Baby and You

Our dietary experts are on hand to provide help and guidance on a wide range of dietary issues

Q1 Is it better to eat four or five smaller meals, instead of three larger meals?

A There are conflicting opinions on whether spreading our diet over four or five smaller meals a day is more beneficial than eating three larger meals. Whilst some evidence has shown that eating smaller, more frequent meals can potentially help stave off hunger and help some people to lose weight, this pattern of eating is not always suitable, or even necessary, for others.

There’s no single right answer to suit everyone about meal frequency. Each person must consider several factors, such as time and working commitments, when planning their eating pattern. Whilst five smaller meals a day may be beneficial for one person, it may not be achievable for another. The most important thing is that we eat a sustainable, healthy and well-balanced diet. Choose a variety of foods from the five main food groups and include five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

Answered by Robbie Green
Robbie Green RD (MSc) previously worked as a chef. A passion for food, health and fitness guided him towards his current career as a clinical Dietitian.

Q2 How are vitamins and minerals stored in the body?

A Vitamins and minerals are essential for good health and because our bodies cannot make them (except for vitamin D, K and niacin), they need to be supplied to our bodies from our diet. But, how our bodies store and use these nutrients depends on their chemical make-up. Vitamins fall into two categories: Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are transported around the body in fat and can be stored in the liver and fatty tissues. By contrast, water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and the B vitamins) are carried in water to specific body tissues where they are needed. This means your body can’t store them because you pass any excess through urine, so you need a fresh supply of these vitamins every day.

Minerals, like vitamins, are found throughout our bodies and each one is responsible for a variety of essential processes. For example, you find calcium and phosphorus in abundance in your skeleton, as they are responsible for strong bones and teeth, sodium and potassium are vital constituents of body fluids to maintain adequate hydration and iron is a crucial component of haemoglobin in red blood cells, which transports oxygen round the body.

Making sure your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs, at any given time, will help your body do what it does best – help you survive and thrive.

Answered by Helen Bond
Helen Bond RD has 20 years’ experience working in the NHS, in PR, within the media and across the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Q3 What is the difference between exercise and physical activity?

A Physical activity is any movement we do in our daily lives that burns calories. This includes activities such as walking up the stairs, doing the hoovering, strolling to the shops, gardening or cooking. Exercise refers to a planned event that’s repetitive and often done to maintain or improve physical fitness, such as a body conditioning or weight lifting class. Adults aged between 19 and 64 years should try to be active daily and do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week and strength exercises on two or more days a week. Moderate aerobic activity can include swimming, fast walking and many other activities that get you slightly out of breath but still able to have a conversation. Strength exercises may include yoga, weightlifting or other exercises that work the major muscle groups.

Answer by Chloe Hall
Chloe Hall BSc (Hons) RD, MSc in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition, works as a Community Dietitian within the NHS.

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