school meal Educational

School Meals – ban desserts

School meals may ban desserts.  Scottish news yesterday reported that Dentists are calling for a ban on school desserts, to help reduce tooth decay.  At last! This is a matter close to my heart and something I’ve pushed for over a number of years.

About 6 years ago when my eldest child was in nursery they started to offer a starter instead of a dessert a couple of times a week, I remember the staff telling me that the children were asking for their dessert and staff had to explain they had a starter instead.  For me this just enforced how important this scheme was. Why are we conditioning children at such a young age to always expect a pudding after their main course – its just wrong and does not fit with our healthy eating messages.

Then a few years ago when I worked in Public Health in Leeds we piloted swapping the dessert for a starter on two days a week – following on from the good work some nurseries are setting up.  Unfortunately the scheme was not so popular with teachers and children, who preferred sponge and custard and the scheme was scrapped. Feeding obesity and tooth decay rather than improving it.  In Leeds we also have the worst dental decay in young children than the rest of the UK – so this scheme is very much needed.

School meals were first introduced as a two course meal, back in war times when it aimed to provide the majority of calories a child needed in one meal.  Now even with food poverty, we need to ensure children receive a nutrient dense meal and prevent empty calories and excess sugar.

I really hope this scheme is implemented and we can practice what we teach in healthy eating. I believe that a starter rather than a dessert 2-3 times a week would really help educate children about healthy eating, work towards reducing dental decay and obesity.

Read the BBC News report:


Breakfast oat pancakes

A client recently shared their healthier breakfast pancake recipe with me this week and I thought I’d share for all to enjoy over the weekend!

Serves 2

100ml skimmed milk

1 tsp sugar

80g oats (blitzed to a power)

1 egg yolk

2 egg whites – whipped until fluffy

Banana mashed / fresh berries

Natural / Greek yoghurt



Blitz the oats until they resemble a powder.

Whip the two egg whites until thick and fluffy.

In a separate bowl combine the powdered oats with the remaining ingredients, fold in the egg whites.

Heat a large non-stick pan and mist with spray oil, add spoonfuls of the mixture to make small pancakes, turn halfway through cooking.

Serve topped with mashed banana or fresh berries such as raspberries and strawberries and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.


sleep Nutrition

Food to Help a Good Night’s Sleep

We all know how important it is to have a good night’s sleep, to ensure we feel well and have a productive day.  However, research suggests that around a quarter of people report poor sleep.  Evidence shows that a lack of sleep has a negative effect on our body’s ability to regulate our appetite, meaning we overeat and often crave sugary foods to provide the energy that sleep should have restored.

So, how can our diet help us to sleep well?

  • Have a warm milky drink before bed, its something your Grandmother will have told you to do as a child, but there is scientific evidence to support this, milk is shown to help our muscles relax and thereby helps the body relax and get ready to sleep!
  • Have a couple of Brazil nuts, these are high in the nutrient Selenium, if we don’t have enough of this in our diet we can struggle to get to sleep. Three Brazil nuts is enough.
  • Have carbohydrates with your evening meal, evidence suggests that the serotonin released in the brain after consuming carbohydrates helps to calm the body.
  • Avoid sugary foods which cause spikes in our blood sugar throughout the day and makes us feel worse rather than better. Sugar contains no nutrients and nothing our body needs.
  • Avoid caffeine after lunchtime, as a stimulant it might be nice to enjoy a morning cuppa or coffee, however avoid it after lunch and switch to water to hydrate. Even decaf varieties contain some caffeine (often around 12mg per mug) and can disrupt sleep in some people.  Remember cans of coke, energy drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine!
  • Reduce your alcohol intake, although it may help you feel sleepy, the effects are short lived and prevents the body from falling into a deeper sleep, meaning you will feel tired in the morning. It also provides empty calories and sugar and so is best limited to one small glass!
  • Finally, try and eat a healthy balanced diet overall, this will help you maintain a healthy weight, excess weight in itself can cause sleep problems. To get further advice seek support from an AfN Registered Nutritionist.