This week’s meal plan and my No. 1 parenting tip

this week's meal plan

Hello Everybody,

Welcome to 2018!  I hope January is being kind to you all.

My No 1 parenting tip

This week I really want to share with you this powerful quote from Dr Anne K. Fishel from the The Family Dinner Project.

“Recent studies link regular family dinners with many behaviours that parents pray for: lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self esteem.

Studies also indicate that dinner conversation is a more potent vocabulary-booster than reading and the stories told around the kitchen table help our children build resilience.

The icing on the cake is that regular family meals also lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents.

What else can families do that takes only about an hour a day and packs such a punch?”


I thought this was a really insightful piece of evidence about the importance of eating together as a family.  It’s a routine that I have maintained with our children and so far (touch wood) we have negotiated the teenage years pretty smoothly.

There are further studies that highlight the benefits of eating together, such as: –

  1. It gives families  an opportunity to connect together and tell stories about their day.  Family members can benefit from feedback from the rest of their family.  This provides children with support in analysing their emotions around events that have affected them in their day.
  2. Gathering together as a family in the evening provides a routine that allows us to relax after a busy day.
  3. Studies show that eating at the table without the distraction of TV’s, phones etc. enables more mindful eating.  When you focus on the food you are eating you chew your food properly, which aids digestion, and you are less likely to overeat. This means less indigestion and bloating.
  4. Communities living in the Blue Zones of the world (areas with long life expectancy and low disease rates)  provide evidence that social interaction,  whilst enjoying a meal, provides huge benefits to your overall health.
  5. A survey of 9-14 year olds who ate dinner with their families usually consumed more fruit and vegetables and less fizzy drinks and fried foods.   Eating with adults enables children to learn what to eat through example – so make sure you eat your vegies too!

Whilst all these studies provide powerful reasons as to why families should eat together, for many families this is a hard habit to implement.  Modern living with long commuter hours for work and excessive after school clubs mean that for most families meals are being consumed “on the run” or at different times in the home.

How can we fit in family meal times?

Here are a couple of tips you could try:-

  • The survey evidence does indicate that what you are eating is less important than the physicality of eating together without distractions.  So, even if you are having a takeaway, it’s still better that you are eating as a family together at the dinner table.
  • Whilst it might not be possible to commit to a family dinnertime every night, just 3 or 4 times a week is still beneficial.  Usually weekends are always easier, so emphasise that everyone needs to schedule their activities to allow for family mealtimes then.  Hopefully, you should be able to find a couple of other nights during the week as well.
  • When my kids were very small they obviously needed to eat dinner at 5pm.  My husband often wouldn’t be home from work at that time.  We would have our “adults dinner” much later.  However, I did always try to sit with the children at the table whilst they ate and listened to their chatter.  It was really hard, as I was always tempted to get another chore done whilst they were sat still for 5 minutes!  But, that training did pay off – it meant that even when they were very little, we could go out for a meal in a restaurant/café and they would sit happily (OK – sometimes they did have some colouring to keep them occupied whilst we waited for the food!).
  • As the children get older and more busy with club’s etc you could make a family picnic to take along to have before or after their club.
  • Although the surveys refer to family dinnertime, I think getting together for any meal is just as beneficial so perhaps you can get all your family together for breakfast instead.

But, being realistic, we all have times when we just want to collapse with dinner on our lap in front of the TV.  It’s interesting that on those occasions when we give our kids the choice, they usually still opt for sitting at the table.  Children are creatures of habit, so once you set up the right habits they will stick with them.

To give you some inspiration for your meals at the table this week here’s

This week’s meal plan:-

  • Pasta and pork meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Salmon and prawn parcels, sweet potatoes and green veg
  • Fish pie
  • Pineapple, sweet potato and chicken bake and salad
  • Cheat night! Sausages, eggs and homemade chips
  • Roast Pork lion and all the trimmings
  • Left over roast pork, pea and cheese pasta bake


Have a super week everybody.  Don’t forget you can still join the New Leaf Facebook Group “52 weeks Healthy Motivation Camp” HERE.  You get weekly challenges, recipes and tips to support you in keeping motivated with your healthy goals for 2018.

You can also sign up for our regular free newsletter HERE.


Signature from Janine x




This week’s meal plan and how to make your January health goals work

this week's meal plan


Hello Everybody and Happy New Year,

I hope you all enjoyed seeing in 2018 and are feeling refreshed and ready for a wonderful year ahead.

How to make your January healthy goals work

No doubt many of you have made the usual New Year resolutions/goals to eat healthy, lose weight and exercise more.  Did you make the same resolutions last year?  Did you stick to them?

By February, we’ve all usually forgotten or given up.  So what can you do this year to make your goals work better?

To make goals and resolutions work, you need to think differently.

Firstly, be kind to yourself.  Don’t focus on the negatives of your body or life.  Instead focus on what you currently love about yourself, your life or your body (there will be something!).

Then you need to focus on your WHY.

Why do you want to get fit or exercise more?  Don’t follow along with the usual January goals just because society dictates it at this time of year.

Think about what difference you want these resolutions/goals to have on YOUR life.

Do you want to be fitter so that you can chase your children around the garden?

Do you want to be fitter so that you can walk to a local landmark without getting out of breath?

Do you want to be fitter so you can enjoy time with your partner doing the same activities?

Many of the above questions will also apply to weight loss.  Make sure you want to lose weight to make your general health better and not to fit social expectations or  stereotypes of how you should look.

When you’ve established YOUR WHY, write it down and pin it somewhere prominent in your home.  When you’re having a bad day struggling to stick to your new habits, it will remind you why you’re trying to do this.


Focus on ADDING to your life – not taking away.

I know when I did my 30 days without coffee challenge it was so hard taking away my morning treat of a cup of coffee.  When I replaced it with a chai latte, the challenge became much easier. (30 days without coffee challenge)

Instead of telling yourself off for eating too much or eating “bad foods”, think “how can I eat to improve my health – which foods will nourish my body”.

Don’t start by restricting your diet and eating less.  Begin by thinking of ways to add more healthy foods to your diet – more fruit, more vegetables and drink more water.

As you add more healthy foods, they will fill you up and  push out the desires for the less healthy foods.

Cover half your dinner plate with vegetables or salad to make the portions of less healthy foods smaller.

Once you’ve begun to swap over for more healthy foods, then you may need to check your portion sizes.  Sometimes too much of a good thing can still expand your waistline.

If you’re trying to do more exercise – take it one step at a time.  Just put on some gear first.  Once you’ve got your work-out clothes on, you’ll probably feel more inspired to do something.

Then, tell yourself you’re just going to do 10 minutes (it could be brisk walking, skipping, HIIT, anything).  Something, no matter how small is better than nothing.  Again, I think you will be surprised that once you start, you end up doing more than just 10 minutes.

Remember – don’t get caught up in the Perfection excuse.  Making Progress is far better than not bothering because you think you won’t be good enough.

Finally, remember to tell yourself that  your body is your home (or temple!).  Look after it, treat it well – it’s the only one you have.

This week’s meal plan:-

  • Cajun Salmon, parsley butter and salad
  • Spanish Chicken rice dish
  • Chilli con Carne with a vegetable salsa
  • Lamb burgers with peppers and feta and coleslaw salad
  • Moroccan meatballs and rice
  • Quiche and salad
  • Seafood Linguine

I hope you all have a super week.


Why not join the free New Leaf ’52 week Healthy Motivation Group’ over on Facebook, and get regular inspiration, tips, advice and recipes to help keep your January goals flowing right through the year.



Signature from Janine x



How to keep your healthy goals in 2018

52 weeks of inspiration to keep you healthy


Hello Everybody,

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas, full of fun, food, family and friends.

As we count down to New Year, no doubt you will be thinking over your goals and resolutions for 2018.  After the festive indulgences, many of us (me included) will probably include resolutions to eat healthy and exercise more.

But, don’t we say that every year?  And usually by mid February (if not earlier) our motivation to stick to our goals will be fading, if not totally absent!.

So, to make this year your healthiest year yet, I’m really excited to offer to you a special free gift.  It’s my 52 week Healthy Motivation Camp, which is a closed Facebook group.

All you have  to do is request to join the group HERE through Facebook.

You will then be part of a community of like minded ladies, all working towards a healthy 2018.

You’ll receive 52 weeks of weekly challenges, inspiration and tips, recipes and fun interactive discussions to help keep you motivated and on track for your best year ever.

We start TOMORROW (Monday 1st January 2018), so come on in and join the group HERE

I’m looking forward to sharing 2018 with you all.

Have a wonderful New Year tonight and I’ll speak with you tomorrow in the 52 Week Healthy Motivation Camp


Signature from Janine x


This week’s meal plan and what I’ve learnt about changing habits

this week's meal plan


Hello Everybody,

I hope you’ve had a good week and your preparations for the Christmas festivities are going well.

What I have learnt about changing habits

As the festivities rapidly approach it is inevitable that we will all over indulge at Christmas.  Then come New Year,  we’ll all be trying to cut back.

If you decide to do a  January detox, here are a few things I have learnt whilst doing my 30 days without coffee challenge:-

  1. The first week is the hardest – I mean the hardest.  It is so easy to just give in and forget about the whole idea in that first week.  But you really do need to keep going, it does get easier.
  2. In the first week or so I found myself eating and craving other foods that I wouldn’t normally consume.  I was searching for that feeling of having a treat, which is how I perceive coffee.  This made me even more despondent with the whole challenge, as I could just see myself getting into bad habits that would undermine my usual positive attitudes about food.  My tip – try to find an alternative healthy habit to replace the one you are trying to break.
  3. By week 4, whilst I still craved and missed my daily coffee, I was beginning to adjust my coffee habit into new habits.  You really need to give any change at least 30 days to implement and see results.
  4. The biggest trick is to replace one habit with another.  I really enjoy the habit of taking 5 minutes to savour and enjoy my daily coffee.  I think I missed that part of the habit more than anything.  Once I discovered I actually quite enjoyed a Chai Latte I could replicate that 5 minutes without needing coffee.
  5. Now I’ve finished by 30 day challenge,  I’m not craving coffee anywhere near as much.  I miss it, but don’t crave it like I did in the first week.  If I had to carry on for longer now, it wouldn’t be a problem.  I have settled into a new habit which doesn’t affect the rest of my lifestyle aims.
  6. Make yourself accountable to someone who will make you stick to your goal.  The problem with family and friends is that they often want you to carry on the way you were because they probably enjoy the same things with you.  Often my son would try to convince me that one coffee won’t hurt, because he wanted me to have (make) a coffee with him.  Because I had committed my intention to this blog I really felt I needed to continue.  I felt I couldn’t lie to you, my reader, or myself if I cheated.  Find a buddy who wants to complete a challenge too so that you can help support each other.

So, let’s all try to not over indulge over Christmas,  then  we won’t need to make any drastic changes to our diets in the New Year.  Changing habits is hard work.  As I said in my post Why you should make New Year Resolutions Now, if you keep your healthy intentions in mind over Christmas, you will find it easier to make the right choices.


This week’s meal plan:-

  • Chicken Caesar burgers and salad
  • Pancetta and chilli liguine
  • Tacos and Rice
  • Chinese Chicken with lime, ginger and cashew nuts and rice
  • Paprika pork stew with peppers and potatoes
  • Turkey Bolognese
  • Smoked salmon, leek and dill omelettes and salad


I hope you have a super week in the countdown to Christmas.

Don’t forget to sign up for the free New Leaf Newsletter HERE

Signature from Janine x


This week’s meal plan and the difference between physical hunger and food cravings

this week's meal plan


Hello Everybody

The difference between physical hunger and food cravings

With Christmas rapidly approaching I think 90% (if not more) of the population will start to overeat and indulge in foods they wouldn’t normally touch.

The two biggest reasons for this are:-

  • Environment – There are delicious looking foods trying to tempt us everywhere we go.  Plus there is a social expectation from friends, family and our peers to join in the celebrations.
  • The Weather – For those of us living in the Northern hemisphere, it’s cold, dark and gloomy – and boy, doesn’t a chocolate bar help cheer you up!

What should you do to avoid over indulging?

Firstly, you need to become conscious of whether you have physical hunger or are you just craving food.  A brief explanation:-

Physical Hunger

This usually manifest as a clear physical signal within your body.  A grumbling tummy, maybe feeling a bit weak and shaky or for some people it can manifest as an acute headache.  These symptoms usually come on slowly but build to a shout from our bodies that we just can’t ignore.   When you have physical hunger any food will do.

Food Craving

This feeling is usually associated with our emotions and thereby our brain.

Food cravings come on immediately and are specific to a certain food.  If you see a bar of chocolate, you want it, even though 5 minutes ago you weren’t hungry at all.

You might find yourself craving something salty or crunchy and once you start you can’t stop!.

So, how do you actually avoid over indulging?

  1. Be aware of the physical signs from your body and feed it when it needs feeding.
  2. Maintain regular meal times
  3. Ensure you are eating lots of fruit and vegetables to maintain your nutrient levels so you don’t confuse your body into thinking it’s still hungry
  4. Keep well hydrated.  We often think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty.
  5. When you feel a food craving come on, analyse why.  Is it just because you’ve seen a food and now want it, even though you’re not hungry?  Is it an emotional craving – are you feeling overly happy or sad?  Are you trying to avoid stress or another situation in your life?  Are you just bored?

Once you begin to analyse why you want to eat, it becomes easier to think about your food choices.  For people wanting to control their weight, this is one of the key strategies for long term success.

This week’s meal plan:

  • Chicken breast fillet topped with avocado, prosciutto and cheese with an asparagus salad
  • Spanish tortilla pie and salad
  • Midweek sausage roast (tray baked sausages with vegetables and potatoes)
  • Salmon with green bean and balsamic salad
  • Sweet chilli and lime prawn stir fry
  • Roast Lamb with pistachio stuffing and all the trimmings


I hope you have a super week.  Don’t forget to sign up for the free New Leaf newsletter HERE



Signature from Janine x