Dr Jen Unwin and Heidi Giaever
Dr Jen Unwin
Dr Jen Unwin is a chartered clinical and health psychologist. She worked for over 30 years in the NHS and now spends her time researching, campaigning and writing about sugar addiction. She is a founding member of the Public Health Collaboration, a UK charity campaigning for better public health advice. Her and her husband Dr David Unwin, a GP have been helping the patients in his practice adopt low carb diets to reverse their diabetes. This work has resulted in several published papers and numerous conference and media appearances. She has recently published a book called ‘Fork in the Road’ which is a guide for people with sugar/carb addiction. All profits are for the PHC.
Heidi comes from Norway and spent part of my childhood in East Africa. With her original degree (Salford University, UK) in Chemical Engineering she spent most of her career in international business development. She retrained in Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine following a personal health scare in her early 40s. She underwent extensive tests for early onset dementia, following a prolonged period of increasing memory and concentration problems with a direct impact on her work capacity and performance resulting in plummeting self-confidence.
Years later, she met Dr Jen Unwin and Food Addiction Specialist Bitten Jonsson. She and Jen trained with Bitten. She then understood that her problem was food addiction. It wasn’t from poor nutrition as a child, but from an unchecked desire and exposure to sugar. She learnt to bake as a child, learnt to love the whipped sugar and butter bases for cakes and biscuits. This exposed her brain and body to ever increasing amounts of sugar without visible effects on her weight. Now she is a food addict in remission, focusing on “Life With and Beyond the Food”.
She and her husband moved to the UK almost 9 years ago and she started voluntary work in the most deprived areas of Crawley, West Sussex. She worked with nutrition in community centres and preschools focusing on building awareness of the dangers of hidden sugars and the value of feeding children real foods. Since then, most of her work has been with mature adults, running diabetes reversal programmes for GP surgeries in Sussex and with private clients wanting help with weight, metabolic challenges and Food Addiction.
Heidi now works closely with Jen on initiatives to bring formal recognition of this disorder and to contribute to the lack of clinical evidence of recovery and support programmes that can help sufferers. One such initiative is their Food Addiction Recovery Clinical Study, FARCS, where, together with Dr Jen Unwin and other colleagues in Sweden and North America, they offer group-consultation based programmes and they hope to achieve statistical significance so that that they can contribute valuable data to the current lack of clinical evidence in this field.
Another main focus for her nutrition and lifestyle work has resulted in the Collaboration for Kids (CFK) project, which she leads under the umbrella of the Public Health Collaboration.
Dr Jen’s Top Tips
- If you are a food addict the treatment is abstinence. You have work out which are your drug foods and exclude them.
- Not just what you eat but how you eat, what are the addictive behaviours?
- Eat foods that nourish your body and brain without being restrictive.
Heidi’s Top Tips
- Analyse – take the time to look and analyse what is going on with you.
- Beyond the food – you need to fill your life with living not just food.
- Act – get active in this field.
Dr Jen’s Books
Fork In the Road – Dr Jen Unwin
Fork in the Road – A 100 Day Journey to Food Freedom Personal Progress Journal – Dr Jen Unwin and Heidi Giaever
PHC UK – Public Health Collaboration
ICD – International Classification of Diseases
Overweight: What Kids Say: What’s really causing the childhood obesity epidemic? – Dr Robert Pretlow
Jen and Heidi’s Food Addiction Workshop
Quotes by Dr Jen Unwin and Heidi Giaever
“I became more and more aware that my memory wasn’t so good anymore, I was really struggling with concentration problems.” – Heidi Giaever
“People did say to me “You are so lucky you don’t put on weight, you can eat what you like.” – Heidi Giaever
“How is it possible that a reasonably intelligent person, like myself could not have made the connection earlier between the fact that you are what you eat?” – Heidi Giaever
“There is no such thing as a new food” – Heidi Giaever
“I’m a bit overweight but I can get away with this cake, it’s death by a thousand cuts” – Jen Unwin
“The research shows that 10-15% of food addicts are either underweight or normal weight.” – Jen Unwin
“We are taking on some of the challenges like the processed food, vegan movement” – Heidi Giaever
Connect with Dr Jen Unwin and Heidi Giaver on social media
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Music by Bob Collum
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