Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Does MSG Deserve Its Reputation With Headaches?

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Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a common flavour enhancer found in canned foods and is typically associated with Chinese restaurant meals or takeaways.  Some of the side effects reported from its consumption include headaches, dizziness, flushes and asthma.  Where is the evidence to support these claims?

It’s an interesting topic for debate.  I was inspired to write about it today as I felt that my knowledge in this area was not especially spectacular.  I cannot say that I can recall having experienced any of these symptoms after a Chinese takeaway either.  But then again, how often do I enjoy Chinese?  I would say, once in a blue moon.  Tinned fruit or vegetables, ah yes – you will definitely find these in my cupboards and in yours probably too. 

Having said that, I particularly love home cooked wholesome meals and limit preservatives wherever possible.  I think that you will agree, that you cannot really rid your diet completely from artificial additives or preservatives.  All that you can ever do is to minimise intake.

The controversy with MSG related headaches are that children do not report these symptoms and this is because immature or young cells appear immune to the effects of MSG as reported in a study in International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine in 2009.  In contrast, adult mature mice cells did exhibit cell swelling or injury but this was entirely dose dependent. 

It was also discussed that boiling food for up to 10 minutes did not destroy MSG in a particular food item.  Vitamin C on the other hand appeared to show a protective effect against MSG damage.  Pre-exposure to a low dose of MSG could also either prevent or reduce the symptoms experienced post eating MSG containing foods.  

In other words, you can build a tolerance level to MSG intake and thus reduce headaches experienced after ingesting foods containing MSG.

The final word, although MSG has been quoted to hold the ability to trigger migraines, the findings from adult clinical trials are not conclusive.  For individuals who believe that they do experience headaches associated with MSG intake, learn to recognise these symptoms.  Consider keeping a headache journal and don’t forget to evaluate; is it MSG or could it be the lack of sleep, inadequate fluids or your high caffeine intake?

Either way, even if you do decide to place MSG behind bars, one solution is home prepared meals with increased use of natural and fresh ingredients where ever possible.  So perhaps, fewer sauces out of a can and more of those freshly prepared home dishes with a rich array of coloured fruit and vegetables. 

If you need ideas to get started, see Sicilian Inspired Prawn Pasta With Homemade Passata.

What are your thoughts on MSG lovely readers?  I'm sorry if this post appears very haunted, but then again, it is Halloween!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Death By Chocolate Cake - A Frightful Flourless Gateau

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Happy Halloween my lovely readers!  There is nothing healthy about this cake except that it is deadly delicious.  No flour is required for this cake, making this naturally wheat and gluten free.  It is also milk and soy free but does contain a whopping 5 eggs.

I could have chosen a pumpkin themed baking for you this Halloween season, but I am sure that there are hundreds of gorgeous pumpkin based recipes out there for you to try today.  So I've chosen something a little bit different; a flourless death by chocolate cake.

This is inspired from a French recipe and I had so much fun making and eating this!  Just as well that I have lots of exercise sessions planned for the week.  This cake is incredibly moist on the inside and is quite chocolatey enough, so I skipped the chocolate ganache to save a few calories.  If you really really want to, you could prepare the ganache with dark chocolate and greek yoghurt.  That could work really nicely.  Just remember, you will need to fit in extra exercise sessions to work off this deadly beauty.  

I could calculate the nutrition profile of this cake, but really - why spoil the treat?  If you plan to have a treat such as this, I say, enjoy every mouthful then move on and hit that treadmill.

Let me know if you try this recipe - it really is absolutely delicious.  Remember, it is not egg free.


200g good quality dark chocolate pieces
150g dairy free margarine
5 eggs, separate the yolks and whites
165g sugar
150g ground almonds


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Grease a round baking tray (measuring 22cm).
  2. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate and margarine over a very low heat.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until you have a creamy mixture.  Add the chocolate and margarine mixture and mix in the ground almonds.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until you have soft peaks.  Mix the egg white mixture into the cake batter.
  5. Pour into the greased oven tin and bake for approximately 55 minutes.
  6. Once baked, allow to cool for at least 15 minutes in the tin, before removing from the tin to cool further.

Enjoy this gorgeous treat with yoghurt and strawberries.

Happy Halloween lovely readers!  What plans have you got planned for the evening?

If you enjoyed this post, please do not hesitate to SHARE with a TWEET or a LIKE on facebook.  Thank you very much for your support.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Sicilian Inspired Prawn Pasta With Homemade Passata & Roasted Vegetables

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It's Mediterranean Monday, but it's chilly outside and you want something warm and hearty to fill up your belly.  Dinner needs to be whipped up in under 30 minutes, be heart loving and did I mention totally delicious?  With this Sicilian inspired meal idea, anything is possible.  Let's get cooking!
As tempting as it may be to empty out a store bought jar of tomato sauce or passata over your pasta, this autumn aim to minimise the use of convinient jars and opt for meals prepared from scratch.  Easier said than done I agree, but this gorgeous flavoursome meal can definitely be prepared and be ready in under 30 minutes.  It's a great meal when you are starving after a big workout at the gym too.  A bite of this and you will be reminiscing about your lovely holiday in Sicily.  If you have never been, my god, you simply must go.  The temples and ruins are so beautiful, the weather hot and the food absolutely phenomenal.


4 large ripe tomatoes
1 red capsicum
6 sundried tomatoes (in olive oil)
3 fat garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped basil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped


You can use any vegetables you like but I used 2 yellow bell peppers and 1 large eggplant sliced.  Place on a flat oven tray, drizzle a little olive oil and cook in a preheated oven (temperature of 180ºC) until the vegetables are soft appear chargrilled on one side.


200g dried penne pasta
250g king prawns
2 heaped tablespoons cottage cheese (flavoured with onion and chives)

I used dried pasta.  In a large boiling pot of water, place 200g of dried pasta.  Follow cooking directions on the packet.

  1. Before preparing the passata, prep your vegetables for roasting and cook in the oven as described above.
  2. Next cook your pasta.
  3. In a blender, add tomatoes, red capsicum, sundried tomatoes, 2 of the garlic cloves, basil, pepper and salt.  Blend to form a smooth paste.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and cook your red onions.  You can add a little extra fresh basil into the pan if you wish.
  5. Now add the red onions into the blender and give it a final blitz.  
  6. When the pasta is ready, add to a large hot saucepan.  Add the final tablespoon of garlic and stir for a few minutes. 
  7. Now pour about half of the passata.  Pour the remaining passata in clean dry jars and store in the fridge for later in the week.
  8. Cover and cook for a further 10 minutes, toss in the prawns and the cottage cheese. Stir well and cook until you have a thick sauce.
  9. Serve with the roasted vegetables.  Yummy!

What do you think my lovely readers?  Do comment below, I love hearing from you.

Recommended reading:
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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sunday Hangover Breakfast - Sweet Oats With Mango & Peach

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Hangover meals may traditionally have been a great big fry-up but that certainly was not what the Frenchmen ordered for breakfast..

I remember only too clearly when my Frenchman had his friends over from France one year.  After a big night out, I suggested that we go out for English Breakfast with tomatoes, mushrooms, a bit of sausage and so on for the next morning.  This suggestion was instantly crushed with disapproval.  'We want sugar,' said the Frenchmen.  'We want croissants and hot chocolate'.  Hmm..

What do you think?  What do you like to eat for breakfast or brunch after an energetic night out?  I usually am consumed with a great need for sustenance to get on with the rest of the weekend.  I think my sweet tooth might request sweet foods.  I love American style pancakes with fruit and maple syrup as a treat.

If you plan to stay in for breakfast and need to put something together within a few minutes that is also heart loving, choose oats with yoghurt and fruit.

This is what I did.

Few tablespoons of jumbo oats*
Few slices of tinned peaches (tinned in juice)
Freshly sliced mango
Teaspoon of strawberry jam (or save this for your toast)
1 - 2 tablespoons of yoghurt 
Skimmed milk

TIP - choose gluten free oats as required.  For a milk and soy free option, skip the yoghurt and use any of the calcium enriched nut flavoured drinks available on the market today.

You can add any fruit you like.  Fresh blueberries or strawberries would be lovely and a sight for sore eyes I am sure.  You may enjoy including at least one choice of tinned fruit in juice as the natural sweetness will stop you reaching for the sugar bowl.

Why this particular choice of meal you ask?

Fruit is abundant in potassium which is an important mineral in heart health.  It may have a role in regulating blood pressure.

Fruit is also abundant in antioxidants such as vitamin C, polyphenols and others.  Don't forget that vitamin C has a role in maintaining healthy skin.  You will definitely want to bear this in mind when selecting your breakfast, as alcohol can have 'dehydrating' effects on skin.  Alongside your bowl of superfoods, do reach for that glass of water too.

Oats are a wonderful source of fibre.  My favourite brand MornflakeGold Scottish Jumbo oats provide an impressive 10.8g per 100g.  Why the fuss with fibre?  Besides relieving symptoms of constipation, the fibre in oats help release its energy slowly thus improving the glycaemic index score of your meal.  More excellent news is that oats have been quoted to play a beneficial role in reducing total blood cholesterol levels.

Did you know that a 45g serving of this particular brand would give you nearly 5g of fibre? What a healthy start to your day!

So here we go, this elegant bowl is absolutely heart loving after a fun night out.  It is full of calcium for healthy bones as well as potassium, antioxidants and fibre for a healthy gut, skin, hair and heart.  

Go on, reach for the hearty bowl..

What do you like to eat after a big night out?  Do comment below lovely readers, I do love hearing from you!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Nutrition Related Problems In Paediatrics, An Interview With Dr Amin Sheikh

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Paediatric gastroenterology registrar says awareness and education is key...

I am delighted to introduce you to my lovely friend Amin.  We met at University where he was a great pillar of support through the geeky but fun years!   It's a funny story actually.  Amin and I shared the same lectures during the first year of university.  I used to notice him notice me all the time.  I am sure that he'll deny it if you ask him.  I even wondered if the handsome doctor possibly fancied me; but no, he was just looking for a friend to study with.  Never mind - a girl can always hope!  So here we are, well over a decade later. The dietitian and the doctor.

Which top 3 nutrition related problems do you frequently treat regularly?
Iron deficiency anemia is one.  Vitamin D deficiency is another important area especially in families with dark skin.  Often mothers who do not realise that they have poor vitamin D status may go onto breastfeed their child who may then have increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.  

Another area of nutritional concern are when children with multiple food allergies are subsequently placed on very restricted diets without the advice from a dietitian.  Sometimes families attempt restricted diets to alleviate the symptoms of eczema, but unfortunately there are a lot of inaccurate information available on the internet which parents can access.  This is not recommended as an alternative solution to seeking necessary medical advice.

What should parents know about vitamin D deficiency or restricted diets?
Iron and vitamin D deficiencies are often picked up when children are first admitted to hospital and when high risk groups are screened.   However, earlier screening or accessing education in the community can help prevent these deficiencies.  To achieve this, we need to support families by increasing awareness of which groups of children may be at increased risk of iron or vitamin D deficiencies.  For example, it can be as simple as reminding a mum with known low vitamin D status, to take her prescribed dose of vitamin D supplements during breastfeeding to reduce the risk of reduced vitamin D status in her baby.

Vegetarian mothers may also wish to seek dietetic advice when she starts weaning her baby over to vegetarian weaning solids to ensure optimal iron intake.

In the area of food allergies, always seek medical advice if these are suspected.  

Families should not feel that they need to manage these allergies or food intolerance on their own as you can run the risk of inadequate intake of various food groups and essential vitamins or minerals.

What burning questions do parents often ask you?
Families often ask me if they need to restrict their child's diet based on a history of food allergy in a sibling.  My current advice in New Zealand is to give any 'suspected' allergen food such as milk, in small quantities in a step by step process.  It is not always probable that a sibling will also develop food allergies even when a family history of food allergy exists.

This advice may vary across the globe, so always check with your medical practitioner about tailored advice for your child.

In a straight forward case of food allergy to peanuts, it has been quoted that there is less than 10% chance that a non-identical twin or a sibling will also develop an allergy to peanuts.  This risk increases to 64% in identical twins as quoted in the Journal of Allergies and Clinical Immunology in 2004.

Vitamin D
If a mother has already been diagnosed with iron or vitamin D deficiency, it is important that the mother seeks medical advice or resources from her general practitioner to ensure that both baby and mum are supplemented as necessary.  

Not all eczema is related to food allergies so it is important that families remember this and manage the eczema as directed by your pediatrician.  Having said that, some children with severe eczema can have this exacerbated secondary to food allergies.

Food allergies are also not necessarily the cause of the eczema, it can simply trigger symptoms.  

Food Allergies
Remember that children do grow out of food allergies so always discuss with your paediatrician or dietitian about when is a good time to reintroduce food groups that are currently being excluded from your child's diet.

Thank you so much to Amin for an interesting chat about nutritional related problems that families may face from around the world.  If you would like to see Dr Sheikh again next month, please feel free to comment below with any questions that you would like him to explore in next month's interview.

Enjoy your day lovely readers.  Remember, the information that you have read on this blog today must not replace any specific medical or dietetic advice that you may have received for your child.

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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Spiced Pear & Ginger Muffins With Mascarpone

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Some Sunday mornings, I wake up wanting something different for breakfast.  I rarely wish to stray far from the regular oats, but breakfast muffins usually satisfy the wandering belly.

These lovely muffins are delicious with a morning cup of tea.  This is also a great way of getting in a small portion of fruit for the day.  Did you know that pears are a great source of vitamins and fibre?  Fruit are low in calories and also score very well on glycaemic index measurements.  These muffins are only delicately sweetened so they really are a delicious way to start your day. 

1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
1 1/2 cups gluten free self-raising flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 small pears, diced into small pieces
3 tablespoons golden syrup or honey
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup mascarpone
1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons egg replacer
2 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk

1/2 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated

  1. In a large bowl mix the flour, oats and remaining dry ingredients together.
  2. Next prepare your pears and place them in a separate bowl.  Note that I left the skins of the pears on the fruit, but this is optional.  Add the mashed banana, brown sugar, mascarpone and vegetable oil to this bowl.  
  3. Mix the egg replacer with 2 tablespoons of the milk and make into a paste.  Add to the pear mixture and mix well.  
  4. Combine the flours and the pear mixture.  Finally add the freshly grated ginger and divide into greased muffin cases. 
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 200º for 20 - 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Makes at least 12 muffins.

Recommended reading:
What are your favourite breakfast muffin flavours?  Do comment below, I do love hearing from you.

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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Celebrating It Gluten Free With Baker Days - A Product Review

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It is with enormous pleasure that I write this review for Baker Days.  A Light Perspective is now just over 6 months old and is styling the online nutrition screen with articles on weight loss, exercise, nutrition for your baby or little one, vegetarian recipes and of course recipes suitable for exclusion diets (think milk, egg, wheat or soy free meal solutions).

It seems like only yesterday when I published my first article online.  If you had told me that I would reignite my interest in working with 'grown up' people; as opposed to my darling babies and children who I advice daily; I would have laughed.  Not because I dislike working with adults.  For a start, I work with mums, dads and how I can forget the cheeky adolescents who never fail to amuse me.  

However, the paediatric world is rewarding and joyous.  We love children so much and would bend over backwards to make a difference in a child's world.  It is almost entirely impossible to say no to a child.  As an adult, you simply find different ways of rephrasing it.  

Give me the non-compliant adult who continually feasts on high fat foods despite soaring lipid profiles, now that's different - it's not difficult to be firm but kind.  That said, there really is something instantly feel-good about a smiling child and the grateful parent.  Especially if that reason is you.  

On that note, to help celebrate over 6 months of A Light Perspective I have had the chance to rejoice with a neatly packaged and personalised cake from Baker Days. The letterbox cakes are first placed in a sturdy cake tin and then a stiff cardboard box.  It arrived in perfect condition.

This is a fun way to convey 'Happy Birthday', 'Merry Christmas' or 'Congratulations' or any particular personal message that you would like to get across to someone special .  Delivery in the UK is free so you could take advantage of this and make someone's day incredibly happy with this lovely letterbox cake idea.

Of course I am not saying eat cake everyday, see Can You Have Your Cake & Keep Your Waistline Too?  I especially love the letterbox cake idea as they are tiny and perfectly sized to share a little piece with the family or colleagues at work; should this arrive to surprise you in the office!

I was especially pleased that a gluten and wheat free option was available.  This cake on its own was delicious.  A full list of ingredients are also available on their website -  see Ingredients.

Don't forget to explore the cup-cakes tab as these are the perfect portion control option.  For further tips on portion control see my article How To Exercise A Little Portion Control.

For the creative individual you can also upload your own photo and design the cake yourself.  

Overall plenty of fun ideas in here.  So next time you order flowers for a loved one, consider sending a personalised letterbox cake too.  They are so small, a slice from this petite cake will not break the calorie bank!

Thanks again to for a lovely gluten and wheat free cake.  It's good to know that you look after people with special diets too.

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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

How Much Vitamin B12 Is In This – Easy Healthy Vegetarians

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Eating smart is your key to a successful healthy vegetarian diet.  It can be tricky when you get down to a vegan diet but have you ever wondered if you are meeting your daily requirements for vitamin B12? 

Can you guess how much vitamin B12 there is in the bowl of vegetables above?
Anyone following a vegan diet will benefit from a B12 supplement or drinks enriched in this B vitamin.  This is because plant foods contain minimal amounts or practically no vitamin B12.  Animal foods and fortified products are the predominant sources for this vitamin.

Inadequate intake or malabsorption of food cobalamin whereby vitamin B12 cannot be dissociated from its carrier proteins can lead to increased risk of pernicious anaemia.  However, deficiency is only likely in strict vegans or in older adults with reduced absorption.

Do you know your requirements?
The UK Department of Health recommends 1.2-1.5μg/day of dietary vitamin B12 for adults.  This is the RNI or dietary reference nutrient intake that is deemed safe for at least 97% of the general population. 

But what is B12?
Vitamin B12 contributes to the optimal function of the human nervous system through their role as cofactors in numerous catalytic reactions in the human body.  The best sources of these foods are meat, fish and dairy products.

For vegans out there, your beacon of hope is fortified foods such as breakfast cereals.  So to answer your question above – there is practically no vitamin B12 in that bowl of sweet potato and capsicum.


Vegetarians who eat fish
 A sandwich filled with tuna, sardines or herring will contain at least 3.7 – 18μg depending on portion sizes.  If your requirements as a female are 1.2 μg/day, then you can see that meeting your vitamin B12 dietary requirements are effortless.  Fish fingers contain a smaller amount of vitamin B12, but chances are that if you eat fish, then you probably also include dairy on your vegetarian diet.

Vegetarians who eat dairy
A glass of milk contains approximately 1.9μg of vitamin B12.  A 30g portion of cheese consists of at least 0.7μg.  This illustrates that after a few tweaks to your diet, it is incredibly easy to meet your requirements for this vitamin.

If you are following a strict vegan diet or also need to follow a milk free diet as part of your vegetarian diet, then no problem.  Simply choose fortified rice or soy milks and you will find that a 200ml glass will contain around 0.8μg.  Soy yoghurts are also another useful way of increasing intake.

Here is an example of how you can tweak your diet to increase vitamin B12 intake.

Typical diet

Toast with margarine and jam
Black tea to drink

Salad sandwich or salad with nuts

Roasted vegetables with potato and herbs

Vitamin B12 friendly meal plan

Special K or instant oats and vitamin B12 fortified soy milk (250ml)
Cup of tea with fortified milk free milk

As above but consider including a soy yoghurt that is B12 fortified or a soy milkshake (200ml)

As above but consider making a pesto sauce by adding fortified rice milk or yoghurt

How do you try to meet your vitamin B12 requirements?  Do comment below, I love hearing from you!

Please feel free to SHARE with a TWEET or a LIKE on facebook.  Thank you very much.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Mediterranean Smoked Haddock & Gammon Steak With Sweet Potato

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Boost your anti-aging potential with this gorgeous Mediterranean inspired smoked haddock dish.  This heart healthy meal is so good for you because it combines lovely monounsaturated fats from olive oil, whilst boasting a modest amount of omega-3 fatty acids from the delicately flavoured haddock.  For further information on the benefits of fish read A Fishy Bite - Eat It For Youthful Skin.

I was keen to dress this recipe up so that you also had the option of using this for a saturday lunch party.  This is perfect for such occasions as the recipe is quick and easy, which means that besides being a 'healthy' host, you also get to be the perfect host by actually engaging with your guests in conversation instead of lathering up a mountain of dishes.

After last night's post Are You A Sugar Addict? I was keen to advocate carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index and hence why I chose both sweet potato and basmati rice for this dish.  By using smoked fish and ham, there was no need to use stock for this recipe.


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small red onions, cut into thin wedges
650g sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
1 large courgette, sliced then cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 cup Italian wine
2 cups water
350g smoked haddock fillets
120g smoked gammon steak, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon spring onions, sliced into fine rings

  1. Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the red onions.  Cook over a low flame and allow the onions to soften.
  2. Add the sweet potato and courgettes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Now add the rice and allow to be coated in the oil.
  4. Next add 1 cup of water and allow to simmer.  As the water begins to get absorbed, pour in the wine.
  5. Add the gammon pieces and add the haddock fillets on top of the rice.
  6. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. If you need further water to cook the rice, add the final cup of water.
  8. The meal is ready when all of the water has been absorbed by the rice.
  9. This is optional, but if you are not requiring a milk free meal, stir in 1 - 2 tablespoons of mascarpone before serving.  

This meal is delicious with a salad inclusive of tomatoes, cucumbers and salad leaves.

Recommended reading:

Enjoy this Meditarranean themed Monday dinner meal idea.  What do you enjoy eating on Monday nights in?  Do comment below, I love hearing from you!

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Sunday, 14 October 2012

Are You A Sugar Addict?

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Sugary doughnuts for breakfast, biscuits for morning tea, a fruity caramel sauce coated snack bar later – hang on surely that’s got to be healthy right?  Who are we kidding here, are you 'addicted' to sugar?

It’s the same as owning 30 pairs of shoes in black and believing that you only own 5 pairs.  First it’s addiction and then denial.  Then there’s indulgence, addiction and further denial.  Notice how I consider owning 30 pairs of shoes as normal, but 30 pairs of black shoes a little bit indulgent.  I guess it’s all about where you draw the line.  After all, who does not own 30 pairs of shoes these days?

So where do you draw the line with sugar intake? 

It all really starts with how well fuelled you are.  Starvation increases food cravings and the likelihood of stuffing your face with the sweetest thing around.  Sure the festive delights taste phenomenal when you are starving, but with Christmas parties around the corner, never leave the house without breakfast.  If you really are not a morning person and struggle to exit the house with at least matching ear rings, have breakfast cereals or fruit and yoghurt ready to eat once you do get a moment to eat.

Contrary to common belief, a study in Clinical Nutrition concluded that there is no support from human literature that sugar is addictive.  This is great news, but that’s not to say that the dieter who plans his or her meals carefully will be less likely to be caught beside the biscuit tin at 4pm. 

It’s bitter sweet but the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 2010 described that in some brains, the consumption of sugar rich foods or drinks prime the release of euphoric endorphins and dopamine.  For this reason, it’s not surprising that there is a natural preference for sweet foods.  

So how do you overcome ingrained bad habits?


First of all, get rid of the cookie jar and replace this with a large bowl of gorgeous fruits.

Eat just enough at meals to be at least 80%, full but with enough space for the next meal.  Ensure that your meal is comprised of complex carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are not evil.  If you need to be convinced, then read The Purple Carb Diet - How Low Do You Go?

Sugars are also carbohydrates but because they cause a yo yo type effect on your blood ‘sugar’ or glucose levels, it is preferable to stock up on low glycaemic index (GI) foods. 

The glycaemic index is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100 and how quickly they raise your blood glucose levels after eating.
Low GI carbs are:
  • fruit and vegetables
  • boiled white rice such as easy-cook rice or basmati rice
  • breads made with whole grains
  • high fibre bran cereals
  • oats prepared with skimmed milk
  • some fruity yoghurts
  • dried apricots and peach
  • lentils
  • nuts
  • Fusilli pasta
  • tagliatelle egg pasta 
  • and some fruit or nut based cereal bars

Remember, foods that are high in protein or fats can also have a low glycaemic index; like nuts.  That’s why digestive biscuits may appear to boast a low GI, but this is predominantly due to its high fat content.

It may be comforting to know that even dietitians eat sugary foods but the key is, eat these in moderation and in small amounts.  If your diet is primarily made of complex carbohydrates at breakfast, lunch and dinner, a small serving of that dark chocolate or the rich tea biscuit with your cup of tea is unlikely to send you on sugar frenzies.

So it’s not even a question of knowledge, because I know that you are already aware of these key facts.  

The trick is to kill bad habits and replace these with satisfying and rewarding ones.

Make friends with your diet and fill it with long lasting carbohydrates.  The short acting carbs in baking are tasty and fun I agree, but they really are not designed to stick around and will certainly leave you wanting for more.  Evil.  Oops, I meant, highly undesirable.

Here’s a quick GI checklist

Is your diet predominantly based on at least one of these low GI food items at every meal?

Reduced fat milk

Lunch and Dinner
Wholegrain breads

Fresh fruit
Dried fruit such as apricot or peach
Fruit or nut based cereal bar

If your heart simply cannot give up baking, then ensure that these are based on fruit, oats and slow releasing carbohydrates such as polenta.  If you have never baked with polenta see The World's Sexiest Carb - Italian Polenta.

Have a great week lovely readers.  How do you combat sugar cravings?

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Saturday, 13 October 2012

A Self Confessed Workaholic - The Dietitian?

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Feeling stressed?  Burnt out?  I know the feeling.  Health professionals like dietitians juggle responsibilities, whilst promoting evidence based practice.  We nurture a never ending expansive list of skills in barely enough hours of the day.  Yet we keep going, and going; and do our best to retain the picture of health.

They say there's a story behind every book and there's definitely a story behind every dietitian.  A dietitian can be based in a clinical hospital, run a business, work in the food or fitness industry or as a lecturer at a university.  Just like Cinderella, as the clock strikes a certain hour, some of us transform into bloggers, to bring to you the very latest updates in nutrition.  

It's been a little while since I've published a blog post, so I thought that it was only fair that you knew what I have been up to.  I am passionate about evidence based practice, so it should come as no surprise to you that I also work in the area of research.  I have currently completed a research study in vitamin A and am in the process of writing up the findings of this study.  As soon as I publish these results, I will share the study findings with you.  

My daily routine therefore comprises of clinical work in a children's hospital, where I will either review children's growth and nutritional requirements, or work on my research project.  I may have private clients to see later in the day or teaching material to prepare for the multidisciplinary team and patients.

For example, during the past week, I have been slaving away on a power point to update the renal team on vitamin A.  After all, clean slides with messages in bullet points or via images help convey key messages clearly. But really, the biggest influences for a powerful and successful presentation are the content itself and how well you have revised your notes, don't you think?

The role of the dietitian is not as straight forward as it appears.  I rarely work the typical 9-5 either.  Behind the scenes I can recall the countless times when I have comforted mums when they first learn about their child's diagnosis.  I may even lend a caring ear when she simply needs to vent or talk about her impossible non-compliant teenager.  I chat to food companies for further details on food ingredients or lately have been studying metabolic disorders very closely.

When I am not bordering on 'workaholism', I enjoy running or spending time with friends.  Here are photos below from my Friday girly night out.  These nights out in London really help melt away any stress that may have accumulated over the week.

This was a delicious strawberry cocktail that was topped with champagne.

The creator of the cocktail Ervy from How To Host An Italian Themed Dinner Party had us green with envy over this delicious raspberry cocktail.

This is last night’s dinner – Japanese seafood Udon noodles with mango & papaya salad on the side.  

We also shared pieces of sushi that were filled with avocado and salmon.  Delicious!

I am feeling re-energised (though the thought of working tomorrow makes me a little sad), but here's to more blog posts from A Light Perspective.

How do you cope with stress?  Do share and comment below.  I do love hearing from you!