Family & Life, Food, General

Want to Look & Feel Better? Try Nutritional Therapy (I did)…

Posted January 8, 2016 by Bethanie Lunn


It’s January – the month where our blank balance and figures swap places; leaving us with a fat waistline and slim bank statement.  Due to this and all the recent over indulgence, the entire world usually partakes in a fitness and healthy eating regime.  Though it was (a lot) of fun, the festive period has left me craving a healthier lifestyle but not just as a new year resolution, as a way of living going forward.

I’m a month away from my due date of baby no.2 also so I need to look after myself, bump and the family with a post natal aim to get back into shape in the most enjoyable, no-pressure and healthy way I can.

In steps, Sandra James – Nutritional Therapist who I saw before Christmas with the aim to get the best plan for individual care, covering food and health during pregnancy and beyond.

My Goals

What you eat can affect your mood, body, your children’s behaviour, your looks…so it’s important to eat right, right?  90% of Serotonin, the feel good hormone is made in your stomach so it pays to watch what you eat.  My goals to put to Sandra were simple:


While Pregnant:

  1. Boost energy: Balance blood sugar throughout the day
  2. Am I getting all the nutrition I need?  Ensure that essential pregnancy nutrients are included and fend off illnesses
  3. Advice on recipes and ‘ways to be organised’ with a range of easy to prepare meal ideas
  4. IBS help – how to avoid the cramping I get

Post Natal:

  1. Tips on how to healthily lose pregnancy weight, returning to my pre-pregnancy weight
  2. I’ll be busy (busier!), so again, advice on recipes and ‘ways to be organised’ with a range of easy to prepare meal ideas, plus the IBS help

A Bit About Nutritional Therapy

Think of Nutritional Therapy as a personalised plan that can support you with a wide range of health issues. Whilst there are some good guidelines and food ideas that work for a lot of people, nutritional therapy is not one size fits all so people often need personalised diets based on their own health needs – especially if they’re addressing any health issues, personal circumstances or niggles, or are experiencing high stress or fatigue.


Floating: Looks like a spaceship, transports you to Paradise

I met Sandra at the Float Spa in Hove – a haven of health in its own right that makes me feel put back together every time I visit.  Sandra believes we should all feel vibrant, enjoy our food and that it should nourish us. She found Nutritional Therapy transformational in overcoming her own health issues and is passionate about helping others, so if you really want to make a difference to your life and your family’s lives, read on.

Sandra’s Dietary Recommendations:

During Pregnancy:

What to Eat:

  • Always eat breakfast, ideally within an hour of getting up (low blood sugar increases stress on the body)
  • Eat protein at every meal so for example hard-boiled eggs for breakfast with spinach and avocado or porridge with nuts/seeds/yogurt.  Protein balances blood sugar and therefore increases energy levels

One of my favourites – express porridge oats sprinkled with strawberries, sunflower seeds, linseed, goji berries, blueberries and honey

  • Include good fats – coconut oil, avocados, olive oil and avoid low fat foods as these often have additional sugar added. Good levels of essential fatty acids – especially a type of omega-3 called DHA found in oily fish – are required for development and maintenance of the brain, eyes, immune system, heart, skin, cognition, the nervous system and more. The human brain is 60% fat and the last trimester of pregnancy (week 28 onwards) is a particularly important time for the baby’s brain – it grows by 260% in this trimester. I’m recommending additional DHA via supplement below
  • Eat low GL carbs – good choices are sweet potatoes, root vegetables and rice. Avoid wheat and all wheat based products as these cause your IBS symptoms. Replace with quinoa, rice, millet and try gluten free pumpkin and sunflower bread mix that you can bake yourself.

Try this easy quinoa pizza recipe


  • Eat 5 portions fresh vegetables every day – think of getting a ‘rainbow of colours’ each day. Veg are full of fibre, so good for gut health and slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables in particular are rich in magnesium. Low magnesium levels are one of the causes of restless legs, so the floating is excellent for this too. Other magnesium rich foods are almonds, cashews, nuts and seeds, buckwheat, apricots and dark chocolate (eat organic, 70% dark, 1-2 squares a day, good brands include Green& Blacks and Montezuma’s) – WHOOP!

Top Tips for Organisation:

  • A good way to be organized is batch cooking. So on a given day roast a whole chicken/chicken fillets in the oven along with chopped root vegetables (carrots, squash, sweet potato, celeriac etc.) in some coconut oil. Once cooked, they can be cooled and frozen into portion sizes. Chicken can be eaten with salads/in sandwiches or reheated gently thoroughly in a stir-fry. The vegetables are great to eat cold or reheated.
  • Another way to batch cook is to make big pots of stew or soup and again freeze individual portions.


  • Smoothies/breakfast ideas – all can be doubled up and eaten again for lunch or as a mid-afternoon snack if short on time. Frozen organic vegetables and berries can also be useful to have in the freezer.

I have been very organised with food, especially since meeting Sandra and hearing her ideas.  I tend to use Mondays to prepare it all, you can do it whenever it suits you, perhaps a Sunday morning. Watch my Food Preparation & Food Hacks video >here< for how-tos.

Post Natal:

Sandra’s Recommendation: Aim to lose 1lb per week – a sustainable weight loss target once you have stopped breastfeeding.  Continue with eating plan as before and be sure to:

  • Always eat breakfast, ideally within an hour of getting up (low blood sugar increases stress on the body)
  • Eat protein at every meal and snack
  • Include good fats – coconut oil, avocados, olive oil and avoid low fat foods as these often have additional sugar added
  • Drink lots of water, minimum 1 ½ litres of non-caffinated liquids daily
  • Eat oily fish 2-3 times per week (salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel)

Oily peppered mackerel fillet, green beans tossed in coconut oil, sweet potatoes baked in olive oil and paprika with tomatoes

  • Healthy snacks – avoid simple carbohydrates such as cakes, biscuits but do eat low GL carbs such as oats, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, root vegetables etc. Simple carbs and sugary foods increase insulin levels, high insulin makes you store fat around the middle
  • Continue with batch cooking and pre-preparation
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Don’t go hungry – this increases stress hormones, affecting milk supply and makes you more likely to hold onto your fat stores
  • Eat 5 portions fresh vegetables every day – think of getting a ‘rainbow of colours’ each day. Vegetables are full of fibre, so help you feel full and slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream
  • Focus on foods that are rich in magnesium – these are green leafy veg, nuts, legumes, seafood, oats, brown rice, almonds and bananas
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and just limit high sugar ‘healthy’ substitutes such as maple syrup, agave and dried fruit.  Stevia. xylitol, sukrin can be used in moderation.

Avoid wheat and gluten – boo but yay!

Gluten products include wheat, durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, rye, barley, malt vinegar or syrup, brewer’s yeast.

Hidden sources: beer, ketchup, soy sauce, ice cream, sauces, burgers, sausages, gravy, liquorice.

Foods that are OK: oat, pure rye, buckwheat, soy flour, rice and rice flour, gram flour, quinoa, millet, amaranth, tamari. If missing bread, there are many alternatives on the market. Order a batch of bread from this website and freeze:

I have to admit, when I cut down on wheat and gluten (I’m not quite ready to cut out wheat altogether yet since it is found in so many of my favourite foods), I feel miles better and it shows.

Try this: I have however discovered a fantastic gluten free pasta that doesn’t fall apart and taste of nothing! Dell’Ugo Gluten Free Penne is the first branded fresh gluten free pasta on the UK market. It replicates the taste, texture and consistency of a traditional gluten pasta as closely as possible and again, I cook a whole packet and dress it with different (healthy sauces).  Just make sure you don’t overcook it; it only takes 4 minutes – another bonus.


The nutritional facts are very impressive:

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 10.13.07


The Chickpea Fusilli is made purely of ground chickpeas and water, has a low GI and is naturally high in protein

Exercise Recommendations:

Work in exercise (6-8 weeks after birth) – 2 minute sessions are brilliant and lots of walking (Fat burning)

So every day aim for the following: –

  1. Before breakfast – 2 mins of squats, jogging on the spot or dancing around to your favourite song (aim to feel heart going and get very slightly out of breath)
  2. A 30min walk in the afternoon (pace as if slightly late for something)
  3. Before dinner/early evening – another 2 minutes – jumping/jogging on the spot /dancing/star jumps/any movement – make it hard enough to feel your heart beating and be slightly out of breath.

Exercise if you’re pregnant like me:

I currently walk daily with my little dog and son and practice pregnancy yoga as well as pregnancy pilates with these clever online classes I can do anywhere.

More on all of that to follow this month.


Snack Ideas

  • Hardboiled egg – cook a few and keep in the fridge for throughout the week
  • Handful of mixed nuts – always a healthy snack. A small handful each day
  • Gluten-free oatcakes with hummus/almond butter/walnut butter/pumpkin seed butter/tahini (you can keep jars of all of these ready in the fridge)
  • Raw vegetable crudités and humous – again prep it all one day ready for the week
  • Fresh fruit with nuts and / or seeds – choose lower fructose like apple, kiwis and berries
  • Yogurt topped with chopped nuts and seeds

Yummy snack bowl: apples and bananas atop mango and coconut yoghurt, sprinkled with linseed and drizzled in honey

  • “Healthy” bars Nakd Bar style (only natural sugars in fruit allowed and must contain nuts or seeds)         
  • Rice cakes and nut butter
  • Fresh edamame beans   
  • Roasted vegetables (beetroot, parsnip, carrots, celeriac, squash etc)
  • Baked apples with cinnamon and hazelnuts
  • 70% cocoa chocolate
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Olives


I feel 100% better – with no energy slumps that I usually got around 10am and 2pm each day, plus I have more energy overall.  This really is quite something considering I’m not really sleeping anymore, thanks to pregnancy insomnia, a massive bump and an actively imaginative toddler experiencing night terrors!

The batch cooking advice and snack ideas keep me per organised which I love, in addition to ensuring we have healthy snacks to hand as a family.  This makes making healthy choices so much easier and is great for preparing snacks for the kids when you’re on-the-go as well as for work.

I never used to like dark chocolate but now love it!  I believe buying high quality brands and the 70% blend makes a difference.  Sandra gave me a number of recipe ideas too so look out for some of those over the coming months.  You’ll get plenty of recommendations if you decide to use her services too.

I highly recommend seeing Sandra as her advice has made me see things differently.  I not only eat healthier I also WANT to and I’m organised in my approach to family meals (most of the time)!  My mood has lifted with my energy and I feel the weight loss plan post pregnancy is realistic and achievable.  If you want to try it out for yourself, prices vary and start from just £15 so it’s affordable for many.

Sandra specialises in fatigue and women’s health and is available for 1:1 consultations, talks and workshops.  Check out Sandra’s services at: to see how she can help you and float your way to better health at 

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