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When it comes to food, the portion size does count

I started the latest round of our Nutrifit programme a few weeks ago and I’ve been getting to know all our amazing participants.

One of the best things about nutritional therapy is that we have long getting-to-know-you consultations. We take about 45 minutes to go through your health history, previous diet, expectations, level of willingness to change… all the components that influence how we tailor the programme to each person’s individual needs.

I’m always learning something new, but this time I was struck by the one thing that didn’t change. When it comes to weight-loss goals, I usually ask: “When was the last time you were happy with your body?” The reply usually relates to pre-wedding, pre-kids, pre-college – the usual suspects! However this time, almost everyone tagged something onto that: “Of course, I wasn’t happy with it then, but I’d be happy with it now!”

It made me pause for thought. Because for most of us, no matter how much we don’t really like the lumps and bumps - just through the very nature of ageing - there will likely be a point in the future when we would kill for the body we currently have.

And I don’t mean that to discourage anyone from optimising their health right now but maybe we need to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes it’s helpful to be happy and grateful for our bodies exactly as they are. That’s why, although Nutrifit began as a weight-management strategy, it morphed into something much more holistic. Now we have every shape and size taking part, but the goals are so much bigger: disease prevention, more energy and clarity, better immunity, well-balanced hormones… the list goes on. Yes, we get great body composition results, but you – and your health – are about so much more than what your body looks like.

In my opinion, the key fundamental of a successful nutrition programme is for it to be based on real food that actively nourishes your body. If you focus more on nourishment and less on weight, it becomes a more mentally healthy process. And whether your chosen approach is plant-based, paleo, keto or fasting, it will likely work (or at least improve your health) if you’re eating clean and keeping your refined sugar low.

Crucially, if you’re going to maintain your new, healthy lifestyle, it needs to be something you actively enjoy – a lifestyle that you want to maintain. If you eat healthy because you want to, rather than because you have to, life gets 1000 per cent easier.

I find that trying new recipes and exploring new food is an amazing way to stay interested in and excited about what you’re eating. I’m always saving new recipes from social media or flipping through cookbooks. I try and make one new thing a week to see if it’s worth adding to the rotation – it’s enough to keep me engaged but not too much work!

Last week I tried Jamie Oliver’s pancetta-wrapped cod with a pea and potato mash, which was unbelievably good. The trick to this one, as with a lot of his recipes, is to get the portion sizes right. I would recommend ¼ plate cod, ¼ plate mash and ½ plate some simple greens, such as arugula (the spicy leaves work really well with this dish). I made a few extra adjustments to make this dairy-free, a fraction healthier and squeeze in more veg. Give it a whirl and see what you think!

Roasted cod wrapped in pancetta with a green pea mash

(serves 4)


4 thick pieces of cod fillet (about the size of your palm)

4 thin slices of pancetta (trim any major fat)

2 lemons

12 baby tomatoes (ideally on the vine)

500 g white potatoes

300 g frozen garden peas

1/2 fresh red chilli, (optional)

¼ tsp white pepper

Pinch salt

2 tsps extra virgin olive oil

1 splash of milk, plant-based, unsweetened

1/2 bunch of fresh mint, torn

Arugula, to serve

Extra dash virgin olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6


Peel your potatoes, quarter them and get them on the stove! Boil until tender.

Season the cod with black pepper and wrap each piece in a sheet of pancetta. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish.

Halve the lemons, squeeze a little by hand into the dish and then place around the fish. Divide the vine of tomatoes into a few sections and place those around the fish too. Pop into the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the peas, drain and blitz them in a food processor (or mash up with a fork if you don't have one).

Deseed and finely dice the red chilli, if using.

Drain the potatoes and mash with the 2 tsps olive oil, milk, salt and pepper, whizzed-up peas and the red chilli if using.

Put the arugula in a mixing bowl, add in the mint leaves and toss together. Dress with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and maybe a splash of balsamic.

Serve the fish with the mash, the greens and the roasted tomatoes on the side. So good!

Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram

Pancetta-wrapped cod

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Published May 21, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 19, 2021 at 8:30 pm)

When it comes to food, the portion size does count

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