As a registered nutritionist in her Harley Street clinic, an author of two bestselling books, top podcast host and even a guest judge on BBC’s The Apprentice, Rhiannon Lambert is one of the most in demand nutritionists in the UK. She’s also a bona fide Insta star with 164K followers and counting thanks to her friendly, relatable approach to food, health and overall wellbeing.
We met up with Rhiannon, who’s expecting her first child, to find out her golden rules of health, from demystifying fats to embracing the ‘F word’. Here’s what she had to say…
1. Never skip breakfast
I’m pregnant and always wake up so hungry – I always used to wake up hungry but now I wake up ravenous. I go straight downstairs and make myself a lovely cup of herbal tea and a bowl of porridge, do some stretches and I’m out the door pretty much within an hour.
2. Remember little and often
For the first 16 weeks of my pregnancy I was so nauseous and had physical food aversions. I was relying on eating little and often, purely because I knew the baby needed fuel and I needed fuel to keep going. Little and often would be my number one tip for any expectant mothers.
3. Always be prepared
Have food in your handbag everywhere you go. You just don’t know when hunger is going to strike. And when hunger strikes when you’re pregnant it’s not like a normal tummy rumble it’s like a pain, it’s like if I don’t eat now, I could be sick. It’s a completely different type of hunger.
4. Stay hydrated
Drink way more water than you ever thought you would need to.
5. Don’t be afraid of snacking
Snacking is often seen in a bad light, but really it needs to come down to each individual. People can say, “oh you should just be waiting between each meal to eat,” but I find that snacking is essential in helping some clients with their blood sugar levels.
The most important thing is to be eating the right snacks to keep your energy levels up. Look for things that are high in fibre, things like mini rice pots or oat cakes. I often recommend things with hummus in so they’ve got a bit of protein and healthy fats and fibre all in one. And it’s always a good opportunity to get a bit of fruit in, like an apple or banana mid-morning or afternoon.
6. Love the F word
I always have this little joke when I am at talks or with clients that my favourite word is now the F word – fibre. We know on average in the UK that people are not getting the recommended 30 grams a day of fibre and this could potentially be because they don’t understand where fibre comes from. It comes from whole grains and carbohydrates, as much as your veggies and fruits, and not only does it aid your digestion but is essential for a healthy gut too.
There’s a large chunk of living bacteria that lives inside of your gut, so around 2kg of what you weigh is actually bacteria. So, the more fibre that we eat, the more that bacteria will thrive, and we want that good bacteria to thrive because we know how that’s linked to our mental health, to our mood, to our energy level, to our production of B vitamins.
Fibre doesn’t just push everything through, it’s not all about constipation!
7. Understand the importance of protein
Protein is so misunderstood. People see packs of food that say, “high in protein” and they think “ooh, that must be good” but actually the item of food might not be perfect. Protein is important for your skin, your hair, your nails – it actually makes up the structure of your cells, so every little cell in your body contains some amount of protein. We should be aiming to get a good amount of it in every single meal. It’s so important for lots of things, not just muscles.
8. Plant-based doesn’t have to mean low protein
I want people to get what I call a complete protein. So quinoa is a perfect example of a plant-based protein that contains the same building blocks that animal products like meat and fish do. Tofu is another really good one. It’s very misunderstood though – don’t Google it if you don’t want to be bombarded with horrible things. But it’s actually a very good protein source for so many people and it’s affordable as well.
If you don’t eat meat but eat some dairy, yoghurt is great and convenient. You can always snack on a yogurt on the go for a hit of protein.
9. Get your five-a-day (at least)
Currently only 27% of the UK gets their five-a-day which is quite low. Different countries have different targets so it’s hard to know what’s right. For example, Norway and the US have higher targets than five-a-day, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are hitting them either.
Aim for at least five and that means 80 grams per fruit or veg – you can’t just eat on tomato and say that’s one of my five, it has to be 80 grams of tomatoes.
10. Understand your fats
There are two types of fat that people would have heard of. Saturated, which we want to limit to no more than 11% of your overall daily intake – that’s stuff like bacon fat and fats from animal products and dairy, like some cheeses. But it’s important to know that that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for you, you just don’t want too much.
Then you have something called polyunsaturated fatty acids which are your omega 3s and they are so good for you. You get animal omega 3s from salmon and fish, which are really accessible to the body. And then you have things like avocado, nuts and seeds which are your vegetarian sources called mono unsaturated fatty acids.
That’s the three you need to know. The quick rule of thumb is: you want more of the unsaturated fatty acids and you want less of the saturated fatty acids.
11. Remember the two Qs
When it comes to carbs, I like to use the two Qs; quality and quantity. When it comes to quality go for the brown stuff for good sources of carbs and fibre – the whole grains, the brown bread over the white bread, the brown rice over the white (I like to use Tilda Tasty Wholegrains). You know the drill; less of the croissants, less of the refined, less fibrous foods too often. But remember, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place.
12. Eat your probiotics
I am all for people adding as many probiotic foods like sauerkraut, greek yogurt, miso and other fermented foods into their diets. The more fibre and the more of those lovely probiotic foods, the better.
13. Don’t get hung up on ‘goals’
It’s January and everyone is talking about resolutions and goals, but you really have to gage what works for you and for some people goal setting can be so motivating and useful. But to be realistic, and that’s a big but, people often set themselves unrealistic targets. When it comes to nutrition and health, setting something more attainable such as getting more fibre into your diet is much easier. Often people will set huge goals – “I want to lose X amount of pounds by X amount of days” – for example, and that can put the pressure on and it’s not always the healthiest way to go about it.
14. Remember to move
Before I was pregnant, I used to do one HIIT class a week and on top of that I would then do something a bit more dynamic and that allows me to stretch like yoga. I try and focus on strength and love things that use my own body weight.
15. Abs aren’t necessarily made in the kitchen
A third of where you store body fat will naturally come from your genetics. When it comes to fitness, you do inherit quite a bit of predisposition from your ancestors, but you also have to work at it. Just because you go out and do one class, doesn’t mean you have achieved a goal, you have to have it a bit more structured than that.
The last third of it is about diet. Without eating well you are not going to have the right percentage of body fat to support your body or get the right nutrients to support the goals from your exercise.
16. Healthy doesn’t need to be hard
I love a buddha bowl at the moment as they’re so easy to put together and have everything in there that you need. Just shove in some rice, if you have avo in the fridge that’s your healthy fats sorted. Then add some protein; I’m going for more plant-based diet this month, so I would probably have some tofu or some beans and pulses. With that you have a really healthy, balanced lunch that’s simple to put together.
17. Frozen and tinned will save you time
I’ve always got stuff in the freezer like peas or cans of sweetcorn or tomatoes that are really accessible. With these you can make a curry in 15 minutes. Shove onions in a pan, fry them off, chuck in whatever veg you’ve got left over, a bit of coconut milk and some spices and it’s usually done within 15 minutes. Then pair it with some simple rice.
18. Finally, be sensible when it comes to social
People can be very harsh with their opinions on Instagram, but I think the best thing people could do is understand they have a right to choose what they see. You can block someone who’s rude, you can restrict accounts and utilise the tools Instagram give to you and you can start moderating how often and frequently you want to use it.
But remember the pros that it can bring. I love the chance to be able to share and learn, to have such a wonderful connection with a community and a positive and safe space on my page that I am so proud of. But if someone is feeling anxious whenever they go on an app, then that’s when they need to step back a little bit.
Registered Nutritionist, Rhiannon Lambert (BSc MSc RNutr) is working with Tilda to celebrate the Tilda Tasty Wholegrains range which allows you to easily add a healthy boost to your favourite meals. Each pack is a tasty source of fibre and available nationwide now, RRP £1.59.