5 Simple Ways to Feed Yourself with Kindness & Care

5 Simple Ways to Feed Yourself with Kindness & Care

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

What springs to mind when you think about self care?

Eating a delicious meal?  A relaxing yoga session?  Enjoying a massage or spa treatment?

Do you even think about self-care at all?

Finding time to look after ourselves can be hard, especially when other people depend upon our time and attention.  Yet we all have at least three opportunities for self-kindness and care every day: breakfast, lunch, and evening meal.

Maybe you’ve fallen into the habit of skipping meals or eating hurriedly between meetings and appointments.  Perhaps you don’t even care what you eat, so long as you refuel and can make it through the day.

Such unkind eating habits do more than deplete your body of nutrients and are worth exploring to detect any underlying causes.

Tiredness for example is often a reason for missed meals, but this will of course perpetuate the situation and worsen fatigue.  Feeling stressed by an over-filled schedule is another possible reason.  Exhausted lady holding her headDepending on who organises your schedule, dealing with this factor may mean having an honest conversation with your boss, or creating space in your own diary to eat each day.

Skipping meals forces your system to produce more stress hormones to support the levels of glucose in your blood that keep your muscles and brain working.  A short burst of stress hormones is easily dealt with, but ongoing stimulation can contribute to some nasty health issues including high blood pressure and gaining fat around your middle.

 Eating too quickly can trigger all kinds of digestive problems: from indigestion and bloating, to pain, cramps, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.

Learning (or re-learning) to chew food thoroughly can alleviate a lot of digestive discomfort, and even help with maintaining health weight balance.

To start a new simple habit of self-nourishment, kindness and care, try one or more of these 5 steps this week;

  1. Create time to sit and enjoy breakfast. This can be a small meal: a smoothie perhaps, or poached egg on sourdough toast.  Whatever it is, be sure to sit down and take ten minutes to chew thoroughly and enjoy your food.

  2. Prepare a large pan of soup and freeze in individual portions so you have ready-made lunches for the week ahead.

  3. Make a mug of your favourite herbal tea, sit somewhere peaceful for twenty minutes and savour the flavour.

  4. Buy a vegetable you’ve never cooked before and find a new recipe for it.

  5. Let the rainbow in by including 6 different colour fruits & vegetables each day. Choose 1 from each of these groups: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, and white.


Feeling inspired?  Do share your thoughts in the comments below, or over in the Facebook group – we’d love to hear from you!

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7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts – #1SmallStep




Fermented Foods with fermenting expert Rachel Dickson from Loaded Table

Fermented Foods with fermenting expert Rachel Dickson from Loaded Table

Fermented Foods

A few years ago, my husband had an unpleasant encounter with kimchi in Korea.  I’ll spare you the details, suffice to say it involved a rotting buried cabbage being dug up and served for dinner.  It certainly made for a memorable meal but he didn’t order seconds.

Fortunately for him, this method of fermenting food is at the far end of a varied spectrum, and delicious, easy-to-use ferments are now readily available!

Fermented foods are part of many culinary traditions – including our own here in the UK – because fermentation is a simple way to preserve foods, extending their life and ensuring food availability during times of scarcity.

Nowadays, fridges and freezers have largely replaced the need for fermentation, but these conveniences mean we eat far fewer fermented foods and this has negative consequences for the billions of bacteria living in our guts.

The fermentation process allows lactic-acid-producing bacteria to develop.  These bacteria form a vital part of the microbiota – the billions of bacteria living inside us.

Our microbiota work incredibly hard at;

  • Absorbing nutrients

  • Producing vitamin K, and some B-vitamins

  • Ensuring smooth, comfortable bowel movements

  • Regulating our immune and inflammatory responses

Supporting levels and diversity of our good bugs with the right kinds of foods is a vital part of preventative healthcare.

 To investigate further, I spoke to Rachel Dickson, fermented foods specialist at Loaded Table about her range of ferments, and why they are so important for health…

Rachel from The Loaded Table

Sally: Hi Rachel, can you tell me a little about why you started your business, and what attracted you to fermented foods?

Rachel: Sure.  Well, I’ve always been health conscious, but it wasn’t until I had health problems of my own that I really started to focus on good nutrition and lifestyle changes.  Several years ago, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, and spent a year eating organic food, doing yoga, and having acupuncture.  At the end of this year, the fibroids had reduced by 25%.  I realised that stress was having a major impact too, and this led me to think about what measures I could have taken to prevent my health problems in the first place.  After a lot of exploration, my journey led me to fermented foods as a way of supporting the good bugs in our digestion that play such a major role in health.

S: And what did you think of them?

R: Initially I thought they tasted disgusting!  But, with practice, I’ve created some beautiful ferments that taste delicious.

S: When did you launch ‘Loaded Table’?

R: I spent a few years perfecting my recipes, trying them out on friends and family, and when I moved to the UK earlier this year, I launched Loaded Table.  I now supply a number of health stores in the North, including Alligator Wholefoods (on Fishergate in York), and have a stall at Acomb Market, on the 4th Saturday of every month.

S: Tell me about your products.

R: I produce kombucha, kimchi (vegetable ferments), sauerkraut, and some prebiotic ferments – asparagus, onion, and garlic.  All the ferments are tested to ensure they have the right types and levels of bacteria, and they come with a shelf life to prevent spoilage and the growth of bad bacteria.

S: How do you recommend people use your products?

R: The kombucha is really popular, and is great for kids too – they love the ginger and turmeric flavours!  Adults can take 100ml a day, and kids 50ml.  With the vegetable ferments, just add a tablespoonful to a salad, or have it alongside a cooked meal.  The prebiotic ferments are a little different: I suggest 5-10g per day, and mix these in with dips, relishes, or sauces – but don’t cook them as this destroys the fibres that will feed the probiotics.  My kimchi is delicious – I’ve added my own Yorkshire twist to it!

S: I love the sound of that!  What’s the Yorkshire twist?

R: There’s less chilli, and a whole range of different warming spices, including fenugreek which gives it a distinctive flavour.

S: Any plans to offer online shopping?

R: Yes, that’s coming very soon, along with some new flavours for the kombucha and vegetable ferments, and I’m planning to offer workshops to help people make their own ferments.

S: Thank you Rachel!

For more details about Rachel’s products, and to download recipes go to www.loadedtable.co.uk

If you’re dealing with digestive problems, low energy, or stress, remember to download your FREE copy of ‘Your 3 Easy Steps to All Day Energy’ and schedule a FREE 20min no-obligation telephone call with me to discuss how nutritional therapy may be able to help!


Your Route to Thyroid Health

Your Route to Thyroid Health

Are you exhausted all day?

Struggling to concentrate and remember things?

Sluggish digestion?

Thin, weak hair and fragile nails?

Feel like your brain is made from fuzzy wool?

Your thyroid may be underfunctioning.

Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is a common condition with a wide range of symptoms including;

  • Constipation

  • Low energy no matter how much you rest or sleep

  • Weight gain and difficulty losing weight

  • ‘Brain fog’ – poor memory and lack of concentration

  • Dry skin, brittle nails and falling hair

  • High cholesterol

Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolic rate – similar to how the accelerator regulates the speed of a car.  When it’s underactive, all your body processes slow down, as if you had taken your foot off the gas.

The standard treatment is Levothyroxine a synthetic version of T4, one of your thyroid hormones.  However this is only prescribed if you fall below certain parameters on blood tests and many people suffer with sub-clinical hypothyroidism where their thyroid is underfunctioning but not badly enough to receive medication.

Simply taking Levothyroxine is only part of the picture of managing low thyroid function.  Your body converts T4 to T3, the more biologically active hormone, and this conversion step is problematic for many people.

Issues such as stress, poor digestion, and a lack of the necessary vitamins and minerals all impair the conversion of T4 to T3;

Blog_Thyroid_snipSimply replacing T4 by taking Levothyroxine is just the first step in managing hypothyroidism.  A whole-body approach focusing on healthy digestion, the right foods to support thyroid function and hormone conversion, relaxation, and movement is the most positive way forward for true thyroid balance.

If you’re struggling with thyroid problems, join me for the interactive workshop ‘Your Route to Thyroid Health’ taking place on Friday 29th September here in central York.

We will be covering;

 – The signs, symptoms and causes of thyroid imbalance – both underactive and overactive

 – What medications are available

 – The links between thyroid function and other health conditions such as chronic stress, chronic fatigue syndrome and cardiovascular health

 – Natural nutritional support for thyroid hormone production, conversion and function

 – Supportive lifestyle techniques to help with relaxation and stress management

Dates & times;

 – Friday 29th September 2017

 – 10am – 12pm

 – The Garden Room, Friends Meeting House, Friargate, York, YO1 9RG

 – Detailed handouts are provided, and there will be plenty of opportunities for questions

Tickets: £20

For more information and to book your place contact me via email at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk or on 07910 705272

Photo by Sander Weeteling on Unsplash

How To Eat Mindfully – #1 Small Step

BlogHead_Mindful Eating

What do indigestion, bloating, excess wind, heartburn, and weight gain all have in common?

They can all be caused by not chewing food properly!

It’s a simple thing to do, but chewing so often gets neglected in favour of eating quickly due to short lunch breaks, or multitasking with food and a laptop.

Retraining yourself to chew food thoroughly is a vital first step to digestive wellbeing and healthy weight balance. 

Let’s look at why…


  • The action of chewing tells your brain to send messages to your stomach alerting it to the fact that food is on its way. These nerve signals tell the stomach to start producing the gastric juices that break food down.

  • Chewing mixes food with saliva and salivary amylase, an important digestive enzyme that begins the breakdown of carbohydrates. This is why food taste sweeter the longer you chew it: amylase is busy breaking down carbohydrates into simpler sugars.

  • Your stomach does not have teeth! If food isn’t chewed in your mouth, it won’t get broken down properly anywhere else.  So, you can be eating the perfect diet and still be nutrient deficient, simply because your body can’t access the vitamins and minerals bound up in the food.

  • Chewing properly means you eat slower. Remember at school there was always one child who took ages to eat dinner?  That was me!  Sitting there chewing away whilst my friends were itching to get outside and play!  But eating slowly is no bad thing.  It allows you to tune into satiety signals, and realise exactly when you have eaten enough rather than ploughing on and finishing your plateful regardless of how you feel or how big the portions were.

Taking the time to chew food is part of the overall practice of eating mindfully. By eating in a calm relaxed manner, savouring each mouthful, you begin to appreciate each food and flavour and receive those all-important hunger and satiety signals.

Food choices

Try these 5 basic steps to eating mindfully;

  1. As you sit down to eat, take 5 slow deep breaths. This relaxes your nervous system, preparing you to ‘rest and digest’ (parasympathetic dominance), rather than trying to eat whilst in the stressed out ‘fight or flight’ response (sympathetic dominance).  When stressed, the body down regulates digestive functions producing less stomach acid and digestive enzymes – pretty much guaranteeing that you’ll end up with indigestion and bloating!

  2. Chew. Exactly how many times you chew each mouthful will depend on what you’re eating: yoghurt needs less chewing than steak for example.  And yes, you do need to chew yoghurt and other soft foods like smoothies and mashed potato – otherwise, how will your stomach know that it’s on its way?  If it helps, put your knife and fork down whilst you chew, and don’t prepare the next mouthful until you’ve swallowed what you’re chewing.

  3. Savour the flavours. Really appreciate how each food tastes and feels in your mouth.

  4. Once you’ve finished eating, sit still for 3-5mins to allow food to pass comfortably down to your stomach.

  5. Wait for at least 10mins before deciding whether you want dessert or not. It takes roughly 15-20mins from the start of eating for your brain to register the actions of satiety hormones like leptin.  These hormones work in a complex way, registering how stretched your stomach is, and how much fat you have stored in your body overall.  They tell your brain when you are full, but if this message is ignored you eventually become resistant to their signals.

Eating mindfully does involve changing habits, and this can take time.  It’s not always easy to do, especially if you’re juggling your own meal with feeding a couple of cranky toddlers!  It really is worth persisting though, as no amount of supplements or nutrition guidelines can replace the benefits of good chewing.

If you’d like the benefits of mindfulness to spread beyond the kitchen table, and support other areas of your life, say hello to Joanne Bull at CalmWorks.  Joe offers a Mindfulness_sniprange of mindfulness training options designed to build your inner calm and resilience to ongoing stress.


You may also enjoy;

   #1 Small Step – 7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts

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Need nutritional support for dealing with ongoing stress?  See HERE for options of how we can work together.





Omega 3 Oils and Depression

A recent large scale study from Japan has highlighted how the national diet which is rich in oily fish, means there are lower levels of depression amongst the population.fishoil

Many previous studies examining the effects of omega-3 oils on depression and mood balance have looked at the average Western diet which is typically low in oily fish.  The Japanese traditionally eat much more oily fish, thereby having a higher baseline level of omega-3.

The study looked at 1050 men and 1073 women all aged over 40. Results showed that higher intake levels of the omega-3 fats EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) were inversely associated with symptoms of depression.

Both EPA and DHA play key roles in the structure and function of the brain, supporting communication between brain cells.

The importance of omega-3 fats to brain health can be likened to a mobile phone signal: when levels are low, cell communication is crackly and interrupted, similar to poor mobile phone reception!

Oily fish and krill oil are major sources of both EPA and DHA.  Certain types of algae can supply DHA whilst flax seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts provide ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), the ‘parent’ acid of EPA and DHA.

The difficulty with relying on ALA as a source of omega-3 oils is that a lot of the oils are lost in the different conversion processes ALA must go through to become EPA and DHA.

Many other nutrients are needed to support this conversion: magnesium, B-vitamins, vitamin C, zinc – and if dietary sources of these nutrients is low, or digestion is impaired, there are knock on effects on EPA and DHA levels.

Try these simple steps to support your EPA and DHA levels:

  1. Include oily fish such as sardines, wild salmon, mackerel, pilchards and trout in your diet 3 times a week

  2. If you dislike fish, consider a Krill oil supplement.  Krill oil provides EPA and DHA in a highly bioavailable form which is easily used by cells throughout your body

  3. For vegetarians & vegans, include hemp, flax and walnut oils daily.  ‘Udo’s Oil Blend’ is a fantastic vegan oil blend of various nuts and seeds, supplying a balanced range of Omegas 3, 6 and 9.

  4. If you have difficulty digesting fats, include bitter foods like rocket, watercress, mustard greens, dandelion leaves and apple cider vinegar before meals to stimulate bile production.

  5. Digestive enzymes may also be useful: lipase is the specific enzyme for fat digestion.

If you’re seeking a natural nutritional way to deal with depression, anxiety or hormonal mood imbalance, drop me a line at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk or call 07910 705272 TODAY!


Study reference:

Horikawa C et al (2016) Cross-sectional association between serum concentrations of n-3 long-chain PUFA and depressive symptoms: results in Japanese community dwellers British Journal of Nutrition vol 115:672-80