The Nutrition Coach Blog London Nutritionist The Nutrition Coach offers advice on healthy living, nutrition and diet issues such as IBS, bloating, gluten intolerance and more.

Trick or Treat?

October 19, 2010

Everybody likes a treat, whether it’s the ‘Sunday-cake-treat’, the ‘after-work-wine-treat’ or the ‘Friday-I’v- been-good-all-week-treat’. Usually these treats are far from being nutritious – chock full of sugar, salt, nasty fats, and lots of E-numbers. I think it’s time to stop tricking yourself and treat yourself to the taste of Halloween by adding some pumpkin to your diet. Believe me, it’s so good for you it’s scary.

Derived from ‘pepon’, the Greek word for ‘large melon’, pumpkins originated in Central America and have been around for many centuries. The Native Americans used them as both food and medicine, and no wonder, I think. Already looking at their bright colour is a dead giveaway that pumpkins are loaded with antioxidants and contain a range of nutritional benefits.

First on the healthy list is the antioxidant beta-carotene, found in high content in pumpkin meat and responsible for the bright orange colour. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids and an important precursor to the production of vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin, is needed to promote a healthy body tissue, to ward off infections especially in the mucous membrane, and to aid in building of teeth and bones. If you lack vitamin A you could develop night blindness (not very beneficial if you’re actually planning to trick-or-treat). Together with the two other important antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, beta carotene neutralizes free radicals that can attack our cell membranes and leave the cells vulnerable to damage especially in the lens of the eye. Research also indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, and offers protection against heart disease.

Pumpkins are also rich in vitamins C, K and E, fibre, and lots of minerals including magnesium, iron and zinc. Iron, of course, is needed by red blood cells. Zinc, as you remember from last week’s column, plays an important role in hundreds of enzymatic reactions which support a healthy immune system and help maintain the sense of smell and taste (very important to enjoy all those treats). And fibre is important for your digestion promoting bowel health.

What about the seeds, you ask?

Pumpkin seeds are especially nutritious and worth latching on to. Loaded with healthful minerals such as magnesium, manganese, iron and zinc, as well as a great source of protein and high in monounsaturated healthy fats, pumpkin seeds are one of the most nutritious and flavourful seeds around. They have an anti-inflammatory effect, and may even help lower cholesterol and protect against prostate cancer and osteoporosis.

Now all you need is the fancy dress costume for cooking up your Halloween treats – of a smashin’ pumpkin! And make sure you share your favourite recipes with us.

Happy Halloween,


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Satisfying nose hunger

October 17, 2010

Following on from last week’s blog looking at eye hunger, this week the focus is on nose hunger – the second of the seven types of hunger.

Smells play a huge part in hunger and eating.  Our ancestors would have had to depend upon their sense of smell to locate food and distinguish which foods were good and which foods were bad.  It’s therefore not surprising that smells exert a primitive and potent effect on us.  What we call the ‘taste’ of a food is almost entirely the smell of the food.  Try tasting your food whilst holding your nose and you’ll find it’s a very unsatisfying meal, as when you can’t smell food, it’s almost impossible to taste it.  On the other hand, imagine walking through a bakery with freshly baked cinnamon rolls without feeling hungry.  If the smell reminds us of something that we like to eat that it can become almost irresistible.  The right smells will make us eat more.  This has actually been confirmed by researchers who demonstrated that people ate more oatmeal when the bowls that they were eating from were scented with the artificial odour of cinnamon and raisin, compared with people who’s bowls had been scented with macaroni and cheese!  

This is a wonderful reminder for us to bring awareness to our sense of smell and to really inhale our food and enjoy the aroma both before and whilst eating.  If we rush through our meals whilst multi tasking (e.g. at the computer or watching t.v.) then it’s difficult for the sense of smell to really engage in the experience and it’s likely to feel unsatisfied.  To make the experience of eating as complete and satisfying as possible, really inhale your food before tasting it and notice what smells and scents you experience.  You can also try this with other aspects of your day, such as smelling incense, flowers, washing powders etc.  Next time you’re hungry try and identify whether your hunger has been triggered by the smell of food, and if so, whether your stomach and rest of your body are actually in-line with your nose and hungry for the food too.  With the awareness of the power of smell, you are then able to stop and tune in with yourself before eating when the rest of your body isn’t hungry.

Nose hunger affects everyone, but can be a particular problem in cases of binge eating and other disordered eating patterns.  If you have a question about disordered eating then please do give us a call to see if we can help you, or to book a consultation at one of our London nutrition clinics.


Slow Cookers – Good for your time management!

October 15, 2010

I am loving my slow cooker.  If you don’t have one get one immediately!  I use the Crock Pot as quite a lot of the other ones are just plain ugly but the crock pot goes very nicely from the cooking unit to the table.

If anyone doesn’t know what a slow cooker is, it is NOT to be confused with a pressure cooker which is almost opposite in concept.  Slow cookers cook things at a very slow temperature over a long period of time so you can put something on in the morning and have a delicious evening meal waiting for you, rather than the delay of then making something when you get in.

Although the recipe below is more of a weekend recipe – put on in the morning , have a great time out and about and return to something hot and cheerful, more or less ready to eat!

This recipe is taken from (Kitchen Classics) Slow Cookers by Jane Price (Murdock Books)

400g Puy lentils or tiny blue green lentils

500ml vegetable stock

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 small green chilli chopped

80g fresh sourdough breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons of horse radish

4 tablespoons chopped dill

10 g butter, melted

4 x 180g salmon fillets

50g English Spinach, stalks removed, chopped

1 handful of coriander leaves

125g plain yoghurt

Lemon wedges to serve

Out the lentils, stock, lemon zest, lemon juice and chilli in the slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours

In a food processor, roughly pulse the breadcrumbs and horseradish until well combined. Stire through the dill and melted butter until the mixture is fairly moist.

Remove any bones from the salmon using your fingers or tweezers, then press the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the salmon fillets

In a large non-stick frying pan over a medium head, cook the crumbed side of the salmon for 3 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden.  Work in batches if necessary.

Mix the spinach through the lentils in the slow cooker and place the salmon on top. Cook on low for an hour, or intell the fish is cooked through and flakes when tested with a fork.  Remove the salmon to serving plates.

Mix the coriander through the lentils and spoon some lentils onto each plate.  Serve the salmon topped with the yoghurt and with lemon wedges on the side.


Contact us for an appointment to look at improving your immune system at this time of year!

Don’t get sick: Our favourite immune boosters

October 12, 2010

There’s no denying anymore: It’s officially autumn. The mornings are cold, the evenings are dark, and London is playing up to its reputation on the weather front.

Top this with the daily stressors of City life, public transport and an inadequate diet, and you’ll soon experience the discomfort of a ‘cold’. The great news is that much of what our bodies need to fight off infection can be found in foods, so muscle up your immune system and add some of these great immune boosting nutrients to your diet.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C tops the list of immune boosters. There has been more research about the immune-boosting effects of Vitamin C than perhaps any other nutrient. Vitamin C is available naturally in many fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kiwi fruits, mango, sweet peppers, asparagus, green vegetables and parsley. Eat your five portions a day and increase the production of infection-fighting, white blood cells and antibodies, as well as levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, which prevents the entry of viruses.

Vitamin E
This important antioxidant and immune booster doesn’t get as much press as vitamin C, but is important for a healthy immune system. Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells and enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. To get your daily Vitamin E dose eat foods such as sardines, sunflower and sesame seeds, oats, brown rice and dark green leafy vegetables.

Beta carotene
Beta carotene is another powerful antioxidant that mops up excess free radicals and increases the number of infection-fighting cells. The body converts beta carotene to Vitamin A, which itself has anti-cancer properties and immune-boosting functions. Foods high in beta carotene include watercress, apricot, papaya, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes, carrots and green leafy vegetables.

Zinc is an essential element and critical to the work of more than three hundred enzymes in the body which assist in cell reproduction, maintain vision, wound healing and enhancing immune function (just to mention some). Zinc, like vitamin C, also possesses direct antiviral activity. The food highest in zinc are oysters but if you (like me) can’t stomach them, have some pumpkin seeds, fish, egg yolks, nuts (like almonds or cashews), turkey, lean red meat or spinach. (If you’re curious if you’re zinc deficient,get in touch with me and we can meet up for a quick, easy and free test.)

OK, this might not be the best option if you have a big client pitch ahead of you, but think about this: garlic is nature’s antibiotic. Over 1,000 studies have shown that garlic’s immune-boosting properties are due to the sulphur compounds found in allicin, an antioxidant that’s released when fresh garlic is crushed.

Now here are two more factors for all those sleep deprived and sociable City workers who want to make sure their immune system doesn’t get depressed: sleep and alcohol.

Research shows that not enough sleep leads to more colds and flus, and excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system in two ways. First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving the body of valuable immune-boosting nutrients. Second, alcohol, like sugar, consumed in excess can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs.

Now you’ve got the tools, so stay healthier this winter.


If you are a busy City worker looking for nutrition and health tips on a weekly basis, please follow my new column on here’s the city.

Satisfying eye hunger

October 11, 2010

In my blog last week I promised to reveal the seven different types of hunger, so as promised here is number one.  It’s eye hunger. 

The basic principle with eye hunger is that our eyes like food, and particularly food that looks good.  As a result our eyes really can be bigger than our stomach, and we can continue eating even when our stomachs are full. 

Imagine this.  You’re at work and you’ve just finished your lunch when your colleague comes around with some freshly sliced birthday cake.  Your eyes roam over the appealing dark chocolate fudge cake and are enchanted by its beauty.  Therefore, even though your stomach is protesting that it’s already full from lunch, your eyes want the cake and eventually eye hunger wins.  Sound familiar?  Similarly, if the rest of the cake was then put on the table in front of your desk… your eyes would continue to see it and want it throughout the afternoon, even though your stomach is far from hungry.

In addition, people generally decide how much of a given food they are going to eat based on feedback from the eyes, rather than feedback from the stomach.  The eyes might say, for example, ‘let’s eat half of this’ or ‘let’s eat all of this’.  Research has shown that when people are given soup from a bottomless bowl (the bowl continuously refills as they eat, without them knowing), they ate 73% more soup that people with normal bowls, but they estimated that they had eaten the same amount as everyone else.  This shows how important visual engagement is in eating and satisfying hunger. 

Luckily the power of eye hunger can actually be used to our advantage, once we have an awareness of it.  Tips to help satisfy eye hunger include:

  • Using smaller plates or bowls satisfies the eyes that they have eaten a full bowl or plate full, but actually much less is consumed than if larger dishes were used.
  • Using a mix of colours and shapes on your plate so that it looks visually attractive helps to satisfy the eyes, so try to add as much variety as possible (aim for a rainbow plate).
  • When you eat, make sure that you stop and look at your food and let your eyes connect with it.  It might sound simple, but if you eat whilst on the computer or watching TV, your eyes don’t have a chance to observe the food being eaten and are therefore dissatisfied and disconnected, which means that eye hunger will be shouting again before long, even though your stomach is full.
  • Sometimes when you feel hungry, it may not be that your body actually wants food, but that your eyes are hungry for beauty.  Experiment with feeding eye hunger, without eating any food.  Stop and look at something that you find beautiful, it may be a flower or a picture on the wall – look for colour and variety and really see things.  Feeding your eyes in this way will help to satisfy you without having to eat and go against the protests from your stomach.

Eye hunger affects everyone, but can be a particular problem in cases of binge eating and other disordered eating patterns.  If you have a question about disordered eating then please do give us a call to see if we can help you, or for more information.


Basics of a healthy diet for guts

October 8, 2010

Choose foods close to their natural state, source and season

  • Water:  Spring water is best!
  • Select foods that are free of additives and pollutants
  • Whenever possible, use organically grown fruits and vegetables
  • Plan meals around freshly cooked and, if tolerated, raw foods
  • Minimize your use of packaged, boxed and canned products

Water: Is water bottled in plastic the best?  Probably not as oestrogens from the plastic can leach into the water especially if the bottles have been left in the sunlight.  Reverse osmosis systems are expensive but best (fitted on to your mains)

Vegetables – this is the staple of any diet.  Raw vegetables if watery but steam vegetables like broccoli and peas.  Bake or steam the more starchy vegetables like parsnips, yams etc. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) are great “anti-cancer” promoters.  Sea vegetables should not be forgotten as they are a great source of minerals (dulse, hijiki, wakame and mori)

Concerns:  If you have have an inflammatory bowel condition, sometimes it is difficult to tolerate raw vegetables – therefore puree.

Whole Grains

Grains are a source of starch, fibre and minerals and vitamins.  Use whole grains only and flours made from whole grains.  Brown rice, cracked wheat, barley, and oats are just a few of the main grains available

Concerns:  Whole grains are usually an excellent staple but some people with digestive disorders can’t  tolerate gluten.  Others cant tolerate starches or sweeteners (refined carbohydrates) – This is especially true of those who have GI infections.


Another great staple – Beans and peas are an excellent source of protein, complex carbohydrate and fibre.  Beans are also good chelators, substances that help clear out toxins.

Lean Meats

Lean meats can supplement protein in the diet.  The best are fish and fowl – don’t forget the more obscure fowl, like pheasant as chicken is over used.

Concerns: Meat is best obtained from organic suppliers – Grass fed animals are a better source of nutrients including good fats.

Eggs: Should be organic but are also a great source of protein.

Concerns:  some people with gut disorders can be more sensitive to eggs – make sure you cook eggs well to avoid any potential problem with salmonella

Fruits – Of course fruit is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals – best eaten alone to avoid fermentation in the gut in some.

Concerns: Dried fruit should be consumed in moderation as it is a highly concentrated form of sugar – despite the useful fibre, best to eat the fresh fruit.

Nuts and seeds

Great source of protein and good fats.

Concerns – make sure the nuts are not rancid.  Nuts and seeds are very susceptible to oxidation, which makes them rancid.


Oils are an important part of the diet.  The body needs about 2 tablespoons a day of a good quality oil, rich in essential fatty acids.  Olive oil (monounsaturated oil) is also good and has several health benefits.

Concerns:  Purchase natural oils in their freshly pressed and unfiltered state – many oils are processed and therefore have little real benefit.

Fermented Foods

Good sources are:  yoghurt, miso paste, and health food shop sauerkraut

Concerns:  Those with an over growth of candida (yeast) in the bowel can find fermented foods a problem to tolerate.


Raw honey, real maple syrup nd stevia are probably the best –although all sweeteners should be used sparingly.

Concerns:  Anyone with a gut problem, should watch the sugar in any form as it encourages bad bugs.


Salt is needed if the diet is super healthy but if you are consuming junk food – watch your salt  intake

Use only very good sea salt.


There are almost countless herbs and spices that can be used to add flavour and have medicinal effects on our health.  Choose organic  herbs where possible – very spicy foods can irritate some guts.

Although an “IBS” diet might help – as there are so many causes for an unhealthy bowel – come as see us

contact us to find out how we can help!

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