Brits Told to Diet

fruit and veg

Obesity is increasingly becoming an issue in the UK and in other parts of the world. Being overweight can have a huge impact on health and can potentially lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The obesity crisis is also putting a huge strain on the NHS. For this reason, top health officials are now saying that Brits need to go on a diet.

Last year, the government launched a sugar reduction programme that targeted nine different food groups that are considered unhealthy. This has led to the sugar drinks levy which will come into force in April 2018.

New measures put in place to reduce the number of unhealthy foods that Brits eat will specifically target 13 different food groups and will include processed meat, ready meals, takeaways, and pizzas. The aim is to cut the average calorie consumption of the British by 20% by 2024.

As part of this healthy eating campaign, the food industry is also being urged by the government to use healthier ingredients to help the public reduce their calorie intake.

A spokesperson for Public Health England has said that Britain needs to go on a diet as both adults and children are consuming too many calories and this is the cause of the high rate of obesity in the UK.

These recent measures are part of an ongoing governmental campaign in the UK to improve the overall health of UK citizens and reduce the strain on the NHS. Strategies used so far have included raising awareness of healthy eating through marketing materials and via direct advice from healthcare workers. Children are also being targeted with healthy eating programmes in schools.



Sorting Out My Vitamin D Deficiency


A couple of years ago, I was suffering from health problems and visited my doctor. One of the many tests he ordered was a blood test to check my levels of vitamin D. I was found to have a significantly low level of vitamin D in my body. This accounted for many of my symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, blurred vision, and depression.

The doctor prescribed me with a high dose of vitamin D supplements. However, I also discussed with him the steps I could take to improve my vitamin D levels myself. The main source of vitamin D is sunshine and this explains why it is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin. I was spending hours sitting at the computer working as a freelance copywriter, so it was no surprise when he told me I needed to spend more time outdoors. From that point on, I started going for three or four long walks a week.

Although vitamin D is not found in many foods, there are some good sources of this vitamin and diet really does make a difference. Some of the foods that contain vitamin D are orange juice, fortified cereals, egg yolks, and oily fish, such as tuna steaks. I started to include these in my diet as much as possible. These are all foods that I started to include in my diet. 

Through a combination of supplements, dietary changes, and spending time outdoors walking all made a big difference. In just two months, my vitamin D levels had raised significantly. My energy levels increased, I suffered less with joint pain, and my moods were improved. A further bonus was that I lost weight and toned up from all that walking. 

Unfortunately, I have slipped back into bad habits. I am back spending too long at my computer and snacking while working instead of eating proper meals during the day. As a result, my vitamin D levels are low again.

At least now, I know what I can do to make the change. I need to resume my walking regime and start eating breakfast again. Hopefully, I can get my health back on track. 


Cooking Tips for Students on a Budget


When people leave home to become a student, it is the start of a new chapter of their lives. Along with the freedom and independence come additional responsibilities which require the development of new life skills. Two such skills are cooking and budgeting. The majority of students will have limited funds and will need to cover bills in their new accommodation as well as making sure they eat a healthy and nutritious diet. To achieve this on such limited funds can be tricky, but it is manageable with a little thought and planning into shopping and the preparation of food. Here are some ideas of some staple foods that every student should buy and some ideas for student meals on a budget.


These are a much cheaper source of protein than meat. They can be used to make vegetarian alternatives to meals or to bulk up a meal if only a small amount of meat can be afforded. Chilli con Carne is one such meal where meat can be entirely replaced, or kidney beans and haricot (or baked) beans can be used to bulk up the meal using only a small amount of minced meat.  Beans on toast are also a really quick snack or meal to eat that is cheap and packed with nutrients. Opt for tins with low salt and sugar content.


Rice is usually really cheap to buy and you can buy it in large bags to store for long periods of time, thus avoiding wasting money and food. You can use rice as a side dish to accompany another item, such as a curry, or to create a dish on its own. Adding spices, small amounts of meat or fish and as many vegetables as you like are quick, easy, cheap and tasty ways to use rice. Rice is also an ingredient that you can experiment with a little as it will absorb the flavors of the other ingredients with which it is served.


Similarly, pasta is inexpensive and you can but it in large quantities that store for long periods of time. There are countless ways of serving pasta.  One really easy and cheap option is to simply add a tomato sauce to the pasta.  You can do this either by using a jar of pasta sauce or making a homemade sauce using fresh tomatoes and some herbs. A simple ratatouille added to the pasta is another option for a cheap, tasty and nutritious dish. There are many variations of this but frying courgette, tomatoes and peppers together is really easy even for an amateur cook. Other options with pasta include tuna pasta bake, pasta carbonara (adding cheese, ham and mushrooms) or spaghetti bolognese. 


Finally, the best advice that can be given to a student is to experiment with the food you create. Buy lots of things that store well and try out different combinations of ingredients together. Keep a stock of dried herbs and spices in the cupboard so you can get experimental with flavours in your cooking.

Reducing Salt Intake In Your Diet


There is a never-ending stream of advice with regards to how people should live a healthier lifestyle.  Doctors, magazines and TV programmes alike are telling everybody to reduce their alcohol intake, quit smoking, eat five fruit and vegetables a day and exercise on a regular basis.  Amongst the things that they tell people that they should be doing is reducing the amount of salt that is in their diets.

The Health Risks

Whilst some salt in your diet is essential.  Too much salt is linked to many illnesses and diseases including heart disease and increasing the risk of having a stroke.  It can also cause damage to the kidneys if eaten in large quantities.  This is bad news for people who crave salt in their diets.  However, there are healthier options for people who crave salt in their diet.

Reduced Sodium Salt

A kitchen essential for those who are trying to reduce their salt intake but enjoy the flavour that salt gives their food is reduced sodium salt.  Using this when preparing food or adding it to food once it is cooked will still give you the flavour of salt, but will have a less harmful effect on your body. This is the first step in cutting back on salt in your food.

Avoid Pre-prepared Foods

Whenever possible, avoid buying pre-prepared foods as these are often high in salt. This applies to food in packets, frozen meals, and tinned food. If you prepare your meals yourself, then you have full control over how much salt goes into the dish. If you must buy ready meals, then choose ones that have reduced salt.  This means that they still contain salt and will have the flavour, but there is a reduced amount in that product, thus making it a healthier option.  Gravy granules are also available in reduced salt varieties.  Gravy is generally a very salty product so this is a good alternative.

Choose Naturally Salty Ingredients

Another tip is to cook with food that has a naturally salty flavour and will not require you to add salt to the dish.  Gammon and bacon are good options as they are naturally salty and will flavour any food that is cooked in the same pan.  You can also save the stock from a gammon joint to add to soups or gravy giving them a meaty, salty flavour.

Use Alternative Flavours

Finally, if it is simply that you feel that food is bland without the addition of salt, then look for alternatives to use in your cooking to add extra taste and flavour to your meals.  Experiment with different herbs and spices to find ones that tantalize your taste buds and use these instead.  They are a much healthier option and you will greatly reduce the amount of salt in your diet by doing this.

RECIPE: Courgette and Tomato Bake


Although I love meat, I also enjoy the occasional vegetarian dish too. This courgette and tomato bake is really quick and easy to make. It is something I sometimes make myself for lunch as there is enough for two days. I also make it as an accompaniment to meat as a family meal. There is an ingredient that some people think is rather unusual (yes, it does say ready salted crisps on the ingredients list), but this is a delicious topping. This dish will serve two people as a main meal or four to six as a side dish. Here are the recipe and some tips for adapting this recipe to your own tastes.

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  • 3 courgettes (zucchini)
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 6oz/ 170g crumbly cheese
  • 2oz/ 60g butter
  • 2 packets ready salted crisps (potato chips)
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Pre-heat the oven to the highest setting.
  2. Thinly slice the courgettes and halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes. 
  3. Cover the bottom of an oven-proof dish with a layer of the courgettes.
  4. Add all the tomatoes to the next layer.
  5. Continue adding layers with the remaining courgettes. 
  6. Season the dish with salt and black pepper.
  7. Chop the butter into small cubes and place them across the top of the courgettes.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the courgettes have softened.
  9. Remove from the oven and crumble the cheese evenly over the dish.
  10. Open your bags of crisps and crush the crisps by squeezing the packet until they become crumbs. Sprinkle the crisps crumbs over the top of the cheese.
  11. Return the dish to the oven and bake until the topping has turned a golden brown. This should take around ten minutes.


Meat lovers– if you are not a fan of vegetarian food, then simply add some ham or crispy bacon to the dish. Alternatively, serve it as an accompaniment to grilled or roast meats.

Fish lovers– courgettes and tomatoes work well with most fish, so this recipe is a great side dish to serve with your favourite fish. 

Switch the cheese- I use Lancashire crumbly cheese and this is produced locally in the area in which I live. However, any crumbly cheese will achieve the same results. If you prefer a cheese with a different consistency, switch to using cheddar, Mozzarella, or any other cheese of your choice.

Adding flavours- I like this dish just as it is. However, there are plenty of other flavours you can add. Try adding garlic or herbs to give this a different twist. 

On a diet- You can reduce the fat content of this dish by sprinkling the vegetables with water rather than adding butter before cooking. Using a low-fat cheese is another way to reduce the fat content. Rather than using ready salted crisps for the crunchy topping, opt for wholegrain breadcrumbs, instead. 


Hot to Get Kids Eating Vegetables

veg stall

Vegetables are an essential part of a varied, healthy and balanced diet.  It is important that your child eats vegetables daily so that they remain healthy and develop normally.  One of the biggest challenges parents face is getting their children to eat vegetables. This is sometimes because they don’t like the taste, texture, or color and occasionally because they have choked on a particular food when they were younger and this has developed into a phobia.  Here are some tips on how you can get your children to eat vegetables.

Start As You Mean To Go On

It is important to introduce a wide range of vegetables from the start.  This can be done even in the early stages of weaning your child as vegetables are ideal for mashing pureeing.  They are also fantastic finger foods when your child moves to the next stage.

Set an Example

Children mimic their parent’s behaviour  If they see you eating a variety of vegetables daily, then they will see this as being the norm and follow your lead.  If they only see you eating junk food, then vegetables will become an alien concept that they be unwilling to eat. 

Make It Fun and Involve Them

Making mealtimes and the food that is served can help the meal to seem more appealing.  One way of doing this is to turn the food into pictures.  For example, top a pizza with cherry tomatoes and slices of pepper arranged into the design of a face.  Children also like to be involved in the cooking process and if they have made the food their selves or helped to prepare it, it can make the vegetables served more appealing.

Grow Your Own

Seeing the whole process of the creation of vegetables, from seed to serving on a plate, can make the food seem interesting. If they get involved in this process, they will feel pride in what they have achieved.  It is also a great way to educate children about how plants grow and the sources of different food types.

Disguise the Vegetables

If you are really struggling to get your child to eat vegetables and want them to benefit from the nutrients, then you can disguise the vegetables.  One way is to dice them up very finely in foods like casseroles, chilli con carne or spaghetti bolognese.  Soups are also a great way to disguise the vegetable content as they are usually pureed.  Similarly, making homemade pasta sauces with ingredients such as tomatoes, peppers and onions is a good way of disguising what their meal contains.

Healthy Eating in Italian Restaurants


Most people enjoy a good evening out in a restaurant.  It is a great opportunity to let somebody else do the hard work of the meal preparation and the washing up, giving you the opportunity to relax and simply enjoy the food.  One of the most popular types of restaurants that people choose to visit is an Italian restaurant.  However, these are famous for their calorie-laden pizzas and rich pasta sauces. This can be difficult for those who are on a diet or are simply health conscious. In spite of this, much Italian food follows the principles of a healthy Mediterranean diet and lots of healthier options are available.  If you are looking for healthier options when enjoying an evening out in an Italian restaurant, then here are some ideas to give you inspiration for making healthy food choices.

Vegetable Based Dishes 

First, the Mediterranean diet is famous for making use of lots of brightly coloured vegetables, such as courgettes, tomatoes and peppers.  If you are choosing a pasta dish, then opt for one that is served with a sauce based around these ingredients rather than a richer, more unhealthy choice such as a cheese sauce as this is laden with fat and calories and will also lie heavily on your stomach for a long time after your meal leaving you feeling lethargic and bloated.

Meat Options

If you prefer a meat dish, then the healthier option is to look at chicken dishes rather than red meat dishes as these are usually lower in calories, whilst still providing ample amounts of protein.  If the meat is served with a sauce then try to choose a healthier option as previously described to reduce the fat and calorie content of the meal.  Many restaurants will also serve food without the sauce if requested.


When choosing accompaniments to a meal, ask for salad rather than chips, potatoes or cheesy garlic bread, as many people find themselves overfilled by such carbohydrate heavy accompaniments.


When it comes to desserts, it’s probably wise to avoid these altogether.  Many Italian desserts, such as pannacotta, are made using cream and are high in both fat and calories. However, if the temptation is too much, consider a fruit salad or a meringue.   Meringue is low in fat and calories, despite being made from a large amount of sugar.  Ask for any dessert you do choose to be served without additional cream, ice cream or custard.