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A Nutritionist’s 5 Top Tips For Eating Well and Staying Healthy

More proteins, more routines, and less ultra processed foods! These nutritionist tips will help you eat healthier starting right now.

Vogue Arabia, January 2020

At one point Emily English found herself opening the MyFitnessPal app on her phone more than she did Instagram (which, for a millennial, is pretty notable). In the grips of an eating disorder at just 17, she started modeling for an e-commerce giant and was criticized by her agency for how she looked on camera – when she turned to the internet in search of ways to lose the weight she didn’t actually need to lose, she was “fed this whole host of nutrition-focused content that was really wrapped up in diet culture,” she tells me over the phone.

Now perhaps more commonly known as Em The Nutritionist, she has 1.3 million followers on Instagram and counting – and, thankfully (with a year of therapy under her belt), long gone are the days she avoided eating her mum’s home-cooked meals for fear of weight gain. Swapping modeling for a degree in nutrition, she fell in love with food and now has a renewed sense of purpose. “My mission in life is to show people that you don’t have to compromise on good food to enjoy good health,” she explains. “You can have the best of both worlds, you should be able to enjoy every single thing that you eat.”


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Follow her on Instagram and you’ll already be privy to the daily nutritious, delicious meals that are easy and quick to make, and from today you can also enjoy a whole book of them, courtesy of the recipe-filled So Good. “It’s the food you want to eat, designed by a nutritionist,” she says. “That’s been my ethos from day one. Aesthetically pleasing, yummy food that people see and think ‘I’d like to eat that’, but I’m also a nutritionist, so it’s good for you.”

You can eat all of your favorite foods and still be healthy

“It’s okay to eat the pasta and the carbs – everything in moderation,” says English, who adds that she is opposed to the idea of swapping out food groups. “There is a misconception that we need to overhaul our lifestyles to try and become healthier versions of ourselves, but overhauling doesn’t work, just like extreme dieting doesn’t work.” Instead, her approach is to prioritize nourishment and love, building on the foods we already enjoy and make for ourselves.

One thing you won’t find her consuming are sugar-filled fizzy drinks, refined or synthetic foods – so ultra-processed foods are out, and – as is most health experts’ advice – whole foods, grains, legumes and vegetables are in. “I don’t think it’s normal for our bodies to ingest such high loads of sugar in one sitting. That doesn’t mean I’m completely anti-sugar. If you eat bad foods and have one salad a week, does that mean you’re healthy? No. And it’s the same vice versa. If you have a balanced diet full of colourful whole foods and, once in a while, you get exposed to sugar, an artificial sweetener or something with emulsifiers in, that isn’t going to be damaging to your health.” Having some oat milk in your coffee in the morning in the context of a well-balanced diet and lifestyle should not scare you – we get hyper focused on the wrong things.

Her 5 nutritionist tips on creating a healthy diet

Have a routine

“I recommend prioritizing regularity and routine with your eating patterns. It’s simple but it helps support your gut health because your microbiome follows the same circadian rhythm as you do – this way, it knows when to expect food and subsequently bacteria start to flourish during mealtimes, extracting, fermenting and absorbing all the good stuff. It also helps with appetite regulation so the more consistent you are with daily meal times – however they look like for you – the more balanced you’ll feel.”

Start your day right

“Sometimes we skip breakfast or can’t eat lunch until 3pm because we’re busy – that’s when we start to see blood sugar spikes and crashes in energy, which can make you feel irritable – it’s not good for female hormone health. It’s also worth noting that if you train intensively in the morning, you’re a woman and you skip breakfast, it may be wreaking havoc on your hormones – I recommend focusing on protein and fibre consumption at the start of the day, especially if you’re going to be doing something intense first thing.”

Add more protein to prevent cravings

“Protein is not just for the gym bros! It’s a muscle-building protein that really influences how you feel. Protein doesn’t have to be a big lump of chicken, it can come from lovely grains, like quinoa, legumes like chickpeas, feta, or salmon. If you pair protein with fibre, that will help slow down and reduce blood sugar spikes, which in turn leaves you feeling more balanced, regulates your appetite and makes you feel fuller for longer. As soon as we feel satisfied and full, we stop thinking about food. Many people who follow diets and restrict themselves end up getting very mentally obsessed with food – they’re so restrictive that their bodies are like ‘I need to eat’. If you incorporate protein into your meals, alongside fibre, you’ll start to notice that your brain will quieten.”

Prep your proteins

“I try and always have prepped protein options available – these are things that I can quickly chuck into a bowl, salad or pitta. I always have tinned tuna, chickpeas and legumes – Bold Bean Co do the best ones – and pre-cooked chicken or prawns. They’re all great building blocks of a tasty and healthy meal. I also always have pre-cooked rice, quinoa and lentils – anything like that! From there, I can pretty much use whatever is in my fridge and put it all together. I call them quick and healthy convenience foods.”

Manage your stress

“When you eat, try and do so in a relaxed environment. Many of us eat in a rush and during times of high cortisol, and we can suffer with irritable bowel syndrome, bloating or digestive discomfort – it’s often not the food that’s triggering them, but how your body is responding to the food – your body isn’t ready for digestion when it’s in fight or flight mode. Take a few deep breaths before you eat, and try and consume your meal mindfully. It will make the biggest difference.”

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