#4.1 Introduction to nutrition, gut health and weight management

When we are born one of the first things we do is feed. Food helps us to grow into a healthy human being, keeps us alive and is a major influence on our wellbeing.

Podcast Episode available

You probably have memories of what you ate as a child, your likes and dislikes, what and how much your parents gave you to eat, whether you were told to finish what was on your plate or told to eat slowly, when you were allowed ‘treats’ or whether you were taught to cook. All of this would have influenced some of your thinking around food and eating.


I have so many wonderful memories myself of baking with my Grandma at the family farm in Wales, where I spent a lot of my youth. Also of eating the typical 1970s diet, then later a more diverse range of foods from different countries as my parents explored the making of Spaghetti Bolognese and curries! A memory of steak being a birthday treat at the steak house, a fizzy drink and a packet of quavers at my Dad’s rugby club after swimming on a Sunday morning.

I had never really thought about food and its impact on my health or physicality until I attended my school in London, aged 13. As a professional Dance School the idea of being offered a ‘diet’ lunch (if that was your preference over a cooked lunch) was something completely new to me! For the first time in my life I became aware of others around me worrying about their size and shape. (By the way, the diet lunch was Ryvita, cheese, coleslaw and an apple - hardly enough to feed a growing dancer!!).

I came across other girls with eating disorders which disturbed me. At 5 foot tall and just over 7 stone I was one of the larger students and still considered too ‘chunky’ to be a professional dancer. I was there to be a dance teacher anyway, not a performer so a little different to many of the students.

These days the issues are exacerbated by the continual presence of social media. Women feel the need to ‘strive for perfection’ to an even larger degree. It was just as well for me that the stage wasn’t beckoning as I wonder what unhealthy habits would have been developed to keep my weight down.

So, did my eating history have an impact on how I eat and choose to feed others now?
Definitely; in some ways. However I found my way through the years as I took a keen interest in nutrition and healthy eating. I am not even mildly obsessive about food or exercise now, I believe in the 80/20 approach. It works perfectly for me and it also works for my clients when they work with me and adopt this strategy.

Incidentally, I don’t like fizzy drinks or quavers these days but I still bake cakes with my Grandma’s utensils and make a mean omelette which my Dad taught me to do! And the word DIET never enters my life as I don’t believe in them.

You must find your way of eating to enable you to enjoy the food you eat. At midlife we will most likely need to be prepared to make some changes as perhaps the way you have eaten in the past doesn’t seem to be serving your body well now. Whatever has influenced you in the past must be held onto as they are precious memories but explore what works for you now. Which foods make you feel good and give you energy and will help you to stay healthy for the rest of your life.

We know that without food and water we cannot live. We also know that what we choose to feed ourselves has a huge influence on our health and wellbeing. Many midlife women may have battled with weight gain through their entire life. Going on diets and various “eating plans” which may have dominated their lives. Acceptance of our body shape can sometimes be hard if we feel that we aren’t so keen on what we see in the mirror but not all of us are programmed to be slim, tall and willowy –this body type has been perceived by many women as the ideal. We can be heavily influenced by what we see on Instagram, Facebook, in magazines and on TV and what is promoted to be ‘the look we are all striving for’.

You may have been slimmer in your youth and a different shape, or if you have retained a slim build you now notice skin changes that change the way you look – perhaps softness where nothing used to move - but at midlife it is most certainly a time to accept that your body is likely to have changed. Battles are not worth getting into and I have worked with many women who have constantly done just that – and it just makes them miserable!

Of course, it isn’t all about how you look, though that often dominates our thoughts as ageing women. What is going on inside your body is of far more importance and staying healthy should be now be a priority. As we enter our post-menopausal years the risks of health issues increase. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, joint issues, osteoporosis, inflammation, certain cancers, liver disease and dementia are all more prevalent in later life and we should be doing everything we can to avoid any battles with these.

This is not the time for diets or restrictions, this is the time to let good nutrition help you to achieve optimal health so that you can live well in your post-menopausal years.

● Weight management
● Midlife middle management
● Gut health
● Eating well in midlife and beyond
● Midlife nutrition tool box

I look forward to sharing lots of information with you in this program. Information that will help you to find the way to manage your nutrition so that you are happy with it and more importantly, so that you are happy with yourself.