Gransnet forums


LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 08-Feb-17 16:38:50

Q&A with nutritionist Jane Clarke

Food can be so much more than just fuel sometimes, as nutritionist Jane Clarke well knows. As well as giving her account of how food (and her Great Aunt May), helped her through serious illness, Jane will be answering all your questions on food and nutrition, too.

Add yours to the thread below by 12 noon on 22 February and we'll send them across for her to answer. You can find out more about Jane on her website,, which she created in order to help people who are ill, and their carers, find both enjoyment and nourishment in food again.

Jane Clarke

Q&A with nutritionist Jane Clarke

Posted on: Wed 08-Feb-17 16:38:50


Lead photo

Ask Jane all your questions about food and nutrition

I grew up in a family with food at its heart, especially when we were with my wonderful Great Auntie May. She was a marvellous cook, who made homemade jams, toasted bread on the fire and always packed a hamper for road trips with me and my sister. I still remember the taste of tea poured from the flask and drunk from melamine mugs.

It was my Auntie May, along with my mum and dad, who helped care for me when, aged 15, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition in which cells from the uterus spread to other parts of the body. One week in four for the next 10 years, I would be in agony and was often hospitalised and given morphine to help control the pain. My Auntie May would be there, bringing Chelsea buns and other tasty treats to my bedside, showing her affection with food that tempted me to eat when I just couldn't face a hospital dinner, and which made me feel 'normal' and not simply a patient defined by my condition.

Auntie May's example stuck with me when I chose my career. I qualified as a dietitian because I know how important good nutrition is for both helping to prevent illness and in aiding recovery. I also trained as a cordon bleu chef because Auntie May had passed on a love of cooking and sharing food with those I love. The eventual, drastic cure for my endometriosis was a hysterectomy at age 25. Years later, I fell in love at first sight with my daughter, who I adopted from India. When I learnt her name was Maya – so close to my aunt's name – it seemed even more certain that we were meant to be together.

I qualified as a dietitian because I know how important good nutrition is for both helping to prevent illness and in aiding recovery.

Auntie May sadly had a stroke and died after spending her last few years in a care home. I think of her often, especially when I'm with the people I advise at my practice. My aunt taught me that food is so much more than the calories, vitamins and minerals we consume. It's about sharing shepherd's pie and good times with our family around a table. It's about making a pot of homemade jam to bring a relative in a care home. It's about creating a delicious ramekin of cauliflower cheese that will tempt someone who has lost their appetite to have just one mouthful, or two, or three. It's about empowering ourselves to give our body the nourishment it needs. And, as anyone who has baked a cake with their grandchildren or shared a tea of boiled egg and soldiers knows, it's about bridging generations.

I hope you had an 'Auntie May' in your life, or can be that person for those you love. Each time I bake Chelsea buns, I say a little thank you for her recipe – and for her love.

What would you like me to talk about? Please, get in touch with your questions about nourishment, for yourself or someone you care for. Finding the right foods when we're going through tough times is empowering, and learning what to cook for people when they're poorly or in recovery from illness can help make their lives, and our society, better. Thank you for having me, Gransnet; I can't wait to get started.

By Jane Clarke

Twitter: @Gransnet

Crumble Fri 10-Feb-17 16:41:24

I think I know what you're saying about food or feeding being a way of looking after someone you love, or showing them that you care. What would you suggest about instances where people with dementia are eating too much? I know of one person whose husband, instead of forgetting to eat will often forget that they have eaten and so wants to eat almost constantly and is suffering as a result.

minimo Fri 10-Feb-17 17:07:03

Hi Jane
I've had a look at your website and read your story - you've led a remarkable life. I would like to know your take on hospital food and how, if a loved one is in one for any period of time, you can make sure they are eating properly. We all know the NHS is understaffed and poorly resourced. When my mum was ill I had no idea of knowing what she'd eaten in a day. I've been in hospital myself for an overnight stay and the food certainly didn't seem very nutritional. I understand that they are mass producing but as I'm sure you'll agree when you are unwell, good food is very important to help you heal.

Bobbin Fri 10-Feb-17 17:30:42

hi Jane, a very good friend and neighbour of mine is currently recovering from chemotherapy. I wouild love to know if you have any recommendations for things i could take round that a) she would enjoy (she has a sweet tooth) and b) will still have nutritional value and help her in her efforts to gain some of the weight she lost.

Thanks in advance.

Grannyknot Fri 10-Feb-17 19:36:05

Hi Jane, I'm very interested in learning how or whether diet plays a role in relation to controlling, improving or worsening endometriosis.

Grannyknot Fri 10-Feb-17 19:45:35

Sorry I should have framed that as a question smile - does diet have any impact on endometriosis?

Granonthemove Fri 10-Feb-17 21:01:26

I'm finding the need to alter my diet to try to lower cholesterol, combined with a stressful time of downsizing, very debilitating (boring) but I don't want to end up on drugs. Missing chocolate / sausages particularly. Any ideas ?

PamelaJ1 Sat 11-Feb-17 06:34:21

Two years ago I went on a very strict diet recommended by Dr. John Mansfield, he specialised in treating arthritis. Very very low sugar, in fact, practically none. My Dr. poo poohed it but although I don't have arthritis it cleared my psoriasis up enormously. Was I imagining this? I don't think so but he said it was probably due to improve anyway!

NanKate Sat 11-Feb-17 07:18:58

Hello Jane,

What wonderful memories you have of your Aunty May. My Aunty Bink baked delicious cakes smile

Last year I was diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica for which I need to take steroids. I was advised to eat carefully as I would be susceptible to Type 2 Diabetes.

I have tried to reduce my sugar/carbs and cut down on potatoes, bread etc when I look at the ingredients on packages so many include sugar, even my one Weetabix a day. I do miss toast and marmalade. What are your thoughts on a low sugar diet and is bread bad for you ?

Finally I love fruit and plain nuts what sort of quantities per day can I eat ?

Thanks, Kate

cornergran Sat 11-Feb-17 07:59:34

Hello Jane. Thank you for sharing your memories of your Great Auntie May. I'm wondering what your thoughts are about the impact of diet on fibromyalgia. Is there an approach you think can help to manage symptoms? Would be good to hear your thoughts.

Tizliz Sat 11-Feb-17 21:18:43

I could do with some help on what to eat/or not eat to prevent headaches and migraines. I know what people consider trigger foods but I can't relate to them and wondered if there were any new ideas. I have arthritis but can't take nsai and paracetamol gives me headaches.

Teetime Sun 12-Feb-17 09:35:30

Hello Jane I have SLE and have read that some people believe a gluten free diet helps relieve the symptoms - is there any evidence for this please?

Mamar2 Sun 12-Feb-17 15:49:35

My GS is nearly 6yrs old & eats hardly anything, since he started on solids to be exact. I do worry about him as he's as thin as a rake. I hope you have some advice...even if it's just to point me to a good book on the subject. Thank you so much.

HildaW Mon 13-Feb-17 17:34:45

I have iron deficient anaemia, have had it most of my adult life (now 60) Doctor has sent me for usual tests so is happy its not something nasty. My problem is that the usual iron tablets (which do bring me back into the normal range) really upset my system and although I eat a fairly vegetable heavy diet with a bit of red meat every 3 or 4 days I'm obviously not getting enough iron into my system. Any ideas please?

cheshiresmile25 Mon 13-Feb-17 18:18:35

What foods should women over 60 be eating to help prevent osteoporosis or slow down its progress?

Are there any proven foods which improve the pain of osteoarthritis?

Brendaj Mon 13-Feb-17 20:16:13

Can you please advice me what foods I should avoid .I have I b s and also a hiatus hernia.tried cutting out foods such as salad and onions but it doesn't seem to make much difference.I would appreciate your advice.thank you .

Granarchist Wed 15-Feb-17 12:19:08

Bobbin I suggest you look at the website of Not Another Bunch of Flowers for suggestions. It was set up by a young woman who has gone through breast cancer herself and is a mine of information on gifts etc for those in a similar situation.

Molly10 Sat 18-Feb-17 09:25:55

Hi Jane, Not sure if you would have any suggestions on this one but talking to a neighbour yesterday we got on to the subject of health and diets and she said she has had for some time a problem with belching. She says she could even just have a sip of water first thing in the morning and she would find herself belching within a short time. She says she does not gulp and is not aware she is taking in a lot of air. There seems to be no particular foods that set it away but she would like to alleviate the problem.
Have you come across this before? Do you have any suggestions about what it could be and ways to cure/prevent this?
Many thanks

Glosgran Sat 18-Feb-17 10:17:14

Like Cornergran, I would also be very interested in any dietary help you can give for Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue & Osteoporosis. Suggestions I have heard include cutting out gluten, carbs including potatoes, rice & pasta, sugar & dairy. That doesn't seem to leave much! I do eat quite a lot of fruit but also enjoy eating fruit with yogurt.

Chez Sat 18-Feb-17 10:48:26

I suffer from a sudden onset of extreme nasal congestion either during or shortly after eating. This lasts from 20 minutes up to an hour. Someone suggested it could be histamine intolerance. My doctor said this does not exist despite it being listed on the NHS website.

Do you have any suggestion/comments about what could cause this problem and what I could do about it?

Many thanks.

GrannyO Sat 18-Feb-17 11:47:09

Hello, I've been taken off HRT the oestrogen only one,after nearly 30 years. Are there any foods would help me counteract the effects of menopausal symptoms such as overheating and mood swings?

Victoria08 Sat 18-Feb-17 18:32:09

Are the sugars found in fruit the same as processed sugars?.
I like to blend fruit and vegetables together, but sometimes it is mainly fruit.
I often worry I might be consuming too much fruit sugars as I have a Nutribullit every day for breakfast.
What is your thinking on sugar consumption?.

Supergrannyknitknit Sat 18-Feb-17 19:52:08

Hello Jane,
Five and a half years ago I was struck down with Churg-Strauss Syndrome.As it is such a rare form of Vasculitis I had a late diagnosis and as a result I have nerve damage in my feet and right hand.I feel the damage is slowly getting worse,probably because I getting older,I'm seventy now,but I wondered if there was any food which might help slow the decline.When I was in hospital being treated my consultant said to eat plenty of fat ie cheese,butter,cream etc as our nerves are mainly made up of fat.My cholesterol is high so I am reluctant to eat too much of these things.Any thoughts?

oily1947 Mon 20-Feb-17 14:12:08

Hi Jane just joined . Iam 69 year old man and having problems with pain from statins tablets. Would a better diet/life style replace having to take them? I always been active but struggled with my weight. Oily

marblerun Tue 21-Feb-17 16:51:21

Hello Jane, other than the obvious what should I do diet wise to help my insomnia? I have tried eating bananas and avoiding cheese and sugar too close to bedtime but am reaching a point where I need to try something new desperately