Diet · Health promotion · Healthy Eating · Policy

Eating to reduce your risk of cancer

Today sees the launch of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. The report takes all the studies on cancer and brings them together to see what the evidence base is. It takes all the individual studies you see in the newspapers and many more and brings them together. The report is 2000 pages long!

What does the new report recommend? (directly copied from http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/recommendations-for-cancer-prevention/)

1Be a healthy weight
Keep your weight within the healthy range and avoid weight gain in adult life

2Be physically active
Be physically active as part of everyday life— walk more and sit less

3Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans
Make whole grains, vegetables, fruits and pulses (legumes) such as beans and lentils a major part of your usual daily diet

4Limit consumption of “fast foods” and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars
Limiting these foods helps control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight

5Limit consumption of red and processed meat
Eat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb. Eat little, if any, processed meat

6Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks
Drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks

7Limit alcohol consumption
For cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol

8Do not use supplements for cancer prevention
Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone

9For mothers: breastfeed your baby, if you can
Breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby

10After a cancer diagnosis: follow our Recommendations, if you can
Check with your health professional about what is right for you

Also: Not smoking and avoiding other exposure to tobacco and excess sun are also important in reducing cancer risk.
Following these Recommendations is likely to reduce intakes of salt, saturated and trans fats, which together will help prevent other non-communicable diseases.

 

If you need help changing your lifestyle, do get in touch. The key thing is to make sustainable changes.

Diet · Healthy Eating · Parenting

100 calorie snacks

You may have heard on the news that Public Health England have suggested that children should be restrict their snacks to two 100 calorie snacks a day.

There has been lots of debate about whether children should be calorie counting but the principle is that although children benefit from small snacks, they should not be large snacks or ones which are very high in sugar or salt. Ideally we want snacks to provide some additional nutrients (not just energy).

Here are some ideas for alternative snacks:

  • Half a crumpet or potato cake with some ‘no added sugar’ peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Homemade fluffy American Pancakes – I use self raising flour, make the pancakes small and then freeze them (so make several batches at a time). I use half the sugar. Great to grab out of the freezer in the morning – they will be defrosted by school pick up.
  • Fruit – apples, banana, grapes, clementines, melon….
  • Carrot, cucumber, pepper sticks and homous
  • Cheese cubes and a cracker
  • 1 breadstick with some cream cheese to dip it in

I wouldn’t recommend dried fruit as a snack as it has a tendency to stick to your teeth, save dried fruit for main meals.

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments 🙂

Diet · Health promotion · Healthy Eating · Nursery · Parenting · Weaning

Looking for a nursery – what to ask in terms of food

Looking for a nursery can be a daunting process. It is important you feel comfortable leaving your child there and yet you can only go on other people’s recommendations. Not only should we check Ofsted reports and find out other parents opinions but we also need to ask the right questions when we go to visit. I would suggest you right them down too, if you are anything like me, you won’t remember all of them when you get there.

I have heard people say that they want to start weaning before they go back to work. My answer to this is that if you are not happy for your childcare provider to feed your child and teach them about food then you shouldn’t be using that provider.

Unlike schools nurseries and childminders are not required by law to keep to strict nutritional standards. There are voluntary guidelines developed by the Children’s Food Trust but they are not mandatory.

So here are 10 questions I think you should ask:

  1. Are they signed up to the voluntary guidelines?
  2. What is on the menu? – if your child is eating all their food at nursery, they need to have 5 portions of fruit and veg included each day, a portion of oily fish a week, some wholegrain foods, 2-3 portions of dairy and some red meat. There shouldn’t be too much processed food, high sugar foods or high salt foods.
  3. What do they give the children to drink? Children don’t need juice or squash. Ask the nursery whether they offer these or whether they stick to water – children will want what their peers are having. A portion of milk a day is a great way to get some calcium but toddlers don’t need milk all the time. (the age of the child will determine how much water and how much milk they should have)
  4. How much water to they encourage the children to drink? Did you know that a 1 year old needs about 1 litre of fluid a day? Good hydration is good for concentration and crucial for good dental health too.
  5. Do the staff eat with the children? Role model are SO important. Do the staff model eating fish and fruit and veg.
  6. Are children expected to finish what is on their plates? What happens if they don’t? The current recommendation is to let children say when they have had enough so they can learn to regulate appetite.
  7. What is offered if the child doesn’t like the food? Children should not be offered a high fat/high salt/high sugar alternative. They can be given choice but within the same food group. Otherwise children hear, you need to eat this nasty thing to have this yummy thing. Ideally you want a nursery which will reward children (with a sticker not a food reward) for trying the food.
  8. Is food given as a reward for good behaviour? This is not recommended and nurseries should try to use other things as rewards, otherwise food is used to treat – a cycle which can continue into adulthood.
  9. What are children allowed to take in on their birthday to share with their class? If there are 40 children in a nursery and every birthday comes with sweets and cake, that is a lot of additional sugar. Fruit or a special story to share with the group are a great alternative.
  10. How much physical activity is encouraged during the day? Children need to be active. They can be active in play as well as sport. Do they have plenty of space to run around, dance, kick a ball?

 

This is not an exhaustive list. I’d love to hear if you have any other suggested questions.

 

 

Diet · Healthy Eating · Parenting · Weaning

Arsenic in baby food products?

Having heard headlines about arsenic in baby food products (baby rice, rice cakes and rice based cereals) I have been asked by parents whether they should stop giving their children rice.

Firstly when we think arsenic we think poison. Yes, arsenic is a carcinogen and we shouldn’t have too much of it but this is not a case of poison being added to baby foods. Arsenic is found naturally in the soil where rice is grown and so rice does contain arsenic. Most of this is found in the bran section (which is removed in processing white rice). We have long known this.

Back to the headlines; there is a great breakdown of the research study which prompted the headline here. Critically the study falls down on a number of levels – the very small number of people studied, not stating whether the arsenic levels in the babies’ urine samples were toxic or just raised compared with pre-weaning, and the lack of evidence that it is indeed rice based products which have caused this rise.

There are regulations around how much arsenic is allowed in water and food within the EU, although the latter only came into effect in January 2016, a month before the samples for the study were purchased. There are also already recommendations around rice milk for the under 5s – they should be avoided and an alternative milk used.

So, what do we do with this information? The current evidence shows it is safe for babies and young children to eat rice products (not drink rice milk though). They should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Baby rice is a useful food in weaning but if weaning at 6 months we should be starting with a variety of foods including meat, fish, dairy foods, eggs, vegetables, fruit and starchy foods. Rice based cereal products are only one of the many suitable cereal products baby can have so you could choose an alternative or chop and change – just make sure it is age appropriate. My personal view on rice cakes – there are far more nutritious snacks to give children, which are not full of air, some of which are also much cheaper. Cubes of cheese, salad sticks and homous, yoghurt, homemade pancakes (with less sugar), plain popcorn, and fruit are a few examples.

Chef · Diet · FODMAP · Healthy Eating · Uncategorized

FODMAP friendly egg fried rice

Here is another recipe for those on the FODMAP diet. Quick and easy. Ready in 20 minutes. I would love to know what you think of it.

FODMAP friendly egg fried rice

Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients

250g basmati rice

1 head of pak choi, cut into chunks

1 red pepper, diced

200g frozen peas

8 eggs, broken into a bowl but not whisked

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp chives

2 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Gluten free soy sauce to taste

Method

Cook the rice in boiling water and strain. Take care not to overcook

Meanwhile stir fry the red pepper with the ginger powder, chives, cinnamon and black pepper for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and cook for a further 2 minutes without stiring. Add the pak choi and peas and stir (this breaks up the eggs).  Cook until the eggs are dried out and no longer sloppy. Add the sesame oil and fry for a further minute. Add the rice and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring frequently until heated through. Add the soy sauce to taste.

Serve immediately.

If you are going to reheat, make sure it is in the fridge within 90 minutes of cooking and that you reheat thoroughly. You will lose the texture of the vegetables in reheating so I would not recommend it.

Diet · Healthy Eating · Uncategorized

Eatwell Plate becomes the Eatwell Guide

Last month the plate diagram, which shows us what a healthy, balanced diet looks like, changed. The new ‘Eatwell Guide’ is:

UPDATED_Eatwell_guide_2016_FINAL_MAR23-01

The change was a result of a review of the latest scientific research as well as consultation with professionals. On the new plate the fruit and vegetables section is slightly bigger than before – still promoting for 5 a day. The food and drinks high in fat and sugar has been removed leaving just an ‘oils and spreads’ section. This shows us that we don’t need foods and drinks high in fat an sugar for a healthy diet. If we do consume them, they should be eaten less often and in small amounts.

The challenge for us all is the same. To eat a diet which has a good variety of fruit and vegetables, base meals on higher fibre or wholegrain starchy foods, have less fat and sugar and eat a few portions of lower fat and sugar dairy foods.

What are your thoughts on the new guide?