9 foods nutritionists never eat

There is an argument that all foods are OK in moderation, and this is largely based on not having ‘being healthy’ become something that feels like a chore or that has you missing out on some of the things you really enjoy. You know that I am not a purist, and I totally believe in never demonizing foods because having ‘extreme’ views on anything is never healthy. But as a nutrition professional, there are a few things that I NEVER eat.

1 Low fat/ reduced fat foods/ diet foods

These foods are, by definition, very highly processed. Where fat is taken out of a food, what nearly always goes in instead is either sugar or artificial sweeteners. The idea that fat is bad or leads to weight gain has now been acknowledged as being entirely wrong. We now know that sugars (and excess starchy carbs) are what mostly leads to weight gain and keep you craving sweet things. Many artificial sweeteners aren’t great for gut health either. I’d far rather stick to the natural, full fat version.

2 Haribo or similar sweets

I won’t go into how bad sugar is for you because I am pretty sure you know this by now. Sugar has no nutritional value, so I see no point in eating something that has no benefits to my health. Unfortunately, everyone eats far too much of it as it sneaks in many products not just cakes, biscuits, convenience foods but sugar is also in foods that are marketed as ‘healthy’.

3 Margarine and butter substitutes

Margarine and vegetable spreads are the nutritionally poorer relations of real butter, coconut oil and other healthy fats like olive oil. Again, they are heavily processed. Often what draws people to them is the thought that they are somehow healthier because of their lower levels of saturated fats. Given that saturated fat is not the enemy to your health – while artificially hardened vegetable oils (think trans-fats) are – it’s far better to stick to unadulterated fats, using regular butter, ghee (clarified butter) and coconut oil, or olive oil for cooking at lower temperatures.

4 Sugar free fizzy drinks, diet drinks and energy drinks

Sometimes I see clients ‘filling up’ on diet drinks, which (although they contain no actual calories) are doing your body no favours. They’re still conditioning your body to expect more sweet stuff, and the jury is still out on whether artificial sweeteners are not great or seriously detrimental to health. Energy drinks often provide a dual hit of very large amounts of caffeine accompanied by either a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners. When I’m working with clients who are propping themselves up with these drinks, I like to get to the cause of their fatigue, because what’s in the tin of Red Bull (or similar) will not help them solve the real issue.

5 Hotdogs and processed meat

It is quite shocking how little actual meat goes into hotdogs, and processed deli-style meats are often pumped with water, sugar (even if it’s not actually called sugar, look out for anything ending in ‘-ose’ – like dextrose), salt and preservatives. Some of the additives in processed meats have been linked to increased risk of colon cancer.

6 Shop-bought cereals

Most supermarket cereals are filled with sugar and very high in starchy carbs, which will have your energy levels crashing come mid-morning. Better options include home-made granola (like the cinnamon pecan granola from Deliciously Ella), which are easy weekend jobs and last a good while, porridge or overnight oats, omelettes or poached eggs (in fact, any kind of eggs) on wholemeal toast.

7 Rice cakes

These are often a go-to food for anyone counting calories. Unfortunately, they will skyrocket your blood sugar levels. A better choice would be a couple of oat cakes topped with unsweetened nut butter or a little hummus.

8 Mycoprotein like Quorn

Quorn is a very processed food that comes from a fungusFusarium venenatum and is fermented.  It has a lot of other ingredients added – like flavourings, yeast, starches and colourings, gluten to give it the texture and flavour of meat. It also tastes awful, in my opinion!  Lentils and pulses are a much healthier alternative if you’re after vegetarian choices.

9 Fruit Juice

The easiest way to get lots of sugar into your system in a short space of time is by drinking it. And since it comes in as liquid, the body doesn’t register it as “eaten”, so it cunningly slips past any detectors that might otherwise signal satiety or ‘satisfaction’. Fruit juice – particularly when freshly squeezed – certainly contains lots of lovely vitamins and minerals, but it contains lots of sugar too. So, if I want to drink a juice it’s usually a vegetable based one with perhaps just 1 piece of low sugar fruit, like berries.  Better still to make that into a smoothie and add some protein (like some nuts) and a healthy fat too (like half an avocado). If you want fruit, eat whole fruit because. Don’t drink it.

Does this list surprise you? Are you struggling to make sense all the nutrition information out there? Or maybe you would like to know what foods to eat to regain your energy and wellbeing.  I can help you to clear some of this confusion.  Book a free introductory session with me by calling 07772491975, tell me more about your health goals and find out how nutritional therapy can help you.

5 great ways to beat colds and flu

When the temperature drops, the chance of you coming down with a cold or the flu increases significantly. It’s widely accepted you’ll get sick more often in the winter. That’s because you’re likely to be inside more and the common cold thrives better in dry air than where there’s humidity. And, when you spend more time indoors, you’re exposed to more germs.

The flu virus is also transmitted much faster when it’s cold out because the lipid (fatty) coating of the virus becomes more resilient the colder it gets.

Your immune system is the most powerful weapon you have against disease. Strong immunity means that the body is better able to fight off viruses and germs.

Fewer colds and sick days this winter would be good, right? There are many diets and lifestyle tweaks you can make to reduce your risk of catching a cold and flu this season (and ensuring it’s shorter and less serious if you do get the lurgy).

Here are my top five tips to keep you fighting fit this month – and beyond.

 

  1. EAT REAL FOOD

Your body needs real, unprocessed food to stay healthy and not the processed foods we kid ourselves are OK for us to eat.

Focus on eating natural, unprocessed food as often as possible. Follow the 80/20 rule (for the avoidance of doubt, this means eating healthily 80% of the time!).

 

Base your diet on whole foods like good quality proteins (eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts and seeds), legumes, whole grains as well as plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.  Avoid pre-packed, processed foods which are nutrients poor as well as being full of refined sugars, additives and all sorts of artificial ingredients.

 

  1. SPICE THINGS UP!

Adding flavour to food is a smart way to include delicious immune boosters on your plate.

Garlic, for instance, is a potent superfood. It is antimicrobial, thanks to the active ingredient allicin, which helps fight viruses, and has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system and prevent sickness.

Most culinary herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties due to their phytonutrients, but oregano, parsley and thyme are particularly rich so make sure they appear on your dishes regularly.

Remember to add turmeric, cayenne, and ginger, too, as these are well-documented immune boosters.

 

  1. ENJOY ‘HAPPY TUMMY’ FOODS

Did you know that up to 80% of our immunity to germs and disease is in the gut? The mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) in the gut is part of the first line of immune defence, so getting the right balance between beneficial, or ‘good’ gut bacteria, and the ‘bad’, or potentially pathogenic bacteria, is key.

The gut environment takes a beating year after year, owing to poor diets, too much sugar, stress, antibiotics and other factors. Even if you have no obvious tummy troubles, digestive health is vital, so it’s worth the extra effort to take care of it.

Add probiotic and prebiotic foods to your diet, as these re-populate the gut with good bacteria and feed them well enough to crowd out bad bacteria.

Here are some gut-friendly choices to get you started:

  • Organic, probiotic, natural yoghurt (such as Yeo Valley or Rachel’s)

Always buy full-fat, as the 0% or no-fat options have increased levels of milk sugars – and fat isn’t the enemy, either in life or in weight loss!

  • Miso soup or miso bouillon paste (add these to soups and stews)
  • Oats (soak first, as you would to make overnight oats, to release the goodness)
  • Onions, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Cooked, then cooled potatoes

 

  1. VITAMIN C & ZINC

Although it appears that taking vitamin C won’t prevent you from catching a cold, loading up on foods rich in this powerful antioxidant, might still help your body to fight infections and shorten symptoms if you do fall ill.

Broccoli and red peppers contain more C than oranges (contrary to popular belief) and other good sources are: kale, cauliflower, parsley, spinach, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, pineapple, mango, papaya and citrus fruits.

Zinc is also essential to our immune system as it supports the functioning of our infections-fighting white blood cells. Top up your zinc levels by eating more palm-sized pieces of lean meat (especially lamb, beef, venison and turkey), pumpkin seeds, ginger root, green veggies, oats, nuts, sesame seeds, yoghurt and scallops.

 

  1. KEEP HYDRATED

When it comes to hydration, plain water is great. Water flushes germs from your system, helps your blood to carry plenty of oxygen to your body’s cells and allows those cells to absorb important nutrients.

Invest in a filter jug or bottle to avoid quaffing high levels of chlorine and fluorine along with your tap water.

Green tea and chamomile tea are also immune system supporters, as they contain antioxidants that help battle free radicals.

 

  1. SAY NO TO SUGAR

Even if you don’t consider yourself a sugar addict, it’s worth looking at how much you do consume – and trying to swap sugary treats for something more wholesome.

Sugar fans the flames of inflammation and affects the ability of white blood cells to fend off viruses and bacteria. In fact, the immune system stays depressed for hours after consuming sugar, according to recent studies.

Addicted to chocolate? Enjoy raw cocoa hot chocolate on chilly evenings, adding your favourite milk or milk substitutes (with a little xylitol or stevia to sweeten, if you like). A few squares of pure, dark chocolate will also satisfy – Green & Blacks, or any good chocolate with a higher cocoa content (at least 75%), is ideal.

 

One last thing, an age-old way to boost immunity is to follow childhood rules – wash hands, go to bed early and take some exercise.

All these simple measures may seem boring (and more difficult to achieve than popping a pill), but science proves that they work. So, why don’t you give them a go? Your immune system will thank you for it.

 

 Are you the kind of person who is ill more often than other people?  Do you feel your immune system could use some support?  I invite you to book in for a free introductory session with me by calling 07772491975 to find out how nutritional therapy can help you.

Celeriac ribbons tossed with chard, garlic and pumpkin seeds

I love celeriac and this one is one of my favourite recipes, courtesy of BBC Good Food. The original recipe has butter too, but I think it works just as well with only olive oil.

It’s easy and quick to make!

Ingredients: (serves two)

1 small celeriac, peeled

1 lemon

40g pumpkin seeds

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

4 thyme sprigs (leaves only)

2 chopped cloves of garlic

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 bunch chard, leaves shredded and stalks sliced.

20g grated pecorino cheese

 

Using a vegetable peeler, cut some long and wide strips of celeriac, into a bowl of water and lemon juice.

Dry-fry or roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven until they’ve puffed. Set aside.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the celeriac for 1 minute, drain and reserve the water. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil and add the thyme, garlic, and chilli.

When the garlic starts to become golden, add the chard stalks, and stir for another couple of minutes. Add the pumpkin seeds, chard leaves, season and squeeze a little lemon juice. Turn up the heat and add the cheese. Add the celeriac with a slosh of cooking water, shaking the pan until the sauce looks glossy. Divide between plates, and Bon Appetit!

Are you ready for the colds’ season?

62794150 - fresh organic onion, garlic and lemon on jute canvas on old wooden background, healthy nutrition, strengthening immunity and treatment of flu

Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_ratmaner’>ratmaner / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

The kids have settled into their school routines, you have put  the summer clothes away and replaced the sandals with boots. You are getting ready to face the colder months, but is your immune system prepared to fight the dreaded flu season?

Follow our healthy tips to boost your immunity and have a cold free winter:

  • Vitamin C: although it appears that taking vitamin c won’t prevent you from catching a cold, loading up on foods rich in this powerful antioxidant, might still help your body to fight infections and shorten symptoms if you do fall ill. Best sources are: citrus fruits, kiwis, berries, peppers, broccoli and kale.
  • Zinc: this mineral is needed for optimal physical performance and energy levels. It is also required for proper functioning of the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells. Best sources are: lean red meat, seafood (especially oysters), whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat a whole foods diet: beside vitamin c and zinc, many other nutrients are needed to support the immune system like vitamin A, C, D, E and selenium. Base your diet on whole foods like good quality proteins (eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts and seeds), legumes, whole grains as well as plenty of fresh vegetables and Avoid pre-packed, processed foods which are nutrients poor as well as being full of refined sugars, additives and all sorts of artificial ingredients.
  • Herbs and spices: these contain powerful immune boosting nutrients. Add garlic, oregano, parsley, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne to your cooking regularly.
  • Keep hydrated: as the weather gets colder it is easy to forget to drink but keeping hydrate is vital to help the body to fight any harmful viruses and stave off colds for longer. Drink filtered or bottled water and experiment with some warming herbal teas like lemon and ginger, apple, cinnamon, orange peel, and cardamom.
  • Sleep: remember that the body repairs and rejuvenates during sleep, so not getting enough sleep increases our chances of falling ill. Try to have dinner early at least two, better three, hours before bedtime and keep all electronic devices away from the bedroom to ensure a restful night.

Remember that chronic stress can weaken the immune system and make us more vulnerable to diseases, so take some time every day to have some fun and enjoy life! This can be just 20 minutes of playing with your kids when they get back from school, going for a quick walk with your dog or enjoying a cuddle with your partner at the end of the day.

It doesn’t really matter what you do, but it is important to take some time to switch off from our busy lives and reconnect to nature and/or with each others ……so please switch off the mobile phones too during these precious moments!

Please note, we do not recommend the use of supplements without seeking professional advice first, as doing so could be harmful. Call 07772491975 for personalized advice on how nutrition can help support your immune system.