Category Archives: Diet

Do slimming clubs work?

The Medical Research Council believe that slimming clubs like Weight Watchers might be the answer to Britain’s obesity crisis and could be prescribed by the NHS in the future.

Whilst I have never advocated points systems or calories counting, I do believe that any kind of group meeting that motivates others to shed pounds together can only be a good thing. The power of a group to support each other in losing weight and getting fitter and healthier is often stronger than the power we have over ourselves to go it alone.

Do slimming clubs work?

We all approach weight loss differently according to our personality types. Dieters who attend slimming clubs are normally very motivated by clear structure, group support and accountability, whilst other slimmer are cheesed off and embarrassed by the whole concept, preferring to go it alone with dieting books, exercise plans or seeing a nutritionist. Whatever works for you is what matters.

Here are some extra tips..

Form your own slimming club

If you dread the thought of slimming clubs and public weigh ins then set up your own club with trusted friends and family and motivate each other. Your don’t necessarily have to use a points system, you may want to choose your own diet book to stick to.

One size does not fit all!?

Know what works for you. Successful dieters have a tried and tested method honed over many years of trial and error. So experiment with different healthy weight loss plans and get to know what works for you and your lifestyle.

Understand why you can’t lose weight

If you have tried every diet under the sun, you eat healthily, exercise and still can’t lose the weight then you need to investigate this further. Your GP or nutritionist will be able to run tests and help you discover any underlying hormonal conditions or food intolerances etc.


How many calories do I need?

How many calories do I need?

This question is often asked, but there’s no easy answer. On average women need 2,000 calories per day and men 2,500, but since we are all different with differing activity levels, heights and body sizes, this guideline doesn’t always hold true because one size doesn’t fit all!

Eat for your needs

People who stay slender do so because they’re in ‘energy balance’. In other words, they (often unconsciously) eat the right amount of healthy food to meet their calorie needs. It’s a more natural state of being as opposed to constantly checking calorie content and living with restrictions.

This means eating the right amounts and types of foods to provide enough energy and nutrition for your particular activity level and situation. If you are sedentary you obviously won’t need as many calories as an athlete. Get the picture?

Eat for what you are about to do not for what you have done

The old adage of breakfast like a king still holds true because you will have the whole day burn it off. Lunch like a queen and dine like a pauper. Why? Because you are about to go to bed for which you need less energy.

And if you really have to count, here’s how to do it

There’s an equation that works how many calories you need based on your age, sex and level of activity, or just use a basic metabolic rate calculator to work it out

How much fat should I eat a day?

How much fat should I eat a day?

I get asked this question all the time and it infuriates me! Why? Well, let me tell you something – good nutrition isn’t about counting fat grams, calories or carbs or whatever you are doing to make yourself miserable.

Please stop sizing up every morsel of food going into your mouth – it’s boring and unnatural. Yawn!

Think instead about the type of fat you eat, whether you digest it properly and how to burn it off again.

Good fats vs bad fats

Goods fats come from raw nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish, olives and coconut oil. Even a bit of butter is good for your digestion.

Bad fats are mostly saturated and come from very fatty cuts of meat, full fat cheese, hydrogenated vegetable oils used in processed food or refined cooking oils.

Stick to the good fats, avoid the bad ones and remember that fat is your friend (in moderation) because it makes you feel full. You need good fats to absorb certain vitamins which are essential to your health and well-being.

Signs of poor fat digestion

If your poo is light clay coloured and floats then this is an indication that you may not be digesting fat efficiently.

Reduce your fat slightly, eat simple combinations and try bitter foods like rocket, endive and chicory to stimulate bile from your liver which helps break down fat. Apple cider vinegar in water before a meal is helpful too.

Burn fat

If you eat too much (good or bad) fat then you may gain weight. Remember that moderation is the key and if in doubt go to the gym and burn it off.

Do you count calories?

LinksHow much fat should you eat?

By Dora Walsh, Head Nutritionist and founder of Nutriheal Nutrition: Twitter:

What is a healthy diet?

What is a healthy diet?

I get asked this all the time – but guess what? There’s no such thing as a healthy diet, only the diet that’s healthy for you!

We are all unique with different genders, ages and activity levels so here are some basic things you do need to know which will help maximise your health.

Please don’t ever make the mistake of ditching fat, protein or carbs because you actually need them. A healthy diet contains sufficient levels of these food types.


Embrace fat. Yes! Fat is your friend (in moderation) and you need it for your bodily processes. But make sure you get the right fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds, olives and avocados. Avoid excessive saturated fat from red meat and full fat cheese.


You need your carbs for energy – they are not as bad as you think. Complex carbs break down slowly and release energy into your body gradually. You can get these from wholegrain bread, pasta and rice.


Everything in your body is made of protein – your hormones and skin, for example. You can get your protein from lean meat, fish, eggs and dairy. But vegetarians can get their protein from pulses, nuts and seeds.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and veggies are important for their fibre, vitamin and mineral content. Try and have at least five multicoloured fruit and veg a day. Try to have more veg than fruit as they have less sugar.


You need 1.5-2 litres of pure water daily to keep you hydrated. Your intake will depend on your activity level but be sure to never let yourself get thirsty.

Do you have a healthy diet?


Healthy balanced diet

By Dora Walsh, Head Nutritionist and founder of Nutriheal Nutrition: Twitter:

How to beat your sugar cravings

How to beat your sugar cravings

Sugar can be more addictive than cocaine! I’ve seen hundreds of people in my clinic with uncontrollable sugar cravings. These cravings can lead to unstoppable binges and weight gain.

So what can you do about it?

Food cravings mean your body’s signals are mixed up. You therefore need to correct the underlying cause of the problem, otherwise all the willpower in the world won’t help you combat your sugar addiction.

So heal your metabolism and the way your body deals with sugar if you are to overcome it! Here’s how…

Beat stress

Prolonged stress can wear your stress glands out (the adrenals) leading to uncontrollable sugar cravings for a pick-me-up. You need to nuture yourself and get your B vitamins from supplements and whole grains. Cut down on the coffee and alcohol too.

Get your sleep

Lack of sleep messes with your hunger hormones and makes you crave sugar to stay on an even keel. Therefore you need to get to bed at a reasonable time and get at least seven uninterrupted hours of sleep.

Get real nutrition

Sugar cravings aren’t entirely emotional – they are also connected to your nutritional status. You need a balanced diet so avoid the low fat high carbohydrate diets many people love. You need a balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates every day to keep your blood sugar stable.

Don’t eat carbohydrates alone

Eating lots of simple carbohydrates without the backup of proteins or fats satisfies hunger but eat them alone and they will leave you famished and craving even more sugar. Mix your bread with ham or add some chicken to your pasta and have some nuts with your fruit – it’s that easy!

Are you addicted to sugar?

Links13 ways to fight sugar cravings

By Dora Walsh, Head Nutritionist and founder of Nutriheal Nutrition: Twitter:

What’s the correct size for your food portions?

What's the correct size for your food portions?

I see people chowing down on massive amounts of food, without realising the strain it puts on their digestive system.

Are your eyes are bigger than your stomach?

We all love a good nosh-up but many of us eat far too much. Wouldn’t life be so much better if you knew exactly how much you should eat? Then you might stop overloading your plate at the buffet.

How much should you be eating?

Physically active people need more food than others so work out whether you need to increase or decrease your portions according to your activity level.

Let me give you some guidelines to work towards…

Use your hands as a guide to food portions

Remember that your stomach is the size of your two fists put together, which gives you an idea of just how much we overeat. But if you start to measure your portions according to your hands then you automatically portion control your food according to your body size.

Portions of vegetables should be two fists, meat one palm, and cereals, breads and fruit are a full fist. Light dairy products and peanut butter are about palm size. Remember to try to eat carbs, protein and vegetables at most meals.

What about sauces and butter?

One squirt of mayonnaise, ketchup or butter should be the size of a dice.

Do you find it hard to control your food intake?

By Dora Walsh, Head Nutritionist and founder of Nutriheal Nutrition: Twitter:

Nutrition trends 2010

Immunity supporting foods

Swine flu fears have fuelled a demand for immunity boosting products in many countries, and it is likely we could see ingredients like various antioxidants, beta-glucans and botanicals such as elderberry marketed on this premise in 2010.

Even though companies cannot talk about the flu virus when talking about their ingredients or products, the current global fear over the swine flu pandemic will boost interest in all ingredients and products touting immune-support properties. But if you are into good old fashioned nutrition then just eat onions,  garlic and shitake mushrooms for their immunity supporting benefits.

Natural sweeteners – stevia, agave, maple syrup

Stevia from South America is a zero calorie natural sweetener not yet licensed in the UK but on trial in France. It can currently be used for medicinal use in the UK. European wide approval is on the horizon.

Stevia tastes up to 300 times sweeter than sugar without providing calories and as an alternative to sugar it could help with weight management. We will also see an increasing demand for other alternative sweeteners extracted from sources such as apple, agave and maple syrup. These natural, healthier sweeteners will become much more mainstream as sugar alternatives.

Food simplicity – “back to basics”

The downturn is making people nostalgic for simpler times, and simpler foods. In 2010 we will see more food simplicity driven by the demand for natural and clean-label foods.

Consumers are reaching out for cleaner foods free from chemicals and unnatural ingredients. They want to know what’s in their food and they want cleaner food labels:  no artificial food colorings (some of which have been linked to hyperactivity in children), no chemical additives (such as MSG) and no chemical preservatives (such as BHA).  If they can’t pronounce it, consumers won’t want it.

Eco nutrition and conscious nutrition

As we approach 2010 another big trend to watch out for is `eco nutrition’. Health conscious consumers will continue to grow in numbers but will increasingly question the link between food, diet and the environment and combine their passion for food and nutrition with conscious consumerism. They will not only regularly seek out nutritious food as part of their daily buying behaviours, but these products mustn’t exploit the environment or the communities from which they came.  

For example a consumer may be searching for high a quality organic dark chocolate because of the touted health benefits, however their purchasing decision will also be influenced by how and where the cocoa in the chocolate was sourced i.e. its provenance, how the workers were treated, whether those farming communities benefited if at all and how much C02 was produced.  The food industry will continue to step up in this respect by using more responsibly sourced ingredients from communities which are treated responsibly and by reducing carbon emissions etc. We will see conscious consumerism for healthy, sustainable food products becoming an increasingly mainstream behaviour.

Ancient grains – modern market rediscoveries make a comeback

We will see more ancient grains like amaranth, buckwheat, spelt, quinoa, chia, and rye in 2010. Whole grains have received so much attention in the nutrition world for their heart-healthy benefits and this popularity is opening up doors to lesser known ancient grains which have been around for much longer but people forgot them.


The use of less processed ancient grains addresses the concern that today’s foods are over processed and consumers do want fresh, natural unprocessed foods. Ancient grains also provide a great alternative to the growing numbers of consumers who are wheat intolerant.

  • Amaranth –  has a malty taste and can be popped like corn. The pre-Colombian Indians believed it had supernatural powers. Its certainly very nutritious.
  • Chia – high in protein and fibre, the Aztecs called it “running food” and used it for nourishment on long trecks .  Mila, the best of chia will be launched into the UK in 2010          
  • Buckwheat –  an excellent alternative to rice or porridge, and its flour has a mild flavour good for buckwheat pancakes
  • Spelt – a nutty flavour and dates back before even wheat. It can be used in many of the same ways as wheat, it has a broader spectrum of nutrients and it is a great substitute
  • Rye – a rich flavour and a favourite for making bread. Rich in manganese, fibre, selenium, tryptophan, phosphorus, magnesium and protein
  • Quinoa – a Peruvian grain once considered the “gold of the Incas” because its high protein content which gave warriors stamina

Healthy indulgence – raw chocolate

Raw chocolate is one of the world’s fastest growing health foods and provides a concentrated source of antioxidants. We will see more raw chocolate products hitting the shelves in 2010 as consumers indulge themselves with cheap, healthy treats they can afford in order to keep their spirits high. Raw chocolate is a health food and a great alternative to cheap, mass produced, low cocoa content chocolate. It’s full of magnesium which is nature’s tranquiliser. 

Local butchers make a comeback

The re-emergence of the local butcher will be another major trend in 2010 for the high street as well as within supermarkets.  This is because shoppers are more conscious about where their meat comes from and are choosier about selecting the best, healthiest, leanest cuts and have it ground on demand.  The popularity of the local butcher is also fuelled by our desire to supporting local enterprises vs. supermarket giants.

Dora Walsh

Head Nutritionist