There are so many common myths about nutrition. Crucially, what we consider should be long-term practices are often just fads.

One that’s talked about a lot is charcoal… And it drives me crazy! Charcoal was originally used by medical professionals in extreme poisoning cases from alcohol or drugs as it can cling to certain poisons in our stomach when used in bulk. This has led to a fad that now sees it touted as a hangover cure – binding and removing alcohol – with the ability to ‘detoxify’ your body, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Charcoal can’t bind to metals, therefore it can’t bind to the chemical structure of alcohol; it can, however, bind to prescription drugs, so it can make medication less effective.

Another big nutrition myth is supplements: It’s just not necessary to take a cocktail of different supplements to stay healthy. The benefits from food will always be greater than those from a supplement, because of the bioavailability of food, alongside the other nutrients that you will gain within it such as fibre. We are often sold supplements without being given any expert advice, and these products could eventually have damaging effects. In this way, it’s a huge fad that’s quite concerning. As a nutritionist, I would not ordinarily recommend that anybody be on supplements – however, I am (of course) aware that there are numerous health conditions that require restricted diets, and therefore supplementation is the only option.

For example, veganism requires you to supplement, because it’s impossible to get all of the nutrients the body needs from that diet. (In my opinion, a lifestyle choice that involves needing to supplement is not the best choice. While I understand the ethical side of it, I wouldn’t advise a diet that excludes any food groups.) Increasing one’s plant base is great, but blanket veganism is also a very carbohydrate-heavy diet and can be protein deficient. Vegans have to be savvy; the diet requires awareness. They have to understand and ensure that they are consuming a variety of food groups and not carbohydrates alone. It becomes difficult to gain EPA and DHA – longer chains of Omega 3s, which help support cognitive function, help with stress and are strongly anti-inflammatory. Vegans cannot gain B-12 as it's only available from animal sources, but it's absolutely essential for the nervous system, therefore supplementation of the vitamin is essential.

Another common misconception is that frozen food isn’t as healthy as fresh food… I call bluff! Frozen vegetables can be a lot more nutrient-dense than fresh veggies... If you think about it, they’re frozen within a couple of hours after being harvested, thus salvaging the nutrients before they can become depleted. Other than at local farmers’ markets, where the fruit and vegetables may well have been picked that day, most of our food has travelled from abroad – and every hour that it’s out of the ground, the nutrients are diminishing...

In terms of my diet, I don’t have a very rigid routine; I’m very plant-based and there’s always a lot of fish in there. I’m very into pre-biotic food – which is different from pro-biotic food – for promoting optimal gut health. I don’t take any supplements other than Vitamin D in the winter.

My meals differ depending on the day’s agenda. I’ll usually start the day with peppermint tea, as it’s great for your gut and increases blood flow to the  brain.  I like to have something protein-rich in the morning, particularly if I’m working out. My go-to breakfast is eggs and salmon, or organic full-fat yoghurt with berries, hemp seeds, nuts and flaxseeds. I have a coffee at about 10 o’clock every morning to start my day – never on an empty stomach, as it can be quite harsh! For lunch, I’ll always have something protein-rich again, although it depends on what I had for breakfast. My lunches and my dinners are quite similar; I ensure that I have some protein (be that egg, salmon, a tuna steak or legumes of some kind), good fats (good quality extra virgin olive oil is my go-to source), and unrefined carbs (brown rice, quinoa, or vegetables, including butternut squash and roasted sweet potatoes).

In terms of my rules that I live by, I’m one of those people who will get eight hours sleep every night as sleep hugely affects your diet and also your mood. I don't drink a lot of alcohol, but I do love a glass of wine with a meal (with a pint of water next to me as alcohol is diuretic and dehydrates you). Moral of the story? Balance is key!

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