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Q&A with Lissa Leader – Nutritional Therapist

Lissa Leader is a fully qualified Registered Nutritional Therapist based at CBH. She is a registrant of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, (CNHC) and a Registered Nutritionist with the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine, (BANT).

We asked Lissa a few questions about her journey into nutrition, her own diet and some great tips for healthier diets..

Tell us about your journey into nutrition.

I actually started my working life in a completely different field – the media industry! I spent 20 years working for various national and international media companies, spending countless hours on a plane each month and often feeling run down. I came to realise that I felt better when I ate better and after seeking the advice of a Nutritional Therapist, (who enabled me to tackle the symptoms I was experiencing at the time), my interest in nutrition was piqued! I therefore enrolled on a 3-year diploma course and retrained in nutrition. My career path has now changed direction and I practice as a Registered Nutritional Therapist, providing private consultations that include individually-tailored dietary advice, as well as corporate nutrition services to support employee wellbeing.

How would you describe your diet?

I tend to follow the 80/20 rule which I think is sustainable for most people who wish to maintain a long-term healthy diet – so 80% of the time, I eat healthily and 20% of the time, I will relax a little and perhaps have dinner out, a glass of wine or the occasional pudding! I also meal plan for the week before I go food shopping, so I can make sure I include adequate fibre, protein, oily fish, different colours of fruits and vegetables etc. Meal planning is a great way to minimise food waste because you only buy what you need and that also saves money!

What does a healthy diet look like to you?

Variety is very important and most of us get stuck in a food rut, eating the same things every week because they might be quick and easy to prepare when time is tight or because we don’t feel inspired to try something different – a new cookbook can often help! Eating a wider range of foods will broaden the amount of nutrients we get from our food. A diet that includes many different colours of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein such as chicken or fish (if you eat animal produce), minimal sugar and processed foods, moderate amounts of healthy fats and plenty of water are some of the things I would recommend to support a healthy eating protocol.

What’s your view on a plant-based diet?

This type of diet can be very healthy, as plant-based foods contain a broad range of nutrients and fibre that can support digestive and overall health. However, it is important to recognise that it can be a challenge to get certain nutrients from plant- based foods such as calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. It is therefore important to check that any plant-based dairy alternatives you consume are fortified with these nutrients. Ensuring you have adequate protein is also important, so be sure to include lentils, chickpeas, quinoa and whole grains – plus nut butters are a great source of protein, but just make sure you buy the unsweetened variety!

What should I be eating to boost my immune system?

There are many foods that can help to support immune function and perhaps too many to list in this article! So, to begin with, I would suggest incorporating more red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables into your diet which contain immune- supporting vitamins A and C, (e.g. red / yellow / orange peppers, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, berries, dried apricots, tomatoes). Vitamin D is also an important nutrient, especially at this time of year when we have little exposure to sunlight -good sources include tinned sardines, salmon, sunflower seeds, eggs, mushrooms and butter. And selenium is a nutrient that helps to regulate immune response – just two brazil nuts per day will help you to meet your daily requirement!

What would be your top 3 superfoods & why?

I’m not really a fan of the term, ‘superfood’ because it implies that eating a single food type will make us healthy when, in fact, a good overall diet is the key to supporting our wellbeing. Perhaps the term, ‘super habits’ is more appropriate! For starters, make a variety of foods, a rainbow of colours, minimal sugar and processed foods, plenty of whole grains and adequate water consumption regularhabits and you’ll be heading along the right track!

If you would like a nutrition consultation with Lissa, drop her a line at [email protected]

For more information, check www.nutrileader.co.uk