Guest post- Dietician Mary Jane McCluggage

Guest post- Dietician Mary Jane McCluggage

Having professionals on the blog is so special. I love hearing about new products, learning techniques and gleaning information from those I am fortunate enough to meet through this little space in the blogosphere.

I had the pleasure of bumping into Mary Jane at the North coast over the Summer.  She talked with such passion and knowledge that she didn’t stand a chance of escaping my offer for her to feature on Darling Edna! (Sorry Mary Jane)

Before I hand it over to Mary Jane, I want you to know that I am SO excited for what she is going to bring to your table. Advice, gentle guidance and clear cut facts that you can take away today and live by.


Mary Jane

Registered Dietitian, writer at authoritynutrition, nutrition lead at Break Fit, founder of yummy tummies and motivational designer/researcher. Wife to Allen and living in East Belfast.

mj nutrionist

The relationship that people have with food has interested me from a very young age. I grew up in a family who regularly tried new diets. From the age of 10 I knew how many syns were in a mashed banana and how many points where in a rich tea. I always remember thinking, ”I hope I don’t have to count my food once I become an adult”.

That’s not to say that some commercial weight loss companies aren’t good. Some people experience life changing results.

But my goal was to develop a relationship with food or a lifestyle that meant I would never have to join a dieting programme. After all, prevention is better than cure.

After studying to be a public health nutritionist I spent some years in research. Researching human motivation and diet. After 3 years of interviews, focus groups and questionnaires with over 200 women I concluded that motivation is extremely complex, but KEY to developing and sustaining healthy habits.

People often quote that it takes 21 days to break/make a habit, but in reality science backs up that it is likely to take a lot longer.   The best estimate is 66 days, however this is likely to differ depending on who you are and what you are trying to do. 

From my experience of working with patients and clients there is one single strategy that can and has worked as a powerful vessel for motivation and behaviour change: Goal setting

Did you know People who take time to put their goals on paper are 5 to 10 times as likely to achieve them? Almost everyone has heard of SMART goals. They can be applied to so many areas of our lives. I could honestly blabber on about goals for a long time but I don’t want to bore you.

Rather I would like to challenge you.


In this post have outlined 5 goals that pretty much anyone can adopt. By choosing to commit to just 1, 2 or even 3 (don’t go past 3 or we will be breaking a goal-setting rule!) you can and will improve your health. I can say that with a certain amount of confidence because these are back up by scientific research (it’s the geek in me).

Small changes can have big benefits.

  1. Drink More Water

Did you know that drinking water can boost the amount of calories burned by up to 30%?

Not only that, but adequate hydration can boost productivity, concentration, mood and feelings of fullness.

Aim for 8-12 glasses daily. If you struggle with water, why not try some no added sugar cordial.

A good reason to invest in a nice new water bottle.

  1. Eat More Protein

When it comes to keeping lean, good quality protein is essential.

The body actually burns calories when digesting protein eaten. So a high protein diet can help keep you full and reduce your appetite.

Research studies have found that a high protein diet can reduce calories eaten by over 400 daily.

So why not try to fit in a high protein breakfast on some days of the week? Like eggs, or berries, natural yogurt and seeds/nuts.

  1. Eat Whole Foods

Basing your diet on whole foods is probably one of the best things you could do for your health.

Whole foods are those that are free from processing or have been refined as little as possible. They are also free from additives or other artificial ingredients.

By basing your diet on whole, single-ingredient foods you automatically eliminate large amounts of added sugar, fat and processed foods.

And without even trying you are increasing the amount of valuable nutrition that your body needs.

Whole foods do not need to be expensive.

I often advice people to read labels. If a product has a long list of ingredients that you don’t understand you probably should avoid it.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep is linked to a whole wealth of health problems.  These include an increased risk of heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes and stroke.

People who are sleep-deprived are over 50% more likely to be obese.

Good quality sleep is important for regulating appetite hormones and so can help with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Getting 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night can make you feel like a new person!

  1. Avoid Dieting and Focus on Lifestyle Changes

Statistics show that dieting last for an average for 5 weeks before people give up.

What’s more research shows that people who diet tend to gain more weight over in the long term.

My advice is always to eat for health not necessarily weight loss.

Start with 1 or 2 goals, once you’ve mastered those set some new goals. Integrate these healthy behaviours into your lifestyle.

In my experience people have sustained weight loss with the 80% rule. Don’t deprive yourself of anything but instead fee your body healthy nourishing food 80% of the time.

And enjoy a treat in the other 20%….within moderation of course.


Thanks to Mary Jane for her wisdom and for taking the time to share knowledge with us about lifestyle and relationships with food.

If you want to contact Mary Jane simply e mail her on

Feel free to dip into my own guide to whole foods in this post, also my protein breakfast idea and protein shake. Lastly some water recipe ideas to keep that gallons of water that you will now drink varied and delicious!

Side note- I bought this HUGE water bottle when it was on offer at my gym shop last week. 2.2 litres!!