About Fiona Kirk

When it comes to healthy eating, dieting and finding a route that works, confusion reigns! Nutritionist and best selling author Fiona Kirk’s ability to cut through the ‘noise’ that is being hurled at us from all sides, enables us to make a few small changes that can reap big rewards in minimum time. By writing articles for the press, books (4 to date), giving talks, blogging and contributing to numerous diet and health websites, Fiona has discovered that her somewhat cynical (but always honest) take on some of the nonsense being touted has struck a chord with her ‘followers’ - putting them back in the driving seat of their diet and long term health. After all, she knows good nutrition... and isn't afraid to talk about it! For more from Fiona, check out www.fatbustforever.com

Seesaw Your Way to Super Fast Fat Loss

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_HeaderYou may have tried one or two (or more) ‘low carb’ diets and if you have, you likely saw a good few pounds gratifyingly drop off in reasonably quick time. However, one of the most common complaints I hear from dieters is that after a while, cravings for bread, pasta, potatoes and pastries start to invade and they start dreaming of hot buttered toast and Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

I decided the time had come to see if I could devise a nutritious and delicious fat loss plan that satisfies our hard-wired desire for the comfort of starchy foods whilst at the same time accelerating fat loss. Much research and copious hours of recipe testing have gone into this project but I am rather pleased with the result! Take a minute to have a quick look at my gallery to see visuals of some of the dishes involved.

The diet focuses on what I call my ‘seesaw strategy’ where you have 3 days with no starch other than the small amounts provided by fruits and vegetables followed by a day where a little starch is included in the form of oats, potatoes, rice etc. The reason this strategy works is because studies show that when we know that some of our ‘favourites’ are not totally off limits, cravings (the dieters nemesis) are greatly reduced and after a short time, can disappear altogether.

Another important aspect of the diet is the recommendation to have a really good feed at each meal to keep hunger at bay and negate the need for ‘between meal’ snacks and leave 5 hours between meals to allow the fat burning hormone, glucagon to work its magic and encourage stored fat to be released from those ‘way too comfortable’ fat cells on hips, bums and bellies, provide energy and in the process, shrink on a daily basis!

There are however, a couple of snack options that I do endorse and one of them is chocolate. Far from being the enemy to fat loss, a little dark chocolate each day encourages a few very helpful actions. The ‘reward’ chemical, dopamine and the ‘happy and relaxed’ chemical, serotonin are released, magnesium levels which help to calm the nervous system are increased and last but not least, we don’t feel deprived and miserable which makes super fast fat loss a breeze!

The ‘seesaw strategy’ can be followed for as little as 4 days if time is tight and an event or holiday is looming or for as long as you wish without fear of going hungry or running short on essential nutrients and the need to obsessively count every calorie or step on the scales every morning doesn’t feature (super busy people simply don’t have time!)

Since the publication of the 2 Weeks in the Super Fast Lane diet in eBook format through Kindle (RRP £2.99) at the end of last month, I have already received a great many very encouraging emails from dieters across the globe. Here’s just one from a reader in Singapore: “8 days in, hooked on the Parsley Soup on no starch days and the Crispy Topped Baked Fish on starch days, savouring my daily chocolate moments and I wore a skirt to work today that I haven’t been able to get past my hips in months!”

To find out more about the diet, click here to have a ‘Look Inside’ the book, head to my website, join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

The Diet “Experts” – Are They Having a Laugh?

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_Header

Move aside veganism, there are a few new kids on the block in 2013 and boy do these ‘diet gurus’ know how to charge for their pearls of wisdom!

I have to confess that I do keep an eagle eye on the New York Bestsellers list – any writer that tells you they don’t want to see their book featured is either lying or has a very well-paid job doing something else and doesn’t need to depend on book sales to pay the bills!

When it comes to diet books, it is impossible to keep up and my sympathy goes out to all those who have no sooner got to grips with one particular diet before another one hits the headlines. What do you do? Bin the one you are currently working with in favour of the new one that now promises faster fat loss or stick to your guns? It’s a dilemma!

Personally, I am all in favour of quick fix diets (oops, I can hear my contemporaries groaning, loudly!) Why? Because, research continues to reveal that when we see results in the early stages we are motivated to keep going – it’s not rocket science! Yes, there are some diets out there which are a bit crazy and restrictive and if we stick with them for longer than the prescribed time we are likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies which then see our metabolism slowing down to a snails pace to keep us thriving BUT in all the years I have been working in the fat loss game I have rarely come across anyone who say “I am looking for a diet that results in slow and steady weight loss”. Of course, this is the healthier route but let’s get real – we are all in a rush!

I digress. Back to the current crop of diets that seem to be keeping my diets off the New York Bestsellers list – hard not to get grumpy but I won’t wallow in that place! 2012 was all about ‘going vegan‘ and almost every time I stepped on stage to discuss diets, dieting, fat loss and the rest there were questions from the floor about the perceived success of such diets which I happily addressed but usually with the warning that a complete change to your whole way of shopping, cooking and eating can be a mighty big hill to climb (and it’s rare that the rest of the family embrace such change which makes life tricky to say the least).

This month (new year, new you and all that) it’s portion control, meal spacing, whole foods (what, again?), more gluten-free stuff AND intermittent fasting. Not so long ago, everything to do with fasting was slammed, principally because most of us lead very busy lives, require lots of energy which we get from food and if we don’t get it, we get tired, miserable, irritable and ultimately sick. We lose weight but at what cost? Fasting has been part and parcel of many faiths over many centuries but it is not something that should be undertaken without expert guidance. Intermittent fasting, however is something quite different and if managed properly results in fast and lasting fat loss for many but there is nothing new about it, despite what the media might have you believe.

Anyone who has read any of my books or articles knows I have been a fan of intermittent fasting for years. Where the confusion possibly lies is that it has gained a new name (oh, the power of marketing). It used to be called ‘calorie cycling’ or ‘zig-zag dieting’ and professional athletes and natural bodybuilders have been employing the principles successfully before competition for years.  Animal studies indicating the health benefits of this type of diet started appearing in the 1970’s and 80s, human studies followed when I was studying nutritional therapy back in the 1990’s and if I remember rightly, I first started scribbling about it around 2000. But hey ho, it’s way too easy to get cynical! As mentioned, the scaremongers don’t like it much, their argument being that it encourages disordered eating patterns and you can’t expect to nourish your body properly on a daily basis when you adopt a pattern where you seriously restrict calories for two or three days a week – what rubbish! If you stick with seriously low calorie diets for days/weeks on end of course your body will start to struggle BUT if your diet is currently a bit of a road accident and you are carrying excess flab it will say a mighty big ‘thank you’ if you give it a break every few days and allow it to focus on badgering your fat stores into giving up their energy stores and shrinking in the process – trust me, it is not news!

Before I go, I need to get back to my first point and have a quick rant about how much some of the ‘experts’ are charging for their pearls of wisdom. The number one bestseller as I write, by that scary military guy who belittles every contestant on TV progs like Celebrity Fat Club, Ian K Smith wants to relieve you of $25 of your hard-earned cash to ‘lose 2 sizes and 4 inches in 6 weeks’ and that Wheat Belly fellow, William Davis M.D is charging  the same to help you ‘find your path back to health’. I have read both books (I really do read every diet book that hits the shelves) and I applaud a lot of what they say but come on, don’t hit those who desperately want/need to lose weight where it hurts – their wallets!

So, what’s my advice for January 2013 and the route to a new ‘leaner, meaner you’? Employ a degree of skepticism, don’t believe everything you read, email me through my website, www.fatbustforever.com if you want a pretty unbiased view of any diet you are thinking of embarking on – oh and make soup a major part of your day (sorry, a blatant push of my Soup Can Make You Thin diet)!

Spice Up Your Diet for a bit of Extra Fat Burning!

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_Header

Things are getting very exciting on the spice front! Ongoing research suggests that eating foods containing what are best known as ‘curry spices’ (cayenne, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek) may increase the body’s temperature by as much as 20 percent, meaning more calories are burned after a meal. A few small studies have also revealed that we feel full more quickly when we eat spicy dishes so we eat less. Good news all round for those who ‘like it hot’ whilst watching their waistlines!

And it’s not just the ‘curry spices’. Cinnamon, ginger, black pepper and cloves are also being investigated and are earning their stripes when it comes to boosting metabolism, improving digestion, easing congestion and reducing the threat of insulin ‘spikes’ which see us reaching for sugary, fatty foods all too often.


When we overeat, fat cells expand and if they are regularly over-stuffed (particularly those around the midriff) inflammatory chemicals leap into action and interfere with the balance of our appetite hormones; ghrelin which tells us when we are hungry and leptin which tells us when we are full. This can result in us becoming less sensitive to signals telling us we have had enough to eat so we eat more.

Any kind of inflammation within the body promotes the formation of dangerous molecules called free radicals, which if allowed to proliferate, wreak havoc and damage cells. Antioxidants work in tandem with the body’s natural defences by forming a protective shield around our body cells and absorbing these free radicals which are neutralised, lose their destructive power and are safely excreted from the body so a diet rich in foods that feed the antioxidant shield are vital. You can also get a great boost to your antioxidant intake if you consume alpha lipoic acid before bed. Its a powerful antioxidant with many other benefits that is worth looking into.

Measure for measure, spices have more antioxidant power than many fruits and vegetables.

A few things to do with spices to reap their fat busting and protective benefits:

  • Have a big mug of hot water, lemon juice and grated fresh ginger first thing in the morning.
  • Top your porridge with sliced apples or apple puree and a good sprinkling of cinnamon.
  • Opt for spicy soups at lunchtime (try our Spicy Meatball Soup from Soup Can Make You Thin www.souperydupery.com)
  • Rub spices mixed with a little olive oil over meat, poultry and meaty fish before grilling or roasting.
  • Make or buy spiced teas for a warming drink mid morning or mid afternoon.
  • Spice up your nuts and seeds by coating them with a mix of cayenne, turmeric and coriander and roasting them in the oven (keep an eye on them as they quickly burn).
  • Add them to your salad dressings (particularly good with finely sliced, crunchy vegetables like cabbage, bok choy, chicory and endive) or use chilli oil in place of olive oil.
  • Make spiced butters and top your steamed vegetables with a disc or two (not much butter involved).
  • Very finely dice green and red chillies and add a bit of subtle heat to soups and stews.
  • Sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, turnip and parsnips marry extremely well with spices; the tang cuts through the sweetness. So, be generous when you are roasting these vegetables or add them later if you are going for a mash.

kumars curries

Interestingly, another fairly comprehensive study found that those who consumed the most curry had the sharpest minds and lowest risk of Alzheimer’s disease (inflammation in the brain). Waistline-friendly and brain-friendly? Make mine a Tandoori Chicken with Chana Masala and Spiced Cauliflower on the side (hold the rice and naan bread!)

There are so many ways to spice up your diet and I would love to know any tips you may have so leave a comment below if you have time or email me through my websites, www.fatbustforever.com and www.souperydupery.com

Images reproduced from justcarehealth.com and verstegen.co.uk

Oh Please, Not Another Epidemic!

I’m afraid so. Vitamin D deficiency has now reached epidemic levels with recent estimates indicating that more than 50% of the global population is at risk. A high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency has been found across all age groups in all populations studied and even those who are otherwise healthy are not immune to deficiency.

So what are the common symptoms of deficiency?

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Restless sleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Bladder problems
  • Constipation or diarrhoea

So how did it all go so horribly wrong?

Well, it’s not really new news, it’s just that more money is being spent on research and the findings are far from sunny. Vitamin D is produced by our skin when we are in strong sunlight and studies of traditional people living in East Africa gives us a clue to what was probably ‘normal’ when we first appeared on the planet. These people all have dark skin which gives them built-in sun protection, spend most of the day outdoors but seek shade whenever possible. Their skin and sun habits are similar to our ancestors who lived in the same environment but as we moved north to colder climates we weren’t exposed to the same levels of strong sunlight, our skin became paler and vitamin D levels dropped. However, for centuries we still spent a great deal of time working outdoors and even in many of the most northern parts of the globe we ate a lot of  oily fish, the richest food source of vitamin D.

But as industrialisation flourished and technology developed, the pale amongst us increasingly worked indoors and after a long working day, spent what few hours were left settling in front of a warming fire (and sadly fish didn’t feature as often in our diets). And then came sunscreens. Skin cancer was on the rise and governments and health experts ensured that we all became critically aware of the dangers of unprotected sun exposure. Valid advice but like so many health scares, over-asserted. In a matter of only a few years we were suddenly lathering tub-loads of factor 20, 30 or 50 on our pale skins and making our ‘little darlings’ wear deeply unattractive, protective clothing on the beach whilst their southern counterparts were running around with little or no clothes on.

A number of studies indicate that muslim women who wear burka have amongst the highest levels of deficiency even when vitamin D-rich foods are included in their diet. And interestingly, a huge percentage of the research into vitamin D deficiency has been undertaken in Scandinavian countries where the hours of sunlight from November to March are woefully short and most of these countries promote regular consumption of vitamin D-enriched milk, fruit juice and cereals in an effort to make up for the shortfall. The message is clear – we need sunlight.

Vitamin D is actually a hormone rather than a vitamin and understanding this is important. Hormones are produced naturally within the body, vitamins must be obtained through our diet. The body can make most of the vitamin D it needs as long as we get sunshine into our lives – the action of sunlight on our skin produces a substance which is converted by the liver to yet another substance then further converted in the kidneys to the active and usable form of vitamin D. Daily consumption of D-rich foods or D-fortified foods increase levels. However the above statistics indicate that this is not happening and the health risks associated with D-deficiency are wide ranging; brittle bones, mental decline, cardiovascular problems, autoimmune conditions, some cancers…the list is increasing daily.

So What About Vitamin D and Fat Loss?

Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to disrupt the delicate balance of insulin production by the pancreas and increase the possibility of insulin resistance which over time leads not only to weight gain but also an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that women who are D-deficient carry between 40 percent and 80 percent more abdominal fat than their D-rich counterparts and this is largely because fat cells are not just storage depots; they are metabolically active and vitamin D, which is stored in fat cells has an important role to play in regulating how much fat we store and how much we burn. Leptin, the hormone that controls appetite is produced by the fat cells and tells the brain when energy stores are replenished and we have had enough to eat but it appears that vitamin D deficiency can interfere with this appetite-suppressing hormone causing us to eat more.

Because vitamin D is stored in fat cells, one would imagine that the bigger our fat cells, the more vitamin D we are able to store, allowing its release into the bloodstream for bone building and cellular health but quite the opposite has been noted. The fatter we are, the higher our risk of deficiency because vitamin D gets locked inside fat cells and unavailable for use. In one study, a group of obese adults (BMI above 30) and a group of lean adults (BMI of 19-24) were exposed to the same amount of UVA/UVB rays and blood levels of vitamin D in the lean adults rose by almost double those in their obese counterparts indicating that when we are overweight we need a lot more.

So What Can You Do?

We know that vitamin D is primarily synthesised in the skin after exposure to sunshine and it was previously thought that as little as 5-10 minutes of sun exposure on arms, legs and face three times a week without sunscreen between 11am and 2pm during the spring, summer, and autumn should provide a light-skinned individual with adequate vitamin D and allow for some storage of any excess for use during the colder, darker months with minimal risk of skin damage – those with dark skin may require twice or three times the exposure. However, a recent study was set up to assess how much vitamin D is needed to ensure optimal rather than just adequate levels in the average person and found that a minimum of 4,000IU of vitamin D is required daily to maintain optimal blood levels. 3,500 men and women had their vitamin D levels measured and completed online surveys to monitor vitamin D status and health outcomes over five years. The researchers found that daily intakes of between 4000IU and 8000IU are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D needed to effectively reduce the risk of disease and importantly they also found that this dose was very safe.

From a health and fat loss point of view, daily exposure of your skin to sunlight and a diet packed with foods rich in vitamin D (oily fish; particularly tinned salmon, eggs and fortified foods) are crucial. You may also wish to have your D levels checked. A simple blood test available at your doctor’s surgery measures the level of 25 hydroxy-vitamin D, the chemical formed in the liver during the process that converts sunlight into vitamin D and if the sunshine and the D-rich foods don’t see you reaching the mark, supplementation may be required (always supplement with the D3, cholecalciferol form).

Image reproduced from updates.nutrigold.co.uk

Fat in the City: Introduction

So what is the Fat in the City column about? What am I going to tell you that you haven’t read or heard before? Well, it kind of depends on what you are looking for. But, if you are like me and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get through your “to-do” list read on. And, more importantly if you are carting around a few (or more than a few) excess pounds that are slowing you down and you desperately want to shed the flab forever, you might just have stumbled upon nirvana – it’s not a guarantee but it’s certainly worth a go!

People like and loathe nutritionists in equal measures; sometimes unfair but all-too-often deserved. Many seem hell-bent on taking all the fun out of eating and demand dedication, self-discipline, willpower and a whole host of other impossible stuff that few of us can even begin to embrace on a daily basis. You will be delighted to know that we are not going down that route – that’s the road to short term success and long term failure so let’s not go there!

How many of these scenarios do you recognise?

  • The sun comes out, you want to sling on your cutest summer frock/linen breeks but there is altogether too much white flab trying to escape so you have to cover it up somehow and spend the day trying but failing to look cool and at ease with your wardrobe choice.
  • You have been invited to a social event where you know there are going to be way too many slim, lean and beautiful bodies cruising the room so rather than wearing the slightly-too-tight outfit you had planned, you plump for the comfortable one that never lets you down despite the fact that it is looking a little tired and not too current.
  • You have secured an interview for your dream job and not only have you got the stress of ensuring that you have rehearsed your answers to the important questions but your interview suit is pinching more than just a little so you have to spend more hours than you have available the night before trying to work an outfit that might just give you the edge over the competition.
  • You booked your beach holiday months ago and are counting the hours until you step on the plane and escape to the sun for a couple of weeks but somehow or other you haven’t lost that crucial half stone that is going to see you walking along the water’s edge with confidence or saying “I’m in” to the game of beach volley ball.

The definition of vanity is ‘an excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities and achievements’ and what’s wrong with that? For some strange reason the word vanity has become linked to self-obsession. Oh please! Life is sure as hell easier to cope with when you feel good, look good, are bursting with energy and feel slim. It doesn’t matter whether you are tall, small, shapely, straight up and down or ‘big boned’ – a healthy body with less than 25% body fat works so that’s what this column is going to concentrate on – fast and lasting fat loss for all you hard-working, over-stretched, over-stressed people out there!

Fiona Kirk

I want to pass on every bit of fat busting research I have gleaned over the last 20 years, every diet tip that makes sense and will help you shed the flab and every ground-breaking fitness strategy that I have picked up from the many Personal Trainers I have worked with so your daily eating and exercise programme becomes an easy-to-manage pleasure and not a hard-to-bear punishment.

So, let’s get started on the road to permanent fat loss and let’s start with soup. It’s almost impossible to get more nourishment into a very small place than in a bowl of soup and I am in the very fortunate position of having a soup guru in my life, who also happens to be my best friend. This woman can make a nourishing, fat busting, filling and fabulous soup in a matter of 20 minutes, does it daily and while she is not far off celebrating her sixth decade, looks fabulous – it’s clearly the soups! Every diet I have ever devised for magazines, newspapers, websites and my 2 books include her soups and my inbox is continually over-stuffed with demands for more recipes. Watch this space, the soup book is developing nicely and will be published just as soon as we find the time to rigorously test every recipe and get it all down in print.

Here’s one of the all-time favourites:-

serves 4-6

For the Meatballs
500g lean minced beef/chicken/turkey
50g fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tbsp freshly chopped herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme or a mix of Italian Herbs)
½ tsp salt
Ground black pepper

For the soup
1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 large red chillies, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 large carrots, diced
1 large courgette, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
100g Kale/Savoy cabbage, finely sliced
1 good tbsp tomato puree
1 litre good beef or chicken stock dependent on whether you are using beef or chicken/turkey for the meatballs
400g tinned tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good bunch of parsley, chopped finely
1tbsp fresh oregano, chopped finely
Parmesan cheese to serve

  1. Put all the meatball ingredients in a food processor and whizz until it forms a ball, divide into bite-sized balls and chill.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion, chillies and garlic and gently cook until softened.
  3. Add the carrots, courgette, celery, kale/cabbage and tomato puree and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the stock and tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins until the carrots are tender.
  5. When soup is cooked gently add the meatballs to the soup, simmer very gently for 15 minutes then add the fresh parsley and oregano.
  6. Check the seasoning and ensure that the meatballs are cooked through and serve with a good grating of Parmesan cheese on top.

City Connect has kindly invited me to regularly blog, post and pass on my fat busting tips but if you would like to get started right now, my 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane diet has just been published as an eBook which you can download from my bookshop or a Kindle version is available through Amazon.

Ready For Battle?

I don’t know about you but I find Christmas very stressful. But not stressful in a bad way; more in an exciting way! I can cope with the whole thing and really enjoy myself as long as I don’t come across any of the ‘super-organised’! You know the ones. They have got the cards written, the presents bought and wrapped, the Christmas lunch pre-ordered, the tree up and beautifully decorated during the first week of December, the children’s presents bought months before to avoid the ‘rush’, their desks are clear long before Christmas Eve and they turn up at the office Christmas party looking fabulous in a little designer something they picked up in T K Max ‘for a song’ – and their hair and nails are perfect!! If even one of them drifts elegantly through my life in the run up to Christmas I can guarantee stress!

Christmas is all about overload. An overload of food, drink, kids, relatives, shopping (and spending!), partying and most of us muddle through it each year somehow or other. But how do you usually feel when you come out the other end? Once you slow the pace down just a fraction do you find you pick up the first virus that’s going around and end up with a stinking cold which develops into a secondary infection and the first couple of months of the New Year become a real struggle?

If that’s you, you’ve got to prepare yourself for battle right now – today! The stronger your immune system is in the run up to Christmas, the better you are likely to cope with the overload and hopefully swing into the New Year feeling exhausted but otherwise good.

Here are a few things you can do now:-

  • Your body needs to sleep in order to rest and repair – try to get at least 6 hours sleep every night (8 is better).
  • Have a mug of hot water with a squeeze of lemon, some grated ginger and a swirl of honey every morning before you do anything else to cleanse and refresh your system – your digestion will certainly thank you for it.
  • Get a bottle of Echinacea and follow the instructions every day to provide a shield against viral attack.
  • Plenty of protein is essential. Whatever stress your body is under has to be dealt with and protein provides the building blocks for repair and regeneration. Make sure you have some protein with every meal and snack throughout the day. Lean meats, especially game, chicken and turkey and fish, fish, fish (cheap, quick, tasty and there’s such a huge variety so you will never be bored).
  • Submerge yourself! Everything, and I mean everything in your body works better when you are hydrated so make sure you always have a little or large bottle of water to hand and sip throughout the day. If you have coffee or tea, have a glass of water alongside. For every alcoholic drink, match it with a glass of water. Yes, you have to go to the ladies/gents more often, but you tend to feel pretty good the morning after the night before! Divide your weight by 2 to get a rough idea of how many ounces of water you should be aiming for in a day.
  • There are always loads of fresh nuts in the shops around this time of year. Eat them! A handful of fresh (not salted) nuts, a chunk of hard cheese and a piece of fruit provide a great, balanced snack mid morning, mid afternoon or late evening if you find you wake up in the night and cant get back to sleep.
  • You are probably tired of hearing about antioxidants but if there ever was a good time of the year to build up your antioxidant ‘shield’ its now! Fill a fruit bowl with a huge selection of fresh fruit and graze your way through them then fill it up and start again. Buy bags of baby vegetables and have them with dips (hummus, tzatziki, salsa), buy bags of ready chopped vegetables, steam them quickly, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and have a large plate before you have your main meal of the day or before you go out. That way you wont be so tempted by salty, sugary snacks or puddings.
  • Oh, and one other thing.  Don’t read any of those articles or listen to any of those programmes dedicated to leading you down the path to a ‘healthy’ Christmas Day!  Its only one day for goodness sake and it’s a celebration – what’s a celebration without a feast and copious amounts of drink with friends and family intent on having a good time! I say “eat it, enjoy it, forget it and move on”.  There are 364 other days to focus on the healthier options!

Keep an eye out for my daily tips here at CityConnect starting 1st December right through to Christmas Eve to ensure the party season is fun all the way but still allows you to look good, feel good and keep your waistline intact.

Soup – A Miracle for Fat Loss

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_HeaderSome people tell me they don’t like soup. I say ‘what’s not to love?’ I call it a ‘miracle in a bowl’ for a host of very good reasons and spend copious hours endeavouring to convince non-believers!

My closest friend (and soup supremo), Jean Barr and I have been on a mission for many years to bring soup into everyone’s lives because we believe that once you become a soupaholic, you remain a soupaholic!

I have been devising diets for more years than I care to count and writing articles and books on the subject of fat loss. Anyone who is familiar with my scribblings will know that soup always plays a major role in my recommendations for waistline-whittling. Copious studies plus my personal experience with dieters reveal that when we are trying to follow any kind of prescriptive weight loss programme religiously, the usual stumbling blocks are hunger, cravings and feelings of deprivation which can make it horribly-hard to ‘stick it’ for long. Regular soup-supping can seriously remove those frustrations. Why?

  • Soup targets fat loss fast and cuts calories.
  • Soup fills you up and controls hunger and cravings.
  • Soup is quick, nutritious and cheap.
  • Soup reduces water retention and boosts metabolism.
  • Soups feeds bones, brain, skin and hormones.
  • Soup promotes good blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Soup controls inflammation and fights viruses.

Having just a handful of soup recipes up your sleeve which you can quickly throw together or make in bulk and freeze in portions to grab and go or sup when hunger and cravings invade are nothing short of a ‘fat loss saviour’ and worth their nutritional weight in gold.

For all the above reasons, we devised our Soup Can Make You Thin diet; a 10 day flab-fighting diet, in a bid to encourage dieters to get the apron on and the blender out and make soup. Such has been the enthusiasm for both the diet and Jean’s recipes that we have now been goaded/badgered/encouraged to produce a full colour cookbook with lots more SuperSkinny, Skinny and FatBustForever soup recipes with, we hope, something for every soup fan out there!

I make no excuse for encouraging you to have a look at our books because we want you to embrace ‘the power of soup’ for fat loss but also through our website, we encourage you to seek out other inspirational soup food bloggers, soup sites and soup cookbooks whose passions we share.

NB: Slim people eat soup, slim people make soup, slim people regularly choose soup over other meal and snack choices. Why? Because there is nothing like a bowl of soup to nourish, energise, fill you up, create that warm, fuzzy feeling and keep you lean. It is simply the best way of getting maximum nourishment into a fairly small and convenient space and there are so many ways of doing it that you can eat soup daily and shed pounds fast without diet boredom ever being an issue.

Have a look at our soup website, www.souperydupery.com and don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us through our soup forum or sign up to our newsletter. We look forward to hearing from you……..

Sugar – Not So Sweet Sadly!

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_HeaderPut simply, if we eat more sugar than our bodies can efficiently process, the pancreas is prompted to release insulin on a way too regular basis to keep blood sugar levels in the safe zone. Much of the excess glucose is stored as fat, we gain weight and the more we weigh, the greater the risk of such health conditions as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sugar itself is not the demon, we just tend to eat rather too much of it so let’s look a bit more closely at how we can satisfy our sweet tooth without wreaking havoc on our health.

  • Don’t ditch fruit. Diet myths come and go and one that is saturating the media right now is the misguided suggestion that we limit our consumption of fruit. The premiss being that fruit is sugar – fructose in this case. The fact that fruit is rich in fibre, provides an abundance of protective plant chemicals plus in some cases, a little protein and fat seems to be largely ignored or merely merits a quick mention in the last paragraph. This, is in my view is scaremongering at its worst. Few foods make a quicker or healthier snack and to ensure that the sugar doesn’t play havoc with blood sugar levels, have some protein or fat with your fresh fruit or fruit juice (a handful of nuts, a chunk of cheese or a carton of plain yoghurt are all good choices).
  • Ditch the Liquid ‘Candy’. Over the years, I have seen scores of dieters lose weight in record time and seriously reduce sugar cravings by merely cutting out fizzy pop and other sugary drinks. A can of cola contains around 8 cubes of sugar, some sports drinks as many as 12 and even supposedly-healthy vitamin waters come in anywhere between 4 and 6 cubes! Try a week of swapping them for tea or coffee (with a spoonful of sugar if you can’t manage without), fruit and herb teas (hot or chilled), sparkling water with sugar-free fruit cordials, fresh fruit juices watered down 50:50, vegetable juices and light soups. And, don’t imagine that the ‘diet’ and ‘zero’ versions of your canned or bottled favourites are fine – all those artificial sweeteners do nothing to curb cravings – the brain can’t distinguish between natural sugars and chemically-altered syrups.
  • Eat More Fat. The indomitable Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat and a host of other inspiring books on the subject explains in a clear and concise illustration why sugar makes us fat and fats halt the process. Here’s the link: http://blog.massivehealth.com/infographics/Carbs_are_killing_you/. Print it off and stick it on the fridge then get more tasty, filling and satisfying fats into your diet. Oily fish, nuts, seeds and their oils and butters and avocados are tops and can blunt a sugar craving in the time it takes to open a bag of crisps or unwrap a Krispy Kreme doughnut!
  • Get Competitive. If you work in an office or alongside others and love a challenge, this tactic has success written all over it. Get as many people on board as possible, get everyone to pitch a fiver into a kitty, decide on a prize (not a sugary one!), determine a completion date and go sugar-free. Some may cheat when they are away from prying eyes, some may slink off on an errand and scoff a few chocolate digestives along the way but most find it hard not to buckle under when quizzed!
  • Get More Sleep. Sleep deprivation signals a need for additional calories. When levels of the ‘appetite’ hormone, leptin decrease, the brain thinks there is a shortage of food and we are prompted to eat more. Conversely, when levels are high, we feel fuller for longer. Studies show that those who regularly get 6 hours or less sleep per night not only gain weight more rapidly than those who get their 8 hours plus but also struggle to lose weight long term. Focus on getting an early night at least 4 nights a week and watch sugar cravings lessen.
  • Make a Beeline for Root Vegetables. Carrots, turnip, swede, parsnip, beetroot, sweet potatoes and celeriac taste sweet because they are rich in natural sugars. Greens on the other hand are slightly bitter and whilst they offer a wealth of health benefits they don’t quite cut it if you are trying to control invasive sugar needs. Root vegetables are in season and cheap as chips at this time of the year so get them into your shopping trolley and roast them, grate them into salads and make filling and comforting soups and stews.
  • Suck on a Sugar Cube. When you chew and swallow food, it has to go through the digestion process before being absorbed and that can take time you simply don’t have when a sugar craving strikes but if you pop a sugar cube under your tongue and let it dissolve slowly, the sugar will be absorbed directly into the blood stream, the urge will pass and you have only had a very small amount of sugar. It works but make sure you rinse your mouth well with water afterwards to prevent getting a dressing down from your dentist!
  • Beware of Breakfast Cereals. Way too many on the shelves and heralded as ‘healthy options’ are heaving with sugar and when you start the day with a sugar overload, the need for more continues. Before you know it you are struggling to overcome a desperate desire for a sweet treat and can depend on little other than willpower to quell it. Go savoury at breakfast time with scrambled eggs on toast, lean bacon with tomatoes and mushrooms, ham and cheese, porridge with cinnamon and a dash of honey or vegetable juices.
  • Read the label. If you don’t have time to cook from fresh and ready-made meals form part of your diet, label-reading is vital. Where it says ‘Carbohydrates; of which sugars’, 10g per 100g is high, 2g is low so aim for a maximum of 4g. Also, ingredients are always listed on a ‘most, first‘ basis so if sugar, syrup or anything ending in -ose or -ol is near the top, leave it on the shelf.

For  more tips on how to stay sweet without hazarding health and piling on the pounds go to www.fatbustforever.com and find out more about Fiona’s fat loss plans.

Beat The Holiday Bulge!

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_HeaderRecognise this very frustrating scenario? You have been super-disciplined for a few weeks or longer , you have lost weight, you are looking and feeling good, you are ready to bare all on the beach and determined to enjoy every single minute of your well-deserved break. But, somehow or other all that fun seems to result in the pounds creeping back on and your return home sees you having to find yet more of that iron discipline. Here are a few tricks that can really help while you are on holiday:

Bin the Starch: If you do nothing else, this is the one that is most likely to keep your waistline feeling trim throughout your holiday. The heat is enough to make you bloat a little and when you add starch it may be a real struggle to slip into your shortest shorts of your skin tight sheath dress when you go out in the evening. If you manage to say no to the bread, pasta, pizza, cones and wafers most of the time you can enjoy the odd ice cream sundae and mile-high cocktail guilt-free.

Big up on fat busting fats: essential fats (particularly Omega 3s) fill you up, keep cravings for sugary foods and drinks at bay and boost the production of enzymes which help transport stored fat into our energy factories to be burned as fuel. Have local fresh eggs for breakfast, replace salty snacks with fresh nuts which are abundant in hot countries, gorge on delicious, filling avocados stuffed with local fish and drizzle nut and seed oils over salads.

holiday buffetHave chilled soups for starters: soup keeps the stomach wall stretched for longer than solid foods, even when water is taken alongside so our appetite is dulled and we eat less during the rest of a meal (studies show that it can be up to 200kcals less!) Most hot countries pride themselves on their regional soup specialities; Gazpacho, Ajo Blanco, Vichyssoise etc so be adventurous, give them a try and feel smug that you haven’t overdone the calories!

Consider taking water tablets: Direct exposure to the sun over a number of hours in a day causes water retention as the body holds water in the cells to prevent dehydration and should you have too much exposure and suffer from sunburn, the situation worsens. Whilst it is vital that you drink more water than usual throughout the day when in a hot climate (at least 1.5 litres), you may also wish to consider taking water tablets during your holiday to assist in the release of retained water and avoid feeling and looking bloated. Whilst water tablets contain natural products, they can interfere with the effect of certain medications so check this out with your GP. Also, if you are pregnant, breast feeding or under 16 years of age, don’t think about it, just ensure you stay hydrated. And, stop taking them when you return home.

And, if you haven’t left it too late: do a 3 day cleanse before you go to give your system a metabolic boost so it can better cope with a bit of indulgence on holiday: first thing in the morning and every few hours thereafter have a mug of hot water with ginger and lemon (it’s also great chilled), have fruit on its own (sliced/diced/smoothied) until lunchtime, a bowl of meat, fish, bean or lentil soup for lunch, crunch on raw vegetables in the afternoon if you are having hunger pangs or experiencing energy dips, have a stir fry with plenty of vegetables and some protein (poultry, game, lean red meat, fish, shellfish, tofu) or a big mixed salad (also with a good helping of protein) for dinner and a mug of chicken bouillon or miso soup before bed.

Bananas and Beer for Olympic Greatness

Now this truly is magic to my ears. It’s official; bananas beat sports drinks hands down for the exercise bunnies amongst us. It’s a good feeling when something you have been ranting on about for years gets a bit of bona fide scientific evidence behind it! In no way do I want to take the fun out of life by continually flagging up nutritional negatives and using words like don’t, avoid, resist, remove, ditch, dodge, shun and exclude. After all, I am a paid up member of the 80:20 club; get it right 80% of the time and you can pretty much do what the hell you like for the other 20%. But, I have to confess to being a fizzy drink fanatic – fanatically against them that is. There are a few exceptions like champagne and beer but i’ll come on to that in a minute.

The global sports and energy drinks market is massive and is expected to reach a staggering $52 billion by 2016. You’ve got to hand it to the marketing men – great job. And, those shareholders who bought into the market in the early days must be rubbing their hands in glee but from a health point of view they are still just sugary, fizzy drinks with a few added extras and a lot of claims on the bottle. Gatorade is the undisputed market leader and guess who makes it? Mr Pepsi Cola! Red Bull currently claims the silver and the two gentlemen who own 98% of the company are listed in the worlds‘ richest list as having a net worth of a cool $5 billion each.

Back to bananas and the recent study. 14 cyclists were given either a 6% carbohydrate sports drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during two 75km cycling time trials. Blood samples were taken prior to the time trials, immediately after and one hour later and immune functions, oxidative stress, exercise-induced inflammation and levels of 103 metabolites were measured. Both the bananas and the carbohydrate drinks performed similarly with regard to changes in exercise-induced inflammation, oxidative stress and immune function but the cyclists who consumed the bananas had much higher antioxidant levels and dopamine levels (the feel good chemical) than the cyclists that consumed the sports drink.

Bananas have more protective antioxidants, more digestion-friendly fibre, more muscle-friendly potassium and more energy-giving vitamin B6 than sports drinks whilst also having healthier more easily-absorbed sugars like fructose and glucose whereas many sports drinks contain sucrose and/or the now recognised health-disrupting high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). If you were ever tempted to buy into the “bananas are fattening” hype, bin that notion now and get them into your kit bag. I can’t leave this self-indulgent banana promotion without adding another of its benefits – fat loss.

Unripe bananas (not rock hard but slightly green about the skin) are rich in resistant starch, a type of starch that largely resists the normal digestive process and carries on down to the colon where it goes through a process that produces short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which are protective of colon cells and associated with less genetic damage which can lead to cancer, increase mineral absorption; particularly calcium and magnesium which are important for heart and bone health and by feeding the healthy bacteria, growth of unhealthy bacteria and their toxic by-products is suppressed. Resistant starch also promotes a phenomenon known as second meal effect where the insulin response is controlled not just after consumption but also for hours thereafter and well into our next meal resulting in less fat storage.

So what about champagne and beer, they are fizzy drinks after all? Ultra brut, extra brut or brut sauvage champagnes contain no added sugar are quite dry and have a very low sugar content, usually less than 1.5% – and they are natural sugars – so if funds allow (or even better, if someone else is buying) go for the ‘bubbly’ and make sure the word brut appears on the label. You can’t have failed to notice that skinny celebs rarely drink anything else!

Hallelujah, the myth of the beer belly may finally have been laid to rest. The major source of calories in any alcoholic drink is the alcohol itself and because beer is in the drinks category with the lowest average alcohol content it is therefore amongst the lowest in calories. Let’s not forget that rough stone-ground bread and beer were the staple diet in medieval times, providing a wealth of essential nutrients and lots of hydration (nobody drank water as this was long before purification techniques were in place and consumption was regularly associated with such killer diseases as cholera and typhoid).

Beer produced by the growing numbers of ‘real ale‘ enthusiasts contains just three ingredients; water, grains and yeast, provides significant amounts of magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus and a load of B vitamins and studies continue to reveal that the so-called beer belly is purely a result of how many pints are downed in one sitting and how often (and probably combined with the snack-attack that often goes hand in hand with overconsumption and the ‘need’ for a take-away on the way home after a few pints!)

I appreciate that the athletes who are wowing us with their speed and fitness at present during the London 2012 Olympics are not downing a pint of real ale before getting off the starting blocks and have you seen the lengthy lists of banned substances, both chemical and natural that could have them hiking back home in super fast time were they to be uncovered during the regular drug tests? Mind-boggling. Clearly, dedication, focus, training and endless hours of practice are the route to Olympic gold. However, most of us will never reach those heady heights of physical achievement and are not subject to drug testing so we can perhaps reach for the odd hydrating drink with a few little added extras – natural extras of course.

I make no apology for championing the enthusiastic beer boys at www.brewdog.com, a Scottish company whose passion and wit take beer drinking to a whole new level. I don’t know them personally but their website and blog are hugely entertaining, they share my disgust at fast food companies and fizzy drinks manufacturers being the chief sponsors of major sporting events worldwide and who knows, one day I might meet up with them and have a couple of beers. On the back of the Olympic frenzy, they have produced a beer called Never Mind the Anabolics (cracking name) which is 6.5% India Pale Ale infused with creatine, guarana, ginseng, gingo, maca powder, matcha tea and kola nut (all natural performance-enhancing ingredients). Have a look, have a laugh, have a few and perhaps even run that extra mile in under four minutes!

Images reproduced from en.wikipedia.org, crimsonedgeevents.com and brewdog.com

Cellulite – the C-word Us Girls Love to Hate!

Whatever you see on the outside indicates some imbalances on the inside and cellulite is no exception. It’s stubborn stuff and will happily sit on hips, thighs and bum until it is forced to budge so you have to show it who’s boss!

Women’s fat cells are grouped in sacs and held between the skin’s tissue layers by vertical strands of fibrous connective tissue which don’t stretch much, so as fat cells expand they push through the spaces resulting in the orange-peel/cottage cheese look – imagine a big ball of mozzarella in a string bag, not a pretty sight!

There are scores of lotions, potions, supplements, herbal extracts, articles of clothing impregnated with weird concoctions, heat belts, massage tools, wraps and surgical procedures on offer which promise to banish cellulite forever and a few have achieved modest success but before you open your wallet let’s look at why shrinking the size of your fat cells should be your number one priority.

The bigger the fat cells grouped between the skin’s connective tissue are, the more they will squeeze between the strands and the worse the cellulite will look. Whilst there is no known cure for cellulite, the build-up can be greatly reduced with a good diet that includes foods that improve circulation, encourage lymphatic drainage, maintain skin elasticity, balance sex hormones and reduce fluid retention coupled with an exercise programme that increases metabolic rate, prompts the body to burn fat for fuel, strengthens blood vessels and connective tissue, builds calorie-munching muscle and helps to create a lean, fit body.

The following foods, drinks and exercise strategies have shown themselves to have many if not all of the above skills:

Omega 3 Fats
These good fats help our kidneys get rid of excess water held in tissues, increase our metabolic rate, boost energy production and encourage glucose to be stored in muscle cells rather than fat cells. They also play a major role in balancing hormones.
Top food choices: Seeds, nuts, oily fish and avocado.

Calcium-rich Foods
These foods build and maintain strong bones and muscles, allow us to burn more calories per day, reduce the transport of fat from the intestines into the bloodstream so instead of storing it we lose it. Good levels of calcium in the diet are also important for skin health and help to prevent premature ageing.
Top foods: 0% fat natural yoghurt, tinned salmon, cottage cheese, tofu, hard cheese, rhubarb, broccoli and spinach.

Vitamin C-rich Foods and Drinks
Collagen is the protein that literally holds us together and vitamin C is essential for its production. It also improves circulation, strengthens the immune system and allows toxins and waste to be efficiently removed via the lymphatic system.
Top foods: Papaya, peppers, cherries and berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale.

Interval Training
Aerobic exercise expands the network of blood vessels that allow nutrients to be absorbed into the body and this expanded network also helps clear waste products from the body. Interval training, which calls on the fat cells to release energy involves intense effort for one minute (walk/jog/run as fast as you can) followed by less intense effort (slow it down to a manageable pace) for between one and four minutes.

For more fat busting, cellulite-bashing tips see Fiona’s website www.fatbustforever.com or get your copy of her 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane eBook diet on Kindle, iBooks or through her book shop www.fionakirkbooks.com

Image reproduced from makeupandbeauty.com

Fat in the City: Another TV Drama!

I am going to have a bit of a rant about the perceived ‘dangers’ of eating whilst we are comfortably settled on our oh-so-comfortable couches in front of the TV.

Euro 2012 is over, Andy Murray’s quest for a British win at Wimbledon has left us drained and before we have time to catch our breath the Olympic giants will be taking over the airways. Sport may not be your bag; perhaps you are more of a Mad Men, Sopranos, Smash, Awake-type. Whatever floats your boat, research indicates that in these rather austere times, staying in and watching the box is the new going out. But, a couple of new studies undertaken by people who clearly want to take all the fun out of life suggest that those of us who watch TV whilst having our evening meal consume more unhealthy snacks in the hours afterwards than those who concentrate on what they are eating during a formal meal at the table with few distractions. They even suggest that animated discussion can have a detrimental effect! Dinner without animated conversation? Are we turning back the pages to the days of ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and the man of the house demanded we adhere to dinner table etiquette or go to bed hungry?

Apparently it’s all about food memory. When we don’t focus on the flavours and textures of our food we later forget what we have eaten and raid the fridge or biscuit tin. You are likely sensing just a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s (or two) of cynicism creeping in here! So, why do we gorge on not so healthy snacks while we slip into slob mode in front of the TV? Desire certainly plays a role, comfort can’t be ignored, habit could be an issue, hunger may well be involved and sharing a bit of indulgence with a partner or a few friends is definitely right up there. Because we have forgotten what we have already hoovered down? I’m not convinced.

Having worked with countless people who are keen/desperate to shed the flab, I would like to propose that it has a lot more to do to with the body’s biochemistry and in particular with the rarely-satisfied brain, that big hungry monster that loves a snack. Sadly, the brain is not too bothered whether it’s enough tortilla chips with sour cream and salsa to feed an army or a couple of oatcakes with a light scraping of hummus – a snack means fuel so bring it on, the more the better.

The bottom line is that the brain requires a little bit of training and a lot of careful manipulation and it’s not as difficult as it sounds. The biochemistry of the brain is beyond difficult and continues to keep scientists obsessed as they try to understand this incredibly sophisticated organ that us humans often take for granted but one thing they all agree on is that it works best when it is well-nourished and in my world that can include TV dinners and snacks. In an effort to turn the tables and maybe even encourage a few studies that promote a positive rather than a negative spin here are a few ideas that can keep the brain well-fed and keep our waistlines in tact.

  • Include starchy carbohydrates in your mid afternoon and/or early evening snack but stay away from them thereafter. Unless you exercise in the evening before you hit the couch you don’t need the energy they provide at this time of the day and they often result in you going to bed feeling bloated and over-stuffed.
  • Have a snack and a couple of glasses of water as soon as you get home from work or while you are preparing your evening meal then wait at least 20 minutes before you eat again. It takes around 20 minutes for the brain to get the message sent from the stomach to say “thanks, I’m happy for now” and whilst water can be a whole lot less exciting than a glass of wine, it does help to blunt the appetite.
  • Never say never to meals and snacks that you know are indulgently, unhealthily waist-expanding. Research shows that when we deprive ourselves of treats, no matter how good or bad they may be, the brain clocks this, the reward chemical, dopamine is released and we are driven to seek satisfaction. This biochemical crisis all-too-often results in cravings for sugary, salty or starchy carbohydrates that hit the spot fast (crisps, biscuits, fries, pastries etc). A little of what you fancy is often a a much safer route – just not too often!
  • Make your snacks count. Regular exercise (30 minutes per day) provides a wealth of health-enhancing benefits and helps to create a lean, fit body but it also prompts the brain to seek nourishment – particularly if that 30 minutes are fairly gruelling. You need food but chips and cheese or a burger on the way back from the gym isn’t the answer so stuff your sports bag with quick, easy and protein-rich snacks and devour them before the hunger monster has a chance to rear it’s ugly head.

A good snack is a small snack that takes a bit of time to digest, fills you up and delivers the energy and the nutrients from the food at a slow and steady pace rather than in a gush. A protein and/or fat-rich snack achieves this. Too much carbohydrate in a snack and you can find yourself looking for another hit all too soon so you carry on grazing. Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet but it is important to remember that other than meats, fish and shellfish and eggs, most foods have some carbohydrate content. So, unless you are under 18 and still growing or you have a fairly punishing exercise schedule you don’t need to include grains and other starchy foods in every meal and snack and earlier in the day is the time to have them to keep you sharp and bursting with energy.

Pre-Dinner Snacks
A mug of meaty, fishy or beany soup with a good drizzle of flax seed oil
A small mixed salad with tuna/turkey/egg topped with toasted almonds
A small pot of 3 Bean Salad
Raw carrot sticks with a small pot of hummus or guacamole

Sports Bag Snacks
Fresh nuts/seeds
Smoothies with yoghurt and fruit
Mini oatcakes with peanut butter
Cold cooked chicken portions
Cold meats and hard cheese
Rye crackers and sardine pate
Cold boiled eggs

TV Snacks
Raw vegetables (the more colour the better) and/or cooked prawns, chunks of cold chicken/turkey/lamb/ham with dips  (tzatziki, taramasalata, salsa, guacamole, tahini, melitzanosalata)
A bowl of soup – see Pre-Dinner Snacks
Chunks of fresh fruit wrapped in Parma Ham
A 2-egg omelette/fritatta with tomatoes, mushrooms and courgettes sliced into easy to eat slices
A mug of hot chocolate made with soya milk and 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate

For more tips and tricks, to learn a little more about how to feed the hungry brain, to order my books and/or keep up with more of my rantings see my website www.fionakirk.com

Image reproduced from lucilleroberts.com