Ask The Dietitian
Julie Dowsett has 20 years experience of working as a hospital dietitian and is a fellow of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, the professional body for dietitians in Ireland. She has also been involved in a university post graduate training programme as well as a variety of writing projects for textbooks, health professionals, the media and the general public on all kinds of dietary and nutritional advice.
How much dried or cooked pasta constitutes a serving on the food pyramid?
3 dessert spoons of cooked pasta or rice constitutes a serving on the food pyramid. This is only a guideline. Remember, the more active you are, the higher your energy needs will be and energy should come from the breads, cereals and potatoes shelf, and from the fruit and vegetable shelf.
If your physical activity levels are high, up to 12 servings from this group may be necessary. To make pasta and rice even more healthy, try to use the whole-wheat, wholegrain or brown varieties and use vegetable and tomato based sauces rather than the creamy ones. For more information on the food pyramid look here and click on the shelf to see the serving sizes.
I've recently started gaining weight, particularly around my stomach. I am 39 and eat a pretty balanced diet. I work in an office but walk/cycle every night. Can you advise on how I could trim down.
The usual reason for weight gain is that you are eating more than you are burning off. Check your BMI by clicking in the list on the left. There is increasing evidence that the weight we have around our stomach area is the worst type of weight for our health. Safefood recently launched a campaign at finding out if you have too much stomach fat and what action to take if you have, so see http://www.safefood.eu/ for more details.
You can see more info on simple changes to make to lose unwanted weight at here.
I am 25 and I am very thin. I want to gain weight but in a healthy way....can u suggest me some tips and exercise on how to gain weight healthily?
Absolutely. It is a problem that rarely gets much sympathy as so many people are trying to lose weight, but it is a real issue for many people.
A tip for how to gain weight is to look at what overweight people do: graze constantly on high calorie foods! Eat small amounts quite frequently in the day: three meals and three snacks of nourishing foods like cereal, milkshakes, sandwiches, yoghurts and nuts. Try to avoid low fat varieties of milk, yoghurt and cheese. Use foods which are a higher source of fat than would be routinely recommended for the normal population such as fried food, oils, spreads and dressings but to keep it healthier, choose the vegetable sources of fats (unsaturated fats) such as olive oil, sunflower oil or groundnut oil. Good options for breakfast could be muesli (much higher in calories than other cereals), toast, a cooked breakfast, such as a full Irish is very high in calories and is worth trying at the weekends. For lunch include a sandwich with cheese and ham and coleslaw for a very high calorie option, cereal bars or a bag of nuts are good snack foods for your desk or car. Your evening meal could be anything you like, but try to have a bit more meat, chicken or fish and a little less vegetables for the short term until you start to gain weight.
It might be worth a visit to your GP to make sure there isn’t another reason you are not gaining weight. There are nutritional supplements that you can take which are effective in promoting weight gain which your GP can prescribe, but it is worth trying food first. Specific muscle strengthening exercises will help to build muscle, so a trip to a gym to talk to a fitness instructor might help.
If you would like a more thorough dietary analysis and advice go to www.indi.ie where you can get access to a dietitian in your area.
I am a new mother and trying to lose the weight I gained during pregnancy, can you help?
You don’t say how old your baby is. I would generally say don’t worry about it for the first 6 months, especially if you are breastfeeding as the hunger you get when breastfeeding is cruel! Also you are probably so tired it is very difficult to motivate yourself. A good place to start is to try to stop any further weight gain. It is so tempting to eat snacks and quick food like take-aways when you are so busy and tired. Try not to have biscuits, cakes and chocolate around to reduce temptations. A good bowl of high fibre cereal for breakfast, brown bread sandwich and soup, or beans on toast for lunch and a satisfying dinner in the evening. Try to cook double dinners that you can freeze such as stews, casseroles and bolognaise with plenty of vegetables and maybe beans or lentils added to keep them filling but low in fat. Snack on toast with mashed banana, low fat yoghurts, fruit or popcorn and try to get out for at least one walk a day - not just good for your weight but your mind as baby often sleeps on a walk!
Go to the weight reduction page in the Adult section for more info.
I have a 5 year old boy who is a very fussy eater. Do you have you any tips?
It’s a very difficult and frustrating (and yet common!) stage. The main thing is not to get too stressed yourself because it makes everything worse. Use the food pyramid to see what he should be eating. Remember foods on the shelves are interchangeable, so if he only eats fruit and no vegetables, that is less of an issue than a child eating no fruit or vegetables. Sometimes kids like picky food rather than actual dinners which is ok. Give him a tiny amount of the family dinner each time, but also things you know he will take. Irish Pride Vita Kids is great because it provides extra vitamins, minerals and omega-3, so a cheese sandwich made with Vita Kids, either milk or yoghurt and some apple, orange juice or grapes. Remember, a child is more likely to have a good diet if you do. You are their role model, so make sure to have a varied diet and show how much you enjoy it. Get him to cook or shop with you to expose him to different foods. If you are very concerned he is not getting enough nutrients you could probably give him a vitamin supplement for his age. Ask your pharmacist to recommend one. And good luck!
I am a 16 year old and play rugby at school. Can you tell me what way nutrition is important in sports?
Nutrition is an essential component in optimal performance and the enjoyment of sports and exercise. After genetic factors and training, nutrition is the next biggest factor in determining optimal sports performance. Energy is provided by carbohydrate, fat and protein. Carbohydrates are an essential fuel for athletes. About 50-60% of your diet should come from carbohydrate based foods such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes. Protein is essential for growth at your age and essential for repair and post exercise recovery. This protein requirement can easily be met by a well-balanced diet and you don’t need to take supplements. High protein foods include red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, milk and pulses. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and impaired performance, so you should aim to drink a litre of fluid per hour of exercise. A rule of thumb is: start well hydrated (drink before exercise), get well hydrated (drink during exercise) and stay well hydrated (drink even more after exercise).
Look at the Teenager section to see how much of the different foods you should be eating.
I am a 28 year old female and recently was told my iron level was low when I went to give blood, but I find the supplements very constipating. Can you help?
48% of women in Ireland between the ages 18-50 don’t eat enough dietary iron, 1 in 3 have low iron stores and 1 in 30 have iron deficiency anaemia. The symptoms are tiredness and malaise, so it is good to know that you are a bit anaemic and need to do something about it. If you are anaemic you should probably take the iron supplements and try to balance the constipation by taking plenty of wholemeal and wholegrain foods, such as brown bread, cereals and brown rice. Make sure to have a good fluid intake too. To prevent the recurrence of anaemia, include lean red meat in your diet at least 4 times per week, as the iron in red meat is the best source of dietary iron (black pudding is great!). Contrary to popular belief spinach isn’t a great source of dietary iron, and neither is stout!
Dear Julie My 15 month old boy has a good diet but could you give me extra ideas fir meals and snacks. Thank you.Claudine.
It's great to hear that your 15 month old has a good diet as so many are faddy eaters at this stage! Check he is getting the right number of portions from the different food groups:
Group 5 - Sweets - biscuits, cakes - eat sparingly;
Group 4 - Protein - meat, chicken, fish, beans - 2 portions daily;
Group 3 - Dairy - milk, cheese, yoghurt - 3 portions daily;
Group 2 - Fruit & Vegetables - fruit and vegetables: 2 - 4 portions daily;
Group 1 - Starches - bread, cereal, potato, pasta, rice: 4-6 portions daily.
Once he is getting this proportion, the important thing is to have variety. Change around the breads and cereals you give him, experiment with new fruits and vegetables and change flavour and types of cheese and yoghurts. Introduce red meat if you haven't already and if he likes finger foods try him with carrot and cucumber sticks, olives with no stones, cheese cubes, paté on toast fingers.
Enjoy that he eats a wide range of foods and include him at family meal times with what the rest of the family are having. Remember not to add salt to his meals. For more information and ideas go to http://www.littlesteps.eu/.
What is the suggested daily intake of carbohydrates for Children that are 2 years old?
Children who are 2 should get about half of their energy in the day from carbohydrates. This means each meal should be based around carbohydrates without added salt or sugar. At breakfast give a cereal breakfast like porridge or other cereals which is wholegrain and not sugary. It is recommended that you change them regularly so your child develops a varied diet.
Lunch and dinner should include bread, potato, pasta or rice. One slice of bread at a sitting is usually enough but you will be guided by their appetite. Wholegrain and wholemeal breads can be used but vary them with white bread as well, firstly to give your child's diet variety but also to avoid too much fibre intake.
Hi, I've recently started a diet and I eat Irish prides healthy grain bread every day for lunch. I'm just wondering is the wholegrain better for you than the healthy grain and should i change to that? Thanks Linda
Thank you for your enquiry.
Both our Irish Pride Wholegrain and Irish Pride Healthy Grain are healthy choices to make and each bread gives different benefits so it really depends on what you are looking for from your bread.
Irish Pride Wholegrain contains wholegrain wheat and wholemeal flour, it is high in fibre, low in fat, saturated fat and sugar.
Irish Pride Healthy Grain contains a unique grain blend which contains linseed, a natural source of omega, it is also high in fibre, low in fat, saturated fat and sugar and is fortified with folic acid.
We hope this helps you decide which bread is best for you.
I require to maintain a low salt diet. As regards bread, I am told to avoid brown bread. Is there a 'lower' salt white bread available? Thank you. Malachy
Thank you for your enquiry.
As far as we are aware there is no 'lower' salt white bread available in Ireland. However, Irish Pride has actively reduced the salt level content of our breads over the last number of years and our range has one of the lowest salt levels in Ireland.
Irish Pride also operates a second brand LifeFibre Co. In this range we have a bread called LifeFibre Co. I love my heart. This is an oat bread with 35% less salt compared to standard breads. This bread also contains a high level of oat beta-glucan which has been proven to lower blood cholestoral. Two slices of LifeFibre Co. I love my heart will give you 50% of your recommended daily intake beta-glucan so our bread will help control blood cholestoral.
We hope this helps you.
Hey Julie, My name is Brian Lacy. I was wondering if you guys there at Irish Pride have a product that is both gluten free and also free from sugar, dextrose, fructose and other similar ingredients?. I find it really difficult to find any breads that are suitable for my mum who is both a diabetic (can't consume much sugar) and has an intolerance to wheat. Looking forward to hearing from you Regards Brian Lacy
Thank you for your enquiry.
Most Irish Pride breads have no added sugars, however all of our breads contain wheat gluten.
We would recommend the McCambridge Gluten Free range of breads as an option for you to consider. If you visit their website www.mccambridge.ie you can learn more about their full range.
what is the difference between wholemeal and whole grain and which is better for you.
The difference between wholemeal and wholegrain is the milling process involved. Wholemeal Flour is created by cracking and milling wholegrains. This process results in the loss of some B vitamins from the outer layer of the grain, however milling the grain improves the bio-availability of the remaining B vitamins. Irish Pride range offers you the choice of either a Wholemeal and Wholegrain breads and the benefits of both breads are; source of protein, low in fat, low in sugar and of course high in fibre.
Our 5 yr old has been a very fussy eater for most of his life. He only eats grilled meat, with enthusiasm.. some potato (only baked or fried) and some corn.. absolutely no other vegetable. The only fruit he would consider eating at times, is watermelon; red seedless grapes. OK with eating bread and butter only and occasional cheese, depending on what type of cheese he fancies, e.g. Swiss only for days and then only occasionally. He absolutely refuses to try foods claiming that they make him feel nauseous ... He is super sensitive to smell and texture. Little peculiarities, e.g. Refuses to completely eat food that has been bitten by him... So everything has to be bite-size for him to eat and some foods must not touch other food on the plate.??? This is his most recent peculiarity. Finally, what is most concerning, is that he is constantly tired and is reasonably thin, weighs about 17kgs. Any views or advice, please.
Children who are faddy eaters are very challenging, but usually this very common problem improves as they grow older. The important thing is that he gets foods from all food groups so that he is not missing out on essential nutrients on a regular basis. Look at this healthy eating guide from the Department of Health and Children http://www.healthpromotion.ie/hp-files/docs/HPM00796.pdf for more information.
The Food dudes programme run by Bord Bia is a fun way of introducing your son to healthy eating and new foods (http://www.fooddudes.ie/).
Ask your pharmacist about a children’s vitamin and mineral supplement which contains about 7mg iron per dose.
If you continue to be concerned it would be important to bring your son to the GP or find a paediatric dietitian who can help you through the website of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) under the ‘find a dietitian’ link www.indi.ie .
Hi, I am concerned about the mounting scientific evidence of the health dangers of authorised/unauthorised Genetically Modified ingredients in Irish products. Do any of your products include GMO?
Thank you for contacting Irish Pride with your enquiry. We can confirm that none of our breads use genetically modified ingredients.
I have a 16yr old daughter who is also vegetarian. I cannot get her to eat healthily. She skips breakfast most mornings & doesn't take a lunch with her. Then she rarely eats a proper dinner in the evening. I often make nutritious home made soups but she refuses to have these also. I know she is eating something but think it is mostly unhealthy snacks. I can't force feed her but am worried that she is not getting the nutritients she needs & also am worried that it may affect her moods. What advice can you give me please?
A lot of teenagers go through stages with their eating which can stress parents, whether it is eating too much or eating too little.
Many younger people also become vegetarians and you are right, if this is not done properly it can leave people vulnerable to not getting enough iron and other nutrients and this in turn can make someone tired and irritable (but so can just being a teenager!).
For further information on vegetarian diets and iron deficiency anaemia look at the fact sheets on the website of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) http://www.indi.ie/index.php?page=101. Print them off and give them to your daughter. Maybe try to talk with her at a quite time when neither of you are anxious about it, about what foods you could have in the house that she would eat such as pitta bread, hummus, cheeses, eggs, baked beans, pesto, baked potato and fruit and veg. I would certainly encourage her to take a vitamin and mineral supplement, something that contains about 10mg iron daily.
If none of these strategies work I think a visit to a dietitian would be a great idea, you can find one on the INDI website (under the ‘find a dietitian’ link). Mentioning it to your GP would also be useful. Good luck!