Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and author of best-selling book Goodbye Sugar. As a nutrition consultant she doesn’t subscribe to a one-size-fits-all approach. Her refreshing outlook on healthy living comes with balanced advice suitable for real people with busy lifestyles.
How important is committing to a good morning routine?
“What you choose to eat for breakfast can set the stage for blood sugar control for the rest of the day so it’s important to eat a nutritionally balanced breakfast. Porridge oats topped with berries and a spoonful of nuts/seeds or eggs with a slice of wholegrain toast will keep blood sugars stable whereas concentrated fruit juices, or refined sugary cereals will have the opposite effect. My husband will testify I’m not a morning person, so, I do a small prep work on breakfast and lunch the night before to make things easier on myself in the mornings.”
If someone wanted to turn around unhealthy habits - perhaps shed the Covid pounds, what advice would you give?
“If you’ve gained weight, start by identifying the main causes – are you snacking at night? Are your portions too big? Are you eating too many sweet treats? Are you grazing? Once you’ve identified the biggest contributors, start to tackle one thing at a time. So if night time snacking is an issue for you, set yourself a challenge to not eat anything after dinner for a week. Fasting for 12-14 hours at night is an excellent way to kick-start fat and improve digestion and sleep.”
If you find yourself self-isolating, what foods would you recommend stocking up on to help elevate mood/ boost your immunity?
“The best foods to support your immune system really are fresh fruits and vegetables. They are our principal source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support our immune system – try to get a mix of raw and cooked for optimal benefit. Frozen fruit and veg can be handy too especially if you want to minimise deliveries from the supermarket, useful to add to smoothies, soups, stews and casseroles. I always make sure to have plenty of eggs too as they are so versatile for a quick meal and oats are a great staple from which to make anything and everything from oat bread and pancakes, to flap jacks and granola. Beans and lentils have a long shelf life and are a great source of plant-based protein and fibre – again handy to add to vegetable soups, stews and casseroles. And don’t forget to stock up on healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, dark chocolate and popcorn so you have healthy options to hand when temptation strikes.
Any advice for ‘mindful snacking’ while working from home?
“The best way to become conscious of everything you put in your mouth is to only eat sitting down. Most of the eating we do whilst standing up is impulse eating e.g. snacking as you prepare food or clean up after meals. There’s a real tendency to think that little nibbles here or there whilst going about your business don’t actually count or won’t have any consequences. But here’s the thing, they do! Not only will eating sitting down make you feel more physically satisfied, it will also make you feel more psychologically satisfied if you see a full meal or snack spread out in front of you rather than grabbing bites here or there whilst on the move. The second most important tip to end mindless eating is to eat without distractions – If you’re distracted while you eat, it will reduce the degree of satisfaction you get from your food and you’re likely to eat more. So if you’re eating, just eat – don’t do it whilst looking at screens, driving etc. Learning to eat more mindfully really helps with portion control and hence weight management.”
Do you take supplements?
“Yes, I take magnesium at night, which helps to relax the body and promotes better sleep, something which I struggle with unfortunately. I also take vitamin C, zinc, selenium and vitamin D to support immunity and I do a few courses of microbiotics a year to support my gut health. It’s important to choose your supplements wisely. So, for example, when choosing a Microbiotic, choose one that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and is proven to survive stomach acidity and reach the gut such as Udo’s Choice Super 8 Microbiotics. How you take it is important too, I recommend taking it with breakfast, swallow with a cold drink and don’t consume hot drinks for 30 minutes after.”
What other supplements would you recommend?
“Well first and foremost a healthy, balanced and varied diet is key and there is no one-size-fits-all supplement regimen. As a Nutritional Therapist, I tailor make a supplement plan for a client based on their specific health needs. However, most people in Ireland will benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement especially during the winter months along with vitamin C and zinc for immune support. Magnesium, and B vitamins can also be beneficial for energy, stress support and mood balance"
When it comes to your corporate wellness work, what are the most common challenges employees are facing?
“The feedback I get is that many of those working from home are struggling with detachment issues, you don’t get to walk out of your office and leave work behind you anymore. Being able to switch off and set boundaries is so important. I try to not check email or social media after 9pm, I know when I do it will likely disrupt my sleep. Many people were used to getting lunches in canteens and cafés so it can feel arduous having to make three meals a day for the first time, but that’s where weekly meal planning can be really useful and learning how to cook smarter, not harder. This is an area I give a lot of attention to when I’m working with individual clients or teaching group courses.”
Spring is a time for new beginnings, do you have any new developments on the horizon for 2021?
“Normally I run live group Nutrition & Weight Management Courses in Dublin several times a year. But with Covid, I’m looking to run these courses online, which means people from all around the country and abroad can join in which is great. Mind-Body Weight Management is at the heart of what I do, so not only do I offer nutrition advice, meals plans etc., I also delve into what influences our eating behaviour with a lot of work around cravings, emotional eating, motivation and learning to eat in a balanced way that’s sustainable and enjoyable. Because nobody, including myself, wants to feel deprived. Life’s too short for that!”
To find out more about Elsa's clinic and online courses visit www.elsajonesnutrition.ie