Author Archives: suzanneanderegg

Give junk food the Red Card

It’s hard to believe that it is already May and we are well into the Spring. Although there is one thing that reminds me that despite the unpredictable weather, change is in the air. Or rather, there has been a ‘change of air’ as there is something that is now, thankfully, absent. No longer am I greeted with the unmistakeable thick stench of abandoned muddy rugby boots every time I cross my front door. Strangely, there always seems to be more pairs of boots and empty gumshield cases than children in my household. But I don’t dare open any unfamiliar looking boot bags among the heap, lest I disturb their murky contents.

For now, though, it is safe to breathe in deeply and enjoy the Spring air. Rugby season has finally finished, which means some temporary relief from the particular ‘rugby smell’ that can assault your nostrils when you least expect it. It will be almost 5 months before the season begins again and one of my children will be forced to delve through the dirty kit in search of their missing gumshield. But this doesn’t mean that I will now be able to put up my feet and try to remember what we used to do on the weekend before spending it on the sidelines. For my family, the end of one sport always kickstarts the next and since it’s Spring, it can only be athletics and the beginning of track season.

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Does parental choice make for Happy decisions?

I had a bit of a double-take the other day when I read about two recent diet-related news stories. The first headline referred to a report on a French study that showed a link between ultra-processed foods and cancer, suggesting that the more of them you ate, the greater your chances were of getting cancer. So far, no surprises there and even my own children’s response when I shared this news with them was a sarcastic shrug and a ‘Yeah, I know?!’ They were not alone in dismissing this as ‘news’ because despite the best efforts of the newspapers and tv programmes who featured the story and tried to whip up interest, the lack of controversy meant the story quickly died away. However, just because it is widely believed that the more processed something is, the worse it is for you, it does not mean that you will change your behaviour. It is also true that not everyone who eats a diet full of ultra-processed foods necessarily chooses to do so. Which brings me to the second piece of news that I read with interest.

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What I didn’t learn from Veganuary

Many people will still be experiencing a welcome relief since Veganuary finally ended. It was a long month, but no longer do you feel the watchful eyes of friends and work colleagues on you at all mealtimes and you can safely return to your old habits with impunity. Or at least, without anyone questioning your food choices publicly. However, many people will have also been surprised to discover that their month of meaty abstinence really wasn’t all that bad. In fact, whether you waltzed through the month as a born again vegan or if you barely made it to the February, only confirming your commitment to being a proud carnivore, you may have done yourself more good than you realised. For some, choosing to follow a month-long vegan diet may have left them with some unexpected side effects. Thankfully, I don’t mean the compulsion to continue telling everyone about their month of denial. But even those that ditched veganism the second they could, may have inadvertently adopted some better food habits that could last a lifetime.

Now I have to say that I am neither advocating veganism as the magic bullet to guarantee a long life and inner peace nor suggesting that following a vegan diet is the best way to get a healthy, balanced diet. There will always be people brimming with good health who follow a particular diet and obviously, this includes many devotees of veganism. However, there are also plenty of others who rely too heavily on ready meals and junk food and it makes no difference to the quality of their diet if they are labelled as being vegetarian, vegan, paleo or gluten-free. In fact, some of the biggest cake eaters I know also happen to be vegetarian.

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Snacks attacked

With our Christmas tree down and the accompanying paraphernalia long packed away, our empty house and bare walls only emphasise a clean start to the new year. Change is in the air. At least, most hope things will improve on many fronts in 2018. Meanwhile, on an individual level, many have already made a change for themselves and are halfway through January as a teetotaller, vegan, raw water drinker or exercise fanatic. But even if you haven’t joined the masses and embraced a new food or exercise fad, you will still have to contend with the repetitive commercials and programs focusing on diet trends and quick weight loss. Amongst all this comes the news that parents are failing their children, again, when it comes to a healthy diet. Yes, it’s a cheery Happy New Year from Public Health England (PHE) who have launched their latest campaign even while the remnants of Christmas stockings are still hanging around many households.

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A heart to heart with the Christmas cheese board

As we head towards Christmas, I feel like a speeding train, incapable of stopping shopping, baking and wrapping unless I simply run out of fuel. Meanwhile, my fridge seems to have been taken over by mice. Every time I open it, I am met with a shelf packed entirely of every variety of cheese, sandwiched together carefully like a stinky puzzle. Each pack balances precariously against the rest, threatening to topple Jenga-like if I dare remove it.

But for now it is safe, as I know that it will be impossible to help myself to a little Wensleydale and cranberry without sending out a silent cheese alert, compelling my children to swiftly come to the kitchen. Once there, before I have even finished the last creamy crumb, they will begin to take out every morsel of cheese from the fridge, not to mention the collection of chutneys that lurk in its dark recesses. Then they will scavenge through the cupboards and take out all the boxes of crackers that they can find, regardless of whether they actually like them or not. And in an instant, my intended tiny snack will have kickstarted a cheese party. Unlike a quick bite, the cheese fest will be a crumbly, sticky mess of loveliness that never seems to end.

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