New Year, New Habits – Are they hard to stick to?

Happy New Year, Happy New Food Habits to all my lovely YOUtrition ladies.  I hope your Christmas period was filled with love, laughter and not the obligatory family fight …. or is that just my family???

So, New Year, New You, New food habits.  How’s it going this year?  Off the wagon already and feeling that change is impossible?  Read on and think about my little story.

Last October I lost my little dog, Bandit, at the age of 12.  He was a massive part of mine and my son’s life – we were the Gang of Three and I can say in all honesty, that his loss, the first bereavement I have had since being sober (another sober Christmas.  Yippee to me!), hit me so, so hard especially as my son had just left for college.  Anyway, I waited until I couldn’t wait any longer and last week, got my new, ugly little girl who we have called Gorby.  She is 14 weeks old and the ugliest and most adorable scruff ever.  Now though I have the challenge of house training her.  A monumental task for me, as I have to kindly break her old habits, and lovingly instill new ones.  Bit like changing food choices/habits maybe……..

Every morning, in the freezing cold, I get up, pick her up and sit outside in my pj’s, robe, boots, hat and gloves for half an hour so that she can, in puppy training terms, “eliminate” .  Once she has done that, I praise her, take her inside, feed and water her and then half an hour later repeat the same routine – at this stage still slightly hypothermic and in my pj’s.  I have spent more time in my frosty garden this last week then I did all of last summer – actually, more than the last three summers put together probably.   Then for the rest of the day, I take her out between every 30 minutes to 1 hour to eliminate (love that word) so that she can learn that the house is not a toilet and the garden is.  I will probably have to do this for the next 6 weeks or so.  Please God don’t let it be longer….

Now to my point.  So many of my clients are concentious, loving pet owners.  They know before they bring home their pet exactly what is required of them to instill good habits that keep them and their pets safe and in a clean environment and they persevere until their pet’s new habit is formed.  Yet, when it comes to making changes to my clients eating habits, all the excellent effort they put into a pet or child they love, goes out of the window.  Why is that?  Don’t they feel they deserve the same level of kindness and attention?  Do they think no matter what they do the habits won’t stick?  Every dog owner knows that good training works and the short term “pain” and believe me I am not enjoying my early morning freezes, will pay off for years to come.

So, lovely ladies.  Let me help you create the new food/eating habits that I know will work for you in your life, because they are tailored to you.  Stick with them for just 6 weeks and if you choose, they will become habits for life.

To give you a confidence boost I am giving you my top five tips for creating new habits.

1 Add a new healthier spin to an old unhealthy habit.  Cup of tea and a biscuit in the afternoon?  Try a wholegrain oatcake instead with a teaspoon of peanut butter – loads of protein, no sugar rush so no sugar crash and further craving.

2 Small changes.  Don’t try to change everything you are unhappy with at once. A small change that you can stick with will make you proud of yourself and motivate you to move to bigger changes.

3 Start NOW! Don’t wait or overthink the change.  Just do it.  No waiting until tomorrow, or until the food/sweets are all eaten.  Throw the rubbish out.  Think, “Rubbish food, rubbish mood/body”.

4 Commit yourself to your new habit every day.  Look at yourself in the mirror, praise yourself for how far you have come, even if it is only one day, and say to yourself out loud, your new habit and your commitment to it.  You will achieve what you tell yourself you will achieve.

5 Make your new habit fun! If you want to exercise more, join a social dance class.  If you want to eat healthier foods, scour the internet for recipes and enjoy the experiment.  Involve friends and family.  Make your new habit a blast.

I hope the above helps you or gives you some ideas for what works in your life and let me know if you need any help or support. Here’s to you and your new habits!    I must be off now, its elimination time………







Veggies, The Not So Secret Answer to Great Health & Weight

Veggies can sound like the dullest part of a meal.  However, there is so much we can do to literally spice them up, and in terms of weight loss and great health, they are heaven sent. To kick start your weight loss, try for one week portioning your plate out like this – you won’t regret it.

½ Veggies or Salad – make it colourful and fill this portion of your plate FIRST!

¼ Protein

¼ Healthy carbs!  Healthy carbs are not white or fluffy or overly sweet.  They include WHOLEMEAL (not brown) everything.

  • Choose a wide variety of veggies and steam them lightly to keep as much of the nutrients as possible.
  • Be brave and try new ones. Keep them colourful.  The greater the variety in colour, the wider the variety of nutrients eaten.
  • Low carb veggies include broccoli, cabbage, aubergine, pumpkin, courgette, asparagus, and butternut squash. All veggies are nutrient powerhouses!  Be creative with your veggies.
  • Add chilli flakes or sauté with garlic and onion or cherry tomatoes.
  • Add spices such as fennel or turmeric.
  • Dress with a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Toast some pine nuts and toss in.
  • A small sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on any veggies is delicious, but keep this small and occasionally.

See how many options you already have?  Try these two fabulous alternatives to pasta and just look at the calories.



280g Courgettes


Use a spiralizer – I used the finer noodle attachment – or a julienne peeler to create courgette noodles.

Toss in a pan with one teaspoon of olive oil for 30 seconds.  Done!

Serves 4, per 71g serving

Cal 25, Fat 1.3g, Carbs 1.2g, Fibre 1.4g, Protein 1.3g, Salt 0g

Butternut Squash Noodles


600g Butternut Squash

2 teaspoons Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 200. Lightly spray two large baking trays with oil.

Trim the top portion of the butternut.  This is the only part that can be spiralized (reserving the bottom for another recipe).

Trim the top off and peel the skin off. Cut the butternut in 2 pieces so it’s easier to handle, then spiralize using the thickest noodle setting of your spiralizer.

Cut into 6 inch lengths so it’s easy to eat.

Transfer to the prepared baking sheets and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. Roast until soft, 7 to 10 minutes.

Serves 4, per 152g serving

Cal 78, Fat 2.1g, Carbs 11.2g Fibre 3g, Protein 1.7g Salt 0.02g






A Stumble is Not A Fall But A Natural Part of Weight Loss!

A stumble is not a fall – it  is so important to acknowledge that for successful weight loss!

We mostly have a clear view of what we want to look like, even if we don’t have a clear view of how to get there, and once we are motivated, we do our best to keep on track with our nutrition and movement.  However there will always be times when we stumble – a little bit like tripping over the pavement.  We are watching where we are going and focussing on our destination and something changes, someone drops something on the payment for instance and we trip.  What then?  Do we sit and think, “Right, that’s it, I have tripped up, I might as well spend the rest of the day lying on the pavement because I am expecting to trip again?”  No, of course not!  It is the same with our food.

Even with the best laid plans and preparation, something at some point will happen to derail you.  You might find yourself extra hungry and having to grab some product from a motorway station late at night.  You might find yourself at a party where the host has made a birthday cake and it would be horribly rude to refuse a small slice. Or you just feel like something sweet and ‘treaty’ whilst watching the tv at the end of a boring day. You then “give in to temptation” and feel miserable and like a failure later.  Sounding familiar?

I want to reassure you that a stumble is not a fall and definitely not a failure.   I always tell my clients to be kind to themselves.  Know that you are doing the best you can in the circumstances you find yourself in and a temporary set back is simply that, temporary. If you stay on your healthy track  80% of the time, you will reach (and maintain) your weight loss goals, and the more often you make healthier choices, the more often the only choices you will look for and see, will be the ones that keep you on track.

I want you to remember how amazing you are at caring for others and dishing out kindness and support to others whenever it is needed and yet we rarely do the same for ourselves. We beat ourselves up for being human and then give up.  Don’t!   Be the person to yourself that you are to your loved ones.  Acknowledge the stumble, learn from it (if it was an emotional one) and move on being your best, most fabulous and slim YOU! x


The Menopause – Symptoms & Relief, Nature’s Way

As women mature and the menopause looms,  it can become harder to lose weight.  But we really don’t need to accept this as our lot.  Although there is a tendency for women over 40 to gain up to 2lbs per year, it is more likely down to the fact that we move less and our general activity levels drop rather than from hormonal changes and the slowing of our metabolism.  That is not to deny that hormonal changes, particularly the lowering of estrogen as we enter the menopause, can change the way we store fat particularly round our trunk.  Hence the dreaded thickening waistline.  So what can we do to keep these excess pounds away?

It is important to acknowledge that the tried and tested quick fixes of our 20’ and 30’s are gone.  Our bodies just don’t respond in the same way.  Personally I love this. It means that any changes we make will need to be long term for the weight to stay lost and so we give up on the “diets” and make the food and lifestyle changes that lose the weight and benefit both our physical and mental health.

A couple of years ago, in the height of my embarrassing hot flushes and sleepless nights – the ones that left me looking and feeling like a wrung out tearful shadow of myself, I started investigating why some women suffer so much and others seem to sail through (maybe they actually didn’t, but if they were feeling like me, they surely deserved an Academy Award for hiding it!).  I started to read about cultures where the effects of the menopause where unknown.  Initially I wondered if this was maybe down to embarrassment and under-reporting on the part of the woman of these cultures, but even female health care professionals there had never heard of “hot flushes”. Why?  Here follows a brief description of the changes in our bodies during the menopause, please bear with me, I expect most of us know this, but still, I do have a reason for writing this……

When we stop ovulating our need for estrogen drops off dramatically. We do still produce some estrogen but in much smaller quantities in our adrenal glands and adipose tissue (fat cells).   The menopausal symptoms we come to dread, the hot flushes, sleepless nights, mood swings etc. are simply the result of our bodies being in withdrawal.  We don’t tolerate the drop in estrogen because in our Western diet of high fat, low fibre, we are accustomed to much higher levels of this hormone than our bodies ever needed. Basically we are going cold turkey!   Our bodies really struggle to re-equalize this balance and so we swing from one feeling to another.

So, that’s the science.  Now my response as a weight loss specialist and nutritionist and someone who cares passionately about women’s health and wellbeing.

During the menopause, as with all natural bodily functions, there is a natural diet based solution, which even if it does not completely alleviate all the symptoms, definitely makes them more manageable because our hormones become more balanced.  In the instance, the re-balancing is achieved by eating phyto-estrogens (plant based estrogen), antioxidants and essential fatty acids, along of course with cutting out the foods that work against them.

The highest sources of phyto-estrogens are soy, lentils and chickpeas – don’t panic though, this is nowhere near as dull as you might imagine.  Whilst it would be great to up your intake of these, the list of phyto-estrogen foods is long and varied and includes, seeds, nuts, grains, many vegetables and fruits (which also include the antioxidants) as well as herbs and spices.  Along with some healthy fats, think salmon, avocado, eggs and a little lean red and white meat, you can see that your daily diet won’t be dull but will go a long way to reducing your symptoms.

So these are nature’s menopause helpers.  What about its saboteurs?  They include excessive caffeine and alcohol, sugar in its processed form and refined wheats, salt and excessive meat protein intake.  I say meat protein specifically as vegetable protein (quinoa for instance is a complete vegetable protein), as meat protein seems to take more calcium from our bones which can make us more vulnerable to osteoporosis.

Also, whilst it is vital to maintain calcium intakes during the menopause, dairy sources of calcium can have high saturated fat content so should be limited to one to two servings a day.

So, armed with all this information, I made some really easy changes to my diet.  I upped my phyto-estrogen foods and minimized my processed/caffeine and sugar.  And I kid you not, I do not have any symptoms at all now!  Truly, I have gone from changing my sheets at least twice a week to the much more normal once.  My energy levels and mood are right up there and I still have my waist (not so much maybe, but it is still there….), plus, and for me most importantly, my so precious sleep is back on track.

Obviously there will be some ladies who say, “I do all this and I am still really suffering”.  My heart really goes out to you and please see your doctor in case there are any other underlying issues, however in the main these changes do work and will benefit every aspect of your life.  Dare I say it, here’s to a happier, more manageable menopause! x




Food Swaps Made Smart & Easy For Successful Weight Loss

Food and recipes – we all have our favourite’s.  The ones we have maybe grown up with, that our families and friends love us to make and the ones we are best at and like to show off, or is that just me…..?

Anyway, when it comes to shifting our excess weight, the last thing we want to have to do is abandon all our tried and tested and much loved recipes and replace them with foods we hope to learn to love but don’t initially have the same appeal.  Can you imagine your family asking for the “lovely raw veggies and low fat dressing”?  or the response you would get to the “Mum, I’m starving, what’s for dinner?”  and you reply chicken breast with salad……Not good I suspect.

So, what to do to keep all family members happy and you on your weight loss track?   I have the answer.  Food swaps.  I do this all the time and no-one even notices and often if they do, they love them for a number of reasons, such as the food swap is less heavy so they feel less sluggish afterwards and certainly has less sugar so there is no sugar crash shortly after eating and the subsequent hunger, and sometimes they just love the change of taste or texture within the recipe.

The easiest examples I use are these.

  • Out with the Spaghetti, in with the Courgetti and Butternut noodles mixed – you don’t have to go the whole hog and cut out the spaghetti altogether, just mix a smaller amount of the pasta with a larger amount of the veggie noodles – this also looks so lovely and colourful and tempting on a plate.
  • Out with the Cheese sauces in lasagne, bakes etc, in with the half fat crème fraiche with a pinch of nutmeg and a grating of cheese.  No butter, no flour, no milk and a much smaller amount of cheese.
  • Out with the sheet pasta in with the wholemeal tortillas in all instances.  My family love lasagne and cannelloni with wholemeal tortilla.  Pizzas with whole meal tortilla are also a massive hit.
  • Out with minced beef (5 to 15% fat and the 5% is much more expensive), in with minced Turkey (4 – 7% fat at a much lower price).  Every single recipe that requires beef can be swapped with turkey.  You don’t have to do this very time, but even if you alternate between beef and turkey you will save so many calories and a big reduction in fat.
  • Out with tomato sauces in jars (a total sugar and additive fest!), in with homemade sauces.  This is so, so easy.  When I have very little time, I put a can of tinned tomatoes, garlic cloves, onion, chilli, basil – basically whatever I fancy in my blender, whiz up and tip on anything that needs a sauce. Voila!
  • Out with the sour cream as dips, in with the 0% Greek yoghurt – not Greek Style Yoghurt – topped with herbs.  Think of the calories saved in this one small change alone!

Look around you and be creative.  Use herbs and spices – there is always recommendations as to which foods they work well with on the labels. Keep it simple and definitely keep it stress free.  Eat your favourite family meals plus add in some new ones and you will achieve your weight loss goals painlessly and keep the family happy.


Prepping for SUCCESS! A Key Factor in Successful, Sustainable Weight Loss & FUN!

As a Specialist in Weight Loss and Nutrition, I know that food prepping is one of the key factors in successful, sustainable weight loss.

Once you start regularly prepping your food for the next few days/week, you really will never look back.  The days of grabbing totally unsatisfactory “beige food” from a fast food outlet or a pre-packed supermarket  sandwich (with a food label listing suspiciously chemical sounding ingredients), will become a distant, unpleasant memory – along with the uncomfortably tight waistband, lethargy, insulin spike, subsequent frequent hunger and disappointment in your continuing struggle with weight loss.

No matter how busy your life is, if you have time to watch watch TV in the evenings, you have time to prep.  It is all about prepping your life around your health and weight, not the other way around.

Make a list of wholefoods during the week (plus add some spices and other staples).  Choose and stick to a quiet time to spend half an hour in the shop – believe me, when you are mainly buying mainly wholefoods there is no wandering up and down the isles pondering over chemical choices and checking out food labels for the healthiest options.  Then set aside just an hour, experiment with easy recipes, mix up some that need cooking and some that don’t.  Batch up into sealed tupperware containers and pop into the fridge/freezer.  Keep it simple and keep it stress free.

Whilst I accept that in the beginning the idea of prepping and cooking food in advance for the fridge can be quite daunting, you quickly adapt and factor it in to your weekly routine.  As you start to make easy meals that you look forward to and that keep you on your weight loss track, it will become fun.  How fab to come home, grab something you really like from the fridge or freezer, pop in the microwave or oven, and by the time you have taken off your coat and changed your shoes, a delicious meal is done.  Or to wake late knowing that no matter how much of a rush you are in, breakfast, lunch and dinner is sorted and you just have to grab something from the fridge!

I am not a cook, but I really enjoy the (up to) 2 hours in the kitchen, normally at the weekends, “creating”.  I have my standard 5 – 6 meals which I jazz up with different herbs, spices and individual twists and I LOVE IT! I also love the fact that I know exactly what I am eating and feeding to my loved ones.

Always prepared.  Never hungry. Always working towards your health & weight loss (and one last and important point, much cheaper)!

Let’s get prepping.


Journey Planning – 5 Minute Food Tips

Tomorrow my Number One (aka my 18 year old son, Christopher) and I are going on HOLIDAY! I am so excited.  Every year we have one week away together just the two of us hiking in the UK.  This year we are going to be hiking around the glorious Devon coastline.  This truly is my favourite week of the year and I am struggling to calm down!

As a Nutrition and Weight Loss Coach I know that  food planning for every  journey is key to avoiding the pre-packed, sugar drenched, high salt, low fibre, taste free, out of desperation and very expensive motorway fare.

So, as I pack the car I always make sure we have the following with us;

  • Bottles of water
  • Sandwich bags of mixed nuts & seeds
  • Bananas/Apples
  • A homemade salad or sandwich – depending on the expected length of the journey
  • Sugar free gum

This little bit of pre-planning takes 5 minutes, usually the night before but is invaluable.  It is one of the biggest potential weight loss disaster to leave the house unprepared!

Even if I go out for the day, I always have a little healthy, filling something in my bag and I never leave home without a small bottle of water.  I want to feel my best when I am out and about and the one sure fire way of not feeling that way is to find myself with low energy levels and a rumbling tummy and then searching for something/anything that will keep me going without making me feel worse.  I don’t want to have to grab a bar of chocolate for instant energy and then have a horrible sugar slump,  I would rather have a small bag of nuts and seeds which will keep my satisfied and alert for hours.  I don’t want to pay £2 for a bottle of water when I am over thirsty or have to grab a can of drink. I want to have my own little bottle with me ready so I don’t get to that point.

Saying all the above, I often have a coffee when out, just the one, as I also enjoy the social aspect of being out and about and I love to people watch, but it is a treat not a necessity.  So be prepared, enjoy the journey as well as the destination.   Happy Holiday To Us!




Calorie Counting – An Excellent First Step To Understanding Weight Loss

A calorie is simply a measure of the amount of energy in food. It is not an indication of the nutrient quality of food.

I am not a great advocate of calorie counting long term, as I feel it places too much emphasis and time on  “diet” foods rather than everyday, long term, lifestyle foods that best support our weight and health.   As a Nutritionist and Weight Loss Specialist,  my aim is to guide clients away from the stress of counting calories in their food choices and  into the enjoyment of eating. I do this by showing them the best nutrient quality foods for their weight loss and health.

However because there is so much conflicting food advice out there, in the initial stages of weight loss calorie counting is an excellent way of understanding how much we are eating and gives a good basic outline of what works for us and what doesn’t.  It can help us to balance the energy we put into our bodies with the energy we use, which is the key to maintaining healthy weight.

It is important to note though that all calories are not created equal. For instance, a cup cake or ready meal that has 500 calories, is unlikely to sustain you as a much as a jacket potato with tuna and salad which also has 500 calories. It would be easy to eat a “diet” pre-packed meal or sandwich of 400 calories, but tough going to finish a plate of steamed fish fish piled up with colourful veg with herbs or spices, or a hearty homemade soup  with the same calories.   The prepacked meal would be calories dense (empty calories no matter what the packaging said), and the veg would be nutrient dense, packed with all the nutrients, fiber, vitamins, minerals – all of the essentials that a healthy body thrives on and needs for sustainable weight loss.

Then there is the subsequent hunger.  Which do you think you would feel hungrier after eating first?

All foods are not metabolised in our bodies in the same way, and the processed low calorie options often have more fibre free sugar which is broken down quickly in our bodies into glucose.  The glucose causes a spike in your blood sugar that starts the effect of high insulin production which in turn increases belly fat and when the sugar spike is over, you are left feeling hungry again.  Whole foods take longer to break down and digest and in the process use up more calories and keep you fuller longer.

It is also important to keep an eye on our macronutrient intake.

The macronutrients are Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.  For a healthy diet, the percentage of our daily intake should be, 50 – 55% carbs, 10 – 15% protein, 30 – 35% fat, with an upper limit of 11% saturated fats and of no more than 2% being trans fats. The correct percentage of the healthiest options of these macronutrients is absolutely key to maintaining a healthy weight, with low body fat and optimum health.

In summary, whilst you are re-calibrating your body and mindset, please do look at the calorie content of your foods choices to make you more aware. The calorie content may well shock you and stop you from purchasing.  More importantly though, look at the quality of the food and remember, no food that benefits your health and weight loss long term, comes with a label telling you how little fiber there is or  how much sneaky sugar and salt regardless of the fat levels. Remember when fat is removed (which is tasty and filling and vital for so many functions in the body), something else, usually sugar is added (sugar is the ultimate weight loss and health disaster).  Also, look out for any other information which should be unnecessary to list on a “healthy” option food.  This rule sadly actually applies most to “diet” foods.