Superfoods  – myth or magic?

Are you buying the superfood hype; either literally or figuratively?  These foods have been in the press for the last few years but recently new magic morsels have been added including lentils, quinoa, chills and green tea.

Its worth remembering there is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.

So do certain foods deserve that badge of honour?

What makes a food ‘Super'; they often contain higher than average amounts of antioxidants or compounds that can keep the body healthy and potentially help fight some diseases.  In that respect foods like blueberries, broccoli, oily fish, beetroot juice, dark chocolate and to a lesser extent red wine all deserve praise as they have high levels of compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids

homemade chocolate bar

But so do blackberries, carrots, apples, oats, nuts, red cabbage, raspberries, flaxseeds, and most fruits and vegetables.  And importantly they are often cheaper than their ‘superfood’ cousins

The superfood debate got the attention of BBC radio Leicester, so I joined them for a discussion along with Sangita the owner of a local Leicester deli.

Click here to listen to the interview (15 minutes)


fruit-and-vegTo eat a ‘superfood’ rich diet we agreed that it should contain more fruit and veg than we currently eat.  Incidentally, did you know that only about 30% of the UK adult population get their 5-a-day.

cakesTry and reduce your level of processed foods; anything from ready meals, cured meats to pastries and cakes

Go for variety and moderation; the occasional treat is fine


Drink within safe alcohol limits (max 14 units a week) a small glass (125ml) of red wine can be beneficial

Stay hydrated with the original ‘superfood'; Water

In other words adopt a more Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of wholegrain, pulses, vegetables, fruit and olive oil and you will feel “SUPER




Hangovers – the morning after!

The morning after…..Hangover cures 

alcoholThat double vodka, large glass of wine or a whole bottle or one more for the road seemed like a good idea last night.  But this morning it’s a different story, you feel nauseous, thirsty, have a headache, feel tired; basically you’re hungover

So how can you start to feel like your old self again?


  • Hydration – water is the best thing, sip it in case your stomach reacts.  If you prefer and have them available an isotonic drink is a good way to replenish lost fluids and minerals.  But they can be expensive and have a fair amount of sugar.  An answer is to make your own; mix one part orange juice, one part water and a pinch of salt.

IMG_9999This is exactly what I told a Notts Tv reporter when he visited me yesterday

Click on this Youtube link to hear the 30 second snippet



  • If you have a headache water will help with the dehydration and a painkiller could also ease the discomfort.  Be careful with aspirin based medication as they can upset your stomach
  • Eating some protein can aid recovery, especially eggs as they contain  a protein called taurine that helps the liver to recover
  • If you can’t stomach eggs, a bowl of porridge will restore some energy especially if its served with some fresh fruit like a banana, which will help replace your depleted potassium levels
  • fruitA fruit smoothie made with yoghurt will also give you some much needed protein.
  • failing that some wholemeal toast with either jam or wholenut peanut butter
  • Try and take some gentle exercise, a walk would be a great idea as it releases  ‘feel good’ endorphins
  • Try and resit the temptation to have too many cups of strong coffee.  Caffeine can upset your stomach and it also acts as a diuretic increasing your dehydration
  • Don’t overdo the amount of sugar you consume as it produces an energy spike and then a crash, leaving you feeling more tired and lethargic

To minimise some of the symptoms of over indulgence take painkillers with a pint of water before you go to sleep   That way you may wakeup feeling more human!  





Foods to boost your immune system

Foods to boost your immune system

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website



Working at Maggie’s cancer supper centre in Nottingham, I’m often asked about what foods can help build up our immune system.  This is especially important to cancer patients who may have undergone some quite radical surgery, chemo or radiotherapy.  All of which can have a debilitating effect on the body




img_8426A strong immune system is also important to many us as we enter the autumn and winter months.

To strengthen your immune system it is important to

  • Load up on the foods that pack the biggest nutritional punch
  • Whilst avoiding processed foods (often high in fat and salt) and
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
  • You can do even more by selecting foods that are loaded with specific immune boosting nutrients.

Top tips for a healthy immune system

  • chopped veggies

    A rainbow of colour

    Eat a ‘rainbow’ of colour to get more antioxidants in your diet.  By that I mean have plenty of variety,  all the following foods help to nourish the thymus gland, which is responsible for much of the immune-system function.  Eat at least two servings a day of these foods rich in vitamins B, C and E, plus beta-carotene (vitamin A) and zinc – red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, apples, tomatoes, kiwi, carrots, berries, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes.  You get the idea!

  • Cook frequently with garlic because it’s a proven immune booster and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. The allicin helps to prevent and fight colds. So add it to hummus, pasta and curry dishes. Rub on to toasted sour dough for a low cal garlic bread
  •  spinachSpinach is rich in folic acid. It can be made into spinach pasta, added to soups, smoothies or pasta sauces.  It can brighten up a curry or an omelette and bulk out a salad
  • Cinnamon is antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial; sprinkle it on your porridge or muesli. Add it to low sugar bakes and biscuits or smoothies
  • Mushrooms – contain vitamin D (and will absorb more if placed on a sunny shelf), which is good at combating viruses. Add to omelettes, stir-fries, soups and pasta dishes



  • Stay hydrated  – try and drink at least 6 glasses of water, fruit teas, green and black teas etc a day



  • Tactivity exercise walkingake some regular exercise: If you want to boost your immune system, get active. Just increasing your heart rate for only 20 minutes three times a week is associated with an increased immune function, and a brisk walk five days a week can help reduce your risk of catching a cold.  Also being out and socialising can help boost your immune system


  • Have a giggle! –  Laughing decreases the levels of stress hormones in the body while increasing a type of white blood cells that fights infection.


Why your diet is never going to work!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Why your diet is never going to work!images

You’re about to embark on yet another diet so you can be fit, healthy and slim for that bikini in a few months time.  But in your heart of hearts you know you will be miserable, moody and hungry.  And more importantly you will fail.

So let me share some secrets with you as to why you will keep on failing unless you change your approach

  • Portion control – Put it simply many of us eat too much even on a diet.  You have more control over what you eat at home but what about that quick latte on the way to work because you didn’t have time for breakfast; a large skinny latte could have up to 130 calories, add a ‘healthy low fat’ muffin and that’s another 340+. Or that sandwich from the supermarket at lunch time; an egg mayo could have upwards of 400 calories.  You may decide to meet friends after work for a low cal drink (or two) and a small bowl of pasta – where’s the harm! A small slimline gin and tonic will set go largeyou back a meagre 56 calories.  But restaurant portions are getting bigger and they are served on bigger plates or bowls so it is hard for us to judge the true amounts we are eating; a bowl of Prezzo’s  Penne con Salmon (light) still has a whopping 800 calories, a shared garlic bread will add 140 calories a portion and that sprinkling of parmesan is about 60 calories.  By now your one slimline G&T has morphed in to a large glass of house red (170 calories) so you decide to share a dessert (it would be rude not to!) half a portion of ‘healthy’ lemon Torte is 225 calories.

So in total on your diet you have some how managed to consume over 2,300 calories in one day.  Impressive!

  • Mindless eating – how often do you sit at a table to eat your meals?! When we sit in images front of the TV, laptop, tablet etc we are distracted and often do not register what we have eaten and therefore when we are full.  The signal from our stomach to our brain to say STOP takes about 20 minutes but if we are distracted we tend to eat faster, so that signal doesn’t get through until we are well into that unnecessary pudding.  How often have you been surprised when you look down at your plate and realised it is empty?
  • Stressed out – if you are stressed, anxious or worried then you are more inclined to comfort eat.  This is because being stressed can produce a hormone called ‘cortisol’, which can release glucose in to your bloodstream, promoting a hunger response thereby increasing your appetite.

So if you are not mindful of portion control then your weight may go up this will make you stressed and you will eat more!

  • Snack attacks! – Be careful what you snack on. Carrot sticks and hummus or rice cakes with wholenut peanut butter may be a better option than the low cal snack bar which could be full of refined sugars that your body processes very quickly, so it may not fill you up for long.  A small portion (28g) of unsalted nuts maybe a better option
  • IMG_5040What are you drinking? – Both alcoholic and soft drinks contain an abundance of calories.  Stay hydrated with water; not only will it quench your thirst but it will stave off hunger pangs.  A ‘healthy’ shop bought smoothie could have as many as 250 calories and up to 5 teaspoons of sugar.  Even though a can of diet drink has only a few calories latest research indicates that the artificial sweet taste prepares your body to expect calories and when they aren’t forthcoming your body craves food and your appetite could increase
  • Lack of sleep Scientists believe that if we don’t get enough sleep it disturbs the levels of two specific hormones leptin, which lets you know when you are full and ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite.

So put very simply the more you sleep the less you eat!

  • Are you eating enough?! This may sound odd but even on a diet you do need to consume enough calories to meet your bodies needs.  You can work this out on imagesvarious website to get you Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the calories you consume at rest.  But you may think you’re eating only small amounts and should therefore lose weight but as previously mentioned it is not just about portion size its also about what you eat.  For instance a flimsy cheese croissant, which is gone in seconds could have 340 calories.  Compare that with a medium sized jacket potato and a large salad with balsamic vinegar all for 300 calories.  Not only are you eating less calories but more fibre which will leave you feeling fuller for longer
  • 11701046_10207112983767058_664974267398185262_nAre you a couch potato? – Moving more (it doesn’t have to be structured or an expensive exercise class) not only burns calories but releases endorphins which can enhance your mood and make you feel good. The Government recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Next week I’ll blog about the things you can do that won’t sabotage your weight loss goals but help you to lose the pounds permanently!

Wedding stress

How food can help ease your wedding nerves


water-290206_1920We’ll soon be entering wedding season, when all your plans over the last months and maybe even years come to fruition. In the run up to the big day you will have a million and one things to organise, and that can mean you may feel stressed and anxious


One simple solution is to consume plenty of stress busting foods and drink to calm your nerves and focus your mind.

So make sure these are on your shopping list!

  • Porridge, wholegrain cereal like branflakes, Weetabix or shredded wheat, brazil nuts. The serotonin in these foods has a calming effect on the brain
  • WholegrainsWholegrain bread, pasta and rice – these complex carbs help the brain to make more serotonin. They have the added benefit of balancing blood sugar levels so you have more energy throughout the day and don’t succumb to a mid afternoon cake
  • During the day drink black or green tea – research has shown that these drinks can help you recover from stressful events more quickly.
  • Oily fish – the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, fresh tuna or mackerel can prevent surges in the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. So tuck in to scrambled eggs with smoked salmon before you go and visit the florist
  • Stay hydrated with water – aim for 2 litres, so always take a water bottle with you when you go shopping for ‘the dress’.
  • fruit and vegLove your veggies – vegetables like spinach and avocado contain potassium and magnesium, which can help reduce blood pressure and balance cortisol levels, leaving you nice and calm when dealing with the tricky table plans. A warm milky drink at night – the calcium has been found to soothe tension and ease anxiety. So you will be refreshed and raring to go in the morning
  • Rest and relaxation – try and find 10 or 15 minutes to chill and unwind; read a paper, listen to some music have a bath or simply do some deep breathing
  • Less alcohol – A tipple is often drunk to steady your nerves, but alcohol is a depressant, affecting your thoughts, feelings and actions, which can lead to a restless nights sleep. So save it for the speeches
  • 11701046_10207112983767058_664974267398185262_nDe-stress with some exercise – activity that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat not only increases oxygen around your body but produces a feel good chemical called endorphins. It could also lead to some weight loss which will make the dress fitting less stressful.


wedding stress articleMy stress busting tips have also been featured on  Andrea Palmer, wedding photographer blog

If you would like one to one personal nutritional advise to get you ready for your big day then contact me via



Mobile:  07946 301338

Healthy eating – Fact and fiction

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

In general all foods can form part of a healthy balanced diet as long as you practice portion control and don’t eat too much of any one group

Fruit and sugar

fruit-image-for-5-2-flyer1It is true fruits contain sugar, in the form of fructose.  But unlike pure sugar they also contains fibre, water, polyphenols, minerals and vitamins.   I would always advocate trying to eat most of your fruit whole, so you access all the nutrients, you also help your digestion by chewing the food and releasing digestive enzymes. And go for variety, red, green, yellow, orange or purple; they’re all good Homemade smoothies will count towards your five a day, but try not to peel the fruit and add some veggies for extra fibre and nutrients. A tablespoon of ordinary porridge oats will add soluble fibre; again this will slow down the rate at which the smoothie (and sugar) is absorbed keeping you fuller for longer and balancing out your blood sugar levels.

Steer clear of shop bought varieties unless it is an occasional treat as they often contain higher amounts of sugar and preservatives


IMG_3503If you don’t get enough fluid you may feel tired, have poor concentration, get headaches and not perform at your best. Try and aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day. But other liquids can also count towards that tally – green tea, black coffee, milk (and non dairy milks), weak squashes, tea, coconut water, herbal teas etc. Water is still considered the best for hydration. It is also widely available, contains no calories and is free from your tap. For the record, alcohol does not count!


Couples eating habits

IMG_5377The latest research shows that middle aged couples who develop the same eating habits could increase their risk of becoming obese.  But the opposite may also be true; if one person eats healthily their partner may imitate those choices



Red wine

IMG_5006Contains some antioxidants that can offer some protection from heart disease. This protection is greater for men and post menopausal women. The benefit is lost if you consume more than 2 units a day, or one 175 ml glass



Carbohydrates from bread, rice, pasta and potatoes

WholegrainsA maximum of a 1/3rd of our diet should come from this group, and preferably wholegrain as they contain more vitamins and minerals and importantly more fibre; this helps us to keep fuller for longer by releasing energy slowly. Wholegrain carbs are also linked to a reduction in cholesterol and better digestive health.  A portion is generally 75g (uncooked weight)

What foods form part of your healthy eating regime?


The truth about detox!


For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

For many January is all about change and regrouping and trying to banish those Christmas excesses, so we join a gym, we make new years resolutions and we may try some form of detox.

imagesThis is a busy time for me because new clients want to make a fresh start and come to me hoping for a quick fix, a magic pill or a diet that will have then dropping the pounds in no time.  My friend and fellow therapist Misia Smith of Soothe Therapies also felt that at this time of year her clients wanted some unctuous lotions and potions that would rejuvenate, moisturise and rehydrate skin and cells that had been mistreated over the festive period

Detox February-March16


So we decided the best course of action was to help our clients and potential clients by dispelling some of the detox myths.  Our full article, which appeared in Nottingham Local News can be read at


I believe there is no quick fix when it comes to permanent weight loss; we can all starve ourselves for a few days to fit in to that ever so slightly tight dress; we can also eat watermelon, grapefruit, cabbage, or whatever is the latest fad at every meal for about a week in order to drop half a stone.  But the weight will inevitably creep back on (and then some!)

imagesSo I always advocate small but permanent changes, starting with adding more veg and fruit to your diet.  Why, because we need to help the body to do what it does properly and antioxidants are the key

Your body (via the skin, gut, liver and kidney) constantly filters out, breaks down and excretes toxins and waste products like alcohol, medications, dead cells, chemicals from pollution and bacteria.

IMG_3011In a nutshell, If you want to maintain peak health then the best approach is a balanced diet, with at least five portions (80g) of vegetables and fruit a day; small portions of wholegrain carbs, regular amounts of protein like lean meat, fish, beans and pulses, eggs, tofu and dairy products. Drink plenty of water (2 litres) and moderate your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.  And have the occasional treat like dark chocolate

And importantly quit smoking

To help your body do what it does naturally try and incorporate the following into your meals




  • Fibre from vegetables and fruit and wholegrains, like pasta, rice and oats
  • A rainbow of colours’ – a wide variety of vegetables and fruit will provide your body with plenty of antioxidants (vitamin C, beta carotene and vitamin E), B vitamins, calcium, and trace minerals to protect your organs from damage and help them do their job effectively.


chopped veggies

chopped veggies

  • Orange and red vegetables and fruits are especially high in antioxidants i.e. berries, sweat potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, oranges, butternut squash, chilli, carrots, apricots
  • Some green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are also rich in beta-carotene.
  • Almonds, safflower, corn and soybean oils, mangos and nuts are all high in vitamin E
  • Keep hydrated – it helps the kidneys to work effectively. Urine should be a pale straw colour
  • Limit the amount of processed foods you eat (these are often high in salt) to promote water loss. Cranberries, celery, asparagus and herbal teas can also help with water loss
  • Green tea is full of antioxidants and could help with a natural detox
  • If you are looking to lose weight then consider reducing portion sizes, and don’t forget to be active every day.


The one supplement that keeps cropping up when you mention detox is Milk-thistle or Salymarin. However if you regularly include the above foods into your meals and snacks it is generally unnecessary to take additional supplements

I’d love to hear your stories – Have you tried detoxing, if so what did you do and did it work?