Published on 16th January 2019


We chat to Jackie Lynch, registered nutritional therapist, founder of the WellWellWell nutrition clinic and author of Va Va Voom: the 10-Day Energy Diet and The Right Bite: Smart Food Choices for Eating on the Go.


What are your top tips for people suffering from post-Christmas fatigue?

“If you’re feeling a bit sluggish it’s not surprising because your liver’s probably taken a bit of a battering with all the rich food, sugary treats and alcohol, which will have a direct impact on your energy levels. Easing yourself away from these over a few days will be less of a shock to the system than going cold turkey – sugar withdrawal alone can leave you feeling very rough. Instead of just focusing on everything you’re planning to eliminate, think about what to add in to your diet as well. Challenge yourself to eat five different veg every day, because this is a great way to boost liver function by exposing you to a range of supportive antioxidants which will allow your liver to focus on its other important jobs, which includes energy production, so you’ll soon perk up!”

What’s the deal with caffeine – fine in moderation or something to avoid?

“Moderation is definitely the key here, but the problem is that most of us aren’t very good at it! The upside of caffeine is that it can provide a physical and mental boost, improving performance and endurance. There’s also some research that suggests that it may protect against cognitive decline and dementia. However, you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant which can disrupt the nervous system leading to poor quality sleep and low energy. In excess it may exacerbate anxiety-related disorders, cause irregular heartbeat and raise blood pressure. Current guidelines advise a maximum of 400 mg of caffeine per day, roughly the equivalent of two large coffee shop cappuccinos or lattes or five strongly-brewed cups of tea.”

So-called ‘Blue Monday’ will soon be upon us. What can we do to beat the winter blues?

“If you only do one thing, get outside more and expose yourself to natural light. This is especially important during these short winter days, even if there isn’t much in the way of sunlight going on, because it will support the production of melatonin. This is the hormone which regulates the sleep-wake cycle of our circadian rhythms. Everything feels more positive after a good night’s sleep, and optimal melatonin levels play a key part in this.”

Weight-loss is a typical New Year’s resolutions. What’s your advice for people struggling to achieve their weight-loss goals?

“Sustainable weight-loss is a long game, so it’s better to identify one or two key areas to focus on and make a practical plan to ensure you stick to them over a period of months, rather than try a radical regime which won’t last. Think honestly about where you tend to overindulge, for example, chocolate, bread, alcohol or over-generous portions, and choose your goals accordingly. Success is all in the planning, so taking the time at weekends to do some batch cooking and get in supplies for a healthy packed lunch could make all the difference.”

Have you made any diet- or lifestyle-related resolutions this year?

“To practise what I preach and get more fresh air. When I’m tied up with a writing project, I can be glued to my desk for hours and before I know it the day has gone by and I’ve barely moved. Very bad!”

Do you follow any particular dietary principles, such as intermittent fasting or low-carb?

“Not really, because nutrition is too complex to focus on a one size fits all approach – I just like to eat fresh wholefoods and I always cook from scratch. Breakfast is really important for me. I find if I get that right then it’s easy to stick to healthy eating principles for the rest of the day. As long as there’s plenty of protein, then I can motor happily all morning, so I make my own granola which is packed with nuts and seeds and have this most days. Otherwise, I’ll have porridge with a spoon of cashew butter to add a blast of protein, or eggs with sourdough toast.

“I also make a point of eating a range of vegetables across the week. Every so often I challenge myself (and my clients!) to eat 40 different fruit and vegetables, with the emphasis on veg, in seven days. It’s a great way of breaking out of the habit of eating the same old things.”

Is there such a thing as a perfect diet?

“If only! If there was, there wouldn’t be so many conflicting messages out there. With nutrition, context is everything, so the right diet will depend on a number of things including age, build, level of physical activity, environment and medical history. A balanced diet with a combination of protein, fats and carbs, adequate hydration and limited refined sugar and processed foods is what most of us should aim for. However, the subtleties within that can vary quite a bit, which is why it’s important to get the right advice. For example, eating plenty of vegetables might seem an obvious aim for most of us, but people who suffer from chronic IBS may benefit from avoiding certain vegetables which are high FODMAP. FODMAP is an acronym for certain types of carbohydrate which can be hard for some people to digest and which can exacerbate IBS symptoms.”

What are your plans and hopes for 2019?

“I’ve been doing a lot of workshops around menopause nutrition in the past year, so this is an area I plan to focus on more. There are so many ways that nutrition can help to support a healthy menopause and I’m keen to get the message out there, so watch this space!”

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