totally be related to your body being undernourished. It is not you going loopy, it is the impact of being malnourished.

These men displayed a biological drive to eat, their hunger was increased and felt out of control. Keys ended up having to have each men chaperoned to stop them eating other snacks when not in the hospital. Our bodies are built to live and to live we need food. So they will do all they can to get us to eat. When you restrict your intake it makes perfect sense you will hungrier than before, stronger signals are being sent out and the body is going into amber alert. So that pre-occupation with food is actually a normal, biological sign that your body is working and doing it’s job.

The good news is, upon being re-fed, for most men, these symptoms disappeared. They were refer back to their usual weight and felt a lot better. Their thoughts, mood and emotional state improved alongside their physical healthy. Some of these men were interviewed in 2003 and they reported being glad they took part in the study, but there being some lingering after-effects. Some were worried about food deprivation for years afterwards. This can also be seen sometimes in recovery from an eating disorder, which is why  it is important to focus on recovery happening in stages and being a continual work in progress. 

If any of this has hit home to you and you feel like you need some support, do get in contact with me, see your GP for advice  or check out the B-eat website who have a helping and a list of eating disorder specialists. Taking that first step can be the hardest but with good support around you, recovery really is possible.

 

 

Diet Secrets – TV appearance clip Jan 2018.

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 😉

 

 

Let the children lead the way

Ever get the feeling that the children in the house are in charge? Oh my days, I know I sometimes feel like I just run from child to child doing things for them! 

Letting them be in charge of some things can be empowering and really positive. When you think about it there isn’t that much that they are actually in charge of. That can be hard as these little people want a chance to grow their independence and show their preferences. Eating is one of the ways that they can do this. So from a very early age they can show which foods they like/dislike and how much they want to eat. As parents it is whether we take note of these signs or think we now better! I’m trying to raise my children as intuitive eaters but it is hard as often I think I know their tummies better than they do. I then have to sit back, breathe and let them lead. When you are in a rush or have other children to also look after it can be frustrating to do this but we are setting our children up for life. I want mine to know how to pause, think about how their bodies feel and then respond accordingly and not be rushed because I have a schedule.

I find toddlers fascinating as they are so in tune with their bodies. My 22 month old will literally refuse to eat when she doesn’t want to, there is no way I can force her. She now chooses what she wants to eat from a selection of foods and she tell me when she is hungry with “Eaaaaaa” or “Snaaaaa”.  A funny example this week was when I made a cake for Mothers Day and then we had some for pudding. However the toddler shunned it and ate a bowl of peas instead! 

As we grow up eating becomes more complicated. Foods plays more of a social role, there is an enjoyment factor and just seeing things that you fancy. Advertising, being around food, media and other peoples food choices also influence us. This is why I think it is SO important to encourage our children to build great relationships with food whilst they are young and to continually reinforce these principles:

 

  1. Listen to Hunger – eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Think about your hunger at the start, middle and end of mealtimes. I sometimes talk about hunger being a butterfly in your tummy that grows to a dinosaur. Where are you on that scale?
  2. Listen to Fullness – this can be fun with kids. My 4 yr old boy pokes his tummy and that can help him connect with how full he is. My 7 yr old girl just knows and will leave her food for later.
  3. Eat a balance –  I teach my kids that all foods are great but that our bodies need balance for energy, protein for building, fat to keep us warm and protect our organs and all the vitamins/minerals to keep it working properly. 
  4. There are no good/bad foods. I love this conversation with my children. We’ve used plastic foods to group them into food groups and then talked about what all the foods contain that is great for our bodies. Instead of foods being good/bad for us I talk about how we need to moderate foods that are higher in sugar due to our teeth and balance our snacks as biscuits don’t keep us full for long. 

I’d totally encourage you to let your children lead a bit more with food. If you want more tips on how we do this at home then do let me know. 

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Peanut Butter Cookies and Smart Snacking.

Snacking sensibly for me is a must. I need bucket loads of reliable energy to get me through my day. An average day for me involves 3 kids, much pilates and 1-2-1 dietetic clients. I don’t sit still for long, so crashing mid afternoon is not an option, especially as that’s the school run and my hungry time of day. So one thing I teach my clients and work on myself is balancing my snacks.

Yes fruit is fabulous, however it doesn’t keep me full for long or sustain my energy. So I pair it with protein or a wholegrain, higher fibre carb. Or if I’m feeling outrageous, I mix all three.  For me it is not about the calories or the macro’s but the balance. 

Satiety is the feeling of fullness that persists after eating. It affects the length of time between eating events and possibly the amount of energy consumed at the next. Protein  is filling and can help stabilise blood sugars. Fibre rich foods require more chewing so psychologically take longer to eat, they can displace other energy rich food and slow gastric emptying. 

Some of my favs:
Apple, cheese and oatcakes
Dried apricots, almonds and 25g dark chocolate
Oatcakes with nut butter and banana

Then there are these peanut butter cookies. Perfect with fruit and they take just 10 mins to bake. These make me feel like the perfect mum on those days I manage to whip the mix up before the school run and have them ready 10 mins after the kids walk in the door! Better still the kids can make them – I haven’t let them loose on this recipe yet.

 

Peanut Butter Cookies
Yields 8
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
175 calories
13 g
23 g
11 g
7 g
2 g
38 g
75 g
5 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
38g
Yields
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 175
Calories from Fat 98
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 2g
10%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 23mg
8%
Sodium 75mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 13g
4%
Dietary Fiber 3g
11%
Sugars 5g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
4%
Iron
6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 100g peanut butter
  2. 150g granola
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/2 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Bake at Gas Mark 5 for 10 minutes.
  3. Store in an airtight tin, they are best eaten on the day.
Notes
  1. I used my own homemade granola (recipe on the blog) which is wheat free and gluten free if you tolerate oats or use gluten free oats.
beta
calories
175
fat
11g
protein
7g
carbs
13g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Why Weight Watchers for Teenagers is not a good plan.

On the surface this may seem like a good idea. We know the UK population is getting larger and we need multiple ways to help teach people about how to eat for their health… is a diet really the best way? Almost everything in me shouted out “NO” when I read about WW opening it’s doors to teenagers. Part of that may be because I work with lots of teenagers with eating disorders/disordered eating and I know that many of them have gotten to the stage where they need specialist support because of “dieting gone too far”. They started on a diet to lose a little weight and then either liked the knowledge of being lighter, maybe they were complimented or felt they looked better so they lost a bit more and then even more until it spiralled out of control. 

Diet that are focused on weight loss and controlled your food intake via calories do not work for the majority of people longterm. They instead set you up for yet more dieting or for a lifetime of being confined to the same dietplan. Do we want these teenagers to be controlling their intake all the time or bouncing from one diet to the next whilst their weight increases? Or should we instead move away from the focus on weight and to a focus on health related behaviours instead? 

Running Feet

We know that weight can increase the risks of certain chronic disease and that weight loss helps reduce these. However, this does not mean that you cannot be healthy at a larger size or that you are healthier because you are slimmer. Your size does not define your health.

I would love to see an approach where we counter the negative diet messages with positive changes to make for overall health. Encouraging teenagers to eat more plant based foods, to be active daily in fun ways and to choose wholegrain lower sugar options could make a difference without the intense focus on dieting. Education around hunger is something I try to do with anyone I work with at any age – for example, what is it, what does it feel like and when to respond to it. It needs to be about equipping and empowering the person.

Looking at the bigger picture is also key and something that a diet alone will not do. For example:

Why is the person overweight? Are they overeating for a reason or is it that the whole family is overweight?

What is happening in family and social circumstances?

What is their weight history?

How are they coping with life right now? Stress, anxiety, loneliness, tiredness and low mood are all factors that can affect weight and it may be that the weight gain is a symptom rather than a cause.

I do not have the answers but I do know that encouraging teens to diet is not it.

You can see my quote in the Daily Telegraph for this topic. 

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Nutty Granola – a lower sugar version.

My children love granola as a topping for their yoghurt, but often the shop bought versions are super sweet and the lower sugar options are pricey. In my mind making my own sounded like a faff, hence it’s not something I’ve investigated… until I started making a new flapjack recipe and didn’t get the consistency quite right. You know when you know it isn’t right but you keep going regardless. Silly me. As an experienced flapjack maker (and eater) I should have know better. Flapjack intuition.

So when Miss K tried to pick up and eat said flapjack and it crumbled to smithereens we needed a quick rescue as I’m not one to throw away food. Turns out it makes an amazing granola. Sweet enough but not super sweet. I’ve worked  out the nutritional info as about a 30g serving. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutty Granola, a lower sugar version.
Serves 20
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226 calories
19 g
0 g
15 g
7 g
2 g
45 g
22 g
4 g
0 g
12 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
45g
Servings
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 226
Calories from Fat 127
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
23%
Saturated Fat 2g
11%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 22mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 19g
6%
Dietary Fiber 3g
12%
Sugars 4g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
9%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
4%
Iron
10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 250g oats
  2. 150g almonds and cashews chopped
  3. 75g sunflower seeds
  4. 50g dried apricots, chopped
  5. 75g honey
  6. 75g margarine
  7. 75g peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Grease and line a baking tray.
  2. Heat the honey, margarine and peanut butter (I used the microwave) until it is melted.
  3. Mix in the oats, nuts and sunflower seeds.
  4. Press into the tin and bake at Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir and break it up, bake for another 5 minutes.
  6. Cool and store in an airtight container such as a kilner jar.
beta
calories
226
fat
15g
protein
7g
carbs
19g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
This is one of those foods to watch your portions and to eat with enjoyment. I’m a huge believer in having some sweetness if you fancy  and not depriving yourself. I’m trying to model this and teach the children. My boy has a sweet tooth so this granola enables him to have the sweetness but also get a good balance of nutrition in.

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