Elsa’s Seven Steps To Better Health

Kieran Harnett

Elsa Jones, Nutritional Therapist

  1. Eat Nutritionally Balanced Meals – A ‘balanced diet’ starts with getting the right balance of nutrients onto your plate at meal times. At lunch/dinner, aim to fill ¼ of your plate with protein rich food such as chicken, fish, eggs, beans, nuts & seeds. Protein helps you stay fuller for longer and helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Adding complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa etc. will provided a slow steady release of energy along with vitamins and fibre. Aim to fill ¼ of your plate with complex carbohydrates at meal times.
  2. Eat A Rainbow Every Day! – For optimal health & disease prevention, aim to eat 5-7 fruit & veg every day  – 5 veg and 2 fruit is a good balance. Eat a wide variety of different colours as each colour offers unique health benefits. Aim to eat something red, green, purple, yellow/orange and white every day and fill half of your plate with vegetables at lunch/dinner time.
  3. Embrace ‘Essential Fats’ – Omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids nourish our brain, our heart & reproductive system and are essential for healthy hair, skin & nails. To ensure you get enough in your diet, I recommend you have oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines etc.) twice a week and have  1-2 tbsp. of omega 3 rich seeds per day (flax, chia, hemp) – add them to porridge, salads, bread etc.
  4. Limit your sugar intake- For overall health & weight management, try to view high sugar foods such as chocolate, biscuits, sweets/cakes etc. as occasional ‘treats’ not a daily diet staple. If you have sweet foods regularly, then try reducing your portion size and/or opt for healthier versions e.g. have a couple of squares of dark chocolate instead of a full bar of milk chocolate.
  5. Prioritize Sleep & Stress Management – Getting 7-9 hrs sleep a night and managing your stress levels is essential for good physical & mental health. Exercise is a wonderful way to reduce stress and boost mood, find an exercise you enjoy and do it consistently, even a 30 minute walk a day offers significant health benefits. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are also effective for reducing stress & improving sleep. Sleep experts recommend a ‘wind down’ routine where you switch off all electronics 1-2 hrs before bed to improve sleep quantity & quality.
  6. Watch your caffeine intake – Excess Caffeine can affect our nervous system by revving up stress hormones in the body like adrenaline & cortisol, this can affect our anxiety levels, mood & sleep. I recommend limiting yourself to no more than 2 caffeinated beverages a day, ideally before 2pm.
  7. Alcohol in moderation – The current guidelines from the HSE for ‘low risk’ alcohol intake is 11 units per week for women (approx. 5 medium glasses of wine) and 17 for men. Note – this is a limit not a target! If you have a weight loss goal, limiting your intake further is advisable.

Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and author of bestselling book ‘Goodbye Sugar’. She works as a nutrition consultant in a Dublin practice and also internationally via her online nutrition programs. She specialise’s in motivational weight management combining effective nutrition & mind-set strategies. www.elsajonesnutrition.ie

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Good health’s not just for January, it’s for life!

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

New year, new you! …. Screams every second Facebook post and magazine article that I have read over the past couple of weeks. The post-Christmas bulge and general feeling of guilt after a month (or more!) of over indulgence during the silly season generally encourages people to jump on the health bandwagon. Dry January, gym memberships and dieting can all contribute to a healthier lifestyle but a proper understanding of nutrition and portion sizes can lead to a healthier you for life.

Here at LloydsPharmacy we can help you to achieve your health goals with nutrition and exercise advice as well as taking regular measurements of your weight, waist circumference and upper arm. We can guide you through our eight week programme with enthusiasm and understanding. But our aim is to ultimately arm you with the tools that will help you to carry on with your new, healthy lifestyle for the months and years beyond our programme.

We will encourage you to set realistic goals when it comes to weight loss. Most calorie restrictive diets flounder after five weeks as calorie restriction in the long term is very unachievable. Life just tends to get in the way! Nights out, weddings and parties often end up with our patients falling off the weight loss wagon. Sometimes people just find it too difficult to get back on it again and they are plagued with feelings of guilt and self-loathing which in turn can lead to more overeating.

I always give my patients the following tips:

  • Meal planning and preparation with lots of vegetables, whole grains and lean meats is so important. It prevents you from overeating the wrong kids of foods when you are very hungry.
  • Experiment with new recipes: herbs and spices add delicious flavours to food, chickpeas are nourishing, very versatile, cheap and so easy to add to recipes.
  • Alcohol provides empty calories that does not satiate and often causes overeating, so limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Correct weight loss involves 80% diet and 20% exercise. Pounding away in the gym is of little benefit if your diet is not healthy and portion controlled.
  • Portion size is so important. The correct portion size for rice, pasta and potatoes is the cooked amount that would fit in the palm of your hand. This is considerably less than the large platefuls of pasta that we have become used to eating. You can bulk up your plate with fresh veggies and salads to satiate your appetite and fill your belly!
  • Increase your activity levels. Get your heart rate going and break a sweat! For some this can be as simple as a 20 minute brisk walk every day. You will achieve your weight loss goal quicker and healthier if you do this.
  • Focus on inches lost rather than kilograms/ pounds lost.

The ‘feel good’ factor of living a healthier life should not be underestimated.  A healthy lifestyle can lead to elevated mood, increased energy levels and libido. Clothes will fit you better and you will look much better too. The health benefits are numerous:  lower blood pressure, less likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol, lower incidences of depression and anxiety… the list goes on.

Vitamin and mineral supplements can really help you to achieve your goals too, especially in the first few weeks of the program. They can boost your energy levels (Revive Active, Quinton Cell Nutrition, Oxylent), decrease your sugar cravings (Miss Fit Crave, Pharma Nord Chromium) and help to increase your overall feeling of wellbeing. A good Vitamin D supplement can also help with mood elevation as we definitely do not get enough sun in this dreary part of the world, especially during these cold and dark winter months.

I will end by reassuring you that everyone falls off the wagon at some stage. At LloydsPharmacy we are here to help you to get back up onto it. We don’t judge, we just offer sound advice and empathetic encouragement. Good luck!

Laura Dowling is the Supervising Pharmacist Manager at LloydsPharmacy in Stillorgan Shopping centre.  She is a health and wellbeing enthusiast and mum to three young boys.

What is ‘Change Your Health Direction’?

Lisa Walsh Headshot Corporate

Lisa Walsh
Life Coach and Training Specialist for LloydsPharmacy

Change Your Health Direction (CYHD) is a FREE 8-week programme offering you the opportunity to visit your local LloydsPharmacy, where one of our trained in-store coaches will speak with you on a weekly basis about your health goals. Our instore health advisory services include smoking control support, blood pressure and BMI checks, weight management diary, lifestyle and health coaching sessions. 

The New Year is a wonderful opportunity for us all to align our health goals and lifestyle habits to keep us on track with everyday healthy living and wellbeing practices. Rather than taking something away from your life as a resolution, I love to ‘take on’. This year I am taking on healthy habits that will improve my lifestyle and wellbeing.

So I am super excited to be part of the ‘Change Your Health Direction’ 8 week programme. What I adore about CYHD is that it gives me 8 weeks to monitor the healthy habits I wish to commit to with the support of a Health Coach in my local LloydsPharmacy and it’s for FREE! Yes, I can have a one-to one mini consultation session with the CYHD coach on a weekly basis all for free!

After the Christmas eating, TV watching and couch cuddling, I am ready to increase my exercise levels again, monitor my immune system, care for my skin more and focus on eating a balanced nutritious diet.  The first step is to meet with my LloydsPharmacy Health Coach and set realistic achievable goals. I can’t wait to ‘take on’ the CYHD programme.

Small changes can make a big difference. Whatever change you choose to ‘take on’ your LloydsPharmacy Health Coach is there to support you as you introduce healthier habits into your lifestyle.

Happy New Year to you all and best of luck with whatever you choose to “take on” for 2018.