Lucy Jones

Dietitian

The meaning of 'eating well'

‘Eat well’ seems to be a much used strapline in advertising recently; be it TV programmes, supermarkets, food brands, or public health projects. It’s got me thinking about what eating well means to me…

To eat well, above all else should mean a happy balance between eating for short term and long term health and enjoyment of food. No foods should be banned unless risk of serious harm from allergy or poisoning etc.
 
It is a lack of unnecessary food restrictions like omitting whole food groups or eating certain nutrients only at certain hours. It means eating all food groups in the right proportions without this becoming obsessive and meaning people can’t have treats and nights off. After all, no one meal will write the passage of your nutritional health, it is the overall trend over months and years that will alter weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, skin health and risk of future diseases.
Eating well shouldn’t be expensive, require the purchase of specific foods or ingredients or require you to include any one food in your diet. Any diet approach which seems complicated and difficult to follow is unlikely to be sustainable beyond a few weeks so I thought I’d write my top tips for eating well the easy way
  1.  Eat more fruit and veg….I know it’s over said but it is also underachieved with the average brit still not meeting even 5 a day. We now know that this should be a minimum, not a maximum daily target with greater health benefits seen for higher intakes. I like the Australian message of 5 veg and 2 fruit as it emphasises the additional health benefits we get from veg. In order to get more in, remember that frozen, dried, tinned etc all count as well as fresh and can be really accessible and affordable ways to boost your intake. Adding a microwaveable steam bag of veg to an evening meal is simple, takes no prep and doesn’t cost the earth either. Aim for max colour – we’ve all heard the phrase eat a rainbow and there is good reason to try to achieve this – we get different nutrients from each of the bright colours.
  2. Don’t believe the carb bashers…So many people are ditching carbs due to fears about sugar. Good carbs however, provide essential fibre and B vitamins into our diets…which can suffer if we don’t eat them. They help to reduce our cholesterol levels, feed our gut bacteria and even help to reduce our chances of developing certain cancers. Go for brown, not white, eat the skins and always opt for a seeded version if available. Not all wholegrains are obvious – eg popcorn is a wholegrain but most cous cous varieties are not.
  3. Eat more plant proteins – protein is essential for health but we tend to rely on too much on animal proteins and not enough on plants. Protein sources such as soya, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses tend to have a lower carbon footprint and benefit our hearts and waistlines.
  4. Abandon low fat diets – fat is an essential component of a healthy diet – and benefits our brains, our bodies as well as making food taste great. Mediterranean diets (arguably the healthiest on the planet) are not low fat but focus on maximising healthy fats including olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocadoes, and oily fish. Just remember the calories are the same whether the fat has come from olive oil or a snickers bar so if trying to lose weight, you still need to watch portions.
  5. If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is. Whether its detox, superfoods, supplements, amazing fad diets…..there is no quick fix to nutrition and lifestyle. If there was, we’d be prescribing it on the NHS. No one food or supplement can correct poor lifestyles or give you everything you need. It is a far better pursuit to aim to change 3 things this year such as eating 1 more daily portion of veg, having oily fish every week and swapping white for brown rice than to believe the hype about miracle solutions.
Food is more than just nutrition; it is a part of our daily lives and brings us together with others. Enjoying good food is part of a happy life and makes you feel good and look good too. What one thing could you tackle today to bring you closer to eating well?

Posted on Wednesday 27th of January 2016 at 11:09 PM

My Thoughts on Eating Clean

Here are some of my thoughts on the trend of eating clean which seems to be everywhere this January:
The overall premise of clean eating is to eat more foods in their natural state and avoid processed foods. This often means people eat more fruits and vegetables and can mean reductions in saturated fat and salt from avoidance of junk foods.
People find inspiration in "clean" recipes and photos shared on social media. Those sharing usually are not nutrition professionals and therefore the meals may not be well balanced - for instance, they often avoid carbs which means people can lose out on beneficial fibre from wholegrains.
Can encourage black and white or all or nothing thinking. Unprocessed food = good, processed food = bad. This is fundamentally flawed, honey and agave nectar are free sugars just as normal white sugar is. This means people can unknowingly still eat too much sugar or lack dietary balance when eating "clean". Also many examples of food processing actually improve safety or make healthy food more accessible including pasteurisation and sterilisation, tinned oily fish or pulses or even simply freezing fresh veg. These are all examples of food processing but the foods would still be healthy and an important part of a balanced diet.
Eating "clean" can lead to strict dietary rules thought to contribute to development of orthorexia (a type of eating disorder which can affect your health). In my view, people are better focusing on dietary patterns and overall balance, rather than complete avoidance of certain foods because they have been processed.

Posted on Wednesday 20th of January 2016 at 01:00 PM

Welcome to my Blog - all things diets and nutrition!

Hi, Its great to finally have the website up and running. Its been something on my list for ages. It will be great to have somewhere to share nutrition stories and what the evidence really says without the hype. Hope you enjoy!

Posted on Wednesday 20th of January 2016 at 12:00 PM