Banana waffles

The perfect weekend breakfast recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 small banana, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 2 scoop protein powder
  • Toppings: sliced banana, peanut butter, maple syrup

Method (serves 2)

  1. Pre heat the waffle maker.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into the waffle maker and cook until golden.
  3. Serve up with toppings and enjoy!

Supplements: Do we need them?

Nowadays, there seems to be a supplement for absolutely anything. Nutrients that normally come from your diet can be found in a form of pill, powder or gel, including vitamins and minerals, macronutrients and fibre. You just need to walk up a supermarket aisle to find an array of herbal supplements, homeopathic and natural remedies. These supplements promise to help aches, energy levels, digestion, provide eternal beauty and solve problems you didn’t even know you had. Trying to decide which supplements are needed for optimal health can be challenging: with the mixed messages from media, influencers, friends, and family, it can leave you confused about what you actually need. So let’s look at the research.

What are supplements?

The role of a supplement is exactly what the word stands for, to supplement (to complete, possibly to enhance). They can be used for a number of reasons: to add nutrients into a daily diet, to support recovery during injuries and illnesses or to enhance performance.

However, supplements are no substitution for a healthy diet.

So if you are looking for a quick fix to substitute your vegetable intake, unfortunately this is not the answer. Remember that supplements will never give you what a balanced and varied diet will. Food is designed to give us all the nutrients our bodies need.

How do I know if I need to supplement?

There is no general rule. When it comes to diet, we are all unique and have different dietary needs, depending on age, gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, and health conditions. The same applies to taking supplements. They can help support someone’s diet but if not used correctly, they can cause more harm than good. Therefore, before taking any supplement, talk to your GP, registered nutritionist/dietitian who can help you assess your needs and advise you on what is best for you.

Are there any specific recommendations?

Yes, it is recommended in some cases for example to prevent deficiency and here are the most common nutrients you should be aware of:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin important to help build and maintain strong bones and teeth, muscles, immune system and other metabolic functions. It is created in the skin by the action of sunlight which is the most reliable source. We can also get some vitamin D from food, such as oily fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified cereals and dairy however, not in a sufficient amount.

Because we don’t get enough sunlight between the months October to March, everyone living in the UK is advised to supplement with daily 10ug of vitamin D3. Although we should be able to get enough vitamin D from April to September, it is possible we still may not be getting enough, especially due to restrictions caused by the pandemic therefore there is no harm in taking the supplement all year round.

Folic acid

Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant are advised to take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid, until 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is to help baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord develop properly and lower the risk of the baby being born with neural tube defect.

Vitamins A, C and D for children

These are important nutrients, supporting healthy growth and development of immune system. As mentioned, the major source of vitamin D is summer sunlight. However, children should not spend too much time on a direct sunlight as their skin is very sensitive and burns easily. Although vitamins A and C are normally well obtained from a balanced diet, it is often hard with small children to get them eat a varied diet. Therefore, it is recommended that all children aged 6 months to 5 years should be given A,C,D vitamin supplements every day.

Who else may consider dietary supplements?

A well-balanced, varied diet can (theoretically) provide all the nutrients needed, but let’s be honest, it can be harder for some people than others. It may require knowledge and skills, effort, money and time.

Research shows that people who follow a vegan diet are at higher risk of deficiency, particularly of vitamins D and B12, long-chain omega-3 acids, iodine, iron, calcium, and zinc. This is not to say that it is impossible to get all the nutrients without animal-based product however, it requires more knowledge and planning and supplements can be useful or considered here. But before you embark on taking any, make sure to speak with your GP who can measure your nutrient blood levels and check for deficiencies.

Another example are sports athletes who may have specific nutrient needs and supplements offer a valid solution. However, a balanced diet should be always the basis of nutrition intake. Besides, there is only a handful of supplements with robust evidence to back their effectiveness and safety. Protein powder is well researched and can serve as an easy way to top up your protein intake. If your performance involves high-intensity activity, a supplement called creatine may be effective for increasing your strength and power. But many supplements lack research to back up their effectiveness, and some may even contain banned or harmful substances. Therefore, to ensure that any sports supplement is safe and beneficial to use, check the supplement certification and consult with a registered sports nutritionist.

What about natural supplements?

The fact that something comes from nature does not mean you need it, neither that it is safe to use. You may see claims like ‘boosting metabolism’ or ‘delay aging’, but there is generally very little evidence to back up any of these. More often than not, you will pay an awful amount of money for no proven benefits. Whilst you may think that there is at least no harm in taking herbal supplements, you should always check their legitimacy, especially if you are buying from the internet. Supplements from the UK should be well regulated, but anything produced outside may contain harmful ingredients and pose risk to your health.  Also make sure that you are not taking more than the recommended amount on the product label and always consult with you doctor if you take any medication or more products at once, as some supplements can interact with medication and could interfere with their effectiveness.

Take-home message

Most people can get all nutrients they need from a balanced diet and sunshine and supplements should be used only as an extra support, not a replacement. If you’re thinking about taking a supplement please, speak with your GP or a registered nutritionist/dietitian to ensure it is beneficial and safe to use.

 

References

Park, J. E., Pichiah, P. B. T., and Cha, Y.-S., 2018. Vitamin D and Metabolic Diseases: Growing Roles of Vitamin D. Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, 27 (4), 223–232. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6513299/

Pramono, A., Jocken, J. W. E., and Blaak, E. E., 2019. Vitamin D deficiency in the aetiology of obesity-related insulin resistance. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 35 (5). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30801902/

SACN (2016) Vitamin D and Health [online] available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/537616/SACN_Vitamin_D_and_Health_report.pdf

SACN (2017) Update on folic acid [online] available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/637111/SACN_Update_on_folic_acid.pdf

NHS Choices, 2018. Vitamins for children [online]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/vitamins-for-children/

UK Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (2014) Safety, regulation and herbal medicines: a review of the evidence [online]. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/545681/HMAC_-_HerbalsafetyOctober2014Final.pdf

BDA (2019) Supplements: Food Fact Sheet [online]. Available at: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/supplements.html

Kamangar, F. and Emadi, A. (2012) Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: Do We Really Need Them? International Journal of Preventative Medicine, 3(3): 221–226. Available at:   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309636/

British Nutrition Foundation (2019) Factsheet – Food supplements [online]. Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/1259/BNF%20Food%20supplements%20factsheet.pdf

Schüpbach, R., Wegmüller, R., Berguerand, C. et al. Micronutrient status and intake in omnivores, vegetarians and vegans in Switzerland. Eur J Nutr 56, 283–293 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-015-1079-7

Petti, A., Palmieri, B., Vadalà, M. and Laurino, C. (2017) Vegetarianism and veganism: not only benefits but also gaps. A review. Progress in Nutrition, 19(3): 229-242

 

Contribution from Magdalena Slavikova ANutr

 

 

 

Are Vegan Diets Healthier?

An estimated 500,000 took part in Veganuary in the UK this year, mirroring the year-on-year rise of veganism. Although the main motivation to move towards plant-based diets is typically for ethical or environmental reasons, there are many reports and anecdotes on the health benefits of such a diet. News outlets often feature reports on how plant-based diets are linked to greater longevity, and reduced risk of conditions such as heart disease.

What constitutes a vegan diet can vary, and could be made of Oreos and oven chips, or exclusively fresh produce from an upmarket supermarket. As such, it is hard to say that a vegan diet is healthy simply for being vegan. But how does a well-balanced vegan diet match up against one that contains animal products?

A HEALTHY VEGAN DIET…

If featuring plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds, a vegan diet will likely contain a wide variety of micronutrients. These diets are high in fibre, which may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer; and low in saturated fats. In many cases, vegan diets can be nutrient dense without being high in calories.

NUTRIENTS TO CONSIDER

In 2017, a study by the National Osteoporosis Society found that many teenagers and young adults were at increased risk of osteoporosis in their lives due to reducing dairy in their diet. Calcium can be found in in plant-based foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and fortified dairy alternatives, but can be overlooked. Non-haem iron, found in plant foods, may be less bioavailable than haem iron, the type found in animal foods, such as red meat. Care is needed to include plant-based sources, which includes lentils and beans; hemp and pumpkin seeds and fortified cereals. Ability to absorb iron seems to vary between people quite widely, so some may have better iron levels on a vegan diet than others.

Another key nutrient to think about is omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds and chia seeds are the main source of omega 3s; although walnuts, hemp, and rapeseed oil also contain some of this fatty acid. To get sufficient omega 3s, consuming a source like flaxseed is recommended. If this is too difficult, a supplement may be required, such as an algae capsule.

Vitamin B12 is also virtually absent from a vegan diet, with the exception of fortified foods. As low levels of B12 over a period of time can lead to serious health problems, it is important to either take a supplement, or to be consuming sufficient amounts of fortified foods consistently.

There appear to be many benefits to eating a plant-forward diet, that meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike can benefit from. And a well-planned vegan diet can absolutely be a healthy choice. However, care should be taken to include sources of certain micronutrients. Always speak to a Registered Nutritionist or Dietitan if you are doubtful in regards to how to transition to vegan diet and remember you do not have to label yourself ‘vegan’… You can simply benefit from prioritising more plant foods in your diet.

Remember, you cannot for wrong by simply adding more plant foods to your diet. You do not have to label yourself vegan or vegetarian but can make a conscious effort to include more plant proteins such as beans and legumes etc. as these are highly nutritious foods. Not only can you help support your health but switching out meat products for plants can help lower your carbon footprint too.

 

 

References

  1. https://gut.bmj.com/content/48/5/587
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5335887/
  3. https://www.bda.uk.com/uploads/assets/f2abf0e1-fa59-49db-a0afb1cb1bf9a878/Iron-food-fact-sheet.pdf

 

Contribution from Eleanor Coales ANutr

How to Address Emotional Eating

Emotional eating refers to food being consumed in response to feelings or emotions, rather than physical hunger cues that tell you when, what, and how much to eat. Emotional eating is often called “bad” or a problem to be dealt with, however it’s actually a very normal response to emotions. Food is linked to emotions; food can be soothing, calming, a part of celebrations (hello, birthday cake!). Food can also be used to numb or push down difficult to deal with emotions, and is a valid and normal coping mechanism.

To make it really clear, emotional eating is not “bad”, like the internet might suggest. But the problem with eating as a way to cope with emotions is that turning to food is unlikely to help in the long-term, and if it is happen often, it may be problematic. What we do want is to add extra coping strategies into our toolbox for dealing with emotions (often termed the emotional coping toolkit) so that you can have a range of coping strategies, and not just food. The key here is to add in, not completely take out food, which is what diet culture and the media suggest as the solution for emotional eating.

So why might you be emotional eating?

Food and emotions are tied up. As children, being a part of the “clean plate club” is rewarded by being given dessert. Or as a teenager, going out for a family meal to celebrate exam results. Or after breakups or arguments, foods like cookies or ice cream might be used to soothe negative emotions… I’m sure you can think of some more examples too.

As you can see, eating in response to emotions is really common, and completely understandable.

How can you cope with emotional eating?

There are a number of ways to do this, which are outlined below. Remember, the goal is not to take away food, but to add in extra coping tools. Please seek out a disordered eating professional who can help with emotional eating if you need extra support.

 

Recognise how emotional eating has served you in the past.

Remember that emotional eating is normal (for all the reasons above) and that you’re taking care of yourself in the way you can. Think about how you would speak to a friend or a child. How would you explain this to them? What kind of language and tone might you use? Think about how you could apply this to how you speak to yourself, and write some affirmations or a few lines you can read when you’re berating yourself for emotional eating in the future.

How are you labelling food? Are you mentally or physically restricting any foods?

Diet culture is pervasive and is a shape-shifter. So you might not be “on a diet”, but you might still be holding onto food rules, internalised diet practices, and labelling food as “good/bad” or “healthy/unhealthy” which can lead to physical restriction or mental restriction.

Physical restriction might look like never allowing yourself to eat a certain food, whereas mental restriction is more rooted in this new form of “wellness” diet culture. Where you can eat clean, plus a few squares of dark chocolate everyday. Think about where you’re at and how this might be maintaining a poor relationship with food.

Think about the foods you currently eat when emotionally eating. How do you label them? Are they “bad foods”? This might be a clue you have some work to do on your unconditional permission to eat. For more information and guidance on this, check out Principle 1 of Intuitive Eating in the Intuitive Eating book or workbook. Or speak to an Intuitive Eating practitioner.

 

Practice self compassion.

Navigating emotional eating is difficult work. Especially if food has been your coping tool for a long time, or if you feel like food is all you have for comfort and support. When you’re feeling bad about emotional eating, remind yourself: “I’m dealing with a lot right now, and I’m trying the best I can. These feelings will pass, but this is how I’m taking care of myself right now”.

 

Check-in with self-care (including responding to hunger).

There are a bunch of different types of self-care, including physical and emotional needs. The basic self-care needs are food, water, sleep, movement, safety, purpose, connection with self and others.

With regards to emotional eating, it’s important to check in with the basic self-care. Are you eating enough to feel comfortably full? Are you getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night? Write a list of those basic self-care needs and reflect if you are meeting those needs and how you could improve them.

 

Are you eating regularly, and eating enough?

This fits into physical self-care too. But it’s really important. If you’re recovering from disordered eating or dieting, it’s likely you have been pushing down hunger for a long-time, or trying to eat as little as possible. For most people, an eating routine of 3 meals plus 2-3 snacks per day would meet their normal hunger needs. This way, you can identify if your emotional eating is actually driven by a need to push down or deal with emotions, or if you’re just genuinely hungry!

Once you’re eating 3 meals plus 2-3 snacks per day, and you’re meeting those other basic self-care needs, you can identify if you are holding onto food rules too (aka mentally restricting).

 

Distractions.

Working through your feelings and responding to them without using food can be really exhausting. So make a list of other distractions you can try. This might include watching a film, painting, speaking to a friend, journaling, or doing a jigsaw.

You might also find it’s helpful to try a distraction activity for 5-10 minutes, before turning to food. This way you always know food is available, but you can assess if self-care routines like a bubble bath, meditation or listening to music will benefit you enough. If not, then you can always turn to food after. Make sure to show yourself self-compassion if this happens.

Contribution from Shannon Western Anutr

 

Eating Healthy on a Budget

It’s a common misconception that healthy eating has to be expensive, when actually there are a number of ways we can help keep spending under control but still manage to consume a healthy, nutritious diet. In today’s climate it is especially important for many of us to find ways of eating well for less due to the financial effects of the Coronavirus. Here are some top tips for healthy eating on a budget…

PLAN AHEAD

This applies not only to your food shop but also to your meals. Draw up a weekly meal plan using any ingredients which you already have and draw up a shopping list of any missing items.  Use this list when food shopping and try not to deviate from it. By planning your meals you are more likely to only buy what you need. Plus there’s nothing worst (especially for our wallet) when we are unsure of what we fancy for dinner and end up picking up every item which catches our eye.

SHOP SMART

Try not to do the shopping when you’re hungry.  People who shop on an empty stomach are more likely to spend more, especially on less healthy foods such as high fat and sugary foods. Shopping online can also be beneficial as not only does it allow you to see what you’re spending as you ‘shop’, but it also gets rid of the temptation of adding unnecessary products into your trolley that increase the overall price.

Look out for weekly offers on fruit and vegetables and try to buy lose rather than in packets so you don’t overbuy. Lastly, look out for markdowns on perishables at the end of the day. These are a great way to bag yourself some savings.

ARE THE ‘SPECIAL OFFERS’ WORTH IT?

We can all be taken in by the ‘buy one get one free’ offers at the end of the supermarket aisle, but special offers are only worth having if it is something you need and will keep and use – go back to looking at your shopping list! Plus special offers may not always be the cheapest option available, instead check the unit pricing on products to make sure you are getting the best deal. This will limit food waste too!

If you are buying a meal deal every day, that’s around £15 per week and could mount up to around £60 per month! Instead of this, opt to take your own homemade lunch to work. Not only can you significantly reduce the cost but more than likely you will have a balanced, more varied lunch.

UTILISE YOUR FREEZER

Frozen fruit and vegetables are massively underrated! Not only can they come pre-chopped and ready to use, but they are also often just as good as (if not better) fresh fruit and veg due to them being picked at their peak freshness. Plus, by using frozen fruit and veg you can cook exactly the same amount you need without the wastage.

Make the most out of your freezer by batch cooking and freezing meals in portion sized containers so you have a healthy, homemade meal when time is short. This is most likely to be cheaper and healthier than a ready meal.

Freeze left over bread. Bread is one of the most wasted household foods but you can reduce waste by freezing it, preferably in portions and when it’s at its freshest. To avoid freezer burn it is recommended that you store it in an airtight container.

USE LEFTOVERS

According to the NHS, the average family throws away roughly £60 each month. Instead try to use leftovers, whether it be eating them for lunch the next day, or freezing them to add to a meal another day. Leftover vegetables in particular can be made into a delicious soup, thrown into a casserole or used in an omelette.

INCLUDE VEG AND PULSES

Typically meat and fish are the most expensive items on a shopping list so try to bulk out your meals and make them go further by including more vegetables to your meat dishes. The same logic applies to pulses, such as beans and lentils. These are some of the cheapest foods in the supermarket and they are high fibre, vitamins and  minerals. Plus they count towards your 5 a day. Another idea is to eat more meat free meals to help keep costs down.

You may also find helpful ideas on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/20-tips-to-eat-well-for-less/

 

Contribution from @the_dietitian_assistant

 

 

How to stay Healthy whilst Working from Home…

The fast-changing government advice has required us all to adapt quickly and for most of us, working from home has become the new normal. The initial sound of this seems perfect; flexible hours, working in your pyjamas and more time to make homemade meals. However, working from home can present a number of challenges, especially when it comes to our health. The temptation of the snacks enticing you into the kitchen, low motivation and the lack on social interaction can make it difficult to stay healthy whilst working from home.

Here are some tips to help you stay healthy when working at home:

EAT BALANCED MEALS 

Maintaining a balanced diet is important especially during lockdown as eating well, benefits your physical health, immune system and mental health! There are lots of nutritious recipes you can whip up and lockdown can give you the opportunity to spend more time with the family by making home-cooked meals together. Try to incorporate lots of vegetables in your meals, varying your protein and carbohydrate sources and drinking more water. These are some examples of small healthy changes you can make. Restriction will get you no where and often leads to bingeing and restricting. Try and respect what your body wants and focus on nourishing yourself. You can find lots of balance recipes on my recipes page!  

Practising mindful eating and listening to your body can help you be more in tune with your body.

As the days are normally grey and sunshine is a rare occurrence at the moment, taking a vitamin D supplement is something you might want to think about. The main source of vitamin D is from the sun and is vital for bone health and strength. There is also evidence that shows that taking vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk of respiratory infections, which can be beneficial given the current climate with COVID.

It is also important to note that you don’t need to earn your calories! It is inevitable that you won’t be moving as much as you normally do but remember, your body needs to be fuelled regardless!

GET MOVING

It can be difficult and demotivating to get our body’s moving during lockdown especially since the weather is cold and wet. Due to the new lockdown rules, we are only allowed to leave the house for an hour of exercise a day which is difficult. However, there are lots of things we can do at home to stay active.

Get up and find something that you feel comfortable doing and are able to do. Find something that you enjoy doing and make it fun; you are more likely to stick to it if it is something that you actually want to do. Anything from going on a run, going on a stroll listening to your favourite music or podcast, yoga, dancing around your house or even gardening. If you’re looking for a workout or exercise inspiration, you can find it on nearly every social media platform; YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are examples. Facetiming your friends and doing a workout together can help to motivate you or you can try do things as a family too which can help to encourage each other as well as having some family bonding time.

It is important to note that there is no extra pressure to move more than you usually would and you shouldn’t feel as though you need to exercise more as others are. Try to focus on you and do what you can! Moving your body can also improve your mental health and help to improve your mood, even doing as little as going on a walk!

LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Many difficult emotions may have arisen from coronavirus and lockdown. Fear of getting ill, overcoming COVID, government restrictions, feeling lonely due to the lack of socialising or feeling hopeless and the uncertainty about when things will be back to normal.

Be kind to yourself

The situation we currently find ourselves in is unusual and having moments where we feel low, fed up or unmotivated is normal. It is okay not to feel okay. How you are feeling is valid. You are allowed to feel upset. Don’t disregard how you are feeling because you feel as though some people might be going through something worse. Some days it might be harder to carry out simple tasks and that is okay. Practising self-care and having time for yourself can help you feel better. Self-care isn’t just painting your nails and doing a face mask, it is also acknowledging how you are feeling, finding things you enjoy doing such as reading, catching up with friends, workouts, spending time with the family, drawing. Prioritising sleep is also important and giving yourself time to switch off can help you to wind down- limiting screen time before bed can also help.

Reach out

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people about how you are feeling you can always journal your thoughts and feelings. Or alternatively, there are lots of charities and organisations that are there for you to offer you support e.g. Mind, Samaritans, BEAT. Please don’t suffer in silence, your feelings are valid regardless of the circumstances.

Importance of a routine

Sticking to a routine can bring back a sense of normality for you. Structuring your days may benefit your mental health as it can help to motivate you and keep you focused. Whilst you won’t be able to completely replicate your normal routine, you can try doing some things such as showering and getting dressed as if you are going to work, going for a walk in the evening or watching a TV series with the family. Planning your meals can also structure your days and make your food shops more efficient. It is also important to try to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Working in a different room from where you relax can be helpful to switch off from work and means you can separate home life and work life.

 

Remember: things are difficult right now but this situation is temporary. Things will get better!

 

 

Contribution from Zoe Panaretou ANutr

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheesy stuffed mushrooms

This is a super satisfying, easy to make lunch recipe (or an extra side!)

Ingredients

  • 4 large Portobello Mushrooms
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

(Serves 3-4)

  1. Preheat oven to grill on high heat. Brush the bottoms of each mushroom with olive oil and place them, oil side down, on a baking tray on baking paper.
  2. Fill each mushroom with the grated cheese and chopped pepper, and grill until cheese has melted and golden (about 8-10 minutes).
    Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

How can diet affect our bone health?

Our bones are of course essential for making up the framework of our body, but they are also important for storing calcium. This store is what maintains the levels of calcium in our blood via a very tightly regulated system, which is essential for things like muscle contraction and normal blood clotting. This means calcium (and Vitamin D) are key when it comes to supporting bone and joint health. Calcium and vitamin D go hand in hand as vitamin D aids the absorption of calcium.

RECOMMENEDED INTAKES

  • Calcium recommendation for adults = 700 mg/day
  • Vitamin D recommendation for adults = 10 mcg (micrograms)/day

In the UK, milk and milk products, such as cheese and yoghurts, account for almost half of all calcium intake in adults. But, with more and more people transitioning to a vegan diet or reducing their consumption of animal products, it is important to focus on including vegan sources of calcium in your diet. Luckily, a lot of plant-based foods are high in calcium, such as tofu, soya beans, tahini, nuts and anything made with fortified flour including cereals and bread.

What could 700 mg of calcium per day look like?

  • Breakfast: fortified wholegrain cereal/muesli containing dried fruit with milk/fortified non-dairy milk
  • Lunch: chickpea curry with chapati (fortified flour) and yoghurt/fortified non-dairy yoghurt
  • Dinner: Tofu stir fry with lots of leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, bok choy etc. topped with chopped nuts

Vitamin D is much harder to get from our diet, although it is found in eggs, oily fish and fortified spreads and breakfast cereals. From April to September most people can make enough Vitamin D from sunlight, but since we’re all spending a lot more time inside anyway, you should cover your bases with a supplement. The NHS recommends everyone over the age of 5 to take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.

WHAT ABOUT VITAMIN K?

Vitamin K is also vital for bone health as it produces an amino acid called Gla, which essentially acts like glue to help keep calcium in the bone. Food sources of Vitamin K include green leafy vegetables, meat and dairy products and Japanese natto (fermented soybeans).

A study by Cheung et al. looking into postmenopausal women found that supplementing with high doses of vitamin K (5 mg/day) over 4 years reduced the incidence of fractures. However, lots more research is needed in this area to determine the benefits of vitamin K on bone health.

WHAT IS PEAK BONE MASS?

Bone is a living tissue that is constantly removed and replaced by new bone. Peak bone mass is the greatest amount of bone an individual can attain, and a high peak bone density reduces your risk for osteoporosis later in life. Peak bone mass is around 80% determined by your genetics and the other 20% is down to environmental factors, such as nutrition and physical activity. The majority of peak bone mass is laid down during puberty, so this is an important stage to focus on adequate calcium intake. However, in recent years, data from the NDNS has shown that calcium intakes are actually lowest in 19–24-year-olds, and the average intake for girls is much lower than boys. It’s also important to note that 1-2% of bone is lost during menopause over a 5–10-year time span, so it is especially vital that girls reach peak bone mass to reduce their risk of osteoporosis. 

JOINT HEALTH

Our joints are what allow us to bend our knees to do squats, hula-hoop with our hips and move your thumbs to scroll through Instagram – important stuff! However, arthritis is a common condition causing inflammation in the joints, affecting more than 10 million people in the UK.

One Swedish study in 2013 found that eating long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) aka omega-3 fatty acids could halve the risk of arthritis. They assessed women over a decade and found that those with intakes of more than 0.21 g per day were associated with a 35% reduced risk of arthritis. Even more interestingly, they found that more than a quarter of rheumatoid arthritis cases could be avoided if everyone had an intake of more than 0.21 g a day.

What does 0.21g/day of n-3 PUFAs look like?

  • Less than ¼ of a tin of mackerel  
  • About ¼ of a salmon fillet
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of flax seeds

We can’t say that n-3 PUFA’s are directly responsible for this result, as other factors are likely to be at play, such as those with high intakes may have had a healthier diet overall or other healthy lifestyle behaviours. However, it is generally recommended that we eat 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily (e.g. mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout etc.)

REFERENCES

https://adc.bmj.com/content/90/4/373

https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/bone-mass

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/food-for-strong-bones

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21839190

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2566998

https://ard.bmj.com/content/73/11/1949

Contribution from Sophie Gastman ANutr 

My First Trimester

When I found out I was pregnant on the 2nd November I was shocked, nervous, elated, excited and in disbelief! Despite my slightly swollen / tender breasts, I felt fab! I kept thinking ‘it is normal to feel like this’? I was eating all the same foods, working out regularly and going about my day. 9th November came and I was like ‘oh, okay, this is what it feels like’. I cannot explain how ill I felt. Morning sickness is not reserved for the morning. I spent all day feeling like I was fighting the world’s longest hangover. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I usually love being productive, love my routine and hate sitting still. I had to accept that my body was changing. I have to say it made the pregnancy feel much more real. But damn it was hard. I was so grateful to be growing a baby in my tummy but I just kept wishing the days away.

It was definitely worst in the morning and then again in the evening. All I could stomach was carbs. I found myself wanting to eat because my tummy felt quite hungry but it distressed me how much the sight of vegetables would increase the feelings of nausea. Foods, I relied on most were: Marmite on toast, eggs on toast, hummus on toast, and more toast. I couldn’t even drink tea. Often when I managed to eat something other than bread, I would finish it and then be hit with waves of nausea again. This was so far from what I had ever experienced. As someone who normally feels so in tune and connected to their body, I felt like I didn’t know myself at all. It sounds dramatic but it was mentally hard to get my head round.

I spent so much time googling ‘tips for morning sickness’ but very little seemed to have any affect! What I would say to anyone suffering is try and not let yourself get too hungry as this can mess with your stomach acids and cause you to feel more ill. Stomach what you can, and take each day is to comes. It really is survival mode. What kept me feeling somewhat okay about only eating very little variety is that my diet had been very nutritious up until this point, so I knew baby would take what it needed from my nutrient stores.

My energy levels were also low. Before pregnancy I was working out anything from 3-6 times a week and walking every day. Then all of a sudden one workout a week was a huge achievement. Although it is frustrating and miserable, we have to accept our bodies are going through a huge change – I mean we are growing a baby! So try and chill out and know things will get better. Other symptoms that I noticed were: enlarged boobs, heightened sense of smell, needing a wee every hour and mild cramping.

When I hit 10 weeks, the sickness eased a little and by 12 weeks I started to feel a lot more like myself (thank goodness!). I am currently 15 week and aim to workout 3-4 times a week, walk everyday and can eat vegetables again – yay!

For more on Nutrition and Pregnancy check out my previous blogs: Food for Fertility and Pre Natal Nutrition.