How to achieve a balanced diet – video program

Nutritionist Sundial Clinics BrightonDo you have a balanced diet? In the years that I have been asking that question very few people have acknowledged that their diet is not as good as it could be. Most of us think we eat a fairly good diet even if we have a bit too much sugary stuff or pre-prepared food.

A lot of us are confused about carbohydrates, proteins and fats. What are the good carbs and what should we avoid. Is there such a thing as good fats? How much protein do we really need?

So what constitutes a balanced diet? Here our nutritionist Shirley Ward gives a clearer idea. Click on the link to watch the video.

1 How to Achieve a Balanced Diet

2 How to Achieve a Balanced Diet – Carbohydrates

3 How to Achieve a Balanced Diet – Proteins and Fats

If you would like more help with any aspect of the diet and nutrition discussed here then you can see Shirley  for an in-depth consultation. Her details are here


Salt is good for you

The research proving that salt causes high blood pressure is pretty flimsy at best. None of the 17,000 studies published on salt and blood pressure since 1966 has shown population wide health benefits from a low-salt diet. It is only in the last few decades that salt has received bad publicity. In fact, before the 20th century salt was a valuable commodity. Roman soldiers were even paid with it and it is the origin of the word salary.

Salt, or sodium chloride, is a naturally occurring chemical that is vital to health. It is important in the regulation of fluids and nerve conduction in the body. Usually when we eat more salt than is required by the body it is excreted in the urine. We sweat about 500mg of sodium in a 1 hour work-out. Long-term effects of cutting out salt from the diet is unknown, although it is known that even moderate reductions of salt can cause fatigue.

A 30 year study in America showed that those who ate the most salt had the fewest deaths from any cause, including heart disease. In a follow-up study it was found that reducing salt intake did reduce blood pressure slightly but increased bad cholesterol or LDL.

Obviously not content with the results so far the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey ran for a further 13 years looking at data on over 7000 men and women and found that there was a 50% higher risk of heart disease if you had a daily intake of less than 6 g of salt a day. The current recommendation is that people consume no more than 6 g a day, which is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of salt.

The lead researcher was Dr H. W Cohen, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. Dr Cohen said “It is likely that there are differences between individuals with regard to sodium intake and it is clear that the data do not support the current recommendations “

In 2005 scientists across Europe completed their study involving 8000 people over 50. Their conclusions were that as long as salt intake was no more than 16 g a day it had no significant effect on blood pressure./Risk only increased with an intake over 21 g and even then it had no effect on cardiovascular problems. In fact, other scientists have gone further in saying that pregnant women with pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, can benefit from up to 20 g of salt a day. One in 10 elderly people suffer from sodium deficiency, which can result in anxiety, hallucinations, muscle cramps and hip fractures.

The food industry perpetuates the idea that healthy food has reduced salt, encouraged by government guidelines. Only 5 to 10% of salt consumed occurs in natural foods to such as meats while more may be added during cooking or at the table. By far the greatest amount is found in processed foods with the worst ones being bred and canned vegetables.

If you are restricting your salt intake to help reduce high blood pressure, then you may wish to discuss whether this is indeed the best course of action with your GP.


Trick and Treat, How Healthy Eating Is Making Us Ill. Barry Groves. Hammersmith press Ltd 2008, p 144-156


Following further research on this topic you might like to look at a large meta-analysis of the studies here

Keep Hydrated to Reduce Joint Pain and Headaches

Dehydration can lead to headaches and other joint aches and pains including back ache. Tiredness and other digestive problems can also be a result of not drinking enough or too much of the wrong drinks.

“As we’re made up of 70% water if levels reduce the body simply can’t function properly.  We lose on average 1.5 litres daily, just through normal functioning so topping up daily is crucial to ensure good health.” says Shirley Ward, Sundial’s Nutritionist. Continue reading “Keep Hydrated to Reduce Joint Pain and Headaches”

The “Right” Fats for Weight Loss

Is avoiding all fats the most effective way to lose weight?

Sundial’s Nutritionist, Shirley Ward provides some clarification:

The “Right” Fats for Weight Loss:

Believe it or not, certain dietary fats really can help towards weight loss, but only if you make the right choices.  We all know eating too much red meat and full-fat dairy is closely linked with weight gain, due to their high saturated fat content.  But the good news is you can help achieve weight control by ensuring regular consumption of “essential” fats, so named as the body actively needs and uses these to function efficiently.

“Essential” fats are one of the three key food groups we need to consume daily to attain good health.  Our bodies can’t produce these fats, so we need to ensure a regular supply through dietary sources such as oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies), flax seeds/oil, avocados, un-salted nuts and seeds.  These can help towards achieving blood sugar balance, which is a key factor in weight loss and control.  Incorporating oily fish twice a week, ½ an avocado 3 times a week, a small handful of unsalted nuts or seeds every day or a daily tablespoon of flax seed oil (can be drizzled over porridge/salads/soups) are ways of helping achieve this goal.

A final thought for weight control: in excess, saturated fats can actually reduce levels of “essential” fats, so work against your goal of weight loss and control.

A “Natural” Anti-inflammatory: a variety of studies also confirm the anti-inflammatory properties within “essential” fats, which may help towards reducing both back and joint inflammation and pain.  Studies confirm supplementing with pure fish oil capsules or flax seed oil capsules may provide some arthritis and back pain sufferers with effective relief from inflammation and pain (though check with your GP first if on medication).

Interested in more weight loss tips?  Visit my nutritional therapy page on 19th January to learn about “fat busting” vitamins.

Visit to find out how nutritional therapy can help you achieve your health goals.

The above is provided as general nutritional advice.

Fat burning vitamins

Sundial’s nutritionist Shirley Ward explains how eating certain foods really can help towards weight loss:

If you regularly suffer from joint pain and back pain then reducing excess weight can certainly have a beneficial effect.

For sustainable weight loss you need to achieve an efficient metabolic rate (the rate at which you turn food into energy not fat).  Studies show vitamin C, B vitamins and magnesium really can help control how efficiently your body burns fat. Continue reading “Fat burning vitamins”

Avoid dementia and keeping you brain healthy

With the New Year now in its stride you may be pondering New Year resolutions. To help you we’ve put together a few resources on nutrition and exercise especially relating to brain health for 2011. There is a lot that we can do to keep our brain sharp from taking the right vitamins and other supplements to playing brain games. Memory loss affects us all from time to time but here are a few tips and other resources to help avoid it. Continue reading “Avoid dementia and keeping you brain healthy”

Is Avoiding All Fats The Most Effective Way to Lose Weight?

Sundial’s Nutritionist, Shirley Ward provides some clarification:

The “Right” Fats for Weight Loss

Believe it or not, certain dietary fats really can help towards weight loss, but only if you make the right choices.  We all know eating too much red meat and full-fat dairy is closely linked with weight gain, due to their high saturated fat content.  But the good news is you can help achieve weight control by ensuring regular consumption of “essential” fats, so named as the body actively needs and uses these to function efficiently. Continue reading “Is Avoiding All Fats The Most Effective Way to Lose Weight?”

Effective Weight Loss Tips

by Sundial’s nutritionist, Shirley Ward

To achieve sustainable weight loss its important to make the right food choices and to understand what the body requires to achieve this.  You’ll be pleased to hear diets don’t work!! Read on for effective, proven weight loss tips. Continue reading “Effective Weight Loss Tips”

Nutritional Therapy Right at Home

Nutritionist BrightonFood is definitely something we cannot live without. Everyone depends on it for survival. The food we eat should contain all the nutrients our bodies need to perform our daily routines, jobs and activities but for most of us today the food we eat contains fewer nutrients than in years gone by and in fact is increasingly loaded with things we should avoid like sugar, salt, additives, pesticides and herbicides.

However, did you know that even food can be used as an approach to heal or relieve ailments? Yes you read that right. Even the chocolate bar you may be munching on right now may be relieving your stress. How is that possible? Well, chocolate has over 200 chemicals that increase the levels of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are the natural pain killers of the body. Not only that, chocolate contains phenylalanine which is a known substance that makes you feel happy or gives you that giddy feeling when you’re in love. Food has a great impact on health, energy, mood and even appearance. The saying: “You are what you eat” definitely applies to nutritional therapy.

Food has a lot of benefits which is why there are books about nutritional therapy available in any book store. The good news is that nutritional therapy can be easily done at home and you don’t have to spend much.

So what exactly is nutritional therapy? Nutritional therapy is the use of nutrition to promote optimum health in an individual to combat diseases or ailments. Now there is no one diet that is perfect for everyone. So, for best results, ask a nutritional therapist to develop a nutritious diet specifically for you.

However, there are things you can do right now to start nutritional therapy at home. Simply follow the guide lines I’ve mentioned below and you are on the right road to a healthy lifestyle and diet.

  • Limit the amount of packaged and processed foods you have in your cupboards. Always read the labels and ingredients of the food you buy as these foods often contain heaps of sugar, salt, hydrogenated fats and preservatives that do us no good at all.
  • Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables – aim for 5 portions a day. Eating salads is a great way to help you on your way to this but be sure to limit the amount of dressing you use!
  • Stick to water as your drink of choice. Even better make it filtered water and use it for cooking too.
  • Limit the biscuits and cakes that you have close by and may get tempted by during the day. This will help cut down on excess sugar and carbohydrates that we take in.
  • Salt may be an important ingredient to your special dish but don’t keep adding salt when you think the taste isn’t quite enough. Salt is a major factor that causes high blood pressure so lay off the salt.

These are just simple tips to follow on nutritional therapy right at home. Start the right choices, starting with the food you eat today. Live healthy and happy!

Emotional difficulties risk for adult obesity

Brighton Chiropractors, Sundial ClinicsA new study by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London, shows that children with emotional difficulties are at higher risk for obesity in adult life.

Previous research has shown that low self-esteem and emotional problems are found in people who are overweight or obese – but not which influences which.

The team studied data from around 6,500 members of the 1970 British Birth Cohort Study who, as 10 year-olds, had been assessed for emotional problems, self-perceptions and Body Mass Index (BMI), and who reported on their BMI again at age 30. The researchers found that children with a lower self-esteem, those who felt less in control of their lives and those who worried often were more likely to gain weight over the next 20 years. They also found that girls were slightly more affected by these factors than boys.

Team leader Andrew Ternouth said: ‘While we cannot say that childhood emotional problems cause obesity in later life, we can certainly say they play a role, along with factors such as parental BMI, diet and exercise.’

The authors suggest that early intervention for children suffering low self-esteem, anxiety or other emotional challenges could help improve their chances of long-term physical health. Ternouth continues: ‘Strategies to promote social and emotional aspects of learning, including the promotion of self-esteem, are central to a number of recent policy initiatives. Our findings suggest that approaches of this kind may carry positive benefits for physical health as well as for other aspects of children’s development.’

The authors conclude: ‘Given the growing problem with childhood obesity in many western societies, these findings are particularly important. On a larger scale, they may offer hope in the battle to control the current obesity epidemic.’


I love this study as it is big enough and over a long enough period to suggest a strong correlation between how we feel as children and how healthy we are as adults. Of course, now we know that this is an issue, how we can we affect childhood self-esteem? There are few children whose carers and teachers are not doing their best already. One way is to allow children to exert a measure of control over their own lives as this has been shown to improve self-esteem.

Matthew Bennett

‘Childhood emotional problems and self-perceptions predict weight gain in a longitudinal regression model’, Andrew Ternouth, David Collier and Barbara Maughan, BMC Medicine (in press).

The full article is available on the journal website.