Why can’t I lose weight? The important missing mind factor

How many times have you found yourself in this situation: you really want to lose weight, you’re making an effort, and you know you should avoid sugar? But, as soon as you walk by the sugar aisles in the supermarket, or it’s dessert time when you’re out for dinner with friends, you just can’t say no to the dessert.

Or, you know you should avoid unhealthy fats, but you’ve just finished work, you’re so tired and just need a little pick-me-up until you prepare dinner and grab a packet of crisps on your way home to tide you over till dinner. Or, you tell yourself at night that you’ll go to bed earlier and wake up earlier so you can exercise first thing. Instead, you just can’t stop watching the latest Netflix blockbuster. And when you wake up you’re so tired you stay in bed for longer instead.

And then of course you feel terrible and beat yourself up for not having more willpower and discipline, and you vow to do better next time- except you do the same thing next time.

Why do we continue unhealthy eating and lifestyle behaviours, despite knowing better? 

Why do we continue to eat unhealthy food and follow an unhealthy lifestyle even though we know they sabotage our weight loss? Sometimes there’s an emotion related to the specific moment i.e. we’re tired or sad. But often we don’t actually have a reason. And these fleeting emotions are not the real driver of our consistent self-sabotaging eating behaviour.

It’s not because we have no discipline or no willpower. It’s the way we’ve been programmed to behave. And that starts in our mother’s womb.

Knowledge doesn’t control our behaviour

Just because we know something is good for us, it doesn’t mean we are actually going to do it. Why? Because our knowledge doesn’t control our behaviour! That’s why we so often read a self-help book on weight loss but just can’t seem to translate the ideas into long-term change. It’s the ideas we have programmed deep in our subconscious mind that control our behaviour. These ideas form a set of habits. And our habits cause us to behave habitually and automatically- without conscious thought.

And amazingly, 95% of our behaviour is driven by the subconscious mind. Really think about that. It means that we are not consciously aware of most of the decisions we make and the actions we take about the food we eat, and our sleep, exercise and stress management habits.

We’ve been programmed to behave this way without conscious thought- the ideas fixed in our subconscious mind create our habitual behaviour. So our weight tells us something about how we have been programmed and think at a deep level.

This is why sometimes we eat food we don’t even want to eat, don’t exercise, don’t get enough sleep, or don’t make time to de-stress. Even if we know we should. And then we get results we don’t want. But we continue these behaviours anyway.

We need habits because they are automatic behaviours that allow us to do a lot more than if we had to consciously think about every single thing we do. Some of our habits are good and produce the results we want, but others that don’t serve us and that we need to replace.

What about just changing our behaviour to lose weight

So we’ve seen how our unconscious mental habits keep us stuck in unhealthy eating and lifestyle patterns and stop us from losing weight.  Our limiting habits remain in the unconscious until we shed awareness on them and replace them with more positive ones.  It’s like being stuck on a hamster wheel.

We often try to lose weight just by changing our eating and lifestyle behaviour. Like deciding that instead of eating chocolate you’re going to go for a walk. This often results in only temporary improvement because we haven’t gone to the primary cause-the ideas in our subconscious mind that drive our behaviour. Thus, often the improved behaviour itself (going for a walk) is causing the results. And because it hasn’t really been integrated into a positive habitual behaviour at a deeper level it can’t be sustained. So you go back to eating chocolate instead of going for a walk, especially if it’s raining or cold outside.

Just eliminating a negative eating or lifestyle habit without deliberately replacing it with a positive one often results in just another negative habit replacing it. For example, you stop eating ice cream but replace it with crisps which are full of unhealthy fats and empty calories. Or you binge on Netflix instead of eating chocolate, and then don’t get enough sleep, creating hormonal imbalances that increase your appetite.

Willpower only gets us so far, it can’t sustain long-term dietary and lifestyle changes (not to mention how unpleasant it is to have to rely on iron willpower to keep us on track).

Creating lasting positive habits that help us lose weight

To experience permanent change to our eating and lifestyle behaviour we have to change the underlying ideas buried in our subconscious mind that are driving our health habits and weight loss results.

When ideas go into the subconscious mind repeatedly, they become fixed and drive our behaviour. So we repeatedly replace our negative health ideas and habits with positive ones, and the positive ones gradually become fixed in our subconscious mind. And as the positive ones become stronger, the negative ones driving our unwanted health behaviour become weaker. And we start to see the weight loss results we really want.

And it becomes that much easier to lose weight because our ideas, habits and subconscious mind are aligned with our weight loss goals, instead of sabotaging them.

Curious to know more? 

Maybe you need support with developing a realistic, sustainable healthy diet as well as balancing hormones, and addressing uncomfortable digestive issues.

Or you feel you have a good nutritional foundation but you’ve plateaued in your weight loss journey and just can’t seem to lose any more pounds.

Making sure your mind is supporting you and is aligned with your health goals at a deep level is an invaluable tool to help you lose weight- or reach any health goal for that matter.

If you’d like to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you! We can book a 30-minute complimentary call and discuss where you’re at, where you’d like to be and how I can help.

I first published this article here: https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/memberarticles/why-cant-i-lose-weight-the-important-missing-mind-factor?_gl=1*18qpknl*_ga*MjUxMDcyMDEuMTY3NzQ5Njc1Mg..*_ga_CW7HNJXDW4*MTY3OTEzNjE5Ny4xMi4xLjE2NzkxMzYzOTkuNTYuMC4w

Suffering from festive FOMO?

Festive FOMO

You’re committed to healthy eating at Christmas, and you’ve just cooked a wonderful, indulgent Christmas lunch for everyone or been invited to your social bubble for Christmas lunch. The food beckons your way, but you’re watching your weight, mindful of those promises you made, so your deprived mouth can only water.

There’s a in-built fear that you’re never going to be able to have any of these delicious treats ever again. FOMO – shorthand for ‘fear of missing out’ – is the acute and often unjustified belief that everyone is having way more fun than you. And it reaches its annual high any day now. The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) activates your survival instinct to consume everything and anything. And so, you binge on everything in sight, and your healthy eating plans go out the window. And then….the self-recriminations start.

Here’s the thing you need to know about FOMO. We’re biologically and culturally programmed to over-value losses and under-value gains so it’s not your fault. As a result, we put more importance on the food we may be missing out on in the moment, and less on our long-term goals and wellbeing.

You have to ask yourself though what it is you’re actually missing out on. OK, maybe some sweet or high-carb treats, some booze filled evenings and such. But, these come at a high cost: blood sugar imbalances, mood and energy crashes, poor sleep, almost certain weight gain (if you consume in excess) – never mind the self-criticism for having over-indulged.

FOMO really is not your friend this month (or indeed any month) – especially if you want to maintain your weight over the holidays.

There’s another thing about this festive FOMO and it’s that you end up not taking responsibility for your actions around food and alcohol (You would have been able to resist, right, but it was the party season). You need to be in the driver seat over what goes into your mouth, not food or other people.  

Fix Your FOMO Around Food

There are several things going on when it comes to food. Your fear of ‘missing out’ on that delicious desert is the first.

But also refusing food (though it should be a basic human right) is mired in emotional meaning both for you and for the host.

The answer is not to find more and more creative ways to say no. If you have to own up to eating healthily around this time or being gluten or dairy free, this seems to compound the original offence of not wanting to eat.

Please understand that it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t want to stuff yourself till you feel sick with roast potatoes and mince pies. It doesn’t mean anything about your relationship with food, or how you feel about the host. You just don’t want the mince pies!

Here is Your Action Plan

  1. HAVE A PLAN Before you go to bed each night. Plan out your food for the next day. This is never more important than at Christmas when parties, chocolates, cookies and “treats” are just about everywhere.
  2. DON’T TRY TO DIET JUST NOW Set a maintenance goal instead. This is much more realistic and it is achievable, even at this time of year. Yes, it is!
  3. It will also give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without feeling deprived, or that you’ve failed, which in turn means you’re more likely to rebel (and this is code for heading straight for the box of chocolates without a second glance).
  4. WATCH YOUR PORTION SIZES – especially when it comes to fast-release carbs like white potatoes, pastry, breaded items, cakes, biscuits and other sweet things.
  5. DON’T GO TO A PARTY HUNGRY If you do, you will be fighting a losing battle. Have a low GI snack before you go – just a little something that includes protein and slow release carbs (cottage cheese, yoghurt with a few nuts/seeds or unsweetened nut butter on an oatcake, for example).
  6. KEEP FAMILY TREATS OUT OF SIGHT so you’re not tempted to tuck in just because they’re there. Out of sight, out of mind!

 Fix Your FOMO Around Alcohol

Often party-goers who are cautious about their alcohol consumption are viewed with suspicion.

If you want to have a few glasses of wine, have a few glasses of wine. But make that decision knowing what your social schedule over the entire Christmas period will be.

If you cut back on the amount you are drinking at social gatherings – even choosing not to drink at some events at all – you can feel the improvements almost immediately. On those nights that you don’t drink at all, you’ll sleep better, wake feeling more refreshed, you’ll have much more energy, and your mood will be better. The impact on your waistline will be positive, too – alcohol is a big contributor to belly fat and is brimming with unnecessary calories.

Here are a few suggestions for cutting down – if that’s what you choose to do.

  • Decide how much you are going to drink (maximum) before you go out.
  • Consider telling someone else who will be there (friend or partner, perhaps) to help keep you accountable.
  • Don’t feel pressurised by others. It’s your life and you are the one who makes the decisions.
  • Have an excuse ready when you want to give it a miss (remember ‘no, thanks, I’d rather have …’ is perfectly OK. )

So, how does the amount of socialising stack up against your health goals?

To be clear, you absolutely can honour all your social commitments but, in order not to find yourself tempted by the usual crash diet in January, hear this: it IS possible to go out, have fun, eat well and be ‘healthy’. You just choose it.

Embrace JOMO- the Joy Of Missing Out

JOMO, or the ‘Joy of Missing Out’, is the ultimate antidote to FOMO. JOMO is that contented, satisfying feeling when you know you’re right where you need to be. It’s about doing what you want to do rather than what social pressures or social media make you feel you should do.

Would you rather go to that Christmas Eve party or stay at home and watch a film? Would you enjoy catching up with an old friend more than schmoozing at the office event? Or… wait for it… would you rather not do either? Yes. It’s a real option!

Asian Red Cabbage Slaw

Red cabbage slaw is rich and vibrant; a treat for the eyes and simple to make. Pair it with some grilled fish, halloumi or chicken. This delicious recipe uses miso to make it creamy without using mayonnaise.

Miso, like yogurt, is a live food packed with bacteria that’s good for you. It adds a savoury, umami flavour to food and can be used in lots of ways. Traditionally, miso is made using cooked soya beans, koji culture, salt and often a grain such as rice or barley. These ingredients are fermented and then slowly aged which can take anything from three months to three years, depending on what kind of flavour and texture is required.

Serves 4


  • 2 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 apple,  julienned
  • 3-5 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Miso-Ginger Dressing

  • 1-inch fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons Clear Spring Sweet White Miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • chilli flakes optional


In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Alternately you can use a small blender to combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, apple, spring onion and sesame seeds together with the dressing. You can also omit the sesame seeds and serve them as a garnish.

Serve immediately if you like it very crunchy or let it sit covered in the refrigerator for a few hours for a more slaw-like texture and to let the flavours mingle a bit. Both ways are great. Depending on how you are serving the dish it can be served at room temperature or cold.

Nutrition & Lifestyle Hacks for Hay Fever

What makes spring and summer so beautiful for many people leads to misery for those who suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms. Freshly cut grass, blooming trees and flowers, and weeds release pollen, which can make life unbearable as you battle a runny nose, blocked nose, watery eyes, itchy eyes and uncontrollable sneezing attacks.

Hay fever symptoms are caused when our bodies release histamine in response to an allergen. The body over-reacts to substances like pollen, which are in fact harmless (but the immune system thinks they aren’t), and produces antibodies to attack the substance. This is what causes the symptoms.

The great news is, that your lifestyle and what you eat can have a profound impact upon your symptoms! So read on to find out how you can take back control over your hay fever and better enjoy the season.


A lack of sleep can make you more prone to allergies because it weakens your immune system.

Studies have shown that stress can exacerbate allergies. It’s not exactly known why, but it’s thought that stress hormones can ramp up an already exaggerated immune-system response to allergens. According to the British Institute for Allergy & Environmental Therapy, once stress is properly managed and relieved, the symptoms of hay fever improve. Meditation, exercise and eating healthily are all recognised ways of managing stress.

It’s a good idea to have a shower  after pollen exposure. Pollen and dust left on your skin and in your hair can make your symptoms worse.

Using a Neti pot during allergy season or after exposure to allergens can help relieve nasal congestion and flush out mucus. Once or twice daily, use warm filtered water or distilled water with a touch of salt to flush your nasal passages for relief.


Identify Food Sensitivities

Remove foods you are sensitive to, and increase foods that boost your immune system. The purpose of this is to lighten the overall burden on your immune system to allow it to function more optimally.

If you’re not sure what your food sensitivities are, an elimination diet or food diary can help identify foods that worsen your allergies.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid

Dairy products like milk and cheese can thicken mucus, making blocked noses or ears much worse. Matured cheeses also tend to contain high levels of histamine. So, it’s worth trying some alternatives to cow’s milk, such as almond and rice milk and cashew nut based cheeses.

There are also foods that, while they are not high in histamine themselves, are ‘histamine liberators’ and can trigger your cells to release histamine. These include strawberries, pineapple, bananas, citrus fruits and egg whites.

Foods containing high levels of histamine should be avoided and include chocolate (sorry….); aged or preserved foods like vinegar, sauerkraut, yoghurt or canned fish; and wheat can stimulate an allergic reaction in those who suffer from grass pollen allergies.

Lots of caffeine can trigger histamine release which might accentuate your hay fever symptoms. Why not try anti-inflammatory green, white or nettle tea instead.

Beer, wine and liquor contain histamine, produced by yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process. Wine and beer also contain sulphites, another group of compounds known to provoke asthma and other allergy-like symptoms.

Refined sugar found in most cakes, sweets and ice cream can trigger a blood sugar spike which in turn will release histamine. For a natural sugar fix, choose fresh or dried fruit instead- in moderation as these can be high in natural sugars.

Eat Anti-Histamine Foods

Anti-histamine foods contain chemicals which can disrupt or block the histamine receptors in your immune system. By blocking these receptors, it can help to reduce allergy symptoms.

Research has found that raw local honey can help relieve hay fever symptoms in some people because it contains the local pollen that’s causing your allergies. Do not give honey to young children under one due to the risk of listeria.

A fish a day could keep the sneezing away! There’s some evidence that anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish could boost your allergy resistance because they help decrease the narrowing of airways that occurs some cases of seasonal allergies.

By filling your diet with fresh fruit and vegetables, you will have  a steady supply of vitamin C, which will support your nasal lining and reduce the amount of histamine in the blood.

Foods that are rich in flavonoids such as quercetin, vitamin C or beta-carotene, can help to block histamine and reduce inflammation (see below).

Quercetin containing foods

Onions, garlic, goji berries, asparagus, all berry fruits, apples, kale, okra, peppers, plums and red grapes.

Beta carotene containing foods

Sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, red and yellow peppers, apricots, peas, broccoli, dark leafy greens like kale, and romaine lettuce.

Vitamin C containing foods

Blackcurrants, blueberries, peppers, kale, collard leaves, broccoli, kiwis, mango, courgettes, and cauliflower.

Drinks to Include

Water– Stay hydrated. Drink eight to ten glasses of fresh water each day. If you get dehydrated, any mucus you have becomes much more difficult to expel. Staying hydrated on the other hand can help relieve irritation in your throat and also thin the mucous in your nasal passages, helping to  unblock your nose.

Ginger tea– either slice up fresh ginger and steep in boiled water or buy  ginger tea. Ginger has been shown to help reduce allergic reactions by lowering your body’s IgE levels (the antibody involved in the specific immune reaction associated with hay fever).

Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, which are helpful for the immune system generally. It has also been proven to block one of the receptors involved in immune responses.

Peppermint tea contains menthol, a natural decongestant that can offer relief if your nose is congested or your sinuses are blocked.

There are also anti-histamine supporting supplements which have helped a lot of my long- suffering clients.  If you’d like to talk more about this please contact me, I’d love to speak with you!

Carrot Cake Granola

A delicious gluten free granola that is also an immune booster, what’s not to love!  This is also a great way to use up leftover carrot pulp from juicing, if you have it. Using orange juice and xylitol naturally sweetens this granola without the need for added sugars and syrups. You can leave out the xylitol if wished. Make up a batch of this granola and store in an airtight container for up to 2-4 weeks. Delicious served with yogurt and fruit as a healthy breakfast or snack.

Serves 12

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


  • 60g coconut oil softened
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange (about 100ml)
  • 30g xylitol
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g carrot grated or leftover carrot pulp
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g cashew nuts or almonds
  • 60g walnuts
  • 125g pecan nuts
  • 60g mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame and pumpkin)
  • 125g gluten free oats
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 60g goji berries or raisins


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and lightly grease the oven baking tray.
  2. Add the coconut oil, orange juice, xylitol, vanilla, carrot, sea salt and cinnamon to a blender and process until smooth
  3. Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir in the orange – carrot paste.
  4. Stir the mixture to thoroughly combine so that the mixture is coated and starts to stick together. You may find using your hands.
  5. Spread the granola in a thin layer on the baking tray.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes until lightly golden stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  7. Allow to cool then stir in the raisins or goji berries. Store in an airtight container.

Courtesy of Christine Bailey

Nutrition To Turbocharge Your Immunity

When it comes to fighting viruses, everyday precautions such as washing your hands often and avoiding sick people are key. But experts say that boosting your immune system may also give you an edge in staying healthy. Here are my top foods to help armour your immune system.

Vitamin C

I’ll be talking more about important vitamins further down but wanted to bring your attention to this big one first. Physicians have demonstrated the powerful antiviral action of vitamin C for decades. There has been a lack of media coverage of this effective and successful approach against viruses in general.

Vitamin C was used back in the 1940s to combat polio, a virus-caused illness. In China, a study is under way to see if high doses of vitamin C can help fight off COVID-19. Scientists at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University are testing its effects on 120 patients who have the virus, giving them daily infusions of 24g of vitamin C for seven days. Results have not yet been published. The government of Shanghai, China has announced its official recommendation that COVID-19 should be treated with high amounts of intravenous vitamin C (https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/shanghai-government-officially-recommends-vitamin-c-covid-19.2)

Foods rich in vitamin C include:

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, kale
  • Cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, papaya
  • Red, green and yellow peppers
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes

Increase Your Antioxidants

You need to stockpile natural antioxidants (and not just the packets and tins of pulses!). When you supercharge this “antioxidant potential” you give your immune system a real boost. And, if you’re wondering ‘where have I heard about antioxidants before?’ they’re the things skincare companies tell you their anti-ageing moisturisers are full of to keep your skin looking youthful.

Viruses and bacteria produce oxidants, which are reactive forms of oxygen that damage cells and also age you faster. Simply put, they are bad news. We’re also getting our fill of oxidants from eating chargrilled/ blackened foods, fried fast foods, and breathing polluted air. And maybe you’ve had a less than great diet over the years. Antioxidants mop up the damaging oxidants to help keep your cells healthy. What can happen is that you can end up in a situation where you have too many oxidants and not enough antioxidants.

Scientists use several tests to measure the antioxidant content of foods. One of the best tests is the FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) analysis. It measures the antioxidant content of foods by how well they can neutralize a specific free radical.

High antioxidant foods include:

  • 70% + dark chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Blueberries
  • Other berries, especially raspberries and strawberries
  • Dark green veggies like kale
  • Red cabbage
  • Goji berries
  • Beets, also known as beetroot
  • Green tea- look for decaf if you’re sensitive to caffeine
  • Beans

Glutathione – The Master Antioxidant

Glutathione is one of the most important molecules in the body – almost like a magic elixir of health. Too little of it and you’re at risk of developing one of the most feared health conditions facing us today, including stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, and heart disease.

If you’ve got good enough levels, that’s where the gold is…

But when levels are adequate or high, that’s when the magic happens. You’ll not only have protection from the conditions above, but you’ll have amazing energy, glowing skin, healthy detoxification, strong heart and brain function, and possibly even a longer life!

Glutathione is made up of three amino acids called cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid (or glutamate). It’s often called the “master” antioxidant because it helps recycle all the other antioxidants in your body like vitamins C and E, as well as alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10.

The immune system relies on white blood cells that produce antibodies to combat bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. Research shows that glutathione primes the white blood cells of the immune system and helps them produce more infection-fighting substances so they can control both bacterial and viral infections.

Foods to increase glutathione

Eating the right foods to naturally increase glutathione will help keep you fighting fit. There are a small number of foods that naturally contain glutathione. These include:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Garlic, Chives
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Almonds, And Walnuts

Some other foods contain the building blocks needed to make glutathione (they are the pre-cursors – the warm-up act)- the foods containing cysteine and other sulphur-containing foods, and selenium. Good foods to choose are:

  • Onions, spring onions, shallots, leeks
  • Kale, bok choy, rocket, spring greens, watercress, radishes

Some spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom – have compounds that can also help to restore healthy levels of glutathione and its antioxidant enzymes.

Alpha Lipoic Acid – Glutathione’s Reloader

Alpha lipoic acid (also called ALA) is a critical co-enzyme that helps to recycle many antioxidants, including vitamin C, E and also glutathione. It is well known for its anti-ageing effects on our cell’s energy factories, the mitochondria.

Good food sources of alpha lipoic acid include: 

  • Organ meats
    • Beef
    • Brewer’s yeast
    • Broccoli
    • Spinach
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Peas
    • Tomatoes

Selenium – Building Block Of Antioxidants

Selenium is an important trace mineral that is key in the production of glutathione (it also happens to be great for thyroid function so if yours is a little off, consider getting more of this antioxidant- a double win).

Good dietary sources of selenium include:

  • Seafood
    • Oysters
    • Brazil nuts
    • Eggs
    • Mushrooms
    • Whole grains
    • Organ meats
    • Dairy products

Why You Need To Get In More Broccoli

You’ll often find me extolling the virtues of these little trees in relation to women’s health, where it is an excellent detoxifier of oestrogen. When it comes to boosting immunity, broccoli has good levels of antioxidants sulforaphane, lutein and zeaxanthin. Research has also shown that it reduces markers of viral load in the nose.  It’s also packed with vitamin C, which is undoubtedly an important nutrient for immune function as well as all the vitamin K you’ll need in a day, and decent amounts of folate, vitamin A, potassium, phosphorous and selenium

Here’s one of my favourite recipes… deliciously simple and the sauce can be used over so many different vegetables. Try it, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Broccoli With Olive Oil, Garlic And Chilli


1 head of broccoli, broken up into small florets so that they can be cooked within 3 mins

2 minced garlic cloves

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ -1 teaspoon Chilli flakes, to taste

Sea salt- ½ teaspoon


Steam the broccoli for 3 mins, either in a steamer, or steam fry them by adding 4-4 tablespoons of water to a frying pan with a lid. Drain.

In the meantime, combine all the other ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on a low heat until the garlic becomes fragrant but isn’t browning- keep an eye on your pan as garlic can burn quickly and if you burn the garlic it will have a bitter taste.

Combine everything gently in a bowl and enjoy!

Vitamin D

Loads of research has shown that vitamin D is super important for a healthy immune system and its anti-viral properties have been shown in multiple studies. Getting your vitamin D checked is really important – either your GP can do it or contact me for a home finger prick test.

Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” because direct exposure of sunlight onto large parts of the skin is the best source of this nutrient. Your skin has a type of cholesterol that functions as a precursor to vitamin D. When this compound is exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun, it becomes vitamin D. People with darker skin need to spend more time in the sun to produce vitamin D than those with lighter skin. That’s because darker skin has more melanin, a compound that can inhibit vitamin D production.

Food sources include:

  • Fatty fish and seafood
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolks

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is involved in the development of the immune system and very important in maintaining the health of the respiratory tract, where viruses enter. It also regulates the growth of viruses and has been effective in the treatment of various infectious diseases.

Food sources of Vitamin A include:

  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish
  • Milk products
  • Liver and liver products such as liver pâté – this is a particularly rich source of vitamin A, so you may be at risk of having too much vitamin A if you have it more than once a week, depending on how much you eat (this is particularly important if you’re pregnant). This shouldn’t however put you off consuming this important nutrient.


Zinc interferes with the four stages of the viral life cycle, including stopping viruses from multiplying, and it may also help stop them from lodging in the mucous membranes of the throat and nose.

The jury is out but Zinc may be more effective when taken in lozenge or syrup form, which allows the substance to stay in the throat and come in contact with the virus.

Food sources include:

  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes Like Chickpeas, Lentils And Beans
  • Wholegrains
  • Seeds And Nuts
  • Dairy
  • Eggs

Does it matter if I buy frozen veg?

I’m often asked this question in clinic. In short, the answer is no. It might even be the case that frozen veg actually contains more nutrients than fresh. This is because, once harvested, vegetables start to lose nutrients and antioxidants. Frozen vegetables are usually ‘snap frozen’. This is a pretty instant freezing process that preserves nutrients. When you defrost them at home, it means that there’s been minimal loss of nutrients so even though the produce has been frozen, it’s still nutrient dense.

Special Announcement/Offer

I’ve been inundated with questions about how we can boost our immunity and am supporting the wider community by offering one-off 60-minute immune-boosting nutrition sessions at special reduced fees of £65 (I rarely do one-off sessions as people need long-term support, but when I do, the usual fees are £125 to cover my time spent in analysis and prep).  We will cover diet, lifestyle and supplement recommendations tailored to your needs. You’ll have a short questionnaire to complete in advance.

If you, your family or friends want to turbocharge your immune system and have a personalised programme, please contact me on 07812 163 324 or email me at info@yournutritionalhealth.co.uk.

Speedy Gluten Free Pan Pizza

This is a really easy and quick pan cooked pizza which you can personalise with your favourite flavourings and toppings. Using coconut flour keeps the base gluten free. If you want the whole recipe to be paleo omit the cheese. For those who are dairy free you could always use a dairy free cheese.

Coconut flour is high in fibre, protein and healthy fats and is free from wheat and other grains. It also has a low glycaemic index meaning it won’t disrupt blood sugar levels too much. A great alternative in breads and baking to regular flours.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • Flavourings – garlic salt, onion powder, dried basil or parsley etc
  • 2tbsp coconut flour
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Toppings: tomato passata with added dried herbs, spring onions, mushrooms, olives, spicy red pepper flakes, grated cheese etc


  1. Whisk together the eggs and egg white with the spices and herbs.
  2. Tip in the coconut flour and olive oil and whisk to form a smooth thick batter. It should be quite thick – if your eggs are very small then you made need to add a splash of almond/coconut milk to the batter
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. When hot pour in the batter and use the back of a spoon to form a circle. Place a lid over the pan and allow the batter to cook for a couple of minutes until the sides turn golden brown.
  4. Carefully flip over the base and cook for a further minute.
  5. Preheat your grill to high
  6. Scatter over your toppings and place under the grill for a couple of minutes until golden.

Did You Know? 

You can use the same recipe for the base to make a sweet flatbread – add a little xylitol and cinnamon to the mixture.


Recipe courtesy of Christine Bailey

Is Too Little Or Too Much Sleep Sabotaging Your Weight & Health?

We tend to think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down. But this is not the case; sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. We spend about a third of our lives asleep and how much you have and the quality of it matters even more than you probably realise. Sleep matters. Without enough sleep, you create an uphill battle in so many different ways. You sabotage your weight and any other health goals you might have. Here I’m going to share exactly why it matters so much and what to do about it.

Sleep deprivation and weight gain

Sleep and weight are intimately related. If you aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis, you’re setting yourself up to be hungrier, eating more, weighing more, and finding it even harder to lose that weight you’ve been trying to shift. It’s not all in your head.

We know from research that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, school age children between 9 and 11, and teenagers between 8 and 10.  Scientists now know that, if you are consistently surviving on too little sleep, you’re not going to be functioning at your best, focusing properly or thinking creatively. The cherry on top is that you are also sabotaging any attempts to take control of healthy eating and your weight.

Sleep deprivation causes hormonal imbalances, and I’m not talking about PMT, but the hormones that directly affect your feelings of hunger. Ghrelin (the hunger hormone that makes you feel more hungry) and leptin (the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat) are majorly disrupted when you are not sleeping enough. So, after a night of lousy sleep, if you feel like you need to eat a banquet, it’s not all in your head but rather your hormones turning you into a ravenous beast. The feast you desire is going to be filled with high-carb, starchy foods and not the healthier (yet still tasty) ones you might otherwise choose.

The stress placed on the body by lack of sleep also reduces your body’s sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone that regulates the levels of glucose in the blood. When it becomes less responsive to glucose it can contribute to weight gain.

Sleep deprivation, raised stress hormones and hormonal imbalances

Sleep deprivation also affects stress hormones, and then stress in turn messes with your sleep. It’s a vicious circle. Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones and should follow a specific pattern throughout the day: rising to a peak in the morning to energise you and get you out of bed, and then gradually tailing off towards evening time so that you can drift off into sleep. Prolonged periods of stress can create an imbalance in this daily rhythm that may lead to cortisol levels being high come night-time. This can leave you feeling tired but wired – absolutely exhausted, but your head is buzzing when you hit the pillow. That alone is enough to make you feel even more stressed and less able to sleep.

During the perimenopause (the transition to the menopause), those night sweats caused by falling levels of oestrogen are enough to keep anyone from restful slumber. But did you know that oestrogen also allows your body to better use the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, which is the precursor to the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin? And, during menopause, when oestrogen levels fall steadily, progesterone falls off a cliff. This is a problem for women because progesterone helps you fall asleep faster and experience fewer disruptions to your sleep. (A similar scenario plays out during menstruation).

Blood sugar roller coaster and sleep

If your diet is high in starchy carbs like bread, rice, pasta and sugar, it creates blood sugar fluctuations which can lead to significant sleep disturbances. So, If you have blood sugar levels that are either too high or too low overnight, you may find yourself tired through the next day. For example, a sugar ‘crash’ at night triggers a release of cortisol to wake you up at the wrong time, and this can shift you out of deep sleep into a lighter sleep phase. Moving to a way of eating that balances your blood sugar can significantly help improve the quality of your sleep.

Risks of sleeping too much

You always hear about health problems associated with people not getting enough sleep, but what about getting too much sleep? Research has found that for most adults, getting between  7 and 9 hours of sleep a night is ideal. Although a small percentage of people actually need 10 hours, regularly sleeping more than the suggested amount may increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, headache, back pain, and heart disease.


Unfortunately, a person can’t just accumulate sleep deprivation and then log many hours of sleep to make up for it (although paying back “sleep debt” is always a good idea if you’re sleep deprived). The best sleep habits are consistent, healthy routines.

There are a number of things you can do (or not do) to improve your chances of sleeping well.


  • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable; not too hot, nor too cold.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex. This may help you completely switch off.
  • Keep the bedroom completely dark, so you’re not disturbed by light, which your brain detects even when your eyes are closed. Eye masks can be useful.
  • Use bright light to help manage your circadian rhythms. Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning. This will keep your circadian rhythms in check.
  • Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. For some people, using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep, because the particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night.
  • Try to take some gentle exercise every day. There is evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep. This includes stretching and aerobic exercise. A brisk walk ticks both boxes.
  • Keep your feet and hands warm. Wear warm socks and/or mittens or gloves to bed if you struggle with cold extremities.


  • Eating a heavy meal within four hours of going to bed.
  • Exercising within 4 hours of sleeping
  • Drinking caffeine in the afternoon – including coffee, ‘normal’ and green tea, and colas.
  • Using alcohol to help you sleep. Alcohol can make sleep more disturbed.
  • Eating sugar after 7pm

You will almost certainly have read some of these tips before. Just knowing the information is not going to give you the restful night’s sleep you are looking for. The only thing that counts is action. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that lack of sleep is at the root of not getting organised enough to plan your meals ahead of time (which may result in your feeling forced to grab a coffee and croissant on the way to work), has you craving sugary snacks you wouldn’t otherwise eat and feeling like a shadow of your normal self, I invite you to put getting more and/or better sleep at the top of your to-do list this week to see what a difference it can make.

You might have a whole list of things on your list already this week but focusing on this ONE thing might be what you need to see a real shift in everything else.

Gift Vouchers

What do you buy for the person who has everything? It is not always easy to be inventive and find thoughtful gifts for people we care about. Treat a friend or loved one to a Gift Voucher for Nutritional Therapy to help them take back control over their health and feel at the top of their game again.

I have seen over and over again how simple changes to my clients’ food and lifestyle can help with a range of health problems and transform their lives.

The Gift Voucher can be completely tailored to individual needs- for example you might be looking for a Health MOT, Weight Loss or a Digestive Programme etc.  Please contact me if you’d like to find out more, discuss your specific needs or buy a voucher.

E: info@yournutritionalhealth.co.uk                     M: 07812 163 324

How to switch off the ‘hunger hormone’

Clients often tell me they struggle to diet because they can’t get their hunger under control. But hunger is not an issue of being more disciplined or having more willpower. It’s a hormonal issue.

When we think of hormones we often think about oestrogen and testosterone and their role in puberty, libido, and the reproductive system. But, our bodies also produce hormones which regulate our appetite.  In this article, I’m going to talk about one of them called ghrelin and tell you everything you need to know about it and how to keep it in check.

All About Ghrelin

Ghrelin controls hunger, food intake and combined with growth hormone, fat storage.  Its main function is to increase appetite. It makes you consume more food, take in more calories and store fat.

This hormone is produced in your stomach and secreted when your stomach is empty. It sends signals to the hypothalamus, the part of your brain which governs your hormones and appetite, that it’s time to eat, by increasing your appetite. The lower your levels, the fuller you feel and the easier it is to eat fewer calories. After eating, ghrelin levels decrease because our stomachs are full and we’re satiated. They don’t rise again until the body starts looking for more energy. Ghrelin peaks every four hours or so–roughly corresponding to mealtimes.

So, if you want to lose weight, lowering your ghrelin levels can be beneficial. On the flip side, if you under-eat or struggle to gain weight, higher ghrelin levels may help you consume more food and calories.

Ghrelin may sound like a terrible, diet-wrecking hormone. However, our hormones have specific jobs to do in the body. If we never felt hungry, would we take as much joy from the food we eat? How would we know when we’re low on nourishment? How would we function at our best? In the past ghrelin played an important role in survival by helping people maintain a healthy level of body fat.

While you might assume obese people have higher ghrelin levels, they may just be more sensitive to its effects. Research shows their ghrelin levels are actually lower than in lean people, and are also associated with imbalances in other appetite controlling hormones. This suggests that over time, overeating can decrease sensitivity to the hormone, meaning we lose this essential control mechanism. Studies have also shown that after obese people eat a meal, ghrelin only decreases slightly. Because of this, the hypothalamus doesn’t receive as strong of a signal to stop eating, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you might be wondering how you can keep your ghrelin levels low.  It doesn’t mean jumping to calorie restriction and starvation as this will increase your ghrelin levels, potentially lead to overeating and storage of fat.

Interestingly, research shows that intermittent fasting can significantly decrease ghrelin, increase the feeling of fullness, and decrease the desire to eat. This has certainly been my experience with the manageable type of intermittent fasting I do with my clients.

I’ve highlighted a few tips here to help keep this specific hormone in check: 

Eat a diet rich in fibre from fruit and vegetables, legumes and wholegrains.  A high fibre intake slows the stomach’s emptying rate, keeping you full for longer, and also stretches the stomach which sends fullness signals to the brain. Foods high in fibre also tend to be lower in calories and higher in nutrient density.

Eat your calories rather than drinking them. Solid calories and liquid ones can affect appetite differently. Solids provide a greater sensation of fullness than liquids. This may in part be because the extra chewing time allows solids to stay in contact with the taste buds for longer, which can promote feelings of fullness. Solids also require longer digestion which keeps you feeling full for longer.

 Indulge in some dark chocolate.The bitterness of dark chocolate is thought to help decrease appetite and diminish cravings for sweets.Researchers also believe the stearic acid in dark chocolate can help slow digestion, further increasing feelings of fullness. Amazingly, one study observed that simply smelling 85% dark chocolate decreased both appetite and hunger hormones just as much as actually eating it!

Eat protein with every meal Incorporating a portion of lean or vegetable protein into each meal (eggs, oily fish, organic chicken or turkey, fermented tofu, beans and pulses) will slow gastric emptying, keeping you fuller for longer. One of the mechanisms behind this is a reduction in ghrelin levels.

Spice Up Your Meals. One small study found that consuming 2 grams of ginger powder diluted in hot water at breakfast reduced the hunger participants felt after the meal. Capsaicin, found in hot peppers, and capsiate, found in sweet peppers can help decrease hunger and increase feelings of fullness.

 Manage stress. Studies in animals have shown that exposure to chronic stress increases circulating ghrelin (Massachusettes Institute of Technology, 2013).  It also interacts with the brain’s reward pathways to increase food intake, including the consumption of sweet food over bland food. This creates a vicious cycle where we begin to see food as a comfort during times of stress and anxiety.  Incorporate yoga, meditation or breathing into your daily routine, get out for a walk or run in nature, find something that works for you to allow you to live (and eat) more mindfully.

Sleep well. Sleep deprivation has been associated with an increase in ghrelin levels, appetite and hunger comparative to sleeping for longer periods. Research shows that individuals who sleep less than seven hours per night rate their fullness levels after breakfast as 26% lower.  Aim for 7-9 hours per night, practice good sleep hygiene by limiting screen time, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol before bed, and try to stick to regular sleep and waking up times to regulate the circadian rhythm.

Exercise. This is an inconclusive area as far as research is concerned. Exercise reduces appetite for some people but not all. Often my female clients tell me they are hungrier after they exercise. Interestingly, a small-scale study of 20 women funded by the National Institutes of Health found that exercise only reduced appetite in lean women. Other research suggests women, but not men, respond to starting an exercise regimen with changes in hormones that lead to appetite stimulation, but it isn’t known if the differences continue over the long term. In terms of types of exercise, some research suggests that aerobic activities such as running suppress appetite more than lifting weights or other forms of resistance training.

My advice is that until we know more of the nuances underlying exercise and appetite control, be mindful of how you feel after exercise. If it does increase your hunger, make sure you have something healthy to eat straight afterwards so you aren’t tempted to binge on unhealthy high carb foods.

If you’re looking for support with weight loss or indeed weight gain, incorporating these diet and lifestyle changes would be a great place to start.  It’s important to remember however, that ghrelin is only one of many interrelated factors which could be impacting on your health and well-being.  That’s why I create bespoke plans specific to my clients’ personal health and fitness goals.