Aveen has accumulated 20 years of nutrition experience since graduating from Trinity College with a BSc. (Hons) (Human Nutrition and Dietetics). She is also a current member of the I.N.D.I (Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute) and founder of the Dublin Nutrition Centre.
Aveen is renowned in the Nutrition & Food Industry and has many years’ experience working with medical and health food institutions. Aveen is passionate about food and health promotion. She firmly believes that our diets have a huge impact on our health and lifestyle…
‘What we need is overall education on the functionality of nutrients from an early age coupled with encouraging people to have daily physical activity. We need to reassure people what a portion size actually looks like and get away from the concept of ‘good versus bad food’.
Aveen’s mantra is always ‘there’s no such thing as a good or bad food, only a good or bad diet.’
Aveen first began working with Keelings in 2006 and is thrilled to still be working alongside a company with such great naturally healthy products and also a passion for health and nutrition. Keelings along with Aveen want to work together towards helping people understand nutrition while knowing that they can enjoy food too!
Sugar has certainly been a hot topic of debate in nutrition in recent years and as a result, there is increasing concern and confusion about sugar in the diet. The sugar debate is not a new concept but in 2015 the World Health Organisation (WHO) updated guidelines recommending that ‘free’ or added sugars should be less than 10% of total calorie intake…their view is to reduce this to less the 5% of total calories.
Understanding the difference between natural and added sugars is important. Natural sugars are those that occur naturally in the food e.g. lactose is the natural sugar in milk and fructose in the natural sugar in fruit and vegetables. These foods are important foods in our diets and offer lots of nutritional benefits. The WHO guideline is not referring to these types of sugars. Added or ‘free’ sugars are the sugars that are added to a food either in production or by us. These sugars can include table sugar, glucose, sucrose, honey, syrup, agave nectar and fruit juice. Once they have been added to the food they are considered a ‘free sugar’. These are the ones we need to reduce in our diets.
When we look at fruit we know that fructose is what gives fruit it’s lovely sweet taste but fruits also offer many nutrients and substances that are essential for good health including vitamins, antioxidants, potassium, water, and fibre. In fact, the fibre found in fruits has been shown to lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease! So fruit gets it delicious sweetness from fructose but is relatively low in calories, thereby making fruit a healthy tool for quenching that sugar craving!
Firstly let’s look at the difference between a portion versus a serving…A portion is what you choose to eat on the other hand a serving is a specific amount of food. An example might be a cereal…the cereal box may say 30 g is an adult serving but how much you choose to eat is your portion size! Here in lies the problem! Portion sizes have been gradually increasing over the last 20 years, research shows us that this increase in portion sizes has made it harder for us to recognise what an actual recommended serving size looks like.
Believe it or not but the size and colour of our dinner plate can affect our portion sizes too. Plates are bigger than what they used to, plate sizes have increased by 40% over the last 50 years. People tend to fill their plate when they sit down for a meal – and most of us do not stop eating until our plate is clean! That means on average we could be almost eating twice as much as our parents did. Using smaller plates will help us eat less and hopefully eat to appetite yet still feel satisfied! Kids should eat off smaller plates than adults. I usually recommend serving dinner on a side plate until about 12. Then if still hungry you can assess if they need any more food.
Some say that eating off very strong coloured or contrasting colour plates can result in us eating less…more specifically as there are no blue foods we are supposed to eat less from a blue plate! Rather than redecorating your kitchen I’d suggest trying smaller plates first! Our hands are a good reference tool for portion sizes. Ideally, your plate should be about the circumference of your hand when stretched out. A closed fist is the about right for your portion of carbohydrate e.g. rice/potato or pasta and your protein serving is the palm of your hand. This simple tool works for the whole family and can be a good indicator of what a recommended serving size
should look like.
Snacking is another zone we need to be mindful of when it comes to portions sizes! It is a no surprise that portions sizes of snack foods have increased over the last 50 years and in some cases by more than 50%! One instance where the serving sizes have remained the same as what our parents would have eaten is fruit! An average serving of fruit is 80g which equates to about the size of a tennis ball…e.g. an apple, an orange, about 8-10 strawberries or 2 kiwi fruits. A serving size of nuts is 30- 35g or about the size of a golf ball. By choosing healthy snack foods like nuts, fruit or yogurt you will find it easier to stick to the recommended serving size.
The next step is balance on the plate…divide your plate in 3 with 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbohydrates and 1/3 fruits or vegetables. If trying to lose weight adjust the plate a little to contain 1/2 vegetables or fruit, a 1/4 protein and 1/4 carbohydrate. When eating out be aware that meals may be much larger than you would eat at home and, if you want, share one dish between two or bring leftovers home!
Firstly you are not alone! Most children will go through a phase of not eating well. In fact, fussy eating is now recognised as a normal part of a child’s development….Another parenting challenge! Try to remember in most cases it is just a phase and as long as your child appears healthy, has energy and is meeting growth goals you probably do not need to worry.
Children’s appetites, like our own, can vary from day to day so it is a good idea to listen to their appetite cues. For example, some children eat better earlier in the day than the evening time or others tend to graze on food. At a young age this can be ok…snacking can be a very important part of kids diets and they can rely on snacks for about 30% of their calories. So always have healthy snacks to hand e.g. fruit, yogurts, rice- cakes, cheese etc.
Food refusal can be a show of independence, seeking attention or wanting to take control of food. Whatever the reason for fussy eating here is some tips to help keep you sane!
Avoid giving your child fluids before mealtimes in case they fill up on them. Also ensure your child does not rely too much on milk, 400-500 mls of milk per day is plenty for a child over 1 year of age.
Don’t take foods off the plate…if a child states they don’t like ‘the green’ on the plate just tell them to leave it or just try one bite. Don’t take it off the plate as it will be much harder to get it back on at a later date. Keeping colour on the plate is important.
Although it can be trying, keep offering new foods… Some children will need to be exposed to foods 12 times before they decide if they like it!
Keep a list of the foods your child will eat and post it on the fridge in the kitchen. With every bit of progress add it to the list.
However tempting try to avoid bribery! Otherwise, it won’t take long for them to realise they have the upper hand!!
Avoid offering alternatives at the table…if you do it can run the risk of becoming a personal chef and making multiple dinners nightly.
When possible try to eat as a family or sit down at the table with the child while they are eating. This can make the mealtimes a more positive social experience. Avoid distractions like TV at mealtimes.
Don’t force feed – the child may develop a negative association with a food.
Try to be patient and encourage your child with lots of smiles and praise, the golden rule is; if after 20 minutes the food is not eaten simply remove uneaten food and perhaps offer something from the same food group an hour later.
And remember, children learn by example, so if you’re fussy they’ll be fussy too!
If you have any concerns ask for professional help, from a dietitian or doctor.
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