A Registered Dietitian’s Guide to Supplements

This blog post has been kindly written by Maleeha Ali (Student at the University of Leeds) and edited by Debra Williams (Registered Dietitian).


The nutritional supplement industry was estimated to be worth an astonishing £102.33 billion in 2020 and this industry is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. Nutritional supplements take many different forms each serving a different purpose. It is important to take a food first approach so that nutrients from food are encouraged first before adding in a supplement. Supplements have distinctive functions thus aren’t suitable for all individuals and may even cause harm if consumed incorrectly. This blog post is for information only and aims to clarify any confusion regarding nutritional supplements. If you have questions about your supplement needs, speak with a qualified health professional that can assess your diet considering your medical history and any relevant blood test results.

So, what are the different types of supplements?

Before we get started, it is first necessary to define exactly what a nutritional supplement is. According to the Food Standards Agency, nutritional supplements are described as ‘a concentrated source of a vitamin, mineral, or other substance with a nutritional or physiological effect, alone or in combination and is sold in dose form.’ They can be found in many forms including powder, tablets, capsules, liquid, and even gummies.

Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients required by our body for various functions. Supplements can be used to treat a deficiency or to help an individual meet a specific nutrient need.  Other popular supplement categories include herbal supplements, weight loss supplements, protein powders, and sports nutrition supplements such as BCAAs, creatine, and pre-workout powders. Some common supplements taken in the UK include Vitamin D, B12 and folic acid as well as other products such as protein powders and probiotics.

Who needs supplements?

There is no specific criteria on who requires nutritional supplements; this will vary greatly depending on individual factors such as lifestyle, diet, genetics etc. The list below describes some common supplements and explains who may require them.

Vitamin D: In the UK, the limited sunlight means vitamin D intake is sometimes insufficient and thus children and adults are recommended to take vitamin D supplements to prevent any deficiency forming.

Protein Powders: Individuals who are building muscle need to increase their protein intake and may achieve this via protein powders and shakes. The increased intake will help with muscle growth and repair.

Folic Acid: folic acid supplements are standard for pregnant women and women who plan to become pregnant to reduce the risk of spina bifida.

Vitamin B12: many individuals can meet their nutrient needs through a balanced diet, however there are certain scenarios where deficiencies may occur. For example, supplementation of vitamin B12 is often helpful for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

What are meal replacements?

These are usually low-calorie items that are fortified with essential macronutrients and micronutrients that aim to promote weight management and/or accommodate weight loss. They usually come in the form of drinks, bars, or soups.

Studies have found that meal replacement products are often preferred by individuals trying to lose weight as there is a ‘reduced need to think about food’ as well as no need for ‘portion control and calorie counting’. Astbury et al 2019, found that ‘programmes incorporating meal replacements led to greater weight loss’ and thus deemed them a ‘valid option’ in controlling obesity. Type 2 diabetics may also find meal replacement products beneficial when managing their symptoms (Dasgupta et al 2022). However, it is important to seek advice from a registered dietitian on how long these products can be used for.

What are the risks of supplements?

Many people will decide to take a supplement simply because they saw a targeted ad, or a friend recommended it. This comes with risk! and can often be unnecessary money out of your pocket.

Other risks include:

Drug interactions – some supplements may interfere with pharmaceuticals. For example, Vitamin K can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners like Coumadin.

Overdosing – more is not always better! Some micronutrients, namely fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K), can build up in the body. There are also many supplements that provide very large doses of particular nutrients, which may be dangerous in some cases.

Misleading labels and marketing – Dietary supplements are not well-regulated and manufacturers will often use misleading information to drive sales.

Should you be taking a supplement?

In typical dietitian talk, the answer is that it depends! While there may be benefits for some, there may also be potential risks. If you feel that you may have a nutrient of concern, ask a registered dietitian if you can increase your intake of that nutrient with food first before turning to a supplement.

Further information

For more information on nutritional supplements please read this fantastic BDA food fact sheet


Astbury, NM, Piernas, C, Hartmann-Boyce, J, Lapworth, S, Aveyard, P, Jebb, SA. A    systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of meal replacements for weight loss. Obesity Reviews. 2019; 20: 569–587.

Dasgupta K, Boulé N, Henson J, et al. Remission of type 2 diabetes and improved diastolic function by combining structured exercise with meal replacement and food reintroduction among young adults: the RESET for REMISSION randomised controlled trial protocol. BMJ Open. 2022;12: e063888. 


Fantastic video all about diabetes

I would love to share with you this video giving you some interesting facts about diabetes and how this can be improved with diet and lifestyle. This has been kindly prepared by 1st year student, Maleeha Ali at the University of Leeds. Thank you Maleeha!

Check out our knowledge hub section where you can learn more interesting facts about diabetes


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Food and nutrients

Should I eat ripe or unripe fruit?

We are all know about the benefits of fruits and vegetables and the importance of getting our 5 a day.

Focussing on fruits – they are a fantastic source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre which need to be consumed as part of a well-balanced healthy diet.

It is important not to stress too much on the benefits of one fruit over another but bear in mind it is a good idea to eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables in your diet. Ever heard the phrase “eat a rainbow?”  This means choosing a variety of different coloured whole foods throughout the day and week.

However, did you know that as many fruits ripen this can affect the nutritional composition?

Nutrition consultant, Debra Williams from Eat Well Now explains this in more detail.

Sugar content increases as fruits ripen

As fruits go through the ripening process there is an increase in the breakdown of starch which is converted into simple sugars such as sucrose, glucose and fructose.   These sugars are more easily and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.  This is something to bear in mind if you are diabetic as you ideally want to consume carbohydrates that are more slowly absorbed and have a low glycaemic index. As an example, for diabetics it is best to have bananas that are more unripe (greener in colour) and avoid too many yellow bananas.

Another fact to note is more sugar means more calories so for people that are trying to lose weight this may be a concern. However, to counter that for some individuals eating under ripe fruit may be an advantage in that some fruits for example, green bananas contain more resistant starch. Resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine and can be helpful as a food source for our gut bacteria.

Antioxidants generally increase as fruits ripen

Why is this?  Fruits undergo important metabolic changes during ripening, including chlorophyll breakdown, anthocyanin or carotenoid pigment accumulation. However, this is not the case for all fruits and some antioxidant classes (phenolic compounds) can decrease as fruits ripen. There is a huge array of research published on the health benefits of antioxidants and them being protective against heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Blackberries are particularly high in antioxidants. Blackberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that give them their deep purple colour. However, they are also high in vitamin C and potassium.

Vitamin C can increase or decrease during ripening

This really depends on the type of fruit. For example, in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons the vitamin C is highest when the fruit is not as ripe.  Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is highly unstable and has a short shelf life so when fruits are stored for too long the vitamin C can diminish over time. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and has various benefits such as boosting our immune system, maintaining healthy skin and aid in wound healing.

The  level of minerals in fruit does not change much as they ripen

The mineral content of fruit very rarely changes much during the ripening process so for example a green banana will contain a similar amount of potassium as a yellow banana.

What about buying frozen, canned or dried fruit?

It is also important to note that frozen, dried and tinned fruit can be equally as nutritious as fresh fruit as they are often processed immediately after harvesting so some nutrients are likely to be higher as the fruits will not have been left in storage for too long.

There are many factors that can affect the nutritional composition of fruit and these include use of fertilisers, soil composition, growing and storage conditions.

So when we next look at the fruit in our fruit bowls it is well worth thinking about the journey the fruit has taken from when it has been harvested and how over time the nutritional content can vary.  Overall though we all need to be eating more fruits and vegetables in our diets. With the cost-of-living crisis a concern for many of us it can be comforting to know that we do not always need to buy fresh fruit and we can consider buying tinned, frozen or dried fruit.

Food and nutrients

It is time for some clarity about carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are often viewed unfavourably when talking about a “healthy” diet. But in truth, these macronutrients are vital for several key functions in the body. They are a primary source of energy and act as a fuel for our brains.

However, not all carbohydrates were created equally; refined sugary carbohydrates like cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks, do not provide as many health benefits as starchy high fibre carbohydrates such as wholegrain cereals or pulses. These are nutrient dense, for example lentils are packed full of B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium.

There are so many myths and conflicting information concerning carbohydrates. Some common misconceptions are listed and explained below:

Myth 1: “Carbohydrates are bad for you”

One of the primary functions of carbohydrates is to act as an energy store. Through digestion in your body, they are broken down to glucose, which travels in the blood to our cells. This provides us with energy to go about our daily life!

Dietary fibre (a type of carbohydrate) is fundamental to our gut health. Soluble and insoluble fibre both pass through the body undigested, promoting good digestive health and acting as a fuel for friendly gut bacteria. Soluble fibre also slows the rise of our blood glucose levels, so we feel more energised for longer.

Some research also suggests that combining tryptophan-rich foods with carbohydrates, can help tryptophan reach the brain and promote a good night’s sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in small amounts in protein rich foods, and in higher amounts in yogurt, milk and bananas. You could for example combine banana and yogurt, or salmon and lentils.

Myth 2: “Carbohydrates are fattening”

When choosing carbohydrates, the type and quality is key. Refined carbohydrates, such as white flour, white pasta and pastries are a risk factor for heart conditions or developing diabetes. High sugar foods are generally calorie dense and of little nutritional value. When eaten in excess, there is potential for weight gain, but this is a consequence of overeating and not from these foods alone.

However unprocessed, unrefined carbohydrates will have greater positive benefits, providing other nutrients. These include oats which are fibre rich and high in protein, or brown rice, quinoa and lentils.

Myth 3: “Cutting out carbohydrates leads to weight loss”

Recent research highlights the role of low carbohydrate diets like the Atkins or Ketogenic diet, in promoting short-term weight loss. However, in the long-term these diets reduce overall nutrient and fibre intake and so can damage the gut microbiome, leading to reduced overall health. Reducing carbohydrate intake should be balanced with an overall healthier lifestyle, such as increasing the amount of unprocessed whole foods, and reducing sugar intake.

It is possible to take a “whole body” approach and acknowledge the benefit of certain carbohydrate over others, without labelling them as “good” or “bad”. This does not serve any purpose except encourage feelings of guilt. Moderation overall is best approach in relation to carbohydrates and the focus should lie upon the quality and type, to ensure optimal gut health and long-lasting energy.

Restricting carbohydrates may serve for short-term weight loss but does not tend to be a long-term sustainable approach. The government’s Eatwell Guide recommends that just over a third of your diet should stem from starchy carbohydrate foods, and another third from fruit, vegetables, and salad. It is hard therefore, to deny the importance of unrefined and unprocessed carbohydrates in a healthy balanced diet.

I hope that this article has solved some of the questions with regards the ongoing debate on carbohydrates.

Written by Lara Bracher (student) and edited by Debra Williams (RD)

1: Crispim CA; Zimberg IZ; dos Reis BG; Diniz RM; Tufik S; de Mello MT . (2011). Relationship between food intake and sleep pattern in healthy individuals. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
2: Jacka, F. (2019). Brain changer; How diet can save your mental health. Yellow Kite.

Eating on a budget

Healthy eating on a budget

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people across the UK have been subject to greater financial struggles. According to the Department for Work and Pensions, the UK claimant count has soared from around 1.2 million to 2.7 million since the lockdown began (Office for National Statistics, 2020) Generally, the living expense that people spend the most money on is on food, whether that’s your grocery shopping bill or eating out.

Although it can be challenging to eat a healthy, balanced diet when on a tight budget, there are several ways to decrease your weekly grocery bill and save money on food.

1.Focus on whole foods

It is much more expensive to buy foods such as pre-chopped vegetables and grated cheese instead of the whole vegetable and a block of cheese. It only takes a couple minutes to prepare and can save you lots of money in the long term! Whole grains such as oats are also much cheaper than buying processed cereals.

2. Home cooking

Ready-made processed and packaged foods are more expensive than buying the ingredients to make the dish, and they usually contain many additives such as preservatives and sweeteners. This massively decreases the nutritional value of the food and can increase the amount of sugar and saturated fat that it contains. Cooking from scratch means you know exactly what goes into the food. Additionally, cook more than you want to eat and save the rest for another meal; maybe lunch the next day or for an evening when you don’t have much time. This will ensure you always have a healthy, home-cooked meal ready, to avoid buying convenience foods or takeaways.

3.Fruit and vegetables

Frozen fruit and vegetables can be much cheaper than fresh. Having some stores of frozen fruit/vegetables will also mean you don’t have to worry about them perishing and adding to food waste. They are also still packed with vitamins and minerals! With frozen fruit you can whip up  smoothies or “nice cream (ice cream made from frozen bananas and milk) and you can simply cook the vegetables from frozen.

4.Buy the store’s own brand product.

Supermarkets tend to do their own brand for pretty much all products as well as the branded versions. Think of foods such as milk, yoghurt, oats, cereals, cheese, meat, tinned beans. Supermarket brands are usually cheaper, taste just the same, and have the same nutritional values, so save money by opting for them instead.

5.Eat protein sources other than meat.

Good quality cuts of meat can be very expensive. Cheaper meats are often poor quality and/or processed, and therefore, can contain lots of saturated fat. Purchase foods such as eggs, beans, legumes, pulses and tinned fish as alternatives. These are all cheaper to buy and are much lower in saturated fats, and high in protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre.

6.Be organised and batch cook

If you know you have a busy day and won’t be able to cook lunch or dinner, prepare food the night before. Eating out is always more expensive than cooking, so taking lunch with you instead of buying it out can save lots of money over time.

7.Limit alcohol consumption.

We all love to go for a drink with friends but try to limit the consumption of alcohol on a regular basis. Not only is it generally very expensive, but alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it has a dehydrating effect on your body. If you don’t drink plenty of water with alcohol, it can quickly make you dehydrated.

8.Freeze food.

Fresh foods such as bread and meat (check the packaging) can be frozen to avoid them spoiling and being thrown out. This not only means you will save money by always eating the food you buy, but it limits the amount of food that goes to waste, helping you to contribute towards the fight against climate change!

9.Avoid food waste

If you are interested in finding some recipes you can do with leftover foods then I would highly recommend the following website Love food, hate waste

10.Share recipes with friends & family

If you find some easy low cost recipes then it is a great idea to share these with friends and family so they can also learn more about cooking healthy meals from scratch.

Hopefully these tips have been helpful for you, and you can incorporate some into your routine, leading to a healthier and cheaper lifestyle!

Written by Emily
Gardiner (Student in Natural Sciences) and edited by Debra Williams (Registered Dietitian)


Online remote consultations

At Eat Well Now we are still continuing to offer nutrition consultations and work with businesses during the period of lockdown. If you are an individual or business needing dietary advice we can do zoom consultations which offer flexibility and convenience to suit your requirements.

We understand this is a period of anxiety and uncertainty for many people and especially with concerns over health and wellbeing.

I hope you are all keeping safe and well.



Dietitian SOS during the coronavirus pandemic

No matter who we are, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused trouble for us all. Unemployment has risen, many of us are missing friends/family, and there can be difficulties in obtaining staple food items such as pasta and flour at the local supermarket. However, there are several steps we can take to ensure that we stay positive and resilient to get through these challenging times.

How to eat well during a pandemic 

A pandemic may cause some difficulty in obtaining all your normal food essentials; however, it does not have to result in unhealthy eating. It is important to try to stay strong and keep to a routine during such a confusing and distressing time. This period in your life may give you the prime opportunity to learn the value of nutrition and get innovative in the kitchen! Always aim to use up your fresh, but perishable ingredients first, to ensure food does not to go to waste. In order to do this, you need to know what fresh food has a longer shelf life. Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, or onions usually last well after their use by date. As always, try to consume the recommended 5-a-day, and be aware that frozen/canned varieties of fruit and vegetables can be equally as nutritious as fresh. 

Ensure that you keep some easy to cook and prepare meals on standby in case of sickness. Soups and frozen ready meals are some examples.

Can diet boost immunity?

Diet cannot directly boost immunity and no specific food or supplement will prevent you catching Covid-19. However, good nutrition and hydration aids the normal function of the immune system and people who are nutritionally well cope better if they do catch Covid-19. It is important to follow a healthy balanced diet with foods from all food groups as shown in the Eat Well Guide. Micronutrients that will support immunity include copper, folate, iron, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D.

If you are self-isolating, especially if you have symptoms, good nutrition is essential and you need to ensure you are eating regularly even if you have a low appetite. If you feel that you are not consuming a healthy balanced diet you may want to consider a multivitamin/mineral supplement but ensure you seek advice from a dietitian or other healthcare professional on which would be most suitable for your circumstances.

Lack of time outdoors

Vitamin D works with calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones, muscles, and teeth. Most of our vitamin D comes from sunlight hence why it is often called the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Getting in some daily sunshine, as little as 15 minutes in the garden or during a short walk, or by consuming a daily supplement, will assist in boosting serum vitamin D levels. If you are self-isolating and unable to go outside, it would be highly recommended that you take a vitamin D supplement of 10mcg daily. It is difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from food sources however it can be found in eggs, oily fish, meat, offal and milk. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamin D. 

Food shopping

Try and keep shopping trips to a minimum to avoid risk of too much exposure to others and ensure you follow the social distancing rules. If you are sick and/or self-isolating you can ask friends or family members for help with getting your supplies. You can also try doing online food shopping so that your supplies are delivered. Panic buying is not necessary, even for toilet roll, as the government will not close supermarkets. Currently, any product shortages are mostly due to panic buying. Kidney beans for example, are often a regularly consumed food for vegan individuals, therefore if you do not normally buy kidney beans, please do not ‘stock up’.

What can you do when essentials cannot be found?

If some essentials cannot be bought at the time you go shopping, do not worry. There are alternatives to foods such as eggs and pasta – you just have to be imaginative. For example, if you have promised the kids that you are going to bake some cookies, yet eggs cannot be obtained then look for other recipes that use different ingredients. Furthermore, pasta can be substituted for spiralised courgette. You may not currently own a spiraliser, but they are a useful kitchen utensil which can be easily ordered online, enabling meal creativity. Alternatively, you could use other starchy carbohydrate sources such as potatoes, noodles, rice or cous cous.

Time to get cooking

Staying at home will free up time to enable you to do more home cooking which is a great time to learn some new skills and try out different recipes. It will also be an opportunity to do a stock take of your kitchen cupboards and fridge and have a decluttering session and throw away any goods that have gone past their best before date. There are many websites you can go to for healthy recipes suitable for all dietary preferences including BBC good food, let’s get cooking  and love food, hate waste You could do some batch cooking so that you can freeze some meals ready in case of sickness. It is important to follow general food safety advice such as washing your hands with antibacterial soap (which you should be doing regularly anyway) and cleaning down food preparation surfaces. 

Keep to a routine

Keeping to a routine at this time regarding meals is important as it will aid in life feeling a little bit more normal. Restricting food or overindulging due to boredom could cause constipation or weight fluctuations. Mealtimes are likely something you look forward to and give you an opportunity to be creative (something your working hours may usually prevent). If you can exercise, make sure that you are keeping active daily as this will help to ensure you keep a positive frame of mind. To prevent yourself from feeling lonely and isolated ensure you keep connected with others either online/by telephone. 

Further information and support

If you have any specific dietary queries, then ensure you contact a registered dietitian or other healthcare professional for further help.

Article written by Erin Wilson-Taylor and edited by Debra Williams (Registered Dietitians)


Thinking of becoming a harmonious herbivore?

What is plant based eating?

Plant based diets are those that focus primarily on foods derived from plant sources, including fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and meat substitutes, such as tofu, to name a few. People choose plant based diets for many different reasons including concern about the treatment of animals, health reasons, environmental concerns, personal tastes and also social pressure. These types of diets are becoming very popular but they do need some careful planning to ensure that you receive all the nutrients you require for good health.

There are various types of plant based diets, so you should make sure to choose the version that best suits you. These include being semi-vegetarian/flexitarian, pescatarian, vegetarian and finally, vegan.

Those whom follow plant-based diets tend to consume a wider variety of fruits, vegetables and pulses, so are more likely to reach their ‘five-a-day’ target, as well as consuming a higher intake of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Currently, only 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children manage to achieve their five-a-day in the UK – the ‘five-a-day’ goal was set by the World Health organisation in order to help reduce the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases, so is essential to follow in order to remain healthy.

Why is it important to follow a healthy, balanced diet?

Unfortunately, ‘plant-based’ does not automatically mean ‘more-healthy’, particularly when it comes down to processed and packaged foods. For example, refined sugar, white flour and certain vegetable fat products labelled ‘plant-based’ should not make up the bulk of your diet. It is still important to ensure that the diet you are predominantly following has as many nutritional benefits as possible. Following a consistently well-balanced plant-based diet rich in wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds can provide benefits, due to helping lower the body mass index, cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as protecting against some cancers.

There is a high risk of certain deficiencies and nutrients associated with plant based diets and veganism, therefore, key nutrients that should be focused on include protein, iron, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

What types of food should vegans/those following plant based diets eat, in order to receive all nutrients? e.g. alternatives to animal and dairy products.

In  the UK, adults are advised to eat 0.75g protein for each kilogram they weigh, daily. However, a more active individual requires more protein than those living a more sedentary lifestyle. A rough guideline suggests that men should aim to eat 55g protein and women should eat 45g of protein daily. Animal and dairy products provide ‘complete’ protein sources, however, in terms of plant-based eating, soy is the only complete protein source. However, beans, pulses, nuts & seeds are all also protein sources, but due to not containing all the essential amino acids, variation is key  throughout the day and week so a mixture of both pulses and cereals are recommended. Nuts and seeds are great sources of proteins and essential fats – those which are particularly rich in protein include almonds, cashews, chia seeds and flaxseeds. For example, a 30g portion of almonds provides 6g of protein.

Calcium is important to maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis – for vegans, sources include nut milks such as almond milk and soya milk as well as some vegetables such as broccoli and dried fruit. Calcium-set tofu and calcium-fortified bread are also options.

Iron is also an essential nutrient required and is especially important for menstruating and pregnant women. Iron can be sourced via many foods including lentils, chickpeas, beans, dried fruits, nuts, wholegrains and tofu as well as seeds including chia seeds, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds. Iron from plant based foods is absorbed much less efficiently than iron in animal sources. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C aid in the absorption of iron.

In order for vegans to obtain adequate vitamin B12, they will need to take a daily supplementation or eat foods that are fortified with vitamin B12 at least twice a day.  Examples of foods that are fortified with vitamin B12 include some breakfast cereals and yeast extracts.

What is the importance of seeing a Registered dietitian for tailored advice?

It is important that people choosing to follow a vegan/plant-based diet receive correct advice from a reliable sources due to the lack of nutrients available within these specific diets – visiting a Registered dietitian will allow them to access advice tailored to their individual nutritional needs.

“Dietitians use the most up-to-date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.” – BDA

This article was kindly written by Ella Goddard (Student) and edited by myself Debra Williams.



18/12/18 – Eat, drink and be merry

It’s almost that time of year again when we look forward to all the festivities that Christmas brings with lots of parties, socialising and enjoying festive dining. However, for those that are struggling to battle the bulge being surrounded by all the temptations of high calorie food and drink it can be a time of despair.

It is just a case of being sensible. You can still enjoy all the celebrations of Christmas at this magical time of year. You can easily make healthy choices by following the top ten tips below:

1.       Start the day with a healthy breakfast e.g. fruit/low fat yoghurt, porridge with dried fruit, wholegrain toast/muffins with low fat spread.

2.       Starters – you could chose something with smoked salmon on crackers, melon or homemade vegetable soup.

3.       Main course – turkey is very low fat, high protein (ensure you take off the skin), for vegetarians try a Quorn roast or a nut & vegetable bake.

4.       Roast potatoes – try and use an oil spray such as rapeseed/sunflower oil and not have too many of these.

5.       Vegetables – aim to cover a 1/3 of your plate with vegetables which are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals and very filling.  Don’t cook for too long.  Either steam or microwave to keep all the nutrients in.  If you are cooking in water only use a small amount to reduce the amount of nutrients lost in the water.

6.       Desserts – have fresh fruit salad (with crème freshe) as an alternative.  Also, Christmas pudding does contain lots of fruit so have a small portion and serve with crème freshe/low fat custard.

7.       Cheese boards – watch your portion sizes as cheese can be highly calorific.  Try and choose lower fat versions such as Edam, goats cheese, camembert.  Have with high fibre crackers such as oatcakes.

8.       Watch out for those snacks – it is often the biscuits, cakes, sweets that tend to pile on the pounds.  Make sure that there are healthy alternatives around as well – for example popcorn, pretzels, satsumas, dried fruit, raw vegetables and low fat dips.

9.       Alcohol – provides lots of empty calories.  Try and make healthier choices so choose low calorie diet mixers with spirits.  Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water.

10.   Be active – ensure that you keep active and get some fresh air by perhaps going for a daily walk over the festive season.  This is a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends.

I wish you all the best for a fabulous Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all.