Guest Post: 7 Foods Your Teeth Will Thank You For Eating

We all have a pretty clear image of what foods are bad for your teeth. Steer away from fizzy juice, take a break with the caramel chews, and cut out the coffee. We’re sure none of these are news to you.

However, what a lot of people forget to mention is that there are lots of foods that will help you maintain a good healthy oral hygiene.

In this guest blog, we’ll have a look at 7 superfoods that are great for your teeth. They help keep your teeth strong, fight off cavities, keep your breath fresh, and the last but certainly not least – they are pretty damn tasty!

Strawberries

Strawberries truly are a super berry, and oh my are they tasty.

The red juicy berry is filled with antioxidants and packed with vitamin C. And not only are they healthy, they naturally exfoliate your mouth and help remove tartar.

So next time you’re wanting a sugary snack, or you’re looking through the cupboards for that piece of chocolate that you know is there – think strawberries instead.

Tea

First let’s get one thing straight, when we say tea – we’re referring to black and green teas, not your sugar boasted breakfast tea. The two kinds of tea contain a compound called polyphenols. Polyphenols helps slow the growth of bacteria, which ultimately means fewer cavities.

Researchers at University of Illinois found that in their tea-riffic study, people who rinsed black tea for one minute, ten times a day, had less plaque compared to people who rinsed with water.

Now, rinsing your mouth in tea ten times a day might seem a little over the top, maybe cut back the coffee and carbonated drinks and brew some tea instead.

Yogurt

As with tea, we’re talking about the natural kind of yogurt – no sugars added.

Natural yogurt and yogurt with no added sugar is full of calcium and protein, both of which help your teeth stay healthy.

Helping to create a healthy balance in your mouth as well as in your tummy, yogurt is a great addition to your diet.

Almonds

Perhaps you’re surprised to see almonds on the list? It’s no secret that we were.

The chewy nuts are great for your oral hygiene. Boasted with calcium and protein, and low in sugar – the nuts offer all the benefits that yogurt does but are a little more versatile.

Oh and not to mention they’re yummy, and provide a great midday snack!

Sugar-free gum

As you chew gum, you produce more saliva. The increased saliva production brings the pH balance back to normal quicker.

On top of speeding up your pH recuperation after meals and acidic drinks, a piece of gum can be a refreshing touch and maybe even keep you awake if you’re struggling with post- lunch blues.

Water

Drinking water regularly throughout the day doesn’t just keep you hydrated and healthy, but it helps wash away food from in between your teeth.

It’s most likely no surprise to you that water works miracles, but do yourself a favour and fill that re-usable bottle and make sure you get your ~1.5 litres at least a day.

Water will keep you hydrated and improve your oral health.

Celery

Last but not least, celery. People often have a love/hate relationship with this strangely textured veg.

While celery isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying the positive effects that the green sticks bring to the table.

The stringy strands that make up celery work a little like a toothbrush. They help scrape the food off your teeth, get in between your tight dentures and just generally help keep your oral hygiene in tip top shape.

About the author

Buttercup 7 Day Dental is a dentist located in Glasgow’s West End. Buttercup was founded in 2011 by Gerwyn and Angela Rowlands with the aim of creating a clinic where patients would feel safe and relaxed. At Buttercup, our finest mission is to end our patients’ dentist fear and provide them with a high quality service.


Can’t Eat Gluten, Can’t Eat Lactose. What CAN I Eat?

photo by Carsten Schertzer

photo by Carsten Schertzer

More and more people are suddenly finding themselves either unable to handle gluten in their diets, or unable to handle lactose, or both.

It is a known fact that most animals can’t handle cows milk, and that it is quite bad for adult humans to drink, so why is so much of our food dairy based?

For someone who isn’t allergic to lactose, just intolerant and therefore I can handle some dairy products, it’s much easier just to suffer a little discomfort now and then, rather than change your diet. At least, that is what I thought for quite some time, as there really isn’t much out there for a lactose-intolerant person to eat.

What I didn’t know is that I was making myself much worse by continually eating dairy products such as cheese or yoghurt. I noticed a huge change in my health when I stopped eating these products, my asthma was seriously improving, my hay fever was much better and I generally felt much healthier.

However, after only a short time of not eating these products, I felt the cravings and sadly I gave in to them. Dairy products are surprisingly addictive, so once you start eating even a little cheese, you start wanting more. My friend started to notice the change in my health again and politely advised me that I really ought to stop eating dairy products and possibly try a short stint on a gluten free diet.

I decided to pay attention to her and as I was living with her at the time, I was able to live gluten free easily, because she is intolerant to it. Almost right away I noticed a huge difference in my health and wellbeing and I thought to myself, “Is there a connection between the two products?”

I started to ask around my friends and soon found that where one was allergic or intolerant to lactose, they were also intolerant to gluten, at least those who were aware of it were. So I started to look around on the internet and found that my friend had been correct. It is common for celiacs (those intolerant or allergic to gluten) to also have problems with lactose intolerance. I started then thinking, how many people out there are actually aware of this connection, because until my friend pointed it out I had absolutely no idea of this.

So what CAN I Eat?

This is a very good question, and one that sprang almost instantly to my mind. I thought “Wait, how am I supposed to live if I can’t eat gluten or lactose. So many products contain either one or both.” So I began shopping around and straight away noticed how restricted I was in the way of things I could actually eat or buy.

Sure, there are supermarkets that sell a range of “free from” products, but either they taste disgusting or are far too expensive. So, yet again I decided to skip the new diet and go back to my old ways of eating, purely because I was too lazy to actually check the labels or be inventive with food.

Though I didn’t eat dairy, I still ate bread and cakes and things that contained gluten. I soon began to regret my decision and started to suffer terrible burning pains in my throat and other unmentionable symptoms. I thought “Hey, the research is right… I had better stop eating this stuff” and I did.

Now I am finding that my health is dramatically improving, my joints don’t hurt as much and so many things have changed now I have cut both products out of my diet. Don’t be disheartened, there are plenty of foods out there that you can eat, trust me.

More and more people are becoming aware of the growing food intolerances in children and adults and many companies have started selling their “free from” products in supermarkets. If you experience symptoms such as: bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, tiredness, diarrhea, to name just a few, then it may be worthwhile checking to see if you suffer from gluten intolerance.

If you are gluten intolerant, then it may be worth leaving out dairy products, too. You will be amazed at how healthy you feel in just a short time, trust me. Even if you aren’t found to be allergic by your doctor, I would advise just leaving out gluten and dairy for a week or so and see how you feel afterwards. You might be surprised by the results.

[Editor’s note] I offer a wide range of food for special diets in my online shop.


Fibre-rich breakfast. Choose gluten free granola

Can I include fibre in a gluten free diet?

Fibre-rich breakfast. Choose gluten free granola

Fibre-rich breakfast. Choose gluten free granola

To keep your digestive system working properly and avoid constipation, it’s important to include fibre in your diet. There are also studies that show increasing fibre intake reduces the risk of various types of cancer and other serious health problems such as ischaemic heart disease.

When people talk about including fibre (or “roughage” as my grandad used to call it) in their diet, they are mostly thinking of wheat bran – proprietary products such as All Bran, Sultana Bran and Weetabix are often recommended by GPs, along with wholegrain bread. But what if you’re trying to exclude gluten from your diet? Are there any other sources of fibre available?

In fact, despite the overwhelming attention paid to wheat bran as a source of fibre, there are many other sources available, many of which are actually better. Fibre is found in plant stems, roots, leaves, pods and seeds. Rice bran or soy bran is probably the easiest like-for-like substitute for wheat bran, but you can get your fibre from peas and beans, nuts or dried fruit, and many fruits and vegetables.

Some sources are fairly obvious. For example, celery is very noticeably fibrous, particularly the older outer stems.

Sources of fibre suitable for the gluten intolerant include:

  • psyllium husks, chia seeds, African mango, fructooligosaccharides (commonly called FOS)
  • rice (brown or white, though the brown has a greater fibre content) and rice products, rice bran
  • possibly oats (although these may also cause symptoms in some people) and oat bran. Make sure you buy oats/oat bran with a gluten free label, meaning it was processed in a gluten free facility
  • pulses/legumes: baked beans, broad beans, butter beans, French beans, haricot beans, runner beans, soya beans, soya bran, lentils, peas
  • salad and stirfry vegetables: beansprouts, beetroot, celery, cucumber (with the skin on), lettuce, peppers, radishes, spring onions, tomatoes, watercress
  • green vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sprout tops, spring greens, spinach
  • root vegetables: beetroot, carrots, maca root (usually sold as a powder), parsnips, potatoes (especially if eaten with their skins), swede, turnips
  • other vegetables: cauliflower, leeks, mushrooms, parsley, sweetcorn, courgettes (zucchini) with the skin on
  • crisps (especially if prepared with the skin left on)
  • fruit: apples, apricots (fresh or dried), avocado pears, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, blackcurrants, cherries, cranberries, gooseberries, goji berries, grapes, grapefruit, huckleberries, lemons, lucuma (usually sold as a powder), melon, oranges, passion fruit, peaches (fresh or dried), pears, pineapple, plums, pomegranites, raspberries, strawberries, currants, dates, figs (fresh or dried), prunes, raisins and sultanas

So, can you include fibre in a gluten free diet? Yes, yes, and yes again.


Egg mayonnaise salad with baked potato

Quick and Easy Meals without Gluten

Egg mayonnaise salad with baked potato

Egg mayonnaise salad with baked potato

Someone asked me, “how do i keep my meals easy/simple but without gluten?” Sounds like an easy question, doesn’t it? But if you’re gluten intolerant, you will know it’s not so simple.

In the past, I used to keep some ready meals for when I was in a hurry or too tired to cook, but most of them are off the menu now – apart from the ones I never liked! Pizza, pies and ordinary pasta are also out. I do keep some Orgran rice and corn pasta in the cupboard, which tastes fine, and is as easy to cook as any other pasta. It goes nicely with a bolonaise or tomato and onion sauce, and is also fine with just butter, parmesan and lots of black pepper.

In my kitchen cupboard, I have a packet or two of Corn Thins, in place of bread. These are really tasty, come in various different types (you can get them in brown rice and multigrain varieties as well), and have the advantage that they don’t squeak when you eat them, unlike rice crackers. They also have a taste – so far as I am concerned, rice crackers taste of nothing at all. Corn Thins are good with butter and cold meat, or jam, or honey – anything you would have put in a sandwich – though the fillings are best used as toppings, as trying to eat them in pairs with something in between is very difficult.

Most of the time, when I’m looking for something quick to eat for a main meal, I follow the sort of menus recommended by Dr Atkins (not because I’m trying to lose weight, but because cutting out carbs is similar to cutting out gluten). So this means something like a piece of chicken or a chop or steak, cooked under the grill or in the oven, or even fried. But no coating, unless you’ve bought in something gluten free (Orgran do gluten free breadcrumbs in Rice or Corn varieties).

I also like a grilled mackerel. I get the fishmonger to gut the fish and take the head off, but leave it whole. When I get it home, I open the fish out flat with the skin side up and run the handle of a knife hard along the backbone, then I turn it over and the bones come out fairly easily. A quick wash under the tap and then I put it under the grill with a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon in the middle, where the bone has left a sort of valley. It only takes about 10-15 minutes to cook, and doesn’t need to be turned over, though I keep brushing the butter and lemon over every now and then.

To accompany the meal, ordinary fresh or frozen vegetables cooked in the normal way are fine, or a nice mixed salad. Unlike real Atkins dieters, I eat carbohydrate with my food, so long as it’s not gluten-based. I like saute potatoes or mash sometimes, and for a real treat, some mushrooms go really well with a bit of fried steak, and can be cooked in the pan at the same time.

If I don’t feel like meat, I might have a jacket baked potato, egg mayonnaise and mixed salad maybe with some shrimp (prawns). This is a very quick meal. I start by putting the eggs on, then when they are cooked I put them into cold water, leaving them to sit for a while, and put the potato in the microwave. As it cooks, I prepare the salad and put it on the plate, peel the eggs, and mash them up with some mayonnaise. Then I put the halved potato on the salad, top with the egg mayonnaise and shrimp and it’s ready. Another thing that goes well with salad is ham slices rolled up and filled with cottage cheese, maybe with a few bits of chopped celery mixed with the cheese filling.

In the winter, one of my favourite lunches is a chunky lentil soup. I put some lentils, some cooking bacon or a ham bone and a few carrots and one or two leeks sliced up (if I’ve no leeks, I cut a couple of onions into quarters instead) into a saucepan, cover with water and a lid, bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. It only takes 20-30 minutes, and then I eat it. If you prefer it smooth, blend it after it has finished cooking, but I like it just as it is. The occasional bit of leek or bacon makes it more interesting.

I live on my own, so I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It’s really only when I make a curry (which will do me for 3 days) that I spend a lot of time cooking. For this, I chop a couple of onions, one or two cloves of garlic and half a dozen chilli peppers, fry them gently in a little melted ghee (clarified butter) or oil with about half a tablespoonful of garam masala. When they are soft, I add 2 or 3 chicken portions or the diced meat from a cooked turkey leg, or some diced shoulder lamb, 1 or 2 aubergines (eggplants) sliced about half an inch thick and 1 or 2 sweet peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks (I like these vegetables in curry, as they go quite soft and make a good base). I push everything down and cover with as little water as I can get away with and add in a stock cube and some salt, bring to the boil and cover tightly.

When it comes to the boil I turn it down to a simmer and put my brown rice on to cook (1 cup rice to little bit over 2 cups of water, plus some salt). When that comes to the boil, I turn that down to the lowest flame I can get, and cover it. I keep checking the rice every 10 minutes or so, without stirring. About 10 minutes before I want to eat, I put 2 or 3 carrots into the curry, cut into chunks, as I like them to be fairly crisp. When I think all the water has gone, I use a fork to push the rice to one side to check, and when the bottom of the pan is dry, my dinner is ready.

I don’t usually thicken the curry sauce, but if I did I would use 1-2 tablespoonfuls of rice flour beaten into the gravy over a high heat. If I have any coriander (cilantro), I chop up a handful and stir it into the curry just before serving. Though it’s quite a lot of work, I only have to cook one day in 3 with this dinner, so I don’t mind.

For me, I find this approach to eating gluten free works well, and is quick, easy and hassle-free.


What is gluten intolerance?

cakes8

photo by Ines Hegedus-Garcia

Gluten intolerance affects a large proportion of the population. Yet many people who may be affected aren’t even sure what it is. This article sets out to explain what gluten intolerance is, how it can affect you, and, just as important, what it is not.

Let’s start by looking at what gluten intolerance is not. This may seem an odd place to start, but many people, even among the medical profession (who should know better) think that when people say they are gluten intolerant they mean they have an allergy to gluten.

Gluten intolerance is not an allergy. Neither are other forms of food intolerance. An allergy involves the immune system. Food intolerances do not. That does not mean that they cannot cause severe illness, just that they are not fixable by anti-histamines or other drugs, and that it’s extremely unlikely that a mouthful of pasta will result in you keeling over instantly (I bet that’s a relief). Unlike an allergy, food intolerance is caused by an inability to absorb or process a particular food correctly, leading to a buildup of certain toxins, which are damaging, but not generally immediately fatal.

So now we’ve got that out of the way, we can look at what gluten intolerance actually is. What it means is that the body is unable to deal with food containing gluten, and because of this it reacts in ways that range from uncomfortable to crippling, and even life-threatening if the cause is not removed.

The problem is that, barring some parts of Asia, almost all of us eat large quantities of gluten every day, day in and day out, and we have done since we started eating “proper” solid food. So if your body is not able to cope with gluten, every day, several times a day, it comes up against this irritant, and over time the situation becomes more and more intolerable.

The most extreme form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease. This is a dangerous disease, and sufferers must avoid all gluten altogether. Unfortunately, although there is a test available, it is not always completely accurate, so there may be people suffering from celiac disease who have not been diagnosed as such.

The rest of us, thankfully, will just get irritable bowel, aches and pains, depression or if we are unlucky, obesity. This is bad enough, for sure. Still, these problems go away if you eliminate gluten (if that’s what’s causing them), whereas celiac disease doesn’t.

Since there are no accurate tests available for gluten intolerance, you need to discover whether you are intolerant or not by experiment. If you suspect you may be, please see my article “How can you find out if you are gluten intolerant?” to learn how to go about this.

Now you know what gluten intolerance is, next time someone says it’s an allergy, you will be able to put them right!

I offer a wide range of food for special diets in my online shop.


Is clean eating right for you?

Ideal meal by volume

An ideal meal for clean eating would comprise 60% fruit and vegetables, 20% protein and 20% complex carbohydrate, estimating roughly by volume.

Clean eating is a fairly new idea which seems to have spread across the world like wildfire. But what does it mean? In fact, although the term clean eating may be new, much of the thinking behind it has been advocated by health experts for many years – since the 1960s at the very least.

Conventional nutrition science espoused since the 1950s is turned on its head in some ways, but people in the alternative sector mostly realised these were wrong-headed long ago. It’s good to see this brought out into the open, though.

Clean eating defined

Most aspects of clean eating are fairly normal parts of a healthy diet. The biggest major innovation is the recommendation to eat five or six small meals a day, instead of the usual three larger ones. Some people may find this difficult to fit in with their working lives, but you shouldn’t let this put you off the whole concept. If you can’t split your eating times up like this, it’s not a roadblock, you can still eat the right foods.

The main idea that should guide you is eliminating highly processed foods like ready meals and junk food including take out burgers and pizza. There’s nothing to stop you from making clean versions of these products at home, of course.

What’s on the menu

Aside from changing the number of meals you have a day, the focus is on following a diet of unprocessed or minimally processed foods: fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, nuts, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), whole grains and pasta, organic wherever possible and free range eggs. This means, for example, that butter is preferred over factory-produced substitutes and margarine.

Unlike some diets, both red and white meat is included if you wish, but try to avoid factory produced meat – go for organic if you can afford it, and definitely avoid meat from animals raised with hormones. Wild is best, but unless you live in Alaska you probably can’t get this most of the time; pastured/outdoor-reared is an acceptable substitute.

Use healthy fats and oils like coconut oil, olive oil, butter or ghee for frying; avocado oil, olive oil, sesame oil or walnut oil for dressings (mixed with apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon, lime or orange juice). Avoid soya oil, rapeseed (canola) oil and generic vegetable oil.

If you eat dairy products, choose full fat, organic milk, cheese, yoghurt etc. preferably from grass fed cows. If you prefer, unsweetened dairy milk like plain almond, rice or coconut milks without additives are OK, too. Soy milk is all right occasionally, but not in large quantities due to its effects on hormone levels.

Try to eat about 60% fruit and veg, 20% protein and 20% carbs by volume (see image top right).

Clean eating isn’t rocket science, but it might give you a boost just the same. You’ll find a wide range of clean foods in my online store.


Allergy? Food intolerance? What’s in a name?

A healthy meal - but can you eat it?

A healthy meal – but can you eat it?

Lots of people think that allergy and food intolerance are just two expressions meaning the same thing. This even includes some Doctors! In fact, there is a big difference.

There is one thing allergies and food intolerances have in common: both can cause physical reactions, ranging from mild to severe. But that’s pretty much where the similarity ends.

So what is the difference? It should become clear as soon as I give you the definitions.

An allergy is a physical reaction which is triggered by the immune system whenever a particular substance comes into contact with, or is ingested (eaten) by a susceptible individual. This includes the infamous peanut allergy, amongst others. Because the immune system is involved, a blood test can be used to test for an allergy.

A food intolerance is an inability to absorb or digest certain types of food, leading to a buildup of toxins which cause effects ranging from the inability to absorb other foods through to headaches, and many other possible symptoms. It does not involve the immune system, so it is difficult to devise a test, particularly as different individuals may react in different ways. In fact, the only test I know of for anything that might be described as food intolerance is the one given to test for celiac disease, and even this is not entirely accurate.

You might think there is little point in making the distinction. So what if the immune system is involved? It’s up to the doctors to do the diagnosis – they must know what they are doing.

If only life were that simple.

It’s sad, but the medical profession is so wedded to their little test tubes that many of them deny that food intolerance exists, because, they cannot detect a reaction. Others are happy to take your money for spurious tests that will not detect anything, for example:

  • Skin test: The classic test for immune response. Good for discovering if you have an allergy, but useless for pinpointing intolerance.
  • Tongue test: A modification of the skin test, again only suitable for discovering allergies, rather than food intolerance.
  • RAST test (radioallergosorbent test): A blood test. Another test suitable for testing for allergies, but not for intolerance.
  • Cytotoxic test: Attractive in theory, but disappointing in practice. Do not take this test as the results are unreliable, with many false positives.
  • Hair test: A test for mineral deficiencies offered as a way of diagnosing possible food intolerance. However, there does not seem to be any link between mineral deficiency and food intolerance!
  • Blood mineral analysis: Again, mineral levels are tested, but the link between mineral deficiencies and any food intolerance has not been demonstrated.
  • Blood (antibody) test: Any food antibodies found in the blood will demonstrate a food allergy. However, no antibody does not equal no food intolerance.

None of these tests are of any value in finding out if you are food intolerant or not. The only reliable way of discovering what, if any, food intolerances you may have is by means of an exclusion diet. A food diary can also be helpful.

I offer a wide range of food for special diets in my online shop.


Organic does not mean allergen-free

0165574cTwice recently I’ve read articles that said products that were organic could not cause allergic reactions. One said that organic products were gluten free! This is dangerous nonsense.

So let’s define our terms here. Organic means that something was grown without using chemicals. It’s true that some people are allergic to pesticides and other chemicals used in conventional farming, but even though they would be safer going for organic products, this doesn’t necessarily mean that something else they have a problem with isn’t present.

Gluten-free means that the product does not contain grains like wheat, barley, rye, spelt and some others that contain gluten and has not subsequently been contaminated with gluten. Gluten is a protein which is part of the grain, and growing wheat, for example, in an organic way doesn’t stop gluten being there. Would knitting a wool jumper in a “clean room” stop it being made of wool? No. No more does growing grain in a clean environment stop it being what it is.

Just as you need to use acrylic when knitting a jumper to avoid a reaction to wool, you need to substitute other grains for the ones that contain gluten if you are gluten intolerant. Whether or not they are grown organically is irrelevant to the gluten content.

Everybody is different, and some of us have difficulties with things others have no problem with. This is normal, because we are all unique, and the way our bodies work reflects that uniqueness. The chemical balance, our genes and our history of exposure to potential irritants all contribute to this. That’s one of the reasons why doctors always say not to share prescribed medicines.

I offer a wide range of products for special diets, not just gluten free but also dairy free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian… pretty much any “free from” diet you may be following.

So don’t be fooled. Organic production is a good thing, but it won’t protect you from an allergic or intolerance reaction if you use something you are allergic/intolerant to.

If you’re interested in organic gardening, take a look at my site about this, the Gardenzone.


Protein content of foods

Protein-rich foods

Protein-rich foods by Smastronardo – Own work

This list of foods is not complete, but shows protein content of foods which I currently have at my fingertips. I hope to update this with further information soon.

 

Protein content of foods

Percentage protein (or g per 100g)

Meat

Lean Beef Chuck, roast 49
Chicken Breast, roast 30
Chicken Leg (meat), roast 26
Duck, roast 19
Lean Lamb, roast 23
Lean Pork, roast 28
Turkey Breast, roast 29
Turkey Leg, roast 28
Turkey Bacon 30
Veal, braised 35

Fish

Cod, baked 21.4
Fishcake 10.5
Haddock, fried 21.4
Herring, grilled 20.4
Mackerel, fried 21.5
Mussels 17.2
Plaice, fried in batter 15.8
Prawns 8.6
Salmon, tinned 20.3
Sardines, tinned 23.7
Scampi 12.2
Tuna, tinned 22.8

Vegetables

Asparagus 3.4
Baked beans, tinned 5.1
Broad beans, cooked 4.1
Butter beans, cooked 7.1
French beans, cooked 0.8
Runner beans, cooked 1.9
Broccoli, cooked 3.3
Red cabbage, raw 1.7
Old carrots 0.8
Carrots, cooked 0.8
Carrots, raw 0.8
Cauliflower, raw 1.9
Cauliflower, cooked 1.9
Celery, raw 0.9
Cucumber, skin on 0.6
Leeks, cooked 1.8
Lentils, cooked 7.6
Lettuce 1.0
Mushrooms, fried 2.2
Onions, fried 1.8
Parsley 5.2
Peas, cooked 5.0
Dried peas, cooked 8.3
Sweet peppers, raw 0.9
Potatoes, french fried (chips) 3.8
Old potatoes, cooked 1.4
Old potatoes cooked in skins 2.1
Radishes 1.0
Spinach, cooked 5.1
Spring greens, cooked 1.7
Swede, cooked 0.9
Sweetcorn, tinned 2.9
Tomatoes, fresh 0.9
Turnips, cooked 0.7
Watercress 2.9

Dairy products

Butter 0.4
Cheese, Blue Vein 23.0
Cheese, Camembert 22.8
Cheese, Cheddar 26.0
Cheese, cottage 13.6
Cheese, Edam 24.4
Cheese, Parmesan 35.1
Cheese, Stilton 25.6
Cream, double 1.5
Cream, single 2.4
Eggs 12.3
Eggs, scrambled 10.5
Egg white 9.0
Milk, dried skimmed 36.4
Milk, whole 3.3
Yoghurt, natural 5.0

Cereals and cereal products

Flour, wholewheat 13.2
Muesli 12.9
Oats, raw 12.4
Oats, porridge 1.4
Pasta, cooked 4.3
White rice, boiled 2.2
Brown rice 2.6
Soya flour, low fat 45.3
Shredded Wheat 10.6
Wheat bran 14.1
Wheat germ 26.5

Baked goods and puddings

Bread, brown with wheatgerm 9.7
Bread, white 7.8
Bread, wholewheat 8.8
Bread and butter pudding 6.1
Cake, rich fruit (eg. Christmas cake) 3.7
Cake, sponge 6.4
Crispbread, rye 9.4
Crispbread, low carb wheat 45.3
Doughnut 6.0
Egg custard 5.8
Fruit pie 2.0
Jelly (jello) 1.4
Pancakes 6.1
Pastry, shortcrust 6.9
Rice pudding 3.4
Scones 7.5
Yorkshire pudding 6.8

 

 


Keeping a food diary

diet journal

This is a preprinted food diary, but it’s usually better to write the headings yourself as you go, unless you tend to eat single item meals or have very small handwriting

Keeping a food/symptom diary (commonly called just “food diary”) is one of the best ways of finding out, first, if you are intolerant of any particular food, and secondly, which food or foods is/are the culprit.

A food diary is a way of discovering hidden causes of your health problems. After you have kept it for a while, you will be able to detect patterns that you were never able to see before. In fact, the whole process of finding out what is going on becomes, as Sherlock Holmes might say, “elementary, my dear Watson”.

If you or your medical adviser suspect that your health problems are caused by an intolerance to food, one of the best ways to find out for sure is to keep a food diary. That’s unless you are happy to go for total exclusion of all possible candidates followed by careful, individual re-introduction after at least two weeks’ total abstinence.

Most of us aren’t really up for the deprivation routine, so here’s a basic explanation of what’s involved in keeping a food diary. Doing this should help you work out what you’re reacting to (if anything) – bearing in mind that more than one food group may be involved.

The first thing to do is to get yourself a suitable notebook. Probably the best type would be an A5 one – around 20cm (8″) tall by 15cm (6″) wide, spiral-bound so that it lies flat when you open it. Get one bound on the side, not at the top.

Use one page a day. Divide the page into 2 columns (a simple fold will do). At the top of each page, write that day’s date.

The left hand column is for the food you eat. You need to keep a note of everything you eat or drink every day. This sounds like a bit of a pain, and truthfully it can be, but it’s better than cutting everything out on the off-chance.

Write down the time, the type of food, (if it’s a branded product, the brand), and how much you ate of it (by volume or weight). Also write down the mood you were in when you ate it.

Be specific. For example, don’t just write down “potatoes”. If you eat french fries (UK: chips), write down that you ate potatoes cooked in oil. If you ate mashed potatoes, write down that you ate mash and the brand if it came out of a packet, or potato, butter and milk if it’s the real stuff.

Don’t forget snacks, such as chips (UK: crisps) or cookies (UK: biscuits), or sauces, such as gravy, salad dressing or custard – possibly made from eggs and milk or cornstarch (UK: cornflour) with vanilla – (and include the brand of gravy or whatever if it’s not home made from scratch). Remember to include drinks, from water (bottled or tap water? There may be differences in the mineral content), through tea and coffee, to soft drinks and alcohol.

On the right hand side, you write down symptoms you experience, and the time they occurred. This includes things like changes of mood, headaches, stomach problems, dizziness, insomnia, in fact anything at all that might be considered not part of a normal healthy life. Even if you have got so used to the symptom that “for you” it’s normal, write it down. Also write down the time it occurred, how long it lasted and how severe it was.

As you need to include a lot of information, it’s important, if you can possibly do it, that you take your food diary with you whenever you go out. Explain to anybody who asks that you are engaged in detective work – they are likely to be intrigued.

After two or three weeks, look through the entries in your diary to see if you can see anything obvious. You might notice that every time you eat some particular type of food, 4 or 5 hours later you get a particular symptom. The less the time between eating something and getting a result from it, the easier it is to spot. But some foods can trigger a reaction up to 48 hours later, so you might have eaten many other different foods in the meantime. This is why an elimination diet is often recommended for tracing food intolerance.

Your medical practitioner or nutritionist may also have software that make analysis of your paper diary easier, though this is quite high-tech, so don’t be surprised if he/she hasn’t.

I hope this article has been helpful. Don’t forget, many niggling symptoms that you’ve put up with for years may be caused by your body’s inability to cope with certain foods. Cut them out of your diet and you will cut out the symptoms as well.

I stopped eating gluten some time ago, and I’ve never felt better. Problems I’ve put up with since childhood (which is a fair few years ago) just disappeared. And I started to lose weight, as well – even though I was eating more!

Keeping a food/symptom diary is not that difficult, though it does have to be thorough – treat it as a puzzle or mystery that you want to solve. After a few weeks, you will have all the clues, and you may be able to pin the blame for your health problems on one particular culprit.

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