• Kerry McLeod RD

I'm glad someone requested that I write a blog post on dairy! It's a hot topic which has long been debated! I remember sitting in a classroom as a teenager and being told to stop eating dairy products for health reasons. At the time, I was a curious, health conscious teenager and I assumed that my teacher was right. To cut a long story short, he was in fact wrong. As a Dietitian, it worries me that young, curious minds are subjected to inaccurate nutritional information. Read on and you'll find out why this particular comment makes me cringe...

Dairy products provide a wealth of important nutrients. Yes, there are certainly valid arguments about the negative impact of dairy on the environment, and some may choose to avoid dairy for ethical reasons, however, many of the messages we hear about it's adverse impact on health don't have any scientific backing - they're often based on opinion rather than facts. Some people can be very convincing, particularly those with a large social media following, supermodels, celebrities, or those with a position of authority. Watch out - eliminating this food group (or any food group for that matter) from your diet could actually do harm!

Examples of dairy products

Milk, cheese, yogurt, quark, fromage frais, creme fraiche

Important nutrients found in dairy - all needed for optimal health

Calcium

Protein

Iodine

Phosphorus

Vitamin B12

Riboflavin

Often when I discuss dairy products with a client, calcium is the first nutrient that pops in to their mind - and there's a good reason for that! Calcium is an important mineral in the building and maintenance of healthy, strong bones. Think of childhood and early adulthood as the bone building period. Around 25-30 years old, we reach peak bone mass - put simply, you've got what you've got. It's really important to nourish your bones during the bone building period to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.

If you're worried you're not getting enough calcium, read more here.

One of the common misconceptions about dairy products is that they're all high in fat. The tables below help us determine whether a food or drink is high in fat, salt and/or sugar:

Table 1: Criteria for foods. Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/566251/FoP_Nutrition_labelling_UK_guidance.pdf
Table 2: Criteria for drinks. Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/566251/FoP_Nutrition_labelling_UK_guidance.pdf

Take whole (blue top) milk for example (the extra creamy and tasty one in my opinion), it contains about 3.6g fat (2.3g saturated fat) per 100ml, putting it in the medium fat category. Pretty interesting considering many people believe "it's fattening" or "contains lots of fat". Cheddar cheese contains around 34.9g fat (21.7g saturated fat) per 100g putting it in the high fat category. That doesn't make cheese "bad". Remember, you don't get good and bad foods and you actually need some fat in your diet. There are many beneficial nutrients in cheese, and it's really tasty (in my opinion), so there's definitely no need to go cold turkey. If you're concerned about your weight, watching your portion sizes and/or choosing reduced fat dairy products will allow you to reap the nutritional benefits and enjoy the delicious flavour of dairy products, whilst watching your waist line. When it comes to cheese, using one with a stronger flavour (i.e. parmesan) means you don't need to use as much to get that delicious cheesy flavour.

Queue the "...aren't reduced fat products packed with sugar?". Taking yogurt as an example, sugar content will vary between types, flavours and brands. Naturally, dairy contains a sugar called lactose. This is not a sugar we should be concerned about as it comes with other beneficial nutrients. Some flavoured yogurts have free sugars added to them. Reading food labels and comparing products will allow you to make more informed dietary choices. The tables above can be used to help you determine if products are low, medium or high in sugar.

You can find out more about sugars here.

Sweeten plain yogurt with fresh fruit to add not only sweetness, but extra vitamins, minerals and fibre too - a delicious and nutritious satisfying snack!

There are many other accusations about dairy products out there - I've just scraped the surface - but today's take home message:

Dairy products provide important nutrients required for optimal health.

If you're considering avoiding or reducing your intake of dairy products, be sure to consider the nutrients that you will need to replace. A Registered Dietitian can support you to ensure your diet is balanced and nutritionally adequate.

The information given on this website is aimed at the adult general public and should not be used as an alternative to personally tailored advice given by your own dietitian or health care professional.

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  • Kerry McLeod RD

If you've been following me on social media, you'll be aware that this week was Dietitian's Week - a week dedicated to celebrating Dietetics, Dietitians and all those who support their work. As it comes to an end, I wanted to reiterate this year's focus:

What Dietitian's Do

It's a common misconception that Dietitian's only support people to lose weight. Although this is certainly one of the many roles of Dietitians, our work extends far beyond weight loss. Personally, much of my career so far has actually involved the complete opposite! You can find out more information about the variety of areas that Dietitians work in here.

Every Dietitian works slightly differently - they have their own style, personality and ways of doing things. Personally, I believe that my role is about much more than the nutritional status of an individual. It's not only the food that we eat that's important; the way we think and feel about food is important too.

'Good foods', 'bad foods', 'healthy foods', 'unhealthy foods', 'clean foods', 'junk foods' - honestly, there are none! It's the overall diet that's important. When we talk about food in this way we encourage an unhealthy relationship with food. If we eat a food that we believe is bad for us, it's not surprising that many of us feel guilty afterwards. Food should be enjoyed and we should never feel guilty about finding pleasure in the food that we eat.

There are no good and bad foods, just good and bad diets.

The internet is flooded with self-proclaimed nutrition experts who often cause more harm than good. As stated in the link above, Dietitians are regulated by law and governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standards. Dietitian's provide up to date, evidence-based information that you can trust. We 'keep it real' in a society where we're constantly bombarded with unsubstantiated nutrition advice.

All images in this post are from the British Dietetic Association.

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  • Kerry McLeod RD

Hello,

Thanks for visiting my blog!

I hope you all enjoyed your chocolate eggs last month. I must say, I also absolutely loved the beautiful weather we had in South Wales. It was around about 22°C! Being Scottish, that's definitely not something I'm used to at this time of year! Dining al fresco, trips to Bute Park, long walks, ice-cream & fresh salads (not together!) are a few of my favourite things to do, and eat, in the nice weather.

As I'm writing this, I'm looking out at a windy, rainy, grey day... Here's hoping the sun comes back sometime soon!

Moving on to May... let's have a look at some of the fruits and vegetables that are in season this month:

Fruits:

Rhubarb, Strawberries

Vegetables:

Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Chicory, Chillies, Elderflowers, Lettuce, Marrow, New potatoes, Peas, Pepper, Radishes, Rocket, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach , Spring greens, Spring onions, Watercress.

Information taken from BDA (2018, citing The Vegetarian Society 2012).

So yes, if this glorious weather keeps up, there's plenty of tasty salad vegetables in season which are great as a side to meals. A small bowl of salad provides 1 of your 5 a day, as well as adding flavour, texture, & freshness to dishes. I love to chop my salad vegetables finely & mix them all together with some salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice & a dash of olive oil. Honestly, it makes such difference!

And then there's strawberries... one of my favourite fruits! They are delicious as a porridge topper, with peanut butter & honey, or if you fancy something sweet after dinner, maybe you'd enjoy them dipped in dark chocolate? Check out the British Heart Foundation's 5 Healthy Ways to Serve Strawberries.

AUBERGINES - YUM! I'll be picking some of these up now that they're in season. Aubergine is great in ratatouille; pureed with garlic, tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil, lemon juice, and various seasonings to make Baba Ghanoush (a Middle Eastern dip); or simply roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Check out this Baba Ganoush recipe from BBC Good Food. I haven't made my own before but intend to try this recipe out, much to my boyfriend's delight (he loves the stuff)! If you decide to try it out, I'd love to hear how you get on.

What are you enjoying this month?

Reference

British Dietetic Association (BDA) (2018) One Blue Dot: Making Our Favourite Meals More Sustainable [online]. UK: BDA. Available from: https://www.bda.uk.com/professional/resources/obd_meal_swaps_file.pdf [Accessed 02 April 2019].

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