Five dietary tips to increase your energy this spring

A happy woman in from of a blossom tree showing spring time

As we come into spring, there’s generally a sigh of relief that winter is over, there’s more light and generally more warmth too.  Hopefully, this also encourages energy levels but with many people suffering from ‘tired all the time’ (TATT) and still lots of nasty bugs floating around, many of us are not feeling our best. 

However, there are many dietary changes that you can make to help get your energy levels back on track.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top nutritional tips for getting ready for spring.


Keep it clean

There’s much written about ‘clean eating’, but what does that actually mean?  Essentially, it means eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. The body needs nutrients to fuel its biochemistry which all come from the food we eat.  Food is not just about fuelling us: the individual micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – each play an essential role in keeping us well.  It makes sense, therefore, that the more nutrients we take in, the better we will feel.

A range of wholegrains in heart shaped dishes to show they are good for the heart

Eating cleanly can take a little more planning, but it’s important to think about each meal as an opportunity to take nutrients on board. If you think about grains, those that haven’t been processed are going to yield far more nutrients than those that have, especially the all-important B-vitamins which provide essential energy. Therefore, avoid anything processed and white such as white rice, white pasta, white bread, and white sugar.

Stay well hydrated

It’s such a simple thing, but it’s one that we often miss.  If you’re dehydrated at a cellular level, you’re likely to feel sluggish, plus the brain will not be firing as it should.

Aim to drink around 1.5 – 2 litres of water daily if possible.  It’s great to drink fruit and herbal teas but water, perhaps with fresh lemon or ginger, tends to hydrate us better.  If you’re doing lots of exercise, then it is even more important to keep well hydrated.

A close up of a woman holding a glass of water to represent staying hydrated

Try to get into the habit of having a glass of water on your desk or taking bottled water with you wherever you go.  If you keep sipping throughout the day, it’s amazing how quickly you’ll meet the target.

Cut down on caffeine

Whilst caffeine gives us a quick boost of energy, the rate that energy levels drop afterwards is surprisingly quick, which is why we then reach for another caffeine hit and the cycle continues throughout the day.  Essentially, caffeine upsets blood sugar levels which ideally need to be stable throughout the day, rather than rocking and rolling. Over time, if we’re constantly challenging this mechanism, the body tends to feel more and more exhausted. 


Try to keep a lid on the caffeinated drinks and limit them to one in the morning and then change to decaf or other drinks through the rest of the day.  As your body regulates, you’ll find less reliance on caffeine.  Plus, if the body is better nourished generally, energy levels should improve as well.

Feed the inner you

We obviously can’t see what’s going on inside, but we can see and feel the effects of poor nutrition on the outside.  The body produces energy in the mitochondria of the cells – think of them as a spark plugs in a car! Clearly our cells need a wide range of nutrients to work efficiently, but one key nutrient is CoQ10 which we can obtain from foods.


Whole grains, organ meats and oily fish are especially rich in C0Q10 so try to include them in your diet regularly.  Obviously, energy production is not just about one nutrient which is why it’s important to keep the diet as varied as possible.

Keep it colourful

As a nutritionist, I’m always talking about eating a colourful and varied diet.  This is because when there’s more colour on the plate, there are also more nutrients and nutrients mean energy!


Fruits and vegetables are especially rich in nutrients, so do try to include as many different ones as possible throughout the day.  They are rich in those all-important B-vitamins which we need for energy, but also vitamin C, also used for energy and keeping the immune system in good shape.  How about including some dark berries for breakfast, carrots, peppers and celery at lunchtime and broccoli and sweet potatoes for dinner?

So, get fired up and ready for Spring with some of these energy-giving dietary tips.


Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock


Can changing my diet and lifestyle help my sleep?

Woman asleep in bed

The short answer is yes! Getting a good nights’ sleep is an omnipresent problem for far too many people. 

There’s much research to suggest the importance of getting between seven to nine hours sleep per night which, for many, is difficult.  However, sleep patterns can be improved by making some diet and lifestyle tweaks.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top sleep hacks.


Cut the caffeine

We all know that caffeine is a stimulant and for many of us, it’s something that helps us get through the day.  However, it’s all too easy to get stuck in a cycle of having a poor nights’ sleep, and then using more and more caffeinated drinks the next day to get you through.

If you’re struggling with sleep, then caffeine is not going to help.  And we can often become more sensitive to caffeine as we get older.  Women going through menopause can certainly suffer more by having caffeine. So how can you consume less?


Over a period of a couple of weeks, gradually cut down and then cut out caffeinated drinks.  Switch to decaf tea and coffee, which does still have a small amount of caffeine but is greatly reduced.  The coffee shop shots often contain vast amounts too! Even though you may not have been drinking caffeinated drinks before bedtime, having them at any time of the day influences the nervous system and consequently sleep.

shutterstock_391949488 green tea Nov16

Ideally, try and go for herbal teas. Green tea can help with sleep as it contains an amino acid called theanine which has a calming effect.

Avoid cardio exercise in the evening

Exercise is a very important part of daily life but it’s often difficult to fit in during the day with work and other schedules to juggle. However, heavy cardio exercise stimulates cortisol which can then take a while to settle, which may mean you’re counting sheep into the wee small hour afterwards.

shutterstock_249902236 woman running and smiling Sept15If possible, try to do exercise in the morning.  There is another very good reason for this: exercising outside in the bright morning light stimulates the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone, later in the day.


Eat to support your sleep

The body essentially produces the sleep hormone, melatonin, from the amino acid tryptophan found in foods.  When planning your evening meal think about including some chicken, eggs, oats, fish, pumpkin seeds, almonds, or eggs.

Chicken breast with side salad representing balanced mealHowever, it’s also important to have foods throughout the day that keep blood sugar levels in balance.  When blood sugar is out of whack then it can trigger the release of cortisol. This is our stress hormone, which can create more anxiety, restlessness, and irritability, none of which are conducive to a good night’s sleep! 


Bowl of porridge topped with blueberries and raspberriesSo, think about having an oat-based breakfast, such as overnight oats which is quick and easy to prepare the night before. Go for a salmon or tuna salad for lunch and grilled chicken breast with veggies for dinner.  If you’re vegan, soy is also a good source of tryptophan, so a tofu stir fry would be a great option.

Get into a routine

The body loves a routine.  It has a natural circadian rhythm, and all body processes happen in a routine too.  For example, the liver carries out most of its detoxification processes at around 2 am whether you’re asleep or not. Therefore, having a bedtime routine is important too. 

CLose up of a woman relaxing in the bath reading a book, surrounded by candlesTurn off and don’t look at electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime.  Decide what works for you in terms of having a warm bath with some lavender oil, reading a book, meditating or other relaxation techniques.  The important point is to stick to a routine and try to keep regular bed and waking times too. And whilst alcohol might seem like a sedative, it is known to disrupt sleep patterns and is often the cause of early morning waking.

Practice deep breathing


Of all the relaxation practices, deep breathing is probably one of the most effective.  Plus, it costs nothing, and it doesn’t take much time either!

Woman with legs crossed sitting on bed meditatingDeep breaths need to start from the belly.  You might want to lie down and put your hand on your belly to ensure this is happening until you get used to the feeling.  Initially, just try breathing in for four seconds and breathing out to the same intensity for four seconds. In essence, you are regulating your breathing in and out.  As you get more practice, then try to do this for 6 seconds each way.  The important point here is not to over think it – just concentrate on the breath.  After a couple of minutes, you’ll certainly start to feel calmer.  Try doing this for five minutes every day before settling down to sleep – you’ll be amazed by the results!

Try these tips and hopefully you will sleep well tonight.


Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock


The importance of eating more vegetables this National Nutrition Month

shutterstock_583532458 nutrition word cloud heart Mar21

It’s National Nutrition Month which highlights the importance of good nutrition and is a great time for us all to take stock of our daily diets.

It’s sometimes easier said than done to eat a varied, healthy diet every day, but there are ways we can make it simpler for ourselves, especially when it comes to eating more vegetables. 

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her insights on the topic and why eating more vegetables is so important.


Why vegetables?

In our time-poor, budget-stretched busy lives, it’s often easier to adopt the ‘grab and go’ way of eating.  Unfortunately, any kind of processed food is going to be lacking in nutrients.  And whilst us nutritionists bang on about eating more vegetables, there are some very good reasons why.

A range of vegetables to represent fibre in the diet

The body needs around 45 different nutrients every day to work at its best.  Every single vitamin and mineral fulfils a range of functions in the body, without which our intricate body biochemistry just wouldn’t work. 

Vegetables (and many other plants too) contain so many of these micronutrients which are essential for life. Importantly, their bright and varied colours means they are loaded with antioxidants which protect the body from free radical damage, a major driver of the ageing process. 

If we can just get them into the diet on a more regular basis, we could take some bigger steps to becoming healthier. So how can we include more?

Super spinach

A bowl of fresh spinach leaves

Spinach is rich in energising B-vitamins, iron, and antioxidants and whilst a bag of spinach might look like a lot, it reduces massively when cooked.  Spinach can be added to pasta dishes, stews, soups or bolognaise without affecting the taste or texture of the meal but would significantly uprate its nutrient content.

Stir fries

FResh vegetable stir fry in a wok

Stir-fries are really quick and easy and are a great way of including more vegetables.  A stir fry meal is always going to look more appealing if it has loads of colour, and the more colour, the greater and wider variety of nutrients.

Go for the wonky vegetables


Many shops are now selling ‘wonky’ vegetables which are slightly cheaper.  Why not boil them all up with some stock and seasoning to create a delicious, filling soup?  The soup can then be liquidised or hand-blended to create a smooth texture and can be stored if the fridge to eat over a few days.

Try frozen

shutterstock_295634081 frozen veg Nov15

Getting to the shops regularly can be difficult for many time-stretched people.  This Is when frozen vegetables can be a great and convenient option. They are often richer in nutrients than fresh as they’ve been picked and frozen quickly, which retains those all-important nutrients.  Plus, they’re generally a bit cheaper. 

What are the key nutrients and where can you find them?

Vegetables are packed full of nutrients including B-vitamins (needed for energy and brain function), iron (essential for energy and healthy blood), potassium (great for a healthy heart) and calcium (essential for strong bones), to name but a few. But here I am calling our vitamin C and magnesium:

Vitamin C

A selection of fruit and vegetables high in Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the most widely available nutrient in fruits and vegetables. It’s essential for the immune system, brain function, collagen production and keeping blood vessels strong and free flowing. Plus, it’s one of our most powerful antioxidant vitamins which means it’s going to help protect us against the ageing process and everything that comes with it. 


A range of foods containing magnesium

Magnesium we know is widely deficient in the UK population.  This is potentially problematic because magnesium has many key roles in the body but is important for regulating mood, blood pressure, the nervous system, producing energy, bone health and muscle function.  It’s also great for helping us to sleep. 

It’s widely available in leafy green vegetables including broccoli, sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage, all of which can be ‘disguised’ in many different dishes. 

How to make vegetables more appealing


If you or your family members push back from eating leafy greens, it may be something to do with how they are served.  No-one likes overcooked mushy sprouts or cabbage, but instead why not try them stir fried with some garlic and bacon; they become a whole lot more attractive.  Or perhaps try some broccoli tossed in sesame seeds? 

Why not resolve this month to try adding at least one new vegetable to your weekly diet and see where the journey takes you!



Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock


Three top nutrients to support your energy this winter


Winter weather and grey days can really zap our energy levels. 

Whilst traditionally the worst month of the year, January, is now behind us, it’s not uncommon to continue feeling decidedly lacklustre and in need of an energy boost through the colder months.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her three top nutrients for getting that much needed refuel this winter.


Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important from the first moment of life because it’s needed for DNA synthesis, production of red blood cells and is essential for normal nerve transmission.  However, just like all 8 vitamins within the family of B-vitamins, B12 has many other jobs too, including energy production.

Vitamin B12 is unusual from a soluble nutrient perspective, (and unlike the other B-vitamins) because it can be stored in the liver, kidneys, and other tissues, so deficiency can often be missed for a while.  That doesn’t mean that levels will be optimal, and frequently people are lacking, partly because it’s essentially found only in animal produce.

A plate with a picture of a brain on to represent eating healthily to support a sharper brainVitamin B12 is also required for brain function, therefore it’s important to ensure intake is optimal, especially if you want a sharper brain as well as more fuel in the tank.

A range of foods containing Vitamin B12The best food sources are liver, meat, oysters, sardines, Swiss and cheddar cheese. A warming macaroni cheese might just hit the spot when it’s cold and grey outside. Interestingly, some B12 can be produced in the gut, but this varies from individual, so a supplement is often a good idea especially if you follow a vegan diet.


Coenzyme Q10 is found in the mitochondria of every cell in the body, which is the part that produces energy.  So, if you’ve not got enough Co10, energy levels are likely to be low. Its role is similar to a spark plug in a car! It’s especially needed for a healthy heart, as well as energy, because the heart is one of the most metabolically active organs in the body.

Blueberries in a heart shapeAlthough CoQ10 is found in every plant and animal cell, dietary sources can sometimes be limited, but it seems that vegetarians tend to preserve it better within the body. However, best food sources are liver, fatty fish, meat, soybeans, and vegetables, especially broccoli, so a varied diet is certainly going to help. A bean casserole with loads of vegetables added would be a great meal choice for this time of year and won’t break the budget either.

A bowl of mixed bean soupProduction of CoQ10 in the body does diminish as we get older, plus certain medications, especially statin drugs cause its depletion, hence supplementation is often needed.


The mineral magnesium is often misunderstood as it’s used for energy production but can also help us to sleep! In truth magnesium is needed for over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body, including energy production, and is used very successfully in cases of chronic fatigue.

Close up of a woman asleep in bedThere are different forms of magnesium, which can be confusing to decipher. Magnesium malate (often used for chronic fatigue) and magnesium citrate are used in the Kreb’s cycle (the body’s main way of producing energy).  However, magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine can help relieve anxiety but is also effective for aiding sleep.


A range of foods containing magnesiumMagnesium is frequently deficient in the typical western diet which includes lots of processed foods.  This is because magnesium is mainly found in whole grains, avocado, green leafy vegetables, and beans including soy produce.  A tofu stir fry which includes loads of chopped veggies would make a great, magnesium-rich meal.

So, there’s no need to feel low in energy during the winter months with these energy-boosting nutrients!


Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock


Take care of your heart this Valentine’s Week

CLose up of two hands making a heart shape with the sun in the background

Valentine’s Day brings into focus all our loved ones.  However, whilst Valentine’s Day tends to be about our romantic hearts, it’s also a great time to look after the physical wellbeing of our heart too. 

Our hearts work very hard, beating around 100,000 times every day, so making sure you are doing what you can to keep yours in great shape should be top of the list when it comes to health.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top ways of looking after your heart physically and emotionally.


Load up on vitamin C

One of our hardest working vitamins, this nutrient has a great affinity for the heart.  Why? Because it’s one of our key antioxidant vitamins and therefore helps protect the heart from free radical damage, which is responsible for the ageing process and our degenerative diseases.  Vitamin C also helps protect the artery walls to enable blood to keep flowing freely through them.

shutterstock_362885486 vitamin C Jan17

Vitamin C is readily available in most fruits and vegetables but purple sprouting broccoli and oranges from Spain are in season now and are both rich in this amazing nutrient.  However, try to get as much colour on your plates as possible and you’ll also be getting plenty of vitamin C.

Keep the heart well oiled

That means eating foods containing the essential omega-3 fats which are also essential for a healthy heart.  Omega-3s primarily help regulate blood pressure, protect the arteries from damaging inflammation and also help to keep blood flowing smoothly.

A range of foods containing healthy Omega-3 fats

Omega-3s are mainly found in oily fish such as sardines, pilchards (tinned are fine), salmon (wild, not farmed is best) and mackerel.  The best vegan sources are flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. But if none of these are your bag then give your heart some love by taking a daily supplement of fish oil or a vegan DHA, omega-3 product.

Cut down on sugar

That means sugar in all its forms.  Ideally, we should cut out all refined sugar in the diet, much as that may sound harsh!  However, sugar appears in many different guises; the issue is that it can cause inflammation throughout the body, attack the delicate artery walls, and help pile on the kilos, making your heart work even harder.

A pile of sugar with the words 'no sugar' in

Try to check food packaging and remember that whilst sweeteners are low in calories, they ‘feed’ your sweet tooth and are chemicals that the body doesn’t understand, and which can cause other health issues.  I know that it is very hard to cut all forms of refined sugar out totally but try to be more aware of how much you’re eating from various food sources.

Show your heart some gratitude

Your heart works very hard for you, so it’s a great time to acknowledge this and gently offer praise and thankfulness. Gratitude is also a great daily practice to help mental wellbeing. 

A close up of a typewriter with the word gratitude typed

If you’re finding life a struggle, then try to think of three things each day for which you are thankful for, however small.  It’s sometimes good to write these down so you can refer back to them.  When you start doing this, you’ll be amazed at how much is in your life which is good or for which you are grateful; even if it’s simple things in nature such as seeing flowers grow over time or hearing the birds tweeting, anything that makes you happy increases your levels of gratitude.

By offering gratitude daily, it can help re-frame any negative thought processes for the better.

Breathe some fresh air every day

It’s amazing how much being outside in the fresh air can help mental wellbeing.  With so many people working from home and/or working long hours, the days can fly by without us realising that we’ve not seen the light of day.

shutterstock_218997220 woman walking trainers Mar18

This is not good for the mind or body (especially the heart).  Breathing air and regulating your breathing whilst doing this is great for reducing stress.  Additionally, if you can fit a brisk walk into your daily schedule, then the exercise is certainly going to benefit the heart and mind too.

When you’re busy, you might want to actually write this into your diary as an event, so it’s not forgotten.  It’s all part of your self-care routine, which is important, not just during the month of love, but every day of the year!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and love your heart more than ever this month!


Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock


Suzie’s top foods to help increase your energy levels


Food is of course our main source of fuel and energy.  So, giving your diet the thought it deserves on a daily basis is very important.

The quality and variety of the food we eat is critical to our overall wellbeing which includes energy production.

To help you on your way, Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top five energising foods to keep you going all day long!

Whole grain bagels

Bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese

Delicious, versatile, and low in fat, whole grain bagels provide a great energy boost.  Whether you start the day with a toasted bagel with scrambled eggs, or with some low-fat cream cheese and smoked salmon at lunchtime they will really hit the spot!

Whole grain foods are naturally high in energising B-vitamins because they haven’t been highly refined.  They also contain plenty of minerals, especially magnesium, which is needed for energy production too.


A healthy breakfast of eggs, smoked salmon and avocado

You might not associate a high protein food like eggs with energy.  However, protein keeps blood sugar levels in check, and so too energy levels.  In fact, having some eggs at breakfast really helps to keep energy levels sustained all-day long. Eggs are not only high in protein but also rich in energising iron and B-vitamins.

The great news is that there are many ways to eat eggs, so you’ll never get bored of having the same meal. Scrambled, fried, poached, as an omelette or frittata, or even as French toast where bread is dipped in egg and lightly fried – the options are endless. 

Sweet potatoes


Whilst all types of potatoes are great for providing energy, sweet potatoes have the slight edge on nutrient content, but also for keeping blood sugar levels in balance. This in turn will provide sustained energy for longer.

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which is made into vitamin A in the body, and helps protect the immune system too. And sweet potatoes can be prepared and eaten in exactly the same way as white potatoes.  Plus, if you eat them with some protein, energy levels will soar all day long.  It’s time to enjoy a jacket sweet potato with tuna as an easy, low-fat lunch or quick evening meal.


Chickpea salad with feta

Chickpeas are a legume which are high in both protein and good carbs.  And they’re certainly a perfect food for vegans.  In terms of energy, chickpeas are great because they’re packed with B-vitamins, especially folate, alongside iron, magnesium, and copper.  Furthermore, they’re rich in fibre so they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer and well as keeping your energy levels high.

If you’re struggling to decide how to eat them, then why not try this delicious and easy recipe for even more energy.  The addition of iron-rich spinach makes it the perfect lunch or dinner choice.


Whole bananas and diced banana

No wonder we often see athletes eating bananas before, during or after an event or match. Bananas provide an instant pick-me-up, especially when energy levels are flagging.  Even better, they’ll keep you fuelled up because bananas are high in fibre so energy levels will be sustained.

Bananas are also a great food for exercise recovery because they provide electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium, which are lost during exercise.  The quicker you can recover from a heavy workout, the sooner you’ll have the energy for another session. And if you’re thinking of eating them as an easy breakfast, then do add some protein in the form of natural yoghurt for an even great energy hit.

So, up your energy levels with Suzie’s five easy ways of keeping you fuelled and ready to go for longer!

Stay well.


Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock


How to keep up a healthy diet this year

A chalk board with the words Healthy Lifestyle written on alongside other words which represent this

So, you’ve made the resolution to eat healthier during 2023. But what does this mean, and importantly, what is the best way to stick to a heathier diet?

Many of us don’t feel at our best after over-indulgence during the Festive period and so kick starting the New Year with good intentions for a healthy diet is a common goal.

And Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer is on hand to say “you can do it” as she provides inspiration and motivation with her five top tips for maintaining a healthy eating plan.


Be realistic

Firstly, and, most importantly, be realistic about what you are prepared to change but also will still enjoy eating. There is no point in picking a fad diet plan that includes foods that you don’t like; you will quickly fail and become demotivated. 

Range of foods to show a balanced diet

Instead, don’t be a slave to the scales; if you’re eating healthier, the chances are weight loss will happen, as processed foods cause digestive, hormonal and mood disruptions which all have a negative impact on weight loss.

Always remember, this plan is a new start for the rest of your life.  It’s important to aim for a nutritionally balacned diet in order to achieve the best outcomes and also, hopefully, protect future health and longevity.

Choose colour

We’ve all heard of the Government recommendations to eat five portions of fruits and veggies a day.  This is great advice and has bundles of research to support it (indeed the more fruits and veggies the better).

However, it can be confusing and time-consuming to know how much a portion of each fruit and vegetable is; a portion of tomatoes is different to a portion of berries, for example.  Therefore, just look at the amount of colour on your plate at every meal.


Choose fruits and vegetables that you enjoy and that you are happy to eat daily, and then have fun with the number of different colours you can get onto the plate.  As I always say, colour equals nutrients, so the more colour you have, the more nutrients you will be consuming. Make the process enjoyable rather than a chore.

Be aware of portion sizes

If weight loss is part of your heathier plan, then you do need to be looking at portion sizes.  Whilst calorie-controlled eating is not sustainable and has research to suggest it may be detrimental to a weight loss programme, it’s very important to be aware of how much you are eating. And if you are snacking throughout the day, you may not actually be eating loads of calories, but it will affect your metabolism, making fat storage more likely.

A balanced meal of chicken, rice and vegetablesIt’s good for the body to feel hungry sometimes too.  We have got very used to the availability of food in the developed world and it’s in front of us throughout the day.  Once you start to take control of the situation, rather than food controlling you, changes will start to happen.


Become a label guru

Always look at food labels which show you the amount of fat, sugars and salt in food. When reviewing the full ingredients list, if you don’t know what something is on the label, then try to avoid it completely.  One of the big issues we have in our foods is that the processing and packaging of them frequently requires other chemicals to be used, including artificial flavourings, as well as sugar in many different guises.


The problem with chemicals is that they are gut disruptors and once the good gut bacteria become imbalanced, an inflammatory cascade starts within the body, which not only affects health but also the ability to control weight.  Aim to become much more mindful about what you are putting into your body; the nearer the food is to its natural state – how it started life – the healthier and more nutritious it will be.

Ditch the junk

If you’re starting a healthier eating plan, then junk food really needs to be out of the diet completely or as a treat only.  Maybe you have one day a week where you eat what you want and enjoy it.  However, this needs to be limited and controlled for the best outcomes.

A woman kicking away donuts to represent cutting out junk food

Fizzy drinks, especially the diet kind, are some of the worst offenders.  The chemicals in them disrupt mood, encourage weight gain, discourage retraining our taste buds to want less-sweet foods, and can cause damage to the bones and gut. 

Many people are literally addicted to them, so there may need to be a weaning off period, but the rewards are there.  Equally, ultra-processed foods are not going to serve your health well.  Try to redress the balance in your diet, so they don’t predominate.

Changes won’t happen overnight, but they WILL happen if you’re consistent.  Always remember, not every day will be perfect but keep going – you can do this!



Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock

Make your Veganuary the healthiest yet!

The word 'vegan' spelt out using plant-based foods

It’s January and traditionally the month when we look to change or improve our diets as we start a new year. 

Moving to a vegan diet is also very popular during January. But what should you be eating on a vegan diet to remain healthy and ensure you are getting all the nutrients that you need?

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares the five key nutrients you need to maintain a healthy vegan diet.



A lack of protein in the vegan diet is probably one of the most common mistakes people make.  Whilst it’s very possible to have sufficient protein, it takes some work and planning and essentially you have to eat more food for it to be achievable.

shutterstock_492453151 vegetarian vegan protein sources Jan17

Vegan protein sources include beans, chickpeas, peas, nuts, seeds, seitan, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and quinoa. Whilst plant-based proteins contain some of the essential nine amino acids, they are often lacking or low in one or two.  These essential amino acids are termed ‘essential’ because the body can’t make them, so they must be eaten in the diet or supplemented.  However, by eating a wide range of these foods, and at every mealtime, you should be getting what you need.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for energy, red blood cell production and functioning of the nervous system, so it’s pretty important.

A range of foods containing Vitamin B12

Essentially vitamin B12 is only found in animal produce, so it needs to be supplemented in the fully vegan diet. Vitamin B12 is available in nutritional yeast, which vegans’ often use as a protein source, and some may be made by the good gut bacteria. However, supplementation is advised to ensure you are getting enough.


Iron is also essential for healthy red blood cell production, energy, and cognition but its most easily absorbed form is in red meat.

A bowl of fresh spinach leaves


However, iron is also rich in plant sources including green leafy vegetables, quinoa, lentils, dried apricots, and tofu.  Plus, if you eat any of these foods with vitamin C, then the iron content is better absorbed.  Thankfully, nature has already provided plenty of vitamin C in vegetables but having a little orange juice at the same time (or eating an orange, or other fruit) can really help too.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is not just a ‘watchpoint’ for vegans, it’s essential for the whole population.  However, there is some vitamin D is foods, but mainly in eggs, dairy, and oily fish.

Vitamin D and a sunshine symbol written in the sand

The main source of vitamin D is from the action of sunlight on the skin so obviously this is challenging during the winter months.  We do store vitamin D from the summer months, in the liver and kidneys but not in sufficient amounts to last the whole winter, hence deficiency is widespread amongst all age groups in the UK.

Public Health England recommend a daily supplement of 10 micrograms for everyone during winter.  Many people need more than this, so if you’re feeling low in mood, have achy muscles, joints, and bones, then you might need more.  Often people need a minimum of 25 micrograms daily through the winter months.


Calcium is essential for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles but also for the heart and nervous system.  Dairy produce is one of the richest sources of calcium although it’s important for everyone not to have too much dairy as it can become acidic in the body, which then is counterproductive.

Broccoli florets on a plate

On a vegan diet, include pak choi, kale, broccoli, sesame seeds, tofu, and chickpeas, all being rich sources of calcium.  Interestingly calcium needs vitamin D to do its work in the body so don’t forget your Vitamin D supplement!

Healthy veganism is about being mindful of each food groups and what it brings to the nutritional table.  With a little extra planning, you’ll be able to benefit from all the positive health benefits of plant-based eating, whilst avoiding the pitfalls.



Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock

The health benefits of winter walking

Woman walking in a snowy woodland

With the cost-of-living escalating, which will be even more noticeable over the Christmas period, many of us turn to nature for some free health in the form of fresh air!

We naturally tend to spend more time indoors during the colder months which is not ideal for our physical or mental wellbeing.  So, this festive season, why not seek the great outdoors, enjoy plenty of walks and be rewarded with amazing health benefits.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares the benefits of winter walking and how to fuel your body before, during and afterwards.

What are the health benefits of walking?

Even walking for 20 minutes (brisk walking is always best), will deliver health benefits in terms of improved circulation, better mental wellbeing, and blood sugar balance.  Indeed, if you’re trying to lose weight, there’s much research to suggest that walking for 20 minutes after your evening meal, helps the insulin response. This in turn helps to balance blood sugar and encourages less of any excess calories eaten, to be stored as fat.  It’s free and it works!


Obviously, if you can walk for at least 30 minutes, or longer, the health benefits will increase.  If you’re struggling with high blood pressure, then it’s a great exercise option.  Furthermore, in terms of mental wellbeing, just being out in the fresh air and connecting with nature is great for managing stress and anxiety.

shutterstock_329275235 woman sleeping in bed Jan16

If you’re struggling to sleep, it’s also super-important to get outside into the light, especially in the morning.  Research suggests that being outside in the morning light encourages better production of melatonin, our sleep hormone, at night.

What should I eat?

Unlike some forms of exercise, no special diet is needed.  However, if you’re heading out for a longer walk, then you need to be fuelled up and ready to go. 

Bowl of porridge topped with blueberries and raspberriesOne of the best starts to a long walk in the winter months is a bowl of porridge, made with whole grain oats, some berries, and a spoonful of natural or plant-based yoghurt.  Oats are slowly digested in the digestive tract, so energy levels are sustained, and they also provide plenty of energising B-vitamins.



Pack up some protein-filled sandwiches on whole grain bread, featuring ham, chicken or tuna, with some home-made energising coconut and peanut protein balls, and both will keep you strongly striding all day long.  I love this recipe and it’s really easy and quick to make. 

How can I get warm after my walk?

Brisk walking keeps you warm but when the light starts to fade, temperatures plummet, and you can start to feel distinctly chilly.  There’s nothing better than returning home to some wonderfully warming and filling soup.  Root vegetables are in season during the winter months for very good reason; they are naturally energy and nutrient-dense and will help to get some much-needed warmth back into the body.

Leek and potato soup in a bowl

Parsnip soup is a traditional Christmas dish so why not add some other winter vegetables such as apples, potatoes, garlic, and onion and top with delicious goat’s cheese and walnuts?


Other warming winter favourites are casseroles or curries. Investing in a slow cooker is a great idea since they use very little power, and you can put all the ingredients into the pot without too much preparation before the walk.  The long slow cooking time ensures you’ll never be disappointed with the taste. It makes winter walking even more worthwhile.

So, get out there and enjoy some festive walks this season. And one last reminder: always wear a hat as a large percentage of body heat escapes from the head!



Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock

The health benefits of a traditional Christmas dinner


Eating a traditional Christmas dinner is obviously incredibly popular, especially in the UK.  And whilst many of us will consume more food than usual, the standard Christmas dinner is a well-balanced meal when it comes to nutrition.

From the turkey to the sides, there is much to be revered when it comes to this delicious fayre.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, looks at the key foods in a traditional Christmas dinner and shares their nutritional and health benefits.


Turkey has more protein than chicken. It also contains less fat (if you keep away from the skin) and slightly less calories overall.

From a micronutrient perspective, turkey provides an excellent source of vitamin B12 (essentially only found in animal produce), and in fact contains all B vitamins, which fulfil so many key functions in the body, not least energy production.

Roast Christmas turkey

When choosing the turkey meat for your plate, try and mix up light meat and dark meat; the dark meat is a richer source of the mineral zinc, essential for the immune system, skin, hair, and eye health.

Brussels sprouts

Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts generally appear on most Christmas meal plates.  They are really worth getting to like because they’re incredibly healthy and nutritionally balanced.


As part of the super-healthy family of cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts contain indoles which may help prevent certain nasty degenerative diseases. Indoles are also incredibly effective for oestrogen detoxification which helps women better balance hormones, especially as we go through the menopause. Additionally, Brussels sprouts are high in fibre, which is often lacking in UK diets, and the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene.

As some of us find Brussels a little bitter, they are often more palatable lightly boiled and then stir-fried with some bacon and pine nuts.

Roast Potatoes

Roast potatoes are often given a bad rap due to their fat content but it’s only down to the fat they’re cooked in; unfortunately, traditional goose fat falls into this category but it’s only one day, so enjoy those delicious roasties!


Potatoes are a good energy source and if eaten with protein, such as turkey, have less effect on blood sugar levels.

They’re also a great source of immune-boosting vitamin C, heart-loving potassium and fibre and no-one can deny that they are an absolute essential on the Christmas table, well roasted and crispy – yum!


Parsnips can often be used in dishes as an alternative to potatoes but when it comes to Christmas dinner, they should definitely have their own place.

Parsnips are a traditional root vegetable that come into season during the winter months for very good reason; all root vegetables provide good energy but can also be used in a myriad of hearty, warming dishes.

A bowl of roast parsnips

When planning a traditional Christmas dinner, roasted is certainly the best option, and many of us like to cook them in a little honey for added sweetness.  In the scheme of things, this isn’t a problem and parsnips certainly give back in terms of their nutrients.  They are high in vitamin C and vitamin E, both needed for healthy blood cells, as well as folate, which helps support the nervous system and energy levels.  And let’s not forget parsnips’ very useful fibre content too, supporting our digestion.


The biggest nutritional benefit of carrots is that they are an excellent source of beta-carotene. This nutrient is one of our most powerful antioxidants, protecting the body from free radical damage.  This in turn, helps protect us from the ageing process and, hopefully, some of our serious degenerative diseases.


Beta carotene is turned into vitamin A in the body as needed which is essential for sight and especially night vision.  Just one carrot a day can help with poor night vision if this is becoming noticeable.

The good news is that cooking carrots actually improves bioavailability of beta carotene, which means it is more easily converted into vitamin A.

All in all, a traditional Christmas meal is healthy and nutritious and should be enjoyed with great gusto!


Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock