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Confused about gluten and dairy? Should you or shouldn’t you?

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There’s a LOT of conflicting information out there about gluten and dairy, a lot of comes from people without the proper knowledge or qualifications to be talking about, whilst a lot of it comes from credible sources, but can you to know the difference? Hopefully that’s where I come in!

When  one of my clients is suffering from digestive issues and they really want to address them once and for all, then the two main foods I suggest they eliminate (usually along with many other suggestions that all work in unison with eachother) are gluten and diary.

I’ll ask them to cut these foods for about 6 weeks, to allow their gut to reset and have some ‘time off’ from having to work hard to digest 2 of the most difficult food to break down.

So you might already know that gluten and dairy aren’t all that helpful for gut health but maybe you don’t really understand why? I hope this helps to clarify it for you.

When it comes to dairy the main and most common issue is the lactose. This is the natural milk sugar found in dairy. Some people lack the enzyme needed to break this type of sugar down (lactase), and that can cause some horrible digestive trouble such as bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, and gas/flatulence. This is basically a result of the undigested lactose in the colon. Note that this is an ‘intolerance’ to NOT an allergy to dairy. A person might lack the enzyme needed to break down lactose due to their genes, or it can be a result of ageing, damage and inflammation of the small intestine or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which can all cause issues in producing the enzyme.

So, you might be genetically lactose intolerant or your issues with dairy might be due to poor diet (typical Western style of refined carbs and low fibre and diversity of vegetables, low healthy fats etc.), chronic stress, alcohol, infections, oral contraceptive pill medications including the oral contraceptive pill and antibiotics.

So, if your intolerance to lactose isn’t genetic then you can reverse the issue by working on your diet and lifestyle in favour of the balance of bacteria in your gut e.g. increasing the good guys and forcing out the bad guys, as well as increasing levels of digestive enzymes.

When it comes to other issues with dairy e.g. immune type reactions like eczema or hives for example, this is more likely to be due to casein which is a protein found in dairy. Immune reactions are not happening within the gut, they’re happening in the blood stream – so this means the protein casein would need to have seeped into the blood stream from the gut in order to cause the immune reaction. So the gut/intestinal wall/lining would need to be ‘leaky’ for this to happen (known as leaky gut or intestinal permeability).

If your gut lining is ‘leaky’ then things can now pass through into the blood stream that shouldn’t be allowed into your body, such as proteins like gluten and casein, bad bacteria, toxic waste and undigested foods particles. These things will cause immune reactions.

So, if you or someone you know are having immune reactions to dairy or gluten (knowingly or unknowingly) then chances are you have an imbalanced gut, because a ‘leaky gut’ is the cause, and the cause of the leaky gut is with dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria) and inflammation.

This is why I don’t really do food intolerance testing, because if the gut is leaky then the test will likely show positive for a lot of different foods, and simply cutting those foods out wont actually address the cause of the problem in the first place. We need to address the leaky gut and then the reactions to certain foods will stop, unless of course its genetic lactose intolerance for example.

Immune mediated reactions to dairy might only be temporary. So, if we can rebalance and re-populate the gut environment with more beneficial bacteria and less bad guys, plus increase digestive enzymes, reduce the inflammation within the gut, and heal the gut lining then we can fix the problem.
There are some great new testing options available for gluten intolerance but as per the food intolerance testing, I would favour simply a trial removal of gluten for 4-6 weeks, whilst also working on rebalancing the gut, and then a re-introduction of gluten to see if any symptoms come back –much cheaper!!

So what are some symptoms of a dairy intolerance (whether genuine or due to an imbalanced gut)?

Well, the obvious signs would be the one’s I’ve mentioned above like bloating, diarrhoea, pain, nausea, and gas/flatulence, immune-mediated reactions to multiple foods (so not just dairy although we are talking about dairy in particular today), but also symptoms of inflammation within the entire body such as:

  • Achy joints
  • Fatigue (this was me in my 20’s and little did I know it was because of gluten!)
  • Foggy head
  • PMS
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Skin issues
  • Weight gain and or trouble losing weight
  • Water retention
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune conditions e.g. Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s
  • Depressions and other mood changes or disorders

The most effective way in my book to find out whether or not you’d do better without gluten and or dairy would be to take them out of your diet COMPLETELY for 4 weeks.

During this work on your digestion and gut health by:

  • Increasing foods that help to build up the beneficial bacteria in our gut like plenty of, and variety of, fibrous vegetables as well as fermented foods – my favourites are fermented vegetables like raw sauerkraut and kimchi, and coconut or water kefir.
  • Possibly supplementing with a good quality digestive enzyme and or hydrochloric acid incase your stomach acid is low (very common!) but its important to get advice from a properly qualified Nutritional Therapist on this.
  • Help the gut lining to repair and reduce inflammation of it by adding L-glutamine, homemade bone broth, and increasing foods rich in vitamin A (organic chicken or beef liver is super rich in vitamin A, then your brightly and darkly coloured fruit and veg too), zinc (good quality red meat and poultry, oysters! plus chick peas and pumpkin seeds), and turmeric, ginger, bromelain (pineapple) essential fatty acids from oily fish to help reduce inflammation.
  • Rebalance your life! Address the sources of stress and how you can reduce their impact. Start getting outdoors in nature more, listen to your favourite music, have relaxing baths, read books, listen to audio books and podcasts that inspire and lift you. Don’t be a slave to your calendar, see how you can strip things back and carve out more time for yourself. Are you over-exercising? Too much of the wrong kinds of exercise can be unhelpful for digestive health and gut lining integrity so address this if you need to. Remember, a body with an unhealthy gut is a body that will struggle to burn body fat.

Then after the 4 weeks (continue with the above for life please!) start to slowly re-introduce gluten and dairy back, but do it one by one. Wait up to 72 hours to check for any symptoms before you re-introduce the other one. Keep watching for symptoms as you SLOWLY build foods back in that you feel you want to bring back in, but if you’re happy without gluten and or dairy then don’t bother bringing them back!

Butter and ghee are usually better tolerated (yay) because they have much smaller amounts of dairy proteins and sugars, same goes for fermented yoghurts and milk kefir, I would just say always go for organic to minimize hormone exposure. Hard cheese usually has less in the way of lactose whereas softer cheeses, yoghurts and milk will be higher in lactose. So, if you re-introduce dairy slowly and type by type, you’re more likely to identify certain culprits and work out whether you can still include some but maybe not all dairy, or none at all and so on.

It’s so important to work on resetting your digestive health with the above steps AND sticking to it for life even once you might re-introduce dairy and or gluten foods back in from time to time. Your gut health should be looked after ongoing not just for a short period, much the same as a detox, we should be doing things DAILY to assist our liver, not just once a year for 7 days!

My stance on gluten and dairy?

I grew up eating pasta, bread, cereal, wraps and biscuits everyday, it wasn’t until I was about 23 when I trialed a month without any gluten and it changed my health and weight that was for sure! I decided that gluten could not come back into my diet on the scale I was used to but that I didn’t want to live without it completely, I’m not celiac so why be so strict I felt. So, I personally avoid gluten for the most part, about 80% of the time, BUT I enjoy a lovely sourdough toast with a weekend cooked breakfast probably about once or twice a month, I don’t say no to a bit of cake when its offered, and I love a good quality pizza or burger out from time to time too. Compared to the amount I used to eat this is nothing, and it doesn’t cause symptoms for me because I’m just not having it often enough for it to. In terms or dairy I have cheese occasionally (when I fancy it) and my cheese of choice is mozzarella, feta and haloumi, and I use organic grass fed butter a few times a week. I use coconut or nut milks and yogurts rather than dairy, and I opt for plant-based protein powders over whey for daily use with the occasional use of (organic) whey protein powder (I use Pulsin), I’m by no means neurotic about anything when it comes to food and nor should you be.

Dairy, your hormonal health and your weight:

So we’ve talked about dairy and your gut health but dairy can also cause or exacerbate hormonal imbalances, which isn’t good news for our waistlines or health. 

Dairy can increase a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and sometimes also other growth hormones and antibiotics (usually found in non-organic dairy hence why I always say to go for organic if having. If you have hormonal issues or conditions such as acne or PCOS then I would suggest reducing or eliminating dairy as much as possible for this reason, you just don’t need to be adding any more fuel to the fire. Dairy is quite what’s known as ‘insulinogenic’ which means it has the ability to spike our insulin levels rather high and this is thought to be due to the amount of lactose (milk sugar) as well as the dairy proteins. Any foods that spike insulin can cause the storage of fat around the middle, so just something to be aware of if you’re relying on dairy every single day and struggling with your weight.

A lot of people ask me about calcium when we talk about reducing or cutting out dairy. I get a lot of concerned faces asking how will they get enough! Do not fret, there are PLENTY of foods that contain calcium and some even more so than milk. Its just long been drummed into us that milk is the only good source of it.

Here’s a list of calcium foods and the amount per (very achievable) portion size (the recommended daily calcium intake is 700mg):

  • 1 cup of cooked kale – 245 mg
  • 56g of sardines (with bones) – 217 mg
  • 170ml or grams of natural organic yogurt or milk kefir – 300 mg
  • 1 ½ cup cooked broccoli – 93 mg
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (throw into a smoothie) – 87.8 mg
  • 1 cup of watercress 41 mg
  • 1 spinach leaf – 9.9 mg
  • 30g of cheese 224 mg
  • 1 cup of bok Choy 74 mg
  • 1 cup of okra 82 mg
  • 30g of almonds (about 23 almonds) 76 mg

So there you have it I really hope this has been helpful! I know this was a LONG one so I hope you didn’t drift off and you managed to stick with me.

Jump on a call with me and we can discuss you biggest challenges when it comes to your health and weight, and or gluten and dairy questions! I offer complimentary 40 minute phone sessions so why not take advantage? Click here to book your slot. 

My Everyday Approach to Eating

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I often get asked by friends and clients, what my eating philosophies are and so I thought I’d write about it! You can read more about my own health and body weight story here, where I explain that I wasn’t always into nutrition and knew nothing about it until a certain point in my life.


I always like my clients to know that I am the last person to judge them on what may less ideal eating and lifestyle habits, I started from somewhere and slowly swapped my bad habits for good ones, ones that worked with my body, health and mind, not against.


Here are my approaches and why:


Home Cooked and Prepped

I love to cook and prepare my meals and snacks at home as much as possible and I make this a priority. I seldom leave the house without a lunchbox of food in my bag and mini Tupperware boxes of nuts and seeds, hummus and carrots, or a couple of boiled eggs. I love to eat out occasionally and if I’m in a major rush and haven’t managed to prepare the night before then I’ll head to somewhere like Pret for one of their super bowls (read my review of the Pret menu here).


Sugar is minimal

There are so many benefits of a low refined sugar lifestyle and energy, skin health and weight control are top of my list! I was addicted to sugar in my late teens and early 20’s. At uni from aged 18 I lived on chocolate bars, biscuits, Mr Kipling cherry bakewells, sugary drinks, white bread and pasta! I gained 3 stone, had a live-in headache, horrible digestive issues, and depression. This carried through until I was 24 when I finally decided that my symptoms might be linked to my diet. Reducing and then finally quitting sugar was the best thing I have ever done. Hello masses of energy, no more headaches, and 3 stone in weight lost with minimal effort other than quitting sugar! Sugar is corrosive and irritates our gut lining, plays havoc with our skin and energy levels leading to fatigue and headaches, and it’s a killer when it comes to fat gain, especially around the middle! Read my post here for tips to help you quit and my ultimate sugar alternatives guide here.


Love healthy fats

Fat is our friend and sugar is not! The things we’ve all been brainwashed into believing about fat from food should (and do) refer to sugar instead. I’ve said and practiced this approach for years and I am sure its one of the reasons my hair and nails grow at a speed I struggle to keep up with! Read my blog here about the benefits of healthy fats and where you can find them in the diet.


Powered up with Protein

Protein is essential for health and for balanced blood sugar levels, brain function, and body composition. I include a good quality protein source with every meal and snack, this is something I’ve been doing for a long time and has become an automatic habit now. Things like nuts, seeds, nut butter, boiled egg, beans and pulses, fish, chicken, turkey, beef, and protein powder (Pulsin and Sunwarrior are my favourites).


All the colours

Everyday I eat a rainbow of deep and brightly coloured vegetables and berries. The richer the colour the more nutrients and antioxidants they contain. Think squashes, sweet potato, courgette, broccoli, spinach, chard, kale, red cabbage, beetroot, tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries etc.
Eat a rainbow


Majority Gluten Free

Gluten makes me feel lethargic and sluggish. I’ve tried and tested it many times over the years and always. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity aren’t just stomach bloating and pain; it can be things like headaches, muscle pain, and fatigue as well. If you don’t experience any negative symptoms when you eat gluten, I still recommend that you don’t rely to heavily on it as your carbohydrate source and you alternate your grains – using things like brown rice pasta or buckwheat pasta, which are naturally gluten free, brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat flour. Too much gluten can be corrosive to the lining of our gut.


Dairy Free

I’ve always included dairy in my diet and I swear by Yeo Valley organic full fat plain yogurt for a snack. But over the last couple of years I’ve noticed that dairy makes me very bloated. I first noticed it when I switched from using whey (comes from cow’s milk) protein to pea protein and my daily morning bloat totally stopped. I tried using whey again one day and looked 6 months pregnant within an hour. I then noticed the same was true for my yogurt. So now I cute dairy out and feel much better for it. I stopped drinking cow’s milk many years ago anyway. I have the occasional bit of cheese but I feel it when I do which always serves as a reminder of why I don’t eat dairy. If you’re not intolerant to dairy, I’d just recommend keeping it occasional and opting for organic, rather than relying on milk, cheese and yogurt everyday. In the western world we eat far too much dairy and we’re the only mammals that eats the milk of another mammal, and cow’s milk contains a lot of growth hormones. Sheep and goats milk can be easier to digest for a lot of people so vary your types of cheeses.


Consistency not perfection

It’s not about being perfect 100% of the time. We have to allow for times when we want to indulge, like birthday meals out, holidays and weddings etc., and also for times when we are not in control of what we can eat. Too many of us are striving for perfection and if we cant get it we can feel like giving up altogether. But NO this isn’t how it should be! I am consistent not prefect. This means that about 80% (but usually 90%) of the time I stick to whole real foods, no refined sugar, and alcohol, and 10-20% of the time I relax and enjoy what I might consider to be a treat like some homemade chocolate brownies or energy balls (made with whole ingredients and natural sugars). I don’t eat processed foods or refined sugar, but I do enjoy sharing the occasional bag of balsamic vinegar flavor Kettle Chips!


Alcohol is occasional

I lot of clients ask me about this! I’ve never loved alcohol and only really ever drank it to get drunk! I went through my late teens and 20’s drinking socially but never really enjoyed the taste of alcohol (unless it came in the form of sugary cocktails). I never understood the fascination with wine; red or white. When I do have the occasional drink these days it’s a long refreshing glass of vodka with soda water and fresh lime. Into my 30’s I still enjoyed feeling tipsy on a night out, but then I realized it only left me feeling horrible the next day and didn’t serve me positively in any way, quite the opposite. Now I might use a glass of bubbly to toast to something, have one sip and then it pass it to someone else. I realized I was drinking alcohol to please others, to be polite when out at dinner with a friend who wanted to share a bottle of wine or prosecco, I felt obliged. Now I feel a sense of liberation when I simply say no thank you, and no explanation is needed! If you enjoy alcohol then I recommend keeping it minimal, and seeing it as an indulgence rather than the norm. Perhaps some of the drinks you have are just habit rather than because you actually want to? Or maybe YOU feel obliged sometimes like I did? Stick to good quality dry red wine (as it comes with some health benefits in moderation!) or clear spirits like vodka or gin, with soda water and fresh lime.

Book a free Weight Loss Strategy call with me and we can talk about your biggest challenges when it comes to your diet and lifestyle, and I can help you move forward in a better direction. Click here to book your slot!

Fat doesn’t make us fat


Before I became a Nutritional Therapist I used to believe, like most of us still do today, that foods containing fat simply made us fat, and unhealthy. I would be forgiven for thinking that seeing as since the 1970’s the media and medical industry have been pushing that message every single day and when you walk into any supermarket you are bombarded with ‘low-fat’, ‘zero % fat’ and ‘fat-free’ products.

Some of the worst heath advice from the government over the years has to be to AVOID FAT! Cutting fat out of our diet is the worst thing we can do! The media have consistently fed us the message that all fat is bad and we must use low fat or zero fat products only, in order to be healthy, and keep our weight in check.

Believing we are doing the right thing for our health and weight we have cut fat from our diets. But what has ended up happening since the 1970’s? Obesity, heart disease and cancer rates have all increased with heart disease being the number one killer in men and women. The rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly is increasing and children are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes younger and younger, and all this is despite cutting out fat from our diets.

Fat does not make us fat; it is necessary for our health, and for weight management.

The body simply works better when we allow fat in. One of my aims as a nutritional therapist is to help people to understand this and most of all to accept it, embrace fat, eat it every day, with every meal and snack, and lose the fear!

The idea that fat makes us fat, or sick, is just something that has been ingrained in our brains for so many years, and slowly but surely this detrimental belief will start to fade, it has to.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates makes us fat! Every time we eat a carbohydrate it turns into sugar in the bloodstream. Our pancreas then secretes insulin (our fat-storing hormone) to bring the sugar to our cells so that we can use it as energy. If we have excess sugar in our body, it gets stored as fat, fat/weight gain.

Protein and fat however act as carbohydrate “buffers” by keeping our blood sugar level from spiking to high too quickly (which is what causes excess sugar in the blood), and allowing our pancreas to secrete glucagon (the fat-burning hormone). So fat/weight gain isn’t a result of consuming too much fat—it’s a result of too many carbohydrates in too little time, too often. We need carbohydrates so I’m not saying to cut them out, I’m saying to consider your types of carbs, for example you should focus on low sugar fruits such as apples, pears and berries, and vegetables as your main carbohydrate sources, and consume every carbohydrate with a protein and a fat source. This combination helps keep blood sugars stable, allowing those extra fat stores to be burned and the weight to come off. Excess body fat doesn’t stand a chance of being burned if we eat too much or the wrong types of carbohydrates, and don’t include fat and protein everyday.

Fats are not equal, there are good and bad ones (see the bottom), it’s just about knowing which ones we can and SHOULD eat everyday and which ones we shouldn’t.

Here are some reasons why we must lose the fear of fat:

Fat keeps us full and reduces cravings. Fat is highly satiating and energy giving, it sends a signal to our brain that we’re full which helps us in our quest not to overeat. As mentioned above it helps to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream from a carbohydrate food and therefore helps to balance blood sugar levels, this in turn as a positive impact on reducing cravings.

When fat is removed from a product, sugar (or artificial sweeteners, which are no better) is added to replace it. So all this restricting of fat in favour of low-fat products has just increased your intake of sugar massively, unknowingly for most people. In turn this has added to our cravings for more sugar as once the sugar has been moved from the blood stream we just want more to pick us up again. Little did a lot of people know that low fat and zero % fat products have just put us on a blood sugar, fat-storing, sugar-craving, low energy roller coaster for years!

In our calorie-counting culture fat is the first thing to be removed from the diet in a quest to lose weight because it’s higher in calories than carbohydrates or proteins. But, the whole ‘calories in, calories out’ theory is a myth because if it were true why on earth would so many people be struggling to lose weight or get the body they want? We’d all be slim, toned and healthy if it was as simple as that. When we eat fat, we send a signal to our brain that we’re full and can stop eating. Low-fat diets leave us feeling deprived, hungry and often times with intense food cravings.

Adding fat back into your diet can cause your sugar cravings to disappear. It really is that powerful! Always go for the full-fat instead of the low-fat or fat-free version, please trust me!

Fat supports our brain. Our brains are made up of 60% fat, so it needs fat for fuel! When we eat a low-fat diet we are not giving our brain the raw materials it needs to function at its best. You may have noticed that when you cut out fat you’re not able to think as clearly, feed your brain the fuel it needs.

Fat reduces inflammation. Inflammation is at the root cause of all chronic diseases. We’ve been told for years that saturated fat causes heart disease, but new research shows that saturated fat is not the problem and actually never was. Its things like refined carbohydrates, sugar, trans-fats, processed oils, constant stress, lack of sleep and over-exercising that can have the biggest impact on our overall health. When we have inflammation, our body focuses on healing that inflammation instead of doing what we want it to do — like rid the excess weight. Fat helps the body heal the existing inflammation and helps to get the body onto a good metabolic path.

Sources of good fats, to include a source with every meal and snack, these types of fat help heal your body and support your metabolism the most:

  • Avocados
  • Real butter
  • Coconut oil and butter
  • Cheese
  • Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel
  • Hemp seed and hemp oil
  • Flaxseed/linseed
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Olive oil
  • Cream

Sources of bad fats, these are the ones that cause damage and inflammation in our body:

  • All trans fats (referred to as ‘partially hydrogenated’ or ‘hydrogenated oil’ on the product info label)
  • Refined/processed oils such as soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower, or vegetable oil
  • All margarine, yes even the ones that say they reduce cholesterol and have a lovely picture of a heart on the label.
  • Shop bought baked goods such as biscuits, cakes, buns, donuts, some types of crackers etc
  • Deep fried foods

Here are some tips on how to incorporate good fats into your day:

  • Add butter to your vegetables or melt a good tbsp of coconut oil over them and your choice of seasoning
  • Use half an avocado in a smoothie, with your scrambled eggs, in salads, or make guacamole yourself to have with oatcakes or as a side
  • Replace your processed vegetable oils with olive oil and coconut oil, and only cook with coconut oil
  • Add coconut cream, tbsp of nut butter or coconut oil and coconut butter to smoothies
  • Use nut butters like cashew, almond, hazelnut, mixed nut etc, have on oat cakes, rye bread, in smoothies, mixed with coconut yoghurt eg COYO or just eat off the spoon for a quick pick me up #goodfatsandprotein!
  • Useheavy whipping cream in your morning coffee instead of sugar-loaded and processed coffee creamers.
  • Use coconut milk for your smoothies. I like to add 2-3 parts water to one can of full fat coconut milk and store in the fridge for my smoothies.
  • Cook your eggs in butter, use about a tbsp. (the real stuff). The processed stuff is detrimental to health, and does not favour weight management.
  • Treat alert! Add half a banana, some coconut cream, and 1 tbsp of raw cocao powder as an anytime snack. Also try half a frozen banana with ½ an avocado and 1 tbsp of raw cacao powder for some super healthy chocolate ice cream
  • Drizzle olive oil and or hemp oil over salads, greens, or any other dish you want to add oil to! Keep it cold though never heated, or you damage the delicate bonds the oil is made up of and turn them unhealthy.
  • For a healthy tuna mayonnaise mix eggs with olive or hemp oil then add to tinned tuna or salmon and serve with mixed green leaves.
  • Enjoy cashews, pistachios, brazils, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts etc, great with sliced apple or pear

We have to overcome our fear of fat make friends with it, everyday—you will be surprised how much better you feel as well as the positive effects it can have on your weight!

My favourite tip is to add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your morning coffee or cup of green tea to kick start fat burning for the day.

Coconut helps our body to burn fat!

Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which is a type of fat that is digested quickly and known for it’s great energy and metabolism-boosting effects. Lauric acid is the main form of MCT in coconut oil. It has been shown to be antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind). It can promote healthy thyroid function, blood sugar regulation, and help fight off yeast, candida, and fungus.


Basically coconut oil can boost your metabolism and give you more energy. It can reduce inflammation, which as mentioned above is the route to all evil including weight gain.

You don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight – 8 Steps to Healthy Weight Loss


And so the cycle continues. Fad diet after fad diet, with short lived success and feelings of deprivation and restriction.

If I told you that you do not need to starve yourself to lose weight or go on a restrictive, boring and miserable diet would you believe me? I have this conversation with so many people, mainly women, who just don’t see how this can be true. They walk away forgetting what I’ve said within about 30 seconds, so sure that calorie restriction and excessive cardio at the gym is the only way to shed the weight they are so very fed up with.

I also find that when it comes to weight loss, so many people don’t regard the nutrition factor with any importance, and that they are only really concerned with losing as much weight as they can, as quickly as they can. Yo-yo dieting can have a detrimental effect on our health, not to mention the stretch marks! Aside from the health effects of restrictive and yo-yo dieting so many people are missing out on the true enjoyment of food. Good, tasty and wholesome foods that make us feel satiated and energetic are being overlooked in this bid to lose weight at whatever cost.

I am going to explain the key to successful and sustainable weight loss in the hope that many of my readers will accept it, try it for themselves and have faith that it will work for you!

1) Eat breakfast within an hour of waking

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day when it comes to fat loss. Leaving large gaps between meals causes our blood sugar to drop too low and so the next meal we eat can cause a sharp rise in our blood glucose (sugar) level. Insulin is responsible for moving excess glucose into fat cells for storage and is released in response to food consumption. The more glucose in the blood at any one the more fat is stored. In the morning our blood sugar level is at its lowest so what you eat for breakfast is all important. Having a sugary low protein breakfast can causes a high spike in blood sugar and thus a larger amount of fat is stored by insulin. Ensure your breakfast always contains good amounts of protein, a complex carbohydrate and some healthy fats. Protein slows down the release of sugar into the blood (so reduced fat storage) and has a satiating effect, keeping us fuller for longer.

2) Then eat every 3-4 hours following breakfast

This will prevent your blood sugar level dropping low and keep it stable throughout the day. Keeping the blood sugar level stable will minimize fat storage. All meals and snacks should contain a protein, a complex carbohydrate and some healthy fat. This will also keep energy levels stable too!

3) Stick to complex carbohydrate and low GI fruits

Go easy on fruit; although it contains fibre and vitamins its still sugar at the end of the day, and your body doesn’t differentiate between the sugar from a load of fruit and the sugar from a bar of chocolate. Include low sugar fruits such as apples, pears and darkly coloured berries like blueberries, or blackberries and use no more than a handful per day.

Switch white/refined carbs for complex carbs, see the list below!

4) Include plenty of fibre from vegetables especially leafy greens
Fibre is important not only for our digestive health but also for weight loss. Fibre stretches the stomach and so we feel fuller faster, and also for longer. Fibre takes longer to chew and digest and therefore slows down eating so we signal to our brain that we are full BEFORE we have eaten everything in sight and then realised we were probably already too full! Fibre also holds onto sugar, slowing its release into the bloodstream and so preventing the high blood sugar spikes that lead to fat storage.

5) Include healthy fats

The fats we must avoid are trans fats and hydrogenated fats; these are found in most processed foods, including biscuits, cookies, margarine, fried and battered foods, and pie crusts. It’s important however to include healthy fats daily. You have probably heard a lot about coconut oil and how healthy it is, that’s because it really is, and it can help with weight loss too. Although coconut oil is composed of saturated fatty acids they are the beneficial kind, known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are burnt for energy rather than stored and they help to speed our metabolism to burn fat faster. MCTs also have a satiating effect helping us feel fuller quicker and for longer. There are so many benefits of coconut oil I will have to save that for another article! But for now please just know that coconut oil is a healthy and beneficial item to add into your daily diet, for general health reasons as well as weight loss.

It’ also important to include essential fats everyday such as avocado, omega-3 rich fish like wild salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines, nuts and seeds, olive oil, hemp oil, hemp seeds, flax oil, flaxseed, chia seeds, nut butters. These can help to burn fat and improve the body’s response to insulin (minimizing fat storage). Aim to include oily fish 3-4 times per week and minimize red meat (organic and grass fed) to 1-2 portions per week.

6) Reduce or eliminate stimulants

Stimulants such as caffeine, energy drinks, nicotine and alcohol raise our blood sugar level and so increase the production of insulin, which, as we know, leads to fat storage the more it is produced.

7) Get the right amount of sleep!!

Lack of sleep and broken sleep can have detrimental effects on our weight loss efforts and fat storage! We can go to the gym everyday and eat well but if we are not sleeping well and for long enough each night those our efforts are in vain. A lack of sleep can decrease levels of an important hormone (leptin) that tells our brain we are full and or not hungry. This is not to say that we shouldn’t eat, or we should feel full even when we haven’t eaten properly, it’s just that if levels of leptin are low then we are more likely to overeat and crave sugar. Furthermore lack of sleep increases a hormone (ghrelin) that makes us hungrier and again, crave carbs and sugar.

8) Reduce stress!
This is soooo important. Stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’. Cortisol increases our blood sugar level in a bid to provide the brain with the fuel it needs to handle stressful situation, the problem is we just don’t need that amount of sugar for a stressful situation that isn’t physical (e.g. running from a tiger) but psychological, such as running late for work or being stuck in traffic. The excess sugar is then stored as fat. The more these events occur the more fat is stored. So it’s vital to get your stress levels under control using techniques such as meditation, simple meditation breathing and mindfulness, again there is so much to say about this and I will write on it separately.

Here’s an idea for an ideal day:

Breakfast (within an hour of waking)

2 eggs scrambled with 50g of smoked salmon, spinach and baby tomatoes on 1 slice of rye toast. Or, for busy people on the move a protein breakfast smoothie.

Snack (if not eating lunch within 3 hours of finishing breakfast)

1 apples and about 12 almonds/walnuts/brazil nuts


1 wild salmon steak, 50g of brown rice, spinach, watercress, rocket, red onion and baby tomatoes (grated carrot and beetroot, and fennel if you’re happy to add even more veg!)


150g of natural Greek yoghurt e.g. Yeo Valley with handful of blueberries and sprinkle of ground cinnamon


1 chicken breast with a small baked sweet potato, spinach and broccoli

There are so many options and ideas for a day of nutritious, satiating and tasty easting. We do not need to nor should we starve and restrict ourselves or follow fad diets. Love food, love eating it, just choose it wisely, plan ahead and be organised.

Swap the refined carbs for the complex carbs:

Refined carbohydrate foods:

 White bread

 White pasta

 Potatoes (except sweet potatoes)

 White rice

 Cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, croissants, doughnuts etc etc

 Pizza

 Quiche and any pastry pies

 Cereals e.g. Coco Pops, Cheerios, Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes etc.

 Fizzy drinks, concentrated juice drinks, sports drinks, other sugary drinks

 Pre-packaged and processed foods

Foods that release glucose into the blood stream in lower amounts and more slowly are known as ‘complex’ carbohydrates foods:

 Brown or wholemeal pasta

 Brown basmati rice

 Wholemeal bread

 Rye bread

 All vegetables apart from potatoes and parsnips

 Sweet potatoes

 Low sugar fruits such as berries, apples and pears

 Whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, bulgar wheat, oats and rye

 Beans, pulses and lentils

 Ryvita

 Oatcakes

We need to eat and not diet, simply eat well all year round, for good, and you will never need to deprive yourself again AND you will enjoy a weight you’re happy with and one you can sustain for life.

For a consultation with me for a more detailed and personalised weight loss plan call now on 07860 573 901

Best wishes,

Francesca @FLNutrition

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