Back in May I delivered a Food & Mental Health talk at Clarks Head office in Street. There’s some useful information within this 45 minute session on how ‘food’ can support positive mental health. The nutrition within food has immense power to promote happiness, and you’ll watch me talk through a supplement prescription for depression, anxiety and stress, but the positives stretch far beyond micronutrients. Food connects us with nature and has profound social, cultural and educational benefits that make us significantly more balanced and healthy animals. Have a watch if you would like a little free support from a qualified and experienced nutritionist.
I delivered a healthy packed lunch talk at a preschool recently and thought it would be useful to share the content more widely.
The first half of the talk focused on the 4 food groups that need to be included in a healthy packed lunch, namely:
- Fat (animal and plant)
- Vitamins & minerals (calcium in most lunches pleases)
Please see the grid below (the exact one I presented) which details each of the food groups, why our children need them and some example foods from each group.
Have you been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes? If so, you really need to address your lifestyle and diet. I have written a basic nutrition and naturopathic prescription below which will hopefully help you make a good start. The advice here is not bespoke and doesn’t consider any other conditions you may suffer from, dietary preferences (vegan, vegetarian, religious restrictions), allergies and intolerances, weight, your job and timetable, your family situation and the severity of your condition. You really need to see a nutritional therapist with this diagnosis and buy yourself a Glycaemic Index and Glycaemic Load reference book, but in the mean time have a look at the below and start making some positive changes to your health:
In this final instalment of my Overweight blog I want to talk about childhood obesity and how to prevent it. The blog so far as been quite factual, focussing on statistics and definitions. Tackling childhood obesity is a real passion of mine and I wanted to write about it more personally and emotionally.
Preventative nutrition is amazingly enjoyable for me. I see many adults really struggle to manage their weight and health after years of poor lifestyle and a disrupted relationship with food, and I’m not going to lie, reversal is harder work than just starting off on the right foot in the first place as children. There is nothing more satisfying that watching little ones devour their food with that intense hunger that comes with new life. I feel excited when my little-one clients start to eat better, and as a mum I am fulfilled and relaxed when Lexi has a good appetite for what I cook her. It makes me smile when she eats; fists clenched around a piece of mackerel or a giant strawberry, and olive oil smeared all over her chops.
In the last instalment of Overweight, we established that the UK is the 43rd most obese country in the world but also the most obese OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) country in western Europe, with well over 25% of the population having a BMI of 30 or above. When looking at England specifically, we also established that London (particularly Camden and Kensington) and Cambridge are the ‘least fat’ places in the UK, followed by the home counties and Kent. The north east of England has the highest obesity levels with over 75% of the population in Rotherham carrying excess weight. Yorkshire, Humber and the East Midlands are also ‘fatter’ than average. But what is it that causes one area of the country to be more ‘obese’ than another? There is undoubtedly a correlation between poverty and obesity, but which is causal? And are there any other demographic factors that link to obesity?
More than 603 million adults and 107 million children on this planet are obese, according to a report published in 2017 from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, based at the University of Washington in Seattle. The global population is approximately 7.5 billion, so the obese population represents around 5% of all children and 12% of all adults, globally.
Although the obesity levels in the United States always make headlines, it may come as a surprise to know that it’s not the US that tops the obesity chart but rather America Samoa and other South Pacific islands, where up to 75% of the populations are measured as obese. The weight of adults is increasing at four times the global average in this part of the world which could, in part, be due to the influence of colonial eating habits.
Let’s begin by exploring the definition of obesity:
‘abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A crude measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), which is a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of their height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight’. (World Health Organisation)
The World Health Organisation acknowledges that this definition is crude, since ‘weight’ can be made up of fat, muscle and bone density, in differing proportions. Someone who is muscular with a high bone density could have a BMI that exceeds 25 but they are likely to be healthier than someone who simply carries abundant excess fat.
I don’t want to litter your news-feeds with yet more of the same information on obesity. It’s all we seem to hear and read about these days and over-exposure only leads to us glazing over and not really taking note of something that, in this case, we probably should.
What you are reading now is the introduction to a series of obesity blogs called Overweight. In this series I will be covering what obesity is, where it is, why it’s bad, how it happens, why it happens, when it happens, who it happens to and what we can do about it. I will be referencing quantitative data from credible sources, but also drawing on my own qualitative experience as a nutritionist, since I believe that obesity is a complex issue and greatly misunderstood by even the most trusted of health organisations. My aim is to make it something that people better understand and feel more equipped to deal with. The series is designed for those who struggle with their weight but also for anyone who wants to be better informed. It will also be useful for parents who wish to prevent childhood obesity at home.
Last Friday afternoon I ate some bread that tasted of bleach. Yes, you heard me correctly. I cut into a “fresh”, “organic” wholemeal loaf from Sainsburys, cut the slice in half and buttered it. I handed Lexi one half and bit into the other. After three chews I spat out what I had in my mouth and immediately wrestled the bread off Lexi. What should have been a warm, squishy and comforting tea time snack was, instead, a mouthful of vile, toxic mush. I was horrified, and incredibly angry.
Only a few weeks earlier I experienced something similar with Clarence Court eggs in that they smelt and tasted of chlorine. Now, either I am unlucky or this a worrying sign that the chemical processing of food is on the rise. I fear the latter.