Colne Valley PCN Low Carb Programme – 22nd April 2021

The Colne Valley PCN Low Carb Programme is now available to patients of Colne Valley PCN with a BMI of over 25, who are looking to lose weight, eat more healthily or potentially put their Type 2 Diabetes into remission.

The Colne Valley Primary Care Network (PCN) consists of:

  • Elizabeth Courtauld Surgery, Halstead
  • Pump House Surgery, Earls Colne
  • Freshwell Health Centre, Finchingfield
  • Hedingham Medical Centre
  • Kelvedon & Feering Health Centre
  • Coggeshall Surgery

The six-week programme, delivered over Zoom, will equip you with information, skills, tips and support to help you to adopt a low carb approach and achieve your health goals. 

Our experienced and enthusiastic health coach, Sharon Withnell, runs this programme. Each session consists of an educational video presentation written and presented by Dr David Oliver & Dr Kim Andrews from the Freshwell Health Centre. This is followed by discussion & general chat, in a mutually supportive environment.

We have had some excellent feedback from our early participants who have completed the programme. Many of our participants are already reporting significant health benefits. If you are a Colne Valley PCN resident, please follow this link if you would like to find out more.

Self Care and Eating Well During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Drs Andrews & Oliver 21st May 2020

These are worrying times, with the presence of COVID-19 in our society – a potentially dangerous virus. We are all familiar with the best methods of not catching it- hand washing, social distancing and self -isolation etc. What seems to be less talked about is how to minimise the chances of being seriously affected if you are unfortunate enough to develop symptoms.

As time goes on, researchers have been able to analyse the data gained from coronavirus cases. It is clear that obesity and poor diet are emerging as one of the biggest risk factors for a severe response to Covid19 infection that can no longer be ignored. Low levels of Vitamin D are also associated with a worse outcome if infected. If you would like to know how you can potentially reduce your own personal risk, then read on…..

Our Self-Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic is downloadable as a PDF here

Introducing the Freshwell 4 Week Rotating Meal Planner! Dr Kim Andrews- 5th March 2020

20th march 2020 Update: You can download the new enhanced version with colour pictures here!

You can download the original meal planner without photos by clicking here.

I made this meal planner to help people starting a low carb lifestyle. I decided to produce it as I find that many people give up after a few weeks as they aren’t sure what to eat or they start to find “meat and veg” boring.

Comments I’ve heard include: “I caved on day 3 as I just didn’t know what to eat so I had some bread” or “I am so sick of yoghurt or eggs for breakfast” – the second one always makes me smile a little, as in my experience, most people have spent almost all of their life eating cereal or toast at breakfast time……

This meal planner is not supposed to be taken as gospel – it is here to provide people with some tasty ideas and options that I have discovered along the way – when they are stuck in a rut, or when they don’t know where to start. By all means have soy spaghetti every day or make larger amounts so the same meal can be eaten two nights running. Or if you can’t get away from sandwiches for lunch then make a large batch of Fat Head Dough rolls on a Sunday and keep them in an airtight container to use for lunches throughout the week. Or if you have meals you already enjoy, make a few tweaks to remove the carbs and fill up on the good stuff!

Good luck and I hope you enjoy it!

Low Carb Audit of Results – Dr David Oliver, 14th November 2019

Total weight loss to date is 859kg. We are getting closer & closer to our 1000kg target.

We have been also been number crunching data from the first 9 months of the low carb project up to mid October 2019. We are very pleased with the results:

  • 200 patients lost 759kg in total, average 3.8kg each.
  • Blood pressure was reduced by an average of 5/3mmHg in 154 patients.
  • HbA1c levels reduced by an average of 4mmol/l in 141 patients.
  • Average lipid / Cholesterol results improved in 67 patients:
    • Average Total Cholesterol : HDL Ratio reduced by 0.35mmol/l,
    • Average Triglycerides reduced by 0.4 mmol/l
    • Average HDL increased by 0.1

Please click here for the full audit report.

A View from our Diabetes Lead – Dr Kim Andrews, 20th June 2019.

As diabetes lead for the practice, I have always felt strongly about helping people make healthy diet and lifestyle choices.  Up until recently, my medical education has taught me that eating carbohydrates is fine as long as you pick the right kind – granary bread, wholemeal pasta, Weetabix….Over the past 6 months my thoughts have changed dramatically and I’ve almost become frightened of bread!  It has become quite clear to me that “refined” and “processed” carbohydrates does not just mean cake, biscuits, white bread and white pasta, and that most of the starchy carbohydrates we eat today are highly processed and not good for us when eaten on a regular basis (look at the ingredients on your wholemeal bread packet – I bet there’s added sugar amongst a dearth of other chemicals and preservative agents…..).

My own father has been overweight for most of my life and last Christmas I told him he should read the “8 week Blood Sugar Diet” book. Within 3 months he had lost 3 stone. Almost 6 months later he has kept all the weight off and feels and looks great.  He loves his new lifestyle as he can still eat all the foods he enjoys such as steak, eggs and cheese and I have recently enjoyed taking him out on a shopping spree for a whole new wardrobe!

I now have a growing number of patients who have lost considerable weight by reducing their carbohydrate intake, and over the past month I have been able to stop insulin and tablet medication in some of my patients with diabetes – they have been astonished at what they have been able to achieve.

Regardless of the weight loss benefits, growing evidence also suggests that eating a low carbohydrate diet helps reduce inflammation within the body thus potentially reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease, dementia and cancer.

My parting advice would be – when standing in front of your fridge or kitchen cupboards thinking about what to eat – just stop for a moment and think about what you could have instead of that cereal, toast, sandwich or pasta.  It soon becomes an easy task and I promise you will feel better for it (and will become suspicious of bread like me!).

I think it is only a matter of time until the NHS stop promoting their current “Eat Well Healthy Plate” guidelines and promote a low carbohydrate lifestyle….

If you do choose to try a low carbohydrate lifestyle please do keep us updated with your stories and successes as it makes our job worthwhile to hear about them.

Good Luck!

Dr Kim Andrews

Freshford Heart Project 2.0 – the sequel – The Freshwell Low Carb Project. Dr David Oliver. June 9th 2019.


The founder of Freshwell Health Centre, Dr Andrew Hildrey, recognised the importance of preventative medicine. Freshwell Health Centre was awarded the prestigious “Beacon Practice” award for “The Freshford Heart Project”. This project reached out to the community in order to help educate the local population about choosing a healthy lifestyle. Dr Hildrey was assisted generously by the CREAMER Fund Trustees, who continue to work closely with us to this day, helping us provide our excellent facilities. A few years have passed since then and we are now ready for the Freshford Heart Project part 2.0 – the Sequel – The Freshwell Low Carb Project.


I went on a GP course late last year and one of the educators mentioned Michael Mosely’s “8 Week Blood Sugar Diet” book for weight loss.

We started to recommend Dr Mosley’s book to a few friends and family members and we have been totally blown away by some of the results, especially in terms of weight loss. This has egged us on to promote this lifestyle more. The amazing stories of people transforming their health for the better keep flooding in.

We are starting to track some of the progress of some of our patients to whom we have recommended this lifestyle. Just from what we have tracked on our computer so far, between December 2018 and early June 2019, we have recorded a total 73 patients who have successfully lost a total of 300kg weight loss between them (at an average of 4.1kg – roughly 9lb weight loss each). We have also noticed patients improving their blood Hba1c (a measure of diabetic control) and have consequently de-prescribed a number of blood pressure and diabetic medications including insulin!

In addition to this, many of our patients are reporting a number of other benefits including increased energy levels, significant improved feeling of well being and reduced levels of pain.


Having seen what amazing effects a low carb lifestyle can have on people’s health, I am now completely and utterly obsessed about it. I attended the Public Health Collaboration conference recently and listened to and talked with many inspirational people who are doing great work all over the country and worldwide to promote the low carb lifestyle. This has made me even more of a bore and I just can’t stop talking about it. At home and at work, we have now agreed a “safe word” that my colleagues and my family can use when they need me to stop banging on about it for a few minutes!

The reason I can’t shut up about it is that I have realised that this lifestyle may help literally thousands of our patients with a variety of ailments and it can transform so many lives. We should be able to de-prescribe a load of medicines and hopefully a lot of our patients will start feeling so good that they don’t need to come and see us any more! It should free up the hospitals too. I am quite convinced that if this approach is quickly taken up nationally, it will have a massive positive impact on the NHS and help bring it back from the brink. Let’s get on with it before it’s too late and some future prime minister decides that the only answer is to privatise the NHS instead. There is no time to lose! 

As you may be aware GPs are still very pressed for time and it’s not getting any easier. At the current time, we are only managing to opportunistically recommend a low carb lifestyle tacked on to the end of our already very squeezed ten minute appointments. We would like to get the message out there more quickly. We need it to spread like a virus (but a nice one!) through our community.

We need to rapidly scale up the communication to our patients about the low carb lifestyle. We now have several patients who have discovered the benefits. If there are any of you low carb converts out there reading this and you would like to help, please get in touch. 

All over the country, “Low Carb Clubs” are springing up. Many of these clubs are run by patients who have been inspired to help others get on track. Check out this inspiring video, featuring the inspirational Andrew Bishop, who is a growing number of Public Health Collaboration “Ambassadors” across the UK who are patients who are helping others achieve the same health benefits. We would happily assist with you setting up a low carb club.

Are you a Freshwell patient who would like to share your success story on our testimonials page? If so please get in touch and we’d love to add your story to the list of testimonials. We won’t stop adding these until we have got at least a thousand!

We would love to work in partnership with local schools, parish councils, shops, pubs, restaurants and other businesses etc. Do you think you can help us get the message out there with social media? Do you have any other skills you think you might be able to contribute? The Public Health Collaboration are promoting Wednesday 19th June 2019 as “Real Food Day” for schools, the workplace and families. They have a load of resources on their website. They are also arranging the “Real Food Rocks” festival on July 20th 2019 in Cumbria. Does anyone have the energy / talent to be able to organise a (realistically much smaller) “Real Food” event around here? Do you have any other ideas? The possibilities are endless!

Now you know why people who know me have a safe word when they have had enough of me talking about the low carb lifestyle! Thanks for staying with me to the end!