Medical herbalist Nicola Parker has easy to follow guidelines for a healthy diet

Benefits include reducing belly fat, increasing  energy production and improving digestive health

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:55 am

I regularly write up diet plans in my clinic for the people that come to me for nutritional and herbal help. This can be unnerving to some, especially if you are set in your ways when it comes to knowing what you do and do not like.

You may think that diet plans include counting calories, going gluten or dairy free, or eating lots of unusual health foods that are unpleasant to eat and expensive to buy.

This, could not be further from the truth. My job is not to put people on strict, faddy health diets. It is to help them improve their health, using small manageable changes, to eliminate habits that could be contributing to their ill health.

Healthy diet

Now depending on your health condition, you may have some very specific dietary requirements, in which case you will want to speak to someone on a one to one level. For most people though, I stick to some broad guidelines that create a template for a healthy balanced diet.

The guidelines put forward below are the ones I find myself using the most. Their benefits include reducing belly fat, increasing their energy production and improving digestive health, including issues related to bloating, constipation and indigestion which can be common symptoms of IBS. There is no calorie counting involved and the aim is to provide a template that can be used to simply modify the food you already enjoy.

Guideline 1

The largest portion on your plate should be made up of vegetables. For the purposes of this diet, potatoes are not included. They are high in carbohydrates which can contribute to weight gain and energy crashes when eaten i n high amounts. I am not against potatoes and the many nutritional benefits they have, but hopefully it should be common sense that I am not encouraging you to make chips the largest portion on your plate. So, for the sake of simplicity, let’s keep them with the carbs.

Veg can be any vegetables you like – boiled, steamed, fresh salad, tinned, frozen, baked beans, etc. Find what you like and eat that. Just make sure you are eating lots of it. Nobody disputes the benefits of getting your five-a-day and some experts insist this figure should be changed to seven. Yes, you can use salad dressing, mayo, cheese or other seasonings to make them taste delicious. Just eat lots of them.

Guideline 2

The second largest portion should be protein. This could be in the form of meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, nut butter, tofu, seeds, pulses, lentils and other legumes. Choose the proteins that you like the most. Proteins are rich in amino acids that keep our brains healthy and for healing and immunity.

For fish and meat lovers, it’s often the best bit of the meal, so making sure your diet has a healthy protein content should be no great hardship.

Guideline 3

Your smallest portion should be carbohydrates. This includes bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, sugars and grains. A diet high in refined carbs, can lead to bloating, low energy, regular hunger pangs and sugar cravings. Carbs are essential, but if you are getting plenty of veg, as per guideline 1, you should be getting a healthy dose of fibre rich carbohydrates without the blood sugar spikes associated with poor health.

Guideline 4

Cut out or minimise sugars. Sugary treats, fruit juice, wine, beer, pop and fruit flavoured foods should play a minimal role in your diet, not a daily one. If you have a sweet tooth, this may seem difficult, but increasing your fibres (veg) and proteins, will help keep your blood sugars stable, leading to less cravings for these foods.

In my experience, those with a diet high in refined sugar are more prone to bloating, wind, thrush, water infections and digestive problems. You can enjoy these foods as treats, not as staples.

It goes without saying, that not everything is covered here and some people with have unique needs, but the guidelines above set up the basic template for almost every diet I pass on to my clients. Healthy eating should be easy, inexpensive and delicious and I challenge anyone who tells me that it should be otherwise.

For more information or to book an appointment with Nicola, contact her clinic on 01524 413733.