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Boastful food rant

If there’s a pet nutritional peeve of mine it is this: I am all for having treats here and there, but if you go and label a ‘food like product’ as a healthy option to sell to customers, you really get my back up: ‘Food like products’ are those which have been so overly processed from their original state that all the natural goodness (anti inflammatory antioxidants, beneficial fatty acids, beneficial prebiotic fibres etc) has been destroyed.​​​​

I strolled around Sainsburys today doing my shopping only to spy Hartley’s 1 fruit strawberry jelly. I saw the label from metres away selling itself as ‘one of your five a day’. To begin with, five a day is a dumbing down of nutritional needs. Given that beans and lentils, and arguably nuts, are plant based foods – five a day to meet your nutritional requirements is a gross dumbing down of the nutritional needs of human beings: It should be fifteen a day, with fruit only providing a maximum of three of those. What we need is more vegetables….lots more! Just take a look at indigenous diets.

I am not saying this is easy to implement in our current eating climate and congratulate anyone who is having just one a day if they have previously not had any. ALL progress is excellent – confidence builds with initial small changes to bring even bigger changes. But that doesn’t mean that we should provide guidelines which are dumbed down. If dietitians don’t say it, who will? We don’t tell fifteen year old’s that they are reading well if they manage a Ladybird book; we aim for D.H. Lawrence (swoon)!

So here I was, trying not to growl, looking at this jelly. Where is the legislation? I have so many patients who would buy this item with the good intent of nourishing their children; yet it is simply packing them with high glycaemic (fast digesting) sugars (and other rubbish additives): the last thing we need.

The bottom line is: Avoid any food item which comes a. packed in plastic, b. has an ingredient list and c.boasts that it is one of your ‘five’ a day: An apple doesn’t need to boast – it looks like one of your five a day, so probably is. Same goes for kale, pears, spring onions, kidney beans etc. It is not rocket science.

Food is like life: Avoid boastful people and avoid boastful foods: Go for the humble, natural, plant based food which you can recognise from the field.