Emily English has taken over the internet with her feel-good, nourishing recipes - 7 health hacks the nutritionist swears by

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Em The Nutritionist health hacks
(Image credit: Em The Nutritionist)

You'd have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of Emily English. Known on social as Em The Nutritionist, she's amassed over a million Instagram followers and stolen hearts across the nation over the past few years with her simple, tasty and nutrient-dense recipe videos. That's why - of course - we've picked her brains for her everyday, go-to Em The Nutritionist health hacks.

You see, what I love about Em isn't her delicious recipes, fabulous as they are (and I can personally attest to these, as I make at least three a week). She's a breath of fresh air in an industry all too often saturated with restrictive, expensive dishes masquerading as the pinnacle of healthy eating. Vocal about her love of the air fryer and cooking hacks to make your life and healthy living that bit simpler, she's inspired millions to give her recipes a go.

More than that, though, she's incredibly relatable. Without wanting to dumb any of her wizardry down, most of her dishes are a combination of the main three macros - protein, fat and carbohydrates - with a healthy dose of fibre on the side. But she's managed to develop iterations of these dishes that are not only simple to make but seriously tasty, too - so much so, that you can often hear Team MC UK staffers discussing which one of her recipes they've tried that week over the desks (firm favourites include the cottage cheese pancakes, glow toast and hot honey feta avocado toast). 

So, what's her advice if you're currently striving to adopt some more healthy habits but feel - well, a little overwhelmed or unsure of where to start? "I think healthy living is about the beautiful art of balance, healthy habits and happiness," she shares exclusively with Marie Claire UK. "One thing that I believe about wellness is that it should make you feel well, and nutrition is a huge part of that. When it comes to designing recipes, think about how food makes you feel. Is it going to leave you satisfied, or is it going to curtail your cravings? Did you enjoy it?."

And what about the inspiration for her viral recipes - where does she get her ideas from? "I’ve always loved cooking and creating meals for people I care about - it’s definitely one of the ways that I express myself emotionally and creatively," she explains. "Most of my recipe creation comes from my morning walks, where I take 30 minutes to get outside, get some fresh air, and think about what I want to make that day. A lot of my recipes are based on the time of year, what I’m craving, and maybe even a restaurant that I went to recently."

Keen to read the health hacks that the nutritionist swears by every day? Then keep scrolling. As she always ends her videos with - we reckon they're "so good." Oh, and don't miss our guides to healthy breakfast ideashealthy snack ideashealthy smoothie recipes, and what to eat after a workout, while you're here.

7 Em The Nutritionist health hacks to try 

1. Bank some movement first thing

This one's something I swear by as a Health Editor too - and it's really interesting how much it can impact your mood for the day, IMO. "I always try to get some morning movement in," she shares. Morning movement has been found to boost health in a number of ways, from regulating your circadian rhythm to boosting mental clarity and mood.

Try this: "As soon as I wake up, I tend to go for my morning walk. Natural light is like nature’s caffeine - it acts as an amazing way to wake you up, help reduce the sleep hormone in your body, and just get everything moving." If this feels daunting, remember even fifteen minutes could make a big difference.

2. Hydrate before you caffeinate

We all love a cup of coffee in the morning, but did you know? Caffeine is actually a natural diuretic, which means that when you wake up dehydrated, you can further dehydrate yourself by instantly opting for caffeine. "Dehydration can have an impact on your cravings and hunger levels," the nutritionist shares, meaning your morning coffee could, in turn, make you hungrier throughout the course of the day.

Try this: "Make sure to hydrate first. I always advise aiming for around 500ml of water first thing," she continues. Find water a little... well, boring? Adding slices of lemon, cucumber, or fresh mint leaves are a great way to add natural flavour.

3. Aim for a protein and fibre-filled breakfast

If you're constantly starving come 11 am, then it's worth giving this one a go. Fun fact for you: including both protein and fibre in your first meal of the day can help to reduce blood sugar spikes, in turn keeping you more satiated throughout your day. "If you start your day with a simple process carbohydrate breakfast, then you instantly jump on that blood sugar rollercoaster," explains the expert. "This will affect things like your cravings and energy levels." 

Try this: Add eggs, Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, nut butter, or seeds to your morning meal, as well as a helping of fruit or veg. "This is a simple and effective way to keep you feeling balanced, energised and focused all morning," she goes on.

4. Eat for both your body and your gut

Gut health is having a bit of a moment, and for good reason - because, as this study highlights, our guts are thought to contain over 100 trillion microbial cells and directly impact not only how we look, but how we feel, too. "With every meal, try and eat for both you and your gut microbes," advises Em. Why? Well, because your gut health is a vitally important part of your body and impacts everything from your mind, to your skin, to your overall immunity. 

Try this: "When you are putting together a meal, make sure that you're getting in lots of whole foods, fruits, veggies, fresh herbs, spices, nuts and seeds," she recommends. "Diversity is king when it comes to supporting a diverse microbiome and, in turn, supporting your body."

5. Think about supplementing magnesium

If you're new to supplements, it's of course worth checking in with a medical professional about which might be beneficial for you and your lifestyle. That said, Em is a huge fan of magnesium - so much so, that she actually reckons that supplementing it will "change your life." "Magnesium isn’t something we regularly test for when it comes to deficiencies, but it’s one of the first minerals in the body to become depleted when we're tired, stressed and run down," she highlights. 

Try this: Em likes to top her magnesium levels up via oral supplementation, that said, she shares that you can also hit your magnesium intake by using magnesium-enriched bath salts or magnesium body butter. "I love incorporating this before bed because the nutrient can actually aid sleep," she adds.

6. Take your Vitamin D supplement with breakfast

You'll all know that Vitamin D is a pretty important supplement, so much so the government recommends the entire UK population supplement it during the winter months. We get our Vitamin D from sunlight, you see, and so many of us will become deficient in the winter months. 

That said, the timing of taking your supplement is actually far more important than many realise. "If you’re taking vitamin D daily, ensure that you’re taking it with fats," she advises. "Vitamin D is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the UK, but many people who take supplements aren’t aware that it needs fat for absorption."

Try this: You need to have at least 3g of fat with any vitamin D supplement to optimise is bioavailability. "Next time you take your vitamin D pill, be sure to take it with a meal," she recommends. 

7. Prioritise good sleep

Last but by no means least, Em shares that she prioritises good sleep quality and hygiene almost as much as nutrient-dense meals. "Sleep will directly impact your nutrition, and broken sleep can mean your body is actually unable to digest and process sugars properly, leading to more blood sugar spikes and imbalances the next day," she details. Interestingly, it also directly affects your hunger and the hormone ghrelin, which drives your appetite and hunger and can result in cravings for sugary, processed foods.

Think about it: you might have noticed that after a bad night's sleep, you don't feel satisfied, no matter what you eat.

Try this: Prioritising a good night's sleep and try and sway away from screens an hour or so before you hit the hay. "This is a simple yet effective way to ensure that your hormones stay balanced and functioning appropriately," she concludes.

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Knowing how to eat "healthily" feels overwhelming. Where do I start?

In other words, what's Em's advice for anyone who feels overwhelmed at the thought of building a healthy lifestyle for themselves?

"You don’t have to change everything to start improving your health," she encourages. "People have this misconception that healthy eating has to look totally different to what they like. I encourage people to think about what they can add to what they already do." This might mean trying different pasta recipes or adding other sources of protein, fat and fibre to your pasta dishes if it's one of your favourite foods. Ask yourself: can you get an extra source of protein and fibre in there to help keep you full and satisfied? Can you think about your snacking habits, swapping out the sugary old processed foods for a thick Greek yoghurt bowl with fresh berries and honey? 

Bottom line: Start small and build, she recommends. "It's one of my go-to pieces of advice - that, and being realistic with your goals. Habits take a while to form, so aiming for habits that you feel are going to be sustainable is key, as consistency is the main goal."

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and is a stickler for a strong stat, too, seeing over nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.