Belfast Telegraph

Feeling constantly exhausted? A few simple changes to your diet may leave you feeling better than ever

BY STEPHANIE BELL

Belfast nutritionist Jane McClenaghan, who has helped thousands of people improve their health, says her new cookbook will boost your energy levels.

We all have a point in the day when our energy levels dip and we automatically reach for a bar of chocolate or something equally sugary to give us a quick boost.

But according to a leading local nutritional expert more and more of us are not just feeling sluggish in the afternoons but suffering from ongoing tiredness and a feeling of burnout throughout the day.

In fact, Jane McClenaghan, who runs Vital Nutrition, has been so concerned at the high numbers of local people seeking her help for chronic fatigue that she decided to do something to tackle the problem head-on.

Jane, who has been a nutritional therapist in Belfast for 15 years and has helped thousands of people to improve their health by making changes to their diet, has just published a new book which she has created as an easy-to-follow guide on how we can eat to reduce tiredness and boost our energy.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, at any given time, one in five people feel unusually tired, and one in 10 have prolonged fatigue, with diet being a major contributory factor.

Jane’s book, The Vital Nutrition Cookbook, contains 50 simple recipes as well as top tips to help restore vitality.

She says: “My biggest aim with the new book is to inject a little positivity and fun back into the kitchen, give readers an understanding of how a low GI (Glycemic Index) diet has the power to replenish their zest for life, as well as ideas on how to eat well on a budget. There are also more than 50 deliciously mouth-watering recipes to help ignite people's energy levels.”

Originally from Eglinton, outside Londonderry, Jane (41) grew up in a family where growing, cooking and eating simple, healthy food was part of the fabric of life.

But it was when she was just 11 years old in her very first home economics class at school that she suddenly developed what has become a lifelong passion for food and nutrition.

She recalls: “I remember our first lesson was about how brilliant Flora was. Margarines were really promoted back then in the 80s because of polysaturated fats. I went home that day and told my mum she wasn't to buy butter again.

“Now, however, I would be telling her to ditch the margarine in favour of the more natural butter.

“My job is just a dream come true for me as from that day on I was passionate about everything to do with food and its benefits.”

Jane, who lives with her partner in Belfast, studied for a degree in Food Science in England and then completed a three-year diploma in Nutritional Therapy.

She worked for 10 years in England before returning to Northern Ireland in 2001 and setting up her own clinic at Framar Health on the Lisburn Road in Belfast.

As well as private one-to-one sessions, she works with a number of local councils and develops corporate health programmes for companies all over Ireland.

She is also in her element running cookery classes and popular well-being workshops. “I have a life-long love of food and so I love my work,” she says. “I'm fascinated by the powerful effects that eating good quality, fresh, local food has on our mind, body and soul.

“But I am also mindful of the busy, time-poor and cash-strapped hectic lives that many of us lead, which is why I decided to write the book.

“People come to me with all sorts of ailments but in recent years I've been really surprised by the growing numbers who are asking for help because of constant fatigue.

“We have these really fast-paced lives where even at the weekends we are packing loads in and not taking time to relax.

“My book tells people how to eat, when to eat, what to eat and there are even recipes containing chocolate in there.

“For me healthy eating is not all or nothing, I strongly believe in the 80/20 rule — if you eat well 80% of the time you can indulge in what you want the rest of the time. I always think there is room for a bar of chocolate in everybody's diet.

“Eating well should be a way of life and I truly believe that by making small changes to everyday eating habits, people can soon get a spring back into their step, lose weight and ultimately prolong their life.”

* The Vital Nutrition Cookbook, £12, is available at Waterstones, Easons and Framar Health in Belfast, and online at www.vital-nutrition.co.uk

The top 5 energy boosting foods:

1. Nuts and seeds — a great source of protein to help maintain and sustain your energy levels

2. Natural yoghurt with berries — a tasty snack to keep hunger at bay that will keep you going for much longer than a chocolate bar

3. Green leafy vegetables like kale, cabbage, spinach and broccoli are packed full of magnesium to help balance energy

4. Chicken and fish — having a little protein with each meal and snack will keep you going for longer

5. Green tea is a perfect pick-me-up energy drink.

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