Childhood obesity amongst poorer families

Childhood obesity amongst poorer families – should we be concerned?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website


As a nutrition coach I have noticed that sugar smart 4more of my clients are concerned about the weight issues affecting their whole family, including the children.  It seems that some parents are really worried and don’t know what to do.


Not only are parents worried but Government organisations are too.  Public Health England (PHE) this week said that children from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be obese than their weather classmates. Traditionally, poverty has been associated with malnutrition and thinnness

PHE found that overweight and obese children are eating an extra 500 calories a day, that could lead to a 1lb or ½ a kilo weight gain a week

The issue of obese children has also come to the attention of Notts TV.  They came to interview me a few years ago.  Here’s a short clip of the interview that was later aired on ‘The 6.30 show’


So why do we have this potential epidemic? 

I don’t believe there is one simple issue or factor, I think it is a combination of the following (and probably more):



  • Lack of knowledge and education about healthy eating.
  • The availability of food (on the way to school, at school, after school, at the weekend, in the cinema etc),
  • Too much sugary and processed food
  • Lack of exercise and activity
  • Overweight parent(s)



This week I was also taking to Gem106 radio about why this trend is happening

People’s perception could be that fresh vegetables and fruit are expensive, but that isn’t necessarily the case

If you have concerns about your child’s weight what should you do?

  • First get their BMI etc confirmed by your GP or from the National Childs Measurement Programme data
  • Get support from the GP or a support group
  • Look at portion controlkids portion size
  • Encourage your child, tell them they are great, boost their confidence
  • Don’t make it all about weight loss
  • Find fun family things to do that encourage activity (and burns calories)
  • Get cooking together, include more veggies and fruit
  • Make sure they are well hydrated as thirst is often mistaken for hunger.  Water or milk is the preferred drink
  • Regain your motivation for home cooking- as a trained chef I can help you get back your cooking confidence with my vegan cooking classes, in West Bridgford.  These take place during the day and early evening

vegan cooking classes poster


Phone to book your place 07946 301338

  • Exercise can be as important as diet.  To lose weight effectively and to maintain a healthy weight it is always best to both eat sensibly and to exercise regularly.

child activity levels jpeg

  • The Governments recommends  that children and young people aged 5-18 need to do:
    • At least 60 minutes  of physical activity every day, such as cycling and playground activities and fast running and tennis.
    • On three days a week, these activities should involve muscle and bone strengthening activities like push-ups, skipping or running.
  • Get some healthy eating advice; that could be from the school, the GP or a nutrition coach like me. I have recently been talking about this very subject on Notts TV so please Contact me on 07946 301338 for a free consultation.

If you are unsure where to start to make a healthy change for your family, have a look at some of my previous blog posts where you will find guidance, advice and healthy eating recipes, or come and see me for a one to one nutrition session

what i do


Chickpea scramble

Chickpea scramble

This makes a great alternative to tofu scramble, and like tofu has a hefty amount of protein it is also high in fibre.  The nutritional yeast adds  B12 and the linseeds add essential fatty acids
As well as all that great nutrition the dish is incredibly tasty and flavoursome, so why not make it today
Serves two
Chickpea flour batter:
  • 50g of chickpea flour (also known as gram or besan flour)
  • 100 ml cold water
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (with added B12)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed (linseeds)
  • ½ tsp kala namak (black salt) – for an eggy flavour and smell
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric or freshly grated
  • large pinch of smoked paprika and black pepper

chickpea flour

  • 1 tsp oil or a few squirts of oil spray
  • 1 clove of garlic ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ½ chopped onion
  • ½ red, green or yellow pepper – chopped
  • handful of fresh spinach leaves
  • large pinch dried chilli flakes or ½ fresh chilli chopped
  • small handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • black pepper
  1. Make the batter by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside until neededchickpea scramble
  2. Heat ½ tsp oil in a frying pan, over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic (salt) and cook until soft; about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add veggies and chilli and cook for another 2 mins.29365503_10155428600326903_775324558516289536_n
  4. Then add the spinach, cook until the leaves are wilted.
  5. Pour the chickpea flour batter over the veggies. Cook for a few minutes until the edges start to set. Drizzle ½ tsp oil or a few sprays of oil on the edges.chickpea scramble
  6. Scramble up the mixture  with a fork and continue cooking. The mixture will form clumps, scrape the bottom of the pan and let it cook for another few minutes before mixing again.  Continue to cook until the edges start to dry out, probably a total 4 to 5 minutes.chickpea scramble
  7. Turn off the heat and let the doughy mixture sit for 1-2 minutes.chickpea scramble
  8. Then break into smaller chunks and serve on wholemeal bread, sour dough toast or crumpets.  Or make it part of a more substantial brunch
  9. Sprinkle generously with black pepper and scatter over the coriander leaves

chickpea scramble

Next vegan cookery class – 20th March 2018

Next vegan cookery class – 20th March 2018

5.30 – 6.45pm

In West Bridgford

I have a couple of places left on my next vegan cooking class, which is taking place on Tuesday 20th March at 5.30pm in West Bridgford.  You’ll have everything you need to make a delicious sweet potato and pomegranate tagine with herby flatbreads.



The cost is £25 and includes all the ingredients, equipment and the recipe.  Plus nutritional guidance, advice and tips about the ingredients you will be cooking with.

 My next vegan cooking class
The recipe is very versatile, so if you don’t like sweet potato you can use butternut squash.
vegan tagine
Contact me if you’d like to book a space, but please be quick as places are limited.

vegan cookery classes

If you can’t make this date I always have classes running on the following days and times Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 11 – 12.15pm, Tuesday from 12.15 – 1.30pm and Wednesday evening from 5.30 – 6.45pm


Its fine if you want to come to just this class or you could attend a series, in which case you can have 6 for the price of 5 i.e. £125, and they can be used within a year.

vegan cookery class

Out of the 6 sessions only one is sweet based, the other 5 are savoury.  Previous guests have made sweet potato falafels, Mexican tacos, cauliflower and chickpea curry, chocolate pots, beetroot pearl barley risotto, tofu rice paper rolls to name but a few delicious vegan dishes.

cookery review


Feel free to take a peak around my kitchen!


If you’d like to come along please contact me on

07946 301338 to book your place.

Calorie cuts

Calorie cuts

Food makers told to cut calories by 20% by 2024

These were the headlines last week

Public Health England says the target would slash costs to the NHS by £4.5bn and prevent more than 35,000 premature deaths


Overweight children are consuming between 300-500 calories a day extra, This could equate to a weight gain of 1lb or ½ kilo per week.  But it’s not just children that are facing this issue more than 60% of adults are also too heavy

PHE’s new strategy outlines 13 food categories, including sandwiches, ready meals, savoury biscuits, cooking sauces and potato products such as crisps and chips.

Food producers could make a number of changes, including reformulating products, promoting healthy options and reducing portion sizes.

But as with many of these issues it is not just up to one organisation to make changes, we all have a role to play in stemming this obesity epidemic.  Parents and families can be positive role models, local councils could look at how many fast food outlets are sited near schools, Schools themselves can be proactive in promoting healthy eating, setting up allotments, offering safe ‘walk to school’ schemes, and children have a role to play by making positive choices

I can also help by offering support and advice about how to make healthier changes

Last week I talked to Gem106 radio, here’s two very short snippets of their news items

How to cut up to 500 calories from a child’s diet

Get them more active – burns calories

Eating more veg – its filling and has fewer calories and makes the plate look full. If they don’t like veg use a blender to blitz veggies into a sauce, curry, chilli, shepherds pie or lasagna


Use skimmed milk, plain low fat yoghurt (and add fresh or tinned fruit, in juice not syrup)

Don’t necessarily go for diet products as they can be high in sugar

Limit the amount of snacks and fast food a child eats – PHE records no more than two 100 calorie snacks a day

hummus veggie sticks Always have chopped fruit or veggie sticks in the fridge for children to snack on

Apps to help: change for life: sugar smart, food scanner


Children aged 4-10 are getting over 50% of their sugar intake from sweet treats

Each year children consume, on average, 400 biscuits, 120 cakes, buns and pastries, 100 portions of sweets, 70 chocolate bars and ice creams and 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink

  • An ice cream – about 175 calories
  • A pack of crisps – 190 calories
  • A chocolate bar – 200 calories
  • A pastry – 270 calories

As well as calories that’s an awful lot of sugar.  Children should eat no more than 5-6 teaspoons of added sugar (also known as ‘free’ sugar) a day.  Yet the average daily consumption is more like three times that amount.


100 calorie snacks – max 2 a day

Individual packets (25g) of baked crisps

1 slice of malt loaf no butter

1 crumpet with small amount of butter, jam or marmite

fresh or tinned fruit salad (in juice)

chopped veg and hummus

rice cake

sugar free jelly

an oatmal biscuit

1 apple and 1 tbls wholenut peanut butter

a boiled egg

Sweet potato falafels

Sweet potato falafels – serves 2

sweet-potat-falafelsThese are a great way to use protein rich chickpeas and vitamin packed sweet potatoes.  If you have some roasted butternut squash that can easily be used in place of the sweet potato. And feel free to play with the spicing by using curry powder, garam masala, turmeric or a small amount of cinnamon

My vegan cookery class guests will be making these little morsels all this week.


vegan cooking

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Makes 10 x 30g falafels

sp-falafels-ingredients250g raw sweet potato

½ tin (108g) drained chickpeas (keep the water)

or 25g dried chickpeas soaked overnight in water until they swell to 125g (discard the water) and rinse them well. Add them to a large pot, cover the beans with several inches of water, and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until they reach your desired tenderness,  1 ½ to 2 hours. Either with the a lid off or slightly on

35g chickpea (gram) flour

1 large garlic clove

½ tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp chilli flakes and smoked paprika

5g fresh coriander or parsley, chopped finely

toasted sesame seeds, to coat (optional)


Sesame sauce

1 tbsp tahini

2 tsp lemon juice

½ small garlic clove, crushed

½ tsp maple/golden syrup or agave

salt & pepper to taste

chickpea water



mashed-falafelsPut the potatoes into a 200° C / gas mark 6 oven and roast it until soft, it takes about 1 hour (depending on size). Or microwave for 5-6 minutes on full. Let them cool, peel and mash the flesh with a fork. You can bake the skins until crispy and serve with the falafels

Finely grind the chickpeas and garlic in a food processor.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed potato, ground chickpeas and garlic, chickpea flour, herbs and spices. Mix it well, if its very soft it can be placed in the fridge for an hour or two (or freezer for ½ an hour) to firm up.


patie-shapesUsing your hands (dipped in water to stop the mixture from sticking to them), form small patties (about 30g) out of the mixture. If the mixture is still too soft add a bit more chickpea flour. Once shaped, press them lightly into some sesame seeds spread on a small plate.

Brush a small amount of olive oil onto a baking tray and place falafels on it, making sure they do not touch. Bake falafel-in-the-ovenfor 20- 25 minutes, keep an eye on them after 15 mins and flip them over if they look too brown. At this point you can add the potato skins to the dish and crisp them up.  The falafels are done when they are crispy and golden.



Sesame sauce

In a bowl, mix tahini with lemon juice and a splash of chickpea water.

Add maple/golden syrup, garlic and a bit more water to thin it down so you can drizzle it. Taste and if necessary season with salt and pepper.



When you try this recipe, why not post your photos here?!




recipe inspired by LazyCat kitchen

Supplements – do you need them


Walk into any health food shop, supermarket or pharmacy and the shelves will be bursting with bottles and boxes that contain tablets, capsules and liquid drops that will (according to the blurb) have you feeling better, fitter and healthier.


But the big question is do we need to take these vitamin supplements or is there another alternative? 

There are certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for keeping the body functioning and healthy, including 13 vitamins – A, C, D, E, K and the eight B vitamins. The body only needs them in minute amounts. Most of us can get enough of these by eating a healthy balanced diet and, in the case of vitamin D, from getting enough sunlight. However, certain vitamin supplements may be beneficial to some groups of people, such as the elderly, pregnant women and children between six months and five years old. Or if you have a restricted diet i.e. being vegan

healthy eating

To decide whether or not you need to take supplements I would always recommend you visit your GP and have some blood tests.

If you don’t want to do that or your GP is unwilling to do some tests, there are lots of companies out there who will, but unfortunately they have to charge.  One such company is Medichecks a UK based organisation that I have personally met and spoken to.  If you have any questions they are only too happy to help and their staff are all medically trained doctors or nurses.  There is an added bonus of a 20% discount if you use this code


Once you have your results you can then book a nutrition session (or series of sessions) with me and I can help support you to make any necessary changes


Your lifestyle can affect your nutrient uptake

Stress – produces cortisol, which can affect your metabolism and loss of essential nutrients like magnesium (needed for sleep and stress relief), calcium (bones, heart rhythm)

Obesity – often as a result of poor portion control or a less varied/more processed diet that lacks nutrients – sugary foods hinder the uptake of magnesium

Tiredness and poor sleep – not allowing time for the body to repair and renew

Processed foods, ready meals and takeaways – These foods can be high in fat, salt, sugar and calories.  And may lead to digestive issues, increased weight, reduced fibre intake and lack of nutrients

Lack of activity – can lead to weaker bones and a potential surplus of calories

Smoking – destroys lots of beneficial gut bacteria

Alcohol – can affect the gut bacteria

last week I spoke to Mark Dennison on his BBC Nottingham breakfast show about whether we should or should not supplement our diets


Each nutrient has a specific role to play:


Vital nutrient What it does High in
Vitamin A Needed for good for eyesight and healthy skin Yellow, red & green (leafy) veg, sweet potatoes, red peppers, yellow fruit (mango, apricots, Sharon fruit) dairy, eggs, oily fish, liver
Vitamin B group Helps the body to breakdown release energy from food, maintain a healthy nervous system, make healthy red blood cells Peas, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, soya beans, chickpeas, peanuts, fresh and dried fruit, rice, oats, wholegrains, fortified breakfast cereal, eggs, liver, milk, fish, cheese
Vitamin C Helps to keep cells healthy Oranges, berries, kiwi, broccoli, potatoes
Vitamin D Helps to regulate calcium and is essential for strong bones and teeth, The sunshine, mushrooms, oily fish, egg yolks, fortified foods, red meat, liver
Vitamin E Needed to maintain cell structure. Plant oils (olive, soya, rapeseed), nuts and seeds, wheatgerm, avocados
Vitamin K Needed for blood clotting to help wound heal Green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, cereal grains
Zinc Helps make new cells, breakdown food and wound healing Wheatgerm, cereal, bread, dairy, meat and shellfish
Turmeric (active ingredient circumin) Linked to reducing cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis (TOO EARLY TO SAY) Take with black pepper. Check with GP about existing medications
Pro and prebiotic Prebiotics feed the good bacteria that live in the gutProbiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health Prebiotics – onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, green leafy veg, over the counter yoghurt drinksProbiotics – live yoghurt (dairy and non dairy), kefir (fermented dairy and non dairy), kombucha (fermented black and green tea), tempeh (fermented soya beans), kimchi (fermented vegetables and spice) sauerkraut (fermented cabbage). Miso (soya bean paste), Pickles, soft cheeses, sourdough bread


With a few exceptions (niacin and vitamin D), our bodies cannot make these substances, meaning we need to obtain them from other sources such as food. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, you may develop 
a deficiency disease. Too little vitamin D, for example, could lead to rickets in children, not enough Iron could lead to anaemia.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that vitamin C and B vitamins are water-soluble and are used rapidly by the body; any excess is excreted out when you go to the loo. So you could be literally flushing money down the drain

Whereas fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body,  when taken in excess they could damage cells and organs particularly vitamin A and the liver


Zinc There is evidence that taking zinc within a day of developing symptoms
 of a cold reduces the duration of the 
cold by about a day and that regular supplementation (for at least five months) protects people against catching colds.

fruit-and-vegYou will have realised that fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains are littered throughout the above table, so my advice to you is make sure these nutritious and delicious foods are regularly and consistently incorporated in to your diet.

But if you do have concerns about your health then please visit your GP, and then come and see me and I will help support you to make any changes.

Attending my vegan cooking class might be a good place to start

vegan classes gen


And breathe…

And breathe….

A simple breathing exercise could be your answer to weight loss. check out this months edition of Nottinghamshire Aspect and read my full article

notts aspect



notts aspect Feb


If you can’t get hold of it then read on…….

We are now a quarter of the way through 2018 and maybe you might still be keeping to your new years resolution to lose weight, with the hope that this time it’s going to be different!  But maybe you have already cheated on your diet and will have to start again; tomorrow or the next day or the next……

NY resolution

Every time you make these promises to yourself and you don’t keep them it can add to your stress and stress is the one thing that will derail all your good intentions.  Being stressed can trigger the release of a stress hormone called cortisol, which can often result in an increased appetite and potential emotional eating.

So my one secret to continued weight loss is to de-stress by deep breathing!


Practiced daily this quick and simple breathing technique can change your life for the better.  It will increase your energy levels and help you to achieve more.  By being in a relaxed state of mind you will be able to focus more easily, free yourself from stress, negative emotion and feelings of anxiousness.




In other words ‘see the wood for the trees’





Lets get started!

  • Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes
  • Place one hand on your upper chest and one on your abdomen just below your navel
  • Slowly breath in through your nose as you count to 5
  • Hold for a count of 2
  • Slowly breathe out through your mouth as you count to 10
  • As you take your first breath in silently say to yourself ‘relax’.
  • As you breath out silently say to yourself ‘calm’
  • Repeat 4 times

Try to make sure the hand on your tummy is the only hand moving


When you are stressed or anxious you take shallow breaths using the top of your chest only.  Learning to breath more slowly and deeply can help keep you calm

After 4 deep breaths, shrug your shoulders up to your ears then quickly release them.  Repeat this 4 times.  Again this helps to release tension

Slowly open your eyes and notice how relaxed you are.  Now you are in a better place to focus on your healthy eating goals, make changes and see improvements

I can also help support you to make those small but permanent changes.  As an experienced nutrition coach I can keep you on the path to a healthier lifestyle.  I also offer cooking sessions for those that want practical tips and advice.  My business is based in West Bridgford but I also offer a telephone or Skype service for busy clients who can’t travel to see me

what i do

Miso soup

Miso soup – 1 serving 80 calories 1.7g fat

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

In this cold and chilly weather what better way to stay warm than having plenty of miso soup, its simple quick and very satisfying.  And if you are watching your weight this is the perfect low calorie lunch option for all you 5:2 fasters


miso soup

the basic miso

2 tsp miso paste (make sure it is suitable for veggies and vegans i.e. no bonito flakes)

1 mug of boiling water

25g soft tofu – cubed

1 spring onion – finely sliced

¼ red pepper, chopped

few flakes of dried chilli


20 (large handful) spinach leaves or 1 Nori leaf, shredded

few fresh coriander leaves

  • Mix the miso paste with the hot water in the serving bowl or mug
  • Add in the cubed tofu, chilli flakes, spinach leaves or nori seaweed and sliced spring onion
  • Stir until the leaves are wilted and soft
  • scatter over some chopped fresh coriander (optional)
miso soup

The full works



IMG_2893Optional extras –  100g cooked sweet potato slices (90 calories), ½ tsp toasted sesame seeds (40 calories), few drops sesame oil (10 calories), 28g/small handful unsalted cashew nuts (150 calories), 2 sliced mushrooms (24 calories), soba noodles (28g will add 90 calories)

Next yoga and healthy eating class

MONDAY 9TH April 2018 FROM 10.30 – 12.45pm



next yoga nutrtion workshop
Why not come and join a small group of mixed ability yoga students practicing gentle, mindful Yoga in a beautiful calm space that has underfloor heating.
Debbie will guide you through gentle, relaxing but specific movements that will help with general flexibility, mobility, balance and strength.  In a small group like this she can spend time with each person to make sure they are in the correct position to maximise a pose.  The yoga session will close with a guided meditation where you can let go into your body and breath; leaving you feeling relaxed and at ease.




This will be followed by a healthy vegan buffet made by me.  We’ll spend time relaxing  around the table and as a trained nutrition coach and chef I will share some of my nutritional expertise, deliver tips for winter wellness and take any questions about healthy eating, whilst you all enjoy a healthy balanced vegan buffet lunch.  Debbie will also be on hand to answer any specific questions about her yoga practice.
Here’s a taste of the food that will tantalise your tastebuds:
Wholesome soup, colourful quinoa salad, herby flatbreads, decadent chocolate pots, banana bread and fresh fruit.  All served with refreshments
vegan buffet at the yoga workshop


This is a great time to get to know your fellow students and to ask us questions about yoga, healthy eating, lifestyle changes etc.



yoga relax

The whole event will leave you feeling nourished and balanced.
All this for £30
Contact either Susan on 07946 301338 or Debbie on 07941 526136

We are limited to 8 people so book early to guarantee your place

If we get booked up don’t worry we have more in the pipeline for the rest of the year

Next vegan cookery class falafel

Next vegan cookery class – 12th March 2018

12.00 – 1.15pm

In West Bridgford

I have a couple of places left on my next vegan cooking class, which is taking place on Monday 12th March at 12pm in West Bridgford

I’m now on Trip advisor, so if you’ve been to my classes and enjoyed them could I please ask you to write a short review


vegan cooking

The cost is £25 and includes all the ingredients, recipe and nutritional guidance, advice and tips about the ingredients you will be cooking with.

The recipe is very versatile and can also be used to make burgers.  The tahini dressing is a great accompaniment for a salad, Moroccan tagine or drizzled over a filled jacket potato

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Contact me if you’d like to book a space, but please be quick as places are limited.

vegan cookery classes

If you can’t make this date I always have classes running on the following days and times Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 11 – 12.15pm, Tuesday from 12.15 – 1.30pm and Wednesday evening from 5.30 – 6.45pm


Its fine if you want to come to just this class or you could attend a series, in which case you can have 6 for the price of 5 i.e. £125, and they can be used within a year.

vegan cookery class

Out of the 6 sessions only one is sweet based, the other 5 are savoury.  Previous guests have made sweet potato falafels, Mexican tacos, cauliflower and chickpea curry, chocolate pots, beetroot pearl barley risotto, tofu rice paper rolls to name but a few delicious vegan dishes.

cookery review


Feel free to take a peak around my kitchen!


If you’d like to come along please contact me on

07946 301338 to book your place.