The 7 greatest nutrition myths debunked

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Whether it’s scrolling Instagram or flicking through newsfeeds, we’re constantly being fed messages to make sure we eat healthily. But what does good nutrition really mean, and how can we separate the myths from the tips actually worth following? Jenna Farmer speaks to the experts to get to the bottom of some of the most common nutrition myths to separate fact from fiction

The 7 greatest nutrition myths debunked

When it comes to eating healthily, we all know the general rule of having our five a day and drinking plenty of water. But when trying to keep up to date with the latest nutritional advice, it can seem as though superfoods are changing all the time, and a week won’t go by without a new trend hitting the headlines. Is it any wonder many of us feel clueless? How can we know which tips are valuable, and which ones we should take with a pinch of salt? Our experts unravel these common nutrition myths to help you sort facts from fiction.

Myth: Low-fat foods are healthier

Reality: Any trip to the supermarket will leave you bombarded with low-fat alternatives to the staples. But high-fat foods don’t always deserve their bad reputation. For example, you may read about high-fat foods being linked to heart attack risk, but one study published in the Lancet found your total fat intake isn’t actually linked to your risk of cardiovascular disease. Many healthy foods are high in fat but are still super healthy, such as avocados and oily fish. These are both rich in omega 3s, found to support brain health.

In turn, lower fat equivalents aren’t always what they seem. “With food and drinks that are labeled low-fat or even fat-free, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good for you, in fact it can be the opposite. They often come with more salt and sugar than the real deal,” says nutrition advisor Simone Thomas.

Myth: Opt for sugar free dupes

Reality: Research has found many of us eat double the amount we should. However, sugar isn’t always the enemy – it’s actually found in a whole range of healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables. These foods also contain other beneficial nutrients as well as fibre (which can slow down the absorption of sugar, which is why eating a whole apple would have less impact on your blood sugar levels than drinking a cup of juice).

“Processed, low-sugar products from the supermarket come with their own health concerns – sugar is replaced with artificial sweeteners in these foods, and these can lead to changes in gut bacteria, and continued sugar cravings. A better option is low sugar fruit, such as berries that contain other nutrients, or raw honey that contains B vitamins and iron,” says nutritionist Hannah Hope.

Myth: Everyone should take a multivitamin

Reality: Whether it’s to help with your energy levels, or for better skin, should we always reach for the multivitamin? Well, not necessarily. According to the NHS website, most of us don’t need to take a multivitamin if we’

How to support a loved one who has stopped drinking

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Giving up alcohol can be a massive challenge – but also brings many benefits. So, what can you do to help a friend or loved one on the journey?

How to support a loved one who has stopped drinking

When my husband decided to stop drinking alcohol, I wanted to do all I could to help him. But worries about what to say – or what not to say – and the supportive actions I should take, made it a challenge to know how I could best be there for him.

There are many reasons why someone may cut back, or stop drinking alcohol altogether. For some, challenges like Dry January and Sober October give us the chance to rethink our relationship with alcohol, while others may be experiencing alcohol addiction.

Whatever the reason, when someone we care about tells us they are going to stop drinking, it’s important that we respond in a supportive way.

“Making changes in relation to problematic alcohol drinking, for some, can be extremely challenging and difficult,” says Andrew Harvey, a psychotherapeutic counsellor and addictions specialist. “Support from people around the person making changes can be extremely helpful, but has the potential to be difficult to do.

“Problematic drinking can be devastating for people affected by it, the drinker and those around them,” Andrew adds. “There is help, there is support, not only for the drinker but also for affected others. Depending upon the severity of the issue, recovery with additional support might be the best option.”

Harmful drinking can often impact the people around them, says Andrew. “This can range from negatively affecting people’s mental health, emotional wellbeing, and can be devastating to relationships. Equally, recovery and positive change in people’s relationship with alcohol can enable stability, hope, and a strengthening of relationships for those around them.”

Support from the start

When our loved one tells us they are going to stop drinking, we need to show them empathy and compassion. “Patience is also often important, as change doesn’t always happen in a straight line or at a pace we would like,” says Andrew. “Sometimes people’s motivations and desire for change wavers. Often asking someone how they would like to be supported in making the change is helpful to them, and then following through on that, when we can.”

How to support a loved one who has stopped drinking

Try to have an open conversation with them, letting them lead, to help you understand how you can best be there for them. While you can gently ask about their reasons for deciding to stop drinking, avoid being pushy with this, as some people may not want to go into a lot of detail about why they have made this decision. Respect that they are making this change.

And, for many, it’s a hugely positive change to make. “The benefits to people making changes to their relationship with alcohol are often in proportion to the damage that the drinking is doing,” says Andrew. “It can range from marginal health gains to saving their lives.”

It can be dangerous for some people to stop or reduce their alcohol consumption too quickly, so they should speak to their GP before they go ahead, to make sure they can get the right treatment a

6 ways to exercise and create a sustainable routine

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6 ways to exercise and create a sustainable routine

Whether you’re looking to refocus on your exercise routine to help reach a specific goal, or are hoping to start living a healthier lifestyle, finding ways to exercise in your already busy schedule can be tough. Not to mention ensuring you’re in the right place mentally to move past the initial excitement and create a sustainable routine that works for you.

It can be easy to fall into the ‘New Year, new you’ mentality. As a new year approaches, setting resolutions can feel uplifting, encouraging, and like a big motivator. What better way to start the year, than with a big change? But the thing is, this all-or-nothing mentality can be more harmful than good.

According to research, just 16% of us stick to our New Year’s resolutions. Experts believe that this is often due to us focusing on a specific outcome – “I’ll reach X weight next year!” or “I want to be a size X by this time next year!” This can result in us treating our goal as a sprint rather than a marathon, meaning we ignore or underestimate the time, effort, willpower, and continued effort we need to put in to turn our end goals into an attainable, achievable, sustainable process.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist and Hypnotherapy Directory member, Morag Stevenson, explains more.

“A resolution is a new habit that we want to create. To make your resolution stick, you need to understand how to shift a new habit from a wishy-washy thing that might or might not happen to a firmly rooted routine in your life. What could make the difference? What could help you not only start a new habit but stick to it? Be precise, be clear, and be realistic.”

So before you get started on your journey to exercising more, it’s worth asking yourself: Why do I want to do this? What do I hope to achieve? And how am I going to measure my success? Having smaller, attainable milestones towards a larger goal can be a big help in keeping motivation high.

Why is exercising important?

Exercise is essential at every stage of our lives. Regular physical activity can improve your physical and mental health, reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions, help you to manage, maintain, or gain weight, as well as strengthening your bones and muscles. Exercising can lower your risk of early death by up to 30% according to the NHS. And best of all? It doesn’t have to cost a thing.

Regular exercise provides a huge range of benefits. From boosting your self-esteem, mood, overall energy levels, and quality of sleep, to reducing your risk of stress, clinical depression, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and dementia – exercise can feel intimidating, but the benefits are substantial.

It’s recommended that adults try to do something active every day. Over the course of

Leadership and self-care: how can I lead by example?

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In this expert column, we’re exploring self-care in leadership – AKA, how to take care of yourself when you’re used to putting everyone and everything else first

Leadership and self-care: how can I lead by example?

Look at some of the top leadership traits and you’ll see an impressive list of qualities; dependable, decisive, innovative, risk-taking, solutions-focused, confident, and empathetic, to name a few. Leaders are the people we depend on in both our professional and personal lives, and it’s due to these qualities that many of us look to leaders for a sense of security, direction, and stability.

Some of the most revered leaders have a sense of duty, often to the point of selflessness – think Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. These great leaders may be exceptional examples, but I’m sure we can think of people in our day-to-day lives who exude such admirable qualities as well. However, what happens on the other side of that coin, when empathy, a sense of duty, and responsibility for others’ welfare comes at the expense of a leader’s own wellbeing?

Many of the people I work with, as a nutritional therapist and wellness coach, are leaders in their careers, and leaders in their businesses. Irrespective of the initial health issue that needs attention, a common area that comes up in the course of our working together, in addition to nutrition, is self-care, stress management, and sleep.

According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a record 12.6% of UK adults were in the first three months of running a business or were already running a new business in 2021 – the highest figure since the study was first conducted in 1999. With the rise of the side hustle, and the number of people starting businesses at an unprecedented high, it naturally follows that stress and fatigue may feature, and that self-care falls to the back of the to-do list. Look online and you’ll see content on both productivity and toxic productivity, but less on self-care as a leader. Whatever side of the fence you sit on, it’s true to say that being a leader at work, or the leader of a new business, comes with putting other things before yourself, often to the detriment of long-term health and wellbeing.

So how can leaders, particularly those with a side hustle or new business, support their health and wellbeing?

Plan to eat well

When the days are long and the calendar is longer, it’s unlikely that cooking up a nutritious meal is at the top of your priority list at the end of a busy day. Temptation and availability make it easy to grab and go, or to order in, while some people may skip meals altogether. Being tired, and hungry in addition, means that we’re less likely to make the best choices. Save yourself the brain power and plan what you’ll eat in advance. I advise my clients to take a realistic look at their diaries. If it’s showing a distinct lack of time for cooking, it may be worth meal planning in advance, including deciding what you’ll eat, where you’ll get your dish from, and being confident that it’ll provide a balanced meal option. This might mean meal prepping ahead of time, using a meal delivery service, or having a go-to list of restaurants that you can rely on to provide balanced meals when you’re in a rut.

Sleep well

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