Monthly Archives: December 2014

Jenni Murray is wide of the mark!

jenni murrayI have just finished reading Jenni Murray’s article today in the Daily Mail. When she wrote it, I assume she aimed to evoke a bit of old fashioned Christmas nostalgia in her readers. For me she has missed the mark – by a few million miles!!

Despite being morbidly obese. Despite having had cancer. Despite having had hip surgery. Despite that she is at risk of Type 2 diabetes, she gleefully talks about her plans for a last unrestrained feast before she has a gastric band fitted in the new year. Jenni Murray has made no secret of the fact that she will be having weight loss surgery. She has been open and straightforward about that in her usual manner. According to other reports, she has been delighted by her listeners’ support and responses to her story – she says she feels she has no other choice for the sake of her health.

So it’s with a great sense of disappointment that I read her article today: she certainly doesn’t paint a picture of a woman with no choice, just of one who has previously exercised poor choice and no restraint. She reminisces about feeling bloated after both a cooked breakfast and a traditional lunch, but still proudly finding space for a whole selection box, a ham salad tea, stilton, cake and mince pies. She talks about looking forward to her final “blow-out” and how she plans to enjoy every mouthful of champagne, chocolates, smoked salmon, as well as all the stuff she usually consumes.

Hear when I say, I am not against gastric bands per se, I understand they save lives in extreme cases. But I am concerned that bariatric surgery is increasingly being represented as a lifestyle choice by people who really don’t want to take personal responsibility for what they put in their mouths. And I don’t appreciate or condone the attitude of people who brazenly crow about the amount they will continue to eat knowing that a gastric band (usually not at their own expense of course!) will eventually get them off the hook of personal responsibility!

A few years ago a man presented in my clinic asking for what he thought would be a quick fix treatment for weight loss. He explained that he had been a big eater all his life and he lived on pizza, pies, fish and chips. Upon reaching what he believed was the national threshold for bariatric surgery he was disappointed to find the local NHS guidelines had been set at some 5 stones higher. So on the advice of a ‘kindly’ nurse he endeavoured, and succeeded, to put on another 5 stones! He had been rewarded with his desired gastric band – at tax-payers’ expense of course. Subsequently his weight had fallen to, and plateaued at, 17 stones – just over a stone less than his original starting point. He found he could still consume all the pizzas, pies and fish and chips as before – it was just that he vomited what his new smaller stomach couldn’t take. I declined to provide the treatment he had requested – it wasn’t really the quick fix he thought it might be anyway – and offered him some nutritional advice. He explained to me that he couldn’t “be arsed [his actual word!] with vegetables or healthy food“. I explained to him that I wouldn’t help him.

You could say it’s none of my business if someone wants to eat themselves to the point of self-destruction and then opt for debilitating surgery – bariatric surgery comes with various consequences from an inability to absorb nutrients, to death! You could say that Jenni Murray’s choices are also none of my business, except that she has made it my business by going public on both her promotion of gluttony in a few days’ time, and her election for surgery.

She is a woman to whom so many people have looked up as an intelligent broadcaster and journalist over many years, and yet she has just told the world that greed is OK, that failure to take personal responsibility is OK, and that society will pick up the pieces and provide a solution when people get themselves into a self-induced mess.

None of that’s OK, Jenni!

The people I usually work with are those who have tried to eat healthily and to take care of themselves. These people have largely fallen victim to the healthy eating myths and supposedly healthy food options made available by a food industry unremittingly motivated by profit over the health of their customers. Low-fat, high sugar addicts thanks to the food and diet industries, and even the medical profession which has advised such products to their patients! These are the people who have lost their way not through gluttony, and yet live with the stigma of blame for their weight and illnesses including Type 2 diabetes! These are people who are quite prepared to take responsibility – after all they have taken it upon themselves to privately fund my advice! These are the people for whom I might see a valid place for bariatric surgery – as a last resort. Jenni Murray’s article has done these people a great disservice!

Thankfully this week we also are able to draw on the story of the lady who recently lost 9 stones by simply controlling her own diet. This is the lady I truly hope will be the role model for anyone planning to lose weight in the new year. The lady who took responsibility for her weight, the lady who took responsibility for her own eating habits, the lady who set a great example to everyone who might need to lose a few pounds of their own. It’s her Christmas menu I would like to hear about, and be inspired by, please Daily Mail!

Why swapping low-fat for low-carb isn’t enough!

fatsWe’ve seen plenty of news articles recently that confirm low carb-diets are better for diabetes than low-fat. And I agree. BUT…

…that’s not the whole story. You’ve got to understand more about the nature of fats!

A bacon and egg fry-up might trump toast and marmalade in the blood-sugar stakes, and keep you feeling fuller for longer, but it also contains massively more calories. You see, just 1 gram of carb contains 4 calories of energy. 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories of energy too. 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories of energy! That’s  more than twice the calories in fat compared with carbs or protein. And yet, I haven’t seen a single article warning readers of this fact.

Without considering portion sizes it will be so easy to take in huge amounts of calories.

Also, there isn’t enough being said about which fats are healthy and which are harmful. So I thought maybe it’s time to set the record straight here too…

Hydrogenated/trans fats are THE WORST! Artificial laboratory-made to turn an unsaturated oil into a saturated fat by adding hydrogen into the mix. It’s a way to make an oil into a solid, spreadable fat. But it’s also a fat that your body cannot process as nutrition. It’s a fat that is so toxic it will damage your liver, and will linger in your body for a long, long time. Give these fats a miss – never be tempted to use them. Remember, oils that are liquid at room temperature have to have been artificially processed to turn them into a ‘margarine’. Pure olive oil spreads, pure sunflower spreads, pure soya spreads all fall into this category.

butterSaturated fats can be processed by the body – and there’s increasing evidence that they are not harmful. Their reputation is certainly being redeemed right now. BUT, ‘not harmful’ is not exactly the same as ‘healthy’! That said, coconut oil is a saturated fat, and is also getting great press about health benefits too! Butter is once again the thing to spread on your bread – but watch out for those calories – it’s hard to stick to a light smear of butter. It tastes so good it’s too easy to slather on thickly!

Unsaturated fats have long been thought to be healthy. That’s only partly true! Omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids are definitely OK – both are associated with good heart health, and, on top of that, omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. Olive oil is high in these 2 omegas – that’s why it is still considered to be the healthiest oil! And of course it’s the key ingredient that makes the Mediterranean diet so beneficial!

But omega-6 – oh dear oh dear! Omega-6 is necessary. BUT omega-6 is inflammatory too!

Now, we do all need an inflammatory response – it could be a life-saver. But when we develop too much inflammation then real health problems occur. Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, cardio-vascular disease, stroke, arthritis, fibromyalgia, are all associated with high levels of inflammation. And high levels of omega-6 have now been shown to contribute to these conditions.

Before we used processed foods it’s thought we had a ratio of about 1:1 between omega-6 and omega-3 in our diets. But with processed foods our diets are way higher in inflammatory omega-6 than anti-inflammatory omega-3.  Research findings now suggest we should seriously limit the amount of omega-6 in our diets. Sunflower oil has about 26 times more omega-6 than omega-3 – definitely one to avoid! Rapeseed oil has been hailed for several years as the UK’s healthy equivalent to olive oil. Sorry folks, it’s just not true! Rapeseed has twice as much omega-6 compared with omega-3 and doesn’t begin to be the equivalent of olive oil at all.

The big downfall with olive oil, and other high omega-3 oils, is that they burn and become toxic at high temperatures, so be careful of heating them for roasting/frying. Best stick with butter or coconut oil for high temperature cooking (saturated fats are difficult to burn), and use olive oil for gentle cooking or for use cold.

Any questions? Please just ask!

Christmas with diabetes – make it easy part 4!

Party food can sometimes be a carbohydrate feast can’t it? It can be the hardest thing to negotiate for anyone living with diabetes. How many times have you been faced with an unimaginative ‘beige buffet’, left wondering how on earth you’ll deal with your blood sugars?

But getting creative with party food can be as much fun as it is a challenge! This can be your chance to really shine – not just for the diabetics in your social circle, but for the benefit of everyone else too. You don’t have to be diabetic to be left feeling bloated, sluggish, lethargic and exhausted after the usual bread and pastry party fayre.

party food choicesTry these ideas out for size: (and let me know what you think to them!)

  • Tomato and Basil Espresso (tiny tiny chilled soups)
  • Mature Cheddar Cheese, Pineapple and Grape Skewers
  • Cherry Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella in Pesto Shots
  • Watermelon and Goat Cheese Skewers
  • Parma Ham, Melon and Strawberry Skewers
  • Smoked Duck, Rocket and Orange Rolls
  • Garlic, Chilli and Coriander Sautéed King Prawns
  • Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Dill Terrine
  • Hummus / avocado dip / tomato salsa & raw vegetable crudites
  • Devilled eggs
  • Devils on horseback (prunes or dates stuffed with cheese or almonds and wrapped in bacon)
  • Angels on horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon)
  • Cheese and herb stuffed mushrooms
  • A selection of olives and antipasti

So be the host with the most or hostess with the most-est this year, and have the healthiest, most creative party food for miles around!


Christmas with diabetes – make it easy part 3!

How will you start your Christmas morning? Do you treat yourself to anything really special for the first meal of your day?

It’s worth thinking about – because it will set the tone for whether you will find yourself indulging in the inevitable nibbles, or whether you will be able to stave off cravings and resist temptation. The reality, as we’ve seen, is that your main Christmas meal isn’t the problem when thinking about blood sugar control. The problem often lies in the things you might pick at between meals – because these can really make for a carb-fest!

You can guard yourself against that with the right breakfast – one that is rich in proteins, which will keep you satisfied right up until your main Christmas meal. This is another opportunity to really spoil yourself too – make your breakfast a special meal too!

Here are some of my personal favourites:

breakfast 1 Smoked salmon with scrambled egg, and a little fresh dill




kippersKippers or smoked haddock topped with a soft poached egg






breakfast 2Eggs Florentine – soft poached eggs on a bed of lightly steamed spinach, topped with a dollop of Hollandaise sauce




breakfastNatural yoghurt with mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are my favourite) and mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, hemp seeds)



Get your Christmas Day off to the healthiest and tastiest start!