The Foodwatch Website by Catherine Saxelby
Why did you start blogging?
I had already been writing articles for magazines and newspapers as well as books so had honed my skills as a writer and the world wide web seemed like a natural extension. Originally my website was more of a ‘brochure’ for my services with my published articles as examples but since 1996 it evolved into a blog where the latest post features on the Home page and things are always being updated.
Naturally many writing skills are the same from the printed word to online eg one still needs to know how to present numbers, tables and statistics in ways that are easy for a non-science trained reader to grasp.
But the web was different – I learned to write in shorter paragraphs, pen many more sub-headings to catch attention, use hyperlinks for background and insert bullet points to break up the text. Whether it’s a discussion of the best oil to buy, or how to get your kids to eat more whole grains, or the pros and cons of coconut fat, no-one is going to read a long piece whilst staring at a screen or worse a mobile or tablet. Remember nutrition is not a ripping yarn with a central character and a racy plot.
I want to translate the science into simple do-able steps for busy people. My aim is to make healthy eating easy to adopt and easy to put into place.
What does your blog cover?
I have settled on the tag line of “Eat right, lose weight and boost your energy” to cover my three key areas of everyday healthy eating, weight loss and vitality. Some days I think it should be narrowed down even further!
The blog has four main sections:
1. Reviews and Snapshots
I love reviewing new products, services and books and devote a lot of time to a long Review or a shorter Snapshot. My aim is to provide enough information and photos so the reader can grasp the value of this product without having actually bought it. This is where I welcome guest reviewers. Together we rate each product on nutrition, taste, convenience and sustainability to come up with a final score out of 50.
The Blog has 16 sub-categories which reflect my wide interest in nutrition from Sugars/carbs to Fats/oils and Healthy Cooking.
I’ve added new categories in recent years such as Foodie Favourites and condensed Vitamins into Healthy Eating and Wellness. Organising your material is a major think-task and needs to be done well. It’s hard to do when you first set out but becomes clearer as you have more and more posts to be classified.
I post weekly on each Wed morning at 9am. I focus on everyday nutrition questions such as what oil is the best, should I quit sugar, or is this cereal worth buying?
I’ve learned to think like my target audience of busy women. For instance I write a lot about food labelling and have taught many groups how to read a label as one way of interpreting the nutrition from any food. But I’ve realises that readers aren’t really that interested in labelling but are fiercely interested in Additives – why they used, how to avoid or minimise them. So I re-named that category ‘Additives and Labels’, not the other way around. The content is the same.
When I write about chia, quinoa, kale, konjac noodles or another trendy ‘super food’, it’s nice to see in action in a recipe to get that ah-ha moment. I only do quick easy recipes. I’ve taken photography classes too to help me learn to use my Canon camera better. They help but I’m no photographer!
You’ll find lots of free downloadable Fact Sheets and Infographics of 1- or 2-pages. Easy to grasp, they take forever to pull together which is why I haven’t done any new ones in a while.
Newsletter for connection
My regular monthly eNewsletter is immensely popular. I spend a lot of time crafting it as I know many people don’t visit the site but do read the Newsletter from their Inbox. I’ve always written a newsletter and, like many things, this one has changed with time. Now I aim to provide a complete topic in itself each issue so it makes for useful reading, rather than many short tips. I feature a Product of the Month which is always fun and last-minute. I know many dietitians follow my site so I offer friendly information for them to use to keep up to date quickly or discuss with their patients.
Inspiration comes from queries I receive or something I’ve read. I attend as many seminars and lectures to keep up to date and love hear the researcher in person – I find it gives me much more insight into them and their research.
Often as I’m writing one post, another idea will pop into my head. Or I find I have so much material that some needs to be cleaved off as a second separate topic eg when I was putting together How to choose a healthy breakfast cereal I found I had a whole section just on Sugar in breakfast cereals as it’s such a vexatious subject.
Another example: I wanted to address the whole sugar issue and whether it’s necessary to quit it completely (or not IMHO). Initially I started out writing on ‘Why cutting out sugar guarantees you’ll lose weight’ then ended up covering Honey and how it compares to sugar, Agave, 7 sugar syrups including rice malt syrup, and lately Why sugar loves fat and starch. I hope dietitians find them useful to provide short replies to the many questions on sugar that we face lately.
I’m a big fan of Twitter and Instagram and use both regularly, a task made easier by mobile Apps. If I have a spare five minutes or am standing in a queue, it’s enough time to tweet or upload a shot of something foodie I see. With Melbourne dietitian Emma Stirling, we run a monthly online Twitter chat called EatKit which dietitians love to join in. It’s a parallel to Twitter chats in the UK (#RDUK) and the US (#RDchat) and builds a global audience.
I also make use of Facebook and Pinterest for spreading the word and interacting with readers who are never lacking in questions and feedback!
About Catherine Saxelby
Catherine has worked as a freelance nutritionist and author for the past 20 years under her consulting business Foodwatch in Sydney, providing specialist nutrition and marketing services to publishers, manufacturers, growers and retailers. She believes that healthy food can and should taste delicious and eating should be enjoyed. She is a big believer in Mindful Eating and supports the Health At Any Size movement.
Catherine is active in the media and also writes for magazines and other websites. You can read more of her nutrition commentary at Foodwatch and sign up for her monthly Newsletter. You can also follow Catherine on her social media platforms:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Foodwatch (Twitter handle is @Foodwatch)
Photo credit: Photograph by Natalie Hayllar