Should you pay to see a nutritional therapist?

How do you justify the cost of seeing a nutritional therapist and having diagnostic tests versus trusting the National Health Service?  Seeing a nutritionist in central London with clients from the banking world is a luxury for many of us. Is it worth paying? Is the cost justified? Do you receive more than you could find with ample hours researching online? Is the advice reliable? If you are already eating healthily, what’s the point? Ultimately do you recover?  Here are my four reasons to help you decide.

Is it the right time to seek extra advice on healthy eating remedies?

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What you need to know about the low FODMAP diet and how to tackle it

As we get older our digestive systems get a bit cranky, so it’s worth keeping up with science even if one isn’t suffering from a full-blown problem.  There’s always something to be learnt that might shed light on why your stomach reacts after certain meals.

I was fascinated to see that some of my favourite healthy foods (including avocados, broccoli and watermelon) contain a group of carbohydrates known as FODMAP that can irritate the stomach. The acronym FODMAP stands for  Fermentable Oligo- Di- and Monosaccharides and Polyols — a bit of a mouthful that can be causing you plenty of belly aches. Whether you’re curious to tweak what you eat or have been diagnosed with a problem, it’s good to be FODMAP-conscious.

Tasty, healthy onions are also a high-FODMAP food 

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What to do when you love food but experience digestion problems

When you love food and your GP says that IBS could be what’s wrong with you, that’s not easy to hear. In theory you might feel relief that tests don’t reveal serious disease, but then you’re faced with a vague and inconclusive diagnosis for a host of symptoms.

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a diagnosis that can mean ‘don’t know what the problem is’.  How can you continue to enjoy eating? As someone who has valued being able to maintain my figure through to middle-age without dieting or faddy regimes this is an added blow.

In the last few months I’ve been experiencing major issues with digesting food. I wondered whether it was because I was working too hard. When you’re self-employed you can’t say no to work because the recession has brought too much uncertainty.  Researching and writing a third book in just over a year whilst keeping up my teaching commitments (the book work doesn’t pay enough) and working on my own projects too (because the books don’t carry my name on the cover –  the brand is the author) has been tough. This perhaps explained why I’ve been feeling tired, but did it account for my digestion problems? Continue reading

How to pack cabin luggage and still have room to bring back food

Packing hand luggage and making sure your carry-on bag will get you past the airline rules and take you through your holiday is quite a challenge. But the lighter you travel, the less time spent unpacking and repacking, and the more time for happy times at your destination (which for us foodies means more time to eat). Yes, it’s hard and it does take some organization, but it’s cheaper, good for your back, and more practical. Here are 13 tips to make it easier for you. Continue reading

How to avoid panic-packing

I hear lots of people say they loath packing and that it’s a stressful part of going away, and since we foodies love to travel, I thought I’d share my packing philosophy.  Some people believe there’s an art to packing, others that it’s a knack. I think it’s also about confidence – the confidence to be ourselves with just a capsule of belongings.summer-still-life-suitcase-in-field-grass-summer

I still remember the first press trip I went on as a novice journalist. I was more worried about what to take than anything else, and there was a quite a lot to be worrying about: representing my publication, being with a group of journalists I’d never met before, having to interview people and write something credible for the business publication I worked for, and not knowing what happened on a press trip.  I arrived at the airport an absolute wreck. I’ve come a long way since that trip three decades ago and have travelled with different types of journalists (business, fashion, travel), bloggers, and of course loved ones.

Here are 7 tips to help you avoid panic packing.

Plan well in advance:  Planning starts even before booking. Is everyone you’re travelling with checking in luggage or carrying on-board? What are the pros and cons?

Know your itinerary: As soon as you know you are travelling start gathering the contenders and then whittle these down. Be strategic. Will you be eating in most nights, self-catering, or out? Will you be doing lots of sweaty activities or lying by a pool reading most of the time? Do you need to take account of weather fluctuations?

Pack early: Whether I’m checking in luggage or carrying it on-board I always plan and pack at least one week if not two in advance and then faff at the last minute about outerwear for the airport and minor details. (My aim is always to take as little as possible, even if checking in my case.)  Find an early time-frame that suits you. This guarantees setting off relaxed instead of stressed.

Consider a packing formula: I’m embarrassed to admit I keep a packing diary but I’m pleased to report I’ve learnt to pack compact and light. And when I’ve had to travel last minute for emergencies or opportunities I can pack quickly, confidently and effectively.  I first got the idea of having a formula from my editor on a wedding magazine. She had formulas for every type of trip including luxury, activity, beach, city, safari. The formulas went something like X number of bottoms + Y number of tops + Z outerwear. Liberating!

Develop your unique packing system: When I’ve quizzed business people on the go, travelers with a passion for seeing the world, and travel writers, they all have some sort of packing system which they’ve refined over time. Find yours.

Ignore advice from glossy magazines: Those travel-light fashion features that claim you can wear your sarong out to dinner and turn your swimming costume into a top are written by fashionistas who pack gigantic cases. (I know because I’ve been on many a trip with them). Nobody real packs a scented candle into their budget airline case but it’s a common tip in glossy features, as is the designer beach bag that costs several hundred £.  As we foodies know as soon as you add local lemons and herbs your new travel home(s) will be home from home.

Nylon bags are best for bringing back food: They’re light yet sturdier than canvas and can protect against things like cheese and cakes spill long out. I also like to pop duty frees into a colourful nylon bag so there’s no mistaking it’s mine in the cabin. I don’t buy branded alcohol because there are enough supermarket offers, instead I look for a local liqueur to bring back.

The art of choosing a suitcase that sparks joy

All foodies love to travel because travel=food adventures, so let’s talk luggage. I’ve just read tidying guru Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy and I realized that suitcases are not just functional items – they spark joy because they are full of our travel memories. I’ve recently uploaded my case with wonderful times in Greece’s unspoiled Peloponnese, where the sunshine climate and fertile soil produce tasty delights.

One of my most cherished items is the small suitcase my parents and I packed quickly when we were forced to leave our beloved home and became refugees in 1974. They had bought a set of three when we moved from England to Cyprus, but returned to England with just the small one. Perhaps that’s why luggage means so much to me.  A suitcase packs so much more than things.

The case my parents and I fled with in 1974  when our town Famagusta in Cyprus was invaded 

Here are some tips on choosing luggage for joyful journeys: Continue reading

How to choose spas, wellness centers and retreats

Once upon a time they were known as Health Farms but now they are Spas or even Wellness Centers or even Retreats. They’re big business but before you book and spend, here are the questions you need to ask whether you’re a virgin spa-visitor or have decided to add a spa visit to your annual trips.

I’ve been lucky to visit many luxury spas for work but I haven’t enjoyed all of them. I’m very much into health but food is a big love, and I don’t want to go to an incredible location and be hungry or missing out on local foodie delights.  I hope these questions (and the answers) help you choose a place that’s fabulous for you. The best spas will reboot you and help you manage your wellness rather than battle with stress and illness.  Continue reading