Meet Annie Gill!

As I've mentioned before, I meet all sorts of interesting people in the shop. One of those who has been coming in since we opened is Nutritionist, Annie Gill. I often get people coming in who aren't sure what to do with some of our more unusual ingredient such as beetroot powder or nutrional yeast, so Annie and I talked about offering some talks to help people find out a bit more. Sadly, due to Covid, this hasn't been possible, but with the new school term about to start, she has come up with some great advice for returning to 'normality' with a few extra healthy habits. Over to Annie...

Healthy Tips - Back to school

It’s that time of year again where we rush to buy new school shoes and re-pack sports bags in ready for the children’s return to school. This year is a little different however because, for most of us, our children are returning to school after not attending for several months.

More than ever, the importance of routine and predictability for our children’s health comes to the forefront. We are innately creatures of habit and for the past few months families have collectively had to alter their usual routine, having to endure Lockdown and the threat of Covid 19, we have developed new habits and routines. Some healthy such as daily walks and indoor workouts, but some not so healthy, such as comfort eating, baking in abundance and maybe drinking too much. Our children have also no doubt developed some unwanted, unhealthy habits and so now is a perfect time to start the new academic year off with some health supportive new habits for both our children and for us parents.

Let’s start with Breakfast 

In many households this tends to be a mad rush of grabbing what we can, usually high processed, high sugary cereals such as Cheerios or Weetabix. We tend to eat in a rush or worse still on the go, in the car or just skip all together. It’s imperative that we break our fast (Breakfast) with foods that are going to sustain us longer and give us long, slow releasing energy. Try some of for the following options:

  • Overnight Bircher muesli – soaked the night before in milk. I add frozen berries and then top with some sliced banana and some mixed nuts and seeds
  • 2 (3 min) soft boiled eggs with a slice of wholemeal, buttered toast
  • 2 slices of wholemeal toast with thick spread Zero Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut or Peanut butter spread and sliced banana

It’s worth waking up 5 mins earlier to ensure the whole family has a sustaining breakfast because the healthy, sustained energy you get from a good breakfast will pay dividends to your energy levels throughout the day.

What about healthy lunchboxes for the children? 

Typical lunch box contents

Healthy lunch box contents

White bread ham/cheese sandwich

Wholemeal Bap stuffed with tomato, lettuce, hummus, Avocado and ham/cheese

Packet of crisps

Emily’s Veg Thins or Deliciously Ella chickpea crackers

Chocolate bar

Homemade Chocolate & Apricot flapjacks (recipe below)

Token apple

Pot of seasonal fruit (ideally organic)

Fruit shoot

Fruit water or plain water


Picking the children up from school with a treat 

It’s something we do without even thinking but this is a great time to have the children eat some more fruit because they are probably a little hungry but you don’t want them to spoil their appetite for Teatime. Try to offer the children less high sugary snacks such as chocolate bars or ice cream. Maybe save that for a Friday night so it actually becomes a treat to look forward to? Maybe give the children some dried fruits to try as an alternative. This is still high in sugars, but it also contains healthy fibre which helps slow the sugars energy release. Or try some veggie sticks with hummus or nut butters as an alternative after school snack.

Tips to make Teatime a little healthier

If you can, only cook one meal that the whole family can enjoy.

Try to eat with your children as it sets a good example of mummy/daddy trying new foods and eating at the table.

Eat slower to allow for ‘rest and digest’. The children will follow suit.

Put a device box with a lid on the table. All devices go in there including mum and dad’s. Try not to distract mealtimes with TV. This is a chance to catch up on the day’s events and to share space and time together.

Challenge everyone to try to make a colourful rainbow of food items on their plate.

Try to put food options on sharing plates in the middle of the table rather than placed on each plate. This encourages children to eat until they are full as well as allows them to try new foods that you may have left off their plate in the past, assuming they don’t like these foods. If you give children the option to choose independently what goes on their plate, they will try more foods.

If you can get the children involved in the cooking process, the more they are involved in the meal creation, the more likely they are to try new foods.

Involve the children in clear up time too. This promotes independent proactive behaviour and allows the children to be involved in the entire cycle of mealtimes.

After bath-time habits for Mum and Dad 

You know what its like. It’s 7.45-8 o’clock pm (if you’re lucky) and you’ve finally got them to bed and you come down and the first thing you do is reach for a glass of wine. Mid-week drinking can impact your health in a big way. We say to ourselves we deserve it, that its only one etc. but 1 easily becomes 2 and then you go to bed feeling a little groggy, mouth feels dry during the night and you wake up feeling a little heady and not well rested.

As well as the obvious increase in intake of empty, sugar calories, Alcohol is a depressant: it alters the delicate balance of chemicals in your brain. As you sip your first drink, the alcohol starts to affect the part of the brain associated with inhibition. That’s why a drink can help you feel more confident and relaxed. But as you drink more, something different can start to happen. Once your brain has high levels of alcohol affecting it, it’s possible the pleasant effects of your first drink will be replaced by negative emotions such as depression, anxiety or even anger even if you were in a good mood when you started drinking. Alcohol also dehydrates your body.

Ideally, strive to not drink alcohol during the week and drink moderately at the weekend. Kombucha or Light Ginger Beer maybe a good alternative choice to wine as they are both fizzy but contain no or little sugar. I like ‘Fever Tree’ Ginger beer and ‘LA brewery’ Kombucha. Use a nice glass so it still feels like a treat. Alternatively try some new herbal teas? Served in a beautiful tea pot, this can also feel like a treat for the end of the day and will help you sleep better. I like Chamomile, Peppermint or Lemon and Ginger.

Now more than ever our health and wellbeing are crucial to supporting us through this pandemic. We all need to make healthy changes to support our bodies immunity and over all functions. Even if you just make one change from my suggestions that’s a great start.

If you want any further support, please reach out to me at:

Anniegill@healthsmartnutrition.co.uk

www.healthsmartnutrition.co.uk