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.

The Myth Of The One Size Fits All Diet

February 20, 2011

Most of us realise that a “good diet” is important for our well-being and many of us think we are eating healthily. But what is a “good diet”? We are bombarded with newspaper, television, and magazine stories about the latest nutrition research or fads, which are often conflicting. When following this advice, many people then find that it does not result in improved well-being, as expected. Thus, while such sources of information are certainly useful in some ways, they often also leave us confused about what we should be eating and present a challenge to people wanting to improve their nutrition and overall health.

Confusion arises partly because the concept of a “good diet” assumes that we all have the same nutritional needs. We don’t. We all have different health profiles and life circumstances and therefore unique nutritional requirements. There is no such thing as a universal diet which suits everyone.

Nutritional Therapists have long-recognised the importance of individual lifestyles and  biochemical make-up and thus the potential flaws present in transferring dietary guidelines designed for the general population to dietary recommendations for optimising individual health.

So why not call one of our expert Nutrition Coach team members to find out if your diet  is right for you?

Wishing you the best of health

Sylvia

Beat the January blues with protein

January 31, 2011

If you’re feeling depressed or low in motivation it may be that you don’t have enough feel-good chemicals in your brain.  We need sufficient levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin to help us feel happy and enough noradrenalin to keep us feeling motivated.  By eating a diet rich in the right nutrients you can boost levels of these neurotransmitters and therefore boost your mood naturally.  

Serotonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan and therefore eating foods rich in tryptophan is an important first step in raising serotonin levels.  Excellent sources of tryptophan include oats, tofu, eggs, fish, beans, turkey and chicken. 

Noradrenalin is produced from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine, and therefore eating foods rich in these amino acids are ideal for helping to raise noradrenalin levels.  Excellent food sources include almonds, butter beans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, fish, eggs, meat, soya and poultry.

Therefore to help keep the January blues away, try to increase your protein intake with these amino acid rich foods, so that you can bounce out of January and into February!

Julia

Don’t crash diet

January 6, 2011

You ate, drank and made merry all through the festive season. “So what?” you thought, “it can wait till January. Well, January has come, and now, what a hangover! And not the boozy kind, either. I’m talking about what’s drooping over the top of your (once skinny) jeans.

If you want to shape up in a healthy way and keep your New Year’s resolution for longer than a week, don’t make the most common diet mistakes I’ll share with you over the next couple of weeks.

Diet Mistake Number 1: Crash Diets

Yes, it does sound tempting, losing six pounds in four days! If you can stick to that juice or soup or three-bowls-of-cereal-a-day diet for a couple of days, you’ll be even fitter than before Christmas.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work this way. If you follow a crash diet where you cut out major food groups (e.g. carbohydrates or fats) or only concentrate on a small variety of foods, you are not only missing out on vital nutrients for optimum health and well-being, but are very likely to:

a) end up developing cravings for those foods you cut out which probably means you’ll

b) stuff your face uncontrollably in the evening or at night or any social events.

You are also likely to put back on all the weight you lost (and more) when you go back to eating normally (yo-yo affect anyone?). You will also probably be hungry, grumpy, and low in energy most of the time you are following that specific crash diet. And is January not depressing enough as a cold, dark month?

What you might not know is that your body doesn’t realise you are dieting and instead thinks there’s a famine, resulting in your metabolism slowing down based on your calorie intake. This will make it even harder for you to lose the weight and even easier for you to put it all back once you go back to your normal eating behaviour.

The key is to make healthy changes to your diet that will automatically provide you with more nutrients to balance your blood sugar levels and keep your metabolism up. Think swapping your juice for an actual piece of fruit, your sugary cereal for porridge, or your potatoes for brown rice.

My first tip for achieving your New Year’s Resolution: Start a food diary and write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day. It’ll help you to understand your eating behaviours, strengths and weaknesses, and show you where you can make some positive changes in your diet.

Now go out and by that diary! You’ll find them in the sale, and you’ll be surprised at what they uncover.

Here’s to a healthy and happy 2011!

Best wishes,

Lisa

Banish the hangover this Christmas

December 22, 2010

Did you wake up with a throbbing headache, a general feeling of physical misery, a tiger in your bathroom (?) and a bit of left over turkey on your shirt?
Guess my advice from my previous column on here’s the city didn’t quite make it to the bar with you. But before you choose to finish that cold turkey or opt for the bloody mary, try these tips instead:

Rehydrate

Alcohol is a diuretic – a chemical that kicks your urinary system into overdrive, and unless you managed to alternate your alcoholic beverages with water in between (which never works does it?), your post-drinking symptoms are most likely due to dehydration. Rehydrating is key when it comes to recovering from a hangover and cannot be stressed enough. But I’m not talking coffee, Red Bull or hair-of-the-dog here. Caffeine is an acknowledged stimulant, and while you might hope caffeine can perform its miracles of giving some much needed focus and alertness, it’s another diuretic. Red Bull isn’t much better (and requires another column), and choosing the hair-of-the-dog option would only be advisable if you want to pass out to forget what you’ve done the night before. Coffee will not help your stomach either, so the best option is water at room temperature. You may add some fresh lemon or fresh orange juice to give you additional Vitamin C for energy, and for soothing your upset tummy.

Top Up

When you drink excessively, you lose a lot of key minerals and vitamins including potassium, magnesium and B-Vitamins, all of which need to be topped up. Bananas are a great hangover food; they are like nature’s own little hangover cures. Not only are they full of fructose (natural fruit sugar) to help with energy, they contain a nice amount of potassium. Bananas are also natural antacids – which will help your nausea and stomach pain – and they also contain magnesium, which helps to relax pounding blood vessels in your head. Have a banana on toasted wholegrain bread (for the carbohydrates and B-Vitamins) with organic peanut or almond butter (great sources of magnesium and protein), and you get a good dose of all those key minerals and vitamins you lost the night before. Drinking vegetable bouillon soup or coconut water are two other good sources of vitamins and minerals, and easy for a fragile stomach to digest.

Eat

Do eat. Yes, it might be the last thing you want to do, but you will undoubtedly feel a lot better the minute you get your blood sugar levels up after having had some food. There is no one-and-only hangover food cure, but I’ve heard from many of my friends that you can’t beat a good fry-up. It gives you the greasy fat to coat your stomach, and the bread and eggs will give you the carbohydrates and protein for energy and blood sugar support. All I can say there is no perfect food cure for a hangover, so if you’ve found one that works for you, stick to it. My advise, though, would be to opt for a well-balanced meal, including all groups of macronutrients: complex carbohydrate, lean protein and healthy unsaturated fats. A toasted wholegrain bagel with cream cheese and salmon is another good option, and so is porridge with natural yoghurt and strawberries, giving you enough fibre for blood sugar balance, selenium to boost liver function, and Vitamin C for energy and soothing your tummy.

Sleep

But for the best cure of all (and if you have the luxury of not having to get up), go back to bed after your breakfast and sleep it off.

Wishing you a wonderful and nutritious Christmas!

Lisa

The nourishing Christmas

December 10, 2010

Christmas is a time for celebrating, and what better way to celebrate than with food?  Since time began, food has been used as a way of bringing people together and for sharing and celebrating special occasions.  Our recommendation for this Christmas is therefore to infuse your food with nourishment and love and to have a guilt-free day!  Far too many people can never fully embrace their Christmas meal as although their taste buds are having a party, it is accompanied with internal chatter of guilty feelings and promises to start a diet in the New Year.  The very act of sharing food with your loved ones is nourishing for the mind and emotions, and believe it or not the traditional meal is actually brimming with wonderful nutrients.  So, we say, kick the guilt aside and dive straight into the celebrations with our nourishing Christmas tips:

  • Don’t hold back on the turkey.  It’s low in fat and high in protein, and particularly the amino acid tryptophan which is needed to make serotonin the feel good neurotransmitter.  It’s also an excellent source of selenium and vitamins B3 and B6.
  • Pile up the Brussels sprouts – they are a wonderful cruciferous vegetable that should be on every Christmas plate.  They are high in sulphur which is needed to support detoxification in the liver, as well as being rich in vitamins C, E and A and flavonoid antioxidants to support the immune system.
  • Snack on walnuts and tangerines.  Walnuts are an excellent source of the essential omega-3 fats, which have many health benefits including cardiovascular, immune, metabolism and mood benefits.  They are ideal teamed with immune boosting, vitamin C filled, tangerines.
  • Season with cinnamon – use it liberally in home-baked mince pies and Christmas cake.  Cinnamon has many health benefits, but what is particularly important at Christmas is its ability to help lessen the impact of carbohydrates on your blood sugar levels.  It improves the insulin response, meaning you’re less likely to suffer from a blood sugar slump in the afternoon.
  • Cook your vegetables in a steamer, or lightly boiled, or if you’re roasting them then why not try using some coconut butter.  Coconut butter contains lauric acid and helps support metabolism.

So focus on all the nourishing qualities of your Christmas meal.  With all this goodness we promise you there’s no need to feel guilty when you indulge in that chocolate father Christmas… which after all is nourishing for the soul!

Wishing you all a nourishing time.

 Julia

This is the year that I….Stop Dieting for Good

December 9, 2010

I am very passionate about delivering our Dump The Diet Course –  our no-diet diet.  The philosophy is no quick fixes, just eat “normally”  Once you start eating normally you lose weight because you are not focusing on what you are NOT doing.   The key of course is to know what normal is!

In a “real diet” all the time you are thinking about how much weight you are NOT losing and how you are failing.  The Dump The Diet course is not letting you off the hook – far from it there are Rules to follow (just like everything in life that works.  You have to follow rules to make anything a success) but unlike diets in Dump The Diet there is enough flexibility for the regime to be for life and not just a short spurt.

Normal diets don’t work for just this reason – ie it is a short spurt.  You can do anything for a short enough space of time – so you “stick” to it for a week, a month or even a year but sooner or later you have got to crack and when you do it opens up the possibility of instead of being totally strict to go totally bonkers and eat everything in sight.  You can get all the special food in but what happens the first time you go on a business trip and you don’t have the “special foods” prescribed in the diet – oh no..crash and burn and “failure”

Diets encourage you to be “good” (ie not to get off the sacred dieting path)  but remember if we can be good – boy oh boy can we be BAD and when we do it is spectacular.  We say to ourselves that we will start again on Monday but Monday never seems to be the right day to start.  If we are not being bad we are rewarding ourselves with little “treats” – once we have had the treat we feel bad.  “Oh Well” we say,  if I have had one Jaffa cake – I might as well finish the packet to neaten it up and so I don’t have to have them in the house!

Another diet deception is the weighing scale.  We are encouraged to set ourselves Weight Loss Goals in normal diets – this is madness!  Once you get to your weight loss goal you stop applying the diet and of course the weight piles back on and you are back to where you were before.   Weighing yourself is OK if the weight is going down, but of course it can’t go down forever or you would fade away.  So one fateful day the scales start to go up a pound or two.  At this point there is a major panic that “you are losing the ability to lose weight”  and that it is not working anymore.  Of course weight will fluctuate but you can’t really accept this if you are in “dieting mentality”  – you only want it to go down.  So you get back on the scales just to make sure that you haven’t made some horrible mistake but the scales still seem to say that you are 2 pounds heavier.  You fiddle with the dial.  You get off and undress.  You take off your jewellery including your wedding ring.  You take a trip to the loo.  Well that got one pound off..phew.

A major theme is self-esteem.  We have to learn to live with ourselves just the way we are NOW.   We are were we are at in this moment (a bit philosophical this bit!)  – but so often we are only going to be happy WHEN.  When we are thin…we will buy that new dress, get that new relationship off the ground,  get the new job.  I would encourage you all to look in the mirror and only look for the good bits don’t focus on the future you by criticising ourselves constantly.  We wouldn’t talk to our worst enemy the way we talk to ourselves.

Be good to yourself this coming year and learn how to eat for life and in the process learn how to relax and see food as a wonderful friend!

Nutrition coach
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