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Corporate nutrition: Lily Soutter

Lily is a London Nutritionist who graduated from Newcastle University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Food and Human Nutrition (AfN accredited) where she was awarded the Sage Faculty for Excellence Scholarship on an annual basis. She then went on to complete a 2 year post graduate Diploma in Nutritional Therapy and is currently working towards her MSc in Nutritional Medicine (AfN accredited) at the University of Surrey. Lily serves individual clients from her clinic in Chelsea and a private medical practice based in Notting Hill.

Lily, what is healthy nutrition and why have you chosen this career path?
As a child, I suffered from chronic psoriasis and upon reaching out to a nutritionist, I made some fundamental dietary changes which have a huge impact on improving my symptoms. Once I had seen how powerful food can be, I decided that nutrition was the career path for me. I specialised in workplace wellness as I could see a huge need for employee wellbeing and the great return on investment that companies could achieve from having healthier, happier and more productive staff. 

What do you know now know as a nutritionist you wish everybody knew?
That there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition. Many enquire about the ‘healthiest’ diet to follow, however, requirements can vary from person to person and the healthiest diet is really one that individuals can stick to long-term. 

What are the absolute healthiest foods that you recommend eating daily?
Whilst diversity within the diet is important, there are a few foods which may boost brain power and energy. Our brain runs on sugar to function and uses 20% of all energy required by the body. All carbohydrates break down to sugar but only the fibre rich slow-release carbohydrates provide sustained fuel to the body and brain. Try wholegrain carbohydrates, potato with the skin, quinoa, beans, lentils chickpeas.

It’s all too easy to skip breakfast or grab sugary pastries, cereals and coffees which only provide short bursts of energy throughout the day. By adding a protein and little healthy fats to our carbohydrate source we can further slow the release of sugar into the blood stream, what’s more, protein can aid with satiety! Try natural yoghurt, eggs, nut butter or adding seeds to your porridge. 

Three big meals or several small meals a day?
This will be unique to the individual, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to frequency. However, if you struggle with that post-lunch slump it may be worth pointing out that heavy lunches may exacerbate things! 

What’s the one best piece of nutritional advice you can give?
Food fuels our body and brain and what we eat each day can impact energy, cognitive function and even mood. However healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated, small sustainable changes can make a big impact long term. 

Food and nutrition - what does 2020 have in store?
Veganism has been a huge trend this year, there has also been a big shift with consumers becoming more conscious around sustainability - both of which are likely to continue into 2020. 

What are the benefits of a corporate nutritional strategy and why organisations need one?
Within the UK presenteeism is estimated to cost over twice as much as absenteeism, and together are reported to cost more than £30bn 1. As 60% of our total daily food intake is consumed over the average working day, workplace worksite dietary interventions can have a significant impact on our health. In fact, these interventions have been shown to improve employee productivity helping to save costs to employers and society as a whole 2.        

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21888121
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23498108

Government food policy strategies - What are their strengths and limitations when it comes to healthy workplaces?
Ultimately there are multiple and complex factors beyond personal decisions which strongly influence dietary choices. And whilst some government food policies such as sugar taxes and food labelling may be beneficial, due to the time employees spend at work it would be great to see policies in place to support the nutrition standards of worksite cafeterias, vending machines and communal areas, all of which play a key role with a dietary choice.