Rate My Plate! Suezi Q

Amy Wood - Nutritionist | 13 Apr, 2022

Many thanks to everybody who put themselves forward to let a nutritionist take a peek at their food diaries. The winner was Suezi Q! I've had a look through a typical day of Suezi's meals, and have put together my analysis with some pointers for her going forward.

Diary entries

Overall there are plenty of healthy foods included in your diet – so well done! Let's go through each meal occasion in detail...

Breakfast:

Oats are an excellent choice for breakfast – they will provide you with a steady release of energy, to keep you feeling full and energised right up until lunchtime. The soya milk adds some plant-based protein to your meal, which is also fab for feeling fuller for longer. It’s great to see some fruit in there too, and well done for adding an 80g portion – this amount counts towards one of your 5-a-day! That breakfast topper sounds delicious too, adding a bit of crunch to your porridge.

Lunch:

Really pleased to see some oily fish for lunch! I would recommend a slightly bigger portion next time, as the recommendation is to eat at least one 140g portion of oily fish per week. Spaghetti is a good choice to get some carbs in your meal – opting for a wholemeal version would help to provide a slower release of energy and a less sharp rise in blood sugar than white pasta. Sweet chilli sauce adds some wonderful flavour, and well done for keeping your sauce to a tablespoon measure, as being heavy-handed with condiments can rack up your sugar intake. A fantastic variety of veggies in there too. Collectively, these add up to just over one 5-a-day portion.

As a post-lunch snack, it’s great to see you’ve chosen a low-fat yogurt. This particular variety does contain added sugar, but it’s lower than other brands on the market which is good. Another option could be plain low-fat Greek yogurt with added fresh fruit or even a sprinkle of ground cinnamon for some low-sugar flavour.

Dinner:

The Strong Roots hash browns are low in saturated fat and a source of fibre, so all good! Your choice of gammon is also low in fat, high in protein and will provide you with iron too. That said, gammon is very high in salt, so this is something to watch as high salt diets are associated with high blood pressure – so it’s best to eat these sorts of processed meats in moderation. Eggs will add more protein to the meal, as well as a whole host of micronutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin B12. It’s excellent that you’ve been able to fry without oil too, as this can be where the calories ramp up. Great to see another variety of vegetable included here too – peas are a good source of fibre and will even provide you with some plant-based protein!

My Tips

To summarise, I think you're doing very well and have made some great choices. To help you achieve your weight and health goals, here are a few extra things to think about going forward:

  1. Try to meet your calorie target: When it comes to calorie intake, there are lower limits we don't recommend dropping below for most people. The issue is, dropping to a very low calorie target from the offset can make weight loss harder in the long run. Our bodies are very good at adapting to lower intakes, which can mean our bodies start to need fewer calories to perform everyday functions, resulting in weight loss slowing down.

    As a general rule, we don't recommend going lower than 1,200 calories on a regular basis. If you are quite active, I recommend trying to eat closer to 1,400 calories per day. If you’re not so active, then between 1,200 and 1,400 is fine if you feel genuinely satisfied. As you lose weight, your body will start requiring fewer calories, so it gives you room to reduce your calories a little further to the minimum of 1,200 calories, to ensure your weight loss continues. If you start with a very low calorie target, it means you won't have any ‘wiggle room’ to decrease your intake if required.

    Your calorie intake on this day was 1115kcals, so it should only take an extra snack or a slightly larger portion of the oily fish at lunch for you to reach your target.
  2. Focus on fibre: A nutrient I think could do with a little boost is your fibre intake. Fibre is key for heart and gut health, plus high-fibre diets have been associated with a lower BMI, so may help aid weight loss. Most people in the UK aren't eating enough fibre. You only reached 59% of the recommended 30g today, so going forward, try and slowly include more high-fibre foods where you can. There are some great options already in your diet - the porridge, hash browns and vegetables. To raise your intake even further, try swapping your white spaghetti for a wholewheat version or add a handful of nuts as a snack. Additionally, high-fibre snack bars can be an easy way to reach that all-important 30g.
  3. Aim for 5-a-day: Achieving three of your five portions is a fantastic start. Your next goal is to reach the full set. As you aren’t currently eating any snacks, this could be a great place to include another portion of fruit. An apple or a banana is quick and easy to grab. Or if you fancy something savoury, try vegetable crudites with a low-fat houmous or cream cheese.
  4. Top up calcium-rich foods: It’s recommended we have at least three portions of calcium-rich foods each day – this includes yogurt, milk, cheese, and calcium-fortified dairy alternatives. On this day, you've eaten a yogurt and some calcium-fortified soya milk, which is great! It would be good to try and add another serving, so perhaps some low-fat cream cheese with vegetable crudites as a snack or another serving of milk or yogurt if you can.
  5. Increase healthy fats: Many of us don’t eat enough sources of healthy unsaturated fats each day, but these are important for protecting our heart health! Fab to see you have included some salmon in your day, which as an oily fish is a great source of healthy fats. You could perhaps try including some flaxseed on your morning porridge or a handful of nuts as a snack to boost your healthy fat intake some more.

Nutritionist Amy Wood (ANutr), MSci BSc Nutrition has a keen interest in the relationship between diet and health. Having been published in the European Journal of Nutrition, Amy is passionate about making evidence-based nutrition accessible to everyone and helping others to adopt a food-focused approach to taking control of their health.