Lifestyle and special diet guidance

Vegan

A vegan diet consists of vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits and other foods made only from plants. We have a variety of recipes which are suitable for vegans on our website, but it’s important when following a vegan diet to plan meals properly – try and vary the food you eat as much as possible and be aware of any nutrients that may be missing from your diet. Here are the most common nutrients that people on a vegan diet risk missing out on:

  1. Protein

    Vegans can get enough protein from their food as long as they are eating a good variety of foods. Vegan food sources of protein include: beans and pulses, soya products (milk, yogurt, tofu), nuts, seeds and also in cereal foods like rice, bread, pasta etc.

  2. Calcium

    Calcium deficiency affects bone health and metabolism and can results in bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Calcium requirements are particularly high for young children, who would normally get this from cow’s milk, so it is important to make sure that if your child is following a vegan diet their calcium intake from non-dairy milk sources is sufficient. Calcium is found naturally in dried fruit (apricots, raisins, and figs), ground almonds, sesame seeds, tahini (sesame paste), tofu and pulses, as well as fortified products such as flour, bread and non-dairy milks e.g. unsweetened soya or almond milk.

  3. Vitamin D

    Insufficient vitamin D will have an effect on calcium absorption, so again making sure vitamin D is not limiting is especially important in young children. Vegan sources of Vitamin D include fortified breakfast cereals and soya spreads. Please note that the most natural way of boosting your vitamin D intake is through exposure to sunlight.

  4. Zinc

    Zinc is required for metabolism and immune health amongst other things, so it is important to try and avoid deficiency at all costs. Phytates found in plant tissue make zinc less bioavailable, so making sure that you are getting foods rich in zinc on a regular basis is important. Vegan sources of zinc include beans and pulses, whole grains, wheat germ, tofu, seeds and nuts.

  5. Iron

    In vegan children, long term iron deficiency can impact intellectual performance and behaviour and can also result in iron anaemia. Short term effects, also in adults, include impaired immunity, tiredness, appetite and vitality. Like Zinc, the iron found in plant sources is less bioavailable, so again making sure iron rich foods are eaten regularly is important. Vegan sources of iron include dark-green leafy vegetables, pulses, wholemeal bread and flour, fortified breakfast cereals, soya products, nuts and dried fruit (in particular, dates and apricots). Women require more iron than men, so they need to be aware of the amounts they’re consuming.

  6. Iodine

    Iodine deficiency affects the thyroid gland, which regulates the body’s metabolism and homeostasis. In Children iodine deficiency can result in permanent brain damage so making sure iodine is sufficient in young children is especially important. Vegan sources of iodine include cereals and grains, such as rye, and sea vegetables such as nori, wakame and arame. It is important to note that excessive intake of iodine can also have negative health implications, some sea vegetables contain very high levels of iodine, these examples contain moderate, safe amounts.

  7. Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to energy loss and a loss in appetite, children will show signs of deficiency quicker than adults will. Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products and so the only vegan sources are fortified cereals and unsweetened soya milk, as well as in yeast extracts, such as marmite.

  8. Vitamin B2

    Vitamin B2 is important for brain and nervous system development and maintenance. Vegan sources of Vitamin B2 include wheat germ, beans and pulses, almonds, avocados, mushrooms, dark green leafy vegetables and fortified unsweetened soya milk. Nutritional yeast is also a source of vitamin B2 (amongst other nutrients); a strain of yeast grown on molasses and can be added to savoury dishes as an extra source of nutrients. Most children get their vitamin B2 from cow’s milk so it is especially important to make sure your child is eating enough of the alternative sources to make up for this.

  9. Omega 3 fatty acids

    Omega 3 fats have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease as well as having other health benefits, similar to those that can be attained through eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and by reducing saturated fat and salt levels in the diet. Usually found in oil fish, vegan sources include nut and seed oils, such as linseed, walnut, rapeseed and soya bean oil. Using these oils when cooking is a great way to increase your omega 3 intake.
    If you’re breastfeeding or feeding your child a vegan diet you should get advice from your doctor as to what supplements you or your child should be taking.

  10. Take care

    Vegans should also take care with ingredients such as gelatine, cochineal (E120 – a red food colouring), suet, milk powders, egg powders, if in doubt look for a vegan friendly logo. Also try and avoid artificial replacements for animal-based preservatives as these risk containing added preservatives, colours and flavours. Also make sure you are keeping an eye on the saturated fat, sugar and salt content of the foods you are buying.

Vegetarian

Jamie loves cooking meat-free dishes and with an ever-growing range of vegetarian recipes on our website, it is getting easier to find delicious meals to cook. When following a vegetarian diet, it’s also important to be aware of any nutrients that may be missing from your diet. For more details on deficiency please ready our Vegan nutrition advice. Here are the most common nutrients that people on a vegetarian diet risk missing out on:

  1. Protein

    Vegetarians can get enough protein from their food as long as they are eating a good variety of foods. Vegetarian sources of protein include dairy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans and pulses.

  2. Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B 12 is found almost exclusively in animal products so making sure you are eating, not the meat, but other animal products, is a great way of avoiding deficiency. Vegetarian sources include fortified breakfast cereal, eggs, dairy products and yeast extracts, such as marmite.

  3. Vitamin D

    In the UK we mostly get Vitamin D from meat, but vegetarian sources include eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and fortified margarine. Please note that the most natural way of boosting your vitamin D intake is through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is especially important for young children – they may need to take supplements if they’re not consuming enough through their diet – seek advice from your doctor if you’re concerned.

  4. Iron

    Meat sources of iron are much more bioavailable than non-meat sources, so eating iron rich foods regularly is important for vegetarians. Vegetarian sources of iron include dark-green leafy vegetables, pulses, wholemeal bread and flour, fortified breakfast cereals, soya products, nuts and dried fruit (in particular, dates and apricots). Women need more iron than men, so they need to be aware of the amounts they’re consuming.

Gluten free

Many people adopt a gluten-free diet for a variety of different reasons. Gluten-containing foods make up a key part of our diets and many are a key source of essential nutrients in our diets. It is important to understand where gluten-free diets apply and why some people have to follow them.

  1. What is Gluten Intolerant?

    Gluten is a protein found in three different types of cereal: wheat, barley and rye. Traces of gluten can also be found in oats. People who suffer from coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease caused by an intolerance to gluten, is one of the main reasons people follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten intolerance also exists; a condition where people experience negative reactions to gluten without having coeliac disease.

  2. Gluten Free Foods

    Naturally gluten-free foods include meat, fish, fruit and veg, rice, potatoes, beans and pulses and dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, unprocessed cheeses etc. There are also many specially designed gluten-free replacements for commonly consumed foods or ingredients which naturally contain gluten e.g. gluten-free plain flour, gluten-free breads, gluten-free pastas etc.

  3. Coelic Disease

    Because coeliac disease is a digestive condition, the nutritional deficiencies associated with it are varied. It’s important that people on a gluten-free diet consult their doctor to ensure any deficiencies are addressed. Making sure your diet is as balanced as possible and includes a variety of gluten-free foods as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables will help reduce your risk of nutrient deficiency.

Dairy free

Dairy as a food group is an important part of any diet, and is where lots of people get many of their essential nutrients from. Removing dairy from the diet can be a challenge, as well as having potential nutritional implications. Below we have provided you with some more information on dairy-free diets and how you can reduce your risk of being deficient in some of the essential nutrients that dairy products provide.

  1. What is Lactose Intolerant?

    An allergy to Cow’s milk or lactose intolerance is one of the main reasons why people follow a dairy-free diet. A cow’s milk allergy is where your body produces an immune response to one of the proteins present in cow’s milk; this could be to albumin, casein or whey. Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem, in which the body is unable to digest the sugar lactose that is found in all animal milks and dairy products.

  2. Levels of Intolerance

    Levels of intolerance vary and in severe cases, lactose must be removed entirely and will need to be replaced with additional vitamin D and calcium supplements. To ensure you’re getting both vitamin D and calcium in your diet, try to include products such as cereals, margarine, and non-dairy milks, such as soya and rice milk, and make sure the milk you buy is fortified to avoid deficiencies.

  3. Calcium & Vitamin D Sources

    Calcium can also be found in pulses, bread (by flour fortification), sesame seeds and dried fruit. Please note that the most natural way of boosting your vitamin D intake is through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is especially important for young children –they may need to take supplements if they’re not consuming enough through their diet – seek advice from your doctor if you’re concerned.

Diabetes

Unlike food allergies and intolerances, diabetes is not a simple, easy-to-label condition, and dietary restrictions vary from case to case depending on a variety of factors including insulin dose, carbohydrate intake, activity level and diabetic sensitivity. Adjusting your lifestyle is really important – practising regular exercise, eating healthily and losing weight, are all easily achievable if you follow the right advice.

  1. Read the labels

    As nutritionists, we know how it feels to scrutinise food labels for added sugar, saturated fat, etc. This is something you’ll need to be really aware of, as added sugar tends to sneak into a lot of processed, ready-made foods. Try and cook your meals from scratch, using fresh ingredients – this way you know exactly what you’re putting in your body, which will make it easier to carb-count and adjust insulin doses.

  2. Carbohydrate levels

    It is very important that carbohydrates still make up 1/3 of your diet, some people with diabetes wonder if it would be better to have low levels of carbohydrates in their diet to keep their blood sugar levels under control but this would be a mistake. Swapping refined cereals for wholemeal versions will help to slow the release of energy into the blood stream, helping to avoid steep increases in blood sugar levels.

Lifestyle and special diet guidance

Cooking with dietary restrictions can sometimes come with nutritional complications. In order to help you stay healthy whilst cooking our delicious recipes, we have put together some nutritional guidance to help you make sure your body is still getting all the nutrients it needs.

Vegan

A vegan diet consists of vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits and other foods made only from plants. We have a variety of recipes which are suitable for vegans on our website, but it’s important when following a vegan diet to plan meals properly – try and vary the food you eat as much as possible and be aware of any nutrients that may be missing from your diet. Here are the most common nutrients that people on a vegan diet risk missing out on:

  1. Protein

    Vegans can get enough protein from their food as long as they are eating a good variety of foods. Vegan food sources of protein include: beans and pulses, soya products (milk, yogurt, tofu), nuts, seeds and also in cereal foods like rice, bread, pasta etc.

  2. Calcium

    Calcium deficiency affects bone health and metabolism and can results in bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Calcium requirements are particularly high for young children, who would normally get this from cow’s milk, so it is important to make sure that if your child is following a vegan diet their calcium intake from non-dairy milk sources is sufficient. Calcium is found naturally in dried fruit (apricots, raisins, and figs), ground almonds, sesame seeds, tahini (sesame paste), tofu and pulses, as well as fortified products such as flour, bread and non-dairy milks e.g. unsweetened soya or almond milk.

  3. Vitamin D

    Insufficient vitamin D will have an effect on calcium absorption, so again making sure vitamin D is not limiting is especially important in young children. Vegan sources of Vitamin D include fortified breakfast cereals and soya spreads. Please note that the most natural way of boosting your vitamin D intake is through exposure to sunlight.

  4. Zinc

    Zinc is required for metabolism and immune health amongst other things, so it is important to try and avoid deficiency at all costs. Phytates found in plant tissue make zinc less bioavailable, so making sure that you are getting foods rich in zinc on a regular basis is important. Vegan sources of zinc include beans and pulses, whole grains, wheat germ, tofu, seeds and nuts.

  5. Iron

    In vegan children, long term iron deficiency can impact intellectual performance and behaviour and can also result in iron anaemia. Short term effects, also in adults, include impaired immunity, tiredness, appetite and vitality. Like Zinc, the iron found in plant sources is less bioavailable, so again making sure iron rich foods are eaten regularly is important. Vegan sources of iron include dark-green leafy vegetables, pulses, wholemeal bread and flour, fortified breakfast cereals, soya products, nuts and dried fruit (in particular, dates and apricots). Women require more iron than men, so they need to be aware of the amounts they’re consuming.

  6. Iodine

    Iodine deficiency affects the thyroid gland, which regulates the body’s metabolism and homeostasis. In Children iodine deficiency can result in permanent brain damage so making sure iodine is sufficient in young children is especially important. Vegan sources of iodine include cereals and grains, such as rye, and sea vegetables such as nori, wakame and arame. It is important to note that excessive intake of iodine can also have negative health implications, some sea vegetables contain very high levels of iodine, these examples contain moderate, safe amounts.

  7. Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to energy loss and a loss in appetite, children will show signs of deficiency quicker than adults will. Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products and so the only vegan sources are fortified cereals and unsweetened soya milk, as well as in yeast extracts, such as marmite.

  8. Vitamin B2

    Vitamin B2 is important for brain and nervous system development and maintenance. Vegan sources of Vitamin B2 include wheat germ, beans and pulses, almonds, avocados, mushrooms, dark green leafy vegetables and fortified unsweetened soya milk. Nutritional yeast is also a source of vitamin B2 (amongst other nutrients); a strain of yeast grown on molasses and can be added to savoury dishes as an extra source of nutrients. Most children get their vitamin B2 from cow’s milk so it is especially important to make sure your child is eating enough of the alternative sources to make up for this.

  9. Omega 3 fatty acids

    Omega 3 fats have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease as well as having other health benefits, similar to those that can be attained through eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and by reducing saturated fat and salt levels in the diet. Usually found in oil fish, vegan sources include nut and seed oils, such as linseed, walnut, rapeseed and soya bean oil. Using these oils when cooking is a great way to increase your omega 3 intake.
    If you’re breastfeeding or feeding your child a vegan diet you should get advice from your doctor as to what supplements you or your child should be taking.

  10. Take care

    Vegans should also take care with ingredients such as gelatine, cochineal (E120 – a red food colouring), suet, milk powders, egg powders, if in doubt look for a vegan friendly logo. Also try and avoid artificial replacements for animal-based preservatives as these risk containing added preservatives, colours and flavours. Also make sure you are keeping an eye on the saturated fat, sugar and salt content of the foods you are buying.

Vegetarian

Jamie loves cooking meat-free dishes and with an ever-growing range of vegetarian recipes on our website, it is getting easier to find delicious meals to cook. When following a vegetarian diet, it’s also important to be aware of any nutrients that may be missing from your diet. For more details on deficiency please ready our Vegan nutrition advice. Here are the most common nutrients that people on a vegetarian diet risk missing out on:

  1. Protein

    Vegetarians can get enough protein from their food as long as they are eating a good variety of foods. Vegetarian sources of protein include dairy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans and pulses.

  2. Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B 12 is found almost exclusively in animal products so making sure you are eating, not the meat, but other animal products, is a great way of avoiding deficiency. Vegetarian sources include fortified breakfast cereal, eggs, dairy products and yeast extracts, such as marmite.

  3. Vitamin D

    In the UK we mostly get Vitamin D from meat, but vegetarian sources include eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and fortified margarine. Please note that the most natural way of boosting your vitamin D intake is through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is especially important for young children – they may need to take supplements if they’re not consuming enough through their diet – seek advice from your doctor if you’re concerned.

  4. Iron

    Meat sources of iron are much more bioavailable than non-meat sources, so eating iron rich foods regularly is important for vegetarians. Vegetarian sources of iron include dark-green leafy vegetables, pulses, wholemeal bread and flour, fortified breakfast cereals, soya products, nuts and dried fruit (in particular, dates and apricots). Women need more iron than men, so they need to be aware of the amounts they’re consuming.

Gluten free

Many people adopt a gluten-free diet for a variety of different reasons. Gluten-containing foods make up a key part of our diets and many are a key source of essential nutrients in our diets. It is important to understand where gluten-free diets apply and why some people have to follow them.

  1. What is Gluten Intolerant?

    Gluten is a protein found in three different types of cereal: wheat, barley and rye. Traces of gluten can also be found in oats. People who suffer from coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease caused by an intolerance to gluten, is one of the main reasons people follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten intolerance also exists; a condition where people experience negative reactions to gluten without having coeliac disease.

  2. Gluten Free Foods

    Naturally gluten-free foods include meat, fish, fruit and veg, rice, potatoes, beans and pulses and dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, unprocessed cheeses etc. There are also many specially designed gluten-free replacements for commonly consumed foods or ingredients which naturally contain gluten e.g. gluten-free plain flour, gluten-free breads, gluten-free pastas etc.

  3. Coelic Disease

    Because coeliac disease is a digestive condition, the nutritional deficiencies associated with it are varied. It’s important that people on a gluten-free diet consult their doctor to ensure any deficiencies are addressed. Making sure your diet is as balanced as possible and includes a variety of gluten-free foods as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables will help reduce your risk of nutrient deficiency.

Dairy free

Dairy as a food group is an important part of any diet, and is where lots of people get many of their essential nutrients from. Removing dairy from the diet can be a challenge, as well as having potential nutritional implications. Below we have provided you with some more information on dairy-free diets and how you can reduce your risk of being deficient in some of the essential nutrients that dairy products provide.

  1. What is Lactose Intolerant?

    An allergy to Cow’s milk or lactose intolerance is one of the main reasons why people follow a dairy-free diet. A cow’s milk allergy is where your body produces an immune response to one of the proteins present in cow’s milk; this could be to albumin, casein or whey. Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem, in which the body is unable to digest the sugar lactose that is found in all animal milks and dairy products.

  2. Levels of Intolerance

    Levels of intolerance vary and in severe cases, lactose must be removed entirely and will need to be replaced with additional vitamin D and calcium supplements. To ensure you’re getting both vitamin D and calcium in your diet, try to include products such as cereals, margarine, and non-dairy milks, such as soya and rice milk, and make sure the milk you buy is fortified to avoid deficiencies.

  3. Calcium & Vitamin D Sources

    Calcium can also be found in pulses, bread (by flour fortification), sesame seeds and dried fruit. Please note that the most natural way of boosting your vitamin D intake is through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is especially important for young children –they may need to take supplements if they’re not consuming enough through their diet – seek advice from your doctor if you’re concerned.

Diabetes

Unlike food allergies and intolerances, diabetes is not a simple, easy-to-label condition, and dietary restrictions vary from case to case depending on a variety of factors including insulin dose, carbohydrate intake, activity level and diabetic sensitivity. Adjusting your lifestyle is really important – practising regular exercise, eating healthily and losing weight, are all easily achievable if you follow the right advice.

  1. Read the labels

    As nutritionists, we know how it feels to scrutinise food labels for added sugar, saturated fat, etc. This is something you’ll need to be really aware of, as added sugar tends to sneak into a lot of processed, ready-made foods. Try and cook your meals from scratch, using fresh ingredients – this way you know exactly what you’re putting in your body, which will make it easier to carb-count and adjust insulin doses.

  2. Carbohydrate levels

    It is very important that carbohydrates still make up 1/3 of your diet, some people with diabetes wonder if it would be better to have low levels of carbohydrates in their diet to keep their blood sugar levels under control but this would be a mistake. Swapping refined cereals for wholemeal versions will help to slow the release of energy into the blood stream, helping to avoid steep increases in blood sugar levels.

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