5/5/21 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.

09/11/2020 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 https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes

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)

05/06/2020 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.


15/04/20 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 https://letsgetcooking.org.uk/  and love food, hate waste https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/. 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)

03/06/19 – 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.

26/06/18 – Are you wilting as summer temperatures soar?

Now the summer is well and truly in full swing and we are spending more time outdoors, being more active and feeling the heat it is important to stay hydrated.

Signs of dehydration include Headaches, lack of concentration, irritability, high pulse rate, and extreme thirst.

So it is important that we drink enough fluids throughout the day to ensure that we are not getting thirsty.  One should never be thirsty or else we are already in a state of dehydration.

Here are my top ten tips to staying hydrated.

1.       Hydrate in advance – start your day with a big glass of water and ensure that you drink water before you go out in the sun or exercise.  Obviously, you need to drink regularly throughout the day but think ahead.

2.       Avoid too much caffeine – drinks containing caffeine act as a diuretic (make you pee more) and therefore cause you to lose more fluids so make sure that you avoid caffeinated drinks.

3.       Avoid too much alcohol as this can also also act as a diuretic and make you dehydrated.  You could try drinking water between alcoholic drinks.

4.       Keep an eye on the colour of your urine – if it is too dark you are dehydrated.

5.       Eat more fruit as this contains water.

6.       Flavour water naturally with fruit if you don’t like plain water.

7.       Milk and sugar free drinks including teas and herbal teas, coffee and fruit juice contribute to your fluid intake too. However, limit yourself to one glass  150mls of unsweetened fruit juice per day,

8.       Keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times.

9.       Have a liquid breakfast such as a smoothie.

10.   The amount of fluid we need depends on many factors including humidity, temperature of the environment and the amount of exercise we do.  The amount we need can vary from person to person.

How much should I be drinking?

As a guide women should be drinking a minimum of 1600mls a day and men at least 2000mls a day.

Please click on the link to find more detailed information on recommended intake for specific groups including the children and pregnant/lactating women – https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/fluid_water_drinks

If you need further advice and help on any nutrition and hydration issues please contact us at enquiries@eatwellnow.co.uk.

16/04/18 – Spring clean the health and wellbeing of your workforce

16/04/18 Spring clean the health and wellbeing of your workforce

Are you an employer looking to create a healthier work environment in your workplace?  Perhaps you are an HR manager who is responsible for organising employee perks and benefits?  At Eat Well Now we run workplace nutrition workshops that cover topics such as food and mood, heart health, weight management, how to manage stress/IBS and much more.

Improving the wellbeing of your staff can reduce absence; lead to a more productive workforce; and improve staff morale.  Having fun, interactive events and workshops in your workplace can help foster a positive thinking culture amongst your employees and help with team building.

Debra has recently become accredited to deliver the BDA Work Ready programme so be rest assured that you will be receiving advice which is evidence based by a Registered Dietitian. The BDA work ready programme offers a bespoke nutritional wellness programme tailored to your employees’ needs.

To find out more about the BDA Work Ready programme  and the benefits of improving your employees’ health and wellbeing and please follow this link https://eatwellnow.co.uk/workplace-nutrition-workshop/

You can contact us at enquiries@eatwellnow.co.uk to book an initial meeting or arrange an nutritional needs assessment of your organisation.

5/06/2017 Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) for Type 2 Diabetes

 5/06/2017 Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) for Type 2 Diabetes

Research on very low calorie diets

The use of very low calorie diets for Type 2 Diabetes hit headlines when researchers at Newcastle University found that a VLCD was effective in reversing Type 2 Diabetes.  Since this initial research another high profile research study has started.  Diabetes UK are working with Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University and Professor Mike Lean at the University of Glasgow.  Their research team are looking at the long term effects of an intensive weight management plan that can help put Type 2 Diabetes into remission.

The study by Diabetes UK is called the DIRECT study. For further information on this please click on the link 

What is a very low calorie diet?

A very low calorie diet is defined as a diet with a calorie intake of 1000kcals/day or less. A very low calorie diet will typically involved replacing conventional foods with diet milkshakes, soups or bars.  It is not recommended that you maintain a very low calorie diet for longer than 12 weeks as extreme calorie reduction can lead to nutrition deficiencies and could even lead to heart problems.

Is the diet safe to follow?

Very low calorie diets are regarded as extreme diets and anyone interested in trying the diet should consult their doctor or specialist who can assess its suitability for you.

One issue with very low calorie diets is ensuring you get enough essential vitamins. A dietitian can help you to ensure your nutritional needs are best met whilst following the diet.

What diet is being used in the DIRECT study?

The diet used in DiRECT will last for between 8 and 20 weeks and provide around 800 calories a day. It will consist of four diet soups or shakes per day, providing all essential vitamins and minerals and lots of fluids.

How can I follow a similar diet?

If you are interested in following a similar diet then it is essential that you do so under medical supervision to ensure that it is appropriate for you to follow a VLCD.  It is also essential that you do so under the guidance of a Registered Dietitian.  At Eat Well Now we specialise in weight management issues and diabetes and can provide advice that is tailored to your individual needs.  We can advise on a range of low calorie diets including meal replacement programmes.

20/9/16 The dangers of the “clean eating” fad

A review of the BBC programme “Clean eating dirty secrets”

I really enjoyed watching the BBC programme “ Clean eating dirty secrets.”  See attached link to watch this now on BBC iplayer.


It really does highlight the issue of faddy diets and the latest trendy craze on “clean eating.”  This programme highlights the dangers of following such faddy diets that cut out so many types of foods.  There seems to be an increase in so called “wellness professionals” that say they have the knowledge and answers to all your health problems.   Common trendy diet terms include acid/alkaline diets and “clean eating”.  Clean eating gurus promote eating regimes that are based wholly on plant based foods.  There are many wellness bloggers out there that provide advice that has no scientific basis behind it – this is extremely dangerous and such information should be treated with caution.

The whole healthy eating and diet industry is extremely lucrative with many companies/individuals making vast sums of money promoting products/services that are not backed up with any scientific evidence.

Another worry I have with all these trendy fad diets is the potential harm they can cause in the long term with individuals developing very unbalanced diets and possible eating disorders. In the programme they talk about a condition called “ orthorexia” which is when someone suffers from an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.  This “clean eating” trend seems to be leading to an increase in the numbers of people suffering from orthorexia.

On the BBC programme I was glad to hear the views from Registered Dietitians putting the facts straight on such faddy diets.  If you are in any way concerned about your diet and want to ensure that you are consuming a healthy well balanced diet always seek advice from a qualified Registered Dietitian.

6/07/16 Bariatric Diets: What and how to eat

lapbandDiets for Bariatric (Gastric band) Surgery

If you have had bariatric surgery or are considering having surgery it is essential you receive dietary advice from a Registered Dietitian.

The right diet and proper bariatric eating techniques can mean the difference between success and failure. This will ensure that you avoid complications and maximise short and long term weight loss.

It is essential that you do not see gastric band or bypass surgery as a quick fix. There is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to losing weight. The key is to be sensible and follow a healthy well balanced diet under the guidance of a Dietitian. This will ensure that you achieve and sustain weight loss for the long term.

Your journey

I like to think of losing weight as a journey. When you are considering any journey it all starts with the planning. So with bariatric surgery you will want to consider is this the best option for me? What type of operation is suitable for me? Should I have a gastric band or gastric bypass? What changes will I need to make to my diet? There will be many more questions that come to mind.

Pre-operative diet

If you are planning on having a gastric band or gastric bypass you will need to follow a pre-operative diet and this will be required to shrink your liver. Having an enlarged liver will make it difficult for your surgeon to perform the operation. Your pre-operative diet will be low carbohydrate with plenty of fluids, however you will only need to follow this for 1-2 weeks.

Post Surgery

After surgery you will need to ensure that you follow a detailed baratric surgery eating plan for the first few weeks. This will allow your body to heal and also give you time to work up to normalised eating but with much smaller portions. For the first couple of days after surgery you will be advised to have liquids only and you will gradually work up from clear fluids to normal fluids. For the first 4 weeks you will recommended to have pureed/blended foods such as yoghurts, smoothies, soups, pureed meals. Then after 4 weeks the aim is to increase the ‘solidness’ of your foods so that you are eating soft consistency foods such as mashed potato, fishermans pie, shepherds pie. By approximately 6 weeks you should be back up to a normal diet but be eating much smaller portions.

If you have a gastric band you will be looking at having your first gastric band fill at around 6 weeks after surgery which will add restriction. With gastric bands you will have regular band fills until you reach a point at which you are consuming a good range of types of different foods and be losing weight at a steady rate. I often call this the “sweet spot” and it is the optimum zone to be at with your gastric band. It is essential that you are regularly assessed by a Registered Dietitian to ensure that your diet is well balanced and you are consuming a good range of different foods.

Top ten tips for eating well with a gastric band/bypass

1. Eat healthy well balanced meals and ensure that you include all 5 food groups.
2. Eat regular meals breakfast, lunch and dinner which will also help regulate your appetite.belly-2473_1280 (2)
3. Portion sizes – should be around the size of a teaplate.
4. Drink sufficient fluids at the right times, avoid drinking with meals but drink 30 mins before a meal or 60 minutes after.
5. Don’t snack too much between meals.
6. Eat slowly and chew food well.
7. Ensure that you eat the protein part of your meal first, following by vegetables/salad and then carbohydrates.
8. You may also be recommended to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement (this is essential if you have had a gastric bypass to avoid any nutritional deficiencies).
9. Eat the protein part of your meal first, followed by vegetables/salad and then carbohydrates.
10. Try new foods when you are in a comfortable environment, stress will make eating with the band harder

Problem foods

Some people have found that certain foods can cause a blockage to form above the band leading to vomiting, these are listed below and care should be taken with them.
o Asparagus
o Pineapple
o Rhubarb, cut the strands into small pieces
o Oranges and dried fruit
o Coconut
o Chips
o Popcorn
o Nuts, ok if you chew them well into a paste
o Very soft white bread, pasta

If a food feels like it is stuck try a sip a small amount of warm liquid or (although we don’t normally recommend drinking coke) try taking some sips of coke, the fizzy can help dislodge the food.

You can find detailed guidance by reading the Bariatric Surgery Nutritional Guidelines from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

Healthy eating for life

In order to change your eating habits and ensure that you losing weight and staying on track it can be helpful to get support. This can be from support groups, friends/family or your Dietitian. Also, you may want to set yourself some goals to achieve to help keep you motivated. Also, it is essential that you reward yourself along the way with non-food treats. You may find it helpful to keep a diary or journal of your weight loss journey to see how you are changing as a person and focus on all the positive changes you are making to your life. If you are struggling with emotional eating you may want to think about what the triggers are and try and avoid these and find some ways of dealing with them. Don’t beat yourself up when you feel that you have had a bad day and not eaten so well. Just put it behind you and move on and start again.

Help and support

Always, reach out for help and support when you need it. Speak to health professionals at your bariatric surgery centre. Ask your Dietitian for ideas on meals to cook to help keep your diet varied and interesting. Join a local support group or set your own up!
And finally, I wish you all the best in your weight loss journey 

If you are based in Exeter or Devon contact Debra at Eat Well Now to book a consultation.

5/07/16 Special Summer promotional offer

5/07/16 Promotional offer until the end of July – 15% off initial consultationsstrawberries-1463806_1280
Debra is back at Eat Well Now after doing a full time professional teaching course and is offering a 15% discount off all initial consultations that are booked before the end of July.   She is available for personal consultations in person/via skype.    As well as doing personal dietary consultations, Debra can also do a full computerised dietary analysis of your current diet which compares your personal intake of nutrients against UK dietary recommendations.  Other services offered include a kitchen cupboard/fridge overhaul to ensure that you are stocked up with a good range of foods to enable you to follow a healthy diet plan, assistance with shopping and supermarket trips to help you understand food labels and make suitable food choices.

If you have any queries please contact Debra via email enquiries@eatwellnow.co.uk or by phone 07780998732.

4/3/15 Eat Well Now – Successful health and wellbeing workshops

Why Health at Work Matters

The Workplace has a big effect on the health of everyone who works there.  It’s also a fantastic place for promoting health to employees.  If people are happy with their working environment, their physical and mental wellbeing will benefit as a result.  And the healthier they are the more productive they are.health&wellbeing2

Facts and figures

Every year in the UK 200 million days are lost through sickness and absence (CBI)
In 2006/7 13 million days were lost to work related stress, depression and anxiety (HSE)

UK employers are bearing a significant proportion of the wider economic costs of ill health, chronic disease and incapacity (Dame Carol Black, 2008)

How we can help your company

At Eat Well Now we devise programmes on health and wellbeing – these can be tailored to your individual companies’ need. We can help with any stage of the programme from design to evaluation.  See below picture of a recent workshop on diet and nutrition.  Please contact us to discuss your requirements in more detail.










23/1/15 Personalised Nutrition – is this the way forward?

Personalised Nutrition – What is the right diet for you?

Health concerns such as obesity, diabetes and alzheimers disease are placing an unsustainable burden on our healthcare systems, systems which are based on treating sick people rather than preventing illness.

Personalised health science nutrition has the opportunity to offer a compelling and cost effective solution to many of today’s chronic and acute medical conditions and diseases.

Nutritional genomics, or nutrigenomics, is the study of how foods affect our genes and how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to nutrients (and other naturally occurring compounds) in the foods we eat.

The practical application of nutritional genomics for complex chronic disease is an emerging science and the use of nutrigenetic testing to provide dietary advice is not ready for routine dietetics practice.

However nutrigenomics is a fast and emerging science and one which is growing rapidly.

Check out the Horizon Special TV Programme on BBC Iplayer.

In a ground-breaking national experiment – the first of its kind – Dr Chris Van Tulleken and clinical psychologist Professor Tanya Byron, together with Britain’s foremost nutrition and weight loss scientists from Oxford and Cambridge universities, put the latest theory to the test. They’ve selected 75 overweight volunteers from across the UK who will be put on personalised diets to explore three particular causes of overeating: genes, gut hormones, and emotion-related eating.

Can science succeed, where other diets have failed?

Packed full of science tips and general diet advice, the programme offers credible, useful information for everyone.

Viewers at home can also find out which diet might be right for them by trying the online diet test, available from January 12 at bbc.co.uk/rightdiet.

This unique television experiment is led by a team of world class scientists: from Oxford University, Professor of diet and population Susan Jebb, and Professor of behavioural medicine Paul Aveyard; and from Cambridge University, geneticist Dr Giles Yeo; and gut hormone specialist Professor Fiona Gribble.

BBC Horizon Special


23/12/14 – Special New Year offer!!!

Here at Eat Well Now we are offering all new clients 15% off their initial consultation for a limited period only.  If you are planning on putting health, diet and lifestyle top off your list for 2015 then ensure you get advice and support from a qualified Dietitian.  We have a number of packages here at Eat Well Now to suit all budgets.  If you would prefer a Skype consultation then this is also an option. Avoid all those fad diets out there , they don’t work in the long term and some of them can be potentially dangerous!  So why wait contact Eat Well Now.

30/10/14 Interventions to reduce diabetes risk should primarily target weight reduction

Weight reduction to reduce the risks of Diabetes

Just wanted to share some interesting research which shows for every 1kg weight loss there was a 16% reduction in risk of diabetes.  Even more evidence to support the need for diet and lifestyle intervention programmes such as the Counterweight programme.

Effect of weight loss with lifestyle intervention on risk of diabetes.
Hamman et al 2006

Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) participants randomized to the intensive lifestyle intervention (ILS) had significantly reduced risk of diabetes compared with placebo participants. We explored the contribution of changes in weight, diet, and physical activity on the risk of developing diabetes among ILS participants.

For this study, we analyzed one arm of a randomized trial using Cox proportional hazards regression over 3.2 years of follow-up.

A total of 1,079 participants were aged 25-84 years (mean 50.6 years, BMI 33.9 kg/m(2)). Weight loss was the dominant predictor of reduced diabetes incidence (hazard ratio per 5-kg weight loss 0.42 [95% CI 0.35-0.51]; P < 0.0001). For every kilogram of weight loss, there was a 16% reduction in risk, adjusted for changes in diet and activity. Lower percent of calories from fat and increased physical activity predicted weight loss. Increased physical activity was important to help sustain weight loss. Among 495 participants not meeting the weight loss goal at year 1, those who achieved the physical activity goal had 44% lower diabetes incidence.

Interventions to reduce diabetes risk should primarily target weight reduction.

Eat Well this Autumn to Super Boost your Immunity

Eat Well this Autumn to Super Boost your Immunity


As we move into Autumn the cold and flu season is fast approaching we might be wise in thinking what steps we can take now to protect ourselves.   Debra Williams, Freelance Dietitian offers us some information on how diet has such an important part to play in the immune system.

It is well documented that eating a healthy well balanced diet and exercising regularly can help boost immunity.  Research studies have linked a number of foods and nutrients to the strengthening of the immune system.

Vitamin C – helps increase the number of white cells and antibodies in our bloodstream and can be found in fruits (especially citrus) and vegetables.

Vitamin A – increases the bodys  T cells and can be found in orange and green produce (e.g. carrots, pumpkins, spinach and broccoli)

Vitamin E- helps the body produce antibodies that aid in fighting and attacking foreign substances and can be found in various foods especially nuts, wholegrains and vegetable oils.

Protein rich foods supply the amino acids that your body needs to build up the components of your immune system. Meat, fish, eggs, milk, pulses, nuts, seeds and soya based foods all supply protein.  Three average sized portions a day of any of these should be enough to meet your dietary recommendations.

Zinc is a mineral that is important for the formation of antibodies and zinc can be found in beef, eggs, seafood and wholegrain foods.

Iron is important mineral which plays a part in the immune system.  Deficiencies of iron are more common especially in women.  Iron can be found in red meats, green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals.

Selenium is an antioxidant that protects against disease and can fight viral infections. Most common food sources are chicken, wholegrains, tuna, garlic, egg yolks, brown rice and nuts.

Garlic contains powerful antioxidant properties and also contains an agent known as alliin. Alliin acts as a powerful, natural decongestant and aids in the removal of infected mucus associated with the cold or flu.shutterstock_94790512


Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to our health and there in much scientific evidence documenting the function of omega 3’s in the immune system and prevention of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease to name but a few.  The main sources of omega 3’s are oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, nuts and flaxseed oil. However these can also be taken as a supplement from your chemist.

Probiotics can also help strengthen the bodys resistance to infection. Probiotics are the “friendly bacteria” provided by yoghurt, other fermented foods and drinks or dietary supplements. However it is essential that the yoghurt contains live and active cultures.


By following a healthy well balanced diet containing sufficient protein, carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables (5 a day) and bearing in mind the food sources of the above nutrients we can be sure that we are well on our way in helping to boost our immune system.   However for those people that may find it hard to follow a well balanced diet for various reasons it might also be prudent to take a general multivitamin/mineral as a precaution.  Obviously in an ideal world it is much better to get as many vitamins and minerals through food rather than supplements because the body absorbs nutrients from food more effectively.

With regards herbal supplements Echinacea and medicinal mushrooms (maitake and Reishi) are also known to have immune enhancing properties.

In addition to eating well there are also other lifestyle changes one can make to protect against colds and flu.  These are good hygiene measures such as catching sneezes in a tissue, throwing the tissue in the bin, washing hands and surfaces on a regular basis.  Getting plenty of sleep, reducing stress, stopping smoking, consuming alcohol in moderation and maintaining a healthy weight.

If you have any specific dietary matters you would like to discuss with Debra or advice on how your diet can be improved she can be contacted via email enquiries@eatwellnow.co.uk or mobile 0778099872.  Debra offers advice on a wide range of matters in the form of private consultations within the Exeter area.