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7 things you didn’t know about nutritionists

Nutritionist

May The Forties Be With YouHello, I’m ‘the fun police’. I’m here with my kale to look at you judgementally if you’re eating a biscuit.  Just in case you think I’m serious, this is about as far away as you can get from me or any Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian I know. Just because we’ve studied nutrition and health based subjects doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy food or indulge. And we are definitely not judging you. But people make a lot of assumptions about me when they find out what I do. I’m here to reassure you (while joining you in a glass of wine).

“Oooh don’t judge me!” (while eating cake, biscuit, crisps etc.)

There is really only one response to people guiltily hiding what they are eating and drinking in front of me: I’M NOT JUDGING YOU! Seriously, unless you specifically ask my advice, I have no problem with you eating a second slice of cake if that’s what you’d like to do! There are many ways to be healthy and enjoyment of food is so important. A life without treats is very dull and even if you indulge more often than you should, I will never judge you. Of course, if you’re paying for my advice then I might recommend against 10 pints a night and daily doses of pizza…

You must be a vegetarian?

Errr why? Why is meat inherently bad and vegetarian diets guaranteed to be healthy? While meat free, vegetarian and vegan diets can be really healthy and balanced, they can also lack certain nutrients if they’re not well planned. Diets containing meat and fish can also be healthy and environmentally sustainable if done correctly. I adopt a flexitarian, plant-based approach to eating, so I base my diet around plenty of vegetables and fruit, with wholegrains, pulses and dairy foods alongside smaller amounts of meat or fish. This suits me and my lifestyle as well as meaning my husband and I can enjoy the same meals (he’s a committed carnivore but I’m converting him to a more plant-based approach!)

Do you ever indulge?

Of course! I eat chocolate most days (one or two squares, mind, although Easter just happened), I drink alcohol at the weekend and after particularly stressful episodes of Game of Thrones (wine, prosecco and gin are currently my tipples of choice) and if I want to eat steak and chips, I will absolutely eat steak and chips. But I don’t eat chocolate and chips all the time or in large quantities. There is nothing I won’t eat but I make sure I get my 5 a day, at least, and my portion sizes are appropriate. The only thing I won’t eat is porridge. I loathe porridge. Oats are fine in all sorts of guises but the texture of porridge takes me back to my school days experiencing lumpy mashed potato, custard and rice pudding. No wonder I never ate baby food (I was the fussiest baby ever, although my first solids, aged 3 years might I add, were mashed sardines). Clearly after my omega 3s.

You must have a lot of willpower

I enjoy food immensely and I’m not going to deny myself anything.  I just make sure that I don’t indulge all the time. Most of the week, I eat relatively healthy, while still eating tasty food and then at the weekend, I can relax a bit and opt for something more indulgent. That way I don’t feel like I’m missing out.  By eating mindfully and intuitively, I find I naturally become attuned to my appetite and I take care to avoid eating if I’m simply bored or tired.  I’m also pretty active.

Make no mistake, if I cut out chocolate, cheese or whatever food deemed to be ‘naughty’ by the real food police (the fitspo instagrammers) then I’d be very miserable and last about a week at most!

You’re so lucky that you can eat xxx food and stay slim

I am not one of those people who can eat anything they like and never gain weight. But I do have a relatively small appetite and I do make sure that most of my meals are based on vegetables and bulky but relatively low calorie foods like wholegrains (not because I count calories but because I’m trying to eat plenty of fibre). I also eat a source of protein at each meal to support my active lifestyle and fill me up. I don’t macro-count and I make sure the food I eat is tasty because food is way more than just fuel.

However, yes, I’d say I am lucky. I am not particularly food responsive, which means I don’t crave the foods I love and I can have chocolate in the house quite comfortably and not eat it. I also don’t have a massive appetite. We know that appetite and food responsiveness have genetic components so if you do feel hungry all the time and want to faceplant a family sized bar of chocolate if it’s nearby, that’s partly linked to your genes.

Do you only order salad in restaurants?

I very rarely order a salad! If I’m in a restaurant, I’m much more likely to want to treat myself so I might go for a really delicious steak or burger because I’d very rarely eat that at home. The only exception is if I’m out mid-week with friends or if it’s a work trip then I will try to order a healthier option like fish and vegetables. That doesn’t always happen though and if I indulge then, it’s still not a big deal because it’s relatively infrequent.

What do you think of this juice cleanse / alkaline diet / pink food trend?

If you want to make me curl up into a ball and start rocking uncontrollably then knock yourself out and ask me about your latest fad diet! Seriously, fad diets are just pseudoscientific nonsense. No diet is fun, and most diets will only bring about short term weight loss that is rapidly regained. I am all about sensible but enjoyable eating patterns that you can sustain for the long haul. Better to make healthier swaps, enjoy your food, never ban foods

So that’s it!  Please go ahead and eat what you like in front of me.  Even porridge.  Just don’t make me eat it.

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