Each week, over on Instagram, we ask our follower community to share their questions for our dietetics team. Here are their most recent answers…
1) What foods are best for PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a relatively common condition affecting many women. There is evidence that making healthy food choices and engaging in sensible levels of physical activity can improve symptoms of PCOS. Eating regularly and ensuring you have a well-balanced diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables and high fibre carbohydrates can be helpful. If you are trying to conceive, it is important to ensure that your diet provides plenty of nutrients and that you take a folic acid supplement. If you have an eating disorder, or are struggling with weight management or considering making significant changes to your diet, it is important to consult a Dietitian.
2) Who invented portion sizes on packets and what are they based on? How do people ignore them?
A portion is the amount of a food that you eat at one time, for example how much food you put on your plate at a meal or how much is in an individual packet.
The key to eating a balanced diet is to eat a wide variety of foods in appropriate amounts. As we work alongside people with eating disorders, we spend time thinking about getting the portions right as individual ideas about portion sizes may have become distorted and the needs of someone recovering from an eating disorder may be different.
It is important to remember that every person is different and the recommended number of portions for each food and sizes of portions will vary according to age, sex, size, health, and other factors such as health, occupation and activity. Remember that portion guides which appear on packets are aimed at the general population and are not specifically designed for those in recovery. Seek assistance to make sure you are getting it right.
It is important to remember that every person is different and the recommended number of portions for each food and sizes of portions will vary according to age, sex, size, health, and other factors such as health, occupation and activity.
3) Any tips for introducing cooking and trying new recipes?
Introducing cooking back into recovery can be challenging but is an important element of working towards improving your relationship with food. Initially it may seem overwhelming, but as your confidence grows, it will become easier.
Start with thinking about the process of cooking: How do you feel about preparing a meal? What may you find challenging? What are the potential obstacles?
Think about where you might stop short – is there someone who you can turn for support to?
Try to engage in cooking with your support networks – family, friends. Ease yourself into the process by observing and supporting them in making the meal, becoming more involved when you feel ready.
Start with something simple – focus on simpler meals and slowly work your way towards more complex dishes as you grow in confidence.
Try a simple base recipe – something with a short list of accessible ingredients. When you are comfortable preparing that, think about how you can introduce variety. Keeping the core ingredients the same but changing the toppings or fillings can be the first step towards trying new things.
You may find the recipes created by Ben, Orri’s Chef, as a helpful place to start (they are simple and tasty!) – will link to the spicy tomato rice recipe
4) How can I accept body changes throughout recovery?
During recovery individuals experience changes to their bodies which can be both distressing and difficult to manage. Everyone will experience weight gain in a different way, with some noticing that they gain weight more centrally (around their middle) and others noticing more peripheral weight gain.
It is important to hold on to the fact that body fat distribution appears to normalise after long term maintenance of restored weight. Focus on the other positives of your recovery – social connections, new opportunities, more freedom, and trust that your body will return to normal in time.
5) How do you start to eat breakfast?
Starting to eat breakfast again can be a positive step towards your recovery. Focus on the positives for you. This may be better concentration, kick starting your metabolism, consuming food full of important nutrients, structuring your day and setting positive intentions. There really are no negatives.
Think about where you are now in terms of your breakfast routine and where you want to be. Start with something which feels manageable, such as a yoghurt, a small bowl of cereal, or fruit, and build on it.
Setting intention to have breakfast the day before and preparing something in advance such as overnight oats can be helpful as they will be ready and waiting for you in the morning.
Share your intentions with others who can help hold you accountable and if you can eat alongside others.
6) How can I follow my meal plan when it feels difficult?
Meal plans are an important part of treatment and recovery. It is vitally important that it is not your Dietitian’s plan, but yours. Take ownership of your plan and make sure that what you have planned feels manageable. There is a fine line between a meal plan being overwhelming and not challenging enough.
Make small changes which feel manageable and keep it going once you have made it. It is better to be successful at making one small change than feeling overwhelmed by trying to make more changes at a time...
Make small changes which feel manageable and keep it going once you have made it. It is better to be successful at making one small change than feeling overwhelmed by trying to make more changes at a time, which feel unrealistic in the moment. Think about where any resistance to follow the plan might come from (pro-recovery you or your eating disorder) and seek support from others who can hold you accountable.
7) Is it okay to have oven meals most days? I don’t have time/energy to cook but am worried it’s not healthy.
Not having time and energy to cook means that ready meals can be a useful solution. Many of them will be fine as they are, and some may need an extra portion of vegetables which can be easily added, for example adding frozen peas to a fish pie, or frozen spinach to a curry. Note, that some ready meals may not be adequate if you are on a weight recovery plan, so watch out for the portion sizes.
Before you buy a ready meal, check that it does contain an adequate portion of protein and carbohydrates. Try not to overthink your cooking. There are lots of simple tray bake and one pot meals which can be easy to put together when you do find yourself with more time.
Remember to keep it simple – a jacket potato and an easy to put together topping (tuna mayo and sweetcorn, baked beans and cheese) can be a good solution to supper when pushed for time. Try not to label foods as good or bad and allow yourself to have what is practical, and what you enjoy. The most important thing here is for you to honour your recovery and follow your meal plan, and if a ready meal makes that easier, it must be a good thing.
If you had any food based questions for your recovery, make sure to check in with Orri’s Dietetics team every Friday. All questions will be shared and answered anonymously through Instagram.
Alternatively, if you would like support or wanted to get in touch with us, you are welcome to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below.