Radishes are in season right now and they add a lovely punchy feel to meals. Although they are a root vegetable, they have very little of the starch of things like potatoes and other root veg, making them a great addition to a low GL, low carb diet that will keep your weight and energy levels balanced. Try this recipe for a fresh-flavoured side dish.
Baked fish with fennel, rocket and radish salad
2 fillets of oily fish like trout or salmon
½ bunch of thyme, chopped
2 lemons (slice one, juice the other)
2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
10 radishes, thinly sliced
1 tbsp capers, chopped
large handful of rocket
Heat the oven to 200˚C. Put the fish on a baking tray and place the thyme and lemon slices on top. Season, then drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15-20 mins until the fish is cooked.
To make the salad, mix the lemon juice with the olive oil. Pour over the sliced fennel and leave to stand for 10 mins. Then stir in the radishes and capers, and season. When ready to serve, add the rocket and toss to combine. Serve with the fish.
WHAT DOES A NUTRITIONIST DO EXACTLY?
Most people get – on a conceptual level at least – that they should probably eat a bit better than they do, they should probably move more and take the time for more ‘me time’ to live a long and happy life.
‘Life’ seems to get in the way of achieving that. Many of us are juggling jobs and the complexities of modern relationships, leaving little time to dedicate to the business of ‘being healthy’. Convenience often wins. It’s not that that’s wrong per se, but here’s the thing: all the time we are not eating or moving or living as well as we know to do, we are silently getting sicker. That may actually be going-to-hospital sick or it may just mean having health niggles that bother us greatly but that we have learned to cope with. I’m talking here about things like IBS or other tummy troubles, PMT, arthritis, stress or anxiety, haywire hormones, or possibly weight that has crept on over the years and you can’t seem to shift it, no matter what you try.
What I want to share with you today is that the food you eat matters more than you can possibly imagine. And that, in many cases, simply by making changes to your diet, the symptoms of some of these conditions can be improved so markedly that there is a really profound shift in how you experience life.
WHAT IS NUTRITIONAL THERAPY?
Nutritional therapy used to be referred to dismissively as ‘alternative medicine’. It’s only now that the science of what to eat is getting the recognition it deserves and is being actively promoted by a small number of well-known and recently enlightened medical doctors, like Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Dr Michael Mosely.
Essentially, nutritional therapists apply the latest hypotheses and research in nutrition and health sciences to you and your symptoms and they come up with a diet, lifestyle and (sometimes) supplement plan to support those needs. They might bring in some coaching to help you put the ideas into practice in a meaningful way or break through whatever barriers have held you back in the past.
It’s a very personal approach. You might hear practitioners talk about people being ‘biochemically unique’. That means that there isn’t a single way of eating that is right for everyone. Sandra might have PMS and you want to lose weight, for example. Sandra might have a history of antibiotic use, while you had your appendix out when you were 14. Sandra might have an intolerance to dairy, while you hate strawberries. I could go on, but you can imagine the thousands of different permutations here. And the fact is that your DNA, previous medical history, and any current symptoms as well as what you like and don’t like, not to mention your personal circumstances are all important when a nutritionist creates a plan for you.
It is personalised just for you. That takes both time and skill. You could download something from the internet – if you knew what you were looking for – but it is not the same. A nutrition practitioner may also work with supplements targeted to a specific condition or your own health goal. This can be a minefield – potentially dangerous and inevitably costly – if you don’t know what you’re doing.
WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE SEE A NUTRITIONIST IF THE RESULTS ARE SO GOOD?
It’s unfortunate that so many people don’t understand what a huge effect a personalised food and lifestyle programme can have on the symptoms they have or how they experience their life.
Newspapers are full of soundbites about the latest foods, but they don’t really join the dots, and it’s difficult to see what might be possible for you. The vast majority of doctors – even those being trained today – have next to no current knowledge or practical experience of what their patients should be eating or how they might integrate the theory into their lives. They live in a world, by and large, where the solution presented during your 10-minute session lies in a prescription.
Some – like Chatterjee – are taking on training in something much bigger called Functional Medicine. This is a framework for considering that the symptoms you are experiencing are a result of imbalances in your body and, rather than treat the specific symptoms themselves, nutrition professionals try to understand the root cause of the problem and base their programme around that. If you think about it: nearly all medications merely suppress symptoms. Only very few are an actual cure – antibiotics come to mind here. The exclusively pharmacological approach conventional medicine so often employs does nothing to uncover the root causes. Metformin lowers blood glucose – but why is it high in the first place? Statins lower cholesterol – but why is it elevated? Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) numb pain – but why are you in pain? These are the questions nutrition professionals will ask before embarking on a quest to find out to then be able to address the root cause.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A NUTRITION CONSULTATION WITH ME?
Your first consultation will last up to 90 minutes. You will have been asked to complete and send back a nutritional therapy questionnaire before you visit. During the session, we’ll go into your medical history, your health goals and any other challenges you’re facing, what you generally eat, what you like to eat, what you hate to eat and how you have to eat (on the bus, in a rush at your desk, and so on). There’s no judgement and anything you share with me is kept in confidence.
Nutritional therapy sessions are usually sold in programmes that run over 6 weeks. This is because it is rarely helpful for anyone to leave without the knowledge that they have at least 4 sessions in place to help them implement the programme, make changes at a pace that suits them, and to deal with any challenges or questions that come up along the way.
WHAT IF I ALREADY KNOW WHAT TO DO?
Knowing what you should be doing is only part of the problem if you are unhappy with an aspect of your health. Staying motivated is the hardest part of any plan. The single best way to stay in the zone is to have a buddy or coach who can give you a nudge or call you out if you start to go off piste. I’d say this is the single biggest thing that makes the difference between reaching your goal and actually staying there. That’s where health coaching comes in. It keeps you accountable will ensure all that good work doesn’t go to waste.
When someone enquires to see me, the first thing we do is arrange a free call to go over their options and goals and find out what they want to get out of the programme. I give them a few things to go away and work on and then we pick the right programme for them, on their terms.
Call me to book a free call, find out what I can do for you and your life and get some top tips now to start the process of a health, happy new you
Georgina Graham DipION, CNHC 07765 869670 firstname.lastname@example.org
Watercress is in season right now and it’s one of those foods brimming with nutrients. You can easily squeeze it into your diet in place of regular lettuce or rocket, where it brings a lovely peppery flavour. It adds a lovely bite to smoothies and juices, and is surprisingly mild in soups. What I want to share with you this month is a lovely sauce you can whip up in a flash and use to perk up white meat, pork or fish.
Pork medallions with watercress salsa verde
2 pork medallions
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 anchovy fillets
15ml capers, rinsed
30ml fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
15ml fresh basil leaves
good handful of watercress
freshly ground black pepper
30ml extra virgin olive oil
15ml lemon juice
Preheat grill and grill the medallions for 15 mins, turning halfway.
To make the salsa verde, place the salsa ingredients in a mini food processor and blitz until the sauce is well combined. You can also do this by hand by chopping everything very finely and mixing it together with oil and lemon juice. Serve a dollop of the salsa on top of each medallion.
Itchy, watery eyes? Constantly sneezing? Hello hayfever! Now I really know it’s spring and you’re here to stay – like an uninvited guest – for the next six months. But while Mother Nature can be cruel, she is also kind. It might surprise you to know that changing what you eat can have a big impact on the severity of your symptoms.
According to Allergy UK, as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from allergic rhinitis (the medical term for the condition), an allergic reaction to pollen. You might start noticing symptoms in March when the tree pollen season starts. Then there’s the grass pollen season, followed by the weed pollen season, which can go on into September.
If this is you, I sympathise: itchy, red or watery eyes; runny or blocked nose; sneezing and coughing; itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears; loss of smell; earache; headache; and feeling exhausted.
There are some foods will make the symptoms of hayfever worse, so try to cut these out or reduce them as much as you can during hayfever season. Other foods are naturally anti-inflammatory, so you’ll want to ensure you’re getting plenty of these in your diet.
Foods containing high levels of histamine can intensify symptoms. These include chocolate (sorry about that), tomatoes, aubergines and many fermented foods like vinegar, sauerkraut, yoghurt, miso, soy sauce, and canned fish.
There are also foods that, while they are not high in histamine themselves, are ‘histamine liberators’ and can trigger your cells to release histamine. These include strawberries, pineapple, bananas, citrus fruits and egg whites.
Foods containing wheat – like bread and pasta, cakes and pastries – can also be problematic for people with grass pollen allergies.
Dairy products like milk and cheese stimulate the body to produce more mucus, making blocked noses or ears much worse. Matured cheeses also tend to contain high levels of histamine. And sugar, which causes your body to produce more histamine, can further exacerbate your symptoms.
Foods to add in or increase when you have hayfever
Some foods are anti-histamine foods and disrupt or block histamine receptors, helping to reduce allergy symptoms. These include foods that contain the plant chemicals quercetin and beta carotene, and those high in vitamin C (see below).
Local honey also may be helpful because, although it contains trace elements of pollen, over time it may help your body become more familiar with the pollen entering your system and reduce the inflammatory response it makes.
Quercetin containing foods
Onions, garlic, goji berries, asparagus, all berry fruits, apples, kale, okra, peppers, plums and red grapes
Beta carotene containing foods
Sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, red and yellow peppers, apricots, peas, broccoli, dark leafy greens like kale, and romaine lettuce.
Vitamin C containing foods
Blackcurrants, blueberries, peppers, kale, collard leaves, broccoli, kiwis, mango, courgettes, and cauliflower.
What to drink
Drink plenty of water. Keeping well hydrated is helpful for all aspects of health. In the case of hayfever, it thins the mucous membranes and reduces that ‘blocked up’ feeling.
Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, which are helpful for the immune system generally. It has also been proven to block one of the receptors involved in immune responses.
Ginger tea has been shown to help reduce allergic reactions by lowering your body’s IgE levels (the antibody involved in the specific immune reaction associated with hayfever).
Peppermint tea is worth trying because peppermint contains menthol, a natural decongestant that may help improve sinus symptoms.
Add nettle tea to your shopping list for its ability to relieve inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and ease nasal congestion, sneezing and itching.
An anti-inflammatory approach
Hayfever is an inflammatory condition and may be further helped by including other types of food that calm the inflammatory response. Top of the list are foods containing anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, which I often recommend to clients struggling with any inflammatory condition. These include all types of oily fish (like salmon, trout, sardines, halibut and cod) as well as flaxseed and walnuts.
Coconut oil is another anti-inflammatory oil and can be used in cooking and baking or added to smoothies.
As well as adding flavour to your food, herbs like parsley, sage, thyme, oregano and basil have anti-inflammatory properties as do many spices, including turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, fennel and nutmeg.
While the main problem for hayfever sufferers is the pollen itself, you may also find that hidden food intolerances are making matters worse, as they may be pulling the system down, so weakening it and creating more intolerances which have similar symptoms to hayfever. I offer intolerance testing at my clinic if this is something you would like to explore, please get in touch!