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Alex Allan Nutrition
By Alex Allan on 25/01/24 | Nutrition Tips

How to eat well ##plus## spend less

Eating food you have cooked or prepared at home is healthier for you. It is also considerably cheaper. The key to this is planning. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. Without a weekly food plan, it will be pure luck if you end up with the right foods in the fridge or cupboard. And, without planning your time, you won’t always make the time to enjoy breakfast or make that lunch. You could be saving a LOT of money each and every week by following these tips.


Be honest with yourself about your spending and shopping habits. That starts with looking into how much you spend each week on take-out coffee, croissants, and other breakfasts; lunchtime salads, soups and sandwiches; snacks and other food treats; and ready meals, takeaways or last-minute meals out. 

Make a note every time you buy something (not the main food shop) to eat out of the house. Do this for a week, then multiply by 4 to give you an approximate monthly total. 

Log into your banking app (or go online) and make a note of how much you spent over the last month on food. 

Add the two figures together. This gives you your total for how much you are spending on food each month. I suspect you will be shocked. Most people are. 

Commit to saving a certain amount each week or month. Decide what that is. Commit to it and write it down. What will you do with that extra money? Where can you economise?


Become a planning ninja. The thing about planning is that you need to actually plan to plan. It’s easy to get derailed by events, situations, relationships and tasks that insert themselves into our already busy lives. 

Choose a time when you know you will be free every week to plan your meals – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Ideally plan midweek for the following week. Put a reminder alarm on your phone. If this planning job doesn’t get done, you will have no choice but to shop on a day-to-day basis, which is much more expensive. 


Turn these meal plans into a shopping list. 

Also create a master list of what you already have in your freezer, fridge and cupboards. 

Cross anything you already have off your shopping list.  


As an experiment, spend at least one week only allowing yourself to buy what is on your shopping list. No extras! The planning and shopping discipline may take a little time to get used to, but it is worth persevering. 

Off-list shopping and impulse buys are the biggest enemy for anyone wanting to keep to a budget. Do not go to the supermarket hungry. You are more likely to shop off-list when you do. 


A huge amount of food is thrown away, because we’re not sure what to do with leftovers. Make a commitment to using yours and prepare to save money. There is a bank of resources online to help you find easy recipe suggestions for pretty much anything you may have lurking in the fridge. 

This will feel uncomfortable at first. You will be making some meals you have definitely not tried before!

Try the following:

Tesco Meal Planner Left Over Tool (

All Recipes Leftovers Tool (

Love Food Hate Waste (



Protein keeps energy levels stable and is essential for the body’s growth and repair, and healthy skin and nails. Protein is found in meat and poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, lentils, beans, pulses (like chickpeas), quinoa, nuts and seeds. Protein should make up a quarter of your meal (about the size of a clenched fist). Many people do not have protein-based breakfasts. How can you change yours? 

MONEY-SAVING TIP: the cheapest sources of protein are vegetarian sources, like beans and lentils. Consider going meat-free one or two days a week. Eggs sold as ‘mixed sizes’ are cheaper than buying all M or L. 


That means lots of vegetables – likely more than you are currently eating. The recommendation is 5 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit (ideally low sugar fruit like berries, apples, pears, plums – anything grown in the UK) a day. Fibre keeps energy levels constant, balances your hormones, fills you up, keeps you regular and those fruit and veg contain many immune-boosting plant chemicals. Aim to eat a rainbow of colours over the course of the week. 

MONEY-SAVING TIP: Greengrocers are often the cheapest places to buy your veg. Also consider basing meals around special supermarket deals (example Aldi’s Super 6), and don’t rule out the basics and essentials ranges of veg (usually just means they are not regular shapes and sizes). Don’t rule out frozen veg either. It’s cheap, often frozen soon after picking so it’s very fresh, and offers the ultimate convenience. And you are likely to waste less. 


Eating fat doesn’t make you gain fat or otherwise put on weight, but some fats are healthier than others. The body loves omega 3 fats, which boost mood and support the stress response, and reduce inflammation. They are found in oily fish (salmon, trout, halibut, cod, fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts. Other healthy sources of fat are avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. 

MONEY-SAVING TIP: Frozen fish is a far cheaper option than refrigerated. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s inferior. Often supermarket ‘fishmonger’ counter fish has been frozen. 


Many diets rely heavily on white, pasta, bread, rice and potatoes, but these (especially when eaten without protein) can unbalance your blood sugar levels and cause you to store fat. Swap to healthier wholegrain alternatives; brown rice, wholemeal pasta and bread, and sweet potatoes, and ensure this element takes up no more than a quarter of your meal. 

MONEY-SAVING TIP: Many people bulk up meals with starch, especially on a budget. Your body will love you for bulking meals up with veg instead. Eating large portions of starchy foods will have you craving more food than if you had more modest portions. 


Most people have an understanding that sugar is not good for them. Eating sugary food is like a treadmill, with one biscuit creating the need for the next. Sugar creates a blood sugar or energy imbalance, fuels inflammation in the body, and makes you put on weight. 

MONEY-SAVING TIP: Consider that the more sugar you eat, the more you need to eat. Sugary ‘treats’ soon become a three times a day habit. Depending what you’re snacking on, cutting it out (or cutting down) could save several ££ each day.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you'd like to know more about meal planning and general health - you can book a call with me here.

By Alex Allan on 15/12/23 | Nutrition Tips

If food isn't the problem, is it the booze?

What I hear from clients is, it’s not always the food that’s the problem – it’s the booze. 

Often partygoers who are cautious about their alcohol consumption are viewed with suspicion. If you want to have a few glasses of wine, have a few glasses of wine. But make that decision inside of what you know to be your social schedule over the entire Christmas period. 

One of the little tricks I often use is to look at my health goals alongside my social calendar and choose what I want to commit to. I choose when I want to drink, roughly how much I want to drink, and when I want to be the designated driver and not drink. 

I’m not suggesting for a minute that you have to cut back at Christmas. Yet I know that many of my clients get carried away by the spirit of Christmas (excuse the pun), whether it’s a fun wave to ride or not. This year, how about YOU choose what you want to do and when you want to do it. 

Here are a few suggestions for cutting down – if that’s what you choose to do:

  • Decide how much you are going to drink (maximum) before you go out.
  • Consider telling someone else who will be there (friend or partner, perhaps) to help keep you accountable.
  • Don’t feel pressurised by others. It’s your life, and you are the one who makes the decisions. 
  • Have an excuse ready when you want to give it a miss (remember ‘no, thanks, I’d rather have …’ is perfectly OK.)

And how much booze is too much? The official stats are no more than 14 units of alcohol a week for adults (both men and women). Consider a large glass of wine at today’s typical strength is 3.5 units, a 330ml bottle of 5% beer is 1.7 units and a single shot of 40% spirits is 1 unit. It quickly adds up. 

Without wanting to be a party pooper, the NHS considers an alcohol ‘binge’ to be drinking 6 (women) – 8 (men) units of alcohol in a single session.  Just to give you some perspective. If you’re a wine drinking, you can soon see how quickly you are in that territory. 

As a rule, try to have more booze-free nights than not to allow your body to recover. 

On those nights that you don’t drink at all, you’ll sleep better, wake feeling more refreshed, you’ll have much more energy, and your mood will be better. The impact on your waistline will be positive, too – alcohol is a major contributor to belly fat and is brimming with unnecessary calories.

And if you’re choosing what to drink over the festive period, the best options, when it comes to alcohol, are all those non-creamy, non-sugary drinks. Pretty much in this order: dry champagne, vodka and soda with a squeeze of lime (I have also tried this with gin – surprisingly nice!), dry white or dry rosé or red wine. A gin and tonic has a fair amount of sugar thanks to the tonic. Things like dark rum, port, sherry, liqueurs, fruit juice-based cocktails and spirits with sugary mixers like Coke or lemonade are total sugar bombs (sorry if you are a fan of Bailey’s or Southern Comfort and Coke…).  

But this a festive period and you definitely want to have fun! Just make sure that it’s the type of fun you actually want to have – you are in charge and you can do what you want at this time. Enjoy!

By Alex Allan on 12/11/23 | Nutrition Tips

Spice Up Your Immunity

Spicing up your meals isn't just about making them tastier—it's also a clever way to sneak in some immune-boosting goodness onto your plate.

Take garlic, for instance. It's like the superhero of superfoods, armed with allicin, an active ingredient that's a real champ at fighting off viruses. People have been relying on garlic for centuries to give their immune systems a boost. Pro tip: crush, chop, or grate those garlic cloves and let them chill for a bit. This little trick unleashes more allicin, and the best part? It can take the heat, literally.

Now, let's talk herbs. Most of them bring some anti-inflammatory firepower to the table, thanks to their cool phytonutrients. But if we had to pick the top players, oregano and thyme would be up there. Sprinkle these guys into your cooking, and you're not just adding flavour, you're giving your immune system a little extra love.

And who can forget the dynamic spice duo—turmeric and ginger? They're not just culinary rockstars; they're known for boosting your immune system. So, toss them into your recipes for a flavour explosion that comes with a side of immune support.

In the world of cooking, each ingredient is like a superhero bringing something special to the table. So, when you're in the kitchen, think of it as a fun way to treat your taste buds and show some love to your immune system. Happy cooking!

By Alex Allan on 18/10/23 | Nutrition Tips

My Top 5 Tips for Managing the Menopause

I work with women in clinic every week to help them manage their symptoms and live how they want to. I use a combination of health questionnaires and testing to get to the bottom of what may be driving their specific symptoms. 

But despite how differently they are feeling, or the different hormonal imbalances they may have, there are 5 areas that I always work on:


One of the tragedies about menopause is the realisation that you really cannot get away with eating the same foods you used to. Your body has changed, and you need to learn to eat for this new way of being. Why?

The drop in oestrogen levels that occurs during menopause has a side effect of redistributing body fat and excess pounds start to settle around the waist. On top of that, the change that happens in relation to oestrogen and progesterone at this stage of life is also likely to make your body less sensitive to insulin, the fat storage hormone. This is produced in response to you eating carbohydrates.

When the body’s cells are less sensitive to insulin, more insulin is needed to do the same job, and more insulin produced means more fat stored. There are also lifestyle factors to consider. Muscle mass diminishes with age while fat increases.

That means it’s more important than ever to switch from whatever kind of diet you’re on now to a low GL (glycaemic load) diet that balances your blood sugar levels. This means you will be eating foods that do not trigger insulin secretion in response to what you eat.

A blood sugar balancing diet like this focuses on REAL food: meat, fish, eggs, tofu, lentils, beans and chickpeas, lots of veg, some fruit, nuts, seeds and wholegrains.

You won’t feel hungry – promise – but, if this is a long way from where you are now, I’d love to help you move to this way of eating. Work with me and it will feel easy rather than an uphill struggle or – worse still – devoid of all those little props you have used to get yourself through these trying times.


On one level, the food you eat can help balance your blood sugar and energy levels. On another it keeps you feeling satiated and also nourishes you. The cherry on top is to use the very subtle yet magical powers of food to help support your body in times of need.

At this time of your life, that means phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-based chemicals (the good kind), which are structurally similar to oestrogen and exert a weak oestrogenic effect. They include soy beans, lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu, barley, rye, oats, alfalfa, apples, pears, carrots, fennel, onion, garlic, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, liquorice root.


Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones and it can cause weight gain, and feel both tired and miserable as well as using up stores of important vitamins.

You probably already know that dwindling oestrogen levels are one of the main factors behind your symptoms. However, the effects of stress can be just as debilitating.


As the weight creeps on, it’s very common for women to start getting into the types of exercise that are very punishing on the body, like running and high intensity interval training.

What do I mean by punishing? These very intense forms of exercise stress the body and, if your body is already stressed, it’s just too much. Yoga, Pilates, Zumba and other dance-based classes are good, and don’t knock a decent walking workout.

Resistance/ strength exercise (weights) is also good to help with the loss of muscle. Strength training also helps you shore up bone, maintain balance, and avoid injury—important for protecting your skeleton both now and when you’re older.


Chemicals in your body care products – anything from shampoo and conditioner to body wash, body lotion and other moisturisers – contain chemicals like parabens, sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate, ureas and the like.

At this time in your life, you really don’t want to be overloading your body. These toxins place an additional stress on the body, can damage the cells in your body that produce insulin, disrupting its action (and not in a good way), can impair thyroid hormones and place extra burden on the detoxification system.

If you’d like to know more about how diet and lifestyle changes can help with your symptoms, or you’d like to explore testing, why not get in touch? You can book a free call here.

By Alex Allan on 17/08/23 | Nutrition Tips

Top 10 Ingredients to Watch Out For

I'd need a lot more space to list out all the names on the naughty list but this list, while not exhaustive, is a good starting point if you want to know you are eating as well as you can for your health. 

Bottom line: if you can't pronounce the ingredient, it's probably not something you want to put into your body! And if you don't recognise something as 'food', chances are your body won't either.

  1. Artificial dyes & brighteners

Blue 1, Caramel color, Red 3 (Erythrosine), Red 40, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5 (Tartrazine), Yellow 6.

  1. Artificial flavours & enhancers

Autolysed yeast extract, hydrolysed protein, monosodium glutamate (MSG), “natural flavours”.

  1. Artificial sweeteners

Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin are some of the main ones.

  1. Sugars

There are many names for sugar, including: glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, honey, treacle, agave, maple syrup, fruit juice, lactose, isoglucose, dates, dried fruit, raisins/sultanas, grape concentrate.

  1. Bleached flours

Or other processed flours.

  1. Refined or processed oils

Rapeseed (aka canola oil) unless cold pressed, corn, partially hydrogenated oils, soybean.

  1. Preservatives

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), calcium propionate, propylparaben, methylparaben, propyl gallate, sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sodium phosphate, TBHQ (tert-butylhydroquinone)

  1. Thickeners and emulsifiers

Carrageenan, lecithin, gellan gum, cellulose gum, monoglycerides, diglycerides.

  1. Dough conditioners

Azodicarbonamide, calcium peroxide, DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monoglycerides).

  1. Processed food supplements

Soy protein isolate is a common highly processed genetically modified protein supplement in many ‘healthy’ or diet foods.

If you’d like to know more, why not download my free guide to Making Sense of Food Labels here.

By Alex Allan on 14/08/23 | Nutrition Tips

Making sense of food labels

Labels provide us with useful information about what packaged food contains they can be confusing (not to mention misleading). Remember the labels are also there to help sell the product - so you need to look more closely if you really want to understand what you are eating.

What should we eat?

As a nutritional therapist, when I'm working with my clients, we are looking at the science of what to eat to achieve their specific health goal but just as important is how much you eat (as well as why and how, but that's another story).

It's very easy to accidentally find yourself eating either too much or too little. So what does the 'average' person need to eat in terms of energy every day?

Each day


Calories:              2000 kcals

Sugar:                 25g or 6tsp

Sodium:              2g

Salt:                        5g


Calories:             2500 kcals

Sugar:                 31g or 8tsp

Sodium:              2g

Salt:                        5g

Hidden starches

When buying starchy foods like bread, rice, and pasta, look for wholegrain/ whole wheat / wholemeal varieties. Avoid any form of sugar, white or refined foods and look out for hidden starches in the ingredients list such as potato starch, corn starch, and rice starch – all of these will be broken down into sugar by the body. Your body cannot tell the difference between these starches and real sugar.

PER 100G         A Lot        A Little

Sugars              10g            2g

Salt                   125g          0.25g

Sodium               0.5g           0.1g

Be label savvy

When you see a claim like “No added sugar” or “30% less sugar”, look closer at the label. The manufacturer will want the low-sugar version to match the taste of the original as closely as possible. A famous trick is to add maltodextrin – a polysaccharide and therefore technically a starch, not a sugar. However, it is still broken down into sugar very quickly and will impact your blood sugar levels, which is important for all aspects of health.

When you see “50% fewer calories”, again, read the label. The product will be lower in fat than the original but, for this to be true, it must be higher in carbohydrates. For example, a packet of crisps – made of fried potato slices and salt – is not a healthy food and is high in calories.  A packet of ‘healthy’ crisps right next to it may be lower in calories and ‘baked’ but could well contain potato starch, maize starch, rice starch and maltodextrin. Is that a healthy crisp? No.


Ingredients are listed by the order of weight.

The ingredient used the MOST is listed first,

and the ingredient used the LEAST is listed last!

How many ingredients does it contain?

WHY IT MATTERS: Foods with many ingredients are often highly processed (“ultra-processed”). 

Processed foods are often less nutritious and are designed to be "highly palatable" ... which means you’re likely to eat more of them in one sitting, and also more frequently. This can translate into eating more calories with less nutrition value.

Do you KNOW WHAT each ingredient IS?

WHY IT MATTERS: Many times, unhealthy fats (like hydrogenated oils (or trans fats) and added sugars can sneak into your food under different names. 

Manufacturers know people get (on a conceptual level at least) they should eat less sugar, so they work hard to call that sugar by another name to fool you into thinking their product is healthy. Tricky, right?

Want to know more? Book in a free 30-minute health review and we can get you on track - just click here


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