Food be good

Jane McClenaghan, Belfast-based nutritionist and digital foodie just made our day with the revelation that we can still eat bread AND drink coffee and remain nutritionally saintly.

Here she talks the best meal plan for a better lifestyle.


At Editon247 we feel we’re pretty well informed about meal plans in terms of the most successful for weight loss/management but out of them all what is the best nutritionally?

There are so many diets out there and it can be very difficult to work out what is the right one for YOU. Quite often folk end up feeling confused by the conflicting advice. My advice for a nutritionally packed diet is to keep things simple. Don’t go too heavy on carbs, pack in some protein with every meal, eat plenty of good fats and hit sugar on the head. A low GI style diet tends to be a good starting point for people.

Can we talk about bread? Is it really that evil?

Rather than think of one particular food such as bread, being good or bad, it is much more important the we consider the quality of the food that we eat. Some of the artisan bakeries that are flourishing all over Northern Ireland are producing great quality sourdough rye spelt bread, which tend to be gentler on digestion and certainly packs a nutritional punch compared to white sliced pan, or even (dare I say it) soda bread. I love using ‘pseudo grains’ like buckwheat, amaranth or quinoa for breadmaking as they are packed with nutrients and because they are seeds, rather than grains, they also provide protein, which tends to make us feel more satisfied than a belly full of carbs.

soda bread

We’re also getting mixed signals about fruit. Are there actually good and bad fruits?

Generally, fruit that grows in a temperate climate like ours is lower in sugar than tropical fruit, so think berries, apples, pears, plums, kiwi, cherries rather than mango, pineapple and papaya. Eat more vegetables than fruit. One or two portions of fruit a day is fine – maybe some berries on porridge first thing and an apple or pear with a handful of nuts and seeds as a snack later. On saying that, if you are replacing biscuits and sweets with bananas and berries, then your overall sugar intake will be considerably reduced.

If we are going to cheat, what is the best takeaway we can opt for?

Most takeaways are packed with starchy carbohydrates, which is the killer for weight management, energy levels and mood. However, if takeaways are your thing, choose a protein based main with a veg side and share a portion of rice. Something like Tandoori chicken with chana dhal and a little bit of rice if you like Indian, or chicken satay with beef and veg spicy stirfry and half a portion of rice.

chicken satay

Tell us about caffeine, do we need to rule it out?

I am pleased to tell Edition 247 readers that there is research that shows that one or two good quality cups of coffees a day, can help support heart health, may reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes and help support liver function. Please don’t drink instant coffee though. It is processed and is very unlikely to have the same benefits. Instead of drinking 6 or 8 instant coffees, have 1 or 2 high quality coffees a day as a treat. Sit down, chill out and enjoy your coffee, knowing it is doing you good.


If we could live like any nationality in the world (on a nutrition basis only) what would be the best?

I think the Japanese diet is one of the very best the world has to offer. Packed with fresh ingredients, vegetables, fish and plenty of herbs and spices, the traditional Japanese diet also incorporates a lot of fermented foods like miso, which are natural probiotics – not only great for digestion, but also immunity, hormone balance and skin health.

How can a nutritionally sound diet affect our lifestyle?

Where do I start? By fuelling your body with the right choice of food, you are likely to experience a boost in energy, better skin, improved digestion, increased libido, improved mood… I have seen some people totally transform their health and wellbeing by making a few simple changes to their diet. Eat well and you will feel great.

What three foods could you not live without?

Good quality chocolate, berries and nuts!


Do you ever cheat/treat and if so, what is your cheat food/meal?

Of course! I think a healthy approach to food and nutrition is keeping the balance right. Think 80:20 and you can’t go too far wrong. I love food and everything about it – cooking it, eating it, talking about it and although I love healthy food and creating new recipes that are low sugar, packed with nutrition and uber healthy, sometimes I like eating stuff like pizza, chocolate and my mum’s coffee & walnut cake (it’s the best!) too.

Your website,, is an online nutritional emporium, how can we benefit by subscribing?

Thank you – I am glad you enjoyed browsing. I have just relaunched the website and there is now a brand new feature called the Vital Nutrition VIP Club. The aim of the VIP club is to create an online community of like-minded people with a desire to eat well for the good of their health. Members get exclusive videos featuring brand new recipes, motivational health tips and discounts off nutritional supplements, my courses and online webinars, and all 1-2-1 consultations.

Vital Nutrition - Home Page