BBC Good Food Eat Well Show

The BBC Good Food Eat Well Show – The Diet Consultant

Posted by | Fat loss, Fitness, Food for thought, Healthy Eating, Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s an exciting weekend ahead for foodies and health enthusiasts, with The BBC Good Food Eat Well Show being held at Kensington Olympia, London. I’m excited to be there on Friday 27th to hold a FREE drop in clinic alongside other specialist Dietitians. Here, we will get to meet with members of the public, just like you, within 20 minute appointment slots. Our aim is to help as many people as possible by providing dietary advice on how they might be able to improve their health, performance and quality of life and achieve their specific dietary goals. The Dietitians Clinic, can be found at stand no: F62, placed by the British Dietetic Association.


BDA new logo

As well as receiving dietary advice whatever your goal or health concern, you are sure to have a great weekend with many other health experts, celebrities and professional chefs there to tickle your taste buds and keep you healthily informed.

If you are keen to come along, tickets are just £15 and you can pick them up here. It would be great to see you on Friday morning, so come along and say hi! 

Simple guide to training

Simple Guide to Weight Training

Posted by | Fitness, Food for thought, Recovery, Uncategorized | No Comments

National Fitness Day

The really simple guide to weight training for beginners has been written by experienced PT; Dan Forbes, as it’s National Fitness Day today, encouraging activity is high on the agenda. However, its not just about going out for a run or doing the odd aerobics class.  Weight training (resistance exercise) too, has been shown to provide a host of benefits, including increasing muscle strength, maintaining muscle mass (very important as we age), as well as improved mobility, posture and balance. Dan has kindly offered to write this post to explain why weight training doesn’t have to be complicated and as he explains; form and technique are extremely important to master, especially if you are a beginner.  Read on to find out how Dan’s ‘simple’ guide can help you to become stronger and more active. Thank you Dan.  

Almost all of the training routines I see laid out for beginners are horrible. They’re overly complicated, don’t allow you to progress at a rate which suits you and usually lead to problems down the line.

Being a beginner is a really exciting place to be and here is why….


Your time spent training is known as your training age. In your first 1-2 you will put on more lean muscle mass, increase strength and see improvements in fitness faster than any other time in your training life. Best of all, you won’t have to work any where near as hard as you will after that period to keep on progressing, providing you follow some simple strategies.

Got Skills?

Writing your name is a skill. Kicking a ball is a skill and so is lifting a weight.

Much like any activity, the first time you try a back squat, you will likely look and feel a little awkward, but fast forward a few weeks and the only difference between your squat and an experienced squatter’s, should be the weight on the bar.

Skill development, also known as motor pattern development, relies on us being able to practise the skill over and over. This allows us to refine our movements and become more efficient at them. This becomes difficult to do when you are trying to learn 47 new moves, all in under a minute while you’re gasping for breath, so I’m going to tell you to focus on a few exercises. There might be a time when things need to get a little more complicated, but that isn’t now.

Simple Six

Simple is good. It’s also effective. Just six movements are all you need in order to see major progress in the way you look, feel and perform.

1. Squat

2. Bench Press

3. Rowing

4. Overhead Press

5. Hip Hinge/Deadlift type movements

6. Overhead Pull

Now we just need to put them into a routine.

Simple Template

The simplest template is to split the exercises into two workouts, A and B, then alternate between them over three days a week. These three days can be Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Pick whatever suits your schedule and try to keep a days rest in-between.

Workout A


Bench Press

Barbell Row

Workout B


Overhead Press

Overhead Pull (Pull-ups if you are able. Pulldowns if not)

Simple Sets x Reps

In my experience you will see variability in technique from 3-5 reps+. Quality is everything when it comes to skill development, so I’d always opt for 3 perfect reps instead of 3 perfect ones and 7 rubbish ones, so keep your reps between 1-5.

The same goes for sets. You will get tired as you progress through the sets, which increases the chances of poor technique so I’d stick to 3 sets per exercise.

The thing to always remind yourself is that we are aiming for technical mastery of these lifts.

Until you have done this, adding weight is a no no!

This is also a good motivator, because most people can’t wait to throw a plate or two onto the bar, so they will do everything possible to nail the lifts so that they can progress.

Simple Progression

Periodisation simply means the systematic planning or organisation of training. There are many ways in which to do this. Luckily, we can opt for the simplest known method here, in which our only aim is to continually add a little weight each time we train, providing it does NOT lead to a breakdown in form. Perfect.

In reality though, it’s more likely that you’ll progress very quickly, slow down, then progress again. Being patient and sticking to the rules is the key.

Simple Mobility Work

We’re busy. Most of us spend too much time sitting down and not moving enough. Taking time at the beginning of each session to stretch a little and address any mobility issues you may have will pay dividends very quickly. To cover all of the options available here, is way beyond the scope of this post but for most people focusing on ankles and upper back (thoracic spine) is a great start. Guys, I’d throw hips work in there too. Also most people benefit from some glutes strengthening work at the beginning of a session.

I cannot emphasise enough how important this is and I’d seriously advise against skipping it. Injuries, old and new have a sneaky way of catching up with you when you ignore this type of work.

Simple Assistance Work

This applies to anything outside of the main lifts we’ve identified: core work, arms etc. It’s likely you’ll want to do some at some point but I’d keep it to 10 minutes in total and never in favour of any of your main work. It’s the main lifts that will get you the results you are after, not doing 26 sets of different bicep curls or crunches.

Simple Conditioning

Keep this short and sweet. If you have finished your strength session and feeling fresh then feel free to add in some conditioning work at the end. My suggestion would be to go a little harder for a shorter time. This will give you more bang for your buck and get you out of the door faster.

4-6 very short sprints followed by a decent amount of rest will do the job just fine.

There is a trend recently where conditioning work has become synonymous with driving yourself into the ground and crawling out of the gym. Conditioning doesn’t have to hard and it doesn’t have to wreck you.

Simply walking outside and sprinting up a hill a few times will reap a whole host of benefits as will sitting on a bike.

The choice is yours, just stay away from the stupid.

fitness day

Have Fun

Training should be fun. It’s a leisure time activity for the majority of us so why would you want to spend your precious time doing something you don’t enjoy. If you find that you really enjoy running then, base your training around that. I’d always advocate keeping the strength training up as it’s compliments all other forms of training so well and will help you see faster improvements and stay injury free.

That’s where this template is great because it’s not so stressful that you’ll take days to recover but it’s also flexible enough where if you want to add in a swim for example and can’t find the time, then you could always replace a strength session with that. Just keep rotating through the workouts each time you go in, try adding a little bit of weight when you can and enjoy.

Simple. Now To Do It

This type of approach works great for two types of trainees. Beginners and experienced lifters who have picked up a load of injuries along the way and turn back to simpler templates to allow them to keep on training, without getting too banged up. Since this is the really really simple guide, I’ll even give you a quick summary of what to

1. Train 3 times a week

2. Do some mobility work at the beginning of each session.

3. Alternate between 2 workouts

Workout A
Workout B
Squat Deadlift
Bench Press Overhead Press
Barbell Row Overhead Pull (Pull-ups if you are able. Pulldowns if not)

4. Do each exercise for 3 sets of 3-5 reps

5. Stay away from failure and only use perfect form. (When starting off, it can be useful to hire a trainer to help you get this right. Just make sure they don’t try to convince you they have a ‘better’ way)

6. IF you want to do some assistance stuff after your main lifts for 10 minutes. Go for it. If not, go home.

7. IF you want to do some conditioning work at the end, go for it. If not, go home.

8. Be patient & have fun

Are you starting weight training for the first time?  Do you have any questions for Dan about progressing your training?

Dan Forbes


Dan has been a trainer for over 10 years and currently runs an online coaching at Forbes Performance, where he takes the tried and tested principles of training and nutrition to help clients achieve their performance and physique goals, as well as studying for an MSc in strength & conditioning. You can find out more about his services at his website and get more free programs at his blog

You can also follow Dan on Facebook and Twitter 

A Food Allergy or Intolerance

Posted by | Food for thought, Healthy Eating | No Comments

Do you have a food allergy or intolerance? Victoria Bittle has kindly offered to write this blog post, to help to distinguish between each diagnosis, to describe how you might be tested and what you should do if you think you have one.
Thank you Victoria 🙂

If I had a dollar for every time I heard ‘I don’t tolerate that’ I’d be rich by now! Each year visits to GP’s for reported gut, skin or respiratory symptoms increase. Is food allergy and intolerance becoming more of an epidemic or are we just becoming better at recognising and treating it??  Many people often get confused about the differences between allergy and food intolerance and often they can present in similar ways, which can be confusing.

So what are the differences between allergy and intolerance?

Surprisingly, true food allergy is rare; affecting approximately 2% of the adult UK population and 8% of children (  Food allergy involves the immune system, where the body sees the food as a foreign body and makes specific antibodies (IgE) to fight off the potential harmful allergen. This results in a release of histamine and it’s the release of this, and other chemicals that cause the symptoms, we recognise as an ‘allergic reaction’. This reaction tends to happen relatively quickly following exposure to the allergen (the particular food) making it slightly easier to identify the cause. Common symptoms include wheezing, difficulties breathing, a running nose, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin rash, itching or swelling.
Most Common Food Allergens

Food intolerance is a little ‘wooly’ and not as clear cut as a food allergy.

Food intolerance reactions do not involve the immune system and reactions tend to be more delayed occurring hours to days after exposure. Symptoms vary however, more commonly associated with gut (bloating, constipation, diarrhea) and skin problems such as eczema.

Lactose Intolerance

People often talk about being intolerant to lactose/wheat or that they may be sensitive to caffeine or natural occurring histamine foods such as cheese, wine, or pickled foods . Having primary lactose intolerance is actually rare; this is when you lack the enzyme lactase meaning they are unable to break down the natural sugar within milk (lactose). More commonly seen is secondary lactose intolerance, which tends to be more temporary and can occur post gastrointestinal bugs/antibiotics. A simple lactose free diet (exclusion) for 6-8 weeks with re-introduction period tends to restore tolerance again.
Unlike with a true allergy, a positive lifestyle change such as exercise, a regular meal pattern, a nutrient dense diet and a reduced amount of fatty and processed foods can significantly impact your food tolerance.

It’s therefore important you look at making positive changes to your diet and lifestyle first before you start eliminating foods unnecessarily.

How do I find out if I’m allergic?

If you suspect an allergy based on the above information it is recommended that you visit your GP who can refer you onto the appropriate service for specific testing and dietetic input, should it be necessary. Tests that help to confirm an allergy include, a Skin Prick Test; which involves pricking the skin with an allergen, this may cause a localised response (i.e. redness, swelling). A Specific IgE blood test (previously known as RAST) is another way to test an allergy, it measures the amount of IgE, an antibody that increases in the blood in response to a (suspected) food. The results are not always reliable in both examples; therefore an oral food challenge remains the gold standard for allergy testing. These can be preformed either at home if appropriate or in the hospital setting under supervision from a specialist medical team and dietitian.

How do I find out if I am intolerant?

Unfortunately there aren’t many validated tests that can confirm intolerances, therefore for that reason the gold standard is to exclude the specific food for a period of time and then re-introduce it to see if symptoms reappear/worsen. A food and symptom dairy can be an extremely useful tool to help you to identify culprit foods and a dietitian can provide a tailored elimination diet to suit your needs. Dietitians are important during elimination diets to help advise you on a nutritionally complete diet including meals and snacks and special ‘free from products’ to ensure you can still enjoy, as well as stick to your diet.

In Summary

Food allergies and intolerances do appear to be all around us, so If you suspect an allergy or intolerance, make sure you go down the right channels in order to get the correct diagnosis and support you need. Speak to a qualified health professional; e.g. your GP and be skeptical of any ‘allergy’ test that’s either different from those described above and/or offered by a non-medic/doctor. Restricting your diet without supervision from a qualified dietitian may be difficult but also very dangerous if your diet isn’t nutritionally adequate, a dietitian can support you in finding replacement ‘free-from’ foods to prevent this from happening.

Top Tips

– Keep a food and symptom diary
– Alter your diet and lifestyle to ensure it is balanced and healthy
– Once you see notice patterns in your food diary, visit the GP who can advise and refer you on to a specialist if needed
– See a dietitian if you are excluding a number of foods for expert advice and to ensure you aren’t missing out on the key nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.
For more information on allergy and food intolerances visit Allergy UK.


Victoria Bittle

Paediatric Allergy Dietitian


The Author

Victoria is an experienced Dietitian, specialising in paediatric allergies and weight loss working predominantly within the NHS. In her spare time she try’s and reviews ‘free from’ products on the website Allergy Angle and works privately with the Diet Angels too. Victoria’s skills help assess, educate and treat nutritional related problems and her friendly, practical and professional approach aids motivation to achieve the desired goals and outcome.                   Follow her on Twitter

The Weight Loss Surgery Roller Coaster

The Weight Loss Surgery Roller Coaster

Posted by | Fat loss, Food for thought, Healthy Eating, Uncategorized | No Comments

In essence, weight loss surgery is one of the toughest roads you could ever choose to go down; emotionally, physically and socially.

Over the past 6 years I have been in the incredibly privileged position of working alongside hundreds of people going through the process of weight loss surgery. To be there throughout the entire process from assessment to post surgery discharge was indeed, a rollercoaster. I shared the highs and the lows, felt the frustrations and the liberation, I felt the despair and the sheer happiness, and usually all in one afternoon! Because weight loss surgery is like that; about as far from a smooth and steady journey as you can possibly imagine.

More and more individuals are being offered weight loss surgery and this, I am certain, is only going to increase.

Because it works.

But let me rephrase that slightly, because it can work and can work brilliantly. However, it can also be a complete disaster. It can be the hardest, most traumatic, heart breakingly disappointing procedure. It can shatter dreams and hope, wreaking havoc with an existing, rock bottom self-esteem.

So what have I learnt about navigating weight loss surgery to make sure it works and works brilliantly?

You can never be 100% certain that it will work. Despite high motivation levels and a good level of understanding, there will always be people for whom weight loss surgery will never work. The reasons for this are multiple and complex and I doubt even that individual will really understand what is holding them back from success.

Timing is everything. The vast majority of people will come for an assessment hoping to be put forward immediately and, in an ideal world, have their surgery within weeks. This would be a disaster. I have learnt so much about the importance of providing people with at least 6 months of  pre-surgery preparation. This time is SO important to start accepting the reality of weight loss surgery, to realize the changes that you will need to make and to reflect on the harsh reality of the hard work required to succeed. For some 6 months is enough and for others a period of 18 months works perfectly – everyone is different.

Weight loss surgery is no magic wand. Weight loss surgery or no weight loss surgery…

In order to lose weight you need to make significant, sustainable and positive changes to your diet and lifestyle.

To lose weight with weight loss surgery you need to reduce portions, cut out or reduce the empty calories, concentrate on plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean protein and complex carbs. Just as you need to do without the surgery. It is not a way of eating what you like and still losing weight. You have to work at it.

The complete team is so important. Having a multidisciplinary team with a dietitian, psychologist, pharmacist, specialist nurse, endocrinologist, surgeon, anesthetist and a radiologist is crucial. The team need to communicate effectively and have sufficient funding to offer appropriate levels of care to patients. This is a big one and fairly political at the moment but nonetheless very true.

There is no one-size-fits-all surgery option. I have seen people succeed and fail with all types of weight loss surgery and the choice of surgery needs to be a joint decision, informed, considered and chosen for the right reasons. Many people have seen friends or family fail or succeed with a certain type of surgery and then choose to avoid or select it accordingly. Be open and consider all types.

Accept that after the sunshine comes the storm. The hardest part for many is accepting that post surgery weight loss is slowing and then stopping and then worse, they start to gain weight. This is normal. It happens to everyone and is part of the process. Just as normal weight loss without surgery will come in waves; you lose, you maintain, you gain, you lose….and the cycle continues. Relapse and weight gain is a normal part of the process so expect it at some point, embrace it and use it as a valuable learning opportunity. Look at why it has happened? Which habits have crept slowly back in? (this happens to everyone!) Learn from it and decide how you plan to avoid it happening again? Your weight loss curve will look more or less like a rollercoaster – expect this and you won’t be as disappointed.

What success looks like

To all those who have had surgery – ignore everyone who puts you down, thinking that you have chosen the easy option. Hold your head high, know that deep down you are mustering the same strength, determination and resilience that anyone else trying to lose weight without the surgery, has to do. Criticism is often borne out of resentment and jealousy. Try to rise above it however hard this might be. There is a growing number who realise how hard you are working – focus on these individuals.

Surgery can change the way that you eat forever. Sometimes surgery can have unpredictable effects and you might end up unable to tolerate or digest certain types of food. This can be hugely restrictive and impact on every aspect of your life. Sadly this is a risk, one of the many that those undergoing surgery will have to take. However, be mindful of the choices that you make in terms of foods. Some foods will be easier to eat, however this although tempting is not the way forwards. A good working relationship with your dietitian is the best way to avoid falling into this trap.

apple on a plate

Choosing to undergo weight loss surgery is a brave option and it is often the last option available for people. A last resort after years of struggling. Summoning up enough courage to attend an initial appointment is a huge achievement, it takes so much strength to face up to discussing food and eating and these individuals deserve a truck load of respect. I admire each and every patient with whom I have worked. I learn from them every day and I never cease to be amazed by the commitment that they show.

Losing weight might not make you as happy as you think it will. For many, weight loss surgery carries a heavy burden or responsibility – it is supposed to make you happier, improve your relationship, help you to get a job or be better at the one you do, be a better friend, have more confidence, make you do more exercise and so on. A long list of responsibilities for any one ‘thing’ to bear. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of weight loss surgery is that it often fails to deliver on one or all counts. I think this is something that everyone needs to think about. It is all too easy to live in the ‘if only’ land. ‘Life would be better if only I was thinner’, I would have a job if only I was thinner, I would have a relationship if only I was thinner….believe me when I say, that losing weight is not a guaranteed for ‘happily ever after’. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. It can be hard to adjust and you need to be aware of this, if you find yourself in this situation. You are responsible for your own happiness, and that starts from within, not from a gastric band. So reset the expectations that you may have about your slimmer self, when you go for surgery or about others who are doing so. Don’t feel entitled to a new mindset.

That’s not to say you can’t be happier, of course you can but that is down to you and the choices that you make and not a piece of silicone or a few stitches.

I hope that his article makes you think, perhaps about judgments that you have made or about choices that you might make in the future if you are thinking of weight loss surgery as an option. It can be a truly wonderful and life changing tool, but it is just that, a tool, and without the team, the personal commitment and the necessary resilience within your tool kit, the surgery alone is a very small part of a large and complex jigsaw.

Faith Toogood

Faith Toogood

 About the Author 

Faith Toogood is an experienced Dietitian, specialising in weight management and weight loss  surgery.  She has a breadth of experience spanning the NHS and the private sector.  In addition to  running a busy private practice, she is a regular on our TV screens, appearing on ITV’s ‘The Biggest  Loser’ and other weight loss shows. Faith is passionate about helping everyone to feel empowered  around food and cooking, and is well  known for her practical, no-nonsense and warm approach in  helping others to drastically improve  their diets through simple, sustainable and affordable  changes.
Connect with Faith here:, on Twitter and on Pinterest 

Faith is a fantastic dietitian and one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of working with so check her out, on her website and social media links above. A huge thank you for writing this guest blog post Faith, it really highlights the highs and lows of the weight loss surgery journey for the patient and that its not the plain sailing procedure, as its often perceived.

Have you or anyone you know embarked on weight loss surgery?

We would love to hear about your experiences?

Do you have any advice for others considering weight loss surgery?

Disordered Eating in Athletes – The Male Athlete Dyad

Posted by | Fitness, Food for thought, Sport Nutrition | No Comments

Eating disorders/disordered eating and the athlete triad are often associated with females but there is a growing amount of evidence to suggest that it is becoming more prevalent within males too.

Indeed in my own clinic this year, around 1/3 of the cases of disordered eating I have worked with, have been in males ranging in age from 15-40 years.
In all cases, working with eating disorders is a challenge; there is no straight line to recovery.
However, In the case of a female sufferer, the physical signs of low energy availability, over exercising and restricting food intake are made apparent physically by weight loss but also physiologically via the cessation of menstruation.

In the male sufferer there are few visible physiological signs, making it more difficult to assess the degree of damage to the body.

In the female athlete triad it is widely accepted now that athletes can actually hold a fairly normal weight but still be affected due to having low energy availability. When a female athlete consumes less than 30 Kcal/Kg fat free mass either as a result of restricting their intake or being unable to meet their training demands, it affects the hypothalamic hormones and stops the production of Oestrogen. This in turn can then have an impact on bone density especially if menstruation stops for as little as 3 consecutive months. If a sufferer is also very low in weight and showing signs of disordered eating, there will be concerns regarding her blood pressure, pulse rate and increased pressure on heart, lungs and skeleton as her body fights to stay alive.

How does this differ in boys/men?

As already mentioned, there is a missing corner with regards to the actual triad (suggesting its more of dyad) as there is no link to cessation of menstruation but surely low energy availability in males will also see a reduction in the sex hormone testosterone and what effects does this actually have?

Indeed, studies in male bodybuilders have demonstrated that prolonged energy restriction does cause a reduction in testosterone and growth hormone. 

Effecting anabolic pathways, even when the athletes consume high protein diets. In the case of the body builder as long as this is just short term in the lead up to a competition, there is no lasting damage or concern.
Interestingly the male sufferers I have worked with have all presented with very low body fat composition, increased desires to be lean but strong and have an excessive relationship with lifting weights in the gym. What may have started as a general interest to build muscle soon becomes an obsession with controlling their food intake; becoming fixated on reducing carbohydrate and fat from their diet to a dangerous level, while still spending hours exercising daily.

Disordered Eating in Male AthletesAs is often seen in cases of disordered eating and body dysmorphia, there is a drive for control and “perfection” usually unrelated but soon becomes expressed through food restriction. The determination to achieve a strong athletic body in male sufferers can quickly develop into a negative cycle; they reduce their dietary intake, push their bodies through punishing exercise programmes, all the time telling themselves that they are actually enjoying their new found “healthy lifestyle”. Ironically this new regimen is doing the complete opposite; preventing anabolic pathways and increasing catabolic pathways, breaking down muscle to provide energy and moving further away from their body composition goals.

A low weight and restricted energy intake is always accompanied by irrational thought processes and a louder inner voice as the eating disorder takes on an even stronger hold. As well as affecting anabolic pathways, a reduction in these sex hormones will result in low bone density; some of this may well be counteracted by the fact that the male sufferer performs a higher percentage of weight bearing exercises but damage to bone health is still a problem that needs to be highlighted when working in this field.
If energy intake and weight can be restored fairly quickly then there does not seem to be long term damage; but if it is a lengthy return to normal weight and eating, the individual may be more at risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis in later life.
So while the third point of the (triad) triangle may be missing in males, there are still symptoms to look out for:
• Low energy (although initial this will present with endless amounts of “restless” energy)
• Low mood
• Poor sleep patterns
• Increased irritability
• Withdrawal from social circle
• Loss of libido
• Lack of concentration

Male or female it is always difficult to ask for help when dealing with disordered eating but I think it is even harder in males. As wrong as it is, it is accepted by society that women generally have issues with their body image and poor relationships with food. This is not so the case for males, making this condition even more isolated, secretive and dangerous if left unaddressed.

What are your thoughts on this often sensitive area?  


Have you or somebody you know experienced disordered eating within their sport?


Sharing is Caring….lets raise general awareness of an increasingly common issue within sport!

Thank you to Renee for writing this insightful blog, its certainly an area that requires much more attention, appropriate discussion and qualified support. You can also check out Renee’s previous blog; ‘Performance Scales’ ( exploring the increasing problem of disordered eating and the negative effects it can have on health.


Renee McGregor

Renee McGregor, Sports Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian BSc (hons) PGDIP (diet) RD PGCERT (Sportsnutr.)


About the Author 

Renee is Sport Dietitian with Team Bath, a keen runner and is extremely passionate about making sport nutrition practical and simple to follow. She provides advice to a range of athletes from recreational to elite; including athletes competing at both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. She also works to support patients through the National Eating Disorders Charity, Anorexia and Bulimia Care as well as Somerset and Essex Eating Disorders Association.

Check out her website here  and follow Renee here on Twitter 


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