Author: Val Hutson

I graduated from Edge Hill University, Lancashire, England in July 2015, with a first class Bsc (Hons) Degree in Nutrition and Health. I am employed by Blackpool Council as a Healthy Lifestyles Nutritionist and am an Associate Registered Nutritionist. I am passionate about all aspects of nutrition and am looking forward to putting what I've learned into practice. My degree studies gave me an in-depth knowledge of nutrition across the lifespan, with specific modules on biology, research, wider determinants of obesity, entrepreneurship and public health nutrition. In my final year I carried out primary research for my dissertation exploring people's level of knowledge of the link between diet and disease.

From Student to Nutritionist

Taking early retirement from the Civil Service at the end of May 2016 to pursue my passion for nutrition was definately the right decision.


What I didn’t expect to happen from day one, was to be dealing first hand with the massive nutritional challenges faced by a head & neck cancer patient in my own home.

My husband says “everyone diagnosed with cancer should have their own live-in nutritionist” – Personally I think that might be a step too far!


In reality it has given me a purpose and something to focus on.  The Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) feeding tube doesn’t phase me and I’m now a bit of an expert on the nutritional value of an Ensure Plus.

With such lovely family and friends who could be miserable, reading everyones lovely messages on Facebook has also given me a lift.

At Uni we studied how a poor diet can cause some cancers and how quickly malnutrition can take hold with those undergoing cancer treatment such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Having said that unless you’ve lived through it you can’t understand how bad this disease and the treatment is. We can’t praise everyone at Cancer Clatterbridge Centre highly enough, they are all so committed and caring, you know you are in safe hands.  The BBC series ‘The Big C and me‘  was brilliant, real people just getting on with it, very inspirational.


It’s now ten days after treatment ended and hubby is starting to feel a little bit better.

The last three months have not been all doom and gloom, we eventually managed to laugh at his new footballer haircut and our trip to watch Andy Murray win in the Wimbledon final was truly amazing.  We’ve stayed up most nights being inspired by our fabulous GB athletes in the Olympics and have had loads of time to read and plan for the future.

Very much looking forward to celebrating when he gets the all clear.

I’ve not posted on my blog for a while, but this is the first of many following my progress as a nutritionist rather than a student. I went back to Uni on Saturday to do some research and loved it.  I’ve found lots of interesting research to share, so watch this space…….

Val x


A fond farewell to 2015

Looking back over 2015 there have been massive highs and lows. The sudden loss of my big Sister Patricia in March, then graduating with a  First Class Hons Degree in Nutrition and Health in August, make this a very memorable year for me.


Since graduating my favourite memory is going back to Edge Hill University to attend the Association for Nutrition Regional Network meeting focusing on ‘Nutrition through the Life Stages’.  It was a great day full of engaging presentations from start to finish. It was also great to meet up with everyone and put names to faces.  This was especially useful as I had helped AfN Regional Rep North West Aliya Porter prepare the speakers profiles for the event so felt like I knew the speakers already!


Listening to another former Edge Hill Student ‘Emily Sturgess’ delivering her presentation on ‘Working in Industry’ was brilliant, it was really lovely seeing her doing so well.

Looking forward to 2016 I’m planning a  whole new career in nutrition and planning to study for a Masters, can’t wait to get started!

I’m off to party now. Happy new year everyone. X



A moment on the lips…….

Did you know that the average woman consumes approximately 6 lb of lipstick in her lifetime?   With tempting lipstick names such as Truly Toffee, Raisin Hell, Triple Chocolate Parfait and Vaseline’s latest product ‘Sugar Coated’ lip balm, it’s hardly surprising.


sugar lips

One study analysed more than 1,700 lipstick names from 52 manufacturers.

The study found that:

  • 24% of the lipsticks reviewed were named after food.
  • 97% of women age 18 – 24 wear lip colour.
  • Lipsticks are the most shoplifted cosmetic! (Not recommended)
  • This is a multi million pound industry, just for women.

There is also some evidence that lipstick sales have an inverse relationship with national calamity and economic downturn. 

The study also reported that:

  • During the Great Depression when food and other necessities were scarce, women still found money to buy lipstick to boost their morale.
  • Following the September 11th tragedy sales of lipstick increased by 13% in quarter four.
  • During periods of economic downturn lipstick sales have been seen to rise by nearly 12%.


When manufacturers use names like Raspberry Soufflé or Triple Peach Pie to sell lipsticks they are trying to stimulate the palate in addition to the eye or ear, which is a phenomenon called synesthesia. I experienced this yesterday when I just had to buy the pink tin promising sugar coated lips! 

From a nutrition perspective I think a little bit of what you fancy does you good and no food should be forbidden, but I do like the idea of buying a Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie lipstick instead of an actual chocolate brownie.

Girls whatever your age, put your lippy on and a smile.


Merskin, D. (2007)  Truly Toffee and Raisin Hell: A Textural Analysis of Lipstick.








Even though my degree studies have finished I still spend hours reading nutrition and health related journal articles, I just can’t get enough of them! 

beerEveryday new ones are published, revealing the details of primary research and literature reviews on complex, weird and wonderful topics.  As a student, I used these peer reviewed journal articles to help prove and disprove various arguments, and now I’m reading them just for fun!

What I’d like to do is share my findings with you here on my blog. I’ll try not to blind you with science or quote chapter and verse but will report research that interests me, hopefully you will find it interesting too.

Here’s what I’ve been reading today:

  • Excessive alcohol use is a major public health concern and finding ways to cut consumption is a popular area of research.
  • In one study alcohol consumption of beer reduced when straight glasses were used instead of curved glasses.
  • Takings reduced by 24% in 3 pubs when alcohol was served in straight glasses compared to the weekends when alcohol was served in curved glasses.
  • A small number of patrons were unhappy with the new glassware and requested their normal glass.
  • This study explored how people’s behaviour and the choices they make can be influenced at population level – known as ‘choice architecture interventions’.
  • Another example of this is applying health warning labels to alcoholic beverages. In the USA this did result in greater awareness of alcohol-related harm, however the impact on drinking behaviour was minimal.
  • It’s not clear why straight glasses reduced consumption and this was only a small study so further research is called for.

Personally my alcohol consumption reduces when I’m forced to drink out of a plastic glass, it just feels wrong!  Perhaps I should conduct my own study.


Troy, D, M.,  Maynard, O, M., Hickman, M., Attwood, A, S. & Munafò, M,R  (2015) Effect of glass shape on alcohol consumption in a naturalistic setting: a feasibility study

Support local farmers and reap the benefits!

A recent study found those shopping at farmers’ markets were more likely to consume five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.


I certainly enjoyed my trip to Pollensa Market last week with a fabulous rainbow of fruit and vegetables available to ‘try before you buy‘, not something likely to catch on here in UK supermarkets, I think!


The smell was divine and every surface was covered with local produce bursting with goodness. I only had to look at what was on offer and I felt more energised and healthier, but I guess that’s the nutritionist in me.


Others may have seen ingredients for a recipe set out before them or a whole load of unnecessary chopping and peeling, me on the other hand saw antioxidants, beta-carotene, carotenoids, vitamins and essential fatty acids, with all sorts of fabulous health benefits.


Let’s support our local farmers and get healthier at the same time.

If you’ve never visited a farmers market, seek one out, you are in for a real treat.


Val x


Reference: Jilcott Pitts, S.B., Wu, Q., McGuirt, J.T., Crawford, T.W. et al. Associations between access to farmers’ markets and supermarkets, shopping patterns, fruit and vegetable consumption and health indicators among women of reproductive age in eastern North Carolina, USA. Public Health Nutrition16.11 (Nov 2013): 1944-52.

Doughnuts and diabetes – front page news!

Sensational headlines about the nations health, like those on the front page of the Daily Mail and Daily Express on Monday, are designed to sell newspapers.  Unfortunately what they also do is provide the public with misinformation and show little respect for people living with challenging health conditions such as Diabetes and Coeliac Disease.


Claiming that doughnuts, pizzas and burgers are freely available on the NHS conjures up images that couldn’t be further from the truth. Gluten free bread, flour and low protein foods are prescribed, but in limited amounts and only when absolutely necessary for the health and well being of patients.

Coeliac UK have refuted claims that the Health Service spent £116m on gluten free prescriptions. In reality it was less than a quarter of that at £26.8 million in 2014 equating to an annual cost of £180 per diagnosed patient. Said to be one of the cheapest treatments for long term health conditions in the NHS.

Sarah Sleet the Chief Executive of Coeliac UK is calling for the Daily Mail to correct the misinformation presented today along with the Mirror, Times, Telegraph and Express.

I’m all for raising awareness of the importance of nutrition and health, but articles like this just muddy the water, create bad feeling and cause harm to vulnerable people.

I wonder what the headlines will be on Tuesday!


Last day as a student….

Tomorrow I graduate from Edge Hill University with a first class honours degree in Nutrition and Health, so that makes today officially my last day as a student.  Looking back over the last 3 years I’ve loved the subject, the lectures, the library, the research, the people, come to think of it everything!

My special highlights were:

  • Winning a Student Enterprise Award for our Nutri-juice Health Promotion
  • Spending every spare minute reading about nutrition.
  • Job shadowing at Public Health England and Food Standards Agency
  • Attending great nutrition events e.g. Food Matters Live` & British Dietetic Association Research Symposium
  • Volunteering with Skelmersdale Community Food Initiative – such a great bunch of people.
  • Being awarded an IT Scholarship by one of my heroes Edge Hill Chancellor ‘Tanya Byron’
  • Getting to be a lab rat, white coat, safety glasses, bunsen burners, the lot!
  • Morning Marathon training on the Uni running track – loved that they put the floodlights on for me a stupid o’clock.
  • The feeling when I handed in a copy of my Dissertation: ‘An exploration of peoples knowledge of the link between diet and disease’

Below are some photos of my time at Edge Hill.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s graduation ceremony and then getting back to blogging about life after Uni.

Val x

Hayley, Greg and Val ICT & Enterprise Excellence Award Winners

Hayley, Greg and Val ICT & Enterprise Excellence Award Winners December 2014

Photo on 07-07-2015 at 19.41 - Version 2

Results day July 2015


Nutri-juice health promotion – Gemma, Kay, Val & Rhian 22.1.2014

Lab work

Lab work

Sue & Val - Looking forward to the event

Sue & Val – Lab rats


Association for Nutrition Event – Atherosclerosis model 2012


Student Excellence Awards 2014

3rd Year Edge Hill Nutrition Students at the Association for Nutrition Regional Meeting

3rd Year Edge Hill Nutrition Students at the Association for Nutrition Regional Meeting 


Skelmersdale Community Food Initiative

photo 1


Handing in our dissertations



Food Sustainability Event hosted by Edge Hill

Health Promotion Poster

Health Promotion Poster


Edge Hill – University of the Year 2015


Read the email that made my day! Student Volunteering Week 23 February – 1 March 2015

I received a lovely email this morning telling me I’d been nominated for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award by Skelmersdale Community Food Initiative (SCFI). Although I wasn’t shortlisted it was a great surprise and brilliant that they took the time to prepare a nomination especially when I know how busy they are.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 15.46.18I

Since I started volunteering with SCFI l’ve met some lovely people, improved my knowledge (especially of social media) and attended a marketing training course specifically targeted at charities. I can definitely recommend volunteering and whether you’re a student or not, there are loads of opportunities available to use the skills you already have, to gain new ones, or to help others and just have fun.

Good luck to the five shortlisted finalists; Conor, Gary, Harriette, Henry and Simon.

If you are thinking of volunteering and live in West Lancashire, don’t hesitate, contact: (who helped me) or elsewhere in the UK


…………………..Here is the email that made my day!.………………..

Hello Valerie,

Congratulations! You were nominated for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award! The Award is run by Student Volunteering Week, an annual, nationwide campaign that celebrates students like you all over the country and inspires many more students to get involved in social action.

Unfortunately you were not selected by our panel of judges to be shortlisted for the Award, although being nominated is a fantastic achievement and a sign that you deserve to be recognised for your commitment to making a positive impact in your community. We’ve included your nomination at the end of this email so that you can find out who nominated you and why they thought you deserved to be recognised.

We’ll be presenting the Award to the winner today at a special Parliamentary Celebration in the House of Commons in London. 

Congratulations again on your nomination, and all the best as your social action journey continues!

The Student Volunteering Week team


  • Please describe the nominee’s volunteering activity. How have they demonstrated passion and commitment? Who has benefitted from their volunteering? Describe their positive social impact.
    “Val has committed herself to working with us in terms of developing a cohesive approach to our social media. As a small charity her commitment to us is invaluable as she brings with her not only passion and enthusiasm but real skills both in nutrition and social media knowledge. I cannot praise her commitment to us enough.”
  • Please tell us what you think makes this student an inspiring volunteer.
    “Val is giving her time freely and without any cost to us either on a monetary or time basis to us. Val comes prepared for every interaction she has with staff and fellow volunteers and we have found her extremely efficient in her dealings with us. She has worked autonomously and with great purpose in her own time

Nominator: Skelmersdale Community Food Initiative

Colour Therapy Session – loved it!

I’m very busy at the moment working on my primary research dissertation “an exploration of people’s level of knowledge of the link between diet and disease”.  I’ve got to write 8,000 words and still have 3 other assignments to finish by the end of May. Each year we have been expected to include more critical analysis and rather than regurgitate what we’ve read, we need to look across a broad body of evidence and draw conclusions. I’ve loved being a student and am determined to finish on a high, I put hours of work into my recent ‘therapeutic approach to nutrition’ assignment and was delighted to get a mark of 80%. They say a change is as good as a rest and attending the Colour Therapy Session at Skelmersdale Community Food Initiative where I volunteer, gave me a real boost.  I didn’t know anything about colour therapy before, but what I know now is that it’s nothing to do with what colours suit me. 

Denise - Getting ready to practice kinesiology

Denise – Getting ready to practice kinesiology

Denise delivered the session and it was a delight from the start, everyone on the course was lovely and it was a really nice way to spend a couple of hours. We started by doing a Karmagraph to discover our special colour influence. That’s a calculation based on your date of birth – Mine was: “GOLD” The Counsellor

  • Which  supposedly makes me an unpaid counsellor with good listening skills and able to give good advice – perfect for a student nutritionist / dietitian!  Apparently I also have the need to visit different cultures and am knowledgeable and have natural wisdom that I’ve developed over many lifetimes! I like the sound of that!

We then moved on to Kinesiology which is a therapy used to assesses health and wellbeing. Stress resistance is used to detect any physique, chemistry, nutrition or emotional imbalances – all fascinating stuff. The group then went ‘dowsing for colours’ – difficult to explain but great fun. We talked about chakra’s and also did a bit of colouring – very therapeutic in its self.

  • I found I was attracted to Red so I need to replenish my energy and quieten my system and Green which calls for me to spend more time having fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed the session and would definitely recommend it to others. Denise is great at putting people at ease and her enthusiasm for the subject rubbed off on us all. We all left wanting to know more. Val X Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 22.39.51

Nutrition Society – Dietary Assessment Methods Workshop coming to Edge Hill – can’t wait!

When Sue Crompton, Nutrition & Health student at Edge Hill University sent a message to ‘The Nutrition Society’, on Facebook, asking them to bring one of its prestigious events ‘Up North’ she didn’t think they actually would.  Well they have! 

Sue & Val already looking forward to the Nutrition Society event

The event coming to Edge Hill is the ‘Dietary Assessment Workshop’ which will be taking place on 26th March 2015. (Book by 5th Feb to take advantage of the early bird booking fee of £200).

  • Sue has had a lifelong interest in nutrition and exercise and says she’s really looking forward to the day and is delighted to be helping organise the event along with Kathleen Mooney our Senior Lecturer. 

The workshop will bring together current knowledge and practice on dietary assessment methods, with a particular focus on choosing correct assessment techniques for optimising dietary intake data measurement.

The practical, guided sessions will enable delegates to trial computational analysis of dietary data and include one-to-one drop-in discussions with experts in the field.

The workshop is open for all with a Bsc level of knowledge in dietary assessment methods.

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 18.37.42

As for me, I’m really looking forward finding out about the new approaches to dietary assessment. This is a great skill to have and it’s brilliant that it’s on our doorstep.

Well done Sue, you did great!


Sue -Nutrition Society - local organiser

Sue – Nut Soc Local Organiser

Registration fees:

All prices to attend are inclusive of training materials, lunch, refreshments, wi-fi and use of computer.

  • The cost for early bird booking is £200 (inc. VAT) valid until 5 February 2015.

From 6th Feb the cost will be:

  • Members of the Nutrition Society: £260 (inc. VAT)
  • Non-members: £330 (inc. VAT) Valid from 6 February 2015
    You can book this workshop online

Aims and objectives:

  • Select appropriate dietary assessment methods to address research aims
  • Understand how to minimise data collection error whilst estimating portion sizes
  • Understand limitations about food composition databases
  • Learn about new approaches in dietary assessment methods
  • Familiarise themselves with energy adjustment in nutrition surveys
  • Appreciate the application of dietary pattern methodology in nutrition surveys

Continue Professional Development (CPD) credits

This event has received Association for Nutrition (AfN) CPD Endorsement.
– See more at: See more at:

Edge Hill - University of the year 2015

Edge Hill – University of the year 2015