Is it possible to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet and still get all your nutrients?

Published on the 3rd Aug, 2017 by Azmina

Veganism is a growing trend. I’m seeing more and more young people, mainly women, who have concluded that this is the way to go, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with a vegan diet if it’s properly planned and includes a wide range of essential nutrients, I do have concerns. As far as I can tell, there’s a growing number of young people, especially girls, who choose to eat this way without having an understanding of nutrient needs, and often because the diet is so fibre-rich and filling, it can be hard for them to get enough calories into the day.


That’s one reason why I’m co-hosting a professional Twitter debate as part of the award-winning RDUK chats. We typically have around 50-80 participants on each chat and this gives you access to the latest thinking from registered dietitians and nutritionists in the field. Tune in for our Plant Power chat on Monday 7 August at 20.00BST by following @rdukchat. More on the chat.

Is it automatically healthier to be a vegetarian?

No! If you normally eat meat and then suddenly cut it out, you’re removing a whole range of nutrients that you need to put back in via other foods. And you could be eating vegetarian foods that are smothered in cheese or creamy sauces, or you may by buying processed veggie sausages and burgers that are likely to be high in salt. (more…)

Nutrition & Growth – where does yogurt fit in?

Published on the 31st Mar, 2017 by Azmina

I have a personal interest in the value of yogurt in health promotion, so I was delighted to be asked by the Yogurt in Nutrition Initiative for a Balanced Diet (YINI) to attend the 4th International conference on Nutrition and Growth in Amsterdam.  Here are my insights from the symposium entitled How Yogurt could improve Health in Children (plus some pretty pictures from Amsterdam!).

The array of eminent speakers shared their research on topics including how yogurt may facilitate better eating habits in children, how tastes for sweet and sour can be learned, how yogurt maybe associated with reduced cardio-metabolic risk factors in children, including susceptibility to obesity.  My fingers could hardly tweet fast enough!

 My 3 key learnings (more…)

Should junk food have plain packaging?

Published on the 7th Mar, 2017 by Azmina

I’ve just been on BBC Asian Network (goto 2.14 hr) to give my opinion on whether plain packaging on confectionery and unhealthy snack items might be a way of combating our obesity crisis. This stems from a proposal by neuroscientist Wolfram Schultz, from Cambridge University, who suggests that the way sugar-rich and fatty foods are marketed can make them irresistible to some people.

I absolutely agree that one of the most important ways to help us to improve our eating habits is to make a change to our environment. If you make unhealthy food less accessible, for example, then it’s just more difficult to grab and go. Initiatives such as removing sweets at the checkout in supermarkets have been introduced by the BDA in an attempt to reduce the purchase of such foods. (more…)

Orthorexia – could this be your man?

Published on the 30th Jan, 2014 by Azmina

Do you ever worry that your man has become super-obsessed with healthy eating? Label-reading for fat and calories…avoiding going out to dinner…spending a lot of time planning meals? Then start looking for tell-tale signs of orthorexia. You might notice he looks paler, or is always exhausted, yet will still be disciplined with his hundred push-ups.

I’m about to go on BBC Asian Network lunch-time news programme to increase awareness of orthorexia. This condition is masked as eating healthily, but it is taking a healthy diet to extremes, and often means you cut out all processed foods and live on fruit and veg.


Food and Mood Diary

Published on the 11th Feb, 2013 by Azmina

Keep a note of what you’re eating, when, how much, and your mood at the time. This can help you lose weight! Research suggests that simply knowing and recording your eating habits makes you more conscious of what you’re eating and that in turn leads to improvements because you’ve got your brain in gear.

Print off your Food & Mood Diary by right clicking the table below, and saving it.


The Little Black Dress Diet – party tips to keep you slim and trim

Published on the 19th Dec, 2012 by Azmina

As consultant nutritionist to ITV Lorraine show’s Little Black Dress Diet with Dannii Minogue, Lisa Faulkner and Jane Wake, I thought I’d share some tricks on how to stay focussed while you’re out partying the night away.

10-minute Peanut Satay Dip

Published on the 22nd Nov, 2012 by Azmina

I’m a great lover of all things nutty and I make sure I get my ‘dose’ of nuts each day. If it’s not a handful of peanuts or almonds, I have two teaspoons of peanut butter on toast or I make some skewered chicken with this tasty satay dip.

Makes 4 portions, 130kcal each

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a non-stick pan and fry 1 finely chopped onion for 2 minutes.

Add 2 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp tomato puree & 2 tablespoons water.

Cook for 1 minute. Stir in 4 tbsp (60g) crunchy peanut butter and 200ml semi-skimmed milk and cook over a low heat till the mixture just begins to thicken. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge or devour with chicken or fish.

If you don’t have peanut butter, blitz together some roasted peanuts with coriander and a touch of olive oil – it works beautifully!

See Azmina’s Quick Healthy Bites videos.

Supermarket Savvy

Published on the 6th Dec, 2011 by Azmina

It really does make a difference if you take a list with you when you go shopping as it helps you to avoid costly impulse buys. You may trust a brand name, but buying into brands can burst the budget. Supermarket own brands tend to be cheaper but we sometimes shy away from buying them in the expectation that they will be inferior in some way. Start off by just buying one can or packet of a different brand and if you like it, you can make it a regular item on your shopping list. (more…)

Eat well, spend less: plan ahead

Published on the 15th Nov, 2011 by Azmina

Here I show you how you can keep an eye on your waistline as well as your wallet. This blog post looks at planning ahead, but come back soon for more tips on being savvy in the supermarket and making use of the freezer and special offers. You’ll soon be tucking into delicious healthy food whilst still keeping an eye on the pennies.

Eating well on a budget


10 things to do with fish

Published on the 31st Aug, 2011 by Azmina

  1. Try home-made fish fingers! Cut your favourite fish into rectangular chunks – white fish like Pollock and oily fish like salmon work well. Coat in beaten egg, then in a mixture of orange breadcrumbs, oats and dried herbs. Drizzle with a little oil and bake in the oven till crisp.
  2. Pan-fry your favourite fish in a teaspoon of olive oil and crushed garlic.  Sprinkle some crushed chillies on top if you dare! Pour a little lemon juice into the hot pan so you get a sizzling sound and serve immediately.
  3. (more…)

Ten Craving Curbers

Published on the 31st Jul, 2011 by Azmina

1. Make a refreshing drink with crushed ice, sugar-free cordial and sparkling water.

2. Munch on some fresh dates. They’re much lower in calories than dried dates and the extra chewing means extra mouth-feel and satisfaction. (more…)

To carb or not to carb?

Published on the 20th Jun, 2011 by Azmina

Are carbs good, bad or ugly? With all the confusing messages out there, it’s sometimes tough to know whether to ditch the carbs or to enjoy them with a clear conscience.

My view is don’t be tempted to go low carb; there’s really no need for you to do this for weight loss and it could be potentially harmful. If you cut out carbs, you could be missing out on a whole range of nutrients. And what do you replace the carbs with? Often low carbing means high fatting  – and eating more fat, especially saturated fat isn’t conducive to healthy eating. Low carb diets often also encourage you to avoid fruits and veg (or at least cut down on them) and this goes against a whole host of studies that support the benefits of fruit and veg for disease prevention. (more…)

My 10 shopping list essentials

Published on the 30th May, 2011 by Azmina

  1. Semi-skimmed milk
  2. Fresh fruit
  3. Eggs (any, so long as they have the Lion quality brand)
  4. Vegetables, frozen or fresh
  5. High-fibre cereals e.g. granola (I mix it with some bran cereal & I don’t worry too much about sugar as it helps me have milk which I normally hate)
  6. Lower GI bread, e.g. granary or multi-grain
  7. Reduced fat humus (I use it for dips, on toast and on top of spray-fried egg!)
  8. Bulgur wheat (here’s a fab recipe)
  9. Canned beans (great for salads , speedy soups and instant curries)
  10. Pasta

Ten health boosters

Published on the 29th May, 2011 by Azmina

  1. Lacking in concentration?  Try starting your day with a high bran cereal mixed with a handful of raisins.  The B vitamins are crucial for transmitting nerve signals.
  2. Trans fats are often found in processed foods like take-aways, cakes, pies and biscuits.  These act in your body just like saturated fats, which can raise your blood cholesterol and can clog your artery walls, making you more prone to heart problems.
  3. More than 70% of the salt you eat is added to your food by the manufacturer, often without you even knowing it. So worry less about salt you add at hoem and more about salt the food industry adds.
  4. Men – Watch that waist.  Men typically carry more fat around their belly.  Note that a waist measurement of more than 37 inches (and 36 inches for Asian men) increases your risk of heart disease.  If your waist measurement is as high as 40 inches, it really is time to take some serious massive action.
  5. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of the anti oxidant beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A.  This vitamin is essential for healthy skin and night vision.
  6. The GiP diet encourages a variety of foods from all the food groups.  If followed, it should contain enough nutrients to meet your daily needs.  However, dieters often prefer to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement as well.  If you do so, ensure that you choose one that has no more than 100% recommended daily amount (RDA) of nutrients.
  7. The Inuit population has a high animal fat diet, yet they seem to be protected against heart disease.  Their fat comes primarily from cold water of fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  8. Suffer from fatigue?  This could be a sign of low iron levels.  Look at labels and select those foods that have been enriched with the iron, like breakfast cereals.  Red meat, dark poultry meat, dark green leafy vegetables and lentils, and dried apricots are all good iron providers.
  9. Kids behaving badly?  Choosing healthy slow-release carbs in meals and snacks for children can help to improve their concentration as well as sustain steady energy levels.
  10. Losing your marbles?  There is good research to show that as we get older, Omega 3 fats may play an important role in memory.