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: www.nutriheal.net Twitter: @nutritionguru1.com


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: www.nutriheal.net Twitter: @nutritionguru1.com

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: www.nutriheal.net Twitter: @nutritionguru1.com

Foods to burn fat

Yes! Certain foods can help you raise your metabolic rate and burn calories. So let me show you some of the best fat burning secrets to a slim line body.

Make your daily cuppa green

Green tea contains a little bit of caffeine and this stimulant activity can help burn more calories. It also contains flavenoid antioxidants which can help boost metabolism. You can find green tea supplements as well as normal tea bags in your local supermarket.

Spice up your diet

By eating spicy food, you can have a great taste minus the guilt. The capsaicin present in peppers and other hot spices revs up your body’s metabolic rate burning more calories. So try adding some Tabasco sauce to your dishes for a calorie burning kick.

Vitamin C rich foods

Foods rich in vitamin C such as limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit and vegetables like, broccoli, cabbage, celery, watermelon can act as fat burners. Vitamin C dilutes fat in the body rendering it less effective and easier to be flushed out of the system.

Fibre makes you feel fuller

Fibre makes you feel fuller and will help you stop over eating. It also absorbs bad cholesterol in your body and helps to flush it out of your system. Try multicoloured fruits and vegetables with their skins and wholegrains like oats, rye and spelt.

More protein and a little less carb

Your body needs protein to support muscle muscle mass which helps you burn fat Stick with quality proteins like lean meats, fish, poultry and whey and stay away from fatty meats like pork and processed meat products.

5-6 mini meals a day

Don’t ever let yourself go hungry! Instead of 3 meals a day, go for 5-6 smaller meals to keep your metabolism geared up to burn fat and your blood sugar balanced. This will ensure your don’t get those uncontrollable cravings.

Extra tips

The focus should be on eating the right kind of foods in the right proportions and burning calories through movement and exercise. This combination will get you fat burning faster.

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


Healthy chocolate?

Healthy chocolate?

Chocolate sales have soared during the recession as we turn to cheap treats for comfort  throughout  the storm. Kraft is trying to buy Cadbury, some say for its wide product range and healthy profits margins.  Cadbury have successfully relaunched Wispa and nostalgia advertising lulls us  back  to  happier times – providing a sense of security and attachment to the past. Consumers are reaching  out for the familiar to enhance that  human need for security and stability whilst the recession bottoms out.

Our favourite, trusty chocolate bars might make us feel secure in troubled times, but its the biochemical kick  that chocolate gives which alters our mood and plays with our brain receptors and pleasure centres. In Portrait in Sepia, Isabelle Allende’s flamboyant character Paulina del Valle invests in sugar and dramatically enlarges her fortune by being savvy about the craving for sweetness during  hard times. Today confectioners rub their hands as robust chocolate sales boost their balance sheets.

Chocolate exploration

That deep desire for familiarity hasn’t killed the need for adventure or exploration into various continents to stimulate new chocolate innovation.  We are seeing the re-emergence of premium chocolate products from around the world, especially south America. And Like coffee, chocolate from each geographical region has different qualities – chocolate conosiers can tell them apart.

Japan is the  consistent front runner in chocolate innovation, creating some of  the most exciting inventions of our time.  Japanese chocolate not only tastes good, but  some of the products create additional biochemical changes in the body.  Japanese confectioner Esaki Glic developed an anti stress, mental balance chocolate  fortified with  inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma aminio butyric acid  and scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety.  Studies have shown chocolate to be a mood enhancing food, but with additional nutritional ingredients, the Japanese have created a double punch.

Is chocolate healthy?

Can chocolate ever be healthy?  Nutritionists say yes when it’s consumed in its healthiest form. Chocolate can be one of the most highly nutritious foods with multiple health benefits. Research has even shown it has biochemical effects similar to aspirin in reducing platelet stickiness and it therefore plays a role in heart health. However, the term  “healthy chocolate” remains a misnomer until confectioners decide to stop adding sugar, e numbers and artificial ingredients. Unlikely. Chocaholics become addicted to particular products and confectioners create  highly addictive formulations –  a heady mix of taste, sweetness  and fat  – yielding a consistency that keep’s us coming back for more.

Raw, sexy chocolate

Raw chocolate provides a healthy alternative to cheap, mass produced, low cocoa content chocolate , and is one of the world’s fastest growing health foods and provides unadultarated naked goodness.

The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa (a fruit) and one of the healthiest fruits commonly eaten by us. Raw cocoa has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world. Food scientists discovered that cacoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.  Recent research  has shown a link between cocoa and cardiovascular health, with reduced risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.

Waking up to the benefits of chocolate

Today there’s an increasing demand from healthy savvy consumers for chocolate in its most natural, unrefined and non-processed state (raw) state. Consumers want health and you can’t get healthier than raw, unprocessed chocolate. Consequently, we are seeing a slew of new raw chocolate products and recipes hitting the market and this trend is set to get bigger and bigger.

Raw chocolate is the healthiest way to eat chocolate because its production preserves the intrinsic goodness of the cacao – which is highly nutritious and rich in essential vitamins and minerals including the mineral magnesium (known to nutritionists as nature’s tranquiliser). It’s thought that many chocaholics are actually deficient in magnesium, which is probably why they are craving chocolate.

Raw and unprocessed cacao beans or cacao powder made from raw beans which have not been heated or treated with alkalis are true “healthy chocolate”. This kind of chocolate contains the most flavanols and are the healthiest chocolate products. Chocolate consumed in this way can serve us well as a health food and has a whole host of benefits, especially for heart health, blood pressure, cholesterol lowering, mood enhancement etc.

So yes,when eaten in the right way ( i.e raw), chocolate can be healthy so enjoy it  in moderation.

Dora Walsh

Founder and Head Nutritionist


Beauty breakfast

Those wanting to have a steady supply of energy in the morning, good digestion, regular elimination and beautiful skin have traditionally used this breakfast. It requires minimum preparation and is ready to be eaten in the morning.

Before you go to bed, take a tub of plain, live sugar free yoghurt and mix it with orange juice to form a shake. Throw in handful of porridge oats, linseeds, a couple of chopped prunes, sunflower seeds and a couple of chopped apricots. Leave in the fridge to ferment overnight, and eat it in the morning on its own or with some fresh fruit or berries.

You can experiment with using other juices or water, seeds and nuts. The oats, linseeds and nuts will provide you with vitamin B essential for the nervous system and mood; omega 3 fats which are important of brain and hormonal function, as well as vitamin E and the mineral Zinc – two key antioxidants which work together.


Dora Walsh

Head Nutritionist and Founder