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Series 1: Italian Food

On your weight loss journey you may be faced with having to navigate the often tempting and calorie-laden menus of restaurants. Dining out for many, can present a significant challenge. However, with the right knowledge and strategies, eating out need not derail your weight loss goals.

Welcome to the beginning of my blog series dedicated to uncovering lighter options at various restaurants and cuisines, tailored especially for those striving to lose weight. In today's edition, I’ll be exploring Italian food. When dining out at Italian restaurants, making healthier choices doesn't mean sacrificing flavour or satisfaction.

While it's true that Italian food can often be high in calories, there are also numerous lighter alternatives that can satisfy your cravings without sabotaging your progress. Making informed choices can help you stay on track towards your weight loss goals while still enjoying the delicious flavours of Italy.

In the months to come, I’ll delve into other popular restaurant types and cuisines, offering tips, tricks, and menu recommendations to help you make healthier choices without sacrificing taste or enjoyment. From Mexican to Japanese, Indian to Mediterranean, we'll explore a variety of choices, ensuring that you have the tools and knowledge to make mindful decisions when eating out.

I hope that by the end of this series you will discover how to navigate dining out with ease and confidence.

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When dining out at Italian restaurants, making healthier choices doesn't mean sacrificing flavour or satisfaction. Here are some simple yet effective strategies for choosing lighter options while indulging in the delicious offerings of Italian cuisine:

1.     Opt for Tomato-Based Pasta Dishes: Instead of creamy Alfredo or rich carbonara sauces, choose pasta dishes that feature tomato-based sauces. Classic options like marinara or arrabbiata sauces are often lower in calories and saturated fats compared to their cream-based counterparts. These sauces are typically made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and olive oil, providing flavour without the excess calories.

2.     Choose Pizza with Extra Vegetables and Less Cheese: Pizza is an Italian staple, but it can also be laden with calories, especially when piled high with cheese and fatty toppings. To lighten up your pizza, opt for toppings such as mushrooms, peppers, spinach, onions, and tomatoes. These vegetables not only add flavour and texture but also provide essential nutrients and fibre Additionally, consider asking for less cheese or opting for a lighter cheese option like reduced fat mozzarella to reduce the overall calorie and fat content of your pizza.

3.     Try a Thin Crust Pizza: While traditional thick crust pizzas can be delicious, they also tend to be higher in calories and carbohydrates. Choosing a thin crust pizza can significantly reduce the calorie and carbohydrate content of your meal while still allowing you to enjoy your favourite toppings.

4.     Share or Half Portions: Italian restaurants are notorious for serving generous portions. Consider sharing a starter with a friend or asking for a half portion to control your portion size and calorie intake.

5.     Load up on Vegetables: Italian cuisine offers a variety of vegetable-based dishes that are both flavourful and nutritious. Look for options like grilled vegetables, vegetable-based pasta dishes, or ratatouille for a lighter alternative to heavier meat or pasta dishes.

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Below you will find a selection of popular UK Italian restaurants each offering lighter options to support your weight loss journey while still being able to enjoy a meal out with your family and friends.

By incorporating these simple tips into your dining experience, you can enjoy the flavours of Italian cuisine without derailing your weight loss efforts. Whether you're craving pasta or pizza, making mindful choices can help you stay on track towards your health and wellness goals while savouring every bite. So, the next time you find yourself at an Italian restaurant, remember these lighter options to enjoy a guilt-free and delicious meal!

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As we step into a new year, the desire to pursue sustainable weight loss often looms large. For many, me included, the cycle of yo-yo dieting has been an all-too-familiar struggle. I know first-hand the frustration, the setbacks, and the relentlessness of the cycle that encompasses shedding weight only to see it creep back, time and time again.

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I've been down the road of restrictive diets, testing the waters with very low-calorie plans and pushing myself to extremes through excessive exercise. The result? Temporary weight loss, but an inevitable return to square one. The allure of these restrictive regimes was undeniable; I'd lose weight initially, but maintaining such stringent practices became unsustainable. Eventually, the weight piled back on.

Each cycle left me disheartened and desperate. After regaining the weight, my mind would race, contemplating, "What restrictive diet should I attempt next? What worked before?" It was a constant loop, a cycle of hope and disappointment. Despite the effort, sacrifice, and suffering, sustainable weight loss remained elusive.

I came to realise that the problem wasn't just about the numbers on the scale or the foods on my plate. It was about my relationship with food, my body, and my approach to health. This realisation led me on a journey to not just become a dietitian, but to become someone who helps others break free from this “dieting” cycle.

Through my own struggles and experiences, I've come to understand the pitfalls of extreme diets and the dangers of chasing quick fixes. My journey has taught me the immense value of balance, moderation, and self-compassion in achieving lasting results.

So, as we step into this new year, I extend an invitation to break the chains of yo-yo dieting together. Let's move away from the punishing cycles of restriction and embrace a more holistic approach—one that nurtures not only weight loss but also fosters a positive relationship with food and self. Read on to find out how…



Embrace Food Neutrality:

Shifting away from labelling foods as "good" or "bad" can profoundly impact our relationship with food. The mere act of categorising foods in this manner tends to increase cravings for the forbidden "bad" foods while restricting the "good" ones. Remember, all foods have a place in our diet, and enjoying a variety in moderation can be part of a healthy eating plan.

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Avoid Bans and Restrictions:

Banning specific foods from your diet often backfires, leading to increased cravings and making the diet unsustainable in the long run. Instead of prohibition, moderation and mindful consumption of all foods can contribute to a balanced diet.

Prioritise Adequate Caloric Intake:

Eating enough calories is vital for sustaining energy levels, preventing hunger pangs, and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Starving oneself with overly restrictive calorie targets can lead to cravings, low energy, and a tendency to overindulge in high-calorie foods.

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Seek Satisfaction in Eating:

Genuine satisfaction from meals or snacks is crucial for long-term adherence to a healthy eating plan. If you're not enjoying what you're eating, sustaining it becomes a challenge.

Listen to Hunger Cues:

Eating in response to hunger and not allowing oneself to reach the point of extreme hunger can prevent overeating or bingeing. When we allow ourselves to get excessively hungry, the urge to consume high-energy foods intensifies, potentially derailing weight loss efforts.

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Release Guilt and Enjoyment:

Granting oneself permission to enjoy favourite foods without guilt is key to removing the sense of restriction. Feeling guilty about indulging can overshadow the enjoyment, undermining the balance in our relationship with food.

Embrace Imperfection and Self-Compassion:

Striving for perfection in a weight loss journey is setting an unrealistic standard. Allowing flexibility and not demanding 100% adherence all the time can lead to more sustainable progress. Even achieving 70-80% adherence can yield positive results while allowing room for enjoyment without excessive restriction.

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This year, instead of embarking on yet another cycle of restrictive diets, consider adopting a more balanced approach to weight loss. By cultivating a healthy relationship with food, embracing moderation, and prioritising self-compassion, you can break free from the shackles of yo-yo dieting and pave the way for sustainable and fulfilling lifestyle changes. Remember, the goal is not just weight loss but also a journey toward holistic well-being and self-acceptance.

My personalised approach focuses on understanding your unique needs, preferences, and lifestyle to create a tailored plan that promotes long-term success. By incorporating evidence-based strategies, fostering a positive mindset, and encouraging balanced nutrition, I aim to help you achieve not only your weight loss objectives but also overall well-being.

Let's work together to:

  • Establish realistic and achievable goals tailored to your individual needs.

  • Cultivate a healthy relationship with food, embracing balance and moderation.

  • Develop sustainable habits that promote lasting weight management and improved health.

Contact me here or at to take the first step towards a balanced, fulfilling, and sustainable approach to weight loss and overall wellness.

I offer online or in person nutrition consultations in Kingston Upon Thames and online personalised meal plans.

Here's to a year of positive changes and embracing a healthier lifestyle!

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The last year has no doubt been a challenging one for us all, with many of us finding that boredom or stress has led to craving high sugar and high fat foods causing us to pile on a few unwanted extra pounds.

Don’t despair as you are not alone! These top tips will help you to get back on track so that you are feeling more energised and body confident, just in time for Summer and post-lockdown celebrations.

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Eat enough protein

Protein is an especially important component of the diet, particularly when you are trying to lose weight. Protein can help to keep your blood sugars steady, keep you feeling full and prevent cravings. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, tofu, quorn and soy protein meat alternatives. As a starting point aim to include a source of protein in at least 2 meals per day.

Don't forget about carbohydrate

In recent years carbohydrates have been largely demonised in the media and as a result many believe that the key to success is to significantly reduce them or cut them out altogether. Contrary to this, carbohydrates are the bodies primary energy source and therefore an important component of the diet. Without them you would find yourself feeling quite lethargic and potentially very hungry.

Aim to base your meals on a source of starchy carbohydrate such as potato, rice, pasta or bread. Limit refined carbohydrate options such as added sugars found in biscuits, cakes and sweets. As well as being high in calories, these can also lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels which can leave you feeling hungry.

Fill up on fibre

Similarly to protein, fibre can help to keep you feeling full for longer. Dietary sources of fibre include wholegrains, pulses, beans and fruit and vegetables. including plenty of vegetables on your plate in-particular will add bulk to your meals and leave you feeling satisfied whilst helping to keep your calorie intake down. Fibre has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer.

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Watch your fat intake

Fat in the diet is important for several reasons including supporting cell growth, hormone production and for helping the body to absorb nutrients. When you are trying to lose weight however, portion control is key as fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient. In the UK many of us already consume too much fat as it is contained in many of the foods we already eat. Be careful not to add too much extra fat to your food and choose lower fat protein and dairy options such as fish, poultry, lean mince, tofu or reduced fat cheese.

Get the balance right

To lose weight successfully, and more importantly keep the weight off you should aim to eat a well-balanced diet whilst eating in a calorie deficit. At your lunch and evening meals try to fill up ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, ¼ of your plate with starchy carbohydrate and ¼ of your plate with a source of protein. This will ensure you get the right balance to optimise your energy levels, keep you feeling full whilst losing weight at the same time.

Include some healthy snacks

Including 2-3 healthy snacks between your meals can support you with keeping your energy levels up and keep cravings at bay. Try to choose snacks for approximately 100 calories or less. Good options include low-fat Greek yoghurt, oatcakes, a cereal bar, a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is especially important for many reasons. Firstly, dehydration can leave you feeling tired and more likely to gravitate towards high calorie foods. It is also easy to confuse thirst with hunger. Next time you think you might be hungry try having a drink first. Watch out however for hidden calories found in juices, sodas and hot drinks. We should all aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of fluid per day.

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Eat intuitively

Set yourself a target this week to listen to your body and eat according to your hunger. There is a difference between true hunger and a craving. Hunger is a physical sensation that builds gradually over time. You may notice sensations such as your stomach rumbling or struggling to focus. Cravings tend to come on very quickly and involve the urge to eat a specific food, for many of us this is for something sweet. As well as coming on quickly cravings also tend to pass quickly so if you can distract yourself, even for 10-20 minutes you may find the craving passes.

Challenge your inner ‘food police’

Have you frequently found yourself falling into a pattern of yo-yo dieting? Challenging your feelings and attitudes towards certain foods may help you to break free from this cycle.

When we are trying to lose weight our inner ‘food police’ may be telling us that certain foods are completely off bounds. Restricting certain food groups can be counter-productive and lead to us craving these foods, binging on them, and then returning to old habits. Remember all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, even chocolate! Next time you want to eat something you think you shouldn’t, challenge your thoughts by asking yourself, am I hungry? Do I feel like it? And if so, how much would be enough?

Take part in exercise

Ultimately, losing weight is all about burning off more calories than you are consuming. Increasing your physical activity levels can therefore help to speed up your weight loss. A combination of both cardiovascular and resistance training exercise will give you optimum results. Aim to start slowly initially. Did you know that just by including an additional 20 minutes of walking per day the average person would burn enough calories to lose almost 1 stone of weight in a year?!

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Thanks for reading :)

You can find further information on losing weight by clicking on the links below.

Useful sources:

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