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Has January been a busy month for you? Do you feel you have missed out on some key stories amongst the Brexit mayhem?  Well don’t despair, Pelican’s Company Dietitian Anna-Maria Holt has put together a summary of some of the food and nutrition related stories that caught her attention. If you are a caterer or working in foodservice, take a look at our Pelican News Bites to get the lowdown.

In January 2019 the topics of discussion in the world of food and nutrition were:


This is the sixth year Veganuary has been a “thing”! It is the month when people are encouraged to adopt a vegan diet spurred on as part of ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and being healthier. Other reasons cited for doing it include a love of animals, a way to feel better about oneself, environmental reasons or simply as part of setting new challenges for the year ahead.

Being vegan should be something you want to do, whatever your reasons; enjoyable and fun too as you experiment with new foods and recipes. However, being vegan doesn’t automatically mean healthier; as with any diet it is important to eat a variety of foods to get the right balance of nutrients. Eating a plant-based diet is beneficial to our health as well as the environment, and can be done without eliminating meat, fish or other animal derived products altogether. The BDA’s Environmentally Sustainable Diets Project has published the One Blue Dot Toolkit to help people follow a varied, sustainable and healthy diet.  Reducing our consumption of meat and fish whilst eating more plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, chickpeas and lentils.


Food allergies and allergens have again hit the headlines this month. A recent Panorama programme found that several take away restaurants listed on the Just Eat app and website were unable to provide accurate allergen information. This is hugely worrying for the many food allergy sufferers across the UK who rely on this information to make a decision on whether a food is safe to eat, or not.  Over the last couple of years there have been a number of fatalities reported resulting from the accidental consumption of the avoided allergens either due to deliberate undeclared ingredients or as a result of cross contamination.

In America, an 11-year-old boy died on New Year’s Day as a result of inhaling fish fumes from cooking. This highlights that food allergies are life-threatening for some people, and precautions must be taken to reduce the risk of adverse reactions. A major report making the case for legislative change on allergen information is due out later this year.


Sugar was back in the news early this month as Public Health England released new data telling us that children in England are eating an extra 2,800 sugar cubes a year, which is more than double the recommended guidelines.  These stats were released as part of the launch of new resources for schools to teach primary-aged children how to check the sugar content of popular foods and how to swap to healthier products.  To tie in with these resources, children will be given a take-home pack to go home with and share with the whole family.  Schools will be receiving these between 14th – 31st January.

Whilst it recommended that we reduce the amount of sugar we eat, it is unnecessary to cut it out altogether. Adults and children over 11 years should eat no more than 30g per day of free sugar. This is the sugar added to food including honey and table sugar, and sugar found in fruit juice.  Foods which tend to have higher levels of sugar include soft drinks, juice drinks, jam, jelly, biscuits, cake, breakfast cereals, and sweets.  Limiting these or choosing low sugar varieties can help reduce our intake.  The information on front of pack labelling can help with making these and other healthier choices.


The publication of results from a new review of scientific studies this month, has highlighted the importance of including fibre in the diet. Many of us don’t get enough. UK nutrition and diet data (NDNS) shows our intake is 11g short of the recommended 30g. Experts believe the general (well) population would benefit from increasing fibre intake to 25g. Benefits include lower levels of Type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer, blood pressure and cholesterol. The study reveals that if 1000 people moved from a low fibre (<15g) diet to a high fibre (25-29g) diet then 13 deaths and 6 cases of heart disease could be prevented.

The findings of this study will enable the World Health Organization to agree on official guidelines on fibre to be published next year. In the meantime, to get more fibre in your diet eat your 5 a day (yes this really will help!), include a whole wheat breakfast cereal or oats as part of breakfast, eat brown or wholemeal bread instead of white bread, leave the skins on potatoes and include beans, chick peas and lentils as part of your meals and snacks.

It is important to increase fibre gradually, and to acknowledge that for some people, e.g. people with IBS, a high fibre diet may exacerbate symptoms.

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating is a term that may be new to many but will be familiar to you soon. Nutritionists and health writers are talking about this non-diet approach to nutrition which aims to change our mindset on food habits, body image and improve our relationship with food. Developed by two Dietitians, there are ten core principles to adopt at your own pace, which don’t include meal plans or food restrictions but foster a kinder approach to nutrition, body and mind.

Research to date has shown that this approach can help people who are following a pattern of restrictive diets or “yo-yo” dieting shift to a more inclusive way of eating by adopting healthy eating, approach, which includes a variety of foods, and therefore nutrients.  More research is needed into the outcomes of following this non-diet approach and which groups in the population would benefit most from it.

To read more about Intuitive eating, click here.

Support for your business

With health and well-being in the spotlight, interest in food and nutrition is at an all time high. From menus to training, caterers across all sectors: education, hospitality and healthcare are keen to offer what customers want whilst demonstrating the highest standards in professional practice. Our registered dietitian, Anna-Maria Holt, can help you with understanding nutritional standards, food allergen legislation, special dietary requirements and facilitate appropriate communication with customers.

Contact us on 01252 705214 or email

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