Trust your gut

For the low down on diets and healthy eating, we asked our in-house Registered Nutritionist for her view.

We recently shared an article that was published in the Daily Mail about foods that nutritionists said they’d never touch, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4417112/The-surprising-foods-nutritionists-say-d-NEVER-touch.html. Well, this has turned out to be a bit of a marmite story – people either loved it or hated it, see this article for the “hate” angle http://angry-chef.com/blog/the-10-surprising-nutritionists-that-real-scientists-say-they-would-never-touch

For the low down on diets and healthy eating, we asked our in-house Registered Nutritionist for her view. Whilst she regularly raids our fruit bar, she’s also often seen eating homemade cake, as well as salads and the odd scraggy cheese sandwich….

“Some aspects of the article made me laugh, others made me angry and some made me think. But overall, it made me aware, again, that we all – however experienced or novice in nutrition matters – have our own personal views and dietary practices. If we are in positions of influence we just need to make sure that we do not present these as recommendations that are based on scientific consensus.

So, from the article, what action can we all take? Well, clearly, don’t ever only eat one food, whether it is raw kale, cooked kale, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, microwaved/organic popcorn, soy/cows milk etc. That’s a sure fire way to get nutrition deficiencies that will despatch you quicker than any slow developing disease that may or may not be associated with potential contaminants or natural toxins. Also, check the source of the information and do your own research if any of the content has concerned you.

A healthy balanced diet that contains a wide variety of foods maybe doesn’t sound very sexy and probably won’t be a recommendation that will get me a lot of media attention. But it is the best way of maximising your chances of getting the nutrients you need. And you’ll also minimise your risk of any potential negative effects that might be associated with any one food. Government guidance has recently been updated (include a picture of the plate model?). What I like about this approach is that we can all embrace the concept of balance and variety whilst allowing for our own dietary beliefs and idiosyncrasies. So, if you don’t like kale, find too much wheat a challenge or have a food allergy, you can adapt the idea so that it fits your personal requirements. But please do talk to your doctor or dietitian if these personal requirements are leading you to severely restrict your dietary choices.

Do I include in my diet any of the foods mentioned in the article? Yes, I do. Rice of all types – brown, white, wild, risotto, Basmati… - is a staple in my larder, as are canned tomatoes (whilst cherry tomatoes can usually be found in my fridge). You’ve heard about my cheese sandwiches already…..and I confess that I tend to prefer spinach to kale and cannot get enthusiastic about popcorn…but this has nothing to do with potential harmful effects from kale or popcorn. Having worked in the food industry for over 25 years I know the stringent regulations that exist to ensure the quality of our food, including controls on the types of packaging materials that can be used in contact with foods, the levels of natural contaminants that are permitted and limits on use of additives. The Angry Chef goes into more detail about the canned tomatoes and popcorn if you are interested.

So, as a registered nutritionist what foods would I never touch? …….Ones that have grown a fur coat since living in my fridge, bread with white spots (or blue ones), highly odiferous raw meat or fish, shellfish unless there is an R in the month. And anything I don’t like.

And as for my personal dietary goals? Get my 5 a day, enjoy balanced, healthy meals with my family, give new foods and flavours a go, and never eat crisps and chocolate on the same day!

Sue Oldreive, Registered Nutritionist with the AfN