Weight Loss Magic Jab?

People love an easy answer to their weight problems – a magic bullet – a quick fix – even though they almost always turn out not to solve anything other than in the short term. So there’s been a flurry of excitement about a new injection that’s popular with celebrities.

So what it is they’re offering?

Semaglutide is a drug you have to inject in your stomach every week. It was intended and has been used so far for Type 2 diabetes to control blood sugar. In America they approved its use for weight loss a couple of years ago. Its effectiveness was shown by a robust trial with impressive results. In particular, it reduces appetite.

What’s the catch?

As always with drugs, there’s a sting in the tail. Side effects were suffered by the majority of those who had it and might explain why people lost their appetite.

Of the people in the trial who got the drug rather than a placebo:

  • nearly half (44%) reported nausea
  • one in three (32%) suffered diarrhoea
  • one in four (25%) reported vomiting
  • three quarters (74%) reported gastrointestinal disorders.

Others suffered problems with their pancreas, eye damage (1 in 10!), plus a host of lesser things like bloating, pain, wind and weakness. More worryingly, in animal studies it caused thyroid cancer. It’s too early to tell whether that will happen to people.

The NHS will prescribe it for a maximum of 2 years. (BBC news.)   But note that you also have to do a calorie controlled diet at the same time plus an hour and a half of exercise a week. And you only get the benefits if you keep having it. When you stop, you’ll regain weight – just like dieting.

Weight or Health?

The balance of priorities between weight and health seems to be ever skewed towards losing the pounds at any cost. It’s been like that for decades and I’m sure things like Instagram and TikTok have only made it worse with image comparisons. For me, health comes first. I lost my health for years due to eating wrong and I wouldn’t wish that misery on anyone.

If you’re tempted by this jab, it’s probably because your past habits have not given you the body you want. What you really need is better habits which lead automatically to your body returning to an appropriate weight as everything comes back into balance. Artificial ways that force your body to lose weight eg pills, injections, meal replacement shakes, bars and diets, don’t help you learn how you eat well.

Or both?

To be slim and healthy, there is no quick fix. You’ll have to invest a bit of time and effort although perhaps not as much as you feared or the ads for convenience food-like products have brain-washed you into believing. You can make easy changes eg eat a bit of salad with your lunch instead of bread or crisps, reduce how often you indulge in sugary things (biscuits, chocolate, snack bars), cut out vegetable oil and go back to butter, drink some water.

You shouldn’t expect a new body next week but you can enjoy a more vibrantly healthy life year after year with real food. I love it when I see or hear from past clients who find that as time goes by, their body shape improves and their health and energy levels too. So I don’t promise a quick fix. Healthy eating isn’t a magic bullet, it’s a better lifestyle.

Top tip – for a more vibrantly healthy life, say no to any quick fix and learn to eat well.

I got the numbers from Zoe Harcombe’s piece ‘A story about weight loss.


Your Best You Helps the NHS

It’s clear that the NHS is in dire straights and we hope it’s not broken beyond repair. It’s understaffed and over-burdened and people are suffering and dying from not being able to get help they need, when they need it.

  • It’s not just that it’s underfunded.
  • It’s not just that it’s hampered by bloated, unsuitable systems with lots of wasted resources.
  • It’s not just that it’s understaffed (exacerbated by staff losses due to a badly executed Brexit and Matt Hancock’s mandates).
  • It’s not just the bed-blocking (again exacerbated by mandates that cost the already struggling care sector 40,000 workers, laid off for refusing to be bullied into giving up their right to informed consent).

By all means lobby your MP to sort out the big top-level problems.

And also think about how you can help more personally.

The main thing the NHS struggles with is

  • ever increasing demand.

And not just from the ageing population – who could and should be healthy enough to mostly take care of themselves, but also from younger and younger people. The percentage of the population succumbing to lifestyle-related diseases (T2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Cancer, Alzheimer’s) continues to go up and up and up.

Obesity and related diseases took a massive, sudden step up because of lockdown. Some people did use the time as an opportunity to get fitter but most didn’t and I bet you know people who are still heavier now than in 2019.

One of the best things you can do to help the NHS is to be your best you. To use them as little as possible – for the things they can fix that you can’t.

To quote Dr Phil

Health care begins with self-care.

So take self-care to the next level.  Do all you can to avoid such chronic diseases as can be avoided by prioritising movement, fresh air, sunshine, rest, stress reduction, relationships, sleep and real food. However young or old you are, whatever maladies afflict you, it’s always worth looking after yourself as well as you possibly can.

In recent conversations, people have asked, “What do you do?” And then when I said, “Nutrition Coaching”, exclaimed (while patting their tummies) “Ooooh I could do with some of that!!!” It wasn’t one person, or two, but several. People know what they need, they know what they’re unhappy with and they know what they want.

Translating desire into action is a different thing. Yes, their enthusiasm could carry them through to action, but what action?  You need to know the right things to do.

I can give you understanding of why many real foods you’ve been avoiding are actually your friends and help you learn to eat well.

So far, so good – enthusiasm and understanding are hugely important; so is commitment.

1.Commitment to change

If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” (I’ve seen this attributed to many people from Albert Einstein or Henry Ford to Forest Gump).

If you’re not slim and healthy the way you’re eating now, you won’t become slim and healthy eating the way you’re eating now.  You need to reach the point where you’re ready for change.

2.Commitment to effort

You’ll have good reasons why you do what you currently do. Haven’t got time? Ready meals so much easier than cooking? There are always better solutions. OK, it might take a little while to get used to new habits but the extra energy you’ll have will compensate for the time taken to prepare your own food.

3.Commitment to yourself

Need to do this for this person? Or something else for someone else? Or your job? Or your family? Great. Except your own good intentions can easily get squeezed out. By moving yourself higher up your priorities you can start to enjoy better health. With extra energy you’ll be able to look after everyone else better too.

That’s why I’ll be asking for your commitment as a client if you want to work with me. We’re all wasting our time if all you gain is understanding of how your current diet is harming you while you carry on eating the same. If you’re determined to subsist on breakfast cereal, low-cal ready meals, take-aways and fizzy pop, then no-one can help you much.

If you’re serious about making your health important in your life then I can help you to enjoy a more vibrantly healthy life, – and you’ll help the NHS.

Top tip – Be your best you to help the NHS

Cheese Farm Visit

I’ve just been on a Cumbria Chamber of Commerce visit to Park House Organic Cheese Farm at Torpenhow (pronounced TrePENa).

Mostly I dread (and avoid) the food at business events as it invariably consists of tables laden with processed beige – a health-damaging carb fest guaranteed to send everyone snoozy afterwards.

Not at Park House Farm. How fabulous is this?

And of course their milk to drink. (Plus some Zingi Bear organic ginger switchel – but I’ll tell you about that another time.)

Park House milk is the real thing. Creamy and delicious with all the nutrition that should be in milk.

(Timely perhaps that this piece on ‘not milks’ popped on Twitter the other day.)


Mark and Jenny told us how they had come to run this inspirational farm the way they do.

Mark and Jenny

When the milk price crashed in 2015 and it was costing 28p/l to produce milk which they could only sell for 15p/l, they realised that they would need to change direction or go bankrupt.

They decided to go organic and to work with nature instead of battling against it. No fertiliser. No herbicides, no pesticides.

They split their fields into smaller paddocks, replanting hedgerows removed decades before during the time of intensification. They removed the problem of slurry by keeping the cows outside instead of indoors making Park House the only 100% pasture-fed farm in Cumbria. They use mob-grazing to move the cows around the paddocks. They embrace weeds and use lots of different types of plants in their grass – especially clover which is a natural nitrogen fixer.

It took time for their artificial-nitrogen addicted grass to get over the shock, but now it is the lushest, healthiest grass I’ve ever seen and took quite some effort to wade through as we walked up the field to see the cows.

And what beautiful cows they were. So healthy and content, fed only on grass and organic silage.

Living at the mercy of the milk buyers was a stressful life so Mark and Jenny started to make cheese with their milk. You can buy it at the farm, locally in good food shops like Shill’s of Cockermouth and from the farm’s online shop. There’s cheddar, the nicest brie I’ve ever eaten, a crumbly Lancashire, one oak smoked and Binsey Red which I particularly enjoyed. And I await with eager anticipation the return to production of their blue.

You’ll be hearing more about the Torpenhow Cheese Farm later.

Top tip – Treat yourself to some Torpenhow organic cheese.

PS – there’s a petition asking the new PM to work for nature by supporting organic farming.  Here’s the link to sign.


For a Good Day, Eat a Good Breakfast

Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I say it’s the most important meal to get right.

Sadly, years of mis-information, marketing and confusion mean it’s often the worst meal of the day consisting of little more than processed carbohydrate (here’s why that’s bad).

The trick is to find things you know will last you through to lunchtime. That’s very unlikely to be breakfast cereal or jam on toast which can set you up for rapid hunger, unhealthy snacking later on, and weight gain. Eating no breakfast can be preferable to bad breakfast.

Some of my clients have improved their weight and health simply by changing their breakfast habits.

  Here are some ideas that might suit you better.  They use the principle that every meals should contain plants, proteins and fats.

Some people do well on porridge made from natural oats. (Beware the type in sachets as some contain loads of sugar.) To add some protein and fat, top with nuts and seeds and a dollop of cream. For plants sprinkle on a spoonful of berries.

Boost your weight loss with low-carb porridge. It doesn’t have any oats! Mix ground flax seed, chia seed, desiccated coconut and protein powder with some coconut milk and warm until thick. Top with a bit of fruit, some full-fat plain yoghurt and a few flaked almonds.


Muesli can be goodchoose one with plenty of nuts and not much dried fruit. Again, top with full-fat plain yoghurt.

Granola is less good as it’s generally sweetened and cooked in vegetable oil. If you enjoy it, it’s definitely worth making your own using coconut oil.

Smoothies are quick to make and easy to consume and with the right ingredients can keep you satisfied for 5 or 6 hours.

Base them on coconut milk, avocado, ground almonds, flax, spinach, protein powder, peanut butter, cream, eggs, yoghurt etc.

Add just a little fruit for sweetness eg ¼ apple, 1” banana or a spoonful of berries. (Fruit is sugar so an all-fruit smoothie (bought or home-made) is not a healthy option.)

To save time, you can batch up any dry ingredients in advance so that in the morning you just tip them into the glass with your veg, fruit and milk choice, whizz with a stick blender and drink straight from the glass.

Dry ingredients ready to tip in

Fry-ups can sustain you for ages. For traditional Full English, choose from bacon, egg, black pudding, sausage, mushroom, tomato. Another favourite of mine is the Aussie classic – steak and egg – fab with wilted spinach.

Fancy something a little lighter? Go continental with boiled eggs, ham and cheese (you can save time by hard boiling an egg the night before).

Dip avocado or buttered, wholemeal toast ‘soldiers’ in soft-boiled eggs.



In the summer, Jon Gabriel’s light but satisfying plain yoghurt mixed with nuts, seeds, protein powder and fruit is hard to beat.



For a change, go fishy with a tin of mackerel plus half a pear and some seeds or indulge in smoked salmon, delicious teamed with scrambled eggs and courgette.

Prepare in advance for a quick get-away with these breakfast buns.



Top tip: To have a good day, eat a good breakfast.

Quotes of the Month – Health

Three quotes today


The real pandemic is poor metabolic health, or metabolic inflexibility.

Aseem Malhotra

Poor metabolic health makes us vulnerable to obesity, diabetes and a severe outcome when we catch the coronavirus. If you want to lose weight, it’s best to do it in a way that protects your metabolic health, by eating well.

Here’s an article co-authored by Dr Malhotra on the change of food environment that’s needed, starting with the NHS itself.


I wouldn’t start from here

Lewis Carol

(with thanks to @Beth Pipe for reminding me of this one!)


How random and fragile life can be.

Megan Divine

We can’t control the things in life that hit us. We’re going through pain with no rhyme, reason or cure. But we can control how we care for and nurture ourselves and each other.



Grow Your Own


I’ve loved getting emails from people saying they’ve started to grow veg during lockdown. Time spent with living plants is good for you and your efforts are rewarded with the amazing taste and superior nutrition of home-grown.

My favourite gardening programme, The Beechgrove Garden, had this handy idea.

When you have nearly finished a head of celery, cut the last few stems, leaving about 3” (10cm). Pop in a glass of water on the windowsill for 2 or 3 weeks until you can see roots growing, then plant in the garden. Here’s what you get!!!

On a smaller scale, herbs have health benefits and add wonderful flavours to your cooking. You can grow them in the garden, in pots outside or even on the windowsill in your kitchen. If you don’t want to start from seed, you can buy herbs in pots at the supermarket, harvest some to freeze then plant out the rest to keep on growing.

Sprouted seeds and beans are salad as fresh as fresh can be and eaten raw they pack a powerful enzyme punch. Grow them on your worktop in sprouting trays – they don’t even need soil. This video shows you how.

Quote of the Month – A is for Artificial

Following my 10 ten tips series, here’s the first of my a-z of nutrition and health snippets. All on LinkedIn.


A is for artificial

The thing about the way most food is produced these days is, if you knew the story behind it, you wouldn’t want to eat it

Eric Schlosser, food journalist


In Britain we eat less real food than healthy European countries like France.

Check out Joanna Blythman’s Swallow This for a read that will make your hair curl.

Good news – the only way is up!


For lasting change, convert your habits to real food tackling one meal at a time – until the artificial food is squeezed out.

Choose what you’ll improve first – your mid-morning snack perhaps. Could you by-pass the vending machine and instead have nuts or a piece of cheese with an apple?

A real food breakfast instead of cereal from a packet could transform your day. Here are some breakfast ideas.

Added bonus – you won’t need a mid-morning snack at all.😉

Making your own lunch instead of buying a sandwich could save you lots of money too.

Take your pick and make one of your meals the health-boosting highlight of the day.

If you want to learn to eat well but find all the messages confusing, I can show you how. My next Eat for a Better Life course starts at the end of the month. Contact me now to book your place jackie@learntoeatwell.co.uk

Obesity Strategy

Have news reports about obesity and coronavirus alarmed you? Do they make you determined to lose the weight that’s putting your life in greater danger?

Boris has certainly been spurred into action by his time in hospital. He realised that carrying extra weight is one of the highest risk factors for becoming seriously ill with COVID19.

Obesity also makes you more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, several types of cancer, fatty liver, respiratory disease, and mental health problems.

To tackle all of this the Government has launched a strategy to slim down the nation.


So what is their focus?


Sorry, that’s how we got into this mess in the first place. Calories don’t help you make good food choices; they drive you towards processed foods.

Surely cutting calories helps. Will you not burn more energy than you eat?

Only for a while.

Our bodies are survival machines. Cut the food you eat and your body shuts down your metabolism and hangs on in there until it can put all the weight back on again. That’s why 100 people on a diet will all lose weight but later 95 of them will find themselves back where they started or even heavier than before. And the cycle will repeat.

Let’s go back to the beginning. What are people eating now that causes obesity and poor health? Food-like products. And that includes the low-calorie ones.

  • They’re addictive – so you over-eat.
  • Chemicals make them taste great – so you over-eat.

  • They’re low in the nutrients your body needs – so you over-eat.

  • They interfere with your body’s control mechanisms and stimulate appetite – so you over-eat.

  • The label says they’re healthy – so you’re fooled into thinking it’s OK to over-eat.

    A Colin Shelbourne cartoon from Survival Guide for the Skint.

Since calories became popular and the food industry got into gear 50 years ago, the weight of the average Briton has gone through the roof whilst health is in an ever steepening decline.



The Government rightly blames advertising and the food environment we live in. We’ve been brainwashed into buying this junk and thinking it’s an acceptable way to feed our bodies. Offers are always for extra junk, not BOGOF on cabbages or steak. They’ve recognised this and I’m glad they’re introducing some controls.

What can you do?

Britain’s health was best between 1950 and 1970. Almost everyone was slim. Almost everyone ate real food.

Real food works with your natural appetite controls. When food satisfies you, there’s no need for will-power and no desire to over-eat.

I so hope you’ve all got used to doing your own cooking during lockdown and that you’ve been soothed by the rhythm of spending time in the kitchen, enjoyed what you ate and noticed how much money you saved.

It’s a missed opportunity but in reality the Government is unlikely ever to tell people to eat real food; they don’t want to damage the processed food industry.

So it’s down to you.

  • You can take control. 🙂

  • You can choose better food. 🙂

  • You can care for your body and nourish it. 🙂

Top tip: To be slim and healthy, forget the calories and learn to eat well.

Eat Real Food, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

This month was the Public Health Collaboration Conference.

They had to cancel the real one of course and instead did the whole thing on YouTube with the speakers doing their talks from home. What a great idea because now any of us can watch at any time we choose.

Check it out on the PHC’s YouTube channel here. They covered all sorts of things including: coronavirus and diet, cooking demos, diabetes, stress.

Of great relevance in these trouble times was Dr Aseem Malhotra’s message:

Eat Real Food, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

The Government’s original “Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives” message was to prevent overwhelm of an already overstretched NHS.

Why overstretched? Britain already has a huge burden of lifestyle-related, chronic diseasesPeople with those diseases suffer much more severely if they do catch the virus.

People with poor blood-sugar control are 10 times (that’s 1000%) more likely to die if they get coronavirus (11% cf 1.1%). Many MPs were diagnosed with the virus but only Boris ended up needing critical care. He cycles every day but he clearly doesn’t eat right and that’s the most important thing for blood sugar stability.

Good things coming out of this experience – Boris had been thinking of removing the sugar tax on drinks – now he won’t. Instead, he’s to launch a war on fat (bodily not dietary). I hope he promotes what works rather than bowing to pressure from food and diet companies.

I and some of the speakers have been angered by TV and newspaper coverage of junk-food companies giving away junk like doughnuts, pizzas and custard creams as a brand promoting opportunity. It’s these very foods that have made Britain more vulnerable than the rest of Europe where they still mostly buy fresh ingredients and cook their own meals at home.

There’s a powerful message of hope in the talks.

Conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome – can be improved in days or weeks by eating better so here’s the message the nation needs to hear:

Eat Real Food

All the talks will stay freely available on YouTube so do have a look. The ones I enjoyed most were those by Dr Aseem Malhotra, Dr Joanne McCormack (Custard Creams) and a spoof one by Dr Campbell Murdoch which showed (using bombs and bullets) how you can ruin your metabolic health.

Spread the message

Eat Real Food, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

NB – if you watch the talks and switch to low-carb make sure you speak to your doctor about balancing dietary change with any medication.

Coronavirus and Food

Evidence is mounting for the usefulness of Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium all of which boost your immune system. You can make sure you get great nutrients from fresh food by ditching the health-damaging junk food and instead support your body with a bit of time in the kitchen, cooking from fresh ingredients. Supplements can be useful too. And a have a care with alcohol which blocks absorption.

Metabolic Health

Another important thing is your metabolic health (defined as normal blood pressure, low triglycerides, high HDL cholesterol, low waist circumference, HbA1c showing not pre-diabetic).

Poor metabolic health or metabolic syndrome increases your risk of death from coronavirus by 10 times – that’s 1000%.

It’s being driven by our current high carbohydrate, low fat eating style. Baddies include: breakfast cereal, ready meals, snack bars, anything made of flour or containing vegetable oil and other ultra-processed foods with more than 5 ingredients.

Poor metabolic health doesn’t always link to obesity (although the same foods also cause weight gain). And it affects people of all ages. In America 7 out of 8 people are metabolically unhealthy including 6 out of 8 people aged 20-40. I don’t know the number in Britain but looking at diet, many of our young people may well be metabolically unhealthy. The prevalence of diabetes is 3-5 times higher in the black/Asian population and we’ve seen how they are suffering higher death rates from this virus. They may also need vitamin D supplements as there is too little sunlight in Britain for their darker skin to make enough.

You can improve your metabolic health in a few weeks by cooking your own meals from fresh meat, fish, vegetables.

My simple guide for every meal –

Plants, Proteins, Fats