sugar tax, weight loss

Sugar is sugar

In 2018 the UK introduced a sugar tax, with the government stating  ‘The ‘Sugar Tax’ will help to reduce sugar in soft drinks and tackle childhood obesity’  While many companies have reduced their formulas to now be exempt from this tax,  some products are shown as ‘price includes £x sugar tax’, so you would assume that those products in the same store that don’t have this labelling on are better for you.

One such example are popular fast food outlet.  One of their frozen drinks has the sugar tax added, it contains Sugar, glucose syrup, dextrose, fructose and lactose. all sugars, some added some found in the raw ingredients.   This drink equates to 37% of an adults daily intake of sugar.   Another drink they sell does not attract the sugar tax since its a frozen fruit smoothie, the sugar is all derived from fruit and lactose in the milk, and whilst this drink has less fat and one of your ‘five -a-day’ and therefore calories it contains 44% of an adults daily sugar intake. (11 tspoons of sugar)

At the end of the day sugar is sugar, its better for you when taken as a whole fruit since you also consume the fibre. Excess consumption of both glucose and fructose, will lead to weight gain and associated medical conditions.  Sucrose, often referred to as “table sugar”, is composed of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule joined by chemical bonds. This means equal amounts of glucose and fructose are released into the bloodstream when sucrose is digested.  In Australia most drinks are sweetened by sucrose from cane sugar, while soft drinks are sweetened with sucrose-rich sugar beet (Europe) or high-fructose corn syrup (US). High-fructose corn syrup is also made up of glucose and fructose, but contains a higher fructose-to-glucose ratio than sucrose.

Do they have different health impacts?

Yes, over consumption of fructose has been shown to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and whilst fruit and vegetables in their natural form contain fructose, the fibre they contain when eaten as a whole fruit or vegetable its very difficult to over consume.

High glucose consumption rapidly elevates blood glucose and insulin. This may affect brain function, including mood and fatigue.

So choosing  a fruit smoothie may not be the best healthy option in terms of sugar.


weight loss

How sleep can keep you reaching for the junk food

Everything about the human body is interconnected and eating habits are no different. Sleep plays an important role in not only what you eat but how much and when you eat it.

Lack of Sleep Changes Your Hormones

We get our energy from sleep or from food. People who get less sleep tend to snack on high-fat, carbohydrate-rich foods, possibly looking for the energy that they didn’t get from sleep the night before.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your hunger and satiety (fullness) hormones, including leptin and ghrelin get released in different amounts, making you more hungry and less full!

Sleep Gives You the Advantage

Getting adequate sleep 7-9 hours per night for adults, lets you work with your body rather than against it. Stress, long work hours, family obligations, an uncomfortable mattress, and insomnia are only a few of life’s challenges that may get in your way of a good night’s rest.

Here are 4 simple steps you can take to promote good sleep hygiene and get a more restful sleep:

· Turn off the screen. Televisions, laptops, e-readers, and smartphones all give off light that can interfere with your natural sleep cycle. Shut off the screens an hour before you want to go to bed to help your body recognise that it’s night-time and it should be preparing for sleep.

· Limit caffeine and alcohol. While some may believe alcohol can help you sleep, it changes your body’s sleep patterns and can lead to wakefulness. Try to avoid caffeine after lunch and alcohol at least four hours before bedtime.

· Create a bedtime routine. Help set your circadian rhythms with a relaxing bedtime routine. Read a book (not on a screen), try some gentle meditation or yoga, or take a warm bath to help relax your mind and body. As you do your routine regularly, your body recognises when it’s time to prepare itself for resting. If you find yourself dreading bedtime because you feel discomfort or pain in bed, it might be time for a new mattress.

· Go to bed at the same time every day. Try to keep the same sleep schedule every day of the week. Your body prepares to sleep and wake up long before you do. A regular bedtime helps it stay on track, which in turn helps you in your quest for a healthy lifestyle.


weight loss

Are you an emotional overeater?

Do you spend all day eating well but comfort eat when you get home? Do you eat healthily during the week but overeat on the weekend? 

You can’t just adopt more willpower to stop emotional or binge eating. Here are some of my favourite tips to stop emotional and binge eating.

1. Give yourself permission to eat the foods you want to eat.

When you don’t give yourself permission to eat certain foods, you’ll feel the need to eat that food in private, in excess and as quickly as possible in case you never get to eat it again.

When your body trusts that you aren’t being deprived, you will stop emotional eating and no longer feel the need to binge on this food.

2. Stop judging food.

Avoid referring to food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

When you ‘try to be good’ and avoid fattening or ‘bad’ foods, you’re only setting yourself up for more emotional and binge eating.

Feeling guilty or getting angry with yourself for overeating will only cause you to binge more – not less.

You can’t shame yourself into bingeing less.

3. Eat treats in front of other people.

Avoiding ‘bad’ foods in front of other people will only cause you to binge on them later in private.

To stop emotional eating, give yourself permission to eat your trigger foods in public.

That means order the peanut butter on toast at a café, say yes to the dessert when offered and grab an ice cream with a pal.

4. Do not eat in front of the TV.

When you eat in front of the TV, you condition your body to get hungry and feel like eating when you turn on the television.

Never eat in front of the TV or any screen, and eat. Give yourself permission to eat – and watch TV, but not at the same time.

5. Stop striving for weight loss.

Ironically, aiming to lose weight will prevent you from reaching your goals.

Shift your focus from trying to lose weight to building a healthy relationship with food.

Because when you have a healthy relationship with food – you’ll stop emotional and binge eating and your body will naturally find it’s healthiest weight.

6. See each binge as an opportunity to learn.

A binge is not a failure it’s simply your body’s way of trying to get your attention and tell you something.

Feeling guilty, angry and promising to ‘get healthy tomorrow’ will make you restrict again, causing another binge.

Stop fighting against your body and learn to listen to what it’s trying to say. This is the only way to stop emotional and binge eating.

7. Get extra support to stop emotional eating

It’s tough to stop emotional and binge eating without support.

You don’t need to ‘just try harder’ – you need to try something different.


If you want a personalised diet plan, please contact Susan for further information.




weight loss

Calories versus nutritional intake

Many people on diets when they are trying to lose weight, think about low-fat foods rather than the nutritional value of the foods they are consuming.  Some then may consume large amounts of these foods, because they may be ‘free’ on their particular diet plan, or they perceive them to be heathy, though these foods may not always be the best choice

When just calorie counting, because high fat food are calorie dense they are often avoided,  and you could end up eating a very nutritionally poor diet and even become malnourished, especially if you live on a low-fat diet for long periods of time, and take no additional supplements or minerals. The government recommended 2000 Calories for women is based on nutritional need as well as energy.

Some vitamins are fat soluble in particular A, D, E and  K, and foods that are high sources of these vitamins are often avoided in those following a low-fat diet, and small amounts of theses vitamins are required in the diet to promote growth, reproduction, and health.

Vitamin A – It occurs naturally only in foods of animal origin, such as liver, butter, whole milk, and egg yolks, but the body converts certain carotenoids (found in some fruit and vegetables), especially β-carotene, to vitamin A.

Vitamin D –  occurs naturally only in animal foods such as liver, butter, fatty fish (fish containing high levels of cholesterol or fatty acids as glycerides), and egg yolks. It is also synthesised in the body from sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for bone health since it serves to maintain serum calcium concentrations, which in turn influence bone mineralization.

Vitamin E  –  is an important antioxidant that is thought to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids from oxidative destruction in cell membranes. Vegetable oils are the richest source of vitamin E. Other good sources include nuts, seeds, whole grains, and wheat germ.

Vitamin K  – is needed in the liver for formation of several blood clotting factors. Larger amounts of vitamin K are present in dark-green leafy vegetables; lower levels are found in cereals, dairy products, meats, and fruits.

Yogurt itself is a nutritional powerhouse as part of a balanced diet,  yogurt can be a great source of protein, calcium, iodine and vitamin B12. Fermented dairy products have long been considered to be beneficial to digestive health, and yogurt has even been associated with lower risk of obesity and cardio metabolic risk in both children and adults. Natural, ‘plain’ and Greek-style yogurts were found to have a dramatically different nutrient profile from all other types of yogurt, containing much higher levels of protein, lower carbohydrates level and the least amount of sugar, with the average of five grams per 100g, largely made up of naturally occurring lactose.

Take a look at three yogurts, first a low-fat fruit yogurt.  It’s virtually fat-free, provides a good amount of calcium, but if your diet is lacking in vitamin D you won’t see the benefit. Per 100g of this product 7.1g is labelled as sugar, the source of this sugar does not have to be separated so this level will be spread between milk sugar (Lactose), the added strawberries (10% of product), and the added fructose.  A full fat plain yogurt with nothing added tends to have around 4.7g-5g of sugar per 100g, so this low fat yoghurt has over 2g of added sugar per 100g (a pot being 175g), very little of this will be from the strawberry, with the remaining added as fructose and to ensure a sweet tasting product added aspartame. The danger arises when individuals see these as healthy alternatives, they may have 1, 2 or even more per day, but with each pot containing the equivalent of around 1 teaspoon of added sugar, this can soon add up.

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A full fat organic strawberry yogurt, is nearly 100% more calories per 100g, and has 4% fat, with similar protein levels and over 3g more sugar, than a low-fat version. The fat content will help you stay fuller for longer so long-term you may only need one yogurt rather than three, and the fat will contain vitamin D to help you absorb the calcium.  This strawberry yogurt product is honest and specifies they add 4.9% of sugar per per 100g, but many do not ,they just state added sugars just total sugars, making you believe that the sugars are from fruit and therefore healthy. This yogurt is served in 100g portions so not as bad as you may think.

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The third option plain greek yogurt and add your own fruit, nuts, seed, no need to add any additional sugar.

Below, shows that a 100g of greek yogurt with 4 strawberries and 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkins seeds, this is 2g less sugar than the low fat version, but will have more strawberries, and added protein, it also gives you a little fibre. This is a higher fat and calorie version but the fat should help you to feel fuller for longer, making it a suitable breakfast. Greek Yogurts tend to be lower in lactose and higher in protein than other yogurts, but make sure you read the labels since some manufacturers add thickening agents to regular yogurt, and market it as “Greek-style” yogurt, which may not share the same health benefits as Greek yogurt.

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The three strawberry yogurts compared based on their serving size:-

Screenshot 2018-12-30 at 17.55.22

weight loss

Malnutrition in the elderly

Recent research has shown an increase in malnutrition in the elderly. Poor nutritional status and malnutrition in the elderly population are important areas of concern. Malnutrition and unintentional weight loss contribute to progressive decline in health, reduced physical and cognitive functional status, increased utilisation of health care services, premature institutionalisation, and increased mortality.

One in ten adults over the age of 65 are malnourished or at risk of being malnourished , with over 90% of these individuals living independently. Malnutrition is often due to one or more of the following factors: inadequate food intake; food choices that lead to dietary deficiencies; and illness that causes increased nutrient requirements, increased nutrient loss, poor nutrient absorption, or a combination of these factors.

When financial concerns are present, meals are often skipped and food that is purchased may not provide a nutritionally adequate diet. Declines in functional status both physical and cognitive, affect a person’s ability to shop for food and to prepare meals.

Nutritional problems are further compromised by inadequate social support networks and by the resultant social isolation, which commonly leads to apathy about food and therefore decreased intake. Late life can be a time of multiple losses. The older person has experienced change and loss through retirement, disability and death of friends and family as well as change in financial, social, and physical health status. These changes may lead to depression, a well-known cause of anorexia and weight loss. Even transient depressed mood (as with bereavement) can cause clinically significant weight loss.

Dehydration is common among older people and especially older people with dementia. People may not recognise they are thirsty, may forget to drink, may be unable to communicate that they are thirsty, or may refuse to drink because they are worried about incontinence.

Dehydration can cause headaches, confusion, irritability, falls, loss of appetite and constipation which can contribute to urinary tract infections – and these infections in turn can lead to incontinence. Older people who are incontinent need to drink more, not less, in order to encourage the bladder to empty regularly to prevent infection and to exercise the bladder muscles.

How can you help an elderly relative or neighbour?

If you have significant concerns with any sudden weight loss or other symptoms try and see if the individual would see their GP for a health check up.  An online screening tool is available which looks at the individuals weight now and three months ago to determine risk.

  • Having small, nutritious meals more often across the day can help if people have a poor appetite
  • Make sure drinks given between meals offer nutrients as well – for example, milky drinks, fresh fruit juices and smoothies
  • Make available nutritious snacks that the person can eat while moving around, for example some individuals with dementia pace around constantly and have high energy needs. Finger foods can be left out on the route that the older person may take when they wander.
  • It is important to remember that older people need to eat good food whatever their weight, and that overweight people can be under-nourished too, if they don’t get enough nutrients.
  • Ensure they stay hydrated, this can be from drinks such as tea, coffee, water, milk, fruit juice and smoothies and via the food they eat, soups, stews, fruit and vegetables, ice cream and yoghurt.
  • Older people with dementia may choose sweet foods over savoury ones and it has been shown that a craving for sweet foods is part of the clinical syndrome for dementia at some stages. If people eat only sweet foods – for example, if they just eat desserts – they will not get all the nutrients they need. However, it can be useful to add some sweet ingredients to dishes, to encourage people to eat a range of foods – for example, adding sweet apricots to a meat dish, adding fruit to salads and snacks, adding honey to porridge or milky puddings, or adding jam to peanut butter sandwiches, might encourage the person to eat the food and also make a useful contribution to nutrient intake.

If you want a personalised assessment of yours or a relative current diet and a weeks meal plan please contact Susan.









weight loss

Its not all about the calories

Today the headlines are about reducing calories in processed and takeaway foods, and encouraging people to choose the lower calorie options.

The report also states that women should not consume more than 2000 calories per day, however everyone is not equal and into todays more sedentary life styles, daily calorie requirement are actual lower for the majority of people.  Height and age also effect the calories required, for example Susan burned 2200 calories last Sunday, but that included a 10k run, compared to Thursday where the only exercise was a 2 mile dog walk and she burned 1600 calories, so without the exercise Susan’s daily calorie requirement would be much lower than the average quoted.  It’s not good to get too worried about daily calories but look at it on a weekly basis as quite often it will all balance out and stop any unhealthy relationships with food.

Every person has an individual daily requirement, your basic metabolic rate (BMR) this is the daily calories that your body requires to stay healthy and not lose weight assuming you didn’t leave your bed all day, however these calories should be nutritious and not empty calories.  Your  individual total calorie requirement will then be based on how active you are in the day, the more active the more calories you will require to stay at your current weight, if you are trying to lose weight lower your calorie requirement by 200/300 calories per day.  Apps such as fitbit or my fitness pal, allow you to calculate your BMR and then track your food intake to allow you to have a rough idea (they will not be scientifically accurate) of your calories in compared to your calorie out, tracking food over the course of a week is a good idea, it makes your more mindful of foods that you are eating and looks at the macro nutrients balance as well. The three macronutrients (Carbohydrates, protein and fat) all have their own specific roles and functions in the body, and all supply us with calories or energy. For this reason, the body requires these nutrients in relatively large amounts to grow, develop and continually thrive. Remember macro means large, though many diets the proportion is out we eat far higher carbohydrates and proteins than required and too little fats. Healthy fats are an essential part of our diets, good fats come from nuts and seeds and their oils and oily fish.

If you rely on processed meals, its important to not just go for the lowest calorie option, in the long run this may not be the best for your health.   For example a ham sandwich on white bread is 275 calories, this is processed meat, giving 42% of your daily sodium, 9% of fibre, 33% of your protein, wheres as a wholemeal chicken sandwich with lettuce is 328 calories per serving, however sodium is 6% of daily requirement, fibre 22% of daily requirement, 60% of daily protein, along side having a portion of salad and benefits of B vitamins in the bread a far better choice.


weight loss

Weight loss

When people start a weight loss diet, many lose weight initially then stall. Why is this? Your body stores energy as fat and glycogen. Whereas fat stores can vary dramatically from person to person, your body can only store so much energy as glycogen. Glycogen requires water to be stored. In the initial stages of diet/caloric restriction and exercise, your body depletes these glycogen stores (it needs the glycogen for energy.. its the bodies first go to source), reducing your bodyweight from the elimination of both the weight of the stored glycogen and the weight of the water. Note that nowhere in this process is the much-desired loss of fat! hence the saying that the initial weight loss is water loss. For every gram of glycogen stored, you store anywhere from 3-4 grams of water with it. Carbohydrates which are the initial source of the glycogen when eaten, if they are not needed for immediate energy use they are then stored as glycogen and if these cells are full as fat. On most calorie controlled diets the amount of carbohydrate you consume is significantly reduced, so the body resorts to the stored glycogen as its first energy source, releasing the attached water. Its also why many people have a shock if they have an off diet day and eat a diet rich in carbohydrates and suddenly put on a couple of pounds overnight. If you reduce your calories by 2000 calories a week, the first 2 weeks some people if they have a lot of weight to lose can lose up to 10llbs. If they continue with reducing their diet by 2000 calories per week, over the next two weeks they may only lose 1 or 2lbs since a pound of fat contains approximately 3500 calories.
If you continue with your 2000 calories a week reduction, while initially you will see a reduction in weight loss and fat reduction, this will slowly slow down since weight loss is not linear. This linear assumption does not take into account the bodies natural mechanisms that kick in, with less calories being consumed the body becomes more efficient and learns to survive on less calories. Depending on the overall composition of your diet, if your body has depleted it stores of glycogen and then fat it will start looking to protein as its fuel source, individuals will start to lose muscle mass as the body breaks down muscle tissue to use as its protein source.
When losing weight its very important to take a good multi vitamin since the guidelines of 2000 calories per day also ensures that you obtain the required amount of vitamins and minerals to stay in good health.
Also don’t overestimate how many calories your body actually needs. Every person will have an individual calorie requirement, if you have a smart watch many of these will now tell you how many calories per day you have burned based on your Basic Metabolic Rate ( BMR) and what movement/ sports it has calculated that day. Looking at my results over the last month I burn just under 2000 calories per day, but that includes jogging twice a week, spin class once a week and daily dog walks, if you don’t exercise you may naturally need less calories per day.