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Food Wise
A Christian based charity delivering food provision, training and education to local communities
By Steph Cogbill on 10/07/19 | Category - FoodWise Tips

Here at Foodwise, we have a real passion for helping children and teenagers develop the skills for cooking healthy balanced meals. Giving children the opportunity to cook, explore and enjoy different foods can have an array of benefits. This can include a more positive relationship with food, developing healthy eating habits, enjoyment of good food and cooking as well as developing the skills when they are living away from home.

In 2013, a survey found that less than 40% of British children could cook 5 savoury dishes by the time they left school. This can have a huge effect on the health and wellbeing of this generation, leaving them without much choice but to purchase ready made meals and fast foods. Something we all know can be costly both in our purses and for our health. In some cases, children can lack the basic culinary skills of whisking an egg or peeling vegetables. This can also prevent the children from understanding what a variety of foods are, influencing their ability to lead a healthy balanced diet.

FoodWise tries to make a difference to these statistics by teaming up with the Eikon Charity. Starting at Kings College Guildford with the view to broaden our horizons to other schools in the community. Our sessions are around 6 weeks long, depending on the term and within these sessions we cover a variety of bases. From ‘what is a healthy balanced diet?’, to dietary practices to support mental wellbeing and aid exam stress.

But, teaching children and teenagers to cook is not something that can only be done at school. So here are some tips for getting our youngsters cooking at home with as little stress as possible!

-         Choose simple recipes. The recipes on our website are created to be quite basic with easily obtainable and budget friendly ingredients. Similarly, typing ‘simple snack ideas’ into Google will be a great place to start!

-         Encourage basic skills such as mixing, spreading, peeling, grating, chopping (ensure supervision with sharp objects)

-         If the children are younger, using colourful and fun utensils on a low unit can be useful

-         Start a notepad recipe book and encourage your young one to write down the foods that they have created

-         When possible, involve the children when shopping for the foods – this will give them the ability to see the array of different foods in the supermarket

-         Think of the key skills for cooking: boiling, baking, grilling, and roasting

Remember, developing new skills in the kitchen can get pretty messy! So be prepared and maybe you can even teach them how to clean up along the way!

By Steph Cogbill on 02/07/19 | Category - FoodWise Tips

Making a healthy balanced meal go a long way can seem a little daunting, especially if cooking from scratch perhaps is not something that you are used to! So below are our top 10 FoodWise tips for stretching your pennies, bulking out your meals and keeping them full of nutrients.

1-     Half veggie, half meat: This works perfectly for foods such as cottage pie, spag bol, curries, or a chilli. Simply half the amount of meat that you have in your recipe and either bulk it out with vegetables of your choice (maybe carrots, peas, sweetcorn, sweet potato), or with a tin of lentils/mixed beans/chickpeas – or both! Check out this BBC recipe that bulks out a cottage pie with some baked beans.

2-     Buy own brands: Did you know that most of the time, supermarket own brands often have a similar nutritional value and taste to the branded alternatives. In fact, Good Housekeeping found that some own-brand foods are BETTER than branded foods! Why not trial and error with some supermarket brands with foods such as cereals, tinned foods, frozen foods, fruit and vegetables. Then you can ditch the fancy label and save yourself a couple of pounds.

3-     Write a grocery list – and stick to it!: It can be tough sometimes, you go into the supermarket with a list but get lured in by lots of different offers. Try and make yourself a list of the foods that you and your family specifically need and go straight to these items in the supermarket rather than walking the aisles. The bright colours are there to catch us out and although the offers may look good – ask yourself if you really planned to buy that food in the first place?

4-     Use your leftovers: Cooking large batches of food and keeping the leftovers for another meal can really help stretch your pennies. This can be anything from cous cous to a roast dinner – just keep it in a microwave safe tuppaware and either keep in the fridge or freezer and reheat! Do be careful though to ensure that the food is piping hot throughout when reheating. When you are planning on saving foods, you should ensure that they are cooled down on the side before being placed into the fridge and if you are keeping it in the fridge then it should be used within 3-5 days.

5-     Don’t put up with food waste! Did you know, the average family with children wastes almost £60 of good food every month. Like above, try only buying the foods that you will use and be strict about what you will actually eat, cooking the correct portion for the amount of people eating.

6-     More veg please! Why not have a couple of meat free days? Meat, fish and poultry usually cost the most in a meal, so swapping these out for beans, lentils or pulses such as chickpeas and mixed beans can cut the cost significantly. They are also a good source of protein and fibre and they contribute to your 5-a-day. You could make it fun and join the other thousands of people taking part in ‘meat-free-Monday’.

7-     Freeze your bread: Bread is one of the most wasted food items. If you find that your bread is mouldy before you have finished the loaf, then you could try freezing your bread to store it. You can put it straight in the toaster if you are after toast, or if you are packing a sandwich for lunch, then the added bonus is that it will stay fresh until lunchtime! Storing bread at it’s freshest will help preserve the taste.

8-     Toddlers eat the same: If you have a toddler, get them into eating the same meals as you. Ensuring that you do not use any salt and be careful with spicy food. Simply blend or chop up their portion to a size to best suit them, you can even freeze leftovers for convenience. This is also a great way to bond, share a meal with your child, increase their likeness for different foods and ensure they are eating healthfully too!

9-     Buy frozen: Did you know that frozen fruit and vegetables have a similar nutritional value as fresh? This is because they are frozen when picked retaining the nutrients, flavour and colour. The added bonus is that they also come already chopped and prepared! Be careful not to choose those with added salt, sugar or fat.

10-  Buy in bulk: Buying rice, pasta and pulses in bulk can keep the cost down and add to your store cupboard essentials. Try to avoid single use/microwave packets of rice and pulses which increases both the cost of the shopping and plastic going into the environment. You can even buy bigger packets of meat which will be cheaper per kilogram and freeze in portions for convenience. Lastly, you could cook a whole chicken ready to add to curries, sandwiches, salads. A whole chicken will give you two thighs, 2 breasts, drumsticks, wings and a carcass for making stock! 



Do you have any tips and tricks for saving the pennies on your food? Whether it’s ways to eliminate waste or ways to make your meals stretch further, we would lov

By Becky Whale on 14/05/19 | Category - Events

As we head towards the summer and our minds turn to sunshine and holidays, Foodwise is working with church and Fareshare partners to address the issue of Holiday Hunger. This year an estimated three million children risk being hungry in the school holidays in the UK. Children from low income families are entitled to free school meals during term time but what happens in school holidays when there is no such provision? For too many children the answer is that they go hungry, with inadequate nutrition impacting on their health, attainment and opportunities. Foodwise is delighted to be partnering for the second year with St Andrews Church in Goldsworth Park to offer a weekly family lunch throughout August, with much of the food supplied by Fareshare courtesy of Waitrose, ensuring that fresh food doesn’t go to waste. Keep an eye on our website for dates. If you’re interested in more information about Holiday Hunger and want to get it involved check out the national campaign to End Hunger here

By Josceline Walden on 13/02/19 | Category - Food

How Have You Been Feeling Lately? 

Fatigued or Energised?
Sliggish or Alert?
Low or Sad?
Anxious or Relaxed?
Rational or Irrational in decision making?
Irritable or Easy going?
Is your mind "foggy" or sharp during the day?

Now think about the food you are (or aren’t) putting onto your plate? 

How regular are your meals/snacks? What's the quality of the food like; Ready meals, fast food or home cooked, Processed or fresh. 

Diet and mood go hand in hand.

Nutrition plays a big part in not just our bodily health, but also all aspects of our wellbeing.


Furthermore, mood and emotions can impact our eating; increasing or decreasing appetite, cravings; stress and anxiety has even been found to hinder proper digestion and disrupt the absorption of nutrients in the gut. 


How Does Diet Impact Our Mood?


The brain is the control centre for your whole body.
It's aim; to keep your body in a "balance” known as "homeostasis”, to protect you, to keep you alive.

What we know is that when diet is restrictive, or lacking nutritional quality, this impacts our mood because the brain is malnourished; That is, it is starved of what it needs in order to drive your body properly.

Just like if you were to fill your car with the wrong fuel, a brain fuelled by diet deficient in vital vitamins and minerals it needs is not going to do its job as efficiently, and can be "dangerous” to drive.
A car would give signals that it’s struggling, and our bodies do the same thing, we need to listen out and  know the signs. 

Go back and re-read the questions at the start of the blog and have a think about how the food you eat impacts your mood: What are you eating? When do you eat? How much? How you’re eating it? 
 Is your body giving you any "signs” that it needs to be fuelled in a better way? 


 How Does Mood Impact Food Choices?

It’s no surprise that it's harder to make healthy decisions when we feel low, anxious or stressed.

Having experienced depression, anxiety and disordered eating myself, I know first hand know how manipulative our mood can be; constant highs and lows of energy and appetite, mind-fog impacting rational decision-making, motivation ebbing and flowing. 

It can be a mission just to get out of bed, it becomes just another mountain to climb, worrying about what to eat (and maybe feed many more mouths). Not even Jamie Oliver’s "meals in minutes” can combat.


Research has shown mood can manipulate appetite and eating habits in many ways; increasing or decreasing hunger, speeding up eating speed, triggering cravings for more ‘palatable’ foods (think high fat and high carbohydrate; chocolate, sweets).


Cravings will usually centre around foods high in fats and carbohydrates, this is because they release a "happy hormone” known as serotonin in the brain. This triggers pleasure signals that make us feel comforted.  

Dopamine is another neurotransmitter(brain hormone) released when we eat, it helps us learn:
"that was tasty & comforting”,  
"That was convenient and quick"
"When I'm low I don't eat" 

The problem: Over time a habitual response, a learnt pattern of eating is created triggered by our mood The next time the same situation arises we turn to this behaviour to help us. 

In some instances it can become a Catch 22 cycle: poor diet, low mood, lack of energy, nutrient deficient choices. 


How Can You Boost Mood Through Food?

We need to choose to break the cycle, and as an act of self-care, learn to nourish our bodies.

Have faith the 8 mood-boosting steps, are super simple, and there is even a  "Food & Mood Shopping List” to help you on your way to eating yourself happy:

1)  Did You Eat A Good Breakfast?  

Set yourself up for steady supply of energy instead of a sharp sugar spike which can cause mood swings an interfere with concentration. 
Protein helps with (fullness) and wholegrain carbohydrates, or oats, are a great source of slow release energy. 

Why not try 2 slices of wholegrain toast with eggs and spinach. 
Or 30g Porridge Oats made with milk, ½ banana and some frozen berries. 

2)  Have You Had Enough Water Today?

Research has found even being slightly dehydrated impacts upon mood negatively. Your brain is 78% fluid, but it doesn’t want constant supply of fizzy drinks or caffeine, but plenty of water; 8 glasses minimum a day.

Don’t like the flavour? Spice it up with slices of lemon, lime or cucumber.

3)  Pack Your Snacks!

Your brain uses up 20% of the sugar from food as daily energy, and during sleep. Long breaks between meals, or having no snacks, can create large fluctuations in blood-glucose levels; low blood sugar can elevate feelings of anxiety, low mood and disrupts concentration

Carry snacks in your bag or car; apples, raisins, banana, carrot sticks and hummus, even a couple of boiled eggs. 

4)   Go For Unsaturated Fats:

Much of your cellular and hormonal functioning is reliant on adequate fat supply. Unsaturated fats rom nuts, seeds, egg yolks, and oily fish are healthy sources.
Selenium is an important mineral found in many of these foods that helps with cognition (brain power), immune system function, and fertility. If deficient, found related to negative mood states.  

5)   Limit Alcohol & Caffeine:

It is recommended to limit both caffeine and alcohol if suffering from clinically diagnosed mood disorder. Both act in opposing ways; Caffeine is a stimulant and its short-lived highs can often create manic episodes, whilst alcohol is a depressant and can worsen low mood.

has also been found to prevent absorption of certain nutrients in the body, such as Vitamin B, leading to deficiencies that enhance mood instability.

Why not experiment with different
herbal teas, or alcohol free versions of drinks at social occasions.

6)   Go For Greens and Grains:

Diets deficient in wholegrain, veggies and fruits often lead to feelings of tiredness, irritability and feelings of depression. Fantastic sources of zinc, folate, and B Vitamins and so many tasty ways to cook them up or hide them in your meals, just check out our recipes page to find some veg-spiration!

7)   Eat the rainbow:

You can largely get all the vitamins your body needs from eating a varied diet (A,D, E K, &  the 8 B Vitamins and Vitamin C).
The more colourful your plate is, regardless if it is from fresh or frozen, the more diversity of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) you are giving your body to function optimally.

Those who are vegetarian or vegan need to source B-12 from fortified cereals, milk and yoghurt products as it is this B Vitamin is only found in meat products. 

8)  Be Freezer Ready:

When the going gets tough, the tough need to have aback up plan that provides the same quick fix as fast food and ready meals. Instead of having frozen pizzas, chips at the ready why not freeze one portion of a meal each night during the week, so you have a freezer filled with nutritious, home cooked alternatives giving you no excuse to not eat a balanced meal.

              * * * 

    R E M E M B E R

It is ok to eat your favourite fast foods, have a slice of cake and a bar of chocolate every now and again. A healthy diet is not a restricted diet. Long term look at the quality and quantity of the foods you are feeding your body and brain. 




Mind Charity, Food & Mood [accessed 12th Feb 2019]

British Association of Dieticians, Food & Mood [accessed 10the Feb 2019]

Macht, M. (2008). How emotions affect eating: A five-way model. Appetite, 50(1), 1-11. doi;10.1016/j.appet.2007.07/002






















By Josceline Walden on 01/02/19 | Category - FoodWise Tips


When you think of "malnutrition" what comes to mind?

Usually we think of families in 3rdworld countries, or maybe those with clinical eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia.
You probably don’t associate malnourishment with eating food, but the truth is you can be malnourished whilst still eating regularly.

According to the BDA (British Association of Dieticians) in the UK alone around 3million people suffer from malnourishment costing the NHS an excess of £13 billion per year!

 This post is designed to help you understand what impacts our nutritional status: signs of malnutrition, high-risk groups, links with poverty, and simple ways to eat yourself healthy whilst cutting costs.

What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition occurs when your body is not getting the correct amount of nutrients it needs from your diet.

Whilst usually associated with poorer countries where their diet is restricted and there is less food security, it is increasingly becoming a problem in Westernised societies due to:

-      Highly accessible and cheaper convenience foods with little to no nutritional benefit (think ready meals, sugary snacks, cereals, takeaways).

-      Increased food prices making cheaper alternatives more attractive

-      Growing economic stress

-      Miss-communication; healthy eating messages usually focused on weight not tackling the larger picture of malnutrition

More people opt for as a quick fix.  Due to the rise in food prices and other personal or environmental, stress factors, these food choices can seem like an easier option than preparing meals themselves.

Malnourishment is the leading cause of morbidity (disease) and the consequences harsh. From the direct impact on daily functioning, lowering immunity, energy levels, disrupting sleep and cognitive abilities(thinking, problem solving, mood, IQ, reasoning abilities).
To the more indirect, or long-term impacts, on heart and bone health, fertility, social, and economic growth.

Diet shapes your brain, impacts your body and influences your quality of life.

Signs & Symptoms

There are few things you can look out for when identifying malnourishment in yourself or others:

·     Weight loss/weight gain

·     Tiredness/Fatigue

·     Loss of muscle strength

·     Loss of appetite and mood changes

·     Reduced quality of life

·     Inability to carry out daily activities & loss of independence

·     Slower healing and easily picking up illnesses like colds and flu

·     Increased infection

·     Poor sleep

·     Thinning of hair and nails


You may notice how many of those link in with symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression. It is important to note how our body and mind are not separate entities and work together to help us thrive.

 Who’s At Risk?

Malnutrition can impact anyone, but there are certain groups who are deemed as being more "high risk”:

·     Elderly

·     Those suffering from mental health or disability

·     Those with income-poverty

·      Those with lower education or lack of education around healthy eating and simplistic nutrition

·     Children who may be carers for parents and/or siblings

·     Those suffering with clinical eating disorders and other conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, that can influence the body's ability to absorb nutrients 

·     Minority groups & those at risk of social isolation

 Malnutrition has serious consequences on child development and, for pregnant mothers, foetal development. Therefore it is important that when we look at tackling food poverty, and supporting those most at risk of nutritional deficiencies, in order to reduce the immediate, and future, impact on health and wellbeing. 

The Poverty Cycle

Low income is a massive factor that puts families under pressure and at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Low-income families are also at a higher risk of illness and disability meaning their costs of healthcare may be higher, leaving even less to budget healthy eating, and with the additional stressors experienced, making diet and lifestyle bottom of the priorities. Having to take days of work, or school due to poor health as a result of malnutrition can perpetuate the problem, interrupting education, or economic advances. And so the poverty cycle deepens.


The Good News!

Nutrition doesn’t have to be rocket science and a balanced diet doesn’t have to be bland.
You needn’t be Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, and you can definitely push your trolley straight past the Chia Seeds and bottled Kombucha.


Here are some simple steps to kick-start yours and your family's health today:

  1.   Back to basics: the Eat well plate is a great place to start. It provides national guidelines for healthy eating, portion sizes and food group examples. Download a copy here and use it to guide your day so you can check in with yourself that you’ve included each food group in its recommended daily requirement.

  2. Start your day right: Having a good breakfast sets you up for the day. Skipping breakfast, or having sugary cereals, create fluctuations in blood glucose levels that impact mood and concentration. You maybe more likely fall into traps of grab and go energy drinks, sugary pastries, or relying on caffeine to power you through your day. 

    Try having a hot bowl of oats, add in fruit like raisins or frozen berries; both cheaper alternatives. Or if you have time scramble eggs and serve with two slices of whole meal toast, add some spinach or cherry tomatoes on the side for a portion of veggies, and serve with a small glass of orange juice or milk.

  3. Bulk Up: Buy veggies and fruits frozen, you get more for your money and freezing them retains their nutrition. Go for variety, eat the rainbow, and although fresh is best any vegetables are better than none.

  4. So No To "Cheap” Cheats: Whilst ready meals and fast-food may look cheaper in the short-term, long term they can be a real penny pincher, and laden with salts, preservatives and sugar you will find when you make your favourite meals yourself they will a) taste a lot better, b)be healthier, c) you’ll make more for your money, so instead of one meal you’ll make a few for the week.

  5. Get "Souper Smooth”: It is always best to get your nutrition from sold foods, but sometimes our mood, time constraints and energy levels, call for a quick fix and this is when home made smoothies or soups serve a fantastic purpose, and a real nutrient hit. BUT make your own, shop bought smoothies are expensive and both can have a lot of hidden sugars, preservatives and salts. 

    My advice with smoothies is to base them around veggies (celery, spinach, kale, lettuce) then sweeten with fruit: ½ apple, ½ banana, some kiwi or frozen berries, skip on the honey or syrup and use a milky base to add a portion of dairy.

    Soups are so versatile; bulk them up with some red lentils that are £1 a bag, and that’s another one of your five a day and great source of dietary fibre. 

  6. Get Food Label Savvy: Understanding your food labels can help you make wise choices. Whilst we are bombarded with calorie information it we actually want to look more for nutritional quality, which sometimes means higher calories, as a lot of good foods (avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish) are high calorie but packed full of goodies. It’s the high sugars, salts and saturated fats that contribute to high cholesterol and we need to moderate in our diet. 

    For more information download the BDA’s guide to food labels here.

  7. Can-do attitude: Canned foods can be a good option when looking at budget buys. Things like canned tuna, chickpeas, mackerel & sardines, baked beans, are all cheap and easy store cupboard essentials that are great for days when you need something quick but will still fuel your body appropriately.

  8. Stress Less: Easier said than done, but environment really does impact your appetite, food choices and digestion. Choose meals you like, plan ahead if you can, cook with your kids and make it fun for them to learn new skills.

    There are so many free online resources and recipe databases where you can find healthy alternatives, have a look at the FoodWise recipes for some simple satisfying meals. 

  9. Move More: If suffering from low appetite and loss of energy actually moving more and getting outside, can increase your appetite, boost your mood, and help regain any strength lost due to malnourishment. 

  10. SPEAK UP: If you are really struggling then seeking help from your GP is the best option. You may be given help by and NHS dietician who can give you and your family individualised assessment and support. 

Final Words

Be gentle on yourself.
It’s all about the small steps, forget the bigger picture, and work each day at the little changes you can implement into yours and your family's lives that down the line will make for a long, happy, healthy future.

If you’re stuck we want to support you through your journey. Our freeFoodWise courses run around Guildford and Woking. 
On them you are fully catered for,supported, you’ll build community as well as learning important life-skills that enable you to support yours and your family's health whilst still cutting the costs.



NHS Malnutrition
BDA Malnutrition Information
Unite For Site; Social Determinants of Malnutrition


By Becky Whale on 14/06/18 | Category - General


Ruth Boughton is our newest Food Coach.  Get to know her below and find out why she chose to work for FoodWise.

What drew you to work for FoodWise?

I enjoy being with people and cooking and feel strongly about getting good quality food to families that are struggling. The way FoodWise courses are taught means that the sessions have a long-term impact and people are also able to stay in touch and get future support.

Tell us a bit about your background?

I started cooking at Crusader camps and then became a caterer at Saint Saviours in Guildford. I combine my work with FoodWise with my own gardening business and really enjoy seeing the journey of food from garden to plate.

What have you enjoyed most so far?

I love seeing the impact the courses have on people who come in with no experience or confidence. To see the thrill on people’s faces when they’ve cooked something and their family has said how much they have enjoyed it is wonderful. One client has commented ‘Why do we need takeaways when we can cook like this?’ That was a great result.

What is your favourite meal?

I love being creative with food and throwing a meal together from what’s in the fridge. As well as that I love a good cheeseboard with a glass of wine!


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