Inside a Nutritional Therapist’s fridge…

IMAG0040One of the main reasons I don’t ‘do’ Instagram is that ten minutes browsing through reams of aspirational images related to nutrition and health leave me in despair: my kitchen isn’t stylishly minimalist, I don’t hashtag all my thoughts with #eatclean and if I see one more picture of smashed avocado and poached egg I may well break the internet.

There’s a fine line between being inspirational and unrealistic and for me, so much of what is online is contrived and unachieveable.  When you’re struggling to balance the stress of poor health, family needs and work demands, the last thing you need is to feel that the small changes you are making to your diet – however positive they are – are Just.  Not.  Enough.  And this is the negative power social media can have.

So, in the interests of honesty and sharing I’m going to give you a glimpse of what my fridge looks like after the weekly shop.  (You wouldn’t want to see it beforehand…the sight of a lonely lemon and scrag-end of celery inspires no one…)

Lets start at the bottom…

Salad drawers: these contain courgettes, celery, avocadoes, lemons, an aubergine and some mixed peppers.  Mixture of organic and non-organic, depending on what’s available and what I can pay that week.

First shelf: packets of free range chicken thighs, bag of potatoes and a cauliflower.  I do prefer to buy a whole organic chicken, roast it in coconut oil on a Sunday then use the rest of it during the week, culminating in a chicken & veg soup (I recently created a chicken, ginger and butternut squash soup..divine…)  However we had friends over for dinner that day and chicken thighs were needed.

The cauliflower will be turned into cauliflower and lentil dhal which does me for several days as either breakfast or lunch, accompanied by yoghurt, mint & cucumber dip.

Second shelf: 2 cartons of coconut water; I’m currently taking Spirulina each day IMAG0040for it’s amazing anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine and antioxidant powers.  If you’ve tried spirulina, you’ll know how strong it tastes and how it needs to be mixed with something to lift the flavour – coconut water and blueberries work perfectly!

Asparagus, spring onions, carrots, cucumber and tub of blueberries.

Third shelf: bag of spinach because my own crop has been an abysmal failure this summer; selection of cheeses (cheddar, goats cheese and lacto-free cheese to satisy everyone in the house); limes, local strawberries, free range organic eggs and a tub of butter.  It’s a regular intention to make my own spreadable butter by mixing a tablesoon of olive oil into a chuck of organic butter.  Sometimes I do it, more often than not I forget, so we have a tub of spreadable butter to hand.

The bottle of sweet chilli sauce is a rarity as this stuff is heaving with sugar, but the meal we cooked for friends included it as a dip.  This shelf frequently holds a dessert too as Mr Nutrition In York cannot resist sticky toffee pudding.

Top shelf: broccoli, plain live soya yoghurt, ground flaxseeds – essential for mixing with my morning porridge or adding to smoothies – full fat mayonnaise and tomato ketchup.

So, no secret ingredients here, and no glamorous chic kitchen.  I’m certainly not the world’s best cook (ask Mr NIY, he’ll tell all!) but I am living proof you can change how you feel with everyday foods and learn how to understand what your body needs to thrive.

Confused about what to eat?

Feeling stressed, exhausted and strung out?

Struggling with crazy hormones or erratic digestion?

Drop me a line and lets get you back on the path to vitality & wellbeing…

Clean Eating? I quite like being a bit dirty…

‘Clean Eating’ is the new buzz-phrase in nutrition.  Endorsed by countless celebrity dieters and fitness professionals filling Instagram with image of mashed avocado and raw brownies, this so-called new way of eating revolves around ‘clean’ foods and the avoidance of anything highly processed and sugar-laden.

On the surface, this seems like a good idea and is certainly the sort of approach I vegstallwould normally endorse: avoiding refined processed foods and eating a wide range of natural, nutrient-rich goods instead.  But dig a little deeper, and you find the world of clean eating is far murkier than it likes to appear.

A quick Google search reveals several ridiculous rules for clean eating;

  1. “Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can or package.” So you’re going to have to carry that free-range chicken home in your bare hands.  And yes, you are indeed being ‘dirty’ by choosing lentils and chickpeas from tins despite the fact you haven’t got time to be soaking and simmering dried ones for hours.

  2. “Clean foods are naturally low in sugar, salt and fat.” ButterStatements like this perpetuate the widespread confusion we have over low-fat foods.  Trans fats and refined vegetable oils disrupt the actions of healthy fats in our bodies, but regular consumption of butter, ghee, good quality olive oil and coconut oil brings many health benefits.  And in terms of the so called ‘clean foods’; avocadoes, coconut oil, nuts and seeds are brimming with fats!

  3. “Use clean sugars.” I don’t think I understand this one at all.  Sugar comes in many guises and in various states of processing.  Avoiding the refined white table sugar is certainly helpful, but replacing this with huge spoonfuls of agave syrup (often favoured by clean eaters) is not a good alternative given its high fructose content.  Fructose is metabolised in a different way to regular glucose, with high levels contributing to the formation of triglycerides in the liver – long term issues with this include Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

  4. A ‘Clean Eating Pyramid’: the science behind this pyramid evades me.  It encourages the majority of the diet to be Clean-Eating-Pyramid_Gglebased on fruit and water – great if you want erratic blood sugar levels, bloating and diarrhoea. Not so great for supporting your body in dealing with stress, hormone fluctuations, ongoing fatigue or digestive issues such as IBS.

The biggest disagreement I have with ‘clean eating’ is the phrase itself.  It implies foods are either clean or dirty, and therefore, by extension, YOU are either clean or dirty, according to your food choices.

It is yet another way in which food becomes demonized.  It is yet another way for eating disorders to develop, as people (mostly young women) begin to restrict and control the foods they eat, obeying rules set out by other followers on social media, each trying to outshine the other with the latest images of their ‘clean’ meals.

For me, dirty foods are the carrots I haven’t washed yet.  I enjoy mashed avocado as much as the next person, and just as much as I enjoy a bag of ‘dirty’ chocolate buttons at the cinema.

 

A shorter version of this article appeared in The Press on 07/06/2016

Feeling flat, low and stuck? Take inspiration from the Yorkshire Mums’ who rowed the Atlantic!

Top of my List of Inspiration this week are the Yorkshire Rows: 4 brave and amazing women from Yorkshire who have just rowed the Atlantic ocean and achieved the World Record for being the oldest ladies to do it.YorkshireRows_Guardian

Helen, Niki, Frances and Janette set off from the Canaries in late December, rowed 3000 nautical miles – facing hurricanes, storms and endless technical issues along the way – and arrived in Antigua last Thursday after 68 days at sea.

They left their children and husbands at home, spent Christmas on board the boat and had only brief satellite telephone communications with loved ones.

What made them do it?  Well, they wanted to raise money for two hugely important charities – Maggies Cancer Care Centre and Yorkshire Air Ambulance – and to prove that anything is possible.

The ladies had never rowed for more than a few hours before starting training, and had only rowed on the open sea once before the race: in 2015 they crossed from Yorkshire to Holland and Helen discovered she was seasick!

During the race they worked in shifts of 2 hours rowing and 2 hours sleep, non-stop 24 hours a day for 68 days.

I advised the ladies on their nutrition whilst in training for the race.  They worked incredibly hard juggling full time jobs and family life with intensive training and raising the sponsorship needed to build and run the boat.

When I heard last week of their arrival in English Harbour, Antigua, I cried joyful tears!  These down-to-earth, normal working Mums had just completed what is described as the hardest race on Earth and in doing so, silenced any doubts about what can be achieved and what people are capable of once focus, belief and consistent effort come into play.

Everyone has their own personal Atlantic to row – you might even have more than one!  (Mine is to write a short story book…).  I see clients every week who are struggling to get through ill-health and disease and whilst I can guide, support and encourage them, they are the ones who have to focus and take small, consistent steps in the right direction if they want to regain their wellbeing.

The point is, it can be done.  Might not be easy plain sailing but it can be done.  A few years ago Helen, Niki, Janette and Frances would have laughed out loud if someone told them to row an ocean but now they’ve done it and cemented their place in history.

You have the power to ask for support and to start taking steps towards better, brighter health.  If this is what you truly want, get in touch and start the conversation – I’m happy to chat to you!

And to find out more about the brilliant Yorkshire Rows go to www.yorkshirerows.com

 

 

Workshop – Balancing Female Hormones

As part of the York International Women’s Festival I am running this exciting workshop focusing on female hormone health.  Join me on Friday 18th March, 10.30am – 12.30pm at Friends Meeting House, Lower Friargate, York and discover…Happy-Lady_Ggle

  • What exactly your female hormones are up to during the menstrual cycle and menopause

  • What factors contribute to hormone imbalance

  • Which foods and nutrients can support female hormone balance and relieve the dreaded monthly symptoms of zero energy, mood swings, headaches, acne, bloating, cravings and breast tenderness

  • How to naturally manage menopausal symptoms

There will be plenty of time for Q&A and handouts to take away so you can immediately put into action all the tips and advice from the session.

Only 10 spaces are available – book today to avoid disappointment!  Tickets are only £15 as this event is part of the York International Women’s Festival (regular price £25).

To book your place or for more details call me on 07910 705272 or email sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

 

 

Using Sea Vegetables for Health

Vegetables don’t just grow on land; sea vegetables make a tasty and nutritious addition to all kinds of meals: quiches, sauces, soups, stews, casseroles…

The different types of seaweed are rich in minerals – particularly magnesium, iron, iodine and zinc; B-vitamins, antioxidants, long chain fatty acids (omegas 6 and 3), prebiotic fibres and certain types of carbohydrates called fucans. 

Fucans have been shown to possess a range of positive effects including:

– reducing inflammation

– supporting immunity through anti-viral actions

– supporting healthy blood flow and circulation

– helping to maintain our friendly gut flora through modulation of intestinal pH, short chain fatty acid production and the gut mucous secretions.

(Lordan S et al (2011) Marine Bioactives as Functional Food Ingredients: Potential to Reduce the Incidence of Chronic Diseases Marine Drugs vol 9(6):1056-1100)

You don’t need to eat vast quantities of seaweeds to gain these benefits.  In traditional Japanese meals, small amounts of sea vegetables are used to lift and strengthen the flavours of the meal and enhance digestion.

Nori flakes, mixed sea vegetable flakes and kombu strips are the easiest ones to start with.  The flakes can be sprinkled over soups, casseroles, scrambled eggs and even mashed potato!  Add a 2″ piece of kombu to the pan when simmering beans or pulses; the seaweed nutrients help to breakdown some of the tough starches in the legumes, making them easier to digest (i.e. they will cause much less flatulence!).

Sheets of nori are used to make sushi and also offer an interesting alternative to bread for making sandwiches – ideal for a gluten free option!  Simply place your filling on the sheet and roll it up, adding a dab of water to stick the end of the roll in place.

The mixture of minerals found in sea vegetables makes them ideal for optimising energy and wellbeing – particularly if you are struggling with an under active thyroid.  The iodine, zinc and magnesium found in sea veggies support thyroid hormone formation and function, giving your thyroid gland a much needed boost!

Discover the benefits of a Seasonal Cleanse

Spring and autumn are nature’s seasons of change and transformation.  We can tap into these natural rhythms and enjoy a cleansing programme of our own to boost circulation, digestion, energy and vitality.

An effective cleanse is more than just drinking plenty of water and taking a few supplements, it involves supporting all the detoxification pathways in your body from the cellular level right through to actual wastes being eliminated via stools, urine and sweat.

So, what are the benefits of a seasonal cleanse?

 – Simplifying your diet by removing refined sugar, wheat, dairy and processed foods gives your hardworking digestive system a well earned break.  At the end of the cleanse, if you start to reintroduce these foods you may be able to pinpoint any that cause particular problems or intolerances for you.

 – Boosting lymphatic circulation with dry skin brushing and regular movement can improve skin appearance and texture giving you a wonderful fresh glow!

 – Your liver works tirelessly to process and detox hormones, nutrients, medications and alcohol.  By avoiding alcohol for the duration of the cleanse and enjoying luxury levels of vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed for liver function you are supporting these vital detox pathways.

 – Caring for your immune system: around 80% of your immune system is located in your gut!  Healthy digestion and beneficial gut bacteria = a strong, robust immune system: helpful when faced with spring allergies like hayfever or the onset of the cold & flu season in winter!

More energy! Think of your body as a complex machine.  Any machine that is serviced and well oiled will run effectively and the same goes for your amazing body: give it plenty of vital nutrients, regularly remove the wastes and tend to any weak spots.  Energy is produced in each cell of your body and requires a constant supply of magnesium, B-vitamins, co-enzyme Q10, vitamin C and zinc – to name but a few of the nutrients involved.

Are you ready to enjoy a seasonal cleanse?

Drop me a line at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk or on 07910 705272 and lets get you started!

Your 5 Step Christmas Survival Guide!

The Christmas ‘to-do’ list is a mile long, presents are waiting to be wrapped and you’ve just found out a gluten-free vegan is coming for lunch.  All feelings of peace and joy have rapidly evaporated – what can you do to cope with festive stresses?

Let’s look at 5 top tips for coping with Christmas:

  1. Stress: This is a particularly tough time of year for anyone suffering with depression or bereavement.  The pressures of work and managing big family gatherings also ramp up the stress levels. Magnesium and B-vitamins are fantastic for soothing your nervous system; green leafy vegetables, cashew nuts, mushrooms and brown rice are all good sources.  Bathing in Epsom salts is a traditional remedy and a great way to absorb magnesium through your skin!  Add in a few drops of lavender oil too, then lie back and soak for a good 20 minutes.
  2. Overindulgence: indigestion can be incredibly painful – even mistaken for a heart attack in severe cases!  Chamomile and fennel teas are wonderfully soothing for sore or upset stomachs and can relieve painful trapped wind.  Milk thistle offers herbal support for liver function and easing hangovers – do check with your healthcare practitioner before taking any herbal remedies alongside prescription medications though.
  3. Special diets: you’re hosting a Christmas party and suddenly realise several guests are gluten and dairy free – what can they eat?  Panic not, healthfood stores like Tullivers in York and Goodness Direct online now offer a full range of festive treats designed to meet specific dietary needs including gluten-free gravy granules, oat cream, soya cream, rice flour for making pastry, dairy free chocolate advent calendars and gluten-free Christmas puddings.
  4. Colds and flu: ‘tis the season to be jolly unless you’re struck down with a virus!  Homemade chicken and vegetable soup is a fantastic immune booster.  Broccoli, peppers, kiwi fruit, mushrooms and sweet potatoes are all packed with antioxidant nutrients that help us fight off bugs.  Top up your vitamin D with an oral spray supplement and keep some manuka honey to hand for making honey and lemon drinks to soothe croaky throats and coughs.
  5. Headaches; stuffy atmospheres, stress, alcohol, sugary foods and dehydration can all trigger headaches.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day, pace yourself with sweet treats and make time for a relaxing Epsom salt bath to ease tense neck and shoulder muscles.
  6. One extra tip from personal experience….I once had bad flu over Christmas, it was rotten but made me realise that the world doesn’t end if you don’t send cards or presents or make it to parties. Friends and family still love you and thats all that matters!

Wishing you a Happy & Healthy Christmas 🙂

 

(This article is adapted from a column I wrote for York Press 1/12/2014)

6 Tasty Foods To Ease Joint Pains

Running, swimming, tennis, football….all are fun until the moment injury strikes or you overdo it with the training!

Joint-nourishing foods can easily be incorporated into meals and snacks to support and improve strength, stamina and recovery from both training and injuries.

Try these 6 tasty choices

1. Cherries: Montmorency cherries are packed with anthocyanins, natural antioxidant compounds which have been proven to reduce inflammation and soreness, and aid muscle recovery after training.  Add ‘CherryActive’ to your post workout smoothie for a muscle boost!

2. Beetroot: this vibrant root vegetable is rich in nitric oxide, a natural compound that encourages circulation, increases stamina and maintains healthy blood pressure.  Many sports teams (including the 2010 England Rugby squad!) include shots of beetroot juice in their training regimes 7-14 days before an event.  Of course you can use it every day if you wish! Drink raw beetroot juice for maximum benefit and try adding a little apple or carrot juice if the taste is a bit ‘earthy’ for you.

3. Oily fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, herrings, trout and pilchards are all packed with anti-inflammatory Omega 3 oils – perfect for both mind and body.  For all you athletic vegetarians and vegans, flax oil is a fantastic source of omega-3 essential fats.  It musn’t be heated up but tastes great drizzled over porridge or a baked potato or blended in a smoothie.

4. Spirulina: this microscopic cyanobacteria grows on freshwater lakes all over the world.  It contains 22 amino acids, vital for muscle function and repair alongside anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients.  Like beetroot, it has a slightly ‘earthy’ taste but blends well with apple juice, dried fruits or in a banana smoothie.

5. Turmeric: the golden spice has the pain killing and anti-inflammatory effects of over the counter NSAID’s but without the nasty side effects. Add generous amounts to homemade curries!

6. Ginger: another anti-inflammatory and warming spice, grated ginger with hot water and lemon juice is a perfect way to start the day and give your sore, dehydrated muscles a boost.

Questions?  Thoughts?  Want to find out if a personalised Nutrition Plan can get you running that extra mile?

Drop me a line via the Contact Form or pop over to the ‘Nutrition in York’ Facebook Page and ask away 🙂

 

Keep Sugar Cravings at Bay!

Removing refined sugary foods from your meals and snacks can revolutionise your energy levels, mood balance, concentration and sleep patterns.  Quitting the white stuff can be tough though.  It is important to look at why you are craving sugar in the first place:

Let’s focus on the top 3 reasons…

1. Skipping breakfast and not eating regularly; this means your body has to produce extra stress hormones in order to mobilise stored sugars and keep your energy up.  Long term, this puts strain on your adrenal glands, pancreas and liver.  Eating a balanced healthy breakfast including good quality protein and natural slow releasing sugars provides a steady supply of fuel to last you till lunchtime.

Good options include:

  • poached eggs, spinach and oatcakes
  • porridge with added seeds, nuts and fresh berries
  • or if you’re pushed for time, a homemade smoothie packed with fruit, ground seeds nut butter and milk.

2. Relying on caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks; sharp spikes in sugar intake give a rush of energy which is always followed by a deep slump where you feel even worse than before! Gradually cut down on caffeinated drinks and replace these with water, herb teas and green tea.  Green tea does still contain caffeine but this stimulative effect is counterbalanced by an amino acid called theanine which has a calming effect on the brain, boosting mental clarity and concentration.  Snack options include fruit and nut mixes, crudités with houmous or bean dips and brown rice cakes with nut butter.  These ideas combine protein with carbohydrates which provides a steady release of sugar into your bloodstream thereby avoiding spikes and slumps.

 

3. Anxiety, depression, PMT; these types of cravings are associated with low levels of mood hormones such as serotonin.  To make serotonin your brain needs particular proteins which can only get into the brain with the help of insulin. The fastest way to get insulin released is to eat sugary foods so your body craves sugar!  To avoid this effect, include foods rich in the proteins needed for mood hormone formation so your brain has a steady supply; chicken, turkey, lentils, spirulina, cottage cheese, almonds, pumpkin seeds are all good sources.

Once you have established the cause of our cravings plan meals and snacks accordingly so you know in advance what to eat and don’t risk desperately grabbing the nearest sugar fix.

If you need friendly support and guidance with kicking the sugar habit drop me a line at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk or call on 07910 705272 today!

Pop over to the Facebook page for more discussions and ideas or follow me on Twitter @nutritioninyork 🙂

Cleansing and Re-Energising Yourself!

 Noticed a slump in your energy levels lately?  Struggling to lose that last bit of weight?  Or maybe you’ve had a particularly stressful time and relied too heavily on caffeine, sugary snacks and alcohol?

Your body is cleansing and detoxifying day in, day out and sometimes it needs extra help.  Skin breakouts, difficulty losing weight, joint aches and pains, sluggish digestion and headaches can all be signs that your liver, kidneys, skin and bowels are struggling to handle your natural wastes.

Using foods and nutrients to support these organs can make a huge difference to your energy and vitality – and a detox plan does not have to be all about plain water and pale broths!

The holistic approach to cleansing and detoxification is gentle and practical and involves energising tasty foods, detoxification techniques and mindful forms of exercise like yoga, tai chi and walking in nature to support your body, mind and spirit.

The Detox Nutritional Support Programme is a fantastic way to get started as it provides everything you need for both a 3-Day Pre-Cleanse (to help your system adjust to the effects of an alkalising and cleansing diet) and a 7-Day Cleanse;

  • ‘Pro-Otic’ probiotic bacteria to support your digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • ‘Alka-Greens’ a powerful alkalising, energising and cleansing green food combination rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients
  • ‘Detox Support Formula’ a blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that support the detoxification and energy-making processes in your cells
  • ‘Colex’ a combination of natural botanicals designed to support digestion and bowel health
  • Dry skin brush for stimulating your lymphatic circulation – perfect for battling cellulite and pepping up your blood flow!
  • Support booklet packed with meal ideas and detoxification information to guide you through your plan

Add to this a personal 1 hour Nutrition Consultation to discuss your health goals, how to effectively use the kit, additional naturopathic cleansing and relaxation techniques and a healthy sustainable food plan…AND a 20 minute follow-up telephone call after you have completed your Cleanse and you have the ideal way to get cleansed and energised!

The investment cost for the entire Plan is only £135 – fantastic value and a fabulous way to kickstart your health!

If you have any questions or would like a free no-obligation call to discuss the Plan or how nutritional therapy may benefit YOU, just drop me a line with your details.

**Please note, this cleansing plan is not suitable if you are pregnant, actively trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding.  Please inform me of any ongoing medical conditions so we can assess whether the plan is suitable for you at this time.**