January, 2012

Jan 12

Binge thinking

So most of us have survived January. Many feel that they ate way too much over the Christmas period so have embarked on a new regime of eating healthily, coupled with tremendous amounts of exercise. Gyms and health shops are packed but as with every year, towards February and March this health-kick seems to dissipate and before long we are back to our old routine of indulgence with the added monthly unused gym membership fee debiting from the account.

A massive problem for some is that they behave like patron of health throughout the week and then as soon as the weekend arrives, unexplained binging occurs. I’m sure you are particularly familiar with the case of having to eat the last calorie and sugar laden food item simply to finish the pack and get rid of it and also eating everything possible in sight because “I’m starting my diet tomorrow”.  We are all guilty of this at one stage or another, we then simply spend the next few days feeling guilty whilst looking in the mirror over-analysing, the self-conscious wishing we hadn’t spent the last day gorging on treats.

So below are a few simple tips to keep you on track this February and avoid binge eating…

Photo: ThinkStock

- Try not to purchase ‘treat’ food in multipacks. It sounds like a good idea at the time as cheaper but it gives rise to temptation once they are in the cupboard looking at you each time you open it. 

 – Include health snacks into your day as well as three planned meals. Try to get something down you first thing in the morning to get your metabolism going. If you are not a big eater in the morning, start with a small amount of natural yoghurt or a piece of fruit and work up to bigger servings. Sticking to planned eating will help avoiding temptation. 

 – Look for ways to reduce stress as it can have a massive impact on binge eating. Perhaps listen to a relaxation track, meditating, yoga or just simple breathing. Take regular breaks at work away from your desk to break from any stress-inducing work.

- Some find they binge eat when they are bored. Aimlessly opening the fridge and gazing into it looking to see what they can concoct. Realise this and do something to fight the boredom. Perhaps a new hobby or even exercise. 

 – Make sure you are getting enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep then you are more than likely to binge eat to keep your energy up. Remember it’s not just the quantity of sleep but the quality so make sure you are sleeping well. 

- You are the only one that really knows yourself. Think, is it really hunger or just a craving? Remember cravings will always go away so look at prevention strategies for them. 

- Realise that diets do not work and just trigger undesirable cravings for particular foods, particularly if certain food items are prohibited. Don’t place a ban on foods, plan the treat into your routine and consume in moderation. You will be amazed at how good you feel and may not want to have it. 

- Consider keeping a food diary to track what you eat. Track how you feel when you are eating to identify patterns of emotion and also time. This will help you see when and why you binge eat. If this sounds like a chore then take photos of your food.


Jan 12

‘Are Nutritional Therapists gambling with your health?’ – A response to the WHICH? report

A report released today (January 16th 2012) has pretty much slammed Nutritional Therapy as a vocation. The report details how 15 Nutritional Therapists were essentially mystery shopped by clients posing with a series of health problems.



Photo: studenthealth.ku.edu

WHICH? have presented information to indicate that Nutritional Therapists were offering dangerous advice, promising to rid cancer through diet, diagnosing without consulting the client’s GP and using non-evidenced practice to diagnose. The report then calls for the government to take drastic action to regulate this business.

 A press release from the British Association of Nutritional Therapy (BANT) states:

- BANT did not decline to comment on this article but was unable to comment for the print edition because WHICH? did not provide all the promised transcripts/questionnaires in a timely fashion. It is disappointing that WHICH? appears to have little interest in conducting a genuine review of the effectiveness of nutritional therapy preferring instead to use fictitious consultations and a biased panel of ‘experts’.

- We would have hoped that the panel would have included qualified and experienced nutritional therapists who would have been able to assess the performance of the targeted practitioners against the National Occupational Standard, (Skills for Health). As in other professions, assessment of practitioner performance would normally involve experts from that profession. Concern was expressed about lack of referrals to GPs but our review reveals frequent reference to working with the client’s GP or consultant. However, several of the clients made up stories that they were either dissatisfied with their GP and did not wish to make contact, would not provide details or said that they were moving to a new GP.

- As the professional body for nutritional therapists, BANT is dedicated to the advancement of nutrition science and the safe, evidence-informed practice of nutritional therapy. Instilling public confidence and offering consumer protection is of primary importance to BANT. BANT members are bound by a strict code of ethics designed to protect patient interests and procedures are in place to deal with any complaint brought against a BANT member.

- BANT would welcome the opportunity to discuss the future of nutritional therapy regulation to further develop safe and effective practice. We agree that practitioners should come under statutory regulation. So what now?  Well to me it spells out there is a need to regulate this business to ensure consumers are getting the very best treatment with absolutely no risk. At the moment anyone can set up a clinic as a ‘Nutritionist’ without any formal qualification, so essentially I agree with WHICH? on that aspect. In order to practice under BANT there is a strict code of ethics and a Nutritional Therapist needs to show that they have completed an accredited course in Nutritional Therapy. With regulation, this will ensure the so-called quack medicine does not take place. If you are to visit a Nutritional Therapist, ensure they are a member of a governing body like BANT.

Photo: studenthealth.ku.edu

 Now I have nearly finished my training at the Institute For Optimum Nutrition and from the beginning it has been drummed into us not to diagnose and always keep in contact with the client’s GP. As Nutritional Therapy is a Complementary Medicine, it seems it will always be under constant scrutiny. However, this is not a problem for someone who is passionate about his or her work and a productive and fair critic will be welcomed.

We are surrounded by an ill-health epidemic, proven to be linked to the modern diet. So how about some reports showing how Nutritional Therapy can benefit the health of an individual and not just slamming it? I’m sure Nutritional Therapy is not the only field that would benefit from a review. I have a friend that went to a Dietician for help with gaining weight and they were informed to eat more desserts and doughnuts – now tell me the logic in this?

I would welcome your comments on this matter as I think it’s an important topic of discussion…


Jan 12

Sifting through the evidence and 90s diets

The media is full of frightening stories surrounding Nutrition. We are constantly being told what we should and shouldn’t eat and the papers are full of stories about magic pills for ailments, such as Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and not forgetting to mention those miracle diets that “enable” the trusting investor to lose 10 pounds in one week while boosting their IQ by 50 points.

 Even as someone who has spent years studying nutrition, I often find it a challenge to filter the constant stream of contradicting nutritional advice. I can’t imagine how overwhelming it must be for someone with limited or no knowledge of the subject. Take the recent advice on egg consumption, for example. One minute we are told, “eggs are BAD” as they may increase your bad cholesterol. Then a few months later “eggs are good” and may benefit our cholesterol only for us then to be told that eggs are bad once again. How is it possible not to be confused by all of these mixed messages? So, I invite you to join me as I wade through all the information, evidence and science (or lack of it) behind the headlines, in an effort to find the truth. Presenting a clear and accurate picture of the evidence I aim to provide a balanced, non-biased and realistic view of nutrition and what your food can do for your health, whilst encouraging you to make up your own mind.

My earliest memory of an awakening interest in nutrition was around the age of 10. My mum had recently shed almost 4 stone and had become a leader for a popular weight loss group. I remember her asking me to take a photo of her before her first night at work. The transformation in her was amazing: she looked great and you could see in her eyes that she felt on top of the world. As I took those photos it dawned on me that food has the power to change our lives. I had seen what could happen when someone switched from what could be defined as the ‘average British diet’ to a diet that was rich in fruit, vegetables and fresh produce. Admittedly it was the 90s so there were a few things in her diet that weren’t perfect (as was the case with 90s fashion!), but the principles were there.

I guess you can say this was the beginning of my nutritional adventure and now, as a training nutritionist, I don’t want to keep my learnings to myself – I want to share them with everyone!

Keep an eye out for my regular blog posts and if you have any topics you’d like me to blog about then just let me know.

(Photo: ThinkStock)

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