8 Top Tips to manage your IBS and keep food interesting

A guest expert post by Nutritional Therapist Ian Craig – @ian_fsn

Reader Question: “I’m always on the hunt for ideas to manage my diet: I have IBS and tend, if anything, to lose weight rather easily so eating is not about control or restriction for reasons of weight loss. It’s more about keeping me interested in a rather restricted diet and maintaining health & strength.”

Answer: IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a term used to say that you have a nondescript imbalance in your gut function – it’s often the ‘diagnosis’ used when the doctor doesn’t really know what’s wrong with you…. In my clinic, I see IBS sufferers on an almost daily basis and when they are willing to engage in some significant eating and lifestyle changes, I almost always see great improvements in gut health.


Here are eight top tips for interesting eating that should alleviate IBS symptoms:

  • Food sensitivities – the first thing I do when someone presents with IBS is to find out which foods are irritating their gut. I either use a IgG food sensitivity test or I do a food elimination-challenge test. Try this: remove all wheat, dairy, sugar and alcohol from your diet for 2 weeks. Then, taking 2 days per food, consume that food at least 3 times per day and simply take a note of your symptoms. This should give you a good sense of intestinal irritants.
  • Food replacements – now you’ve identified some foods to avoid, you’ll be looking for alternatives. For wheat, the obvious suggestion is to go gluten free, but I often find that that isn’t completely necessary. Try a 100% rye sourdough bread instead of wheat bread; try oat cakes instead of wheat crackers; try pasta made of vegetables or quinoa instead of wheat. For dairy, I tend to go for sugar-free nut milks and rice milks…. or proper fermented milks.
  • Embrace fermenting – fermenting is not only an old method of preserving food. It uses healthy bacteria and yeasts to break down the hard-to-digest proteins and sugars in foods, plus it provides your gut with these healthy microorganisms. For example, proper probiotic yoghurt and kefir are much easier to digest than milk. Even people with dairy ‘sensitivities’ may be fine with these. Try some sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) – this really is the ‘new’ probiotic supplement and tastes great with a salad.
  • The power of fresh – fresh fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that help you to digest foods. Pineapple and papaya are particular favourites, but also just try to include a small salad with most meals. Additionally, when you are steaming green vegetables, you will maintain some of their raw values by pulling them off the heat the moment they begin to soften.
  • Stocks are king – If you’ve just had a roast chicken, put the carcass plus the gelatine in a slow cooker, add water and 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, and cook for 2 days. Then freeze small containers of the stock and each time you make a soup, stew, curry etc, add in a portion. Stocks are high in collagen, gelatine, minerals and various nutrients that are nourishing to your gut lining – this is an age-old practice for improving gut health. Also, buy bones and joints from an organic butcher for making other kinds of stocks.
  • Prebiotic fibre – prebiotics feed our probiotics (good bacteria). They are very simply a certain type of fibre, found in common foods. eg. a slightly under-ripe banana, Jerusalem artichokes, cooked cooled potato or rice (eg. potato or rice salad). One of my favourites is stewed apple with cinnamon. The pectin in apples is very restorative to gut health, especially when it has been cooked.
  • Anti-microbial foods – nature contains foods that fight the microbes that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. For example, coconut contains caprillic acid, which is effective against Candida; oregano and thyme, typical of Italian cooking, contain strong anti-parasitic properties; and garlic is pretty much effective against any microorganism. By including these herbs and foods in our diets on a daily basis, we should rarely need the antithesis of nature: antibiotics.
  • Pack in the protein – I noted in your question that you were having problems maintaining body weight. By including a lot of the suggestions above and improving your overall gut health, this should make a big difference. In addition, aim to include protein in your diet on a regular basis. Stocks are a great way of getting this in. It might also be worth you making a smoothie once/day with a whey isolate or brown rice or hemp protein powder – it also gives you the opportunity to include some healthy fruit and fermented milk product like yoghurt or kefir.


Ian current

Ian Craig MSc (Ex Phys) BSc (Nut Ther) DipCNE INLPTA is an exercise physiologist, nutritional therapist, NLPpractitioner and an endurance coach. He was a British competitive middle-distance runner for 20 years and is now a more leisurely runner and cyclist. Ian specialises in Functional Sports Nutrition, a fast evolving discipline that considers both health and performance of an athlete from an integrative health perspective. Ian is the editor of the UK magazines, Functional Sports Nutrition and Total Sports Nutrition, he leads the Middlesex University Personalised Sports Nutrition postgraduate course and the new Functional Sports Nutrition Academy. In South Africa, he is a consultant for genetics company DNAlysis Biotechnology and runs a private exercise & nutrition practice at the Morningside Sports Medicine clinic in Johannesburg. 

To have a skype session with Ian go to his website here.


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IBS - Char

Not another egg! – 6 Healthy breakfast options

“If I have another egg and gluten free toast, I’m going to develop a blinky facial twitch!”

This is how the conversation started with my friend and colleague Mandy Lehto (@mandylehto) the other day.

She wanted to know other healthy breakfast options. Many came to mind and I share 6 of my favourites below.

  1. Avocado on rye toast – one of my absolute favourites with a bit of butter & chilli flakes
  2. Proper old fashioned cooked oats – with a sprinkle of cinnamon, almonds & chia seeds
  3. Miso soup – certainly a non-traditional breaky (miso is fermented so great for our gut health)
  4. Left over homemade curry – again not one you would think of for breakfast but a nice warming option
  5. Smoked mackeral or salmon – with handful of spinach, sprinkle of seeds, beetroot & drizzle of olive oil
  6. Gluten & sugar free pancakes – great anytime of year! Top with your favourite berries, almond butter or just simply some good quality real butter (find the recipe here)

Enjoy any of these options instead of eggs. Having variety to our foods stimulates our bodies and keeps us interested.

Share your favourite healthy breakfasts with me on twitter, facebook or instagram @positivelyslim #healthybreaky

Want to really explore your nutrition? Talk with one of my recommended nutritionists. 

London personal trainer - healthy pancakes 4













Be mindful when you move

Be mindful of how your body feels

Wikipedia defines Mindfulness as:

“The practice of mindfulness involves being aware moment-to-moment, of one’s subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective.”

I remember in my first year of University sitting in a Psychology lecture and the professor saying, “Become a conscious thinker.” This was a new concept for me.  Over the years I have explored different views on this, one of my favourites being from Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now, which I highly recommend.

✔How and Why we can apply this during workouts….

…Focusing on your muscles that are working during movement leads to increased muscle contraction in turn meaning better body results than if your mind is distracted.
You will also use better form & breathe better leading to more effective & safe workouts.
I believe being mindful during workouts also opens you to a feeling of empowerment as you feel the capabilities & strength of your body.
✔So, let go of distractions when next you move.
✔You don’t need to know each muscle group name to do this just allow your mind to go to where you feel contractions.


If you are doing a squat you will feel your legs and hip muscles engaging, and even your abs and back.
You can also follow your breath during the squat, breathing in as you lower towards the floor and breathing out as you push through your feet and legs to stand up.
Try a squat now and tell me how it feels. Can you focus in on some muscles? How does your breathing feel? Can you imagine your lungs moving like balloons filling and emptying?
Discover your body again.

For more ideas on mindfulness while you move and ways to ease into being active and healthy check out the Simple Healthy Living Online Programme here…

Be Mindful

Magnesium to improve your fitness performance

– It is vital for your health and sports performance – yet the ‘forgotten mineral’.

 Guest author – Dr. Britt Cordi

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for our health – and ensuring an adequate intake has never been easier. Yet studies show that most people regularly eat half of the daily recommended dose!

Very few people are aware of how vital magnesium is for overall health and performance and it has been singled out as the ‘forgotten mineral’ by health specialists. 

Magnesium is involved in over 325 different biochemical reactions vital to health and performance.

It protects against heart disease and heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke, type II diabetes and much, much more.

It is more important than calcium, potassium or sodium and regulates all three of them. Contrary to popular misconceptions, it is magnesium that is actually most important in building strong bones and preventing bone loss.

When we get too low on oxygen, water or food, the consequences are serious. Yet, we often don`t realize the consequences of magnesium deficiency or imbalance, which are listed below:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep-disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Body-tension
  • Headaches
  • Heart-disorders
  • Low energy
  • High Blood Pressure
  • PMS
  • Muscle tension, craps, tremors
  • Backaches
  • Constipation
  • Kidney stones
  • Osteoporosis
  • Accelerated aging
  • Depression and mood swings, irritability
  • Irregular-heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle cramps (also in pregnant women)
  • Spasms Irritability

Just how important is magnesium to athletes?

Well, new research suggests that even small defiencies in magnesium intake can inhibit athletic performance.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency estimates that the average daily intake of magnesium in Britain for both men and women is just 227mgs – only two thirds of the US recommended daily amount (RDA) and studies carried out in 1986/87 revealed that gymnasts, footballers and basketball players were consuming only around 70% of the RDA (1).

So What’s The Take-Home Message For Athletes?

First, it’s all too easy to go short of magnesium, especially if your diet is light on foods like whole grains and cereals, green leafy vegetables, pulses (peas/beans/lentils), nuts and seeds. One study of male athletes supplemented with 390mgs of magnesium per day for 25 days resulted in an increased peak oxygen uptake and total work output during work capacity tests (2).

So how do we get enough magnesium – and what is the right proportion?

One of the major benefits of getting your nutrients from a varied whole food diet is that you’re far less likely to end up with too much of one nutrient at the expense of others. Whole foods in general contain all the co-factors and needed co-nutrients in the proper amounts for optimal health and performance.

The easiest way to secure your daily intake of magnesium in the right proportions is through:

  • Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, wheatgrass, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds.

For vegetables, the greener the colour the higher the magnesium content.

Outdoor grown Wheatgrass is exceptionally high in natural magnesium, as it is the darkest green you have ever seen. Wheatgrass Juice has been highly regarded for its nutritional properties for many years amongst health professionals and is known as the number One Superfood as it contains over 100 nutrients.


Wheatgrass Juice – the No 1 Superfood

1 oz wheatgrass juice contains:

  • 5 times the amount of precious green chlorophyll than broccoli
  • is equivalent to 1.5 lbs of broccoli in Vitamin E content!
  • 530% RDA of B12 – that is almost as much as in shellfish and making it suitable for vegans and vegetarians
  • 17 times more Vitamin B5 than banana



  1. J Am Diet Assoc;86: 251-3 (1986) and Nutr Res;7:27-34 (1987)
  2. Endocrinol Metab Clin N Am 22:377-395 (1993)

Rest and the goodies it can provide

✔Rest is just as important as moving in your workout plans✔
?Are working out like crazy lately & not seeing results, strength gains, slimming or performance improvements?
✔You may be missing rest✔

I find for some clients it is tough at first to learn to slot rest in their plans because they feel more is better but if they aren’t seeing the results despite trying their best then rest should be implemented.

?This is where a change in mindset comes in. Starting to accept and understand that rest is hugely valuable.

?Rest can come in different forms.

✔It may be a lighter workout to what a person normally does.

A cyclist or runner may go for a short swim one day instead.

A body builder may do an easy bike or walk session.

A dancer may have a stretch session.

A rower may do pilates.

You get the picture!  This is called active rest.

✔Or rest can be full rest…have a seat…take a load off. You will come back stronger in your next workout as the body has time to repair & restore.
✔Rest can also be meditation or visualization techniques to aid in calming the body, this in turn allowing the physical body space to recover.
✔The nervous & hormonal systems also need time to rest in order to reset & do their jobs properly, in turn allowing the body to functional optimally.

?Your body will thank you for taking rest with great goodies?


Post originally seen on my instagram

Recommended Healthy Books

I have been fortunate over the years to meet many dedicated & inspiring health professionals.

Here are my most recommended healthy books by practitioners I respect, all in one handy place for you on Amazon.


How to do measurements

Using Girth Measurements – Girth measurements are a wonderful way to monitor your Body Composition changes (lowering your fat composition and slightly increasing your muscle mass). Listed below are the sites that someone you know and trust can do your measurements and be able to reproduce them over and over again so that they are valid tests. You should be measured from your right side every time and in the same clothing. The individual measuring should use a soft measuring tape such as those used by tailors.

Using Dress Sizes – Many of my clients enjoy using dress size as a measure of their changes instead of the scales. This works well as many people may not drop any weight or they may drop less than they expected but they see fantastic changes in their dress size and how their clothing fits. It is extremely empowering to not be ruled by the scales.

measuring tape spoons




















The Sites

Shoulder (Shl) – take the tape around the person’s shoulders about two inches below the tops of the shoulder.

Chest (NC) – the person should raise their arms up to their sides as the tester takes the tape around their chest asking the person to place the tape around the “nipple line”. This gives a landmark for the tester to come back to. The person is then asked to drop their arms by their sides and relax them.

Minimum Waist (MW) – the person is again asked to raise their arms up by their sides and the tester takes the tape around the “smallest” looking portion of their waste. The person is asked to drop their arms by their sides again and relax.

Belly Button Waist (UW) – the person is again asked to raise their arms up by their sides and the tester takes the tape around the waist and asks the person to place the tape on their belly button while the measurement is being taken. Arms are then dropped by the sides.

Hips – the tester looks at the bum of the person and determines the widest portion as the landmark and then takes the tape around the bum at this point to measure the “hips”. This gives a landmark for the next measuring session.

Thigh – the tester brings the tape up to the top of the right leg and measures around this leg at the “crease” of the bum at the bottom.

These measurements can be repeated every six weeks to see the best changes. Any earlier is usually too soon to see changes. There is no need to compare to norm charts as you are measuring your progress, not anyone else’s.

Charlene has measured hundreds of clients over the years and has also taught personal trainers Fitness Assessment courses on how to measure and monitor clients.

My most recommended fitness equipment ever!

TRX Suspension Trainer – My most recommended piece of equipment!

You heard that right!  The TRX is my most loved kit ever!

I have been in the health & fitness industry now for 24 years and I can easily say I feel the TRX is the best designed and thought out small equipment made in that time.

It is versatile, engaging, easy to transport, great for all levels and ages and allows us to do moves we normally couldn’t do outside the gym.

I highly recommend investing in a TRX so you can expand your workouts.

Use the TRX anywhere – home, office, park

Workout using your own body weight – hitting all muscle groups

Fabulous for all levels of fitness

Excellent for core work (abs, back & posture)


Press on the TRX kit photo (above) to order yours through Amazon today.

Press here for an article where I give you some great TRX moves.


Making the leap from heels to trainers

Making the leap from heels at work to trainers for workouts can be a painful experience! Many of my female clients have complained of this over the years.

Why does this happen to women who regularly wear heels and how can they improve their lower leg health?

The reasons are simple:

  • Wearing heels for prolonged periods allows the calf muscles to sit in a shortened position
  • Women wear heels at work up to 8-12 hours/day – 5 days/week in this shortened position compared with only 1 or more hours in flat trainers working out per week
  • When switching to flat shoes or trainers the calf muscles are then put into a lengthened and stretched position
  • Heels can also be restrictive to the front and middle of the feet which can have a knock on effect to the backs of the legs – this is because everything is connected from the toes, underneath the feet and running up the backs of the legs


Solutions & tips:

  • Alternate your shoes at work
    • One day wear high heels, the next mid-size heels, the next flats
  • If the style conscious you can stomach it, wear trainers to work and then change into heels on arrival
  • Ease into exercise starting with shorter bouts of ten minutes, working your way up each week by several minutes
  • Perform an easy non-impact warm up (3-6 minutes) before the more intense portion of your workout especially if you are going into a class of some sort (walk on the treadmill flat, cross trainer or bike)
  • Take 5 minutes at the end of your workout to stretch your calf muscles
    • Stand on a bottom step with both feet, drop one heel off the step, keeping ball of this foot on the step – repeat other leg
    • If you have healthy knees – kneel down slowly into a full squat and hold the position keeping heels on the ground
    • 3 times each leg for 30-60 seconds each


  • When starting exercise keep moves non-impact and grounded (so, no leaping around!) – if you want to try jogging then start with a mix of 2 minutes walking, 1 minute light jogging (keep alternating for ten minutes, working your way up each week)
  • Keep exercises on flat ground – no hills for a few months until calves become lengthened more as walking hills puts the backs of the lower legs on a stretch
  • At home wear your trainers, slippers or bare feet to balance your time against being in your heels at work


Healthy Recipes

Charlene has put together some healthy recipes for you.  Try them out and add your own twists!

Anti-Ageing – Workout Recovery Smoothie (vegan)

DIY Sports Drink

Healthy Chocolate

Healthy Banana Chocolate Loaf

Healthy Muesli 

Healthy Pancakes 

Read more