It’s harvest festival time again. A time when we think about all the wonderful things we have to eat. All of nature’s finest larder items. Purple sprouting broccoli, squash of many colours and shapes, blackberries and hundreds of varieties of apple.
We are fast forgetting the rhythm of the seasons as fruit and vegetables are available at most times of the year but we are also forgetting variety as we get used to having the same fruit and veg in our baskets each week. We need variety. We need all the colours. Each has its own food matrix of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre.
So here’s a challenge for this week; try and eat one veg you have not picked up from the supermarket in a while. Squash or marrow are in season and delicious. And for those of us who need a good reminder, have a watch of the video below (featuring my sister and my son!) for a song to get stuck your head and prompt you at the supermarket!
For some ideas about what else is in season check out http://eatseasonably.co.uk/
I was recently told about this article which was published in Nature as a News Feature. It is a long and detailed article looking at what we know about vitamin supplements for the general population. It concludes that studies need to be designed better and we need to be better at analysing the data in order to be able to have the evidence base needed. Many people take vitamin supplements without knowing whether they need to or not. There are companies providing services to check vitamin levels but the science behind these is not always evidence based in itself, and they are often very expensive. As a nutrition professional we need the information to steer people on the right track and not leave them in the hands of the marketing companies. As the article suggests, we need the studies.
Disclaimer. I do not recommend anyone takes vitamin supplements without advice from a health professional, or unless you fit into one of the following categories:
Women planning to try for a baby and those who are pregnant: folic acid supplementation recommended by the Department of Health
Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Vitamin D supplementation recommended by the Department of Health
Children between 6 months and 5 years (unless they are consuming 500ml or more of formula milk a day): Vitamin D supplementation recommended by the Department of Health
Over 65s: Vitamin D supplementation recommended by the Department of Health
There has been some interesting research published recently about children eating their vegetables. Check out http://www.nutritionsociety.org/blog/paper-month-nudge-children-eat-more-vegetables for more details.
It goes to show that if you don’t offer a variety of vegetables, children will not have the chance to try them. I meet lots of parents who say their children won’t eat vegetables. What they often mean is that their children won’t eat some of the vegetables they are giving them. Broccoli and cabbage are common culprits. I recommend trying other vegetables, trying offering raw vegetables for a different texture and not making vegetables a big deal. The worst thing to do is offer a treat for eating vegetables as this makes them sound like they are not nice and you need a treat to cope with them.
Don’t get me wrong, I know how frustrating it is when vegetables are refused – often with loud protests!
My 3 year old wouldn’t touch potatoes – until we grew them ourselves. Now he asks for more. Another reason to grow your own.
I was recently informed by my midwife that I had slightly low iron levels. They were not low enough warrant my taking supplements but I was advised to eat more green vegetables. I was horrified, although not totally surprised by this advice. I would have to eat a lot of green veg to improve my iron levels but health professionals continue to promote green veg as good sources of iron.
We need to get the right messages to pregnant women but with antenatal programmes being cut we rely on good advice from midwives about healthy eating.
Christmas is a time to remember an event a long time ago but we tend to go a bit overboard on the food! Like any party, there are certain things we feel like we must have – I include myself in that. The average person puts on a few pounds over Christmas. So, what can we do about it. Eat and be merry? My advice would be to ‘eat and keep active’, obviously not going overboard with the eating (and drinking).
Check out this link to a table of the British Nutrition Foundation website which gives you some idea of the amount of activity you need to do to burn off the calories in certain Christmas foods. So why not go dancing for an hour with some friends this Christmas and help burn off some of those Christmas nibbles.
Have a very merry Christmas.
When Change4Life launched I thought it was a positive initiative, although very misinformed. Living and working at the time in a very deprived part of south east London with a high proportion of the population from minority ethnic communities, I felt that though the messages were great, they would not reach our population. They might work on the middle classes.
Change4Life survived a change of government and this new initiative ‘Supermeals’ is clearly trying to move with the times, difficult economic times. I think it is great that big business is involved because most people do shop for their groceries at the large supermarkets, however, where is Sainsbury’s who did their own feed your family for a fiver initiative ages ago? Do these businesses really want to be realistic about how much people can afford to spend on their food?
£5 for a meal, why does it need to be so much? We need to teach the skills to be able to cook cheaper than that for the people on low incomes. Do we have to be so middle class?