This week we caught up with founder of Wiseater Nutrition Shannon McCarthy – Williams. Shannon’s initial interest for nutrition was sparked when suffering from cystic acne forced her to look more closely at her diet and how this can affect and improve your mind, body and mental health. Fast forward a few years, Shannon is now a qualified Nutritionist who works with a range of clients to help them achieve optimum health and nutrition.
Whilst diet and weight loss seems to be a constant hot topic among young men and women, we decided to ask Shannon some of the U.K’s most commonly asked diet and wellness questions and have your answers addressed by an expert once and for all…
Should I be counting my calories?
The general consensus from female clients I work with is that we should always limit food and calories, therefore people set calorie intake low when counting calories as they believe this is the right thing to do. But this is not the case, we need food to thrive – for glowing skin, healthy hair and mental state. Therefore, I believe focusing on the quality of the food you are eating as oppose to always counting calories it is the best option for long term, sustainable health. Rather than obsessing with calories and numbers focus on how the food is nourishing and fueling your body.
What cooking oil is best for our health?
The first thing to think about when looking for an oil to cook with is the smoke point, you want an oil with a high smoke point as this means that when you cook with them the beneficial nutrients are not broken down and it does not produce harmful free radicals.
A great option is Avocado oil, it has a high smoke point and mild flavour so it perfect for cooking.
Can cutting out carbs really help with weight loss?
You do not need to cut carbohydrates to lose weight. Carbs are often the macronutrient to get a bad rep because of the evidence linking sugar to an increased risk of diseases such as obesity. Free sugars are those added to foods by manufacturers, they are often hiding in biscuits, cakes, chocolate, fruit flavoured yoghurts and fruit juices. Trying to cut carbs completely can mean you miss out on key nutrients so rather than cutting carbs to lose weight focus on the types of carbs you are eating – opt for starchy and fibrous varieties such as oats, potatoes, rice and vegetables. These types of carbs are shown to aid weight loss not work against it.
What is your take on artificial sweeteners?
There are two sides of the coin with sweeteners with some evidence showing they are fine and others showing they have adverse health effects. If you are consuming most of your foods from whole food sources, then I don’t think you need to be concerned about artificial sweeteners.
Are there actually benefits to not eating after 7pm?
Research points towards eating late at night being linked to gaining weight and the risks that come with this. However, this does not mean if you eat a meal at 7.30 instead of 6.45 you will automatically gain weight! For digestion purposes its best not to eat a large meal a few hours before you go to bed. But if its 8pm and you haven’t eaten your dinner, then go for it.
What types of foods are best to curb sugar cravings?
First thing is you need to have balanced diet that isn’t overly restrictive as this can actually cause cravings, all foods can be included in our diet and knowing this can stop you getting intense cravings in the first place. However, for those times you want a healthy sweet snack, my favourite is berries and some dark chocolate. Opt for a chocolate with 70% cocoa or above. The richness of the chocolate and the sweetness from the berries really hits the spot!
Easiest way to spot healthy dishes when eating out…
If you are someone who needs to eat out regularly then its best to aim for a balanced healthy meal which contains the three macronutrients and contains some vegetables. An example would be grilled seabass with new potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Here are some key points to look for when choosing a meal:
- Look for the meals which contain lean protein such as fish (not fried), chicken or pulses like beans and lentils
- Avoid creamy, cheesy sauces and instead go for the tomato vegetable sauces
- Ask for your vegetables to come plain without butter or oil
- Get any sauces or dressings on the side so you can add the yourself
However, if you occasionally eat out then I would say to go for what you truly fancy. Nutrition is all about balance so if you are nourishing yourself with healthy food the majority of the time you can enjoy a meal out stress free.
If you had to choose just one, what is your ultimate health and wellness tip?
Eat more vegetables! It might sound simple but it’s effective. As a nation we hugely under eat on vegetables and I believe incorporating more of them into your day can help every aspect of your health.
Meet the Expert
Hi, I’m Shannon McCarthy-Williams ANutr founder of Wiseater Nutrition and on a mission to help you understand nutrition so you can feel, look and be your best!