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.

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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.