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What does a portion of fruit or vegetables look like?


A portion is the amount you can fit in your hand.  This applies to children too.


Are carbohydrates bad for you?


No, in fact starchy foods which are rich in carbohydrates are a good source of energy, B vitamins, fibre, calcium and iron.  They should make up about a third of what you eat.  It is a common myth that starchy foods are fattening, yet they contain half the calaories of fat.  You just need to be careful what you add to them!  Choose low fat spreads and tomato based sauces rather than butter and cream based sauces.


I have heard that avocado's are high in fat.  Is this true?


Avocado's do contain fat.  However the type of fat they contain is the good fat called monounsaturated fat.  These fats have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels, and therefore are important as part of a healthy balanced diet.  Other foods which contain monounsaturated fats include olive oil and olive oil based spreads, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and pilchards, as well as some types of nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, cashews and almonds.  As avocado's do contain fat, they are also high in calories.  Eating too many calories and not doing enough exercise can lead to weight gain.  Half an avocado counts as a portion and can also count towards one of your five a day.


How much fat and sugar is too much?


Many supermarkets have now introduced traffic light systems on their labelling.  Reading food lables can be quite confusing.  Generally labels tell you the amount of at/suar/salt per 100g.  This is what to look for:
The salt, fat and sugar contents are usually colour coded separately.  Be aware that just because something is low in fat it isn't necessarily low in salt and sugar too.
Green indicates a healthy choice and should be choosen often.
Amber means this item contains a moderate amount of fat/sugar/salt and should be eaten in smaller quantifies.

Red means stop and think.  These items should not be included in your diet regularly.


My husband had a triple heart by-pass 6 years ago and since then we try to eat a low fat diet. There seems to be a continuous debate as to whether butter is "better" on balance than low fat margarine such as Flora. I use olive oil for cooking.


The overall message for adults after heart by-pass surgery is to ensure that the amount of saturated fat we eat in our diets is kept to a minimum. Saturated fat sources in our diet are from: animal fats like butter/lard/dripping; fatty meats; processed foods like chocolates/biscuits/cakes/pies/pastries; full fat dairy products like full fat milk/cheese/yogurts.
Provided that the above sources of saturated fat are kept to a daily minimum everyday by having lower fat alternatives, then having a small amount of butter in the day e.g. on toast in the morning will not be detrimental but it will become detrimental if a small amount of butter escalates and is then also used throughout the day as a spread plus used in cooking plus as an addition for example in mash/boiled potatoes etc.
Also of note is that although olive oil is of a type of fat (mono-unsaturated fat) that 'protects' the heart, it will provide the same calories as butter so although you are using this, please remember to use a small amount each time in order to prevent extra weight gain'.


Is fasting one day a month good for you?


Many people fast for religious, spiritual, detoxification or weight management purposes. The body is actually very effective at eliminating toxins without abstinence from food. To function effectively the body needs regular, well balanced meals. Lack of regular meals could lead to a drop in blood sugars which can result in cravings for foods high in fat and sugar, low mood, poor concentration and increased difficulty in maintaining a healthy weight. Fasting would not be advised if you have diabetes, you are pregnant or lactating as there is the additional need for regularity of meals. It would be best to consult your doctor before making any radical change to your diet or lifestyle.


I've always been very slim and have tried for several years to put on weight. I am a 20yr old female just under 7 stone and my height is 5'7'' and am also a vegetarian.  Could you possibly give me some sort of menu outline of what my daily consumption of food should be in order to put on weight? and also do you recommend any sort of protein shakes that could also help me?


The data you have given yields a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 15kg/m2. The ideal BMI range is from 18.5-25kg/m2 and thus we would definitely advise you to try and gain weight. When gaining weight it important to gain lean and fat mass. To gain weight we would advise consuming 600kcal a day extra. To do this we would advise nutritious high calorie foods such as cheese, olive or vegetable oil, full fat yoghurts, avocado, nuts and seeds and eggs. We would advise you eat 5 meals each day for example: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner with a milky bedtime drink. You can add the suggested foods to existing meals e.g adding nuts and seeds to breakfast cereals and adding oil to meals. You can also add skimmed milk powder to the milk you use to boost it's calorie and protein content - we would suggest adding 5 dessert spoons to 2 pints and shaking vigorously each time you use it. You should aim to gain weight gradually- this may be only 1-2lbs a week, and then sustain it.

We would not recommend protein shakes that are aimed at the sports nutrition market but you can easily make your own high energy shakes with full fat milk, ice cream and some fruit added. If you feel your weight is affecting your health e.g. tiredness, increased infections, ask your GP to refer you to the dietitian so a full dietary assessment can be made



If i ate above my maintenance allowance of 2000 calories for one day and ate 2700 but burnt off 700 would my weight remain the same?

Also if I ate 2700 for one day but didnt exercise would I gain weight?


Weight loss and gain is all about energy balance. Our body requires a certain amount of calories to survive; this is based on our height, weight, age, gender and activity levels. If we eat in excess of our body's requirements on a regular basis then we will put on weight, if we eat less calories than we require we will lose weight and if we eat the exact amount of calories our weight will remain stable.

From your example if your energy requirement has been calculated as 2000kcals a day and you eat 2700 then exercise and burn off 700kcals more than your usual activities of daily living your energy intake is balanced, you have taken in 2700kcals and used up 2700kcals.

700kcal extra to the diet as a one off is unlikely to make a significant difference to your weight in the short term, however, continued over consumption will.



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