Let’s Talk About Nutritionists

Food, News

With so much conflicting health and diet advice being so casually thrown around, sometimes knowing what to fill your fridge with can be a nightmare. For someone deep in the throws of disordered eating and struggling with its complexities, a qualified nutritionist can seem like a light at the end of the tunnel. No one knows better what we should and shouldn’t be putting in our bodies than a nutritionist right?

Well that’s exactly the problem. Now anyone can become a ‘qualified’ nutritionist (note my use of quotation marks here) by embarking on an online course which takes just 6 days to complete. The issue was flagged up in the recent BBC Three documentary, Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets – which is well worth a watch, by the way – in which presenter and blogger Grace Victory was able to enrol on the course at literally the click of a button, despite her openly having a history of disordered eating.

It is extremely unsettling that what should be an accomplished and respected profession is so readily accessible. For someone who suffers from troubled eating behaviours, whether presently or in their past, becoming involved in one of these courses is like adding fuel to an already roaring fire. Nourishing the obsession in such a way would undoubtedly have a drastically detrimental affect on their health.

Then you have those who believe that calling themselves a nutritionist entitles them to give sound dietary advice, reeling off long lists of foods to be avoided at all costs and pushing their latest money-making plant based craze on vulnerable followers. Yet what’s worse, is that their so-called qualification means we believe it, however far from accurate and extreme the advice may be.

In the UK, more or less anyone can call themselves a nutritionist because it is not a restricted title. To be a dietician however, requires at least four years of studying at university and to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. Qualified dieticians undertake clinical placements and are trained to interpret blood results and medical notes, in other words, they can detect other deficiencies and health concerns caused by disordered eating. Even professionals who call themselves nutrition therapists are often self-regulated and have not completed this essential clinical training and are therefore not suitable to work with someone suffering with an eating disorder.

It is vitally important that anyone struggling with eating seeks the right help from someone who is going to give the right advice. Their Instagram bio may describe them as a ‘qualified nutritionist’ but they could just be another wellness blogger.

For those seeking help from a nutritionist, ensure that they are registered and are a full member of the Association for Nutrition.

There’s Nothing ‘Super’ About These Foods…

Food, News

Our health is priceless, so why are the supposedly healthiest foods so outrageously expensive?

People are starting to speculate about the so-called ‘superfoods,’ if one food is better than all the others, it must do or contain something pretty spectacular. Yet there is very little, to no evidence, to suggest that they do. These particular foods, which have become something of an elite club, are no better for us than the diet staples we have been eating for centuries. The only thing suggesting that these foods are ‘super’ is the price tag.

I’ve taken a select few members of the ‘superfood’ club and offered an equally beneficial alternative that won’t have you breaking out in a cold sweat at the checkout – in fact they’re probably already in your fridge.

 

kale

Kale

Alternative: Cabbage/Broccoli

Let’s get this straight, there is nothing exotic about kale. It contains the same amount of nutrients as any other green veg and it can easily be grown in your own back garden. Green veg such as cabbage and broccoli are half the price and just as good for us, they just aren’t as Instagram friendly right now.

goji berry

Goji Berries 

Alternative: Strawberries/Raspberries

The goji berry, famously used in Chinese medicine for it’s healing powers and equally famous for being outrageously expensive in the supermarket. There is no evidence to show that the goji berry is more beneficial than any other fruits and a BBC documentary showed that fruits such as strawberries contain the same amounts of vitamin C. Fresh raspberries even contain less sugar and are therefore a better option for our diets and our purses.

 

coconut

Coconut Oil

Alternative: Rapeseed Oil

Coconut oil has just as good of a rep in the bathroom as it does in the kitchen, but this reputation comes with a hefty price tag and the many benefits it is applauded for are apparently unfounded. Much better to invest in an oil such as rapeseed which contains healthy fats, or just stick to good old vegetable oil. Though I’m not sure I’ll be applying these to my hair and skin just yet.

quinoa

Quinoa

Alternative: Lentils

Quinoa is famously a good source of amino acids, great news for vegans as isn’t animal-based. However, the store cupboard staples, lentils and rice are proven to contain just as much in amino acids and even more in fibre and protein and are much, much cheaper. baked beans and peanut butter on wholegrain toast are also effective ways for vegans to get those essential nutrients without having to take out a loan.

wheatgrass

Wheatgrass

Alternative: Spinach

For some reason, wheatgrass has had a bit of a moment, becoming a favourite at health spas and gaining a reputation as the ultimate detox drink. It claims to boost red blood cell production and salve inflammation of the colon, however there either no evidence of this or it is inconclusive. The nutrient content is equivalent to that of the more common vegetable such as broccoli or spinach and a single shot – the fashionable way to consume it – doesn’t even count as one of your five a day. Need I mention that it tastes awful?

chia

Chia Seeds

Alternative: Sesame Seeds

The chia seed phenomenon has been quite something. Filtered photographs of them filling our Instagram feeds, sprinkled on top of cereals or mixed into a suspicious looking slop known as chia pudding. What happened to the good old sesame seed? They are far cheaper, contain almost double the amount of iron, with higher levels of calcium, magnesium and vitamin B6.

blueberry

Blueberries

Alternative: Blackberries

Blueberries are certainly healthy and a welcome addition to the bowl at breakfast time. However, these two fruits are roughly the same price in the supermarket and blackberries contain twice as much vitamin C.

salmon

Salmon

Alternative: Sardines

While there is evidence to support the fact that oily fish is a beneficial addition to our diets, this doesn’t mean we have to spend a fortune on it. Sardines are almost half the price of salmon but have none of the positive hype surrounding them. While they contain similar amounts of Omega-3, sardines contain more vitamin B12.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people should eat whatever they want and whatever makes them feel good. I just don’t believe that we should be spending a small fortune every time we do the weekly shop because a wellness blogger tells us one vegetable is better than all the others, or because everyone is sharing photos of their wheatgrass smoothies on Instagram. Especially when more often than not there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back up the claims. I wanted to show that there is no such thing as a ‘superfood’- all food is super because it keeps us alive.  As for a ‘superfood diet’, I’d prefer to call it a balanced one.

 

 

Be Balanced Not Clean – The #EatClean Backlash

Food, Uncategorized

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The ‘clean eating’ phenomenon has been clogging up our Instagram feeds for too long. It is finally starting to face its inevitable backlash and I for one, am glad. The ‘eat clean’ hashtag has been deceiving us for long enough, with Instagrammers and food bloggers convincing us that their raw, vegan, plant-based or superfood diet is not in fact a diet, but a simple lifestyle change resulting in a healthier way of living. We are led to believe that not only will eating clean help us lose weight, it will give us clear skin, shiny hair and resolve a whole range of health issues from digestive disorders to reducing the risk of certain cancers. Sounds too good to be true right? That’s because it is, unfortunately behind all those filters lies an unhealthy truth.

The irony is, that I actually enjoy many of the foods that fall into the ‘clean eating’ category, but it’s the term that I dislike. Describing a particular way of eating as ‘clean’ implies that any other way of eating is ‘dirty’ ‘unclean’ and generally negative, therefore shaming those who are not on the bandwagon. It’s that issue again of labelling certain foods and in this case, even entire food groups, as ‘bad’ and if we consume them, that makes us bad too. This is not just true when it comes to others, but also ourselves, leading to self-persecuting behaviours which are at best a very unhealthy way of thinking and at worst the early symptoms of an eating disorder. Lets remind ourselves that being healthy is not just about the body but the mind too.

Great British Bake Off star Ruby Tandoh, who has spoken publicly about her battles with eating disorders, has been one of the first to lash out against ‘clean eating’, penning a controversial column for Vice in which she attacks food bloggers – and now authors of their own cookbooks – such as Ella Henderson (now Mills) and the Helmsley sisters, the leaders or shall we say, instigators of the clean eating craze.

http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/ruby-tandoh-eat-clean-wellness

Like Tandoh, I bought into the clean eating concept, believing that I was heading towards a healthy lifestyle and that eating clean was a positive way to deal with recovery – I could concentrate on what I was eating, rather than not eating at all – and not only were these foods okay to eat but were actually good for me. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I was actually not recovering from my eating disorder at all, just channelling in a different way. I became obsessed with what I could and couldn’t eat, overcome with an astonishing sense of guilt if I so much as looked at a carb. For me, and for many, eating clean is just another way of controlling what you’re putting into your body.

Orthorexia, an eating disorder which stems from an obsession with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ foods, is not yet officially recognised by the medical profession, but this doesn’t mean it is any less dangerous. I don’t want to presume, but the fact that there has been an increase in the number of people suffering from this disorder in recent years, correlating with societies preoccupation with clean eating, I think speaks for itself. Food snaps and selfies of post-workout abs on Instagram, are just a part of the latest wave of thinspiration. These images which fill up our news feeds are just as detrimental as the photos of thigh-gaps and collarbones which I used to scroll through on Pro-Ana sites. Only now, the problem is that it brands itself as ‘wellness’, fooling us into believing it is a positive, healthy lifestyle. ‘Wellness’ is a term that should mean caring for and nourishing the body, but in this case, it is quite the opposite. While it is true that not everyone who chooses to ‘eat clean’ will develop an eating disorder, we need to be aware of the dangers and we need to stop branding these trends as healthy, preferable ways to live.

To me a healthy lifestyle is about being balanced, not clean. Cutting out entire food groups unnecessarily is not balanced and certainly not healthy. Eating healthy is not a new concept or a latest trend, it is what we’ve been doing for years – eating three meals a day which include fruit, veg, meat, fish, dairy and carbs. There’s a reason that these foods make up a balanced diet and that is because they contain the nutrients that our bodies need to survive. It’s incredibly simple, so why is this so often forgotten? Food is a resource for life, not the object of living.

Near the end of Tandoh’s column, she cites an experiment in which a group of women were fed foods they knew and enjoyed and then the same foods in a pureed form. The results showed that their bodies absorbed more nutrients from the meal they had enjoyed eating than from the less-palatable pureed form, proving that taking pleasure from what we eat leaves us better nourished.

So there you have it, scientific proof that enjoying your food is good for you. What you enjoy is down to you, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to diet and the best part of being balanced is finding foods that both you and your body love. Try new foods, experiment with recipes, learn to cook, go out to dinner and most importantly, ditch the #eatclean for #balancednotclean.

6 Reasons Why We Should ‘Drop The Plus’

Fashion, Opinion

STEFANIA

“I am a model FULL STOP.” Says the face of Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line, Stefania Ferrario.

“Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are considered plus size… I do not find this empowering… I am not proud to be called ‘plus’ but I am proud to be called a ‘model'”.

Stefania is one of a group of models, alongside Australian TV presenter, Ajay Rochester, who are campaigning to get the fashion industry to #DropThePlus – as in ‘plus size’ and stop classifying models by their size. The campaign is now widely trending on Twitter, with women worldwide tweeting their support and sharing selfies like Stefania’s.

There have been objections, of course, with many in the industry saying ‘plus size’ is a term simply used to differentiate. How is it any different from petite? But whereas petite describes a certain body ratio, ‘plus size’ doesn’t describe anything. Plus what? What is normal? Is normal the industry standard size 10? That’s ridiculous, right? That is the message that the fashion industry is currently sending out.

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Here’s why we need to ‘Drop The Plus’:

1. ‘Plus size’ is a pointless classification, when we already have a very successful, numerical system of differentiating between sizes e.g. 10, 12, 14

2. The term implies that anyone who is larger than a size 10 is not normal, or too big. This is extremely damaging and leaves women wondering “If she is a plus size, what the hell am I?” A perfect example of this is the Calvin Klein model, Myla Dalbesio, who was labelled as plus size, causing outrage.

3. Fashion is about empowering people to express themselves and be confident, it shouldn’t be about excluding people because of their size and making them feel insecure and inferior.

4. ‘Pus size’ is not just negative for the consumers of fashion, it is damaging for the models themselves. It stigmatises all size 12 and above models as “not real” or “not normal models”, just as the label of “real women” with “curves” excludes those models who are smaller, as if they are not real women.

5. Yes, ‘plus size’ did serve a purpose when women over size 10 had completely separate divisions within model agencies and were so rarely seen in campaigns and editorials that it genuinely shocked us to see them in Vogue. ‘Plus size’ was a fashion movement and it worked. Yes this is great, but the real success is when fashion rejects the plus label and starts accepting these models as an industry standard.

6. Language matters. Contrary to popular belief (we are all familiar with the rhyme – sticks and stones may break my bones….) words have an exceptional effect and can be irreparably damaging. As Stefania says “I am a model FULL STOP.” Just we are all women FULL STOP.

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#droptheplus

@stefania_model

@ajayrochester

@droptheplus

Make Fashion Not War – Chanel, Paris Fashion Week

Fashion, News, Opinion

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As if I needed another reason to adore Chanel more than I do already – one of my only ambitions in life is to one day own the classic 2.55 bag – yesterday at Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld gave me just that. For those of you who missed the infiltration of images on your Instagram feed, posted by everyone who is anyone, the Chanel catwalk show gave us something completely unexpected.

As the closing of his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Lagerfeld sent his Chanel-clad models, which included Cara Delevingne, Gisele Bundchen and Georgia-May Jagger, strutting down a runway transformed into a Paris boulevard, placards in hands (and megaphone poised in Delevingne’s case) fighting for women’s rights. Painted on the placards read a number of statements, including “Make Fashion Not War” “Women’s Rights are More Than Alright” “History is Her Story” – you get the gist, but Lagerfeld had also included a placard reading “He For She” in support of Emma Watson’s campaign.

Of course the show has received mixed reviews and its fair share of criticism but I can only come to the conclusion that it was great. Admittedly it seems a surprising proclamation from someone who once said size-zero model concerns were the “whinings of fat mommies with bags of crisps” but Lagerfeld is also noted as saying, “Every thing I say is a joke. I myself am a joke.”

With this in mind, lets not take this too seriously. I don’t believe that Lagerfeld is the new champion of feminism and women’s rights but I do believe his show had good intentions and could have positive repercussions. Fashion has the power to influence, particularly a brand such as Chanel, and by doing this it is helping feminism reach whole new audiences. It is sending out the message that feminism is fashionable. However the show was intended, lets not read too much into it, lets take it for what is is, a whole lot of good fun whilst addressing an extremely significant issue. It’s a fashion statement.

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Mind the Gap – The ‘Thigh Gap’, That Is

Opinion

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Type “thigh gap” into Instagram or Twitter, and you have yourself a huge collection of photographs of women’s slowly disintegrating legs. You will also find the Twitter page @CarasThighGap. Yes, it is exactly what it says on the tin, a Twitter account dedicated to Cara Delevingne’s thigh gap, with various photographs and tweets from followers, paying their great respects to the nothingness between her limbs. Cara is one of the the few women on the planet who can have (if it is possible to ‘own’ thin air, I am not entirely sure of the correct terminology here) a thigh gap, without becoming completely emaciated – though I’m fairly sure you won’t catch her down McDonalds. The problem is, that young girls, teenagers and to be honest even some “fully-grown” women see this obsession sweeping across social network sites and believe that, in order to be good enough, they too must look like this. This is partly down to low self-esteem, bad body image and the media, but a large part of it is down to other women.

We, women, are so judgmental of each other in all aspects of life, but when it comes to weight, it is every woman for herself in a viciously competitive world, where there are no real winners at all. We shouldn’t be marketing these forms of body hatred and dangerous obsessions to vulnerable girls, who are already struggling with their bodies and self-esteem and do not need any encouragement from social media. Once the idea of the “thigh gap” has lodged itself in the mind, it is extremely difficult to get rid of, resulting in young women everywhere starving and torturing themselves in an attempt to achieve something completely unrealistic.

We should know better than this. We should be uniting against ‘thinspiration’ and extreme body hatred, such as the thigh gap, not witnessing it as a worldwide Twitter trend. Extreme and unhealthy obsessions on social media, like that of the thigh gap, need to stop, if we have any chance of moving on from this culture of eating disorders and emaciation.

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