I’m the Imperfect Nutritionist – here are the 7 diet habits that are stopping you lose weight | The Sun

START the day with good intentions, then find yourself reaching for a biscuit in the afternoon?

Feel bewildered by what is and isn’t good for you?

Jennifer Medhurst, AKA The Imperfect Nutritionist knows your pain.

“When I started my health journey, the archetypal ‘healthy’ person drank juices and ate chia seeds,” she says.

“It didn’t feel accessible or sustainable.”

After being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, nutritionist Jennifer threw herself into learning what makes a healthy diet.

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“I was so sick, I had to give up my job as a lawyer.

"You have nothing when you don’t have your health,” she says.

Now, Jennifer’s put all that knowledge into a new book, The Imperfect Nutritionist: 7 Principles Of Healthy Eating – and her tips will help you to make better food choices and feel great…

Eat Whole Foods

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“It’s having the confidence to turn over a label and decide if it’s something worth consuming or not,” says Jennifer.

“Look more at the nutritional content than the calorific value.”

Swerve items that are full of things you don’t recognise.

“Instead, get fruits, veg and fibre in – fibre is so important.” Find it in brown bread, beans and pulses. 

Top tip: Redesign your dinner plate.

“You most likely grew up with half a plate of carbohydrates, a quarter protein and a quarter veg – that needs to flip,” says Jennifer.

“Half the plate should be fruits or vegetables – ideally a higher proportion of vegetables than fruit – then a quarter wholegrains and a quarter protein.”

Make Diverse Choices

“Ideally, we should be eating at least 30 different types of plant foods every week, which might scare people,” says Jennifer.

But don’t be afraid. That number includes spices, herbs, nuts and seeds.

Fill out Jennifer’s food diversity assessment in her book, or write a list yourself, to see how close to 30 you are and for ideas on veg you wouldn’t normally eat.

“People are really good at eating two or three types of veg, but then forget about the others,” says Jennifer.

Top tip: Up the colours in your meals. “Different colours of fruits and vegetables denote different nutrients,” says Jennifer.

“Research shows regular blueberry consumption is linked to long-term brain health, but we could also put some raspberries in there, too – then you have blue and red ticked off.

"Before going to the checkout at the supermarket, look at your trolley, see how many colours you have, then whack an extra one in.”

Love Fat

Fat has long been considered the enemy.

And while some fats, like saturated fats found in cheese and cream, should be a treat, artificial trans fats (often listed as mono and diglycerides of fatty acids), found in most deep-fried foods and processed foods should be avoided entirely.

Others though, you should actively seek out. “Omega-3s are wonderful,” says Jennifer.

They’re especially great for skin, heart health and during pregnancy.

“They’re found predominantly in oily fish: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring and trout.”

So stock up – the NHS recommends eating one portion of oily fish a week.

Top tip: Not a fan of fish? There are plant forms of omega-3.

“I put walnuts on my breakfast, as well as freshly ground flaxseeds, which are high in omega-3s, good sources of fibre and are phytoestrogenic, so support hormones, too,” says Jennifer. 

Give Ferments A Go

From kimchi to kombucha, it’s time to get on board with fermentation.

“We’re not good at eating fermented, prebiotic or probiotic foods in Western society,” says Jennifer.

“But they’re so important for helping support a diverse gut microbiome.”

Sauerkraut, miso and kefir all count, and we like LA Brewery Sparkling English Rose Kombucha, £10. 

Top tip: If you care about a healthy gut, then care about how you poo.

“You want an effective bowel release in order to properly clear the body, so the position you poo in matters,” says Jennifer.

“It’s about having the knees above the hip, so try using a bin or a step to lift your feet.” 

Cut Refined Carbs

Sweet treats and crisps are highly addictive and moreish, so it’s no wonder we snack on them without thinking.

“People might not be eating a chocolate bar because they fancy it.

Instead, it might be: ‘I need food right now, and this is the nearest thing.’ It’s not about nourishment.”

Try opting for a packet of nuts or dried fruit instead.

Top tip: Eating breakfast can help swerve sugar crashes.

“People often miss breakfast, have a salad for lunch, reach for sugary snacks out of desperation in the afternoon and then eat more dinner than they would have done if they’d spread food out more evenly throughout the day,” says Jennifer.

Try overnight oats with fruit for a filling mix of slow-release carbs and protein.

Think About Drinks

“People forget about the impact of liquids,” says Jennifer.

“Sugary drinks are incredibly difficult for the liver to process.”

The NHS recommends six to eight glasses of fluids a day for good reason.

Check your urine – if you’re well hydrated, it’ll be almost clear.

And beware of fruit juices, says Jennifer: “They can be one of your five-a-day, but 150ml should be the max, as when fruit is blended, its structure changes, so acts as a fast-release sugar.” 

Top tip: As for alcohol, line your stomach before hitting the vino.

“Eat wholegrains with some lean protein, like chicken or turkey, and something rich in B vitamins, like broccoli or cabbage, as alcohol depletes B vitamins,” says Jennifer. 

Eat Well, Stress Less

Think about the state you’re in when eating.

“Grabbing something from a shop then wolfing it down while reading emails is not great for digestion,” says Jennifer.

“You can have the perfect diet, but if you're stressed, you won't absorb nutrients in the same way.”

Eat mindfully – sit down, eat slowly and pay attention to each bite.

Research has found it can help people make better food choices, feel more satisfied and prevent weight gain.* 

Top tip: Take your time – digestion begins before you start eating.

“Saliva has digestive enzymes in it, and your body needs time to start producing them,” Jennifer explains.

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“If you just suddenly ram a load of food down, you’re not going to reap the benefits.” 

  •  The Imperfect Nutritionist: 7 Principles Of Healthy Eating by Jennifer Medhurst (£25, Kyle Books) is out now.

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