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.

Are allergies stopping you or your kids from enjoying the great outdoors?

May 25, 2012

Hay fever is no fun for either the child or the parent. And that’s regardless of who is suffering from it. A child suffering from a sneeze attack, itchy puffy eyes or a runny nose will probably not be at their happiest or most co-operative. A parent having similar symptoms will have less energy and patience with their off-spring. The end result is often misery for the whole family during the season when the world is at its prettiest and outdoors should be there to be enjoyed, not dreaded.

Apart from staying indoors during the pollen season, or taking the conventional medication to control at least some of the symptoms, what other options are there out there?

Making some changes in the diet that support a healthy immune system can make a big difference during the hay fever season. Certain foods are best avoided, and others should be emphasised for the best results.

The ‘friendly’ bacteria
There are around three hundred different strains of bacteria in the gut, most of which are essential to our health and well-being. The ‘good’ bacteria help fight infections and generally protect us against any attacks by invading harmful bacteria or viruses. Healthy gut bacteria can also help in managing allergies by reducing the severity of the body’s response. Any unwanted bacteria tend to reduce the ability of the good ones to do their job.

By eating the right kinds of foods you can help boost the levels of ‘good’ bacteria and discourage the growth of any undesirable bacteria.

Avoid excess sugar. The bad bacteria tend to thrive on sugar and processed foods. Reduce fizzy drinks, fruit juices, sweets, chocolates and pastries. Swap your high sugar morning cereal to porridge and mix in some fresh fruit such as grated apple or chopped banana.
Fresh fruit and vegetables and beans and lentils all support the growth of healthy bacteria.

The good and bad fats
Not all fats are bad for you. In fact, some fats are absolutely essential for the health. Two fats are particularly important and as our bodies cannot produce these they have to be obtained from the diet. These fats are called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They play an important role in regulating the body’s inflammatory responses. As hay fever involves inflammation of the airways, you can probably guess that these two fats are going to play an important part in the anti-hay fever diet.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and tuna. Vegetarian sources include linseeds (sometimes called flax), pumpkin seeds and quinoa.

You can get your omega-6 fatty acids from most nuts and seeds, such as almonds, hazel nuts, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

To ensure a good intake of these key fatty acids, you should:

· Eat oily fish at least twice weekly
· Snack on nuts and seeds
· Sprinkle a mixture of seeds on your morning cereal or porridge
· Use seed oils in salad dressings
· Avoid roasted and salted nuts as the heat reduces the health giving properties of the fats.
· Avoid any deep fried foods as these are all high in fats that increase rather than decrease inflammation.

The problem with dairy
If you suffer from a persistently runny nose during the hay fever period, you might wish to consider giving up cow’s milk. Dairy foods are mucous forming and can exacerbate the problem. There are plenty of alternatives to dairy, such as soy milk and yoghurts as well as rice and oat milk.

If you are worried about your or your child’s calcium intake, then fear not. Nuts and seeds are a great source of calcium, and in fact sesame seeds have higher levels of calcium than milk.

If your symptoms persist, an experienced nutritional therapist can help put together a more individualised programme that takes into account the specific areas in which your body may need support.

Kate Cook helps people deal with their diet and specialises in digestion and stress, so do get in touch 0845 0502442 or email us at

Adrenal Fatigue – or in plain English, Dog Tired!

April 24, 2012

If you go to your doctor and complain of being tired, he or she might tell you just to go away and take things easy – as simple as that sounds, sometimes we can suffer the kind of tiredness that is not solved straight away just by resting. Indeed, sometimes we can have the kind of tiredness and lack of energy that is even worse if you take a holiday. Strange.

Not so strange to us as Nutritional therapists – in our more involved work (obviously at the top level we are involved in changing people’s diets) but on a deeper level we are trying to get to the bottom of why someone might be feeling a lack of energy. A more accurate term to describe what a nutritional therapist does is, that we are involved in the area of functional medicine. We certainly do not pretend to do the very important job a doctor does, but the doctor can only diagnose a condition when someone has already dipped in to “disease state” ie pathology. The Nutritional therapist is trying to stop someone going in to disease so it is all about prevention rather than fire-fighting once that condition has got hold.

A point in case is when someone one does feel tired. We do a test called an adrenal stress index (we are measuring cortisol (fight and flight hormone) and we are measuring DHEA (another hormone involved in recovery). The doctor will does not recognise a lack of cortisol, or non optimal cortisol – he recognises a serious and rare condition until called Addison’s disease. But low cortisol should not be confused with this condition at all. The Adrenal stress index is only measuring the function of the adrenal glands (where stress hormones come from). If these hormones are low – you can feel any number of symptoms from lack of energy, depression, anxiety, foggy headed-ness – it can manifest in the type of tiredness that even an apparently good night’s sleep does not refresh.

A Nutrition Therapist seek to redress this less than optimal cortisol by paying attention to the diet (or course), lifestyle (or stress hormones were designed to deal with sabre tooth tigers not email traffic and mobile phones! 90% of the adrenal gland is designed to handling chronic stress and only 10% acute stress and we don’t have adrenal glands the size of footballs to cope with the kinds of stresses we have on an on going basis. In the old days, people would have had some really horrible things happen to them – think about living in Norman days (they were really tough those Normans and would chop of heads willy-nilly!) but if you were an ordinary person, the daily fear would not be there on a constant basis. I am not saying it would be a walk in the park – life was nasty, brutal and short but the adrenals were designed for this kind of life. A sudden sharp life threatening shock is the kind of stress the adrenals were evolved to deal with.

Taking care of your adrenals, I believe is the single most important thing you can do for your health! Come and see us and consider getting your adrenal glands tested (we use a saliva test) and see where you are at our London Clinic.

Improve your sports performance through optimum nutrition

March 12, 2012

Nutritional needs will vary for different athletes. A 95kg rugby player won’t have the same program as a cyclist. However, the basic principles of nutrition stay the same and if you feed your body rubbish, the performance may well be…..rubbish.

Many athletes may fuel their bodies with refined carbohydrates, consuming too many empty calories which lack essential nutrients. They consume some protein but the optimal amount they require is unclear and although they will cut back on saturated fat they may be missing the intake of essential fats.

The first areas which need to be addressed are to ensure that blood sugar levels are stable and every meal consists of healthy fat, fibre and lean protein.

Blood sugar fluctuates every three hours, for athletes it is important to never go hungry and thirsty, ensure that you have planned snacks and spread your meals throughout the day. Try having a smaller breakfast and have the remainder mid morning, do the same for lunch and dinner, you will consume the same calories but less energy deficit and enhanced performance. Large meals will cause more insulin to be released and could lead to a sharper fall in blood sugar and leave you tired with low energy.

It is also of vital importance that you listen to your body. Through keeping a food log every 7-10 days note why, when and what you are eating. Do this five times and you will become an instinctual eater rather than just eating for eating’s sake.

Exercise has two effects on nutrient requirements: it increases the rate of energy usage and increases sweating, if there is not enough energy consumption it will have a negative impact on the body and on performance. That is where restricting calories come into play when trying to loose body fat. Although you may be loosing weight on the scales, you will also be loosing lean muscle mass because the body is compensating and needs to get energy supplies from somewhere.

Weight loss of one to two pounds per week is safe and realistic and won’t have a negative impact on you training.

Eating real food may take time and preparation but will deliver results!

If you are not getting results from training program, a diet overhaul may just be the ticket to help you achieve the results you are working so hard for. Get in touch to find out if we could help.

Kate Cook helps people deal with their diet, digestion and stress.
Contact 0845 0502442 or”>


February 10, 2012

In a time of credit uncertainty and increased anxiety, the sales of chocolate are up. The feel-good food, considered the ‘affordable luxury’. People are drinking more too. But will these crutches really support you through your hour of need?

We all enjoy the thought of red wine and dark chocolate being rich in antioxidants and therefore nourishing choices that we can call upon. But maybe now is the perfect time to accept their damaging effects and to turn to good nutrition to support your body through the stress of the economic changes. Whilst good food choices will support your body, poor choices will contribute to anxiety, fatigue, interrupted sleep and depression.

A supportive diet is one that keeps your blood sugar levels even and is rich in anti-stress nutrients. Your foods crutches should therefore nourish you with B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. Your kitchen cupboards should be stocked with wholegrains, beans, seeds and nuts and your fridges filled with fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. Sugary snacks should be replaced with alternatives such as oat cakes with hummus, natural yoghurt with berries or a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts. Instead of seeking a short boost from caffeine or alcohol, now is the time to experiment with roobios, green and herbal teas which are hydrating and wont leave you feeling exhausted.

By making the right food choices and nourishing yourself through the stressful times you can achieve a consistent, high level of energy, reduced anxiety and emotional balance. So, be aware of what crutch you reach for in your hour of need and ask yourself whether it really is supportive. In my mind good health is certainly more luxurious than any chocolate – and affordable too.

Find whether you are eating the right foods and discover practical and achievable dietary changes, with a Diet MOT consultation at The Nutrition Coach. Diet MOT consultations are on special offer at the price of £50.00 until the end of February. Call us on 0845 050 2442 or email to book your place.

Kate Cook specialises in helping people deal with their diet, stress and digestion so do get in touch.

Look forward to hearing from you!

The Nutrition Coach Team

Eating Disorders

February 3, 2012

Food and eating play a very important part in our lives. They are not only essential for our health and wellbeing, but they also bring people together, with the sharing of food being central to social events, celebrations and ceremonies. We therefore often associate different foods with different occasions and emotions, such as maybe associating homemade apple pie with the comfort of a family get-together for Sunday lunch.

We all vary in the foods we like, how much we need to eat, and when we like to eat. It is also normal for us to experiment with different eating habits, for example trying a vegetarian diet or maybe cutting out wheat for a period to see the effect on our health and how it makes us feel. However, when food is used to help us cope with painful situations or feelings, then eating patterns can become damaging. For example, food may be used to help someone cope during a time of feeling depressed, lonely, ashamed or as a way to control their environment and manage external pressures and expectations. Whilst we can all relate to the idea of comfort eating and restrictive eating, for people with an eating disorder, thoughts of food, eating, weight and shape encompass every aspect of their life.

Having an eating disorder is a lonely existence and is associated with many health problems. There is no single cause as to why eating disorders develop, but they are associated with a combination of many factors, events, feelings and pressures which lead to the individual feeling unable to cope. Controlling food intake therefore becomes a coping strategy, but as the disorder develops it takes control of the individual’s life. The media often glamorises eating disorders with dramatic weight loss, size zero and speculation of ‘near anorexic’ celebrities making the front pages of glossy magazines. The reality, however, is that anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders are complex mental illnesses caused by psychological distress. A person does not choose to develop an eating disorder, just like someone does not choose depression.

1.6 million people in the UK are estimated to have an eating disorder, and anorexia has the highest mortality rate for any psychiatric condition. People with eating disorders, but who do not have enough of the features common in anorexia or bulimia, are termed as having an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), and EDNOS make up the largest group of eating disorder sufferers. Other eating disorders include binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating. You cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder by their shape and size alone, as many are of normal weight – the real pain of an eating disorder is on the inside.

Research shows that eating disorders are becoming more and more common. It is therefore particularly important that people are aware of the facts about eating disorders and what help is available to them and their loved ones. At The Nutrition Coach we work with those suffering with eating disorders to improve their relationship with food and to help them to find their way out of the cycles of disordered eating. Taking the first steps to get help can be extremely difficult, but seeking help is the first step to recovery. Food plays an important part in all our lives and we are here to help people develop a balanced, happy relationship with food, so that they can live life to the full.

BEAT ( is the UK leading charity on eating disorders and initiator or eating disorder awareness week.

Kate Cook helps people deal with their diet, digestion and stress.
Contact 0845 0502442 or

Bit Late but let’s still celebrate Chinese New Year!

February 3, 2012

Chinese New Year is here and Chinese food is not only full of delicious flavours, it can also be a healthy option too and a perfect way to add some colour to the dull winter months. This newsletter is dedicated to the colourful and delicious Chinese food and below are some of the Chinese traditions I believe we should all embrace more in our kitchen and life style to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

Dim Sum: Literally meaning ‘to touch your heart’ dim sum, the ‘small eats’ are originally a Cantonese custom and are inextricably linked to the Chinese tradition of “yum cha” or drinking tea (and that’s not PG tips I’m talking but plenty of healthy antioxidant rich green tea). Teahouses sprung up to accommodate weary travellers journeying along the famous Silk Road. Rural farmers, exhausted after long hours working in the fields, would also head to the local teahouse for an afternoon of tea and relaxing conversation. And if you go for the steamed and not the deep fried version you can enjoy some tantalizing healthy ‘small eats’ and you should know by now that I always encourage eating ‘small’ and if you do it while sipping a cup of green tea to relax instead of coffee you might dream of being in China instead of stuck in front of your computer.

Ginger and Garlic: These two ingredients are integral to Asian cooking. The unique tang of fresh ginger is used in everything from stews to stir-fried dishes, while the pungent flavour of garlic is featured in meals throughout China. If you are not using these two ingredients in your kitchen yet, it is time to start experimenting and some more flavour to your foods and dish up a nice ginger chicken or Chinese stir fry. Adding these to your diet will also mean you are adding some health promoting properties, as both of these two foods are thought to have medicinal properties and garlic provides you with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

Tea: Brits are tea drinkers but unfortunately that’s mostly stimulating black tea and not relaxing herbal tea. I think it’s time to swap the black tea for some of the health promoting tea and tea drinking customs derived from the Chinese culture e.g. consuming tea as a sign of respect, to apologise or to connect large families on wedding days (I wonder how this would go down with the in-laws).

Kate Cook helps people deal with their diet, digestion and stress
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