Vegan Diet

If you are reading this blog it probably means that either you are a vegan or you would like to become one. So for those of you that are new in this subject let me explain from the beginning and whatever you need to know for a vegan diet.


What is a vegan diet?


A vegan diet is one that does not include any animal product such as meat, eggs and dairy. However, there are various different types of vegan diets. The most common ones are:


  • Whole food vegan diet: is based on a variety of whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.


  • Raw food vegan diet: is based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and plant foods cooked at temperature below 48 degrees Celsius.


  • Junk food vegan diet: is based on mock meats and cheeses, fries, vegan desserts and other heavily vegan foods.


What is a healthy vegan diet?

A healthy vegan diet should be similar to a normal diet in terms of macro-nutrients but without any meats or animal products. It should contain appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. A simple guideline about this is ‘The Vegan Eatwell Guide’ where all the macro-nutrients are divided in 5 main food groups.

These five main food groups include grains, proteins, fruit and vegetables. The Vegan Eatwell Guide is generally a good starting point for any vegan diet. The portions of each respective food group will depend on age, genetic makeup, and physical activity.


  1. Grains


Grains are complex carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, noodles and potatoes. These grains can be split further into two categories: whole and refined grains. Whole grains are more nutritious because they contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals. Therefore, whole grains tend to be a better option than refined (white) grains.


  1. Proteins


All type of vegan milk and products derived from vegan milk are a good source of calcium and proteins. Examples of vegan milk are coconut, soya, rice and almond milk. These type of food are important to be included in our diets as they provide calcium. Lack of calcium absorption can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that results in porous, weak, and brittle bones. Other type of protein sources are beans, lentils and nuts.


  1. Fruit and Vegetables


Fruit can be consumed fresh, canned, frozen, dried, pureed, or juiced. Due to the high sugar content of fruits, it is advisable to construct a dietary balance based on age, activity levels, gender and any medical conditions. However, it is advisable for the generic public to have 2 -3 fruits per day.


Vegetables can be consumed raw, cooked, dehydrated, canned, whole, juiced, or mashed. Vegetables can also be separated into 5 subcategories including dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables. The amount of vegetables that should also be consumed according to age, activity levels, gender and any medical conditions. However, as a general rule it is advisable to eat at least 2 types of vegetables per day.


Associated vitamin deficiency in vegan diets


A vegan diet can be tricky when it comes to obtain all the micronutrients required by the body. So, unless your meal plan is carefully planned it would be ideal to consider taking supplements. The micronutrients that might be lacking in a vegan diet are:


Vitamin B12

If you are vegan you can obtain vitamin B12 from fortified cereal and milk. Vitamin B12 is not naturally found in plant based foods. Vitamin B12 is important for our health as it plays a role in red blood cell formation and for proper function of the nervous system.



You can obtain iron from lentils, beans, tofu, quinoa, fortified cereal, chia seeds and tomatoes. Although these foods contain iron they are not a rich source of iron so it is important to monitor your blood iron levels by regular blood tests. Unfortunately, menstruating women on a vegan diet tend to have higher tendency to suffer from iron deficiency. Therefore, iron supplements might be prescribed by a doctor or a dietitian.



This micronutrient can be obtained from dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, bok choy, beans, lentils and fortified milk and cereals. Calcium is important for bone health and proper muscle function.



This can be found in fortified cereals, lentils and tofu. Zinc is important for wound healing and metabolism function. Lack of zinc in your diet can also lead to lack of appetite and nausea.


Vitamin D

In a vegan diet, vitamin D can be obtained from fortified cereals and milk. Mushrooms also contain some vitamin D. However, on a vegan diet it’s not enough to this vitamin from food and therefore supplementation is recommended. Another way that you can obtain vitamin D is by exposing your skin to the sun for at least 20 minutes every day without sun block.


Other vegan blogs and recipes which you might like:


If you are already a vegan or planning to become one there are plenty of health benefits from this diet. To mention some a vegan diet provides reduced risk for illnesses such as cardiovascular, diabetes and hypertension. This type of diet, if done correctly, it can also help you to reduce weight. And the last but not least, everybody knows that it is better for animal welfare.


I hope you found this blog interesting so let me know in the comments below. If, you would like to change your diet to vegan, we are ready to help you. In addition, if you are already vegan and would like to check if your vegan diet is a well balanced one, simply contact us!


Anxiety and Dehydration

What is anxiety?

Can dehydration be caused by anxiety or vice versa?

What is the link between anxiety and dehydration?


Anxiety is a natural response to stress. Normal levels of stress are beneficial for our overall health as this drives you to perform better tasks. However, when the levels of stress reach a high level this may lead to chronic anxiety. Anxiety hits everyone from time to time, for example starting a new job, taking a test, giving a speech or moving to a new place are all normal situations where anxiety kicks in. This ordinary type of anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes and it doesn’t effect you negatively in your life.

On the other hand, if this type of feeling lasts for at least 6 months or more you might have an anxiety disorder. People suffering from anxiety disorders experience an intense feeling of fear all the time. Sometimes this can be debilitating which leads you to stop doing chores or things you enjoy. The American Psychiatric Association reports that women are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders than men. There are various types of anxiety:

  • Panic disorder
  • Phobia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Separation anxiety
  • Illness anxiety disorder

In addition, there are various mental health illnesses and medical conditions that feature anxiety as part of their symptoms. Some of which are:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depressive disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Personality disorders
  • Chronic diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis
  • Substance use disorders
  • Chronic pain such as fibromyalgia

What causes chronic anxiety?

Chronic anxiety is an anxiety disorder which alters how you think, feel and even act. The cause of anxiety is not the same for everyone. And unfortunately it is not something that goes away easily. Some common causes of chronic anxiety are:

  • Stress
  • Heat
  • Dehydration
  • Emotional trauma
  • Financial concerns
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Substance or drug abuse
  • Genetics


This blog is about anxiety in relation to dehydration. So now we’re having a look at dehydration before we go in detail about their association together. Dehydration is when your body loses water more than you drink. Common causes for dehydration are excessive sweating, vomiting and diarrhea. In this period of time, dehydration is quite common due to this temperature and heatwaves. There are various signs and symptoms for dehydration. These are:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Little urination
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing

Dehydration is important to be treated as it can lead to life-threatening complications such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, seizures, kidney failure and coma.

The link between anxiety and dehydration

In my profession, I encounter people who drinks about 4-5 L per day. This is simply too much water and overhydration simply overload your kidneys to work harder. The strange thing is that these clients experience true sensations of thirst, so the question is this – are you thirsty because your body really needs that large amount of fluids or is it a symptom of anxiety?

Excessive thirst could be a symptom of anxiety due to a lot of factors. Some of these are:

  1. Dry mouth

Anxiety may cause a dry mouth which will give the same sensation of thirst. This can happen as anxiety removes fluids from the mouth to send them to the stomach to produce more acid. Therefore, this mechanism can make you feel thirsty when you’re not.


  1. Excessive Urination

During periods of anxiety you may tend to urinate more frequently throughout the day. Therefore, this will cause water loss from your body. The increasing fluid requirements will cause you to feel thirsty.


  1. Excessive sweating

Anxiety can cause you to sweat a lot both during the day and the night.


  1. Breathing through your mouth

Anxiety may cause mouth breathing unknowingly. This will cause a dry mouth which in turn gives you a feeling of thirst.

On the other hand, if you are dehydrated this also gives a feeling of anxiety. This is because when you are dehydrated you may experience the same symptoms one feels with anxiety. Some of these symptoms common for dehydration and anxiety are:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches/ migraines
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Increased heart rate

Since, anxiety and dehydration gives the same symptoms it can leave you confused which is which. Therefore, it is important to be mindful and be aware of your diet and stress levels. As a dietitian, I would recommend that if you experience any symptoms of the common symptoms mentioned above first thing to do is to drink a glass of water. If after a few minutes you start to feel better than it is dehydration. If, your symptoms persists it is probable that you are experiencing anxiety symptoms. Anxiety symptoms can be soothed by breathing techniques, use of lavender, some relaxing music and diet.

Diet play an important role to control your anxiety. Start by being mindful of what you are eating. Try to include fruit and vegetables. Make sure that you are eating and drinking enough throughout the day. In addition, some specific foods which may help are chamomile and oily fish. Also, it would be ideal if you stay away from coffee, soft drinks and alcohol for a while as these may increase your anxiety symptoms. If, you are unsure about the best diet for anxiety please speak to a dietitian.

If, you would like to receive more nutrition information and recipes please subscribe to our website. In addition, if you would like more healthy recipes with low calorific intake I encourage you to order our recipe book. Let me know what you think in the comments below.


SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Have you ever heard of SIBO?

Can SIBO be treated?

What to do in your diet if you suffer from SIBO?

Here’s what to do to elevate your symptoms!


SIBO! We don’t usually hear this word often but that doesn’t mean that it is rare. In fact, it is considered quite a common condition. Unfortunately, there are no reliable date on how many people are diagnosed with SIBO. In this blog, we are going to look across the latest researches to answer these questions and provide you with current, scientific data.

SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. This condition affects the small intestine and occurs when there is an abnormal increase in the overall bacterial population. These bacteria are not commonly found in that part of the digestive tract as they usually found in other parts of the gut, where they are eliminated regularly. SIBO can cause various symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Gas and flatulence
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Malabsorption of macro and micro-nutrients
  • Nausea
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Anaemia
  • Weight loss
Possible causes of SIBO

This condition is not yet well understood and there are numerous potential culprits. To list some:

  • Anatomical and structural problems inside and outside the small intestine such as scar tissue.
  • Other medical conditions such as IBS or IBD, coeliac disease and diabetes mellitus can slow down the digestion of food.
  • Absence of antimicrobial barriers such as pancreatic enzymes which naturally prevent bacteria from inhabiting the small intestine.
  • Drugs that change the pH level of stomach acid can also weaken your immune system.
  • Poor Immune System caused by cancer, HIV, coeliac disease, IBS or IBD.
Treatment of SIBO

SIBO can be treated with:

  • long term antibiotics
  • diet changes


When it comes to diet reversing nutritional deficiencies is an important part of treating SIBO, especially among individuals who had severe weight loss. In addition, a low FODMAP Diet may also be prescribed. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. The diet focuses on excluding carbohydrates that are high in the mentioned types of sugars i.e. oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Foods containing this type of sugars can ferment in your intestines, act as bacterial food and you end up with SIBO symptoms.


If, you suffer from any of the symptoms above and you still don’t know what’s causing it I suggest you visit your doctor or a registered dietitian. If, you would to have to dietitians help kindly contact us. In addition, please subscribe to our website for more nutrition information and free recipes.


Vegan snacks

Are you vegan and running out of snack ideas?

Would you like a list of healthy vegan snacks?


If yes, here is a blog written specifically for you!


I often meet people with a vegan diet and reports that they only have breakfast, lunch and dinner during the day, as they run out of ideas what to have as a vegan snack. So, I decided to help you with this blog sharing some vegan snack ideas.


Before the vegan snack list here’s a brief vegan diet explanation for those who are not familiarised with this term. A vegan diet is a way of living without any animal food and products such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, cheese, etc… A vegan diet doesn’t have to be boring without snacks during the day. Here’s a list of vegan snacks.

  • Fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Bread, crackers, or veggies with hummus
  • Fruit or vegetable juice
  • Smoothies
  • Bagels with vegan cream cheese or peanut butter
  • Cereal and soymilk
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter and jam
  • Dark chocolate or vegan chocolate
  • Nuts (raw or dry-roasted)
  • Popcorn
  • Soy, almond, or coconut yogurt
  • Vegan jam
  • Olives
  • Vegan ice-cream
  • Ice-lollies
  • Vegan protein bars
  • Vegan biscuits
  • Tofu
  • Soya/coconut yogurts
  • Vegan cheese


If you are a vegan you might also like to try some of our vegan recipes:

Sweet potato and peanut soup

Quinoa sweet potato salad

Tofu burger

Spicy Peanut Tofu


I hope you found this blog useful and you enjoy some vegan snacks during the day. I would love to hear your opinion on this blog below so feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below. If you have any queries I will be happy to answer you as well. If you would like to change to a vegan diet and you don’t know where to start contact us and we will be happy to provide you with a vegan meal plan.


Watermelon Tequila

Would you like a refreshing dessert?

Or maybe a dessert idea for when you host a party at your home?

Watermelon Tequila


Watermelon – one of my favorite summer fruits. You can have it as a healthy snack or dessert. Watermelon is low in sugars and fats. It is rich in vitamin C, potassium and magnesium which helps you boost your immune system for optimum health and wellness. The nutrition information of watermelon per 100g:


Per 100g
Carbohydrates 8g
Of which sugars 6g
Fibre 0.4g
Proteins 0.6g
Fats 0g


Today, I decided to give this fruit a twist for when you host a home party. In my opinion, I think that this is ideal to serve as a finger food. Or as a dessert at home when you have no guests at all, simply for you and your loved one. I remind you, that if you have young children it is important to put it in a safe place out of their reach. It will look exactly like a normal watermelon slice. So, be careful you don’t want to find your child drunk unexpectedly.

Here is the watermelon tequila recipe I prepared for you!

Serves 6 people

Prep time: 20 minutes

Chill time: 40 mins

Total time: 60 minutes


  • 250g white sugar
  • 200 ml water
  • 120 ml tequila
  • 50 ml triple sec
  • Watermelon
  • Mint


  • Add the sugar and water together in a saucepan and boil. Keep stirring the mixture until all the sugar dissolves.
  • Let the mixture cool a bit and add the tequila and triple sec.
  • Refrigerate the tequila syrup.
  • While the tequila syrup is cooling down, cut the watermelon into 12 slices about 2 cm thick.
  • Pour the syrup on the watermelon and refrigerate for about 40 minutes.
  • Remove the watermelon from the syrup and place them on a platter.
  • Garnish with some mint and serve.

Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments below. If, you would like to receive more free recipes please subscribe to our website. In addition, if you would like more recipes like this one I encourage you to order our recipe book. It contains 50 healthy, low calorie recipes all with nutrition information inside.


Diet Myths

What are the most popular diet beliefs for weight loss?

Are these beliefs true or just myths?

In this blog we go in detail about some popular diet myths.


Written by Ms Dilara Kamisli; Updated by Ms Rowinda Dimech


As a dietitian I continuously hear diet myths from people all around me – family, friends, colleagues and clients. In my opinion diet myths are dangerous beliefs as they impact your quality of life, especially your psychological and emotional well being. This is why in this blog we are going in detail about some of the most common diet myths.




The myth that bread cannot be eaten on a regular basis in your diet is a myth! Unfortunately, I believe that this myth has always been preached. We, dietitians, have been hearing a lot of people saying ”I don’t consume bread” based on this believe. Research shows that bread is one of the best carbohydrate resources that needs to be part of our daily food intake. Bread helps you not to get hungry so quickly. This is because bread is a complex carbohydrate. Therefore, one of the most important things about consuming the bread is the portion size of bread you are eating, rather than totally eliminate it from your diet. In addition, if you suffer from diabetes, it would be ideal if you consume wholemeal bread instead of white bread. Wholemeal bread bread will help you control your blood glucose levels and calorie intake since it is rich in dietary fiber.




Flavored water, vinegar, pills, branded smoothies, etc. Unfortunately, people always expect to lose weight (which they gained in a long period of time) fast by consuming these kind of products. Actually, it sounds very tempting: “weight loss in a short period of time” but what about the consequences. What does these miracle foods do to your body? What is the long-term effect? Is it possible that a fast weight can really be  lost?


We, healthcare professionals often hear, ‘’I’m drinking  lemon water,  green tea , herbal  teas,  etc and I am lost 10 Kg in 2 weeks.’’ To start explaining this think about it this way: if weight loss can be done with any tea, pills or any food product, there would be no such problems with ‘obesity’ in this world. So, now let’s explain it more scientifically. Rapid weight loss will occur due to huge calorie deficit in your diet. This will be much less than the minimum calories/energy your body needs. This will result in muscle loss rather than fat loss. Therefore, it is important to lose weight slowly over time so that it doesn’t alter your metabolism. And as I always emphasize in my blogs, there is no food that will  make you gain or lose weight. It all depends on the portion sizes consumed throughout the day.




I don’t eat anything all day long, I eat very little, why can’t I still lose weight? You might think that the less you eat the more weight loss you will achieve. Actually when we skip meals, this leads to a slower metabolism. In fact, when you try to lose weight in this way, muscle loss will occur and hence the slower metabolism, leading to malnutrition. Since a diet like this is not sustainable for a long period of time you will quit the diet. So when this happens and you start having a normal diet again you will end up gaining weight faster due to a slower metabolism.




There is this believe in today’s society that ‘‘I can consume as much as I want if it is healthy’’. There is nothing that can be eaten in an unlimited amount in nutrition and any excess food you eat will be stored as fat in the body. Therefore, it is important to eat a healthy diet by having an adequate and balanced diet.




It is of utmost importance that nutrition is individualized. This is because diet varies according to gender, weight, height, age, level of physical activity, hormonal problems, lifestyle and eating habits and medical conditions such as diabetes, Irritable bowel disease, Irritable bowel syndrome and other metabolic syndrome. The  only reason you should want to lose weight is to be healthier and improve your quality of life.


İn today’s web one finds a lot of myths about food and diet. The truth is that all type of food contains a certain amount of calories. Calories are used by the body in the same way since all our physiology and metabolic pathways work the same since we are all human beings. Therefore, I would advise that if you would like to lose weight and not sure what to follow as a diet, it is best to leave it in the hands of a dietitian. If, you would to seek professional advise kindly contact us. İn addition, please subscribe to our website for more nutrition information and free recipes.




Iron deficiency anemia

Do you feel continuously tired and week?

Have you noticed any changes in your child such as irritability or fussy eating?

We’ll take a look at iron-deficiency anemia and how we can treat it by diet.

What is anemia?

Anemia is a worldwide health problem affecting both developed and developing countries. Anemia can occur at all stages of life. It can present during pregnancy, infancy, toddlers, children, adolescence, adulthood and elderly age. According to the WHO statistics, anemia affects about 42% of children and 40% of pregnant women. There are different types of anemia which are aplastic anemia, megaloblastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, spherocytosis and iron-deficiency anemia. In this blog we are going to focus on iron-deficiency anemia as it’s the one which can be caused by lack of iron in our diet, leading to malnutrition.


There are various symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia. Some individuals may experience a few or a lot of symptoms whereas some may have no symptoms at all. The symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pale skin
  • Poor immune function
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold hands and feet

In addition to the above symptoms children may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Irritability
  • Fussy eating
  • Tongue enlargement
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Pica

Iron-deficiency anemia is important to be treated as its symptoms can lead to serious health complications. Some of which are interfering with normal daily activities and chores, heart failure and developmental delay in children.

Iron- deficiency anemia and diet

Iron-deficiency anemia can be treated by diet. The below is a list of food and their iron content. The food marked with orange shows that the food is rich in iron. So, if you or your child suffers from iron-deficiency anemia make sure that you include plenty of the listed below in your diet.


  Source of food Per 100g (mg)
Vegetables and fruit Spinach 2.0
Tomato puree 2.0
Dried apricots 2.5
Gains products Oatmeal 3.0
Dry cereal 12.0
Pasta and egg noodles 1.0
Meat Alternatives Tofu 5.0
Soybeans 3.5
Lentils 2.0
Beans 1.5 – 3.0
Pumpkin seeds 2.5 – 7.5
Peas 0.5 – 1.5
Sausages, meatballs, fish sticks 1.7 – 3.2
Canned baked beans 1.5
Nuts 2.4 – 4.0


    (75g portion)
Meat Duck 1.8 – 7.4
Venison 2.5 – 3.8
Beef 1.4 – 3.3
Lamb 1.3 – 2.1
Chicken 0.4 -2.0
Turkey 0.3 – 0.8
Liver 4.9
Fish and seafood Octopus 7.2
Oysters 3.3 – 9.0
Shrimp, scallops, crab 2.2
Canned sardines 1.7 – 2.2
Canned clams 2.0
Mackerel, trout, bass 1.4 – 1.7
Canned tuna in water 1.2

The daily recommendation for iron in adults is 8.7 mg in men and 14.5 mg in women. The daily requirements of iron in children are: 7 mg from 1 to 3 years, 10 mg from 4 to 8 years, 8 mg from 9 to 13 years and 11-15 mg from 14 to 18 years. Here, I added some recipes which are rich in iron:


It is important to include iron in your diet in a balance way. This is because if iron exceeds 20 mg per day it may cause constipation and gastro problems both in adults and children. In certain cases, especially in women with a heavy menstrual period it is difficult to treat iron-deficiency anemia with diet only. Therefore, iron supplements can be prescribed along with a healthy balanced diet.

If, you or your child suffers from iron-deficiency anemia and would like a proper meal plan please do not hesitate to contact us. If, you would like to receive more nutrition information and recipes please subscribe to our website. In addition, if you would like more healthy recipes with low calorific intake I encourage you to order our recipe book. It contains 50 healthy, low calorie recipes all with nutrition information inside. Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Stress and Weight gain

Is there an association between stress and weight gain?

Is cortisol, a by product of stress, responsible for weight gain?

Let’s see what the scientific evidence is!




Stress is defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological tension in your body. In everyday life, everyone experiences stress which can be short term or long term. A certain level of stress on a daily basis its ok but a higher level of stress for a long period of time might have a health impact on your body. Some of the common signs and symptoms for prolonged stress are:

  • Mood swings
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Sleeping problems
  • Headaches
  • Frequent colds
  • Feeling tired & low energy
  • Muscle tension, especially the neck and shoulders
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Anxiety and depression

It is important to understand how stress is affecting your physical and mental health. However, it is also important to recognize how your mental health might be affecting your stress level. In fact, studies show that psychosocial stress was associated with greater weight gain both in men and women. During long periods of stress the cortisol level increases which are associated with abdominal obesity.

What is cortisol?


Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the body when the brain perceive a stimulus of the thread. This leads to a fight or flight response which immediately produce a high heart rate and increase energy requirements. As soon as this happens our body will stop insulin production so that it prevents any available glucose from being stored. In addition, high cortisol levels will be produced in order to use the available glucose and glycogen stores for energy.


Ways on how cortisol induce weight gain


  1. Increased appetite

The above mentioned available glucose during prolonged stress periods increases the appetite for high calorific foods. In fact, this studyshows that women eat more calories and sweets when they are exposed to stress.


  1. Increased hunger

When we eat, our body produces insulin which helps the glucose from food to be used by our cells. However, during prolonged stress levels the body’s metabolic pathways changes with the result that not enough insulin is produced. In turn this will lead to high glucose levels in the blood. Since the body cells will not be able to use the available glucose, they will continue signaling the need for food to the brain. Therefore, your body will keep telling you that you are hungry.


  1. Increased belly fat

Abdominal fat has more cortisol receptors and therefore this hormone is able to transport and store more fat in this area. Evidence also shows that people who are under stress burn less calories than non-stressed individuals. This means that due to high cortisol levels our body is able to metabolize fat at a slower rate.


How to manage stress levels and diet


Although some situations of stressful situations are inevitable we can try to manage it. Here are some strategies for maintaining your stress levels under your control:

  1. Exercise

As everybody knows exercise is beneficial for weight loss, proper immune system function, mental health, feeling energized and promotes better sleep. During exercise the feel good hormones are produced in our body, known as endorphins. These help to reduce stress. According to the WHO , we should opt for 30 minutes of exercise every day. With that said I would suggest that it is best to aim for a low – moderate intensity exercise beacuse high intensity levels of exercise can increase cortisol levels.


  1. Meditation

Meditation is a mind and body practice with a known history of increasing calmness, physical relaxation, mental health, reduces stress and enhance your overall wellbeing. Therefore, as meditation helps you to calm down it decrease your cortisol levels and will also help you to improve your sleep quality.


  1. Enough sleep

Sleep is important for a person’s health and wellbeing as its process affects your physical and mental function. It also affects good immunity performance and how our metabolism work. If you are not sleeping enough this will increase your cortisol levels and increase cravings for sugary foods.


  1. Good diet

A healthy well balanced diet is essential to keep our gut happy. By now, evidence show that our gut is our ‘second brain.’ In fact, the gut produces 90% of serotonin, a hormone which is responsible for feeling positive and cheerful. In addition, a well-balanced diet including plenty of fruit, vegetables and omega-3 promotes reduction of cortisol production and therefore stress relief.


As it can be concluded, it is important that if you want to lose weight you keep your stress levels in check. Apart for losing weight for aesthetics reasons, managing high stress levels are also important to prevent health complications. If you follow the strategies advised for managing stress is not enough please consult a doctor or a healthcare professional.



Food Labels – what you need to know

What are food labels?

Food labels are important information found on each food product as these also provide instructions to consumers. In addition, from the manufacturer’s side a food label is important as it helps his product to stand out. In fact, 85% of consumers reports that their decision to buy a food product depends on the information found on the food product. This information helps you make informed choices when buying foods for you and your family. A food label will contain information such as:

  1. The food product

All food labels must have the name of the product. I think this is the obvious information as you cannot but a product not knowing what’s inside it. In addition, you cannot buy a packet saying that it contains biscuits and then when you open it you find pasta! This is a guarantee that the product is what we think it is.


  1. Manufacturer’s details

These details include where the product was made. This information is important so that if you have a complaint you can contact the manufacturer directly. In addition, this information is extremely important for people suffering from any food allergies or diet related conditions. In certain cases, the food label won’t be clear enough for example a person suffering from coeliac disease may be extremely sensitive to gluten and the normal threshold will still make that person ill. Therefore, the manufacturer needs to be contacted to clarify the exact content of gluten in the product.

  1. Nutrition information

In this section, we find product-specific information such as the serving size, amount of calories and nutrient information at the main or top section. At the bottom section, there is the % daily values and the number of calories used for general nutrition advice. These are highlighted in the nutrition label below.

  1. Ingredients

On all food labels the ingredients of the food product must be listed according to quantity. So, the first ingredient in the ingredient list is the most abundant while the last ingredient listed is the least abundant. In addition, the allergens must be highlighted bold in this section for example milk, nuts and fish.

  1. Expiry date

Each product has a different shelf-life which would have been determined by a set of experiments in the laboratory. This is important for HACCP and food safety. In other words, it is important for the consumer to consume food which is safe and of good quality. A product can have either ‘use by’ or ‘best before.’ What is the difference?

The phrase ‘use by’ means that the food product must be consumed till that date. If, the product is consumed after that date it is probable that it will make you feel sick due to bacterial growth and other pathogens. These type of products are usually milk and dairy products.

On the other hand, the ‘best before’ means that the quality of the product is at its best before that date. If, you consume that product after that date it will not make you sick but it would have changed its taste or crispiness for example crisps.


Artificial Sweeteners

Are artificial sweeteners beneficial or harmful to our health?

Are artificial sweeteners really effective in reducing blood sugar levels in diabetics?

If so, at what cost?


What are artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners offer a sweet taste without any calories. There are different types of sweeteners such as saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, noetame and sucralose which are approved for consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In order for the approval of these sweeteners in the food supply chain there has been a comprehensive safety assessments and experiments.

In addition, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) also agreed with the use of artificial sweeteners to replace white sugar. The reason behind this is that since sweeteners do not contain any calories they can reduce overweight, obesity and the risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome refer to a group of metabolic disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular, kidney and liver diseases. But, is there a cost?

Effects on health

It is argued that since sweeteners are calorie free these can be a way of calorie and carbohydrate control. It is known that overweight and obesity is mainly caused by high calorie intake from overeating. Therefore, by adding sweeteners to food instead of sugar they help reduce obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

On the other hand, there is a positive correlation between sweetener consumption and obesity. Till now there isn’t a reason for this but it could be psychologically. A person consuming sweeteners may think “these are diet biscuits so it’s all right to eat as much as I want.” In fact, I encounter this type of thinking frequently in my profession and usually leads the person eating a whole packet of biscuits. This will result in an enormous amount of calories being ingested at one go and therefore contribute to obesity instead the other way round.

Another drawback of sweeteners is that they are much sweeter in taste than white sugar. Therefore, people who use sweeteners on a regular basis may have changes in their taste buds. They may start to find naturally sweet food such as strawberries, sour meaning unpalatable. This may also suggests that sweeteners may have a tendency to be addictive for an individual too.


Sweeteners and health impact


Sweeteners are not metabolized by our body like the other foods we eat. It is known that sweeteners are digested by our intestinal bacteria. Therefore, these may have an effect on our gut health. A study shows that individuals who consumes sweeteners on a daily basis have higher body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and blood glucose levels. In addition, people who did not usually consume sweeteners were given 5 mg/Kg/day which resulted in half of them developing poorer glycemic control meaning high blood glucose levels. This type of research is still in the early stages and further research and studies are required for evidence based data.

One of the sweeteners known as aspartame contains phenylalanine. This is an amino acid which must be avoided by people who suffer from Phenylketonuria (PKU). PKU is a rare condition where the amino acid phenylalanine is unable to be metabolized by the body. When aspartame is one of the ingredients it must be labelled ‘contains aspartame (a source of phenylalanine).’ So, it is important that if you suffer from PKU you check all the food labels properly.


As you can see from the information above sweeteners can be both beneficial and harmful to health. If, you have a normal weight I suggest that you don’t consume sweeteners or food containing sweeteners. On the other hand, if you are trying to lose weight I would suggest the use of sweeteners with caution. In other words, the use of sweeteners should be limited as much as possible. When it comes to food there are always plenty of options to choose from so I suggest to choose wisely. I will end this blog by an answer from an obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital. When he was asked about sweeteners his answer was:

“Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tend to be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load.

On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.”


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