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Are We Now At Risk Of Overdoing The Hygiene?

Are We Now At Risk Of Overdoing The Hygiene?
Are We Now At Risk Of Overdoing The Hygiene?

Coronavirus has turned us into hygiene fanatics. But, while sensible strategies are vital, could going too far do more harm than good?

Since the coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year, we’ve all upped our hygiene standards significantly.

Scared of catching the dreaded virus, we’ve spent the last few months washing and disinfecting our hands, clothes, surfaces and anything that could possibly expose us to infection.

As a result, sales of soap, bleach, hand washes and sanitiser have gone through the roof. Even prior to lockdown, back in February, sales of hand sanitiser went up by 255%, demand for liquid soap went up by 7% and sales of household cleaning products rose by 10%.

With Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene still in place, this preoccupation with cleanliness has now become part of our daily lives. The question is, are we now at risk of overdoing the hygiene?

Too Clean?

This notion that we are too clean for our own good is quite damaging, says Professor Rook, microbiologist at University College London.

This notion that we are too clean for late 80s with the concept of the hygiene hypothesis, based on the work of epidemiologist Dr David Strachan who suggested that the rising rates of allergies in children were linked to a general increase in cleanliness and also to the lower incidence of infectious diseases in chidhood.

This was totally misinterpreted and for a long time people believed that too much cleanliness was bad for your health, and that exposure to all sorts of microorganisms, or microbes had a protective effect.

This theory has since been refuted yes, we do need to be exposed to certain microorgaisms, but we need to distinguish between those that are beneficial and those that are not.

Helpful Bacteria

Professor Sally Bloomfield at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says, Science now shows that exposure to “beneficial” microbes is beneficial for health.

She says that we acquire these beneficial microbes from people w share our lives with, domestic pets eating a diverse diet of unprocesse foods and spending time in nature.

We also acquire beneficial microbes from our mothers in childbirth and breastfeeding.

In fact, these beneficial microbes create a healthy microbiome in our gut, skin and respiratory tract.

The microbes we need exposure to are different to the ones that cause infection,’ says Sally. A lack of diverse microbiota on and in our body is linked to an increasing range of diseases.

Being In Nature

The microorganisms we encounter in nature, we have lived with since prehistoric times and they played an essential role in the evolution of our immune system, says Professor Rook. Most are harmless, but some are necessary for good health.

In fact, Scandinavian studies show that the microbiota in the home is beneficial only when it resembles that of the natural environment. In the past, homes were built with natural products (such as wood and mud) so the microbes resembled those in nature.

These microbes are mostly lacking in modern homes, so what you want to do is to keep your home clean but have as much contact with the natural environment as you can says Professor Rook.

A staggering 90% of our time is spent indoors according to the 2019 Hygiene Report, but it’s time to break this habit by getting outside.

Microbes In Food

Some of the things we eat are not really to nourish us, but to nourish the right organisms in the gut, says Professor Rook.

Breast milk, for example, contains prebiotic bacteria, beneficial for a baby’s gut microbiome! As adults we should aim to eat plenty of fresh, plant foods, as these contain microbes that we need to stay healthy.

For example, probiotic foods including sauerkraut, kefir and live yogurt and prebiotic foods such as avocado, leeks, banana, onions and garlic, are beneficial to maintain for a healthy gut. This contributes towards better immunity.

Targeted Hygiene

We can’t see microbes. So, how do we best protect ourselves from infection and still get exposure to essential microbes? According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) your best tactic is to practice targeted hygiene.

This means being hygienic in the right places at the right times,’ says environmental health practitioner, Dr Lisa Ackerley. ‘It’s more important to clean a door handle or to wash your hands before and after preparing food, than dusting or washing the floor.

This helps to break the chain of infection (from harmful microbes) while you stay exposed to the good bacteria.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we were told to wash our hands, adds Dr Ackerley. I’ve since spoken to a lot of people who were self-isolating but who kept washing their hands until they became red, raw; that’s not helpful at all. You just need to wash your hands at the times that matter.

This could be when you come in from being outdoors or after touching surfaces that could be contaminated.

Dr Acklerley adds: The same goes for using hand sanitiser. You only need to use it when there’s no access to soap and water, and not while you’re sitting on your sofa watching TV!

The 9 Moments When Cleanliness Really Matters

The microbes that harm us come from different sources eg contaminated, raw food and surfaces, infected people, says Dr Ackerley.

These can be shed through particles, faeces, saliva, coughs and sneezes and they find a way in via our mouth, nose, lungs, eyes, cuts and grazes, and touching our faces, that’s why hand hygiene is so important.

Other transfer routes include hand-to-surface contact, via cloths, clothing, basins, handles and air.

The key is to break the chain of infection by cleaning and disinfecting at times that matter.

The International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene has identified the nine key moments when it’s easiest for harmful microbes to be spread. These are the times to practice targeted hygiene.

Using The Toilet

Close the lid when flushing and always wash your hands afterwards. Clean the toilet regularly, and once or twice a day if someone has a gastric illness.

Coughing And Sneezing

Always use a tissue and dispose it safely. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser when out and about.

Handling Raw Food

Wash hands before and after preparing food. Clean all surfaces and utensils. Wash vegetables and fruit in running water.

Eating With Your Fingers

Keep your own portions separate and always wash hands before and afterwards.

Caring For Pets

Always wash your hands after handling litter trays, food and keep animal utensils separate. Clean pet cages regularly. Wash hands after handling animals and before eating.

Handling And Laundering Clothing And Linens

Always wash your hands after handling dirty washing. Wash cloths, towels and bed linen regularly; underwear and intimate items daily. To get rid of harmful microbes, wash at 60 degrees.

Domestic Waste Disposal

Emply rubbish into uulside binis regularly. Wash bin surfaces and wash your hands after use.

Using Surfaces Frequently Touched By Other People

This can include the TV remote and door knobs. Clean surfaces handled by yourself and others regularly, and more frequently if someone has an infection.

Caring For Infected Family Members

If someone in your family has an infection it can easily be passed on. So, all surfaces that the infected person comes into contact with should be cleaned frequently including baths, basins, toilet, door knobs and remotes. Don’t share cooking plates, cups, cutlery etc.

Protect Your Hands

Handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water is the top recommendation for reducing the spread of the coronavirus. It can also prevent the spread of other viruses, including colds and flu.

The next best option is to use hand sanitiser, especially when you’re out and about.

‘Washing your hands too much can make them very dry, red, itchy, flaky and cracked, making skin more susceptible to bacterial infection,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto.

Repeated use of soaps and detergents can also lead to irritant contact dermatitis.’ So, what’s your best tactic in protecting the skin on your hands, while trying to stay safe? Dr Mahto says…

  • Use mild, fragrance-free soap, but don’t use too much.
  • Carry a non-fragranced hand cream at all times and get into the habit of moisturising after washing.
  • Apply hand cream to hands at night and cover with cotton gloves to increase absorption.
  • Avoid hand sanitisers that have too much alcohol.
  • Soothe dry hands with a probiotic hand cream.


We’re not as clean as we might like to think as our skin is covered in more than 1,000 types of bacteria, also viruses, fungi and mites. Most of these are harmless; some are beneficial.

Studies carried out in Finland have shown that living close to green spaces and agriculture increases the biodiversity of microbes on the skin and is linked to a lower risk of allergies.

How To Outsmart IBS

How To Outsmart IBS
How To Outsmart IBS

It affects almost one in five of us find out how you can kick this annoying gastrointestinal disorder into touch…

Cramping, bloating, wind, diarrhoea if you’re one of the estimated 13 million Brits who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you’ll know the misery it can cause from day to day.

And while there is no cure, there are ways of improving symptoms and making life more bearable if IBS blights your life. Here’s how.

IBS 101

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a gastrointestinal condition that affects the bowel, and results in constipation, diarrhoea or a mix of both, as well as abdominal pain, bloating and fatigue. Incredibly, it affects around 15 in every 100 of us.

Every case is different, and people present with different issues, which is why it’s called a syndrome,’ explains Yvonne Mckenzie, clinical dietitian and specialist in gastrointestinal nutrition and IBS.

Getting personal lifestyle and dietary advice is the best way of dealing with it, as there’s no blanket treatment for all.

What Causesit?

When food is passed along the bowel, the muscles contract. If these contractions become overactive or abnormal, it causes pain. However, part of the reason there’s currently no cure is that no one is sure why it happens.

Some people develop IBS following a bout of gastroenteritis or food poisoning,’ explains Julie Thompson from charity Guts UK. For some reason, women are more susceptible to it than men, particularly those of working age, but we don’t really know why.

It can also be down to other types of trauma including infections, or even just genetics.

There’s a link between the gut and brain function that we don’t yet fully understand, which is why stress and trauma can often exacerbate or even be the main cause of IBS,’ says Yvonne.

The trauma or stress whether in the form of an infection, food poisoning or psychological trauma can make the gut hyper-sensitive.

IBS Or Something Else?

The main symptoms of IBS include bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, wind and pain.

The main thing to notice is a change in bowel movements, explains Yvonne. Some people have diarrhoea, others have constipation, some get both.

But if you’ve suffered with bloating, diarrhoea and constipation for more than six months, it’s essential to get tested. Although doctors can’t test directly for IBS, they can test for other things in order to rule them out.

IBS is usually diagnosed by the symptom profile, but it’s also important to rule out other diseases, explains Julie.

Doctors check for symptoms such as weight loss, blood in stools and anaemia, as these aren’t commonly associated with IBS and could be something else such as coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


passing blood is not a symptom of IBS, but it could be something more serious, so make an appointment with your doctor if you notice this.

Beat IBS


Diet is one of the main ways of tackling IBS symptoms. This is because, even though it can be caused by stress or trauma, it’s a sensitivity to food that causes the discomfort.

Start by writing a food and symptoms diary for two to four weeks. This can identify common food triggers, as well as help you discover what helps alleviate symptoms, such as exercise, or spot anything else that may help to work out a course of action.

One of the things that works for most sufferers is what’s known as a low FODMAP diet. This is the most successful evidence-based dietary treatment we have available to manage IBS-like symptoms, explains yvonne.

Scientific evidence has shown that about three in every four people gain substantial improvement in their symptoms if they follow this diet correctly.

FODMAP is an abbreviation of Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are all known as ‘short-chain carbohydrates.

Short-chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, which leads to alterations in the bacterial fermentation in the large intestine, triggering benign, often debilitating gut symptoms, explains Yvonne. Removing FODMAPs from the diet often substantially improves these symptoms.

The list of foods high in FODMAPs that need to be cut is large, and includes bread, pasta, onions, garlic, beans and many dairy products.

It’s more complex than that though, and if you try to do it yourself, you risk cutting out essential nutrients such as fibre and calcium, adds yvonne. it’s much more successful to try this under the guidance of a dietitian.

Other Diet Guidelines

Cut down on booze

Too much alcohol can exacerbate symptoms, especially diarrhoea. ‘Alcohol increases your gut permeability. We don’t fully understand the implications of this yet, but we do know that too much alcohol can make symptoms worse,’ says Yvonne.

Eat smaller portions

When there is hypersensitivity in the gut, it has more work to do, which it finds hard to handle, explains Yvonne. Smaller portions mean it has to work less hard. The same applies to snacking.

Try to eat three meals a day, and don’t snack as this increases the load on your gut.

Add linseeds

Sprinkling a tablespoon of linseeds into your breakfast cereal, yogurt, soup or salad every day can help alleviate constipation. You may want to start with a teaspoon and work your way up.

Limit caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the colon, which can make diarrhoea worse. Try to limit caffeine to two or three cups of coffee or tea per day.

Swerve sweeteners such as sorbitol and xylitol as they’re hard to digest and can have a laxative effect.

Cut down on processed, fatty foods, which are hard to digest.

Try probiotics

They don’t work for everyone, but they can help with digestion and reduce bloating.

Adjust your fibre intake

Fibre is a complicated issue as, depending on your symptoms, you may need to increase or decrease consumption.

Reducing insolubre such as wheat, nuts and whole grains generally helps alleviate diarrhoea, while increasing soluble fibre found in oats, fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses can help with constipation. Make changes slowly so you can see what works.

Cut down fructose

The sugar found in fruit isn’t easily absorbed, and can worsen diarrhoea, wind and bloating. Stick to no more than three pieces of fruit a day, including fruit juice.

Most importantly, give your bowels time to adjust to any changes you make. If your symptoms persist after making changes, slowly re-introduce some of the foods you have cut out.


GPs will often prescribe medication for the pain of IBS, but this doesn’t address the cause. However, for some people, it can be a lifeline while other causes are being investigated.

Antispasmodic medicines help the wall of the gut to relax, while laxatives can be prescribed for constipation.

Give peppermint oil a go for bloating as it can help with tummy pains and spasms. Try Holland and Barrett Extra Strength Oil of Peppermint Capsules, (12.49 for 120 tablets, hollandandbarrett.com)

Alternative Treatments

Although changing your diet is the most successful way of reducing the symptoms of IBS, there are other methods that have had proven results, especially when tried in conjunction with lifestyle and diet changes.


A study by professor Peter Whorwell, a gastroenterologist from the University of Manchester, revealed that hypnotherapy can treat patients with severe IBS.

Before treatment, 65% of the patients had severe IBS, whereas afterwards only 25% were classed as having it, with symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating and bowel function significantly improved.

Other common symptoms including nausea, headaches, backache and lethargy had also improved.

Meditation And Yoga

Because there’s a connection between the gut and the brain, both yoga and meditation can help by relaxing the mind and body. Certain yoga poses can also directly help to relieve signs of IBS such as bloating and wind. Check out Youtube for yoga tutorials.


Cognitive behavioural therapy looks at how you think and behave. A study funded by the National Institute for Health Research showed that IBS sufferers who underwent CBT found their symptoms significaly relieved.

Regular Exercise

Exercise reduces stress, making it a great way to manage IBS symptoms. Don’t go overboard though, as it can make symptoms worse.


Opinion is divided as to whether Covid-19 has made IBS worse for sufferers. Julie believes it has. Any changes to lifestyle and diet can result in a flare-up of symptoms she explains.

This is particularly true when the availability of tolerated foods during lockdown is affected, and if people are trying to juggle work responsibilities and looking after the family at the same time.

Yvonne isn’t so sure there’s no evidence to show that Covid-19 has had any affect on IBS, she says. having said that, i know people who have IBS whose anxiety levels are high at the thought that most public toilets are shut, she says. this could definitely have an impact on them.

What Is IBD?

IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, is very different to IBS. While IBS causes pain, it is not a clinical condition. IBD, however, which includes the conditions ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is caused by inflammation of the colon (large intestine) believed to be caused by a reaction to friendly bacteria in the gut.

Symptoms are similar to IBS, such as diarrhoea and pain in the abdomen, but it can also cause bleeding from the rectum, which IBS doesn’t do. Treatment includes antiinflammatories and steroids, although severe cases can result in surgery.

Is Your Make Up Bag Bad Foryour Health?

Is Your Make Up Bag Bad Foryour Health?
Is Your Make Up Bag Bad Foryour Health?

Spotless tools will reward you with better results and healthier skin.

Be honest. How many of us can hand-on-heart say that we wash our make-up brushes regularly?

The good news is we’re not alone, with a recent survey revealing that one in four UK women have never cleaned their brushes.

Guidance surrounding this year’s Covid-19 pandemic has meant increased vigilance around hygiene with a recommended increase in handwashing, and a decrease in face touching.

And with that in mind, there’s never been a better time to commit to a new toolcleansing regime.

Why Is Washing Our Brushes So Important?

If you’re squeamish, look away now. According to Dr Jonquille Chantrey, cosmetic surgeon and founder of ONE Aesthetic Studio, ‘most brushes have been found to harbour bacteria such as staphylococcus, E. coli and even mites.

It’s no surprise then, that grubby brushes can lead to unwanted skin complaints. Clogged pores, viral infections, rashes, redness and acne can all occur, says Dr Chantrey.

Worse-case scenario, by using dirty implements near an open wound, you can cause a widespread infection. Consider us told.

How Shouldi Clean My Tools?

Whether you’re using a liquid cleanser, a balm or even a drop of fairy liquid, the way you wash your tools remains the same.

Work the product in to your brushes or sponge to gently loosen pigments and rinse thoroughly in warm water, advises make-up artist Ruby Hammer MBE. Dry with a tissue or kitchen roll before leaving flat to air dry.

A deep clean once a week should be enough to keep germs at bay, but make-up artist Caroline Barnes also recommends a quick spritz of sanitiser between washes.

They dry quickly and kill most bacteria. Use after each application with wet products like foundation and gloss.

Are Some Products And Toolsdirtier Than Others?

The fastest route to an unhygienic beauty stash is to share it with others, so keep your products to yourself to reduce the spread of bacteria.

After that, it’s all about texture. ‘Wet’ make-up tends to cause more issues, as ‘moisture is a breeding place for bacteria and fungus,’ explains Caroline.

Mascara is one of the worst offenders,’ adds Ruby, ‘as air is pumped into the barrel with every use. Foundation brushes are problematic too, as they travel all over the face, and near the lips and eyes.

They’re in contact with skin oils, sebum, dead skin cells, as well as bacteria and environmental pollution that we can’t see.

What About The Outside Of My Products?

Applying make-up on the go and resting your bag on public surfaces, such as train seats and bathroom counters, will only increase your chances of picking up germs.

Keep nozzles on product bottles clean, make sure you wipe after use with a tissue, and seal the lids properly, advises Ruby.

As for your actual make-up bag, that needs to be cleaned regularly too. Tip the whole bag out and use anti-bacterial wipes to clean the outer packaging and the bag itself.

Check the texture or smell of everything and be ruthless: throw out products and brushes that look or smell bad.

Simple Habits For Great Skin

Simple Habits For Great Skin
Simple Habits For Great Skin

A good skincare routine isn’t just about the products you use, it’s also about your routine itself.

Our beauty experts share the habits it’s worth getting into

Don’t Neglect Your Neck

Here’s the bad news about necks: this area is thin-skinned, exposed to the elements and is more susceptible to gravity’s downward pull as collagen levels wane over the years.

The good news is, just one change can make a world of difference: don’t stop applying skincare at the chin! This doesn’t mean you have to splash out on a variety of neck specific products (unless you really want to).

Simply spread whatever you use on your face as far down as your chest.

The most important product for the neck is SPF, as unless you wear polo necks all year, sun damage is probably behind a lot of the tone or texture issues you may have.

Ultrasun Daily Face Fluid SPF50, offers trustworthy protection, or if you’re sensitive and prefer mineral SPF try Oskia SPF 30 Vitamin Face Cream Mineral Sunscreen, a moisturiser, sun block and pollution shield in one.

Day to day, treat your neck just as you do your face with cleanser, moisturiser and any active treatments like retinol or acid exfoliators.

For a special treat, look to 111Skin, whose Black Diamond Lifting and Firming Treatment Mask, is beloved by A-listers, including Victoria Beckham, and comes in two parts one for the face, one for the neck and chest.

Touch Your Self!

There are plenty of whizzy gadgets and mystical crystal tools out there, but a good oil and your hands can be every bit as beneficial.

Facial massages boost circulation, helping blood supply bring oxygen to the skin for a healthy glow.

It’s also a nice way to build some time into your day that’s calm, quiet and all about you, even if it’s only a few minutes.

Try holistic health and wellness expert Amanda Berlyn’s soothing nighttime ritual:

  • Give yourself 15 minutes before bed to ease into a restful state, somewhere you can sit undisturbed.
  • Apply a small amount of oil to your hands, inhaling the aroma. Sweep your left hand from right shoulder to centre of your chest. Repeat three times then switch sides.
  • Breathe. Notice the aroma embrace you. Inhale slowly, exhale fully.
  • Rub your hands together until your palms start to heat up, then cup one hand over each eye.
  • Raise hands back to your hairline, moving over the third eye area. Try R&R Luxury Baobab Oil.

Feel Good, Look Great!

A recent Nivea study asked women about their top mood-boosting activities and can you guess what came out at number one? Good old fresh air, with 38% of women saying it was their go-to way to feel great. Speaking to friends was a close second at 37% followed by sleep, exercise and a soak in the tub.

Feed Your Skin

It only takes one look in the mirror after an indulgent weekend to know that what you eat and drink affects your skin.

We’re probably all aware of the things we should go easy on (sugar, caffeine, alcohol), so let’s focus on what we can do a more of instead.

Hydration is a great place to start; drink plenty of water but also eat foods like cucumber, melon, oranges and spinach, all of which are over 90% water.

Now consider your skin’s ability to defend itself from environmental aggressors, like UV light and pollution.

Once again colourful fruit and veg have the edge, particularly tomatoes, red peppers and papaya. These rosy-toned plants get their colour from lycopene, a nutrient with antioxidant properties that helps neutralise environmental damage.

Finally think about nourishing your skin with omegas and fatty acids, which crop up a lot in skincare and are equally beneficial in your diet. Qily fish like salmon and mackerel are packed with moisturising, barrier-boosting Omega-3, as are walnuts and seeds like flax and chia.

Enjoy Skin Friendly Fitness

Whether you like a long walk, Zoom Zumba or pottering in the garden, building some movement into your day is great news for so many body functions.

The most obvious benefits for your face are down to circulation anything that raises your heart rate means more blood flowing to your skin, bringing helpful nutrients and carrying away waste.

A good exercise session can also decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that triggers sebum overproduction, meaning fewer breakouts.

Try to begin any exercise with skin that’s clean and free of comedogenic (pore-clogging) products. If you can go make-up free, then do and consider water-based moisturiser.

Vichy Aqualia Volcano Drop, is ultra-light with hydrating hyaluronic acid and squalane, a lipid naturally found in the skin.

Try to cleanse swiftly after exercise, ideally with water and something gentle like BeautyPie Japanfusion Pure Transforming Cleanser.

If a full cleanse isn’t possible, use a cotton pad soaked in Herbal Essentials Purifying Toner. It’ll clarify and calm.

Intuitive Eating The New Diet Free Way To Stay Slim

Intuitive Eating The New Diet Free Way To Stay Slim
Intuitive Eating The New Diet Free Way To Stay Slim

Is learning to trust your body the secret to feeling healthier and trimmer?

There’s been a lot written about mindful eating recently the concept of really paying attention to what you’re eating; how it tastes, feels, smells and looks. But experts now think extending that approach to our own bodies could be the key to staying healthy.

Intuitive eating is the rejection of the ‘dieting’ mentality, and instead following internal cues to make our decisions about what and when to eat,’ explains Louise Murray, an integrated health coach.

In other words, it means eating what we want when we want it, by teaching us to recognise signals from our body and ignore what society and social media tell us are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods.

It’s all about listening to what your body really wants and letting go of external messages from our fad diet-led culture, explains Louise.

It isn’t about perfection, it’s about what’s right for you. And nothing is off limits. Sounds great. But it does take some effort on your part.

Is It Right For Me?

It’s not suited for everyone. If planning every meal is your thing, you want some quick-fix weight loss or you suffer from an eating disorder, this is definitely not for you.

But if you’re a yo-yo dieter, constantly worry about what you’re eating, or restrict what you eat and then binge, the approach could be the answer to your prayers.

Intuitive Eating Is Worth A Try If You

  • Want to break free from a cycle of yo-yo dieting.
  • Want to get in touch with your hunger and feel-full cues.
  • Are healing from the restrict/binge cycle or orthorexia (an obsession with so-called healthy foods).
  • Would like to reset or renew your digestion.
  • Want to understand how food makes you feel and make the right decisions for your body.
  • Don’t want to follow another restrictive diet plan that leaves you cutting out endless food groups.

How Does It Work?

There are ten basic principles to intuitive eating…

Reject The Diet Mentality

This helps you let go of the feeling that you’ve failed every time a new diet stops working. You haven’t failed, the diet failed.

Honour Your Hunger

Fuel your body with adequate energy and carbohydrates, otherwise you can trigger an urge to overeat. When you’re excessively hungry, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating go out of the window.

Make Peace With Food

Give yourself permission to eat. If you deny yourself a particular food, it can lead to cravings and, often, bingeing. Equally, if you’re not hungry, don’t eat just because the clock says you should.

Thought Shake

Forget thoughts about being ‘good’ for eating minimal calories or ‘bad’ for eating a piece of chocolate cake. No food is bad or good.

Discover The Satisfaction Factor

We’re so busy trying to eat what diet culture tells us we should that we often forget the pleasure of eating. When you eat what you really want, you’ll feel satisfied and content, and are much less likely to overeat.

Feel Your Fullness

Listen for the signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Pause while eating and ask yourself what your current hunger level is.

Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness

Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger:

Physical hunger is the biological urge that tells you to replenish nutrients. It builds gradually and has signals such as a growling stomach, fatigue, or irritability. It’s satisfied when you eat.

Emotional hunger is driven by emotional need rather than physical. Sadness, loneliness and boredom can create cravings for food. Find ways to comfort and resolve your emotions that don’t involve food, such as yoga, a relaxing bath, or meeting a friend.

Movement Feel The Difference

Forget militant exercise. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise. It’s the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze button.

Respect Your Body

Accept your genetic blueprint. If you have size-seven feet you wouldn’t try and squeeze into a six-So why have such unrealistic expectations about your body? ‘It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are overly critical of yourself,’ says Louise.

Honour Your Health Gentle Nutrition

Make food choices that honour your health and taste buds while making you feel good. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.

How Do I Getstarted?

Get rid of books about fad diets and unfollow social media accounts that propel the dieting myth,’ suggests Louise. Replace them with ones that feature a diverse range of body sizes and share non-diet messages, and watch your energy start to shift.

Try to get in tune.‘Years of dieting and eating for external reasons often distances us from the awareness we once had,’ says Louise. Use the hungerfullness scale before, during or after eating to decide what you really want:

Keep a journal so you start to recognise signals of hunger and fullness. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • How hungry do I feel right now?
  • Are there times when I am hungry but don’t eat?
  • If so, why, and what happens then?

Set Yourself Free

Have you ever eaten something you didn’t really want because it felt like the healthier option, then been left feeling unsatisfied and ended up eating the thing you really wanted in the first place as well? You’re not alone. But you need to allow yourself that satisfaction and you only get it by eating what you really want.

Satisfaction turns off our compulsion to eat, so we stop when we feel full,’ says Louise. ‘Before you eat, ask yourself, “What do I feel like eating right now?” Then, if possible, eat that.

Eat Mindfully

By all means pay attention to the sight, smell, taste and texture of the food you’re eating. This helps you to understand how hungry or full you feel.

Banish The Food Police

You know that voice in your head that tells you what you ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be eating? Ignore it.

Start to challenge these voices, says Louise. ‘Make a note of what your internal food police is saying. It can help you pinpoint patterns and recognise when these thoughts creep in, which in turn can help you to come up with more helpful reframes, such as, “I’m allowed to have this”’.

Resetting Digestion

If you suffer from IBS, intuitive eating could help. ‘Because intuitive eating helps us to reconnect and listen to our bodies, this can help to manage gut symptoms,’ explains Gaby Goodchild, specialist in Intuitive eating and functional gut disorders at The Healthful Dietitian.

Often we become disconnected from the signals our bodies are sending us and struggle to recognise how different foods make us feel.

This makes understanding our gut symptoms challenging.’ For example, if you stick to a set meal pattern rather than eating when you’re hungry, or eat more fruit as part of a ‘healthy’ diet, or binge because you’ve been denying yourself, you could make symptoms worse.

It can also lead people to believe they have a food intolerance when they don’t. ‘Intuitive eating can also help people recognise food intolerances because of a better understanding of their bodies,’ explains Gaby, who adds that as well as this, it may help us to expand our intakes.

Some people may have negative associations with certain foods, which can lead to assumptions they are intolerant to them, but Intuitive eating helps us to explore whether this is the case.

Hunger Scale

1 Starving, faint and irritable
2 Very hungry and need food fast
3 Hungry and ready to eat
4 Beginning to feel signs of hunger
such as a growling stomach
5 Physically full
6 Satisfied, no longer hungry
7 Slightly uncomfortable feeling
of fullness
8 Feeling too full, having to loosen
your belt
9 Too full, have to unbutton trousers
10 Overstuffed and feeling sick

Secrets Of A Healthy Store Cupboard

Secrets Of A Healthy Store Cupboard
Secrets Of A Healthy Store Cupboard

Stock your cupboards with long-life essentials and you’ll always have something healthy to rustle up in the absence of fresh food.

When we’re constantly reminded to eat ‘fresh’ foods, it can be easy to forget that not all healthy food has to be fresh.

In the early days of lockdown, when we were avoiding supermarkets and facing food shortages, many of us had to rely largely on what we had in the store cupboard and it turns out that this way of eating is not as unhealthy as it might at first sound especially as it’s reduced our reliance on over-priced ready meals and helped us get into the habit of cooking from scratch.

While fresh produce, as we’re frequently told, is often best, those foods we typically find in our store cupboards can be packed full of goodness, too.

If your cupboards are looking a little sparse, here’s what to stock up on so you always have healthy fall-back meal options.


This ancient seed has become a nutrition buzzword for good reason: it contains fibre, protein and an abundance of nutrients.

Three-quarters of a cup of quinoa contains around 8g of proteindouble the equivalent of rice, says Suzie Sawyer, clinical nutritionist and founder of Nutrition Lifestyle. It’s also a great source of manganese, magnesium and zinc.

It’s gluten-free too, unlike wheat based grains, such as couscous. It can taste a bit bland on its own, but cooked in one-pot dishes like chilli or curry, it will take on the flavour of the sauce for a high-protein, filling meal.


Not too far behind quinoa when it comes to protein content, buckwheat is often mistaken for a seed, but is actually part of the rhubarb family. And, just like rhubarb, it’s helpful for balancing hormones.

Buckwheat has a high lignan content,’ Suzie explains. ‘Lignans are a class of phytoestrogens – naturally occurring substances in food that have a positive oestrogen-like effect.

Despite its name, buckwheat contains no wheat or gluten, but it is packed full of B vitamins, which are often lost during refining. Buckwheat flour is great for pancakes, or you can use it as the base for a tasty filling salad or in place of rice.

Cannellini Beans

If you have a tin of these beans gathering dust, it’s time to put them to good use.

Cannellini beans are known as alpha amylase inhibitors, which means they help block the starch-digesting enzyme amylase, so foods are absorbed further down the digestive tract,’ explains Suzie. ‘This lowers their Gl value, keeping blood-glucose in balance.

They’re are also high in protein, fibre, calcium and potassium. Add to salads, soups and pasta sauces to make them more filling.

Rolled Oats

This breakfast staple is 100% wholegrain and great for keeping energy sustained throughout the morning.

Rolled oats are full of fibre so are great for keeping bowels running supersmoothly,’ says Suzie. They also contain a type of fibre called beta-glucan, which has been found to help lower cholesterol levels.

A standard 40g serving of rolled oats with 300ml of semi skimmed milk contains 15g of protein – another reason they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer. Be sure to stick to rolled, though, instant oats have had some fibre stripped away during processing.

Tinned Tuna

Government advice is to eat two portions of fish (one oily) weekly but, for most of us, consumption has remained consistently below these dietary recommendations, says Suzie.

Often this is because people are unsure how to cook fish-well, there’s a meal in a can right here! Sardines and salmon also supply super-healthy omega-3 fats, essential for the heart, eyes, skin, hormones and joints.

Tinned meat and fish can last around two to four years unopened. Once opened, keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.

For a simple, protein-rich meal, mash with olive oil and herbs, spread onto crusty white bread and pop under a hot grill.

Fresh Fruit And Veg Sell-Bys

In the fridge or a dark cupboard or box, most fruit and veg can last past its sell-by date,‘Go by the colour and feel of the food instead.

The Shelf Life Of Rice

Uncooked white rice can last for up to 20 years in an airtight container, despite the pack date! Be more wary of brown rice, as the oily bran and germ can go rancid.

Should Opened Jars Be Kept In The Fridge?

In a nutshell, yes. ‘Even then, many like pesto don’t keep long once opened, ‘Foods with a high sugar content, like jam, may last much longer if not subjected to dirty knives.

The Facts On Frozen

Frozen fruit and veg make easy, nutrient-rich additions to meals with no waste!

Despite the fresh-food hype, most frozen fruit and veg are frozen straight after harvest, so retain their nutrient content. ‘Generally, frozen is as good as fresh,’ says Suzie. In fact, often, fresh fruits and veg are stored for long periods before being sold, which reduces their nutrient content.

The downside of frozen fruits and veg is that they’re often sold prepared”. Any food preparation, including chopping or peeling, reduces nutrient content because much of it is found just under the skin.

Most fruit and veg can be frozen for around 18 months. However, fresh meat and poultry that is then frozen only lasts around six months before drying out and losing taste.

Healthy Weight Loss Made Easy

Healthy Weight Loss Made Easy
Healthy Weight Loss Made Easy

Drop up to a stone in six weeks without feeling deprived with our fast and easy meal plan created by nutritionist Angela Dowden.

Athird of us gained at least half a stone in the first eight weeks of lockdown according to slim fast.

But now we’re allowed out, there’s plenty of incentive to ditch any unwanted pounds. Keto and the other fashionable sugar free and low carb diets are effective but they take a lot of effort.And right now, who needs deprivation and restriction in their life anyway?

Our superbly simple six week diet tackles lockdown weight with tasty meals, so you won’t need to miss out on delicious foods.

How You’ll Lose Weight

Our exclusive plan is based on the Mediterranean diet, which has been rated as the best overall and easiest to follow for the last three years according to experts, says the US News & World Report.

It’s calorie-controlled (to a max of 1,500 calories a day) to get the sustained weight loss you need, while being packed with satiating foods like fruit and veg, protein and fibre, to keep hunger pangs to a minimum.

You’ll also be eating lots of colourful antioxidants. Italian and Croatian researchers have reported that red and purple pigments called anthocyanins which you’ll find in foods like berries, aubergines and red onions can also have anti-obesity effects through quelling inflammation

What Todo

Follow the 14-day menu plan and add in a daily snack or treat to achieve a weight loss of up to 7lb.

Repeat the two weeks again to lose a further 4-5lb, and for a third time (so you’ll follow it for six weeks in total) to push it up to 1st weight loss.

Aim to drink 300ml of skimmed milk or almond milk daily (in addition to any milk already in the meal plans) and try to avoid having any other caloriecontaining drinks. Tea and coffee, with milk taken from your 300ml allowance, are fine.

To boost the feeling of being full, pad out your meals with extra leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, Bok choi and cauliflower.

Your 14 Day Menu Plan

Day 1


100g chopped mango, 100g 5% fat Greek yogurt, 2tbsp fruit and nut muesli.


Salad of bagged leaves, 1tbsp toasted pine nuts, 1tbsp grated Parmesan, 2tsp olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Small chunk grainy bread, an orange.


Rub a crushed garlic clove into a 90g fresh sardine fillet. Grill and serve with a medium mashed sweet potato and grilled oil-brushed aubergine slices. Bowl of chopped fruit.

Day 2


80g blueberries and a small banana, slice of wholemeal toast with 1tbsp reduced-fat soft cheese.


Chopped peppers, carrot, cucumber served with 60g hummus and 4 oat cakes.


Vegetable and chicken stir-fry (2tsp olive oil, small chicken breast, carrots, spinach, peppers and sweetcorn). 150g (uncooked weight) baked potato.

Day 3


5tbsp bran flakes, 125ml skimmed milk, 6 prunes.


Tuna and avocado salad: big handful leaves, 1 large sliced tomato, a grated carrot, ½ sliced small avocado, 75g drained tuna in water. Drizzled with 1tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2tsp olive oil. Small chunk of grainy bread.


Marinate 2 skinless chicken thighs in a ready-made marinade (eg Nando’s). Grill/bake and serve with 4tbsp cooked brown rice, boiled corn on the cob and broccoli. 2 kiwi fruit.

Day 4


Shake made by blending 200ml skimmed milk, 1tbsp wheat germ, 100g fresh or frozen berries, 1tsp clear honey and 1tbsp smooth peanut butter.


200g (uncooked weight) baked potato topped with ½ a can of kidney beans in chilli sauce.


Vegetable curry: Sizzle 1tsp ground coriander, 1tsp garam masala and pinch each turmeric and chilli powder in 1tsp oil. Add 50g each chopped butternut squash, sweetcorn, chickpeas, green beans and carrot. Add 200g reduced-fat coconut milk and simmer until veg is tender, top up with vegetable stock if needed. Adjust heat with chilli, serve with a 60g chapati. ¼ cantaloupe melon.

Day 5


2 slices wholemeal toast with 2tsp olive spread and Marmite. Bowl of berries with 1tbsp 5% fat Greek yogurt.


85g guacamole, carrot andcelery crudités, 2 slices wholemeal toast.


Grill skewers threaded with 2 chopped skinless, boneless chicken thighs, pepper, mushroom and onion, serve with 4tbsp made-up lemon and coriander couscous and salad of rocket, 2tsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 30g Parmesan.

Day 6


40g unsweetened muesli with 125ml skimmed milk. Small banana.


Wholemeal pitta stuffed with 85g cold roast chicken, sliced fresh tomato and spinach, 2tbsp salsa or tzatziki.


Mackerel pasta: Gently stir a can of mackerel filles in tomatosauce though 150g cooked spaghetti, add small handful of olives and basil leaves. Broccoli.

Day 7


Slice of wholemeal toast, half a can baked beans and a few avocado slices.


Rice and bean salad: 4tbsp cooked brown rice, ¼ can kidney beans in chilli sauce, 2 sliced spring onions, ¼ diced pepper and 2tbsp vinaigrette dressing.


Salmon fillet served with 150g new potatoes, spinach and baby vine tomatoes roasted in 2tsp oil.

Day 8


Bowl of strawberries, 100g 5% fat Greek yogurt and 1tbsp of granola.


Grilled Quorn burger in a wholemeal roll with salsa and salad.


Veggie omelette: saute 4 chopped medium mushrooms and ½ red pepper in 1tsp oil. Beat three eggs with a splash of semi-skimmed milk, pour over vegetables and cook until set. 150g baked sweet potato wedges, bowl of chopped fruit.

Day 9


Boiled egg with slice of wholemeal toast spread with 1tsp olive spread and Marmite. 80g of blueberries and a small banana.


Grill four fish fingers and serve in a wholemeal roll with 1tbsp tomato ketchup and green leaves.


Mix 400g can ratatouille with 150g cooked pasta shapes. Heat through, transfer to an ovenready dish, top with a 40g grated Cheddar and grill until browned. Serve with salad.

Day 10


Slice wholemeal toast spread with 1tbsp peanut or almond butter. 100g mango.


Small chunk of grainy bread with 3tbsp salsa, 4 slices Parma ham, 50g mozzarella, sliced tomato and sliced cucumber.


Pork stir-fry: Brown 125g lean chopped pork in 2tsp oil with 1tsp grated ginger and a crushed garlic clove, then add handful each mange tout and baby corn. Moisten with soy sauce and keep stirring until pork is cooked through. Serve with 150g add-to-wok noodles.

Day 11


Slice of wholemeal toast, 2 poached eggs, handful of mushrooms sauteed in 1tsp olive oil.


Tuna pasta salad: 120g cooked pasta, 75g drained tuna in water, ½ finely chopped red pepper, 2tbsp sweetcorn and 2tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise. Serve with rocket leaves. An apple.


Boil 75g pasta, drain and stir through 100g prawns, 50g sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained) and chilli flakes to taste. wilt rocket or spinach.

Day 12


Porridge made with 40g porridge oats and 140ml skimmed milk. Top with 1tbsp cranberries.


Pear, kale, goat’s cheese salad: Bagged baby kale topped with half a large chopped ripe pear, 40g crumbled goats cheese, 15g chopped walnut halves and 1tbsp vinaigrette. 17g bag sweet and salt popcorn.


Grilled cod steak with 200g boiled new potatoes and big handful each of chopped aubergine, red peppers and butternut squash roasted in a brush of olive oil.

Day 13


5tbsp bran flakes with skimmed milk. Small banana.


2 slices wholemeal bread, filled with a big handful of prawns and 1tbsp cocktail dressing, handful baby tomatoes, small bunch of grapes.


Chop and fry ½ small onion, ½ red pepper, ½ courgette in 2tsp olive oil with 125g 5% fat minced beef. Add chilli powder to taste, cook for a few mins, add ½ can red kidney beans, a can chopped tomatoes, 1tbsp tomato puree and a little water. Simmer for 15 mins. Serve with 4tbsp cooked brown rice and salad. Bowl of strawberries.

Day 14


Slice wholemeal toast with 1tbsp peanut butter and small chopped banana.


Mix 85g cold roast chicken slices, segments from a medium orange, 4 thinly sliced radishes and 50g chopped watercress. Dress with 2tsp olive oil, juice of ¼ lemon and dash of soy sauce; throw over 15g finely chopped cashews.


1 grilled large lean lamb chop with curly kale, half a small baked butternut squash.

Soothe Your Stress

Soothe Your Stress
Soothe Your Stress

Is anxiety slowly creeping up on you? Deal with everyday angst by rethinking your mindset and making a few tweaks to your diet and lifestyle choices.

The unprecedented unfolding of 2020 has resulted in a roller coaster of negative emotions for many of us. If you’re feeling low as a result, you’re not alone nearly half of all British adults experienced high levels of anxiety during lockdown.

It’s normal to be stressed and scared during a crisis but the way we deal with these feelings can have huge effects on our mental health.

When our brains decide that a stressful event is occurring, the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated; known as fight or flight response, to keep the body at a steady state of equilibrium.

In response to a stress, the brain stimulates this part of the nervous system, which then activates the adrenal glands.

On a physical level, fight or flight results in faster breathing and increased blood pressure. Your sense of pain is reduced, and strength and performance levels are increased.

In addition, the brain releases hormones that stimulate the adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol, which enhances the effects of adrenaline by releasing more glucose,’ says Dr Oluwajana.

‘It also shuts down systems that are nonessential to the stress response, such as the digestive and reproductive systems.

In the short-term, this stress response isn’t a worry, chronic stress, however, can be detrimental.

Persistently high glucose levels can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Excess cortisol can lead to digestive issues and flare-ups of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome,’ says Dr Oluwajana.

Plus, you may be more prone to infections and injury: persistently raised cortisol levels suppress the immune system and promote muscle and protein breakdown.

The production of ‘happy hormone serotonin can also be altered leading to irritability, disturbed sleep and mental health disorders.

Here we share some of the biggest stress culprits and suggest ways to feel more serene and less stressed.

Stress Culprit Night Time Panic

The evening is often the time when anxiety rears its ugly head. If you’ve been frantically juggling tasks throughout the day and haven’t really had a moment to pause, it’s these night time hours when anxiety can strike.

You might find it difficult to get to sleep, or lie awake at 3am stressing about everything from work deadlines to your relationship.

According to a wellbeing report by Aviva as many as 16 million of us suffer from sleepless nights. ‘Fragmented sleep is associated with persistently raised cortisol levels throughout the day.

This can cause of vicious of cycle of stress, raised cortisol levels and sleep disturbance,’ believes Dr Oluwajana.

Stress Soothing Plan

Practical steps such as avoiding digital devices and sticking to a regular nightly routine where you go to bed at the same time can help to improve sleep quality, and thankfully your diet can also play a part.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that diets that are low in fibre and high in saturated fat and sugar are linked to poorer sleep with less time in the restore phase of sleep, known as slow-wave sleep.

Frequent nighttime awakenings can also alter appetite hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, which can cause cravings and increased appetite.

To counteract these effects, eat more sleep-friendly foods. These include magnesium-packed leafy greens and tryptophan-rich chickpeas, turkey and milk.

Stress Culprit Working From Home

The ripple effects of the unprecedented pandemic has left many of us feeling a lack of control.

The sense of uncertainty in the air, financial constraints, health concerns and in some cases the after effects of bereavement have contributed to the rising level of stress; in fact a whopping 25 million of us have admitted drowning in anxiety throughout lockdown according to a report by the Office of National Statistics.

Many of us have had to re-think the way we work, which has brought its own unique challenges.

While there’s no intimidating board meetings or lengthy commute to contend with, for many of us working from home has meant juggling our day-to-day work schedules with home schooling and caring for others, while coping with the pressure of remaining productive and meeting expectations that might not always be realistic given our personal circumstances.

When you add all of these stressors up, there’s a risk of burnout. Dwindling energy levels turn into exhaustion, and before we know it we get stuck in a rut.

Stress Soothing Plan

Being hauled up at home can certainly take its toll on our health, especially when the lines between work and personal life are so blurred, so striving for a good work-life balance is super-important.

This means sticking to a clear schedule which marks the beginning of the working day, as well as the end avoiding replying to emails or finishing a work project when you should officially be ‘out of the office

Designate a space in your home as your work zone; this should be separate from where you eat and where you sleep.

Your diet also plays a crucial role when you’re working from home. It can be tempting to reach for snacks around the clock, but this will just leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish.

Having a strict working day where you start work at say 9am and finish at 5pm will allow you to slot in three regular meals, one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon snack.

Breakfast is the most crucial consideration here, as smart eating in the morning will set up your energy levels and your mood for the entire day.

A protein and complex carbohydratebased breakfast such as oats with seeds and berries or poached eggs on wholemeal toast helps to keep blood sugar levels even so that you don’t run on empty.

Instead you’ll have improved concentration and memory.

Stress Culprit Overtraining

Physical activity is vital for mental health and the rush of endorphins when we get moving massively improves our feel-good factor, something that most of us need now more than ever.

On the flip side however, too much exercise can have adverse health effects. Prolonged high intensity exercise without adequate rest time in between sessions can throw your body out of kilter resulting in excess cortisol and higher levels of inflammation, impacting everything from immunity to energy.

This is known as over training syndrome, and signs to look out for include decreased performance, increased perceived effort, prolonged muscle soreness and fatigue after exercise, recurrent injury or illness, sleep disturbance, irritability and low mood,’ says Dr Oluwajana.

Stress Soothing Plan

Listening to your body’s needs is the best way to manage exercise-induced stress.

‘The over-training threshold is different for everyone so you need to pay attention to how your body is coping, while ensuring that you are getting adequate sleep, water and nutrients,’ she adds.

You might need to mix up your workouts, weaving in high-intensity runs with rolling out your yoga mat or going for long walks to mindfully engage in the present moment and reduce stress. Include more immunity-boosting foods in your diet.

These include vitamin C-rich orange and grapefruit, which contain special flavonoid compounds to help increase immune system activity, and zinc-packed pumpkin seeds and shellfish to help reduce any inflammation in your cells.

Stress Culprlt Micromanaging Your Diet

You might count calories or skip meals in a bid to see the number on the scales drop, but constant dieting can lead to emotional and physical stress.

The chronic stress of yo-yo dieting can ignite flight or fight mode, leading to anxiety and irritability.

‘You’ll be lacking in vital nutrients and a nutrient-deficient diet can pose a form of stress on the body. Chronic stress can impair the absorption and deplete stores of essential vitamins, potentially leading to deficiencies,’ explains Dr Oluwajana.

Stress Soothing Plan

If you’re not eating enough in the day, you’ll have reduced levels of important nutrients and lower levels of neurotransmitters.

To ensure you’re getting enough nutrients, fill half your plate with a variety of veg (peppers, spinach, broccoli), a quarter of your plate with lean protein (chicken, tofu or legumes), and the rest with complex carbohydrates (such as wholegrain rice or sweet potato), and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

This ensures you’re getting a range of healthy nutrients to sustain energy and mood without having to rely on restrictive calorie counting.

Catching Up On Lost Sleep

Catching Up On Lost Sleep
Catching Up On Lost Sleep

We all have nights where we don’t get enough shut-eye, but what’s the best way to make up for it and get our body clock back in balance?

If you regularly wake up feeling groggy, as if you need a few more hours in the sleep tank, you’re not alone. According to The Sleep Council, 40% of people in the UK suffer from sleep problems and it can do more than just leave us feeling tired and grumpy.

There’s no perfect amount of sleep we’re all different but experts agree that somewhere between six and nine hours per night is needed for most adults, with most of us needing seven to eight.

But what if you’re not getting that much? What if you’re surviving on less than six hours most nights?

Every now and then it shouldn’t make too much difference, but over time, the accumulated effect of not enough sleep can have serious health repercussions, including an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes, raised blood pressure, a suppressed immune system and an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, obesity and depression.

For most of us, the solution is to grab a much-needed lie-in, or an afternoon nap but will that do the job? These experts share their view…

A Well Timed Nap Can Help

Rob Hobson, author of The Art of Sleeping

We all sleep badly from time to time, and the odd bad night’s sleep won’t do you any harm apart from making you feel groggy and grumpy. But if you regularly get less sleep than you need, that’s when the problems start.

Sleep occurs in 90-minute cycles. Most of each cycle is deep sleep, or non-rapid-eye movement sleep (NREM), when the body repairs itself, and the end of the cycle is REM sleep, when the brain processes information, memory and experiences. There’s a theory that, if you miss one of these 90-minute cycles, then a 25-minute nap is enough to make up for it.

Of course nothing is ever as good as a proper night’s sleep. Sleeping in at the weekend is not a great idea, because all it does is make things worse for the following night. If you’ve slept badly all week, then trying to stay in bed all day on Saturday to make up for it means you’re storing up problems by upsetting your rhythm.

Your circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle our bodies work on, and it means that your body knows when it’s time to sleep, and when it’s time to wake up. At bedtime, the body starts to release the hormone melatonin to encourage slumber, which makes you feel sleepy, and towards the morning melatonin levels drop and cortisol levels rise, getting us ready for the day.

However this rhythm is easily disrupted, which means our sleep is then disrupted. One of the most important things for a good night’s sleep is to establish and keep a routine. If you need eight hours sleep and you need to be up by 7am, then try and go to bed at 11pm every night.

If you don’t manage enough sleep during the week, the best thing you can do at the weekend is to try and keep the routine you want to keep so still go to bed at 11pm and wake up at 7am, rather than trying to sleep for hours and hours longer, as this is more likely to help you get the sleep you need in the long-run.

Having said that, a well-timed nap can certainly help. Just make sure you keep it short.

Sleeping In Will Make The Problem Worse

Lisa Artis, sleep expert from The Sleep Council

A few nights of lost sleep can have adverse effects, including increased daytime sleepiness, worsened daytime performance and an increase in inflammation and impaired blood sugar regulation. Trying to make it up over the weekend won’t reverse all the effects of lost sleep during the week and, by affecting your normal go-to-bed-get-up routine, it’s also likely to impact on sleep quality so it’s a vicious circle.

Having said that, if you have one bad night’s sleep, it is possible to make it up the following night by going to bed earlier or sleeping a little longer.

Daytime napping isn’t a good idea either, particularly if you regularly experience insomnia or poor sleep quality at night as it will likely make these problems worse.

However if you haven’t slept well one night, a short kip of no more than 30 minutes can give you as much energy as two cups of coffee in the short term.

‘But don’t make it a regular thing if you find yourself napping every day, then the chances are you need to improve the quality of the sleep you’re getting at night. When we talk about what constitutes a good night’s sleep, we talk about sleep quality rather than quantity. There is research to show that interrupted sleep is as bad for you as not sleeping enough.

‘However it does depend on why you’re waking up if it’s just to nip to the loo and you go straight back to sleep it’s fine, but if you’re awake for 20 minutes or longer than it becomes more of a problem. If you’re still feeling groggy and sleepy at 11am, the chances are you’re not sleeping well.

Trying to nap or sleep in to make up for it will only make the problem worse. Establishing a good routine is key to sorting out sleep problems.

The Art Of Napping

If you’re exhausted, there’s nothing nicer than a daytime nap to get you through until bedtime. But to get the most out of your daytime snooze, you need to do it right.

Choose the right time

Any time between 1pm and 3pm is ideal any later and you risk affecting your night-time sleep.

Keep it short

More than 25 minutes and your body will go into deep sleep, leaving you feeling more groggy than before you went to sleep,’ says Rob. Not to mention that anything longer means you’ll be affecting your sleep rhythm, which will affect your nighttime sleep.

Find a restful place to lie down, whether it’s the bed or the sofa, and make sure it’s not noisy.

Make sure the room is cool and close curtains or blinds. Light is one of the main factors that affects our sleep.

Research shows that we eat an average of 300 calories extra after a bad night’s sleep


Sleep is the glue that holds us together, so while we can repay the odd night of ‘debt’, in the long term, it’s dangerous for our health. If sleep becomes an issue, see your GP who can offer sound advice and help you out where necessary.


Simple tips to keep your sleep rhythm flowing nicely

Get enough exercise during the day. If your body isn’t tired, it will be harder to fall asleep at bedtime.

Keep a good routine. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every night to help your circadian rhythm stay on track.

Keep light exposure to a minimum at bedtime, particularly blue light from screens and phones.

Ensure the room isn’t too hot or too cold.

Make sure your bed is comfortable. Check your pillows and mattress if your mattress is eight years or older it might be time for a replacement.

Avoid screen time for at least an hour before bed.

Find something that helps you relax such as a warm bath, yoga or reading.

If you wake up in the night with a whirring mind, try writing down your thoughts. If you still can’t sleep, don’t just lie there get up and sit and read or just relax. Eventually you should drop off again.

Stay away from the snooze button! As tempting as it might be to have an extra 40 winks in the morning, staying in bed past your alarm will leave you feeling worse as your brain and body will be out of sync.

50 Ways To Age Well

50 Ways To Age Well
50 Ways To Age Well

You can change the way you age. Follow our expert tips for living longer, healthier, happier lives.

It’s easy to feel that, as we get older, our bodies become less efficient and start to deteriorate. But there are plenty of things you can do to grow old while maintaining your health, fitness and happiness. Here, we present 50 tips on how you can start living your best life – no matter what your age.

1 Have A Purpose

‘People with a purpose have been shown to have slower cognitive decline and to age better overall,’ says Susan Saunders, health coach and author of The Age Well Plan.

2 Eat Fibre

Fibre is a building block of good health but most of us don’t eat enough. ‘Fibre helps your gut microbiota to make short chain fatty acids, which reduces inflammation in the body and brain,’ explains Susan. Aim for a minimum of 30g per day.

3 Fermented Foods

Gut health aids your immune system, keeps your brain and heart healthy and helps digestion. Eat fermented food such as kefir, sauerkraut or yogurt.

Ꮞ WalK

One of the best ways to stay fit, but to really feel the benefit, up the pace until you’re out of breath. Brisk walking has been linked to better memory, better health and a longer life.

5 Have A Laugh

A good belly laugh is as good as exercise, researchers have found. Laughter can reduce stress, boost the immune system, reduce pain and improve blood flow to your brain.

6 Drink Coffee Daily

Researchers believe antioxidants in coffee may help fend off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

7 Build Muscle

After the age of 40, you lose 1% of muscle per year. Higher muscle mass helps control glucose levels, supports your joints and keeps your weight down. Try resistance training with light dumbbells to kick-start muscle growth.

8 Eat Chocolate

Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants, which mop up free radicals and toxins. Make sure it’s at least 70% cocoa solids.

9 Read Every Day

‘Reading before bed has been shown to help you reach a deep sleep more quickly,’ Susan says. ‘It also stimulates the brain, and can help reduce cognitive decline.’

10 Keep Learning

Old brains are just as capable as young minds. Try something with complexity such as dance or craft.

11 Nap Daily

Researchers at the American Health in Ageing Foundation found that an hour nap between lunch and dinner boosted brain function and memory.

12 Boost Zinc

Zinc improves immunity, strengthens the heart and has been found to slow the spread of cancer cells, according to a study by the University of Texas. It helps the brain stay active and aids the production of new cells. Eat red meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts and seeds.

13 Get Out Of Breath

This helps keep telomeres long-the tips of our chromosomes that stop them getting damaged. ‘As we age, our telomeres wear down, but short, sharp bursts of exercise can keep them strong,’ explains Susan. Just 10 to 20 seconds several times is enough to put the body into repair mode.

A good bellylaugh is as good as exercise. Laughtercan reduce stress, pain and boost the immune system

14 Be With Friends

Since lockdown, we understand more than ever the importance of spending time with people we care about. Research links social isolation to increased rates of dementia, heart disease, depression and a 28% higher risk of dying.

15 Get A Pet

Pet owners are proven to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than non-petowners. Stroking an animal reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

16 Meditate

Just 15 minutes of meditation a day can strengthen our telomeres, boost brain function and improve blood pressure.

17 Boost Your Vitamin D

Our bodies don’t store vitamin D so we need to replenish it regularly. Getting outside in the sun for 15 minutes a day without sun screen is enough. Vitamin D keeps the immune system strong, reduces depressions and builds strong teeth and bones. No sun? Try a vitamin D supplement.

18 Use A Face Roller

Used daily, it reduces inflammation, supports the renewal of skin cells and helps with lymphatic drainage to leave skin less puffy and wrinkled.

19 Sleep Better

‘During deep sleep, brain cells reduce in size, which is when the housekeeping team the microglia cells come in and clean between the cells, getting rid of toxins, including amyloid beta, a plaque linked to Alzheimer’s,’ explains Susan.

20 Get Outside

‘As we age, our circadian rhythm internal body clock goes out of sync,’ explains Susan. ‘Getting out in the daylight helps reset it and helps us sleep better.’

21 HIIT it!

Studies have shown that a 15-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout is more beneficial than slow, steady exercise as it changes the body at cellular level, which means it protects muscles from ageing.

22 Eat Leafy Greens

The vitamin K in green leafy vegetables strengthens bones, helps prevent heart disease and prevents calcification of arteries and kidneys.

23 Cuddle

A cuddle releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which relieves stress, boosts immunity and can lower the risk of heart disease.

24 Express Gratitude

People who express gratitude every day have been shown to have fewer aches and pains and lower blood pressure, says Susan. ‘Try saying thank you for one thing before you eat dinner every evening,’ she suggests.

25 Cut Downon Chemicals

Chemical overload from cleaning and beauty products can be ageing. ‘Make your own or buy low toxin brands such as Ecover and Method,’ says Susan.

26 Regular Massage

This can help improve the function of the lymphatic system, increase joint mobility and reduce muscle tension.

27 Facial Exercises

Just like any muscle, the facial muscles lose tone as we age. Doing facial exercises three to five times a week give skin an oxygen and nutrient boost. Search ‘Face Yoga’ on YouTube for good examples.

28 Slash Salt

Reducing salt can lower blood pressure. Cut out packaged and processed foods, and eat a banana the potassium helps counteract the sodium.

29 Enjoy Fats

Good fats in foods such as avocados and nuts are great for brain health and help lower the risk of heart disease.

30 Reduce Belly Fat

As we age, fat tends to move from our hips to our bellies, which is where it’s most dangerous. Keeping in shape reduces the risk of fatty liver disease, type-2 diabetes and heart disease.

31 Eat Pomegranates

High in fibre and vitamins, iron and anti-oxidants, pomegranates help fight high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and inflammation, and reduces the risk of arthritis.

32 Drink More Green Tea

Healthy compounds in green tea help lower the risk of cancer and diabetes, and protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

33 Open The Window

Allowing fresh air into your home for at least 15 minutes a day will help reduce the chemicals in the air from cleaning and decorating products, which can be ageing, says Susan.

34 Drink Morewater

Our bodies are made up of 70% water and our brains 90%. Keeping hydrated flushes out toxins and keeps skin plumped and healthy.

As wellas keeping the heart strong, dancing is good for mental health

35 Have More Sex

Regular sex reduces stress, boosts confidence and increases pain tolerance. It’s also been shown to boost immunity.

36 Daily yoga

Yoga increases flexibility and strength, which decreases the risk of injury. It can also help reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression.

37 Paint A Picture

Being creative can improve memory by increasing activity in the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex in the brain.

38 Eat Blueberries

They’re packed full of phytochemicals; plant compounds that protect against cardiovascular disease. Eating them regularly can help protect against age-related macular degeneration.

39 Dance

As well as keeping the heart and muscles strong, dancing has been proven to be good for mental health. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine dancing to a 76% reduction in dementia risk.

40 Use Turmeric

Turmeric is a powerful antiinflammatory. It can improve heart health, skin problems and even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

41 Go Yellow

Yellow and orange foods peppers, carrots, corn contain luteins to boost eye health.

42 Whiten Teeth

As we age, stains from food and drink plus thinning enamel make our teeth darker. Getting them professionally whitened will help you look and feel younger.

43 Boost Protein

Help repair brittle hair with fish, eggs and nuts.

44 Protect Hands

Stop your hands ageing early by using SPF daily, as well as an antioxidant serum and a hand cream with retinol to exfoliate and replenish.

45 Cut Down Booze

Alcohol dehydrates the body and leaves your skin more wrinkled. It also puts the liver under stress and puts you at higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

46 Strong Core

Protect yourself from injury and back pain by keeping your core strong. Turn to page for our strong core guide.

47 Eat Oily Fish

Two weekly portions of oily fish boosts omega 3 fatty acids, which decrease your risk of heart disease.

48 Limit Calories

A 2018 study found that those who significantly reduced their calorie intake had much lower blood pressure and cholesterol, less inflammation and a lower risk of age-related diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease. However, opt to do this just one day a week.

49 Quit Smoking

Smoking damages your lungs, impairs blood circulation and damages skin and teeth. Quitting smoking can increase your life expectancy by up to 10 years.

50 Use Sunscreen Every Day

UVA and UVB rays can damage your skin all year round. Wear at least SPF 30 every day, even during winter, to reduce wrinkles and protect against skin cancer.

Secrets That Will Take You From Sluggish To Sprightly

Secrets That Will Take You From Sluggish To Sprightly
Secrets That Will Take You From Sluggish To Sprightly

Health experts reveal their secrets for boosting your get-up-and-go, when it’s got and up and gone…

Sadly there’s no magic pill that will take you from sluggish to sprightly. Asugar rush or caffeine jolt can give a quick fix, but it’s proven that maintaining high-energy is all about balancing well-being. But as these experts have learned, there are tricks you can try for both long term and instant energy…


Lisa Artis, head of The Sleep Council

‘I’ve learned that sleep is not a passive process, that during restorative sleep we make sense of our days and detox. We’re eager to believe that sleeping one hour less gives us one more hour of productivity but in reality, it’s likely to do the opposite. We need sleep to function, both physically and mentally. It regulates mood, improves memory and maintains health, weight and energy. If sleep deprivation mounts up, I get sleepy during the day, feel lethargic, find decision-making difficult, make more mistakes, have a shorter temper and slower reflexes.

Sleep solutions for all-day energy

Get Regular

Our bodies thrive on routine, so establish a fixed bedtime and a time to get up and stick to it.

Fling Open The Curtains

Natural light resets the internal body clock and is effective, even on a cloudy or grey day. ‘Exposure to morning light helps me get over that groggy feeling when waking and makes me more alert,’ says Lisa.

Nap If You Need To

An energising power nap works if you’re feeling particularly fatigued – just don’t make it a substitute for quality sleep at night. ‘A 20-minute nap can provide as much energy as two cups of strong coffee but the effects are longer lasting. It turns off the nervous system and recharges the whole body,’ says Lisa.

Ditch The Nightcap

Alcohol may help you relax and fall asleep quicker, but it interrupts sleep patterns. ‘By losing valuable sleep and having vital brain functions disrupted, you’ll wake up feel drained, groggy, and often with a headache,’ says Lisa.

Wind Down Well

Give yourself an hour before bedtime to sufficiently de-stress. ‘Do things that you find relaxing whether that’s a warm bath, reading, listening to music. Write down any worries, thoughts or to-do’s in a notepad,’ suggest Lisa.


Dr Louise Newson, GP and menopause expert

When oestrogen and testosterone dips during the menopause, a common symptom is low energy and poor stamina. Sleep is often affected too. I had overwhelming fatigue when I was perimenopausal and felt as if I’d been drugged. The most frustrating part was going to bed early but waking up several times in the night, making me more exhausted. These symptoms often come on gradually and, all too often, women blame their lifestyle or other stresses, rather than their declining hormone levels.

Help Your Hormones

See Your GP

Find out if hormone replacement therapy is an option. ‘For many women it can transform their lives,’ says Dr Newson. ‘Often, once a woman receives the right dose and type of HRT, menopausal symptoms disappear and energy levels improve.’

Don’t Suffer In Silence

Menopause is a natural process, but the low hormone levels that occur may result in an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis or dementia. ‘It is therefore really important that we consider ways of reducing future risk and keeping as healthy as possible,’ says Dr Newson.

Move Your Body

Do whatever feels good and works for you.

Make Some Changes

During the menopause, women often find they can’t eat or drink as they used to, says Dr Newson. You can use the Balance app (balance-app.com) to record your menopausal symptoms, track changes and tweak your sleep, nutrition and exercise.


Laura Williams, fitness coach

‘Exercise certainly affects my own energy levels. Rather than feeling depleted after a session, I’m ready to face the day. But I still have to force myself to do it. I’m often tired before, but the boost in blood flow and increase in optimism, clarity and productivity makes it worthwhile. As a self-confessed former couch potato, I’d rather be doing anything other than exercising, but I’ve learned that once you have the habit, the rewards are vast.’

Your Action Plan

Swerve The Slump

Get your workout out of the way and beat afternoon energy lulls with a walk. ‘At 4.30pm I always fancy a bar of chocolate and a snooze. I may indulge in the former, but I avoid the latter by heading out,’ says Laura.

Mix It Up

Any sport or exercise that gets the heart thumping usually raises energy. ‘I’m a fan of moderate-to-low intensity cardio as you reap the benefits without impact to muscles and nervous system,’ she says.

Is It Laziness?

Learn to distinguish inertia from exhaustion. ‘Start working out and give it 10 minutes. If it’s lethargy, you’ll perk up. If you’re physically too tired, you just can’t power through.’


Clarissa Lenherr, Nutritionist

‘When my breakfast contains significant amounts of sugar, or if I snack on sweet things, my energy levels peak and trough. But if I eat well-balanced meals, I have consistent amounts of energy. I also notice that if I over-eat at meal times then I can feel sluggish. I aim for a palm-sized portion of protein, a cupped hand of complex carbs, a thumb-sized serving of fat and lots of veg. This keeps me full and satiated.’

Eat Your Way To Vitality

Snack Smart

Biscuits or cake can mean waving goodbye to your energy levels. ‘If I need an afternoon pick-me-up, I have a spicy ginger and turmeric tea, berries, or a few squares of 70% dark chocolate, which has small amount of caffeine, a touch of sweetness without the sugar crash, and a good source of antioxidants.

Drink Plenty

When we are dehydrated, many of the systems in our body begin to slow, including our energy output. Cognitive and physical performance will be affected and can lead to feelings of lethargy.

Energy Boosting Foods

Chickpeas full of fibre and protein Avocados a ‘healthy fat’ packed with nutrients Quinoa a source of protein and slow releasing carbohydrate. Almonds have energy producing B vitamins and magnesium.

Avoid The Crash

Food that are high in sugar, provide a quick, short, energy spurt, which leads to a slump. ‘Try pairing your sweet food with protein and/or fats,’ suggests Clarissa. ‘These macronutrients help to slow the release of the sugars, while giving you a consistent release of energy’

Arez You Deficient?

If you’re lacking in Vitamin D,B vitamins, iron or magnesium, you may you have low energy no matter how well you eat. ‘Many of these can be missed out on in a vegan or vegetarian diet, or if you have a low intake of animal foods,’ says Clarissa. ‘Try a boosting micronutrient mix such as Bioniq Immune, either with water, on yogurt, or in a smoothie twice a day.’ (£59, bioniq.com).

How To Talk To Your Doctor About Asthma

How To Talk To Your Doctor About Asthma
How To Talk To Your Doctor About Asthma

Tips for productive conversations about a complicated health issue.

If you suffer from asthma symptoms like diffcult breathing, wheezing or chest tightness all unwelcome for any busy parent you’re not alone. In the United States, nearly one in 13 people live with asthma. Although all asthma patients have swollen airways, the cause of the swelling differs from one patient to another. Those differences can make it challenging to find the right treatment plan.

Here are some tips for making sure both you and your doctor have the best information for dealing with your particular case.

Track Your Symptoms

Write down when, where and how often you experience asthma symptoms. The more information you can give your doctor, the better your doctor may be able to help you find relief.

Understand Your Treatment Plan

Getting a quick reprieve from a rescue inhaler doesn’t necessarily mean you have your asthma under control. Ask your doctor for signs that your treatment is or isn’t working as intended. That way you’ll know if you need to adjust your regimen.

Know Your Options

If your attacks come especially frequently, or you have considerable diffculty breathing, ask your doctor about additional tests that could help you learn more. For example, a blood test can help detect a high level of white blood cells called eosinophils that may signal eosinophilic asthma, a specific type of asthma which can be harder to control.

Call the Specialists

If your treatment plan doesn’t seem to be working, ask your doctor about seeing an asthma specialists. For eosinophilic asthma specifically, pulmonologists or allergists/immunologists might be appropriate depending on your symptoms and triggers.

Advocate for Yourself

Be vocal about your wants and needs to help your doctor develop the right plan since asthma is not a “one-sizefits-all” disease.

Bring Your Partner On Board For A Lifestyle Change

Bring Your Partner On Board For A Lifestyle Change
Bring Your Partner On Board For A Lifestyle Change

So you want to scale back on meat or stick to a new budget? It doesn’t have to rock your relationship.

Joanne and Michael, the parents of two young boys, were therapy clients of mine who had met while hiking in the Rockies, and the outdoors had always been a big part of their life.Increasingly alarmed by climate change, Joanne had decided they should ride bikes to school every morning and cook more vegetarian meals. Michael liked the biking idea, but he was the dinner chef, and red meat was a staple of the Italian cooking he’d grown up with.

“Cooking is such a huge pleasure for me atthe end of the day,” he told me.“And I grew up around committed carnivores!I care aboutthe environment, but preparing pork sausages and meat lasagna taps into my whole idea of home.”

Joannewanted to shake up how the family did things, but Michael was ambivalent. I see a lot of similar situations in my work with couples. Out of enthusiasm or genuine concern, one partner might try to persuade the other to join in a new project or practice.It might be to promote well-being (meditation, yoga), introduce a new homerelated activity (budgeting, gardening), or become a better global citizen (biking towork, political activism).

Your goal is likely to promote greater health and happiness for yourself, your family, your community, and maybe all three so you don’t want your efforts to cause friction and negativity.

Howcan you most effectively motivate your partner? It helps to start with a respect for the factthatinvolvement takes time, prioritizing, and making sacrifices. Here are five issues to consider.

Ask yourself: Why do I want my partner on board?

Perhaps you wantto set a good example together for your kids, or you want a buddy to help provide motivation and share the experience.

Clarifying your own goals can help you take the right approach when you’re communicating with your partner.

My client Diana, a busy working mom, felt her “type A personality” was getting her into trouble, so she took up yoga and meditation.

It made a huge difference she was more patient with the kids and less triggered by her difficult colleagues. Her husband, Nick, struggled with anxiety, and she thought meditation could help him too.

But whenever she brought it up with him, their conversation fell apart. We talked aboutit, and she realized her forceful delivery had given him the impression that her goal was to change him.

We practiced a more loving alternative: letting him know how meditation was helping her andwondering aloud if it might help him too. He wasn’t quite ready to join her yet, but he listened and appreciated her input.

Know each other’s emotional style

You might be a person who gets superexcited about a new idea and uses passion to fuel change.

Your partner might be more likely to consider all the angles and make decisions in a methodicalfashion.Family life benefits from both approaches, so be openminded about your partner’s perspective.

Try not to equate your partner’s enthusiasm with impulsiveness or mistake his thoughtfulness for stubbornness. Listen, be curious, and avoid leaping to conclusions about your partner’s point of view.

If you encounter resistance, take it slower. At a calm moment on a walk or while relaxing at home, try to share with your partner in a heartfelt way why this lifestyle change feels important to you right now. Say,“Iwantto try this, but it’s also really important to me that it feels rightfor everyone.” Working with your differences rather than battling them can go a long way toward finding a potential compromise.

Share your research

Your partner will be more likely to join you if you suggest a specific road map for change based on solid information. One couple, Kurt andTerri, struggled mightily with going to bed before midnight.

Once the kids were asleep, they were on their laptops for hours, and it wreaked havoc on their moods (not to mention their sex life). Kurt kept urging a change, butTerri’s answer was,“When am I supposed to get all this stuff done?” Kurt educated himself on the costs of sleep deprivation, reading the book Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker,then suggested to Terri that they commit to a healthier sleep schedule based on the book’s findings.

When Terri listened to the book on her way to work, she was convinced by the research and began to make an effort to get to bed earlier.

Start with one small change

Basements and garages are littered with the castaways of forgotten hobbies and good intentions. (Exhibit A: the zoodle maker gathering dust in your kitchen.) Change is hard and slow, and it often happens in fits and starts.

Long-term commitment to any new lifestyle can’t be promised at the outset, even by an enthusiastic change agent. Dip a toe in and see how it goes. Take some time to test howcommitted you can be to the new behavior you want to promote.

Couples get into trouble when one partner sees herself as carrying the banner for change and casts the other partner as a stick-in-the-mud. Agree to a small change, then check in with each other about how it’s going. Humor and flexibility can make it fun, while perfectionism and rigidity are a downer.

Work as a team, but be willing to go it alone

If you find your partner doesn’t want to join you, that’s not the end of the story. One of the most powerful ways to influence is to lead by example, and he or she may come around. Sometimes, though, your partner will give you a hard no.

This may hurt or make you mad, but don’t let it prevent you from following through on your own beliefs. For Joanne, her differences with Michael were frustrating at first, but they spurred her to change her own shopping and food preparation to make sure that breakfasts and lunches had no meat.

Michael was fully on board with trying to lower the family’s carbon footprint and exploredways to drive less.In the long run, demonstrating a respectfor differences in a relationship is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.

Committing to a lifestyle change alone, or in a smaller way than you’d like, also teaches you a lot about what matters to you, and that will ultimately benefit your relationship too.

The Real Reason Your Stomach Hurts

The Real Reason Your Stomach Hurts
The Real Reason Your Stomach Hurts

Motherhood and gut problems do not mix well, but they do mix often. Four moms with chronic, confounding symptoms share their rough, relatable journeys to find answers and relief.

Dealing with an upset child isn’t easy for anyone. But when you also have to deal with an upset stomach, the combined stress can be overwhelming. Yet many mothers struggle with these unrelenting demands often without medical help. Think of your friends who complain of bloating, constipation, and diarrhea but who’ve never seen a doctor. The ones who’ve cut out dairy, gluten, alcohol. The activities canceled, the days spent near a bathroom instead of out and about.

Research shows that women are more likely than men to have gastrointestinal problems such as chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Hormones, anatomy, and the female stress response may contribute to this.

Lack of sleep, erratic eating, and worry hallmarks of parenthood can also increase gut sensitivity, says Frances Meyer, M.D., assistant professor and gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center, in Lutherville, Maryland. Antibiotic overuse and the low-fiber Western diet, rife with sugar, fat, and processed foods, are also changing the balance of bacteria and flora that keep our bodies healthy.

This change has been linked to an uptick in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two forms of inflammatory bowel disease whose typical onset is between ages 15 and 35.

Despite their discomfort, most adults don’t seek treatment for chronic digestive issues. “Many go online and diagnose themselves,” says Lin Chang, M.D., vice-chief of the UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases.

But Dr. Google is a poor substitute. Digestive symptoms are often a puzzle, and as you’ll see from the moms’ stories here, it can take time and a few wrong turns for even experienced physicians to uncover the root of a patient’s problem.

“If a doctor tells you some version of ‘You’re a woman, it’s probably IBS,’ don’t accept that,” says Dr. Meyer. “Find someone who will do a comprehensive history, a full physical, and lab studies, who will listen to your concerns and work with you to help you find relief. Those are the basics every woman deserves.”

When I started having stomach pain, I assumed it had something to do with childbirth

The pain started about six weeks after I had my second daughter. It was always on the lower right side of my abdomen and felt like period cramps, only 50 times worse.

I went to my ob-gyn, figuring it must have been a complication from childbirth, but a pelvic ultrasound found nothing. After six months of pain, my gastroenterologist performed a colonoscopy that determined I had Crohn’s disease, a chronic condition that can affect any part of the digestive tract and has no cure.

The disease had damaged the lining of my large intestine, and my pain stemmed from scar tissue that was blocking my bowel.

I had never heard of Crohn’s, but I figured it was better than colon cancer, which is what the doctors initially suspected.I was told that I may have been predisposed to the disease and that the stress of new motherhood can be a trigger.

Even with treatment, the chronic diarrhea, pain, and exhaustion took over my life. There were a couple of years when I spent more time in the hospital than at home, undergoing surgery for recurrent bowel obstructions.

I had so much guilt about all that I was missing dance recitals, birthdays. Seeing me sick and in pain was scary for my kids, especially since their father and I divorced about a year after my diagnosis and I was their primary caregiver.

Two things really turned life around for me:

One was a second surgery about five years ago that removed almost a foot of my intestine and put me into remission. The other was finding community.

I joined a support group for adults with chronic illness and finally had the chance to talk openly with other parents who understood whatI was going through.

I started running regularly and training with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Team Challenge for the Rock ’n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon. Two years ago, I crossed the finish line with my fiancé (a longtime friend who is now my amazingly loving and supportive husband) and with so many people who, like me, refuse to let their illness keep them down.

I know that Crohn’s isn’t caused by stress, but peace in my life has certainly helped.I’m healthier now than I have been in a very long time.

It felt like someone was squeezing my stomach from the inside and letting go, over and over again

I have a clear memory of throwing up as my daughter cried. It was awful: Ava was 13 months and newly walking. I was alone at home and had to lock her in the bathroom with me.

Before I got pregnant, I never had stomach issues. It all started with a bout of acid reflux after a crabcake dinner and got worse from there. I’d get attacks of diarrhea and vomiting that lasted for days. The cramps felt like someone was squeezing my stomach from the inside and letting go again and again.

I saw my doctor, who did blood work (which came back normal) and told me I had IBS and that constipation was causing my vomiting. Taking a stool softener helped for a while, but soon my symptoms returned. The GP did more blood work (normal again) and told me to cut out spicy and fatty foods and anything that upset my stomach.

But that was nearly everything. Soon I was down to just white rice and applesauce. My grandmother had to move in to help my husband and me with the kids (our nephew also lived with us at that time).

Then one day, about a month after that second doctor’s visit, my pee came out neon yellow. At 6 p.m. that night, it was bright orange. Nine hours later, it was brown and I was screaming in pain. My husband rushed me to the E.R., where scans showed that my gallbladder was packed with stones.

The next day, I had surgery to remove it. The doctor who treated me asked if I had been sick while pregnant. I had been, but my ob-gyn had said my diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea were due to pregnancy.

I had no idea that gallbladder disease often develops while women are expecting, owing to hormonal shifts. My ob-gyn should have done an ultrasound to rule out gallstones.

My recovery was difficult, but I’m doing much better now. What angers me is that so much of this could have been avoided. I’ve come to grips with the fact that over the two years I was sick, I didn’t want to hear that anything was really wrong, so I didn’t push my GP to investigate further or seek out a second opinion. Now I know that was a big mistake.

I had bloating and diarrhea. I never thought the cause could be gynecological

Between the ages of 22 and 30,I was diagnosed with IBS, was suspected of having inflammatory bowel disease, went vegan, cut out gluten, took antibiotics, and at one point, took 20 daily supplements given to me by an integrative physician.

Occasionally, I found relief. But my chronic bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea always returned. The diarrhea usually came during my period; the rest of the month,I had rectal pain and constipation.

There were times in medical school when my symptoms became overwhelming. I’m glad I persevered: During my ob-gyn rotation, Ilearned my problem wasn’t my digestive tract.

I was working with a surgeon who specialized in endometriosis, a disease that causes tissue usually found inside the uterus to spread into the abdomen. It is traditionally associated with severe menstrual cramps, heavy periods, and pain during sex.

However, I noticed that some of his patients didn’t have these complaints. They had symptoms more like mine. I talked with the surgeon and learned that when endometrial tissue invades the bowel and abdominal wall, it creates scar tissue and inflammation that can cause bloating, diarrhea, and cramping which can lead to a misdiagnosis of IBS.

I had diagnostic surgery, and my doctor found and removed endometrial scar tissue all along my bowel and rectum. I felt better right away.

But that didn’t last. Through the years, I had also been struggling with infertility, a common outcome of advanced endometriosis.

After the surgery, I had ten rounds of IVF, and the hormone stimulation triggered regrowth of my endometriosis. Ultimately, I had two more operations.

The happy part of my story:In 2018 Ifinally got pregnant, and my husband and I became parents to our beautiful daughter, Charlotte. And with the help of a great doctor and good self-care which includes a low-carb, low-sugar diet that keeps inflammation in my body at bay my endometriosis is now under control.

I spent so much time suffering from abdominal pain and bloating, I felt I wasn’t really present for the first few years of my daughter’s life

When I was in high school, two gastroenterologists attributed my chronic gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain to IBS. Neither helped much, other than to give me meds to relax my gut (they didn’t).

I figured I just had to learn to live with IBS, which I did all through college, while working toward my postgrad degree as a registered dietitian, and for years after that.

At 41 I got pregnant, and my symptoms disappeared. They didn’t return until after I weaned my daughter, Giuliana. Initially, the problems were mild. But then I took antibiotics for a sinus infection, and the drugs which can wipe out healthy gut bacteria brought on two years of misery.

Every trip to the bathroom, I had diarrhea. The pain in my abdomen was terrible. I used every diet strategy I knew, but nothing helped. I was so focused on my gut for the first few years of Giuliana’s life, I felt I wasn’t really present for it.

A naturopath did a breath test to check the hydrogen levels in my gut and said that in addition to IBS, I had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). I took the supplements she prescribed but didn’t feel much better. Thinking back, I don’t know if SIBO was the culprit. I do know I was desperate.

That was when I started looking into the low-FODMAP diet, which I had read about years earlier but had disregarded because it sounded too complicated. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols. These short-chain carbohydrates are found in foods like wheat, dairy, beans, and some fruits and vegetables.

They can draw water into the intestine and also ferment quickly. If you are sensitive to FODMAPs, these foods can cause bloating, gassiness, cramping, and diarrhea. On the low-FODMAP diet, you eliminate a broad range of foods, then systematically reintroduce them.

This helps identify which ones you can tolerate and which you can’t. I coached myself through the process but recommend that anyone considering the diet do it with the help of a registered dietitian.

Within two weeks after I started the diet, my symptoms were 70 percent better. As I added foods back in, I was able to identify trigger foods (garlic and onions are biggies!) It hasn’t been a cure-all; I still sometimes have gut issues and have to be diligent in managing stress.

But it’s given me a sense of control. If my stomach starts acting up, I know I can lower my intake of FODMAPs, which then resolves my symptoms.

Gut Conditions, Decoded

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Heartburn, a searing sensation in your stomach or the middle of your chest, results from stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus. Many of us experience it on occasion, especially after a big or late-night meal. But when “acid reflux” strikes regularly, it could be a sign of GERD, a chronic digestive disease that impacts about 20 percent of Americans. In addition to the pain, red flags include bad breath, tooth decay, queasiness, abdominal pain, and trouble swallowing.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

This disorder wreaks havoc on the intestines and is the most common “functional” bowel disorder meaning it affects how the digestive tract functions but isn’t caused by structural abnormalities and doesn’t damage organs and tissue. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and cramps.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

This is a condition in which there is chronic inflammation in the gut and it can cause significant physical damage. There are two primary forms: ulcerative colitis (UC), which affects the colon and rectum; and Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus.

Hallmark symptoms for both Crohn’s and UC include diarrhea, bloody stools, weight loss, and abdominal pain. IBD is also associated with complications beyond the digestive tract, including arthritis, rash, or ulcers in the mouth.

Gallbladder Disease

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac beneath the liver that stores bile, which helps break down and digest fat in the small intestine. Sometimes hard particles or “stones” form and block bile ducts, inflaming the gallbladder.

Symptoms of a gallstone “attack” include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and pain in the upper right abdomen that often radiates to the upper back. If a stone blocks the duct to the intestine, a backup of bile can cause dark urine, light stools, fever, rapid heartbeat, and jaundice.


Often painful, this condition occurs when endometrial tissue spreads beyond the uterus (where it belongs) to other parts of the abdomen, including the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

The typical symptoms of endometriosis are pelvic pain, especially during menstruation, heavy periods, pain with intercourse, and infertility. Because endometrial tissue inflames the abdomen and may also invade the rectum and intestine, it can also cause digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

There’s lots of buzz around the idea that poor diet, antibiotics, and other aspects of modern life can wear down intestinal lining, allowing bacteria and food substances to penetrate the tissue beneath it and spread to the bloodstream.

Proponents of this notion claim that chronic health issues, including IBS, are the body’s reaction to these microbes. There’s no question that gut permeability is real, but researchers aren’t sure whether increased permeability causes disease or results from it.

If you have unexplained symptoms, it can be tempting to embrace an “all-solving” explanation like leaky gut, but see a doctor to be safe.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

The brain automatically regulates blood pressure, gut function, and other important tasks. But for people with POTS, the majority of whom are women ages 13 to 50, the brain can fail to do so, particularly when you stand up after being in a lying position.

The most common symptoms are dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and fainting, but in some cases, digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, and bloating also occur.

Resist Racism As A Family

Resist Racism as a Family

The national outrage over racial injustice could be a true turning point in our country’s history. To help children create a better world one day, white parents need to talk about race. Here, experts share some pointers.

  Know that bringing up raceisn’t racist. “Although Black parents often speak with their kids about discrimination, white parents who want their kids to treat others with fairness often think they need to be color-blind and avoid talking about race,” says Melanie Killen, Ph.D., professor of human development and quantitative methodology at the University of Maryland, College Park. However, being silent sends the message to kids that the topic is taboo and implies inequality is okay. Kids are pretty poor at predicting their parents’ racial attitudes, and proactively discussing race is a crucial part of the solution even if it feels awkward.

  Start early. Studies have shown that kids pick up on racial differences from a very young age. “Between the ages of 2 and 5 is a critical time when kids are absorbing information about the world,” says Brandi K. Freeman, M.D., a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado and director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Department of Pediatrics.

Preschoolers are curious about skin color, and we should calmly respond to them in an age-appropriate way. If you’re in public and your child blurts out, “Why is his skin so dark?” just respond, “Yes, he  has brown skin. We all have different skin colors and hair colors and eye colors, but on the inside, our feelings, hopes, and fears are all the same.” Even at this age, you can talk about race and explain that this word has been used to describe and separate people from each other for a long time, but the truth is there’s only one race and we’re all members the human race.

  Continue the cinversation . By the time the kids are school-age, ask them questions as if you were a reporter so you can find out what they know and think and why, says Dr. Killen. Kids make a lot of assumptions, and you can help unpack them. You might ask, “What would you say if a kid at school didn’t want to be friends with a girl because of her skin color?” Even if your child says something that reflects implicit bias (“Maybe she thinks they won’t have anything in common”), don’t rush to admonish. Simply ask, “Why do you feel that way?”

  Broaden your social circles . Kids who have friends from different racial and ethnic backgrounds are much less likely to be biased, studies show.“Friendships are extremely important because they counteract stereotypes and help children learn to appreciate different cultures,” says Dr. Freeman. You should also make an effort to reach out to parents across the racial spectrum. “If white kids don’t see their parents interacting with Black friends, they may assume it’s because their parents don’t like them,” says BrigitteVittrup, Ph.D., professor of human development, family studies, and counseling at Texas Women’s University, in Denton.

  Pay attention to your own behavior. Biases don’t develop because we intentionally want to be prejudiced they develop because ofthe messages we’ve received throughout life. “Children notice if their parents show subtle signs of fear or discomfort around people of color,” says developmental psychologist Christia Spears Brown, Ph.D., director of the Center for Equality and Social Justice at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington. If you describe predominantly Black neighborhoods as unsafe or predominantly Black schools as bad, you’re setting a tone your kids will pick up on.

  Be willing to make mistakes. Talking about race is not a one-time conversation, and if we wait until children ask questions, the conversations may never happen, says Dr. Vittrup. You won’t always get it right and that’s okay. The more discussions you have, the more comfortable you’ll be and if you can get used to talking to your kids about race, they’ll be able to continue the dialogue when they grow up.

Balancing Fame With Mental Health

Balancing Fame With Mental Health

TV chef and author Nadiya Hussain talks to Georgia Farquharson about balancing fame with mental health and why she hopes to never stop smashing stereotypes.

  Five years ago Nadiya Hussain was just like lots of mums baking for fun on a weekend while raising her three children. Today she’s the most successful winner of The Great British Bake Off and, with Mary Berry’s blessing, hopes to be doing this job when she’s 80. But she’s still human. And, like many of us, Nadiya admits she has struggled with lockdown life. When we chat to her over the phone, Nadiya, as someone who hates doing nothing, confesses she’s still struggling to maintain a routine. However, the bubbly chef is trying to remain positive and enjoy the break she didn’t know she needed.

  When she entered The Great British Bake Off in 2015, it was her husband’s idea, as a coping mechanism to soothe her anxiety. But rather than just being one of 12 amateur contestants with a keen knowledge of baking, Nadiya’s part on the show became predominantly about her ethnicity. It was the first time she ever felt ‘different’, and she suddenly feared how she would be perceived. Five years on, Nadiya, 35, is described as someone who is ‘smashing stereotypes’ and it’s a title she wears with pride.

  Being in the limelight means you’re open to scrutiny all the time. I think being a woman and a British-born Bangladeshi means I have a thick skin, but when you work in the public eye your life is there for everybody to see. I have experienced trolling, but I’ve come to accept that I might get abuse, but I don’t have to allow it to chip away at me.

  I’ve suffered with anxiety since I was a really young age. I remember an entire childhood of being concerned about everything. I’ve had to call an ambulance on occasions because I thought I was having a heart attack during a panic attack.

  Being thrown out of routine can trigger it, so I kept things in check during lockdown. I manage it with simple things like taking time out to read in the bath and I am very strict about what I eat. We mostly try and eat vegetables Monday to Friday, and try and walk 5km each day.

  Body confidence doesn’t come naturally. But I look back on myself at 18 and wish I hadn’t called myself fat. This body has given me three beautiful children.

  My fame has had an effect on my daughter. We’ve had incidents where she’s been in fits of tears because the crowds have got too big and people can start hassling you a bit. It once took me three weeks to get her out of the house with me again she’s only nine.

  I now have strict rules if I’m out and about. If anybody asks for a picture, I’ll  say no if I’m with my children. I think it’s really important for them to know that I can create those boundaries for them.

  I went on Bake Off because my husband thought it would help with my anxiety. I didn’t really think of myself as different. It was only after they announced the Bake Off contestants that I realised a lot of what was being written was about my religion and the fact I’m a person of colour. That’s when it really dawned on me. By this point we’d filmed the show, I knew I’d won and I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure how the public would  receive me. What if people hate me? I still have those fears now.

  To have people say I’m a role model is so unexpected. The responsibility used to make me really nervous, but now it’s like a badge of honour. Growing up as a Muslim woman, I didn’t have anybody that I could look up to. This career is so much more than just cooking and baking. If I don’t continue doing what I’m doing then I won’t create the space for other people. So it’s really important for me to smash stereotypes and keep shattering them, until this is completely normal.

  Life since Bake Off feels like a dream. I absolutely have imposter syndrome I just feel like I don’t belong. Quite often I’m the only one of me. So I walk into a situation where I’m the only person of colour or the only Muslim woman.

  I struggle to call it my career because it came so quickly. I fear it’s going to go away as fast. But because I don’t accept this is my career, I love it more. I don’t turn up to a job thinking, ‘I’ll be doing this next year.’ Having that attitude allows me to enjoy every moment of what I do.

  Mary Berry always tells me she’s proud of me. We don’t have a friendship where I ring her or she rings me, but she always remembers my husband’s name and that says it all, I think. She once said to him, ‘I hope Nadiya does this for as long as I’ve done this.’ I would love to do what I’m doing in my 80s and to get that blessing from Mary is wonderful.

  It’s crazy to think my husband and I have been married for 15 years. I hear people saying relationships should be equal and I don’t believe in that. It’s always more of a 70/30 split and I think that’s what works for us. I’m always so appreciative of him holding the fort while I go away, and vice versa.

  Our kids won’t have arranged marriages like we did. It’s a lot of hard work and I can’t be bothered with it. And if it doesn’t work out, who are they going to blame me? No thanks! When they’re ready to go off and get married I’m going to buy a sports car and drive around Europe with the wind in my hijab.


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