Dr Suzie Edge on 21st century nutrition and health

Tag: education

…but you “just can’t cut out a whole food group”.

…but you “just can’t cut out a whole food group”.

Every day I hear the scoffing phrase “you just can’t cut out a whole food group” or “you just can’t demonise a food group”. It is an inbuilt, long-ago-learned phrase that you will often hear said against those improving their health by reducing their carbohydrate […]

Is the UK leading the way in a grass roots LCHF public health solution?

Is the UK leading the way in a grass roots LCHF public health solution?

This week has been a very positive one. Could the UK be leading the way in a grass roots low-carb public health solution? Listening to the KetoWoman Podcast at the end of last week was a treat. Daisy and Louise had been at the Public […]

We need to talk about breakfast.

We need to talk about breakfast.

We need to talk about breakfast.

The most common question I am asked when it comes to diet is what to eat for breakfast, especially by those seeking a low-carb option. When you’ve got a whole family to sort out before school and work, breakfast needs to be fast and free of too much thought. It is no wonder breakfast cereals have risen in popularity (convenience being one thing but the vast amounts of addictive sugar being another). In the past, it has been no different in my house, especially once my girls were able to make breakfast for themselves. Health seekers, keen to not fill up on so much sugar will go for yoghurts, low-fat of course, fruit juice, raisins, and oats. Either way, the sugar and carbohydrate content are still high and the hormonal response by the body will be the opposite of what you might think. I wrote about this in another post here.

As a doctor based in hospital, I was recently discussing the overnight wayward blood sugars of one of our patients when the breakfast trolley was wheeled past. Our conversation stopped in its tracks, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the breakfast. I was asked if I wanted some.

Er, no thanks.

The trolley was laden with toasted white bread, with pots of fake butter and jams, there were boxes of sugary breakfast cereals with skimmed milk, there were cartons of orange and apple juice and low-fat fruit yoghurts. I was shocked at the amount of sugar and carbohydrate we were feeding our patients but that’s breakfast isn’t it? It really shouldn’t be.

I was told that you can’t expect hospital patients to get bacon and eggs, after all who is going to cook it? Of course, there is nobody to cook it, because we are too cheap to pay someone to cook for our patients. We choose cheap convenience over our health and the health of our hospital patients. They need protein and fat, but we can’t provide it with the resources or the attitudes that we have.

At home it is easy to make the effort to change what we choose for breakfast. We can choose how to start our day with a breakfast that will not shoot up our insulin, nor prevent fat cells from giving up their precious reserves and will not make us hungry only hours later. In hospital it is a different matter. The foods we feed our patients, the very people who need the best nutrition that we have, are based on the government guidelines that attempt to prevent obesity, diabetes and heart disease. They don’t prevent obesity, diabetes or heart disease, they make it worse.

Breakfast needs to break free from the low-fat, high-carb sugary nonsense. We need eggs, meat, fish, real yoghurt, real butter, real cream, nuts and seeds. It can’t be fat-free and protein-free, these essentials are being restricted by this diet. The only thing you are restricting with a low carbohydrate diet are chronic western diseases.

What we need to do is to start taking what we feed our patients seriously, as seriously as we take all the drugs we dish out. We might be able to do that at home but unfortunately, things won’t change in our institutions without a change in the government guidelines and that’s not coming any day soon.

Suzie

Crap Nutrition School 101

Crap Nutrition School 101

I was just flicking through a book that I used as a junior doctor when I first started working. Oxford Handbooks are the pocket sized bibles for anyone starting in medicine. Page 87 got me thinking – the page of nutritional requirements. At the top […]

Secretary of State for Poor Health

Secretary of State for Poor Health

I’ve been catching up with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and his fat fight. He likes a good fight and I’m so glad he has chosen this one. Whilst I’m a little down that the calories-in-calories-out mantra is still prevailing, there was something that was even more […]

Navigating Keto and lchf with sugar-filled kids

Navigating Keto and lchf with sugar-filled kids

Navigating the food pyramid with the next generation is really hard, especially when you are trying to turn it upside down. The next generation, and by that, I mean my kids, are going to need a lot of help. My children are already being taught the wrong ideas about healthy eating at their school. The education is certainly well meaning, but it is just wrong. When my youngest presented me with the “healthy food plate” template recently, I started to wonder how I can navigate the bad dietary advice that the kids still get, versus what I believe. I have two children (10 and 9 years old) and over the last decade we have eaten breakfast cereals (often choosing those with less sugar but certainly not zero sugar), we have drunk fruit juice (often choosing this as a better drink than fizzy ‘junk’), we have eaten hundreds of low-fat yogurts (ignoring the sugar content), and we have eaten many pasta meals and sandwiches. In essence, we have been looking after ourselves by following the low-fat diet that we have been advised to follow. What’s wrong with that?

Absolutely everything.

Putting starchy carbohydrates as the basis for the diet and being afraid of fat is the wrong way around and upside down, for us and for our children.

My daughter and I looked at her breakfast this morning. She asked for a bacon sandwich and I made her one. Then, looking at the labels on the bread packet she asked me if the bread was OK to eat (as she knows I don’t eat it). I didn’t want to contradict myself (I do think it is a bad choice, yet I am giving it to her – ouch).

I needed to show her that it was about the choices we make, and I poured a bowl of her favourite breakfast cereal onto the scales to show her. Ignoring sugar for a moment (never ignore sugar folks) – the bread ‘thin’ had 18g carbs in it. Her usual portion of breakfast cereal contained 50g (with half of that being sugar). My daughter was genuinely surprised. “I’ll take the bacon sandwich” she said, “and one day I will not have the bread”.

So, one day she will choose not to have the bread. But which day? When she has reached a point where she feels sick and overweight or when she wants to lose a belly? When she is told she has diabetes? That’s what we’re dealing with if we continue with this idea that kids need the sugar for energy, we are leading them down this path and telling them it is healthy.

There is no requirement for sugar in the diet, for adults or children. How on earth do our teachers control and teach a class of thirty kids who had a standard breakfast full of sugar and who will crash and be craving more sugar by mid-morning? I really don’t envy them their job.

A massive problem in tackling this is a potential backlash in talking about healthy eating with children. It is a concern that they will all start counting calories and become anorexic. So, don’t mention fat to girls or they might become anorexic. I am not belittling this very difficult and sometimes devastating illness, but do you know how many teens with anorexia there are, compared to those who are obese or heading for obesity and the complications that come with obesity? I would suggest giving them the right advice in the first place rather than sweeping this important issue under the carpet. Handy hint: stop telling them to count calories.

For me, it was a big step to change my diet overnight, but that was after years of believing that only the opposite of my dietary-guideline diet would help me and yet doing nothing about it. For the kids, it is a bit harder to get them onside. What I say at home contradicts the dietary advice that the children are getting in school. That’s a tricky situation and how I can deal with it is for another blog post.

I wrote about this briefly on an Instagram post and had some interesting and useful suggestions. These included using full-fat yogurts with home made granola of nuts, seeds and raspberries for days when bacon and eggs aren’t on the menu. I plan to pull together a collection of useful ideas and thoughts about how we prevent the next generation from heading towards the medical issues of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and the burden of these chronic diseases that are affecting their parents and grandparents. We can’t lead them off the cliff when we know how to prevent it. Please help and contribute, if you can.

Suzie

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